Delta Kappa Gamma Honors Santa Rosa Pioneer Teacher
Mrs. Anna Deen Crist was guest of honor Saturday
night at the chapter dinner meeting of Delta Kappa Gamma honor educational
sorority in the Miramar Hotel dining room in Fort Walton Beach. Mrs. Crist
was made an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma and her biography, written
by Mrs. Verlie Thomas, was read by Mrs. Margaret Tisdale.
Miss Anna Louise Dean was born near Grapevine, Texas, in Tarrant
County, March 11, 1876. Her parents lived on a large farm about twenty-five
miles from Fort Worth, Texas, and about the same distance from Dallas, Texas.
Her father was Ransom Lafayette Dean, son of Andrew Jackson Deen and Louise
Coleman Deen. The grandfather was born in Georgia, but his parents moved later
to Red Level, Alabama. The grandfather Deen went into the army until he retired.
As there were no trains, he was unable to get money to his family, a wife
and four children so the wife, Miss Deen’s paternal grandmother, did
sewing to help support the family. She lived at Fort Pickens and had to cross
the channel to deliver some sewing at the Navy Yard. A hurricane was on, and
when ready to go home, only one old seaman would agree to carry her home,
but he told her she must not move or the boat would turn over and they would
drown. In relating this to Miss Annie, she said, “Just think, Annie,
I had to sit there without moving, but I left four children at home.”
Miss Deen’s paternal grandparents were living at Floridatown, Florida,
when the yellow fever epidemic occurred, and everyone who could, left. They
moved to Milton where her father was born in 1838, having the distinction
of being the first white child born there. In 1857 when her father was nineteen
years old, he left his home and people and went West stopping in Texas.
While there, he met Elizabeth Burgoon, whom he married in April, 1860. Elizabeth
Burgoon’s mother was the daughter of John Geiger, and her grandmother
was a Gruber, of German descent and was from Alsace Lorraine.
Miss Anna Deen was told this interesting fact about her great
grandfather Deen. Many years ago a group of people left the British Isles
on a sailing vessel heading for America. The vessel as well as all reports
were burned and only captain Jackson and a baby survived with no records.
The captain did not know whose baby it was so he gave it the name of Jackson.
This baby later became the great grandfather to Miss Anna Deen. Miss Deen’s
maternal grandmother Burgoon was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and from there
she went with her family to Ohio, when it was first settled, and later to
Davenport, Iowa, where Elizabeth was born.
Because of the bad health of her father, the family started
to California but met people who were going to Texas and decided to go there.
At this time Elizabeth was eleven years old.
In the Fall of 1897, Miss Deen accepted
a position as teacher in the Olive school in Escambia County. In order to
get there she went by boat from Floridatown to Ferry Pass with Mr. John
Clark and his two small sons. A storm rose, the waves were high, and they
were soon soaking wet, but landed safely on the other side of the bay. No
one met them and Mr. Clark sent his boys to borrow a horse and buggy and
they carried her to her Aunt Belle Creighton's This school had an enrollment
of 57, needing only three more to get another teacher, which lasted three
months. And she received $40.00 per month.
In April, Anna Deen returned to her
home in Texas, got a school and then attended a five week Summer school
for teachers. Before the school closed she took bronchial pneumonia, and
after her recovery, the doctor advised her to go back to Florida for the
After returning to Florida, she taught
four months at Allentown in Santa Rosa County at a salary of $20.00 per
month and boarded at various homes of the people who had children in her
In the Summer of 1899 Miss Deen was
offered the Mt. Carmel School and was told that the last teacher there had
carried a gun with him. She told the superintendent
that she wasn't afraid and would take no gun. A few days before
school was to begin, her grandmother Deen passed away. On the day of the
funeral Mrs. John Hobbs and Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Robinson came to visit her
Uncle Charlie Deen, and while there, they asked her to teach a school in
their community if they could get a building ready. She consented to do
so if the superintendent did not object.
The trade was made and she began teaching at a salary of thirty
dollars per month in a hull of a building with no windows and doors and some
parts with no flooring. The building was completed in the afternoons after
school. Water was obtained from a spring until a pump was installed. The site
for the building was donated by Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Robinson. One half of the
building material was furnished by the County Superintendent and members of
the community supplied the other half and built it. This school was known
as the Robinson Bridge School.
Her method of teaching fifth grade geography in that day deserves
mention. The geographies had no relief maps, and she had the pupils draw
maps of the countries, put in the mountains, and rivers, principal cities,
products and where produced. The pupils were drilled on this information
until they were thorough. The county superintendent saw the geography examination
questions on the board and said that two-thirds of the teachers in the county
couldn't’t answer those questions, but all of her pupils passed.
From January to May, 1900, Miss Anna taught at Allentown and
on May 20, 1900, she was married to Mr. Bennie L. Crist.
She was a member of the state grading committee in September,
1899, June, 1900, and September, 1900. From July to November after her marriage
she taught the Robinson School again and traveled seven miles to school with
Earl Wellman, her husband’s nephew.
In January, 1901, Mr. and Mrs. Crist moved to Pensacola where
on March 1, 1901, they became the proud parents of a son, LaRue Crist.
Mr. Crist was in the logging business and this work carried them to Pine Level
near Jay, Florida, where they lived until August, 1902. In October it became
necessary for her to return to Texas because of her mother’s illness
and death. A second son, Earle Deen, was born to her on March 13, 1903, and
her mother died March 26, 1903. She returned to Pensacola, where they resided
until February, 1904. They moved to Kelker Field in Santa Rosa County, bought
a home and lived there until 1918.
In 1914 Mr. Crist was seriously injured in a saw mill accident
in which he suffered the loss of the right eye as well as head and back injuries.
It became necessary for Mrs. Crist to begin teaching again.
They carried window panes from Iowa, and after they had used
them in a home which they had built in Dallas, many people came from several
places to see the window panes as they had never seen any before.
As doctors were scarce and transportation difficult in those
days, both of Miss Deen’s grandmothers were midwives, and one of them
sometimes traveled twenty miles on horseback to deliver babies.
Elizabeth (Burgoon) Deen and Ransome Lafayette Deen were the
parents of the following children, four boys and six girls: Eva Estelle Deen
(Chenowith) born in 1861 and died in 1940 at Dallas, Texas; Arthur Livingston
Deen born in 1866 died in 1872 in Grapevine, Texas; Mary Elizabeth, 1868-1913
died in Grapevine, Texas; Nora 1870-1941, died in Dallas, Texas; Charles Jackson,
1873-1942, died at Fort Worth, Texas; Anna Louise 1876; Clara Agnes, 1878-1946;
Ransom Lafayette (Bud), 1880-1951; Arabella, 1883-1884; and Ernes Xavier,
April 3, 1889.
Of this family, Nora, Mary Clara and Anna taught school. Clara
Deen received a degree from the University of Chicago, taught in 1901-1902
at McLellan School in santa Rosa County and in other schools before going
to Ft. Worth, Texas High School where she taught Latin and English for twenty-nine
years and until she retired.
Miss Anna Deen was fortunate in being reared in a Christian
home where religious services were held night and morning. At at early age
she was taught to work, to go to church, and to go to school.
When she was six years old, she attended for a few weeks, a
small school three miles from her home and her text book was the Blue Back
Her father had a good education and taught her the alphabet and the process
of counting. She learned easily, continued her studies, and graduated in May,
1895, with a B. S. Degree from Texas.
Her father’s people lived near Milton and Pensacola, and
until that time Miss Dean had never seen any of them but had corresponded
with some cousins. These cousins invited her to come to Florida, and she agreed
to come if she could get a school to teach in order to pay her expenses. She
received letters from her uncle who was supervisor of the Olive School and
from the County Superintendent saying that she could have the Olive School.
Miss Deen came to Escambia County in August, 1896, obtained
a Florida History book, read it through before taking the teachers’
examination on september 8. She tried for a second grade certificate making
it with an average of eighty percent. By that time the Escambia County School
Board had passed a law that a teacher who had not been a resident in that
county for a year could not teach there.
Miss Deen was not discouraged but came to Santa Rosa County
to the home of her uncle, Charles Deen. He carried her to see Mr. E. L. McDaniel,
the County Superintendent, about a teaching position. He gave her the Harp
Station School, now Mulat, where she taught five months for twenty-five dollars
per month. The first six weeks she stayed across a bayou from her school with
Mrs. Jim Stearnes whose husband piloted ships in and out of Pensacola. While
there, one of her pupils, John Frederick carried her across the bayou in a
bateau, a flat bottomed boat. She later went to live with her Uncle Charlie
Deen who had a pony named “Cenie.” He put a side saddle on the
pony so that she might ride to her school, but when she mounted the horse,
the saddle turned over carrying her under the pony. She was so frightened
that she did not attempt to ride the horse any more, but walked the four miles
by herself each day for the remainder of the school term. The school began
October 21, 1896 and ended in March 1897. With forty-two pupils including
beginners and pupils who were studying what are now high school subjects though
there were no high schools then.
The building had one room, was [blurred] had home-made
benches, a blackboard, chart, water bucket and dipper, stove, a table, and
a chair for the teacher.
In the summer of 1897 Miss Deen attended a five week’s
summer school held in Milton for teachers. In September she took the teachers’
examination and made a first grade certificate, having the distinction of
being the first one in Santa Rosa County to make one hundred percent on algebra.
To help support the family which consisted of the two boys already
mentioned and three girls, Carmen [blurred] Mrs. Cherry, a nurse at the Santa
Rosa County Hospital; Louise (Mrs. Cecil Harris) who taught school in Escambia
County at Beulah, Bratt and at Allie Yniestra School where she was teaching
at the time of her death in 1937; and Jessamine, now Mrs. Shubert, who holds
a B. S. Degree and is now taking care of her mother and son at Live Oak Park,
near Floridatown, Florida.
Since it had been about twenty- [blurred] years since she received
her first grade certificate, Mrs. Crist took the Teachers’ examination
again, and made another first grade certificate. She taught another turn at
the Robinson School, then Mulat and Springhill at fifty dollars per month
and paid thirty dollars per month for board.
After this she filled the following teaching positions; Ferry
Pass, sixty-seven and half dollars per month; assistant principal at Muscogee
High School with Miss Eva Vaughn, 1921-22 at ninety dollars per month; principal
of Muscogee High School at one hundred dollars per month, highest salary she
ever received for teaching, and Myrtle Grove School, 1923-1924 at eighty-one
dollars per month. After teaching the term of 1924 and 1925, Mrs. Crist resigned
from teaching to do house work
During her years of teaching and after she resigned from teaching
Mrs. Crist continued her education by attending eight weeks of summer schools
at Tallahassee in 1922 thereby receiving State Certificates in Latin and psychology.
Also in 1922 when geometry was added to the requirements for a first grade
certificate, she took the examination, made a first grade, the first of its
kind in Escambia County. Mrs. Crist with her daughter Louise, also attended
a summer school of 1928. She took extension work later and received three
semester hours of credit.
Mrs. Crist coached a number of teachers in algebra thereby preparing
them for teachers’ examinations and all made new certificates. She continued
to lead a very full and useful life after her teaching career as she took
care of a brother who will living with her, suffered a stroke in 1949 and
passes away in 1951. In 1949, her son LaRue, came home from the war; released
from a hospital and was in failing health until his death August 10, 1952.
Also in 1949, it became necessary for Mr. Crist to have his right leg amputated
above the knee, and the other amputated February 10, 1950, in addition to
losing his remaining eyesight. Mr. Crist was always an inspiration to anyone
who visited him, and he always kept informed by means of radio and was a very
interesting conversationalist, not only because of his knowledge of current
happenings but also because of his wealth of information on local history.
Mrs. Crist is a devoted companion to her family and during the
times that her son, brother and husband were confined to their home, she never
left them except for a short time when necessity demanded it. Mr. Crist passed
away September 29, 1958.
Mrs. Crist spends her time at Live Oak Park, reading, sewing,
embroidering, and painting, in addition to discharging her regular duties
and still does a good job of anything she undertakes, even at the age of 84.
At one time Mrs. Crist wrote for the county paper, and interesting series
of articles on pioneer life, education, industries, etc. She is an active
member of the Pea Ridge Home Demonstration Club and also attends religious
She related this incident which she considers the best compliment
she ever received. While visiting at the home of a patron in Mulat, the
mother of a little girl in the school said her daughter told her that it
didn't seem like school--that Mrs. Crist seemed like her mother. During
these years, Mrs. Crist has seen many of her pupils graduate from institutions
of higher learning, and many attain a high degree of success in most of
the higher professions. She ever promoted as well as practiced before her
pupils the highest standards and ideals. She always opened school with religious
exercises and tried to instill in her pupils patriotism, morals, and manners.
She had few discipline problems and this may be attributed to
the fact that in dealing with her pupils this was her rule: “Be sincere
and truthful and have no favorites.”
With a record of so many varied abilities and gifts, and with
her fine disposition, patience, enthusiasm, understanding of people, honesty,
and unselfishness, she is indeed an inspiration to all who know her.