Blog post by Randi Richardson
Last week our readers were asked to guess when June Fulford assaulted the teacher of her first-grade son who had been whipped for laughing out loud. If you guessed 1937, you were right. The story was based on an article published on page one of the Bloomington (IN) Daily Telephone on April 22, 1937.
Although it was June Fulford featured in the Telephone’s story, there was no June Fulford in the 1930 or 1940 census records for Monroe County. There was, however, a Sarah Jane Fulford in Washington Township among the 1940 census records, the mother of a son old enough to be the first-grader in question. Sarah Jane was the wife of William Fulford, and in 1940, the Fulford family was noted on Harris Road in a household with five Fulford children and a nephew, 19-year-old Robert Lydy. The children ranged in age from 5 to 20. Austin, age 9, was likely the first-grader who received the whipping.
According to information in the census record, first grade was the highest grade Austin completed. His three older siblings—Lillian, Harley and Mildred—had sixth-grade educations and his parents only a second-grade education. Five-year-old Ralph, the youngest child in the family, had not yet attended school.
The Fulfords owned their own home valued at $1,000 and William was a laborer who worked on the roads. In the year just past, he had worked only 29 weeks out of 52, and had earned only $429 for his efforts. He died on February 28, 1948, of a fractured skull suffered in a car accident. Sarah Jane, a widow, died at the age of 78 on January 7, 1967, at the Indiana State Hospital for Chest Diseases in Rockville, Indiana. Her body was returned to Monroe County for burial in the Hindostan Cemetery.