The Watertown Daily Times
Oct. 7, 1904
It is seldom that we encounter a teacher so good, kind and true as to inspire in the hearts of her pupils a love and esteem so strong that it will endure for 20 years. Seldom, too, do we find boys who cherish the memory of their beloved teacher long after their school days are over, perpetuating that memory by placing before future graduates her portrait. But such a teacher was Cornelia M. Johnson, who for 28 years held the position of preceptress of Watertown High School, during which time she won "her boys" by her kind words and noble example. This morning in the auditorium of the new high school, D.W. Cahill, of the class of 1881, in behalf of the boys of Miss Johnson's classes, presented to the institution a portrait of their well-remembered teacher, executed at their expense by artist Theodore Gegoux.
The Watertown Herald
October 8, 1904, Saturday
Subject of Illustration.
MISS CORNELIA M. JOHNSON
There was presented to the Watertown High School, Friday morning a freehand crayon portrait of Miss Cornelia M. Johnson, who for twenty eight years was preceptress of the school. It was a present from "her boys," and one of them, D. W. Cahill, made the presentation speech, in which he feelingly and lovingly referred to his old teacher. In accepting, for the faculty and school, Principal Jones said it was fitting and proper that Miss Johnson's should be the first portrait to adorn the walls of the new building. Miss Johnson is a native of the town of Champion, a daughter of one of the first settlers. She began teaching at sixteen, after which she graduated in the first class from the Albany Normal College. Her school in the Eames district in the town of Rutland had a national reputation, because Horace Greeley once visited it and wrote of it in the New York Tribune as "A Model Country School". Before the breaking out of the Civil War she went south as a private teacher for the children of wealthy planters. She was in Augusta all through the war and when Sherman's army marched through she had a special guard of his soldiers, because she was a northern woman. After the war she took a trip through Europe, and when she returned she was made preceptress of the Watertown High school, a position she held for twenty-eight years and which she resigned to enjoy rest and/quiet, which she has been doing at the old home in Champion, where she was born eighty years ago and around which cling childhood memories.
Horace Greeley and General Sherman each contribute to make Miss Cornelia M. Johnson a woman of note.
Greeley by designating her Rutland school as a model for others to pattern after and Sherman by singling her out for special care in his March to the sea. When nearing Augusta, he heard that a Northern woman was near and sent a special guard of his soldiers to see that she was neither harmed nor alarmed. On learning this, the southern ladles made her the depository of their jewelry and for some time she had jewels sewn to her clothing and in her pockets - — enough to start a store.
When the war broke out, Miss Johnson thought of coming home and wrote her old friend Judge Lansing. He wrote her not to worry; that it would all blow over in a few weeks and that she was just as well off in Georgia as she would be here. This Incident seems to show how little men in high standing knew then of the terrible conflict that was to follow.
The suggestion of presenting Miss Johnson's picture to the Watertown High school, was quickly taken up by her old pupils, all of whom wanted to share in the work. Several were present when Mr. Cahlll presented the picture, Friday morning, and vigorously applauded his touching references to their old teacher.
Information contributed by the Watertown Daily Times and The Watertown Herald - October 1904 © Copyright - All Rights Reserved.