Schools of the Past: Greene: Tracing a rural teacherís career

The history of the numerous district schools in the township of Greene have been completed, although it may be stated safe to say that there is still historical documentation that was not included in the many articles that have been written. This writer cannot claim any credit regarding the title of this article as Mrs. Ross wrote this documentation and to her full credit is due for its contents. This writer will relay this documentation exactly as Peg wrote it for publication correct me if I am not correct, in the Chenango-American - the news publication for Greene and surrounding areas.

ďThe one-room schoolhouse has become such a part of romanticizing the past that Iíd like to continue to focus on the hardships that accompanies the running of these schools. We usually hear stories about the students and what they remember about the routine and how far they had to walk. This article (note: she had written previously on the school subject) will be about the teachers and what they had to do to prepare themselves. Imagine being the young male teacher written by Laura Ingalls Wilder in Farmer Boy.

Laura Ingalls Wilderís husband, Almanzo Wilder, grew up in Malone, New York and when he was a small boy, group of tough older boys beat up a young teacher so badly that he died. Now Almanzo was going to school for the first time with a new teacher, small in stature, who had been a friend of the one who had died. Almanzo was so afraid of what was going to happen he sat cringing in his seat. But when the boys began to go after the teacher, he took out a blacksnake ox-whip fifteen feet long and in short order had those boys crying and begging him to stop cracking the whip. He couldnít wait to get home to tell his father that the teacher had outsmarted the boys. Only then did he find out that his father has given the whip to the teacher to use.

Perhaps these stories are apocryphal but they portray a searing image of problems that teachers had in remote small schools. Not only did they have to find the jobs and teach several grade levels simultaneously, they had to find a way to get to the school and a place to live. Sometimes, they boarded with the trustee of the school or with a nearby neighbor. Oftentimes these farm families were poor and had very little to eat. One teacher noted that one family she stayed with had only sauerkraut as their main sustenance. The local superintendent. Miss Jane Schneck, made sure that the young female teachers stayed with families she approved of. Another comment of a teacher mentioned that there were families who had children who did not attend school at all, that they were deemed un-teachable and their whole lives consisted of helping on the farm with the manual labor. The winters could be long and severe and even walking from the boarding house to the school was a chore. Many times the teachers were snowed in and couldnít get anywhere for social stimulation. And remember, the majority of the teachers were young, unmarried females who had to worry about having a job for the following year.

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