The following excerpts have been rearranged for use in an oral presentation.
269-274 Mrs. Otis W. Durga.
Who Collected All Material for This Story.
Minnie Barnum, youngest daughter of George Barnum, was born with a twin brother in Haviland Hollow, Patterson, N.Y., January, 1861.
Her education was received in the Haviland Hollow school with the exception of a short period at Claverack College, leaving the Haviland Hollow school when fifteen years of age.
In 1877 she became a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
In 1888 she joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Was married to Otis W. Durga in 1890. Received diploma from the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle as a graduate of the class of 1892. With the exception of seven years lived where born until 1920, and now lives in New Milford, Conn.
For some years she was one of the trustees of the Haviland Hollow church.
She has lived a quiet but busy life, especially fond of nature, books and music.
A pleasure, yes, a real pleasure to talk of the old school days, it is something to which we all willingly respond.
When the new school house was built in Haviland Hollow and Miss Boynton was the teacher a social was to be held in the school room and it was suggested that a part of the entertainment be some papers read in honor of the life in the old school house. This was done and was the inspiration for something more. Commissioner Brooks and others favored the movement for still further knowledge of the old school, and these published letters testify to the many willing helpers.
While many may read these lines who have never known of this particular school, yet may their memories revert to the ones they have known with renewed tenderness and love. Such memories grow brighter with age. Surely the influences of all school life are securely woven into our very beings and as most important foundation stones for life here and in the beyond.
1139 MBD: Can anything be more pleasant in the busy hum-drum of after years than to permit your minds to wander back to the days of school life; the sweet memories and incidents that will come up, the smiling faces and pleasant countenances; the old school house door that has so often admitted you, swinging back and forth on its hinges, the very walks speaking forth of happy hours; while at your side stands the noble teacher who watches your every move and was as much interested in your success as you were yourself. As these recollections come back to you whose school lives have been spent in this community, your eyes will moisten as you realize those days are now gone forever. Never again will those days return. You who for so many months and years have been like one family and participated joyously together in the school room and play ground have doubtless pledged loyalty and faith to the school. You now step out of school life into life’s school and will be scattered far and wide, but the memories of your school days will ever form the brightest link in your chain of thought.
28. The first schoolhouse in what is now district No.3, of which we have reliable information was one on Clayhole hill now known as Brimstone hill and the late Mrs. Eliza Haviland, of Danbury attended it, later going down to the Hollow when the first schoolhouse was built there. Mrs. Haviland was born in 1832 and died in July, 1926, at the age of ninety-five. In talking of her early life with a friend at the time she was eighty-four, she related some facts of the Clayhole hill school, probably the only living person who had been a pupil there. “I went to school in the building near the Lane place, it was there where Theodore Lane later bought the farm. I remember three teachers–Lucy Bent and Betsy Roberts,* the latter was Levi Roberts’ daughter. She I* married Clarence Rundle, of Brewster, N. Y. My father’s brother, Willis Wood, taught there. That was the reason my mother came to let me go. The seats were made with holes through them and posts put down. The children thought it great fun to sit down real hard so that the benches would go way down if possible. I was two years old when I first visited the school. Some of the pupils were James Haviland, Jesse Haviland, Esther McCord, William Gerow, James Wood.”
29. This school was known as the Academy and was a large two story structure, divided into two rooms on the ground floor, and one very large one above.
31. Lucy L. Whaley, who married Montgomery S. Platt, December 19, 1832, [was] the grandmother of Wilford C. Platt, [(who is] now living in the New Fairfield district in the neighborhood where he was born, [and who] has furnished information taken from his grandmother’s diary of the date of 1828) and she probably was one of the early teachers at the Academy:
32. “She was born May 16, 1808, in the town of Sherman, Conn. Her parents were John and Huldah Wanzer Whaley. The family moved to New Fairfield about 1813. She attended the district schools, later went to the Jones Academy on Quaker Hill, N. Y. She died August 17, 1888. She also taught in several New Fairfield schools and at Holmes, N. Y.
33. “Lucy L. Whaley commenced teaching school when fourteen years of age (1822) at Coburn in the town of Sherman; she finished out her Aunt Wanzer’s term for her. At the first of her teaching she had seventy-five cents a week and boarded around, so the board was free as each one who sent scholars boarded the teacher a certain length of time, according to the number of children sent. The school was kept every other Saturday instead of teaching a half-day on Saturday of each week. I do not remember her wages later but it seems to me she did not have over twenty shillings ($2.50) a week.
34. “She used to mention of having taught school in Haviland Hollow the summer she was nineteen years old, 1827
51-56 The old school house in Haviland Hollow was new in 1839 at which time the land was given “in consideration of good will and benefits to said District,” by both John Laurence Senior and Junior. The Deed of the land was given April 8, 1839 made out by Frederick Stone, Commissioner of Deeds.
At that time we think the Laurence family owned the farm on each side of this piece of land. The building was erected some time that year, probably soon after the purchase of the land. The dear old building still stands, and speaks volumes to us. Its four walls made many things possible to the people of Haviland Hollow.
Around these seventy-five years cluster innumerable precious memories. The school building still stands a monument to these memories; the play ground in front, the running brook which found its way down f’rom Birch Hill, the hemlocks on the steep ravine, the mountain road, the arbutus and wintergreen patch are perennial monuments to the old associations. The little brook has seen many generations but it “goes on forever.”
The walk to and from school was usually very enjoyable; imagine a bright morning in May, when trees and fields have on their new coats of green, flowers are blooming and we are breathing their perfume, the birds in joyous song make our joy more complete, if we see God’s hand in all this, then are we in accord with it all, and while nature is praising God, so are we, and we go happily on our way, filled to the brim with delight.
Perhaps we too are clothed in a new spring dress, and a home trimmed straw hat. We have dinner pails in hand, perhaps books and pencils or a new slate, a bouquet of flowers for the teacher or some fancy work to use at noontime. As we go on we are joined by others, perhaps call for them, then each as for the other some new tale to relate, a bit of news or some questions to ask.
“Man’s heart is the same in all ages,” so as the day at school progresses, little difficulties arise and make tumult in that heart that was so happy in the morning, and it is torn and ‘rolled’ and alas the dreadful feelings we can take on; I had such an experience and a teacher told me “Do the right thing yourself, do your own part well, even if others do not”–this was one little instance, but as a rule we were happy together in our play.
60-61 Lovina went to school quite young, her mother sent quilt and pillow so she could have a nap. She remembers as her teachers, Felura Barnum, the Ball Pond Felura Dykeman; Augustus Cowl, son of William Cowl; Augustus Cowl’s grandfather was Benjamin Cowl and his wife was Mehetable Craft. Old Benjamin was in the Revolutionary War. Jedidiah Wanzer, was one of her teachers and Mary Crosby, her last teacher.
Mrs. Wheeler remembers some of the books as English Reader, Elementary Speller, Dabolls Arithmetic. The writing books were home made, the teachers set the copies, and made all their pens of goose quills; when she first went to school steel pens were unknown. The last day of school they always spoke pieces.
83-88. Miss Charlotte Crane wrote the following paper in November, 1915. She was then eighty-two years of age, her handwriting was steady, clear and most neatly done.
“Seventy-five years is a long while to go back and review our school days and impressions, yet they are as vivid as yesterday.
“Though living out of district No. 3, sister Mary and I always patronized the Hollow school when our own school was vacant. It was in 1843-4-5 that I attended the Haviland Hollow school. I had few mates then for nearly all were young ladies and I a child of ten and twelve; one mate was Pauline Laurence that I had many a friendly contest with trying to outdo each other in studies, but she died of brain fever in the midst of our plans to be always in school together, leaving me a sad mourner.
Parents paid their children’s tuition then and as my district had more children than money we had short terms. Better teachers were hired in the Haviland Hollow school. One Lydia Jane Crosby, another Mary Crosby were angels in my eyes, but the men teachers were more like pupils, studying instead of teaching. John Laurence taught only history as I remember, and Jedidiah Wanzer was smitten with figures.
“The generation before me said that at the old school up on the hill near the old Quaker Church, the teachers regularly called up the large boys to be whipped every day, believing that ‘in sparing the rod they were spoiling the child,’ but in this school the room was arched and strengthened with an iron rod, where we children performed our stunts.
“The seats and writing table or desks surrounded three sides of the room, with the teacher’s desk at the entrance in fact a good up to date school room, where we all joined in sport and study and seemed as one family.
120-134 Of my reminiscences of the old school in Haviland Hollow shall I go back to 1845, the first remembrance when hired with a stick of candy to make the journey alone, and reaching the little spring by the roadside that never ran dry, and where we never failed to stop and drink, and seeing George Spencer there with his little pack (who became demented through a love affair and ever after was a familiar character on our highway) I can assure you I returned to my home, and poured out my grief into my poor mother’s ears.
The study hours were fine, sitting on the bench swinging our bare feet, keeping time with our red apple on a string.
In the afternoon with a blanket spread on the floor we indulged in very peaceful slumber; but we began to grow, and things changed, duties were demanded, the multiplication table must be learned, and the “rule of three” must be proven. They who stood at the head of the class if careless must return to the foot to work their way up again.
Our teacher Emmeline Cowl, shut Lydia Cowl and myself in the writing desk for bad behavior, the lower part of the desk was enclosed. The modes of punishment were very numerous, and very few escaped.
The noon hours in the spring were generally spent in the winter-green patch, or down by the brook for mint–so long ago.
I call to remembrance very few of the teacher’s names.
I know there graduated off of these hard benches and rude desks many a bright mind, some in turn went out through our country districts to teach the “young ideas how to shoot.”
Wading the mountain stream and climbing over the rocks washed by the rivulet meant much to further our development.
John Laurence, the faithful old teacher in winter after farm work was done, often found it essential to pinch our ears, and to use the ruler that his strength might not diminish for the coming spring work.
The old school house afforded many a pleasant scene; spelling schools, and singing schools after we graduated gave us many a rare treat, some lost their hearts, others lost their hats.
Ann Mead, one of our best who made her teaching so practical, did a great deal for me in my last school years.
Sunday service by the faithful pastor sowed seed and brought forth a harvest which was great in quantity and rare in quality. Many have found their home in glory, and others are on the way. Kneeling by the small bench one Sunday and receiving baptism touched a spring in my life which will go with me through all eternity–it is a dear spot to me.
The praying band which led the mid-week prayer meeting, Oliver Hollister, Platt Bouton, Lewis Partrick, Gilbert Haviland and a few others, made it possible for conviction to find its way to many listening hearts, an Amen! then was no new thing.
Yes the old school house served its time for grand purposes and in memories of many it will never die.
Pipe organs and the new cults of this day can not compare with it. I would give more for the “Little Red School House” in the country than all the City fads.
198-213 Mrs. Antoinette Robinson Stevens.
Memories of Haviland Hollow.
I was born on Feb. 18, 1845, in Patterson, N. Y., but my earliest school days were spent in New York City. At or near ten years of age I went to live with my grandparents, John and Anna Field, in Haviland Hollow, and was a pupil in the school there until Feb. 1859 when a position was given me as teacher of what was then known as the Haynes District School in Patterson. My salary was to be $6.00 per month, including board, which meant stopping one or more weeks with the different patrons of the school according to the number of pupils sent from each family.
At the mature (?) age of 14 years the importance of my position was very real to me, when armed with the proper credentials furnished by the Putnam Co. School Commissioner. I approached the school house on the opening day and found a goodly number of boys and girls awaiting my coming and heard one large boy say to the rest of the crowd, “Huh, we can lick her easy.” It seems a former teacher has been deposed for inefficiency in discipline, and they were all primed for action in the line of bravery. I think if a vote of the crowd (including myself) could have been taken then and there, concerning the possibility of the boast being carried out successfully, the result would have been a unanimous “aye.”
After teaching a term of 7 weeks, I went to my home with $42 and courage enough to accept the charge of the Haviland Hollow school, the pupils all being former schoolmates.
This seemed a more hazardous experiment than my first, but with the co-operation of both parents and pupils, the work proved both pleasant and profitable for 2 1/2 or 3 years. (I have forgotten the exact time.)
Then feeling that I needed preparation for better work, I went to Ticonderoga as a student in an Academy for advanced grades and prospective teachers. When the course was finished, I returned to Haviland Hollow and again took charge of the H. H. school for several terms.
I have much to say of the good will and assistance given me by the Haviland Hollow people with whom I lived so long. The memory of their kindness is ever present with me. The names of Barnum, Whitehead, Lawrence, Haviland, Bouton, Durga, White, Partrick, Cowl and many others always recall pleasant scenes and friendly situations.
The old school house was not used alone for school work. It served as a chapel where many good old fashioned Methodist prayer meetings were held; a recreation hall where exhibitions were given; a meeting place for singing schools and lectures; and occasionally for a dance hall. The old wooden desks built in around three sides of the room, elaborately carved by the hands and knives of busy students, furnished seating room for a second row of visitors, and the old plank benches served for steps as well as seats. The floor of well worn planks was in no danger of becoming marred by restless feet.
After leaving Haviland Hollow I accepted a position in a Danbury school (Westville District) where I remained for five years. During that time I was married to G. Edwin Stevens, but still continued teaching.
My last engagement as a teacher was in the graded schools of Danbury where I continued the work for eleven years, when the death of my mother made necessary the establishment of a new home.
I always loved my work, and only hope it may have been profitable to those among whom I labored.
214-220 Charlotte Rebecca Barnum, familiarly known as Lottie Barnum, was the eldest daughter of George Barnum, of Haviland Hollow. She was a student in the Haviland Hollow school, finishing her education with one term in Mr. Benedict’s select [picture here]school in Patterson village. She began teaching at an early age and was a most capable teacher. Her first term of teaching was in Great Hollow district in 1865-6. All the other terms were in Haviland Hollow.
School Days of Mrs. C. R. Betts.
“Today calls for reminiscenses connected with the old school building in Haviland Hollow. What remains of the structure now stands where it did when I was a child of six years. It is the place where I began my school days, and but for one term they were finished there. I could not give the names of my teachers in their order. The first one I remember well was Harriett Rogers, a sweet woman with mild black eyes and hair in long curls. Then Adelia Hawley, Miss Wanzer,[sic] (a daughter of Ira Wanzer, who wrote an Arithmetic which was published in Danbury, Conn., in 1831.) My teacher, Mary Williams, is well remembered also Henry Swords, Hendrick Wildman, Helen Dean, William Pepper, and Charlotte Crane. Antoinette Robinson (now Stevens) was first a schoolmate then a teacher, and to her goes my sense of deepest gratitude for the lessons I learned.
There I went to Sunday school, prayer meetings, services by the pastor in charge, and terms of singing school taught by Mr. Viberts, and our cousin, Crandall Durga. These the young people rarely missed. When the deep snows came Uncle Diamon, over the line in Connecticut, with his oxen and sled would carry us safely through.
At the age of sixteen years I was teaching. In those days there were two terms in a year,–the summer and the winter term. The third term I found myself back in the old familiar school room. Nine terms I taught there. I loved my work and my pupils. Thus many happy days and evenings have I spent under its roof.
248-256 Lewis Starr Barnum.
Son of George Barnum of Haviland Hollow gives the following record:
“Antoinette Robinson was my first teacher. When I first went to school I remember running away many times, one day I thought I would go over the hill through the lots, then no one would see me, but Alfred White saw me and took me back, I had my opinion of Alfred White after that. I remember Laura Ferris and Sarah Sprague as teachers, I liked Fanny Taylor the best of any of them. When Sarah Sprague taught the boys did a lot of ‘cutting up.’ Cold days we would ask to sit on the little benches by the stove, sometimes there would be a lot of us there, and we would manage to get together a lot of papers and just before we left for our seats someone would drop a lighted match on the papers and we would have a fire, no one would own up to having done it.
One Singing school night when the school house was full and Viberts was teaching the class we got one of Uncle Stephen Whitehead’s barn doors, put it on a bob sled and rode down the big hill. We just missed a big rock and tore out a barway. At another time we hunted for a cat. Finally we got one over to Kiernan’s, put it in a bag, and when they were singng at their best, threw it through the window, sash and all, then Gilbert Haviland and George Brown chased us up into the hemlocks and then lost us.
269-314 Mrs. Otis W. Durga.
“My years in the Haviland Hollow school were from 1864 to 1876. I went when three and a half years old. Irene Cowl began at the same time and was three years old,” writes Mrs, Durga.
“Pillows and quilts were brought from our homes, and we were expected to take a nap on them every day, finally we found we could play instead of sleep under the shawl which was pinned up over us, thus ended the naps.
“The trustees were particular to get us the best of teachers and with very few exceptions I loved and respected all my teachers.
“In those days the desks and seats were parallel with three sides of the room. The teacher’s desk at the left of the door as one went in; the blackboard was to the right and behind the door. Some years later they put in desks for two, these desks were all of wood and not factory made; each one had a lid which raised up, this was a place for our books and we took pride in keeping our desks neat and having nice things for them; also in keeping the outside clean, even scouring them occasionally. With these seats the teacher’s desk was changed to the middle of the other end of the room, the blackboard at her right hand. These seats remained up to the time I left school. Some years later more modern seats were put in.
The building was painted red years ago, later a brown and finally all paint left to wear off. In front of the outside door there were large stone steps. They remained at least until 1890. We can’t forget the heavily made door, the ‘entry way’ and the place up overhead where bad boys sometimes secreted themselves. Wood, dinner pails, water pails, and wraps were found in the ‘entry,’ the big boys filled the space reserved for wood, and such fires as we had in that old box stove with its great length of pipe.
“We learned our letters from the first pages of spelling books, where were found capital and small letters, old English and script in alphabets. When we could read there were little reading lessons all through the book. The old spellers were Websters and Sanders, the latter had definitions to the words, and they were learned so thoroughly that all through life they were a profit. In the school room was a globe with maps of the two hemispheres on it. This had a standard and the globe was made to turn thus illustrating the movements of the earth on its axis. There were two plain globes arranged to show the movements of the earth and the sun in their relation to each other. We all remember the frame with wires fastened across and beads about half filling these wires so they could be moved back and forth and many a beginner learned to count on this. Examples were done with slate and slate pencils.
“I disliked grammar until we took up Brown’s grammar when Jennie Stephens taught. We used Monteith’s and McNally’s geography and Hutchison’s physology[sic], both among the favorite studies with me. For years we made our writing books at home of fools-cap paper, and the teachers would write or “set” the copy. Writing, even as every branch of study, was carefully taught. We were taught to draw maps, making measurements so as to get the latitude and longitude correct.
“Every reader contained much solid and profitable reading, the first pages of these readers were devoted to exercises on pauses, articulation, accent, emphasis, rising and falling inflections, and rules for reading. Many will remember the lines of eleven O’s, the first one to be said softly then increasing the sound until the eleventh was very loud and from loud to very soft.
“Spelling matches took time, but we liked them and hunted for the most puzzling words. Two spellers were decided upon either by the teacher or by ‘drawing cuts” one for the head of each line, and to alternately choose a speller for their own side. A word missed on one side was immediately passed to one on the other side, then if spelled correctly the speller could choose one from the other side (likely to be the best one of course) and so on until all were won over to one side, then they ‘spelled down’ each one sitting as they missed a word. The present day way is to ‘keep score.’ This does away with the confusion of going back and forth when a word is missed.
Credit marks were given for different things. The last day of school we must recite or read a composition, every one had a present from the teacher and sometimes prizes were given, usually a number of visitors that day.
A quiet way to ask favors was to raise one finger for assistance, 2 fingers for a drink of water, 3 for going out of the room, 4 to leave your seat, and 5 to whisper, or any other order preferred.
The pail of water with dipper in it was passed twice a day. It was no cross for anyone to do it as there was some fun in it, for instance when one started to drink another would hit the dipper and spill the water.
Compositions and speaking pieces came about once in two weeks.
When the “School Inspector” came we were almost as much flustrated over it as the teacher was.
In those days the people of the neighborhood and the teacher’s friends often called or if they drove up to the door and she went out, there was likely to be some gay times inside.
It was a great pleasure to have the teacher take walks or play games with us, and a rare treat when she would have school out of doors under a tree, or up by the cool brook. The “big” boys were the teachers’ hard problems. One day when Lottie Barnum rang the bell at recess one boy failed to come in, and when she called him especially, he said: “The probability is I’ll be in, in about half an hour.” One boy seeing a large spider on the floor remarked: “I think that is the biggest spider of its size I ever saw.”
We loved the tender birch twigs when the bark would peel, and that was the time for the boys to make whistles of birch and willow.
They were sometimes asked to cut whips for the teachers to use, some of the whips were good some bad and some full of knots. The boys traded jacknives[sic], played multiply peg with them, and pitched quoits. They took pride in having the fastest running sled; the sleds were all home made and taken to the shop to be ironed or else made so heavy that they did not require ironing. The mountain road was often so smooth with snow and ice from the coasting that one could hardly stand, the hill was steep and the water breaks high, so when going very fast the sleds would jump up off the ground; when the hill was made our sleds would go across the road and quite a piece into the meadow. The boys made stilts and walked on them, had running races and jumping tests, they would often run away to the brook or Birch Hill or Bouton’s mill pond, out of hearing of the bell and if late lost their recess.
The girls played house on the sides of the mountain road. We played Jennie Jones and Sally Waters and Tramp. We would say to the insect grandfathers:
“Old grandfather greybeard
Without tooth or tongue
Tell us from which direction
The cows will come.”
and it did seem he always started in the right direction.
Hoot owls quite frequently gave their night songs, and how many boys remember when they were naughty that that bird was supposed to say: “I want that little bo-oy hoy” with terrible accent, and thus they were made to have a wholesome fear of something.
From these happy days we pass to the deeper meanings and realizations of life, being always thankful for the influence of righteous teachers, and realizing they were of great value to us and much more than they realized.
The passing of the old school house and some of the much loved teachers and schoolmates, do not quench but rather favor our reminiscenses, for surely these things belong to eternity as well as to time, they are everlasting treasures of memory.
344-360 Mrs. E. S. Lott.
Emma A. Cowl, daughter of William Henry and Carrie Cowl, of Cowl’s Corner, Haviland Hollow, received her education in the Haviland Hollow school, excepting some time in the Pawling school and at Claverach College.
“One of my first recollections of school was not caring very much about getting started in the morning.
“I think that I began at the early age of. five, during the pleasant months but did not attend regularly until seven or older.
“My first teacher was Miss Fannie Taylor, a friend of my mother’s. She used to accompany me that long but interesting, mile and a half from our house to the school. On stormy days, we were fortunate enough to drive.
“One thing that come back to me vividly is my getting about as far as Ed Leonard’s one morning, when I saw an opportunity to ride home, and was suddenly seized with illness . My little cousin, Harry Wilson, about my age, decided that he best be gallant and return home with me. Shortly, after we reached home he returned to my house enroute for school, after being properly punished. My mother also decided that my ‘school fever’ as over and that I too should return to school. I never tried that again.
“I grew very fond of school and usually adored my teacher.
“You probably will wonder how about the pupils. Well, there were quite a colony of us, reaching from Birch Hill to the Connecticut line, and down to Cowl’s Corner, where I hailed from.
“I remember that while quite a little girl I liked spelling, that frequently we had spelling classes, and the teacher would insist on my standing with the older ones and have a try. It usually a case of” I’m sorry that, I spelled that word, I hate to go above you.”
I also remember the good times we at our noon hour. Shall we ever forget Charlie Bouton ‘s big sled. How all waited our turn to go up Birch Hill and ride to the brook in Mr. Whitehead’s meadow? (Quaker Brook).
We played all kinds of childish games London Bridge, Ring around the Rosie, etc.
384-85 Mrs. Jennie E. Selleck
When a young girl, my parents lived in the Great Hollow school district, New Fairfield. There were but few children in the district and as the money to pay the expenses of running the school depended on the number of children of school age, there was but a short session in the summer, to allow for a longer winter term When the older boys could attend, as they were kept at work during the spring and summer.
So when Great Hollow school closed I was sent to the Haviland Hollow school. A long distance for a girl of about seven or eight years old to walk. My oldest sister, Mary Williams, was the teacher at that time, so I took my dinner pail in hand and made my way through dust and mud to Haviland Hollow school. Very shy and strange I felt among a house full of older and larger boys and girls. Everything was harmonious and peaceful, and the teacher was very determined that my lessons should be well learned, or I lost my recess.
399-406 Katherine Lent Stevenson
I served the Haviland Hollow School as teacher during the winter term of 1869 and 70, and the summer of 1870. As I look back upon the experience my first feeling is that of overwhelming wonder at the audacity of my courage, or, shall I say, the presumption of my ambition. I had only just passed my sixteenth birthday, was short in stature and very slight in build. (A defect which the late years have abundantly remedied), so that I looked not more than fourteen. I had had absolutely no experience and was as ignorant of the principles of pedagogy as one could well be. Moreover, the winter term of a country school is the one attended by the “big boys;” and.there were traditions of former difficulties occasioned by those same big boys in the Haviland Hollow School.
But I had always longed to be a school teacher and I felt so absolutely certain that I could do it on the basis, perhaps of the old proverb that “those who know nothing fear nothing,” that I persuaded my father, Rev. Marvin R. Lent, at that time pastor of the Methodist churches at New Fairfield, Conn., and Haviland Hollow, to make application for me to the august body of trustees. The application was favorably received and I was given permission to consider myself accepted provided I should pass the examination at the hands of the School Commissioner. The most active trustee at that time was Gilbert Haviland who lived near the school.
I do not remember the name of the Commissioner but I shall never forget his kind face and genial manner as he came to the parsonage to interview the applicant who was frightened almost out of her senses. His manner quickly gave assurance and I believe he reported that I passed very creditably both in “the three R’s” and in that other branch upon which was laid so much emphasis at that time, grammar. I think I was not examined in algebra, but I knew that I later taught it, or at least attempted to teach it. I have often wondered since what would have been my fate had the regent’s system been then in force in my native state, or had a less kindly Commissioner undertaken the task of testing the very superficial depths of my learning. Really, the only thing I can say today in extenuation of my attempting to teach without a more thorough preparation is that I thought I could do it and, also, that the preparation of a Normal School course was a much more unusual thing then than now.
I taught that school for the munificent salary of five dollars a week during the first term and six dollars the second. The theory was that I “boarded round” but my home being within a mile of the school I naturally boarded there. How well I remember the walk back and forth to that little old school house and I can see the much inscribed door as it swung back each morning and even feel the key between my fingers as I applied it, (sometimes “with a very heavy heart, if things had gone hard the day before), to the key hole. The desks were of the old fashioned type, one long desk going entirely around three sides of the building with benches just in front and never a sign of a support for the bent backs of the children. The teacher’s desk was at the left of the door as you entered the building and the big black board at the right. The old box stove was set in the middle of the room and the benches for the smaller children were placed on either side.
As I remember between forty and fifty children attended the school that first term and their ages ranged from four years to eighteen. There were four “big boys,” or shall I say biggest boys, and my personal debt of gratitude to them is so great that I feel ashamed that I do not remember all their names. I do remember Buckley Barnum and Charlie Bouton but there were two others equally helpful. If the eyes of any one of them fall upon these words will they please consider themselves most heartily thanked for all that they did in helping me during those perilous days. For the plain truth is that I could never have gotten through that school at all with any semblance of success if those boys had not constituted themselves my special cabinet. The few punishments I ventured to inflict on particularly obstrepetous youngsters were lamentable failures. Indeed I shall never forget my mortification at overhearing “Peter,” the little mulatto boy was a very imp of mischief, laughing at recess over my attempt to ferule him. He had howled so vigorously during the operation that I was quite filled with remorse but it seemed that the howl had been purely a sham and that, in the language of the immortal Topsy, I “couldn’t kill a skeeter.” Well, my big boys took up a kind of subsidiary discipline and again and again I have heard one say to a smaller boy “You’d better not do that again or we’ll give it to you.” On the whole, though, I own that I was not a success as a strict disciplinarin, I believe that there was a very cordial, normal feeling of liking and co-operation between the pupils and their inexperienced teacher and owe them thanks for their kindness and forebearance.
One memory stands out especially and that as when an epidemic of whooping cough swept through the community and it seemed as if every child in the school became a victim to it. Laws against contagious diseases were not rigidly enforced then, if, indeed, they existed, and so no change was made in the school attendance. As I look back upon it I wonder I did not have nervous prostration for sometimes eight or ten would be rushing simultaneously to the door till the paroxysm should pass.
How well I remember the woodsy road which wound behind the school to the gentle slope of hill, or mountain as we called it, beyond. The wild flowers which were brought by little chubby hands–hepatica, anemone,bloodroot, the dainty arbutis,moccassin plant, and scores of others.And the votive offering of fruits in their season, the dear little lasses whose lips were held up for the morning kiss—they all abide among life’s most pleasant memories. I know I made countless blunders but children are the sweetest of forgivers and I can but hope that some of today grown, I trust, to a useful manhood and womanhood, still have a tender thought for their youthful teacher,” Katie Lent.
498 Miss Ferriss taught in the Haviland Hollow school in 1888-9. Mr. James Foshay was commissioner. She attended teachers’ institute held at he Thompson House, Lake Mahopac.
506-517 Miss Mary Hurlburt
now Mrs. Walter L. Wood, of Danbury
“I began to teach at the old Haviland Hollow school in Sept. 1890,” wrote Mrs. Mary Hurlburt Wood, in January of 1916.
“The school as I first saw it looked very pleasant, tucked in the corner under a large tree at the foot a hill.”
It had just been shingled and shingles lay all about. What fine fires they made later for the boys and girls picked them up and piled them in the entry. The school house had been cleaned out and looked real comfortable. There were a few window lights out which I replaced later–my first attempt as a glazier.
“On either side of the room were hand carved desks, opening at the top. In the center of the room a large stove and opposite the door a small high platform containing the teacher’s desk and chair.”
“While I was inspecting the interior of the school room, some one said there was a snake out in front of the door. I shuddered. but the chidren instead of being afraid, as I naturally thought they would be, rushed out and soon dispatched Mr. Snake. I went to view the remains and saw it was a large black snake–the largest I ever saw.”
“When we started to prepare for lessons I discovered their books were of various kinds, making it impossible to form classes. Most of the books belonged to a former generation, but for all that I found some of the children excellent readers and some proficient in other things. Their conduct was obedient and respectful.
“The blackboard was a failure. It was beautifully black but slippery and shiny, and the crayon would not make a visible mark. James Towner was supervisor, the name of the one who followed I do not recall. He was tall and light and looked like a giant to me when I first saw him enter our school room door. I had what is now called an attack of the ‘grippe’ I think. I was cold and my head ached so that I could scarcely keep my head up, with a large shawl on and my eyes watering, I saw this man enter the room. When he told me who he was I felt like falling through the floor, but he was very pleasant and did not prolong his visit.
“Nearly all the children as well as myself used to take our lunch and on pleasant days would go up on the hill back of the school house to eat it. It was so pleasant up there and we found beautiful arbutus in the spring of the year at the edge of the woods, also wintergreen leaves and berries. In the fall when chestnuts were ripe we would gather some and washing out one of the dinner pails would set it on the fire with chestnuts and enough water to boil them, and after school have a treat.
“At Christmas we set up a tree that the boys brought from the woods near by. Each one had a gift and candy, and all ‘spoke pieces’.
“The neighbors were so kind that my thirty-two weeks in Haviland Hollow were very pleasantly spent.
522-532 Mrs. Elisha Barrett
One of the most interesting of reminiscenses of a teacher in the old Haviland Hollow school are those sent in by Mrs. Elisha Barrett. The period, as she remembers, was 1892 and the teacher was Miss Hanna D. Avery. Mr. Millard Agor was Commissioner.
“My very ambitious mother persuaded me while still a student at Drew Seminary to take the county teachers’ examinations and that is how it happened that while I was still in my sixteenth year I was transplanted almost over night from my home and classmates in Carmel to Haviland Hollow to become a schoolmarm.”
“It wasn’t easy, and although everyone was kind I shall never forget the awful attack of homesickness suffered. It was excruciating. I can feel sorry for myself even yet, when I think of it. It was during this period that some kind-hearted person intent on making me feel at home told me that ten or twelve of my predecessors in the district had married and made their homes in the locality permanently.
“I registered a vow on hearing this that, Providence permitting and my mind and legs held good, no such fate should overtake me. While I kept the vow, intentionally or otherwise, I grew to be very fond of the big majestic valley and deeply interested in the lives of the inhabitants.
“I remember I carried out in Haviland Hollow a theory, which I have adhered to ever since whether in teaching, social service or suffrage work, and that is to know your people personally wherever it is possible, especially where you are dealing with their children. A call on each home separately has so many times proved to be the open sesame to many fine acquaintances which might otherwise not been formed.
“How distinctly I remember the physical appearance of the Hollow. I can shut one eye and see valley and hills flooded in the bright morning sun and the school marm and her flock of thirteen (general average hot-footing it along the road toward the school, the smaller pupils dog trotting to keep up with the older ones.With the other eye shut I can see the same crowd returning with the afternoon sun pretty low over the hill and the curves of Quaker brook gleaming in and out through the meadows. It always seemed to me that the brook must be glad when it overflowed for then it could straighten out.
“The animals I knew I remember as distinctly as the people. There was a dog named Guess whose owner lived near the school building; Old Shep at Mr. Kinner’s and his bird dog Jack, with whom I had many a romp. Dolly, the horse, who took us to school in bad weather and the little team of blackes–‘thirty-year old colts’ as Mr. Kinner called them.
“There was Mr. MacDonald’s ‘cows’ husband’! I shall remember him as long as I remember anything. One afternoon as we passed the barnyard where this ferocious animal was tied by a ring in his nose, a number of the older boys bellowed and roared away at his majesty until he roared a couple of roars back and I hustled the children along not liking the tone of his voice. Scarcely had we gone two hundred feet down the road when with a terrifying bellow, which made each individual red hair stand up on my head, he came tearing down on the poor little bunch of knowledge seekers. Shedding hats, caps, dinner pails , books–everything that could be dropped or kicked off in a hurry, we raced up a steep hill just west of the MacDonald house. I had the youngest Ludlow child (aged three) by one arm and if his feet touched the ground more than twice I failed to notice it. About half way up the hill was a big rock, steep on the down hill side but running in level at the top. On this we scrambled and out to the steep edge hoping the bull would confine his attentions to the front of the rock, which he did until Mr. MacDonald and his men arrived with some pitchforks and took our soloist back to the barn, but the ‘skeer’ I got is with me yet. I shall never advocate shorthorns for household pets.
“The Ludlow and Wheeler families made up a large percentage of the school attendance and the ages ranged from seventeen down. My first day’s roll call revealed one ‘culled pusson’ who said his name was Christopher Columbus. Not knowing at the time that the Columbus family had no branch living in Haviland Hollow I did not question him further but that night made some inquiries of the trustee. The following day I said to the boy’ ‘Chris, what is the rest of your name?’ He answered proudly: ‘Christopher Columbus Clifton Cole Wheeler’ and then I did not wonder that the poor little legs were so knocked-kneed with such a heavy name to carry around. There were two of this family whose hair shaded to a terra cotta color and this seemed to them to prove almost as good as a relationship to the teacher whose crowning glory was unmistakably red.
“The school was decidedly ungraded; if there were three books of the same edition I fail to remember them. We burned wood in cold weather and consequently had to fire up after we reached the building and thaw out the water pail. Everybody sat with his wraps on until the room was warm enough to take them off. Mr. Phelps, the collector-treasurer, used to ask me religously every time he paid me what I was going to do with all that money.
542-46 Lottie Strang Lent
“My first memories of the old Haviland Hollow school are that at the age of five years I was permitted to start in school, this to me in those young years, seemed just the happiest day I had ever seen. Suppose my actual schooling at the beginning did not mean books so much as to be with other children all day and to take a lunch as others did exchange almost the entire contents of the box with others, which to me looked so much better than my own; but through trouble with this lunch box I received the one and only switchmg I ever had during my school days.
“I can remember on cold winter days the long benches were drawn close to the stove which stood in the center of the room, and here we would blister our faces and freeze our backs, this was a daily performance until early spring as it was nearly as cold inside the building as it was outside.
549-54 Ethel and Florence Bouton
“Just a recollection of our early school days: At nine o’clock we were promptly called to our seats by the ringing of a small hand bell which Miss Crane rang from the little platform in front of the school house, the only entrance to the building. When all was quiet, each head buried in his book hard at work, the only sound in the room was the tick of the old clock, which stood on the teacher desk. Suddenly came the clatter of a horse’s feet and the rattle of an old wagon down the narrow stony, road of Birch Hill, which was but a few feet from the little school house, deadening the noise of the old horse and wagon came the great-Irish voice: “Huckleberries, three for a quarter, huckleberries, three for a quarter. The school room was still no longer-all of our childish laughter burst forth, which took Miss Crane some time to subdue, and often it was necessary for our ambitious, conscientious teacher to pin newspapers up to the windows to keep us from watching old Pat Welsh disappear over the hill.
“Pat Welsh not only shouted at the schoolhouse but at every house in the Hollow and he did it in the most emphatic manner, not only once but all the time he was in hearing; often I so early on hot summer mornings that I he awakened many sleepers. Also did much shouting in peddling out the berries in the streets of Danbury. They all knew Pat Welsh.
682-686 From 1839 to 1914 the seventy-five years of the Old School in Haviland Hollow,
In the forties and fifties the school [attendance] was very large, the benches around the sides and the two benches for little ones would be filled.
It was not unusual at that time for capable men to take the school for the winter term, when their farm work was not so heavy, and the big boys were more in school.
580-81 Mrs. Edna McDonald Allen of Sherman, Ct: “The most severe punishment I can remember receiving from Miss Crane was for whispering, when my seatmate and myself were made to sit on two small soap boxes in the middle of the room. The boys were sometimes switched round the legs with a small switch which some other boy was always eager to get for the teacher; other times they were told to stand in a comer or had their hands slapped with a ruler. Slates were used by all the children and were taken to the teacher to be looked over after our work was finished, then the work was erased with a sponge or rag. We, of course, had pads and composition books but these were used mostly for work which we wished to keep.
“In summer time we played hide-and-seek, tag, London bridge, ball, running bases as a regular game. Sometimes the girls played house under the large tree near the school using clam shells for dishes and acorns for cups. We used to gather mint that grew near the brook back of the school house and I have never had any since that tasted nearly as good. In winter we had splendid coasting down Birch Hill when there was snow. We always had bounds, generally the bridge, Mr. Phalen’s house and as far as the first dike uphill.
600-604 Theo Haven, the daughter of Rev. Theodore T. Haven, who was pastor of Haviland Hollow in 1911-12:
“I was interested to hear that the history of the little brown school house in the Hollow is to be written. I can readily call to memory the seats carved by generations of restless fingered lads; the floor worn by the tread of many creeping or storming feet.
“I can feel the breeze as it blew softly through the loose sashed windows. I can hear the buzz of the bees, workers and drones, mingling with the hum of lips, conning over tasks which seemed so hard to the workers, so hateful to the drones.
“In winter the breeze was a howling gale with flurries of snow and we gathered close around the little wood stove and watched its sides glow out so-bravely. One side of us was warm anyhow. That little stove could smoke too and many a tear was shed on its account till our gallant trustee came to the rescue, cleaned up in fine shape and even took us home in his big bobsled.
“There were the funny things, too. One day I heard a great clatter and I came out to find a lad flat on the ground with his head thrust through the bottom of the water pail. Also the lad whose bruised head bandaged after he had run against a stone wall while playing automobile.
184-191 Mrs. Judith Bouton Baldwin.
I went to school in 1849, was then three years old. My mother sent a comfortable and pillow to the school so that I could have a nap every day; this arrangement was often made in those days for little children.
Some of the books we used were Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book, McGuffey’s Reader, and Daboll’s Arithmetic.
We played ball, hail over, (throwing the ball over the school house), kitty corner, blind man’s bluff, Sally Waters, duck on the rock, etc.
I taught school when fifteen years old. Was married in 1861.
615 BENJ. P. COWL the junior member of the William H. Cowl family who lived in the “Hollow” from 1880 to 1894: The daily routine at the school starting at nine, fifteen minutes recess at ten-forty-five, dinner from twelve to one. School out at 4 p m. Recitation and study period between these hours and no home work. Our books were Greenleaf’s Arithmetic, Towne’s Speller and Barne’s History. During my time we had several teachers. They were ”rare birds” with a mentality of a child of eight years of this day and age and received the lucrative salary of $8.00 per week. There was an exception, Miss Carrie Crane, she knew her onions and I owe what early training I received to her teachings. Dinner hour was play-hour. Our-games, hare and hound, hide and seek, duck on the rock, and coasting. Very few modern youngsters know I about duck on the rock. It is played by having a goad tender who is to keep a square rock upright on a large flat stone while the others throw five pound rocks at the duck.
617 A few years before I came to school the interior was reconditioned, equipped with two rows of desks seating two students at a desk and facing North, with the teacher’s desk at the extreme North and facing South, and a large wood burning stove in the center. Space between stove and teacher’s desk being used by the reciting class. The desks were of heavy white pine and ornately jackknife carved. The top of the desk on hinges and could be raised up. The space underneath used for storing books. The teacher called the roll the students answered “present.” Our attendance numbered about ten but the teacher was always very serious with the roll call. We then recited the Lord’s Prayer. Around ten-thirty a bucket of water was passed with a large dipper in it. Everyone took a full dipper, dumping the unused water back into the pail. Pass the water was a job for the “teacher’s pet.” I never got the job.
618 When our desk covers were raised they made a perfect screen from the teacher and a good many of us were busy behind the screen either grazing on fruit or manufacturing wet paper balls. While the class was reciting the rest were engaged in trying to make the paper balls stick to the ceiling. If things seemed to be a little quiet someone would drop a desk cover and it would make a noise like a clap of thunder, this was always followed by a ten minute lecture, from the teacher. All work was suspended on Friday. Alternating Fridays we had “speaking,” the next Friday was reserved for the thrashing of those who did not know their “pieces” and had committed other offences during the week.
624 One of our students was an epileptic and any unusual noise would cause a fall in a fit. Practically every day while this youngster was reciting, somebody would either drop a slate or a desk cover and the next thirty minutes were devoted to “first aid.”
593 Miss Grace N. Stewart, who is still teaching and unmarried, tells something of her experiences while teaching the Haviland Hollow school in 1908-9:
597 “At Christmas time the children may remember, even though they have had many more elaborate ones since, how we took down the maps and trimmed the wall with heavy wreaths; of how we tried to darken the room so our Christmas angel would look more celestial, and of the popcorn balls that were upon the tree until the heat of the room melted them and they fell off one after another with dull thuds. Then it was that we found our youngest visitor had crawled under the desks and was eating the fallen fruit of the Christmas tree.
The new School
744-748 Miss Bessie Day.
Miss Day was the last teacher in the old school house, and finishing her term in the new school house made her the first teacher there. She writes:
The most exciting experience that was mine during my service as teacher in District No.3, Patterson, N. Y. was the removal from the old school house to the new one. It occurred on Tuesday morning, Feb. 23, 1915.
It would be impossible to describe to anyone how delighted the children were, and indeed it was a great contrast to the previous building.
Now we had separate seats, two enclosed libraries. Large light windows, two large cloak rooms, with shelves for the lunches, and a furnace with a jacket around it which was part of the very adequate ventiilating system.
1135 The first social gathering ever held at the new Haviland Hollow School was last Thursday evening, Oct. 28th, and it proved to be one long to be remembered. The school room was attractive with drawings and many Halloween decorations made by the children and lighted with gay Jack O’Lanterns. Some maps drawn about 40 years ago and other drawings of a later date were on exhibition. The children as Indians, witches and ghosts welcomed the guests who numbered nearly a hundred. After several recitations by the pupils, three papers in honor of the old school were read.
1136 Then came speech making under the direction of Mr. O.W. Durga. Fortune telling in a decorated booth and many other witchy things, followed by pumpkin pies, doughnuts, coffee and apples concluded the evening. The proceeds were $9.00.
1137 To our teacher Miss Z. J. Boynton who had everything in charge, great credit is due.
Edward Shorts, Caretaker on Burdick Place, Held for Grand Jury on Arson Charge
753-782 Miss Zylpha Jane Boynton, of Syrause, N. Y., taught in the new school house the school year of 1915-16. This paper written by her in 1916 may be of some value and so not out of place at this time. Miss Boynton was married to Lewis G.Pugsley, Jr. of Patterson, N.Y. in June, 1917, and now has a family of three daughters.
Her paper follows:
The new school in a little hollow at the forks of the road stands the new school building of which we may well be proud.
It is one of the most up to date shools in Putnam County of the credit of its construction is due to Mr. William Axford, Trustee at that time, and Mr. J H. Brooks, district superintendent schools.
In the yard stand several old apple trees from which last fall we picked, barreled, and shipped enough apples to buy a fine clock and many of the little thing that make our room so pleasant.
Bordering the play-ground is the brook, a source of never ending delight to the kiddies.
Only this morning they rushed in with two fishes, a crab and a huge mud-turtle, trophies of an exploring party during recess.
The building is nearly square with a front porch and a wide door facing the east. Windows each side of the door light the two cloak rooms.
It is painted a soft gray with trimmings of white.
This Arbor Day we planted ten rose bushes on the south and south-west some of which we hope will live to beautify the yard.
By the porch are morning glories and under the windows poppies are planted.
Now step inside and look around you. Not much like the old school room, I hear some one say.
On entering, the cloak rooms with shelves for the dinner pails, are on each side, girls at the left and boys at the right. No excuse for lost caps or rubbers now.
I can invite you to be seated in one of my two fine oak chairs which match my desk, and glance around. Isn’t it pleasant, so light and bright and cheerful.
Under the .windows, and we have four large ones side by side facing the west, is a low broad shelf built by my boys and covered with red crepe paper, in the center is our window box which has been a joy all of the year for after Jack Frost nipped our foliages, we filled it with evergreens hung with their tiny cones. Now the vines and flowers are blooming again.
On each side of the window-box are potted plants, and jars of cherry blossoms and cow-slips, while on teacher’s desk is a big bunch of violets gathered by childish hands.
No doubt you will next observe the black-boards. How we revel in those boards which extend way across the room both front and back.
As it is May our stencils (bought with apple money too) are soldier boys with swords, gun and drum, marching along the track.
In front “Old Glory” waves with the “Stars and Bars,” to help us remember Memorial Day.
I supervise, but the kiddies do the work.
Last month we had Easter lillies, chickens and rabbits. June will bring wild roses, each month its own stencil.
Over the boards are the borders and posters made by happy, busy hands. Our back border is little people from “Mother Goose,” “Little Jack Horner,” “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,”
The children draw, color and cut out, then the best one goes up to stay.
In front are the posters. “TheGoose Girl” seems to be the favorite.
Over the recitation seats are two framed pictures. One is the brook with the school in the distance, and the other “No 3’s” pupils and teacher, these were a Christmas gift to us last year from Mrs. Otis Durga.
Our heating system is very successful. “No matter how the north wind doth rave” we are always “just right” inside.
Opposite the windows are the built-in libraries, two of them with glass doors which keep out the dust and dirt. The doors are curtained with Japanese crepe paper.
Our clock ticks busily away in the, space beyond the doors while in between are hung our calendars, our spelling booklets and our very best compositions, sawing cards, etc. We are so busy the time just seems to fly, and we are doing good work too for our motto is “What is worth doing is worth doing well.”
May time deal gently with the New School and as her pupils pass on and I out into the whirl of life may they too look back with loving memory to the hours spent here and feel that they have learned some things, not taught in books that have helped them to “play the game” squarely.
There is but one thing greater than success and that is to deserve success and may we all do that.
822 A mystery that has surrounded the burning of the Haviland Hollow schoolhouse, two barns on the Sinclair Kennedy farm and one on the Robert Burdick farm in Haviland Hollow was cleared up Sunday with the arrest of Edward Shorts, caretaker of the Burdick farm, who claims he set fire to his employer’s barn and then set the other places afire so that suspicion would be diverted from him.
823 Shorts is 52 years old and came here from New Haven. He was arrested Sunday afternoon by Constable Burns of Patterson working in company with state police. Shorts was taken before a Justice of the Peace in Patterson and held for the action of the grand jury on a charge of second degree arson. He was remanded to the county jail at Carmel.
824 In a signed confession to the sheriff of Putnam county Shorts admits setting fire to all four places. He states in his confession that he originally came to Patterson from New Haven, Conn., to work on the Burdick estate. A difference arose between Shorts and his employer and it was in the spirit of revenge that he set fire to the barn on the Burdick estate. Then fear that he would be discovered as the guilty party caused Shorts to visit two other estates and set fire to the barns on them and then the Patterson schoolhouse was visited by the man with the incendiary mind and he set that public building to the torch.
825 An investigation was started to locate the man who set fire to the school and buildings. And an end of the probe and Constable Burns arrested Shorts Sunday in his quarters on the Burdick estate.
826The amount of damage caused by Shorts incendiarism will amount to several thousands of dollars. The most serious loss is the Haviland Hollow School. Arrangements have been made for taking care of the school children who attended the Haviland Hollow school by sending them to other Patterson schools.
827 For the past year the question of consolidating the Haviland Hollow school with the Patterson school has been under consideration and it is probable the consolidation will now be perfected.