Katherine (Chapin) House – 1996 Inductee

Katherine Chapin, better known as “Katie,” was born near Monmouth, Illinois, on December 13, 1870. She came with her parents, Samuel and Lydia (Van Fleet) Chapin, to Osborne County in 1874, settling in Ross Township. Katie attended country school and later enrolled in the Salina Normal Institute in Salina, Kansas.

For two years beginning in 1890, Katie taught in the Green Ridge School, District Number 13. In 1892, due to the persistence of Katie and others, the Downs High School came into being. A two-year curriculum of Latin and English was offered to the initial student body of six. Katie served as the first female teacher in the high school and as the assistant principal from September 1892 to May 1897.

In 1897 Katie married Ross H. House, who in 1901 became principal at the high school. They had one daughter, Eleanor. Katie’s interest in education and in the community led her in 1905 to work closely with Mrs. Chattie Allen and Mrs. Alma Duden to begin the first public library in Downs. She instilled in her students a desire for knowledge that stayed with them the rest of their lives. “I never see an unusual stone, or enjoy Nature in any way, that I don’t think of her in Geology class,” commented one former pupil.

The Houses moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1915 when Ross was appointed head of the YMCA. In 1926 they moved to Washington, D.C., where Katie became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other community and church organizations. When her husband’s health began to fail the Houses returned to Colorado and settled in Aurora. Katie became active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. From 1933 through 1940 she served as the director of the WCTU Department of International Relations for Peace and Freedom. She was also involved in the WCTU’s Scientific Temperance Instruction and Alcohol Education. Her work enabled her to lecture and present educational programs in every corner of Colorado. Katie organized the Aurora, (Colorado) Women’s Club, and in 1940 she was elected justice of the peace of Aurora, a position she held until her death on June 29, 1944. She was laid to rest in the Fair Mount Cemetery in Aurora.

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