History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
The educational facilities of Lawrence county are excellent, and consist of one hundred and sixty-two public schools, two colleges, and two Catholic schools. Of these, twenty-four of the public schools, one Catholic school, and one college are in the city of New Castle; and one hundred and thirty nine, including the Catholic orphan school in Pulaski township, and the college at New Wilmington, in the various townships and boroughs of the county. The aggregate number of scholars, according to the Superintendent's report for June, 1875, was 8,444, not including those in the Catholic schools, which number about 400. The total receipts for school purposes for the same year were $63,586.62, and the total expenditures $60,271.48. Estimated value of school property in the county in 1875, $169,000.
The New Wilmington College is under the control of the United Presbyterian Church, and is intended as an institution for the preparation of young men for the ministry. The New Castle College is not a denominational institution.
The public schools of the county are taught in one hundred and twenty-four buildings, all in good order, and some of them costly and substantial structures. All the educational institutions of the county are in a flourishing condition.
In connection we give an interesting article from the pen of Professor W. N. Aiken, upon the public schools of the county, and one also from Professor Gantz, upon the origin, progress, and present condition of the various schools in the city of New Castle. Sketches of the colleges will also be found in their proper places.
The first schools were taught in private houses. The first building erected for strictly school purposes was a frame building, upon the lot belonging to the First Presbyterian Church, about 1825-6. It is said that the first building occupied for school purposes was a log cabin, about eighteen feet square, which stood near the spring at the foot of Shaw's Hill. It was heated by means of an immense fire-place at one side of the building, large enough to take in a good-sized "back-log" (for coal was unknown in those days), and probably a couple of big flat stones at each side of the fire-place, to hold up the "fore-sticks." In those days the large boys prepared the wood—which was hauled to the door, from the woods, where it was cut "sled-length"—and took turns in building a fire in the Winter mornings. The room was lighted by a few square holes cut through the logs, over which greased paper was stretched in lieu of glass, which was not as plenty then as now, when the Croton Glass Works are turning out nine hundred boxes weekly. The pupils sat on long benches made of slabs, with two wooden pins driven into each end for legs; or they were constructed by splitting small logs in halves, and then hewing down the surface smooth with a broad-axe. The first "school-master," as the teacher was called, was said to have been one Robert Dickey, a member of the Presbyterian Church. The first school was opened about 1804. The second teacher was John Dickey, a younger brother of Robert. He was very well educated, and would have been a good teacher but for one thing—he was addicted to the use of strong drink. He subsequently enlisted in the army, and died during the war of 1812. The third teacher was Richard Shearer, a man of fifty or fifty-five years, described as a fat, jolly old fellow. Mr. Du Shane describes a habit he had of rubbing his right fore-finger up and down the side of his face in front of his right ear, which he practiced so regularly and so persistently as to wear a smooth furrow in that locality, which produced a very curious effect on his physiognomy. The fourth teacher, according to Mr. Penn's chronology, was the most famous man of all the early teachers in New Castle. His name was Joseph Thornton, a gentleman of the "old school," who persisted in wearing the knee-breeches, cocked-hat, cue, buckles and ruffles of the "ancient regime" long after others had discarded them for a more modern, if not more comfortable and elegant, style. He came here from Chambersburg, Franklin county, about the time Joseph T. Boyd located here as a merchant, or in the Spring of 1806. He was teaching at the time of the great total eclipse of that year, at all events.
He was a man who believed in the entire efficacy of corporeal punishment, and very likely the unruly boys of his school feared him more than they loved him. He boarded with Boyd, and, being a very industrious man, was wont to go into the wood-shed, after school hours, and work piling up the heavy wood or preparing it for the fire-place. It is related of him that one evening, as he was busily engaged piling up the wood (he was a pious man withal), he took hold of a very heavy stick and got it upon one end, and then strove with all his might to lift it upon the pile, which was up nearly as high as his shoulders.
A son of Mr. Boyd, or of one of the neighbors, was complacently looking on. The old man tugged in vain; his strength was not equal to the task, and, while holding the ugly stick up about breast high, he called on the boy, "bear a hand, youngster, and help me up with this!" But the wicked lad only stood and laughed at him. Tugging until he found it useless, he suddenly stepped back, and, throwing the billet upon the ground, exclaimed: "It may all go to d—nation, and we'll omit worship to night!" Thornton remained here at least as late as 1815, for we find his name in a subscription list for raising money to build a bridge over the Shenango in that year. What eventually became of him we have not been able to learn. Alexander Duncan was another of the early teachers, and one of the youngest, being, according to accounts, only about nineteen years of age at the time he commenced teaching. He "boarded round" among the families of his pupils, a week at each place, and used to amuse himself mornings and evenings in shooting pigeons and rabbits, which were very plentiful. A few years afterwards he removed to Pittsburgh, where he studied medicine. Some years later he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, and eventually became a politician. He was afterwards elected to the State Legislature, and subsequently to Congress.
Another teacher was Miss Sarah DeWolf, the first female who ever taught a regular school in New Castle. She had previously taught in Mercer, where she was sometimes called "Kitty." A man named Matthew Calvin (or Colvin) was the next teacher. He is said to have been forty-five years of age, lame, amd blind in one eye. He erected a large square building (still standing on Beaver street, nearly opposite the residence of Mr. Joseph Justice), with an enormous stone chimney in the centre, about 1814-15. Mr. Justice helped to build the chimney. Calvin lived in this building and taught school in another, which stood near his dwelling—since torn away.
The first regular school-building, as before stated, stood adjoining the First Presbyterian church, which is now occupied as a distillery. This building, which was a frame, was used for several years. About 1829, a new system, known as the "Lancasterian system," was introduced into the schools of New [p. 140] Castle, and one Joseph Ketler was brought from Philadelphia to put it in operation. The frame school-building, above spoken of, was still in use, and Ketler taught in it about one year, when he returned to Philadelphia. He afterwards returned and settled somewhere in this region, where he subsequently died.
Warren Carpenter succeeded Ketler, and taught the same system until it was given up as impracticable.
The old school-building was also used for holding elections, for lyceums, singing-schools, &c.
When the "common-school" system was adopted or established by an Act of Assembly, it was left to the people of the several townships and counties to adopt or reject, as they saw fit, and it was a number of years before the system was fully adopted in all parts of the State. The Act was passed in 1834. Subsequent to the passage of this Act, four separate schools were kept in operation until about the year 1852. They were located to accommodate the various parts of the town, and were known respectively as the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest schools. One was located a little south-east of the Cochran House, on the east side of the alley; another on North street, between where the Baptist and Episcopal churches stand, and a third on North Beaver street. The location of the fourth is not recollected. In 1852 these buildings were sold, and the large public school-building, on North Jefferson street, erected. The proceeds of the old buildings were put into the new one.
This institution was chartered April 16, 1838, under a general State law. It was organized in 1839, with Dr. Charles T. Whippo as president, and the following named gentlemen as trustees: Henry Pearson, Ezekiel Sankey, John Reynolds and Dr. Joseph Pollock.
The stock was issued to subscribers at five dollars per share, and, according to the subscription-book in possession of Mr. E. Sankey, seven hundred and fifty-six shares were sold. The following is a list of subscribers' names, with the number of shares taken by each:
Charles T. Whippo,* 40
E. Sankey, 30
John T. Boyd,* 30
Henry Pearson,* 20
A. C. Semple,* 20
D. and J. N. Euwer, 30
J. Kissick, 30
R. W. Cunningham, 20
William Dickson,* 20
G. Barlow* 20
T. McCleary* & Co., 20
Wells Bushnell,* 10
H. E. Wallace, 5
L. L. McGuffin, 5
A. Lewis,* 15
David White,* 10
J. Pollock,* 20
John Reynolds,* 20
James D. White,* 40
W. McClymonds, 5
James D. Clarke,* 5
James Mitchell,* 5
R. W. Stewart, 5
Lewis V. Crips,* 5
William Watson, Jr., 5
William Carns,* 10
James McClane, 5
Samuel Carns,* 5
William Cox,* 6
H. R. Graves,* 5
John B. Love, 5
Uriah Roe,* 10
John Frazier,* 10
John C. Fulkerson, 5
John A. Andrews,* 5
Joseph Pyle,* 5
James Banks, 10
William B. Miller,* 5
Thomas Falls,* 20
William B. Osmon,* 20
D. S. Stone,* 5
D Sankey, 5
H. Morse,* 5
White McMillen, 5
William P. Reynolds, 5
William Shaw,* 5
A. Robison,* 5
Isaac Dickson, 5
H. H. Moorhead, 5
Joseph Justice, 5
William McMurry,* 10
Jesse Du Shane,* 5
D. M. Courtney, 10
David McComb, 5
John Orrell,* 5
James Tidball,* 10
John Maitland,* 10
David Shafer, 5
William Watson,* 10
Joseph Emery,* 10
Shubael Wilder, 5
Joseph Higgs,* 5
Joseph Brown, 5
John Moorhead, 5
Samuel Kerr,* 5
Isaiah C. White, 5
J. S. White, 5
J. Leslie, 5
David Emery, 5
John Emery,* 50 bushels of lime.
George Pearson,* 5
R. A. Seek,* 5
Alex. L. Crawford, 10
(Payable in nails, assorted sizes.)
Being a total of 756 shares, besides John Emery's fifty
bushels of lime, representing about $3,800.
The first Principal of the seminary was John Hewitt, an Englishman, who had been prepared for the Church; a man of fine education and very respectable talents. He was brought to New Castle by Dr. Charles T. Whippo.
This institution was kept in operation for some ten years, and was a popular school. It was the only one of the kind ever organized in New Castle. The building is still standing, immediately south of the First Presbyterian Church.
According to Mr. Penn's history of New Castle, the first building erected for the use of this institution was a one-story frame, about forty feet square, and containing three rooms. It was built in 1842. Dr. Charles T. Whippo, A. C. Sample and John Reynolds were the building committee. Some years later it was remodeled and enlarged, and made a two-story building with eleven rooms.
According to the same authority, Joseph Pollock was President of the seminary in 1841, though the location of the school is not given. In 1844 it appears to have been under the management of Prof. Bowman and wife.
In December, 1841, "Joseph Ketler, M. P. A. T.," opened the New Castle Classical and Mathematical Institute, on Washington street, one door west of Beaver street. How well Professor Ketler succeeded in his endeavors to give the ambitious youth of New Castle a classical education, or how long he continued his grandiloquent advertisement, we have no means of knowing.
Our present system of common schools has been in operation more than forty years, and the progress during this time has been slow, but it has steadily increased in popularity and efficiency. In the year 1854 the present system of county supervision was authorized by Act of the Legislature. Since that time the advancement has been more rapid, the work better systematized, and the results more apparent.
Prior to this we had no uniformity in teaching, classifying and governing our schools, and in examining and granting certificates to those found qualified for the responsible positions of instructors of youth. Before the office of County Superintendent was established by an Act of the Legislature, each district examined its own teachers and issued certificates to those who were found qualified. This part of the work was done by persons outside of the profession, and consequently did not understand the wants and requirements of the schools as well as those who were actively engaged in the educational department. The present system of superintendency has been in successful operation for twenty-three years; and the result is, there is uniformity in the methods of instruction, classification, government and general management of schools.
In the year 1867 the present law for holding County Teachers' Institutes was enacted, and the attendants at these annual meetings has gradually increased, and there is a marked improvement in the qualifications of teachers, and a more general interest in favor of common schools is manifested.
In order to show the present condition of the schools of the county and the progress made, it will be necessary to examine the statistics of the past few years, that the advancement may be more clearly seen. The following will, in some measure, give an idea of the workings of the school system:[Legend: (1) No. of Schools. (2) Average No. Months taught. (3) Male Teachers. (4) Female Teachers. (5) Average Salary of Males. (6) Average Salary of Females. (7) Certificates issued. (8) Teachers examined. (9) No. of Visits by Supt. (10) No. of Teachers attending Institute.]
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) 1860, 136 4.83 82 84 $23 43 $14 25 232
1864, 142 6.14 64 142 32 32 21 52 163 67
1865, 142 6.12 45 156 38 00 25 66 164 185 226 64
1866, 143 5.82 61 133 40 89 27 65 174
1867, 144 5.09 63 127 48 64 33 82 203 234 170 66
1868, 142 5.96 66 138 55 81 33 68 224 283 181 132
1869, 145 6.27 68 141 51 05 30 85 216 285 185 140
1870, 144 6.29 63 147 55 48 32 83 228 293 190 148
1871, 150 6.03 75 132 50 84 33 49 180 216 216 176
1872, 154 5.78 68 163 50 71 32 99 212 240 215 152
1873, 153 6.15 78 155 47 01 31 03 215 246 234 162
1874, 155 6.46 84 137 47 85 32 92 195 258 241 181
1875, 156 6.11 85 124 47 70 31 03 223 272 266 168
1876, 162 6.15 83 141 42 93 29 66 219 304 260 202
There are now one hundred and sixty-two schools in the county, and one hundred and thirty eight not including the schools of the city of New Castle. The last annual report shows two hundred and twenty-one teachers who have taught during the year or a part of it. Of these, twenty-six hold professional and three permanent certificates, and two are graduates of the State Normal School.
Many of the teachers are faithful and earnest in the discharge of their duties, and are imbibing more of the professional spirit of the true teacher. The present condition of the schools is encouraging as compared with the past.
There are one hundred and twenty-four houses, and a number of these are substantial buildings and suitably furnished, but very few have sufficient grounds, and the surroundings receive little attention.
There are twenty-one school districts under the supervision of the county superintendent, two of these, Wampum and New Wilmington, are boroughs, the former having two and the latter three schools, also two independent school districts, Chewton and Wurtemburg, with each one school.
The first County Superintendent was Thomas Berry elected in June 1854, and re-elected in 1857. He served faithfully for six years against a strong current of opposition to the office, and did a good work in the cause of education in the county.
Stephen Morrison was elected in 1860, and re-elected in 1863. After six years of labor in this field he retired from office. G. W. McCracken was elected in 1866 and served one term. W. N. Aiken was elected in 1869, re-elected in 1872, and again re-elected in 1875. The first two superintendents have finished their work and gone to reap the reward of their labors.
Educational meetings have been held in different parts of the county during the past six years. Their meetings have been well-attended by teachers, directors and patrons of the schools. It is thought this is one of the best ways to educate the people and bring before them the value of our educational system.
Seventy-one schools outside New Castle are graded, four of these are in West New Castle, two in Edenburg, two in Hillsville, two in Pulaski, three in Wilmington, two in Mahoningtown, two in Enon valley, two in Harlansburg and two in Mount Jackson.
The first settlement upon the present site of New Castle was made in April, 1798, by John Carlysle Stewart. The authentic history of the early schools of the village is very meagre, and can only be learned from the old residents whose memory of many of the events so far in the past must necessarily in many instances be very indistinct.
The earliest schools were supported by subscription, and were taught in private houses. According to the most reliable information, the flrst school was taught by one Robert Dickey, and was opened about the year 1804. The next teacher was John Dickey, a younger brother of Robert.
The name of Richard Shearer is mentioned as the third teacher. About the year 1806, the fourth teacher, Joseph Thornton, came here from Chambersburgh, Franklin county; his abiding faith in the use of the birch is the principal characteristic as remembered by his historian. Next on the roll of early teachers appears the name of Alexander Duncan. After him we find the name of Miss Sarah DeWolf, said to have been the first regular female teacher of a New Castle school.
Matthew Calvin is enrolled as the next teacher. He appeared upon the scene about 1814, and taught in a house on Beaver street, nearly opposite the residence of Joseph Justice, Esq.
The borough of New Castle was erected March 25th, 1825, and originally embraced all the territory now constituting the first and second wards of the present city, except that portion lying south of County Line street, in the point between the Neshannock and Shenango creeks, which was taken into the borough at some subsequent period.
About this time a frame house, the first building erected exclusively for school purposes, was built upon the lot belonging to the First Presbyterian Church now the "Old Brewery." Our history informs us, however, that the first house used for school purposes was a log cabin about eighteen feet square, situated near the spring, at the base of "Shaw's Hill."
About the year 1829, Joseph Ketler is said to have introduced the system of education advocated by Joseph Lancaster, an English educator, and known as the "Lancasterian" system, into the schools of the borough. Mr. Ketler taught in the frame house above mentioned about a year, then returned to Philadelphia, whence he had come, and was succeeded by Warren Carpenter, a well-known and successful educator of earlier times, and still an honored resident of the city, who taught the same system for several years, until it was given up as impracticable.
After the enactment of the common school law in 1834, and its subsequent adoption by the people, the school-territory of the borough was divided into four separate districts, named respectively according to their location, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest,and Southwest districts—the house in each district, with perhaps, the exception of the one in the Southwest District, is still standing, but used for other than school purposes. This status continued until the erection of the county of Lawrence in the Spring of 1849, when soon after, by an Act of Assembly, passed on the 10th of February, 1851, New Castle was formed into a separate school and election district.
In March of the same year, the first Board of School Directors in and for the borough of New Castle was elected, which consisted of the following gentlemen, viz: Alexander L. Crawford, John N. Euwer, William Book, Jacob S. Quest, William Watson and James W. Johnston, all of whom are still living. The following resolution, passed soon after their organization, will best explain itself:
"Resolved, That the four several school-houses (above mentioned as being situated in four different districts) in the borough of New Castle, with the lots appurtenant thereto, be sold for the purpose of raising a fund, out of which to erect a large and commodious building for school purposes."
In pursuance of said resolution, a lot was purchased on North Jefferson street, in that part of the city now known as the First Ward, upon which a "large and commodious" school-building, built upon the model of that of the Third Ward of Allegheny city, and at that early day considered the most complete building for school purposes in the western part of the State, was erected at a cost, for the lot and building complete, of about eleven thousand dollars, and finished in time to open the schools of the borough in it about the 1st of October, 1852, at which date the schools first assembled and were put in operation in the new Union school-building,under the following corps of teachers, viz.: William Travis, principal; Martin Gantz, first assistant, and Misses Celicia Townsend, Lizzie M. Porter, Maggie Sheal, Lide A. Loy, and Sarah J. Bonnell, assistant teachers, whose names have been mentioned, and a word of the history of each will be given as a matter of some interest to the reader, because they were pioneers in that system of public instruction which has grown into that organization of public schools now in operation in our growing city. William Travis graduated from Washington College in 1849. He was a zealous, high-toned, Christian teacher, and had had several years of successful experience in New Lisbon, Ohio, where he organized a system of Union schools during his college course, and in Youngstown, Ohio, before his arrival in New Castle. After leaving this city he spent several years in teaching in different States of the Union. He also studied theology at Princeton, New Jersey, but soon after leaving the seminary we find him again in the profession of his first love, in which he is still engaged, in the responsible and honorable position of Principal of Germantown Academy in Philadelphia, an old and celebrated institution of learning, founded one hundred and sixteen years ago. Martin Gantz graduated in 1849 from the same institution, a classmate of Mr. Travis. After leaving college he taught two years in a select school in Salem, Ohio, from which place he came to New Castle on the 10th of September, 1851, at the earnest solicitation of his friend and classmate, Mr. Travis, to assist him as teacher in a large select school, of which he was principal at that time, in the old seminary south of the First Presbyterian Church, on Jefferson street, in which school they continued teaching until the large Union schoolhouse, then in process of erection, was completed and ready for the occupancy of the public schools in 1852, when they entered upon the positions to which they had been chosen in them, as already mentioned. Upon the retiring of Mr. Travis from the principalship of the schools, at the close of the second year, Martin Gantz was called from his position as first-assistant teacher, and elected principal, on the 6th day of June, 1854, and continued to serve in that relation to the school now known as the First Ward School, on North Jefferson street, with the exception of the two school-years of 1864-65 and 1865-66, when E. C. McClintock, Esq., had charge of the schools during 1864-65, and D. F. Balph, Esq., during 1865-66, until May 2, 1876, when the schools of the city were consolidated in one district under a Board of Controllers, elected under the act of 1874, for cities of the third class, he was elected the first superintendent of the city schools.
Of their associates all were faithful and successful teachers, and continued in the profession during longer or shorter periods, as inclination of circumstances seemed to dictate, and the result of their labors and influence for [p. 142] good, time cannot measure, but "eternity alone can tell." Celicia Townsend became the wife of Martin Gantz, December 29, 1853, and, after a useful life full of good works, was called home to her reward, January 24, 1869. Lizzie M. Porter, after teaching several years, was united in wedlock to a man whose name cannot now be recalled, and after several years of wedded life, her Master called her to be with him. Maggie Sheal, now the wife of James Moffat, well-known and highly respected citizen, is living a quiet, happy and useful life in her home on North Beaver street, New Castle. Lide A. Loy, now the wife of David S. Morris, Esq., presides over a happy and prosperous home, at the corner of Beaver street and Grant Avenue, of this city. Miss Sarah J. Bonnell in course of time changed her name to Mrs. Gustavus H. McElevy, and is now residing with her husband in the town of Brazil, Indiana. So much for a brief history of the pioneer teachers of New Castle. Would that time and space permitted a brief record of the names and history of their many other true, noble and faithful successors in the same field.
The schools continued to flourish and grow in numbers, and usefulness, with the increase of population, as is shown by the records from time to time. The first annual report to the County Superintendent, Thomas Berry, Esq., made in July, 1854, shows 415 scholars enrolled, with an average daily attendance of 397 for the last three months of the year. The number of pupils increased, until in later years the total enrollment reached a little over six hundred.
In 1856 that part of the city now known as the Third and Fourth Wards, was erected into what was then called "East New Castle Independent District," wich name was changed to that of "Pollock township," February 15, 1862. The first school directors under the latter organization were Hiram Pollock, Samuel Pearson, R. W. Cunningham, Jacob Hans, D. B. Kurtz, Esq., and W. B. Lutton, all of whom, with the exception of Samuel Pearson, recently deceased, are now living in our midst. They proceeded to make arrangements for erecting a suitable building in the central part of the district for the accommodation of the schools in that neighborhood, which resulted in the rearing of that "large and commodious" school structure on Pearson street, in that part of the city now known as the Fourth Ward, in l858, at a cost of $14,000 for house and grounds. Of the history of the schools of this district, from the time of their organization until the consolidation of the city schools in one districts in l876, but a mere skeleton of an outline can be given, because the historian has failed, after diligent search to find the records; therefore he must depend upon memory to supply what he may write upon the subject. Many of the ablest and most successful educators of this city and county have been connected with these schools. The first principal was John Sterrit, a classical scholar of note, who died in the suburban part of the city several years since. The second principal was Cyrus H. Dunlap, who subsequently studied theology, and is now engaged in his chosen profession somewhere in the great West. The third principal was our present worthy and efficient County Superintendent, W. N. Aiken, a graduate of Westminster College, an educator who is well known, and whose influence is felt, not only in Lawrence county, but in, the educational councils of the State, and is now serving his third term as County Superintendent. From the best information now at hand, it seems that D. McVey, Esq., now a resident of Sharon, Pa., next served the district for one term as principal. In our history of the principals of this school, G. W. Mays, a young man of education, and an educator of growing reputation, occupies the next place on the roll of principals, and served the district in that capacity at least two years. His successor was Jasper N. Hunt, a graduate of Allegheny College, a young gentleman of culture and learning, who served as principal nearly two years. He was succeeded by D. F. Balph, Esq., a well-known teacher, a genial and accomplished gentleman, who presided over the educational affairs of the district nearly three years, until the consolidation of the city schools in 1876. Many of the most worthy, useful and influential teachers of the western part of the State have been connected with these schools as teachers, whose names, with a brief history of each, we would gladly give, did time and space permit. Among the long roll of worthy names, circumstances will permit us to single out but one or two of the honored and respected list. Miss Maggie Loughridge, now the accomplished wife of W. N Aiken, the present School Superintendant of Lawrence county, and J. R. Miller, Esq., the present agent of the N. C. and F. railroad company of this city, may be named as among the most successful and accomplished educators our city or county has known. Many others deserve honorable mention whose names am held in kind, remembrance by hosts of grateful pupils and their friends.
The city of New Castle was incorporated, February 25, 1869, and was divided into two wards, viz.: the First and Second Wards. The original First Ward (Pollock township from 1862 until the incorporation of the city in 1869), embraced the territory now known as the Third and Fourth Wards, and the original Second Ward, that now known as the First and Second Wards of the city, as at present constituted.
The organization of the Board of School Controllers of the city of New Castle, Pa., composed of the First and Second Wards (old city) of said city, under Act of Assembly of 1874, for cities of the third class, was effected July 21, 1875. Members present: R. B. McComb, John Elder, Wm. Mitchell, E. T. Kurtz, Sylvester Gaston and James F. McConnell of First Ward; James M. Craig, James J. Wallace, Jacob Wilbur, D. S. Morris, Luther Wood and J. P. Leslie of the Second Ward. Sylvester Gaston was elected President, and J. P. Leslie, Secretary. This board continued in office until February 15, 1876, when the election of the first Special Board of School Controllers for the city of New Castle, elected under the Act of Assembly of 1874, took place, and resulted in the election of John S. Taggart, Geo. W. Veach, E. T. Kurtz and W. A. Stritmater. The new Board was organized February 22, 1876; E. T. Kurtz, Esq., President, and John S. Taggart, Secretary. The schools of the city were consolidated and a city superintendent elected, as above stated, on the 2d day of May, 1876.
Under the organization just mentioned the schools of the city went into operation on Tuesday, the 5th day of September, 1876, with 24 schools, 26 teachers and a Superintendent. The number of schools in each sub-district is as follows: First Ward building on North Jefferson street, 9 schools, and supplies school accommodations for the pupils of the First and Second Wards; the Fourth Ward building on Pearson street affords accommodations for nine schools and the present high school department of the city; the Third Ward (Croton) sub-district, has two schools; and South New Castle, a sub-district embraced in the Fourth Ward, has three schools in its territory. The total enrollment of the schools under the present organization is 1,375. In addition to this number the Catholics have a separate enrollment of about 400, thus footing up 1,775 as the number of scholars in the bounds of the city.
The school history of the city is not complete without some mention of the private schools, female seminaries, high schools, &c., &c., several excellent and useful institutions of the kind having had an existence in our town from time to time since its organization as a borough until the present time, but time and space will not permit a detailed history of them.
Among the teachers, many of whom are very highly spoken of, we can only give the names of a few that occur to us at the present writing: Charles Hewitt, Joseph Ketler, John A. Bowman, a Mr. Bartlett and Rev. R. A. Browne. Prof. John R. Steeves is the president of a popular college now in operation in the city.
Of the teachers who taught in the district schools of the borough before its erection into an independent school district, we have failed to gather any authentic records of their doings or items of their personal history. We will mention but one of this number. Lucius Osgood, our respected fellow-citizen and well-known author and publisher, taught one of the district schools of the borough in the far distant past.
Such is as full and accurate an outline of the history of the schools of this city from the beginning of their growth in the midst of a wilderness until the present time, as time and circumstances would permit us to prepare.
This flourishing institution, located in the thriving city of New Castle, was organized in September, 1872, under the auspicies of Professor A. D. Lee, (at that time President of the "One Study" University, at Scio, in the State of Ohio,) and the principalship of Rev. E. E. Edmonds, with Miss Mary J. Clark as assistant teacher.
Ladies and gentlemen were received as students, but each was permitted to pursue only one study at the same time, for the reason that this plan had been adopted by the managers, and the institution was known as the "One Study" School. There were seventy-five students, enrolled the first year. Professor John R. Steeves took entire charge of the school from September 6, 1873. The plan of study was then changed, and students were allowed to pursue two or three studies at the same time. Departments of German and Music were added during the year, to those of Science and Language formed the previous year.
The faculty consisted of Professor Steeves, Professor Charles Jaekel, Miss Clark and Miss Emma Williams. One hundred and twenty-five students were enrolled the second year.
[p. 143] During the, school year commencing in September, 1874, departments of Drawing and Painting were formed, with Miss Elizabeth W. Simpson as teacher, and what was known as Professor Powers' Commercial, College became the commercial department of this college, with Professor J. H. Miller as teacher. Up to the latter part of May, 1875, the school had been operated and conducted solely upon individual responsability, without any special authority from any source. On the 29th of May of the year last mentioned, a charter was procured incorporating the "New Castle College," with the following gentlemen constituting the first board of Trustees: Joseph S. White, President; E. S. Durban, Secretary; A. T. McCready, Treasurer; M. S. Marquis, John Hartsuff, Charles Phillips, Cyrus Clarke, Geo. W. McCracken, S. M. Young, Geo. W. Crawford, R. B. McComb and Rev. R. Audley Browne.
A Normal School for the term of six weeks, commencing July 6th, 1875, was held, in connection with the college, by Professors W. N. Aiken, County Superintendent of Public Schools; M. Gantz, Superintendent of City Schools; D. F. Balph, M. Stahl and J. R. Steeves, Principal of the Institution. Sixty-five students were in attendance. The total enrollment for the third year was two hundred and thirty-four. There were nine professors in the faculty for the school-year commencing September 7th, 1875. The attendance at the second year's Normal School was one hundred and four, and the total enrollment for the year three hundred and eleven.
At the present time (January, 1877) the faculty is composed of John R. Steeves, President and Professor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences; Rev. Charles Darrow, Professor of Latin and Greek; John H. Miller, Professor Commercial Department; D. F. Balph, Professor of Elocution; Rev. J. Fritz, Professor of German; Mrs. Slentz, Teacher of Preparatory Department; Frank G. Marst and H. F. Johannessen, Professors of Instrumental Music; and Eliza W. Simpson, Teacher of Drawing and Painting.
The school-year contains forty-six weeks. The college derives its support from the tuition of the students, who pay on an average about one dollar per week. The institution is now well organized, and in a very flourishing condition, with a fine prospect before it of uninterrupted prosperity.
The New Castle College is a one example of what industry and perseverance can accomplish in the face of unusual difficulties. It was designed as a non-sectarian school, where every one, without distinction of religious belief, could come and obtain instruction in the higher branches of Education, and its wonderful success, in the midst of a great financial depression, proves the correctness of the views entertained by its projectors, while at the same time attesting the faithfulness and ability of its professors and instructors. With proper management and the right kind of encouragement from the people of the flourishing city where it is located, its future success is assured.
From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.
Explanation and Caution | Abbreviations | Lawrence Co. Maps | 1877 Portraits
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Updated: 27 Feb 2001, 09:14