In reviewing the history of Cloud county, no name stands out more pre-eminently or more conspicuously among the educational workers than the name of Bertha A. Marlatt, the retiring county superintendent, who has been associated with the schools of Cloud county since her advent into the community in August, 1888.
When Miss Marlatt left her Ohio home, the place of her nativity, and drifted westward, she had mapped out for herself the career of a teacher, and accordingly began her first school work in Cloud county. After teaching successfully in several of the country districts, Miss Marlatt taught a total of four years In the Glasco schools. She has twice been tendered a position in the Concordia schools, but was offered a higher salary elsewhere, and declined for that reason.
Miss Marlatt received her early education in the district schools of Ohio, and after going through the High school of New Lisbon, took a two years' course in the Normal school of Canfiefd, Ohio. In 1898 she was elected to the office of county superintendent of Cloud county on the Republican ticket, was re-elected in 1900 and appointed to fill the vacancy from June until May, 1901, occasioned by changing the beginning of the term of office.
Miss Marlatt has made an exceptional record in application, never having lost an hour from indisposition, but at all times and under all circumstances has been found at her post of duty. She has never missed but one summer institute since coming to Cloud county, nor a Teachers' Association within the past eight years. She has been a member of the examining board for about six years, and also president of the Cloud County Teachers' Association. In 1901 she was elected secretary of the thirty-ninth annual Kansas State Teachers' Association that convened in Topeka, and also had that honor conferred upon her the present year, 1902. On Thanksgiving day, November 27, 1902, fifteen counties were represented in a teachers' association held at Clay Center, Kansas. Through the energy of Miss Marlatt, the banner offered for the largest number of representatives from any one county was carried away by the fifty-six teachers in attendance from Cloud county. They also secured the association for the coming year; the first time in the history of its organization that the banner and the association have been given to the same county.
The first two years of Miss Marlatt's term in office she visited almost every school twice, spending nearly a quarter of a day with each. The last two years, she has given a full one-half day, with but a few exceptions, and visited a number of them twice. During the first springtime of her office reign she spent from six to nine hours daily on the road. The roads were in an unusually bad condition, and not knowing how to reach the districts conveniently, made her duties exceedingly arduous. From January 9, 1899, until January 9, 1903, she traveled with horse and buggy a total of ten thousand miles, which, at an average of five miles, good and bad roads, makes two thousand hours spent in the buggy.
Miss Marlatt instituted the district associations now held in various parts of the county, and they have been quite successful.
Sixteen new school houses have been erected during her career in office, and in three of them furnaces have been placed, namely: Districts Nos. 75, 76 and 68. The highest per cent of attendance that has ever been attained by the schools of Cloud county was in 1901, very few falling below ninety, and most of them ranging from ninety to one hundred.
Miss Marlatt is self-educated, paying her own way through school, and at a time and place when opportunities were not so great as those offered to young men and women of Cloud County at the present time. Hence she has not much patience with the student who says he can't go through school dependent at least partly upon his own resources. She lived in a berry country where many hands were given employment. The berries were picked and shipped to various cities. Miss Marlatt says she never looks upon a "berry patch" without recalling her childhood days, for in this humble pursuit she earned the means of educating herself. About this time she conceived the idea of going west, where the avenues of school work seemed more accessible. To carry out this plan required money. So, getting her courage together, she approached a good old Quaker neighbor who was pruning his raspberry bushes, and asked for the loan of forty dollars, saving she "wanted to go to Kansas to teach school." The old gentleman looked dubiously upon her as he replied: "Thee going out there? Thee will get scalped." But he granted the loan, and a few days later Miss Marlatt found herself in Concordia with but little more than a dollar of the borrowed fund left in her purse. She was among strangers, and far from home in the "wild and wooly west;" but facing the inevitable, she dared not to do otherwise than succeed, and went to work with that resolution uppermost in her mind.
The world pays deference to the man or woman who succeeds in life solely through their own resources and attains position. This has been accomplished by Miss Marlatt, and is a fine example to the student struggling for an education. As an official Miss Marlatt is admirably qualified by natural ability, and this, coupled with her broad fund of acquired knowledge, has done much in the way of promoting progressive projects. She is a woman of much strength of character, possessing a kind and genial disposition. The teachers find her sympathetic and generous, ever ready to extend to them helpful suggestions and encouragement when needed. The fact that she, herself, began at the bottom of the ladder and climbed persistently, but not without discouragements, has in all probability rendered her more generous to the rising young teacher that comes under her jurisdiction.
Miss Marlatt's father, William Marlatt, was a Pennsylvanian by birth, subsequently settling in Ohio, where he died in 1878. Her mother is of southern birth, having been born in the city of New Orleans, but came north during the war and located in Ohio. She still lives at the old home near Columbiana.
Miss Marlatt's sister Ella, who for several years was a resident of Cloud county, is married and living in Ogden, Utah. Miss Mary Marlatt, who has been associated with the schools of Cloud county for five years, and is also a very successful teacher, is a sister. She is at present engaged in district No. 8. Lawrence Marlatt, who for five years was in the employ of the Glasco State Bank, is a brother. He is engaged in the insurance business and resides in Glasco. Miss Marlatt is an active member of the Christian church, and the Concordia congregation owes much of its success to her zeal.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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