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Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County
(1999)

Adams County schools,   pp. 126-139 PDF (10.6 MB)


Page 126

Adams County 
Schools 
Country Schools 
"May we hope that the near future may develop an 
understanding and unity of thought, and purpose, that shall 
make everything pertaining to our schools of the highest order, 
physical, moral and mental." 
(J.M. Higbee, County Superintendent of Schools, 1879) 
Wn 1856, Sophronia Temple, who 
had just settled near Plainville, 
wrote that "we have a good district 
school within one mile of us." Her son Justin was 
a student that winter but, as she continued, "it is 
too snowy for [daughters] Nellie and Annie .... They 
have a fine time in summer among the wildflow- 
ers. They bound over the bluffs like roebucks." 
It was, of course, concern on the part of 
parents that their children do more than "bound 
over the bluffs" that led to the creation of the 
public school system. In Adams County, as 
elsewhere, it began at the most local of levels. 
When the population of children grew large 
enough, neighbors asked their town government to 
organize a school district. In some places, they 
didn't wait for the town, but started on their own.. 
The first school mentioned in early county 
histories was started by Thomas Rich in Plainville 
in 1850, but records are sparse. It is not clear 
where this "academy" was located, how long it 
lasted, how many scholars attended or whether or 
not it was a public school or a private venture of 
the three Rich families who lived in the village and 
probably had enough children to fill a school all by 
themselves. 
A few years later, settlers in Jackson hired 15- 
year-old Amelia Seward, set her up in a twelve 
foot-square smokehouse donated by the Vroman 
family and told her to teach. Among her qualifica- 
tions, Seward could list that she "was educated in 
the common schools of New York and Beaver 
Dam." She was also reported as being a "close" 
relative of New York Governor William Seward, 
who also served as Abraham Lincoln's secretary 
of state. Seward's wages were reported at $1.25 
per week when school was in session, plus room 
and board in the homes of her students. Seward 
continued to teach until she married William Hyatt 
and took up farming in New Haven. It was pre- 
126 
Above: A sou- 
venir of the 
school year 
presented by 
teacher Zilpha 
Merriman to her 
students at 
Diamond School, 
Lincoln, in 1921. 


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