Carriage stone at historical society has ties to LaPointe, former teacher

By: 
MEGAN LINSKI

The carriage stone in front of the Tecumseh Area Historical Museum once belonged to Bertha LaPointe, a schoolteacher who taught for over 55 years in Tecumseh. A plaque was recently installed noting the stone’s donation by the Dean and Jeanne Sheldon family. Photo by Megan Linski.

A plaque was installed recently at the Tecumseh Area Historical Museum in dedication of a carriage stone that was donated in 2010 by Dean and Jeanne Sheldon. The carriage stone (more commonly known as a stepping block) was used to help riders on and off of horses and as a boost for gentlemen and ladies boarding horse drawn carriages.

The stone is engraved with the year 1896. The Sheldons donated the carriage stone to Tecumseh Area Historical Society (TAHS) in the hope that it would remain intact for upcoming generations.

The City of Tecumseh helped move the stone from the Sheldon’s home to the Tecumseh Area Historical Museum at 302 E. Chicago Blvd. Dan Righter, superintendent at Brookside Cemetery, recently fashioned the plaque for the stone, which reads, “Bertha LaPoine – Carriage Stone from 416 S. Pearl St., Tecumseh, MI, Donated by Dean Sheldon & Family 2015.”

The carriage stone once belonged to Bertha LaPointe, a Tecumseh schoolteacher who taught locally for over 50 years, and who resided in the city at 416 S. Pearl St. Bertha had gifted the carriage stone to the Sheldons when they lived on 202 Iroquois St.

Born on April 24, 1892, Bertha graduated from Blissfield High School in 1910 and attended Ypsilanti Normal College before becoming a teacher at the Brown School, once located at the corner of North Blissfield Highway and Garno Road. She began teaching in Tecumseh at the former West Branch Elementary School in 1915. Before she retired in 1956, LaPointe had taught as many as three generations in some families, with a career that spanned 55 years in the classroom and 10 years substitute teaching after retirement. According to the historical society, Bertha taught as many as 1,986 Tecumseh students during her career.

Bertha was a teacher who kept track of all her students and what they were doing after they left her classroom. During her retirement party, many of her students who had graduated Tecumseh High School long ago came to celebrate her career, and each Valentine’s Day, she would receive multiple cards from students, even those who had been in her class decades before.

Aurora Momcilovich, archivist for the TAHS, says she was too young to have Bertha as a teacher, but the impact she had on students still resonates in Tecumseh. “I saw from the information I gathered that this was a woman loved by her students,” Momcilovich said. “Most teachers stop teaching and burn out after a decade because it starts to wear on you, but this woman loved her job. I’ve never seen anything negative on her that I’ve read.”

When the historical society set up its School Days presentation during the fall, many visitors to the museum came and pointed out where they were in pictures of Bertha LaPointe’s old classes.

“A lot of parents, with their kids, were interested in Bertha and wanted to know more about her,” Momcilovich said. “Bertha was a gem of this community. She has affected more students than any other teacher in the history of Tecumseh Schools.”

More information on Bertha and her history can be found by visiting the museum, or by calling 423.2374.

“When we moved that carriage stone, we put it in a very prominent place so she gets to live on in the story,” Momcilovich said. “The items in the museum are just items unless they have a story.”

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Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
517-423-2174
800-832-6443

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