Schools Of The Past: Coventry Districts 1 And 2
Published: August 19th, 2010
By: Patricia F. Scott

Schools of the Past: Coventry Districts 1 and 2

After a brief hiatus it is once again time to return to the history of the “schools of the past” of Chenango County. The districts that will be written below are District #1 (Church Hollow) and District #2 - Coventryville.

DISTRICT #1 - CHURCH HOLLOW

The above number district was a joint district with the Afton and was the subject of the article written and published December 10, 2009. As a refresher of the scant information that was available this joint district school was located near the intersection of County Route #35 and what is now known as the Ives/Stone Hill/Church Hollow roads. Again it is regrettable that no photo exists of this early educational building. In the previous article this writer did relate the description of the schoolhouse that the former teacher Isabel Meek wrote and that this schoolhouse had a certain claim to fame as Sara Rosetta Wakeman first worked as a coal handler on a canal boat on the Chenango Canal. She would later enlist in the 153rd New York State Volunteers on August 30,1862 as Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, posing as a male during her whole military service. She passed away June 19,1864 in a New Orleans hospital of chronic diarrhea which research has revealed was quite a common cause of death during the Civil War.

The only other historical information that has become available which was complied by Catherine E. Bickford - former Historian for Coventry that she wrote that (P.5) of “The Old Log School House” George Donanka owns the former schoolhouse District #1 - which was converted into a home in 194t5. They have also moved so both of these places are vacant. This writer is unaware if this former schoolhouse (converted to home) still exists and if so please forwards a photo to either Charles Decker (Afton Historian or the current historian of the Town of Coventry.

DISTRICT #2 - COVENTRY (CHESHIRE STREET)

In Mrs. Bickford’s history of Coventry she wrote (p. 96-97) quite a detailed history of this school house which this writer cannot capitalize on and is quoted verbatim as she wrote it.

“Cheshire Street the road from Oxford to Coventry received its name by the early settlers who came from Cheshire Connecticut and settled here. Across the road are the Congregational Church and the schoolhouse which was given in 1976 to the Coventry Town Museum Association by the Church. Following is a brief historical sketch of this school (District #2).

“The first public building in the Town of Coventry was a log building which serves as school house and meeting house. This log building was erected in 1788 in the general location of Robert Ives home just south of Coventryville. Among the first students of the Log School were the 8 children of the first Stoddard family; Aaron Parker; John Stork; Benjamin Jones 2nd; Sylvia Benedict; the children of George and Clark Minor; Nancy Minor; 6 children of the Miles family; 2 Jones girls and Elisa Wright.

This log school served the community till 1813 when a frame building was erected on or near the same site. This new building was 32’ long and 20’ wide with a stone chimney and a fireplace at each end. The benches were fastened to the floor and a row of desks ran around the outside of the room and were fastened to the wall. The fireplaces were used until 1829 when a stove was bought to heat the school.

About 1832 this frame school was moved to the Meeting House Green and located about 10’ west of the present building.

In 1852 the present building was erected from plans furnished by G. L. Parker and a building committee of Thomas Yale, Charles Pearsall, Sylvester Cornell and Egford Griswold.

According to a poem by Mrs. William H. Benedict in 1888, the school house was white but at an earlier date, brown and the inside was wood color.

The following information of the teachers and pupils from 1900 is from research done by Juanita (Greene) Lee.

Teachers were: Ward Twillerger, George Andrews, Mable Doolittle, Bertha Wedger, Ina Hollenbeck, Delia Hendrickson, Anna Matteson (Lyon) in 1910, Grace Beatman 1911 and Lyon (Pierce) in 1921, Gladys Graves (Cummings) 1931, Lucy Tracy 1922-26, Margaret Hawthorne in 1938, Pearl Demorier for three years, Lillian Harrington one year and Ethel Fletcher from Sept. 1943 to the closing of the school door in June of 1956. Pupils in 1901-02; Anna and Mabel Matteson, Nellie and Floyd Lamon, Ina Miles, Frank and May Minor, Lena Shapley, May Sage, Ethel Stratton, William, Bertha and Claude Wheeler, Luella Andrews, Charles, Chester and Harry Shaw, Harry and Nelson Stoddard, Grover Scott and Earl Baird.

Pupils in 1908-09; Ruth and Nelson Ivan, Ina and Ivan Miles, Fred, Lewis, Chester and Grace Alford, Eva and John Burlison, Jesse and Edna Hackett, Carl Seeley, William Ketcham, Sarah Stoddard, Isa Harrington and Ruth Foote.

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