A picture in the photo files of the Robertson County History Museum shows Sue Taylor holding a rifle and apparently getting ready to fire. It’s a puzzle.
For many Springfield children, “Miss Sue” was the librarian. She ran the public library before Gorham-MacBane existed. That early library was located to the right of the Fifth Avenue entrance of the Glenn Memorial, former home of Mollie and Neel Glenn.
One walked up the sidewalk there, up several steps and into the main room of the library. It was filled from floor to ceiling with shelves of books. That smell of new books filled every corner.
There was a middle room, also full of books and there was a back room where children’s books could be found. These included everything from picture books to the biographies of Sacajawea and Davy Crockett.
Miss Sue was in charge of it all. She was usually “all business” and maintained the right to deny a child or a young person a book deemed inappropriate.
So – Miss Sue with a gun?
The photo was taken at Hill’s Mill in a time of leisure. Sue Taylor had lived with the Hill family for a while. She had taught at Red Corner School nearby. (At the time, it was known as Corner School.)
Miss Sue had six siblings when her father died. Her mother was forced to run the family business, and Miss Sue was needed to help with the family’s expenses. At 17, she was hired to teach in a one-room school located between Adams and Port Royal.
Sue Taylor left home on the train on a Sunday morning “with a lump in the throat,” she later remembered. She lived with the J. E. Hill family near what was then called Beech Valley Mill. The yard at the Hills’ residence sloped to the bluff and on to a swinging bridge.
Miss Sue told of loving to “race across the bridge for the sheer joy of feeling it quiver beneath me.” This, like the photo, is a Miss Sue the children of Springfield never knew.
When school began, Miss Sue and two of the Hill children walked the one mile together. She taught seven grades and recalled that one student was 24 years old. He had, she thought, been kept at home to “garner the crops.”
She taught at Crossroads School for four years, from 1906-1910. The name was changed to Red Corner School in 1910.
After Miss Sue left, the teacher was Maggie Long Batts Adams. Her salary was $40. Later she taught at Glenraven and Woodland Street. Her salary by then was $50 per month.
After Maggie Long Batts Adams left Red Corner School, Atha Elliott taught there. Soon, the school closed and students went to Adams.
When Sue Taylor remembered her years at Crossroads, the school had already fallen to ruin. Only the trees with initials carved into the trunks were left, she thought.
This woman had red hair when she was young. She liked to run across a swinging bridge. She fired a rifle. She worked with the Short Story Club to ensure a library for the children of Springfield.
They knew her only as Miss Sue.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.