- [Artemecia Hurst.GED]
Mabel Barnhart Wack, the second child of Henry Jackson Barnhart and Mary Bartlett Barnhart, was born at the family home near Mansfield, Illinois. She attended the district school and Mansfield High School.
At an early age Mabel showed an interest in music and began the study of piano at the age of eight which she continued during the summer months of vacation through grades and high school Her teaching career began at this time during summer months when she started with six or eight pupils in piano and drove "Old Kate" to the different homes to give the lessons.
Once in a while she was entrusted with "Kit", another family horse, which was young and had never seen an automobile as few horses had at that time. One day Mabel's mother drove "Kit" to town and narrowly escaped meeting the "Red devil", an automobile owned by a millionaire from Champaign, Illinois, who came into that section of the country two or three times a year to inspect his agricultural interests. When the driver of the automobile saw that trouble would occur if he attempted to pass, he stopped some distance away and went to the horse to hold it while his friend, who accompanied him on the trip, tried to pass. They soon found such a venture should not be undertaken so turned back and went by another road. (There were no well define droutes at that time.) .
Mabel continued giving private lessons during summer months through college and her class soon became so large that the pupils had to come to her.
Upon completion of the three year course offered by Mansfield High School she went to Illinois Wesleyan College of Music from which she received a Graduation Diploma, the extent of specialized training in music then offered by most music schools. Soon after, her parents moved from the farm to Urbana, Illinois, and Mabel enrolled in theUniversity of Illinois College of literature and Arts. Because she had attended a non-credited high school she was permitted to enroll only as a special though she took University courses. During this period she became interested in public school music and then enrolled in the Public School Music Department. After completing the course she was elected to supervise music in the public schools of Whiting, Indiana. Desiring to get into university work she resigned this position after two and a half years to take a substitute position for three terms in the Eastern Illinois State Teachers College at Charleston, Illinois. The following year she did further studying at the Institute of Musical Art in New York City. From the latter school Mabel was elected to a position in the Los Angeles Normal School which a few months later became known as the University of California Southern Branch (now known as University of California at Los Angeles).
After seven years on the faculty she had the opportunity to go to theUniversity of Kansas to direct the Public School Music Program of the University and Lawrence Public Schools. The decision to change positions was one of the most difficult decisions of her life. Both offered similar professional opportunities but the strength of family ties influenced her to go to the Middle West.
While she worked with different age groups in various music activities her greatest delight was in directing large choruses of children, one of which had the opportunity to sing with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. For this outstanding piece of work she was given recognition in Musical America. During her work in Lawrence she spent a summer of study in London, England, where she specialized in children's choruses. Mabel is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon and Pi Kappa Lambda. When actively engaged in teaching she was a member of the Kansas State Teachers Association in which she now holds an honorary life membership, the Kansas State Music Teachers Associations the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers,the Music Teachers National Association, the National Music Educators Conference and the Lawrence Branch of the Soroptimist Club.
Mabel is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Frankfort and resides in Antioch, a residential area Just outside of Frankfort, Indiana where she went to live after her marriage to Emery C. Wach, a retired framer, formerly of Mansfield, Illinois. This marriage was the culmination of a romance which started during their late teenage years. After three and a half years of happiness in a nobly established home, Emery was stricken with coronary thrombosis and passed away after a brief illness. (David A. Blocher 6 May 2006)