Miss Shirley, the Principal of Preston High

“Miss Shirley, Principal” is all it reads under this high school photo. In 1931 she was the principal of Preston High School in Preston, Fillmore county, Minnesota. This class has had several posts written about its students. The full class photo is here. Now I wanted to turn my attention to the Principal. Unsurprisingly Miss Shirley was unmarried. To be a school teacher in the early 1900’s often meant one didn’t marry, lived as a boarder in other people’s homes, and went wherever the jobs were. That was certainly true for Miss Shirley, but let’s call her by her full name, Hilda Shirley.

Hilda Shirley, 1931, Preston, MN

Hilda Shirley, 1931, Preston, MN

Hilda was born on April 18, 1898 in Minnesota. She was the fifth of eight children, all girls except the last born (Minnie, Ida, Alma, Olive/Olivia, Hilda, Mabel, Ester, William). Her parents, Ole and Ann Shirley, had Norwegian roots. Several censuses indicate that Ole was born in Norway. As was his brother, Otto, who lived with the family on and off. The Shirley’s were farmers. In 1900 and 1905 the large female family lived in Greenvale, Dakota county, MN, just south of Minneapolis.

By 1910 the family had moved to the slightly larger town of Northfield, Rice county, MN. Hilda and most of her sisters still lived at home through at least 1920. Then Hilda headed out on her own, and by 1931 she was the principal of Preston High School. In the 1930 census of Preston, Hilda was a lodger in a household with 2 other teachers. The last census record of 1940 found Hilda lodging in far north Park Rapids, Minnesota still teaching; she would have been about 41.

While that ends the documented trail of Hilda’s life online, she lived to the ripe old age of 94. I hope she had a long and enjoyable retirement! She died on December 31, 1992 and is buried next to her parents and several sisters in Sunset Memorial Park cemetery in Minneapolis.

Seeing as how she never married, and had no children, there probably aren’t too many descendants searching for Hilda, but nice to get her know her anyway!

2 thoughts on “Miss Shirley, the Principal of Preston High

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