Amanuensis Monday, hosted by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.
Three branches of my family were all in Ontario County, New York in the early 1800's, with the Hall's and Glover's settling in the town of Phelps at Oaks Corners. In celebration of the town's centennial the Phelps Citizen ran many pieces about the early history. I have been transcribing items as I have time. Other transcriptions may be found here.
The Phelps Citizen, Thursday, May 9, 1889
Early History of Phelps
(Continued from Last Week)
The first occupant of the farm now owned by Russell B. Cobb, (at least the first I ever knew or heard of, ) was Captain Hall, father of Joseph Hall, and father in-law of Roswell Baker. Capt. Hall and his wife lived and died on that farm. After their death the family was broken up, and then Roswell Baker took the farm, I think that must have been about the year 1819 or 1820.
David Burnett was not a farmer, He lived a mile east of Oaks Corners.
The school district of Oaks Corners and vicinity, was No. 1. The first school house was built of brick, as is the present one, and accupied the same ground, only very much of the hill was scraped down when the new house was built, which made it much more easy to access, as many of the little ones and some of the larger growth during the winter seasons suffered severe falls striving to reach that hill of learning.
As it was sixty years ago, there were no graded schools in those days, but I think District No. 1 can boast of having had a graded school house even in that early day. As you entered the school room there was a level floor, whose length equaled the width of the school building, and was twelve or fifteen feet wide. On each side of the door and on two sides of this apartment were two comfortable seats for small children, but the only back those seats had was the cold brick wall, from thence one step brought us on to a platform about four feet wide extending across the room. On that platform the scholars were called out, made to toe the mark, make their manners, and go through the daily excises [sic] of reading and spelling. On one end of the platform stood the teacher's desk, on which lay the inevitable ferule, which greeted the offender with such warmth on the hand that it would last nearly through the day, as many a poor culprit could testify. From this you took another uoward grade which broght you to a platform wide enough for a writing desk and seat behind it, and so it continued step by step higher than the last through the length of the house.
Mr. Eaton was the first teacher that I have any recollection of. I was only about five years old, and the most that I remember of him was, he was a terror to evil doers. Thise old poplar trees in front of the house were set out the season that he taught. They were not much larger than the sprouts that were so common and so frequently used in schools in those days and I well remember the stringent rules and penalties that would be inflicted on any one that touched one of those trees. I hardly dared to go that part of the yard among the crowd of scholars, for fear my dress might brush against on of those trees.
I think the next teacher was Erastus Burt, a brother of the late Dr. J. Burt, of Phelps. Miss Mix, Mr. Penman, Miss Blossom, from Geneva; Mr. Cutting, Miss Clara Sickenson, Alfred Riggs, Mrs. Wheeler, who lived and died near Phelps; Mrs. Covill, a widowed sister of Daniel Trowbridge; Miss Bedell, afterwards Mrs. Wirts and others.
From this period you will probably recollect more names of teachers than I can. I could tell you more in connection with the school and school days of my childhood, how they tore out the inside of the old school house and built it all over, made two long writing desks on each side and one on the end, with long benches behind them, and no backs at all. But I am afraid I shall spin out so long a yarn that you will lose what little interest you may have found in what I have already written. So I leave it, hoping that the items which I have been able to gather from my own recollections, amy be of some use to those better qualified for historical writing than myself.
P. C. Wright.
In addition to the above named teachers I will name Mr. Corder, Miss Caroline Loomis, who married John Pullen of Oaks Corners, Ichabod N. Duning, Mr. Babcock, Miss Philomenia Cooper the writer of the above letter for which many thanks are due her for the favor. She married our esteemed citizen, Charles S. Wright of Oaks Corners, Ann Gray, Peculia Webster, a neice of Chester Webster, who married a Mr. Carpenter, Stephen Wilson, John Fairchild, Benjamin Young, Susan A. Wirts, a daughter of the late John Wirts of Phelps. She married Elisha Holmes of Oaks Corners, who was another teacher of the same school. There were other teachers, but I do not recall them. I hope there are others who will make out the list.
Miss E. Northham