Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County
Adams County schools, pp. 126-139 PDF (10.6 MB)
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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