Heritage Journals: Stories collected by 6th grade students of Jaqui Eicher, 2002

“Syracuse School From 1881 to 1900

“On March 1st, 1881, during the annual school meeting held at the Allphin Schoolhouse, a committee was appointed to raise money for moving the schoolhouse and repairing the roof of the same. The value of the schoolhouse at that time was $100. John Hainey was the clerk and Mary Powell was the teacher. She was paid $50 for each of the months from April 13 to July 8. If board was included, the salary was $40.

“In the minutes of 1882 no mention was made about moving the school house. At the annual school meeting of 1883, John Cox, grandfather of the present superintendent of the Albany Union High School, was elected director. Jane Morris was paid $101.25 for teaching that year.

“On March 29, 1884 a special meeting was held for the purpose of selecting a site on which to move the school house. It was decided to locate it at the bend of the road West of the S.T. Jones farm land belonging to Mr. Bell. As near as I can figure out this would have placed it just about where Elbert Chamber’s house is now. But for some reason they changed their minds and on September 19, 1885 another special meeting was called and a site was selected at the South West corner of the J.A. Jones farm. This schoolhouse was moved to that site and remained in use until 1911 when it was destroyed by fire and was replaced by this structure. At that time the site was moved to the present location which is on what was the John T. Crooks donation land claim. Mr. Crooks was Mrs. Rebecca Hoefer’s grandfather.

“At the 1884 meeting a motion was made to levy a tax to defray the expenses of moving and repairing the schoolhouse but the motion was lost. So when they finally got around to moving it, it was decided to use the money on hand for that purpose. At first there seems to have been only three months of school held and that in the late Spring and early Summer, but by the time the building was being moved they had upped the school year to five months. Two in the Fall and three in the Spring. The reason for this was that during the rainy month of the Winter the roads became almost impassable. The only way you could get around was by horseback and even that was difficult. Not until the poll-tax was levied and most of the men over 21 worked it out on the roads were the roads graveled. Then it became  possible for school to be kept during the entire Winter, for at first seven months, then later eight months.

“Getting back to the moving of the schoolhouse: J.H. Rainey, Thos Allphin and A.J. Conner were appointed to supervise the moving. During the time the building was being moved and repaired a Mrs. Ida Phillips taught school in her sitting room. This house was on what is now the Skelton Farm.

“I find in the records that Tomas Allphin was paid $109.15 for moving and repairing the building. You will remember that a few years earlier the value of the schoolhouse, while it was still on the Widow Newman’s place, was listed at just $100. Some other bills paid for services about that time were: Bud Cole and Wm. Rainey–$32.88 for digging a well and building a fence. For some reason this well must not have been satisfactory for a little later on Harvey Cole, Bud’s father, was paid $3.50 for driving a well and S.T. Crooks $20 for a pump and installing it. A.B. Huddleson had a bill for $5.25 for broom, chalk, blackboard and erasers. The first teacher after the school was moved was W.H. Dobyn and he was paid $159.88 for teaching. At the time it was decided to move the school in 1885 the name was changed from the Allphin School to Syracuse School. They continued to make improvements and in 1887 John Asche was paid $21.30 for building two privies and later an additional $2 for painting the same. From then on they added more supplies for I find they paid $10 for an unabridged dictionary, 75 cents for a sprinkler to settle the dust when the teacher swept the floor.

“In 1888 $140 was paid for painting the schoolhouse and in 1889 $236.55 was paid out for seats and desks and also a teacher seat and desk. Before this time the children had sat upon home made benches and used home made desks. And the teachers the same. In 1891, $105 was paid for building a wood shed. That same year charts, wall maps, ruby case and blackboards were secured. Some of the teachers during those early years were J.D. Woods, Jane Morris and J.A. Rutherford. In the Fall of 1887 they had a teacher by the name of S.A. Newberry. This was a young man who believed in ruling by the rod and knew how to wield one too. A certain little boy, who incidentally is still alive, attended school for his first year. He had learned his ABCs before starting but by the time the teacher had gotten around to hear him recite, he had become so frightened by the voice and actions of said teachers that he forgot all his older brothers and sisters had taught him. So all he could do was stand there and cry. Consequently he received a good whipping. This kept up for some time with the teacher calling him to recite, he crying and the teacher whipping. Finally one of the older members of the family reported to the father, who promptly took the little boy out of school. He said that he was a good child who never needed whipping at home and knew he didn’t at school. If he had been as spunky as a little girl, who was also attending her first year, it would have been better for him. This teacher had a long black beard of which he was very proud and whenever he go ready to give this little girl a beating she would make a flying leap to grab his beard with both hands, take her feet off the floor and hang on for dear life. They say he never succeeded in giving her a whipping. They soon got rid of that teacher.

“In 1895 the district was divided and the Conner school was formed. The first teacher in that new school was Ed. Denton who had taught this one in 1893. The first directors of the newly organized Conner District were Geo. Birtcher, Geo. Conner and James Davis, all brothers-in-law.

“Charles Cooper taught this school the first year after the district was divided. It was Charlie’s first school and as he was a little bashful and there were several girls nearly as old as he was who liked to tease, his life was made rather miserable.

“One item I failed to include was that in July of 1891 S.T. Crooks was paid $2.5 for cleaning the schoolhouse after the flood. This flood was late in 1890 and was the only one, I believe, which ever entered the old schoolhouse.

–Rebecca Hoefer and Elizabeth Truax


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