EARLY SCHOOLS 1883
The first school was in all probability held in an old log dwelling house which stood on the Johnson McKnight farm, now known as the McDanels farm, in the winter of 1821. The teacher was Johnson McKnight. Even at that early day pupils were not ignorant of the custom which prevailed some years later, of “barring” the teacher until he would promise to give them a “treat.” This was attempted once on Mr. Johnson about the close of his three months’ term. Not the least nonplused, he quietly returned home and concluded to use stratagem to defeat their ends. He dressed himself up in his wife’s best garments and repaired to the schoolroom. The door he found still closed. He rapped at the window very gently, and in a moment a dozen heads presented themselves. They, or course, were all surprised to see a lady standing without, and, no doubt, felt somewhat mortified that the door was found closed and barred against her. At all events, they hurriedly opened the door to admit the stranger. Mr. Johnson asked his pupils, in a feigned female voice, where their teacher was. They answered that he was not in just then; whereupon he walked in and throwing off his disguise, he called them to order. It is not necessary to say that they were somewhat surprised, and, no doubt, chagrined. John Lewis succeeded Mr. Johnson the following year. Some of the early pupils were David and William Cleeland, John and Isaac Cleeland, John Cheeseman, William and George Christy, John L. Knight, Sarah Knight, now Mrs. Sarah Stewart, Mary Cleeland, now Mrs. Limber, Robert Walker, Simon Fletcher, Robert and Annie McCosh, R. J. Walker, subsequently Rev. Walker, John Collins and Andrew Spear, afterward Dr. Spear.
A year years later, another school was taught on the Thomas Christy farm by George Greer. He was an old man, and is said to have been a good teacher for his time. He was kept two or three years in succession. About 1823, a log building was put up on the Dan Kennedy farm, now owned by George McGee, and it was denominated Concord School. The teacher was Charles Phillips. Other early teachers were David Fisher, William Beighley and a Yankee named Marshall. These teachers taught at various times from the period when the school was established or put into operation until Legislature, in its wisdom and benevolence, established the public school – “the poor man’s friend and the glory of the commonwealth.”
We have already seen that before the present school law came into effect, schools in this township were few and not well distributed. The books used were few; the Bible as a text book in reading for higher classes the spelling book and arithmetic. Yet the teachers, generally, who taught these pioneer schools were gentlemen of liberal culture and executive ability, and the pupils made much progress. But the buildings were poor and the appliances very meager.
The common school system was accepted in the year 1836, but it was not passively established. The law was at first obnoxious and very generally denounced by a large class of people who then entertained some very absurd notions concerning “free schools.” Through the powerful appeals, however, of those who had a deep insight into the true relation of things, the grand system which educates the children of the homeless and indigent, as well as the sons and daughters of the nabob and opulent, became firmly established and grew in strength and favor from that day to this.
In that same year that the public schools went into operation, eight school buildings were erected with larger conveniences than the primeval school and in every respect more comfortable. Two houses were built in the eastern part of the township, and were known as the Frazier School and Double School. The Whippoiwill, Albert, Kiester and Webb in the southern portion, and the Snyder School in the northern part of the township. The Directors of these schools were William Forester, who was also Treasurer; Johnson Knight, Robert Hampton, Secretary; John White, Joseph Forester and George A. Kirkpatrick. The early common-school teachers were John L. Knight, Samuel Armstrong, John Supple, Robert Walker, now Rev. R. B. Walker, Joseph McGowan, John Sterrett, John B. Campbell, still living at a good old age, and Johnson Knight. Since the redistricting of the township in 1854, there have been six schools in operation.