Public Schools


The Schools of Pioneer Days— Traveling Schoolmasters— The first Rude Schoolhouses— Description of Houses and Furniture— The Custom of “Barring Out”— Only Three Studies Pursued— The School Law of 1834— Opposition to Free Schools— Progress Early Schools in Each of the Townships of the County— Names of Early Teachers Prominent Directors and Teachers under the Present System— Borough Schools Statistics.

FULLY a quarter of a century elapsed after the formation of Bedford county before many of the citizens began to make provision for the education of their children. But after the dark days of the Revolution had ended and the settlers had in some measure recovered from the hard times which succeeded, earnest and thoughtful men began to exert themselves in behalf of the rising generation. Here and there schools were organized, generally during the winter months, and placed in charge of the best-informed man whose services could be obtained. Cabins which had been deserted by their former occupants were converted into schoolhouses. The teacher received a stipulated amount per term from each scholar. Not unfrequently schools were organized by peripatetic schoolmasters, who tramped from place to place, teaching a term in any neighborhood where a subscription sufficient to pay their very moderate wages could be secured. Some of these traveling teachers were fine scholars; others were broken-down soldiers and sailors, densely ignorant, and of intemperate habits. Only reading, writing and arithmetic were taught in the early schools.

Few, if any, schoolhouses were erected before 1800. The first buildings were of unhewn logs, with clapboard roofs, huge stone chimneys and large fireplaces. Greased paper served as window-lights; the seats were either of slabs or “puncheons “; the writing desk, at one side of the room, was formed of a slab fastened to the wall by wooden pins.

The age of the scholars ranged from six to thirty years. Discipline was maintained with difficulty, and the rod was not unduly spared. Unless he was at all times master of the situation, the teacher commanded no respect. “Barring out” was universally practiced at the time of the Christmas holidays. The process consisted in keeping the teacher out of the schoolroom until he was forced to agree to provide a treat of apples or cider and cakes for his pupils.

All schools were conducted on the tuition plan until 1834. In that year a state law was passed for the establishment of free schools, the adoption or rejection of the system to be decided by vote in each election district. In many townships the law was severely denounced, and several years elapsed before its provisions were carried into effect.

The first established school in Bedford borough was the Bedford Academy, incorporated by act of the legislature March 20, 1810. Jonathan Walker, Rev. Alexander Boyd, Jacob Bonnett, John Moore, John Anderson, Josiah Espey, George Funk and Joseph S. Morrison. The school received two thousand dollars from the state, one-half to be applied in erecting buildings and purchasing apparatus, and the remainder to be held as a permanent fund, the income of which should be devoted to the education of poor children. Rev. James Wilson, a fine English and classical scholar, was the first principal. The school became widely celebrated, and attracted pupils from several neighboring counties, and from Maryland. Rev. Jeremiah Chamberlain, afterward president of Oakland College, Mississippi, was the next principal. He was succeeded by Rev. Alexander Boyd, Mr. Omrod and Mr. Kinmont. The latter was the last classical teacher who had charge of the institution. Samuel Brown, a popular teacher, next taught a grammar school for several years. In 1835 the academy was sold by the sheriff to Samuel Brown. The institution then became of a private character and so continued until it closed.

Dr. William Watson, Dr. John Anderson, James M. Russell, Hon. Jonathan Walker, Samuel Riddle and George Burd were active friends of education in the early history of the borough. About 1835 Rev. B.B. Hall opened a classical school, with a military department. He taught four or five years and was highly esteemed. During his term the public school system was adopted. Charles McDowell, James M. Russell, David Mann, D. Washabaugh, John G. Martin and William Woodcock were the first directors elected. Thomas J. Harris was one of the prominent teachers under the present system and among the first to introduce a thorough classification. Thomas Jordan, George Hall and Rev. John Lyon taught select schools at different times. Bedford has always evinced a lively interest in schools. The public school building of the town is the finest in the county, and is surrounded by beautiful grounds.

In Bedford township Samuel Clendenin, John Montgomery, A.J. Howlett, John Bartell, John R. Reed, Anthony Sloan, Thomas Allison and John R. Anderson were the principal teachers prior to 1834. The free school system was adopted at the first election held for that purpose. John Bridaham, John Amos, Daniel Sill, Daniel Wisegarver, Jacob Ripley, John S. Ritchey, Isaac Imler, Michael Holderbaum and Adam Koons were prominent school directors. Active teachers: Isaac Reighard, David Hyde, William White, Henry Whitaker, John A. Miner, J.W. Lingenfelter, David Shoemaker, Samuel and Daniel Diehl, Hall Hughes and John Williams. New schoolhouses began to be erected about 1859. Uniformity of textbooks and general classification were adopted in 1854 and 1856.

In Broad Top township John Griffith early taught in a log house. He was succeeded by James Frazier, a severe disciplinarian, who had forty rules for governing the school. For violating the first rule the penalty was one lash the second, two; and the last, forty lashes. Samuel Krieger, who required all pupils to study aloud, was the first teacher in a new schoolhouse erected in 1829. Joseph Evans was for many years the leader among the friends of education in the township. Free schools were adopted in 1835, the township being then included in Hopewell. Sixteen dollars per month were the first teacher’s wages. First directors of Broad Top (1838): Joseph Evans, Thomas Speer, George B. Kay, George F. Steel, David Cypher and James Lane. Classification and uniformity of textbooks were introduced about 1858. The township now pays high wages and has superior schools. Among the successful teachers have been Jacob Deavor, James Dunlap, James Richardson, John and David Hamilton, Benjamin Osborn, William Figard, Aaron, Levi, Jonathan and Lemuel Evans.

After 1818 schools were kept open regularly each winter in Colerain township. Early teachers: James Dugan, George Riley, George Caldwell, William French, James C. Newman and Jesse Ash. Free schools were adopted in 1836 and log schoolhouses were at once built. Peter Morgart, William Metz, Philip Shoemaker, Frederick Smith, Adam Exline and William Shaner were the first directors. James M. Alexander, Alexander Henry, Asa Williams, John C. Morgart, William and George Caldwell and Samuel Wilkey were the first teachers under the new system. George H. Tower was afterward a very successful and popular teacher, and his influence for good was very great. A general interest in educational matters has been manifested by the citizens.

The leading teachers in Cumberland Valley prior to the adoption of the free school system in 1838 were Michael Boor, Joseph E. Cotter, George McCoy, Adam Easter, John C. Vickroy, Thomas Cheney, Henry Bruner, Richard Harwood and E.M. Swift. First board of directors (1838): Michael Boor, John Blair, George Bortz, George Elder, Campbell Hendrickson and William Boor. First teachers: Samuel Barrick; James Rawlins, Charles McLaughlin, John and Frederick Simons, John Blair, Josiah Bruner, J.B.B. Cessna, Daniel Defibaugh and Anthony Smith. All were log schoolhouses until 1865.

John Padan taught a school in Everett in 1814. William Girard succeeded him, charging three cents per day for tuition. Joseph Brown, Logan and Abraham were the next teachers. The first schoolhouse was erected about 1837. It was used for twenty years, after which the Methodist Episcopal church served as a schoolhouse until the present school-building took its place in 1866. The schoolhouse is of brick, two stories, surrounded by five acres of ground. First directors of the borough (1860): J.B. Williams, John C. Black, P.G. Morgart, William Masters and John A. Gump. The first teacher was J.C. Clarkson, succeeded by J. C. Long. The school is in a good condition.

At the time of the organization of Harrison township in 1842 six schoolhouses were included within it. The early friends of education, most of whom were afterward school directors, were John Metzger, John McVicker, John E. Miller, George Elder, L.A. Fyan, Frederick Turner, B.V. Wertz, George Mullin, John B. Hardman and G.S. Mullin. Early teachers: Abraham Miller, Peter F. Lehman, Nathan Bullock, James H. Caton, James Dugan and William Ketring. Principal teachers from 1845 to 1860: Jacob Miller, Banner Wertz, Josiah Border, B.H. Williams, M.C. Miller, James and John Rawlins.

Thomas Nixon taught the first school in Hopewell township in 1790. Thomas Fannagan was the next teacher. In 1810 Nicholas Bollman, a fine penman, began to teach and continued for ten years. Grammar was first taught by Richard Harwood in 1827. George Moreland and Dr. Otho Selby were among the teachers of that day. Dr. Selby was among the best teachers of the day. The present school system was adopted at the first election held for the purpose. First directors: John and William Piper, James Lane, George B. Kay, George Rhodes and Jacob Fluke. The teachers were Richard Harwood, Henry S. Fluke, Simon Cameron and John Miller. Miller taught several years, adopted general classification and held a successful normal school. Asa Williams and Rev. John G. Howell also taught successfully. Stoves were first used in schoolhouses in Hopewell township in 1820.

First directors of Juniata township (1853): Leonard Bittner, Michael and P.R. Hillegass, Solomon Leitig, Nathan Hurley and John Gillespie. First teachers: P.T. Lehman, Caspar Stroub, James Dull, Lewis Beltz, John Palmer, D.M. Wonders and Miss Younkin. Wages were twelve dollars per month. Houses were poor, without desks, in 1854. Desks and blackboards were put in in 1656.

The early history of the schools of Liberty township is included in Hopewell. Daniel Cypher, David Stoler and Samuel Shoupp were earnest friends of the schools. Successful teachers : Jonathan and Lemuel Evans, Richard Harwood, David Shreve, Samuel Moore, I.K. Little and Miss Moriah Brumbaugh. In 1848 wages were eleven dollars and twelve dollars per month; term three months; three schools; whole tax, one hundred and forty-eight dollars. Schools are in good condition. Michael Porter taught a school at Cook’s Mill, Londonderry township, in 1820. Benjamin L. Dodge, Edward J. Cotter and R.L. Jones taught at different times. There were then but two schools in the township. Free schools were strongly opposed and adopted by only a small majority. Cornelius Devore was a strong advocate of the system. James C. Devore was one of the first and most successful teachers. There has been great progress in educational matters of recent years.

The early history of the Monroe township schools is included in that of Providence and Southampton. Among the prominent directors were the following: Jabez Hickson, M. Murray, James Marshall, J. Shaw, Philip Snider, Daniel Fletcher, Daniel Miller, Jacob Fletcher and Josiah Koons. Profitable select schools have been held. Some of the best teachers of the county have come from Monroe.

John Friend taught in Napier township in 1813. Joseph Potts and Lewis Writer were also early teachers. The first schoolhouse was built about 1825. Free schools adopted in 1834. Emanuel Statler, A.J. Snively, Jacob Adams, Mulford Treadwell, Joseph Mortimore and William Nycum were the first directors. Sixteen log houses were built and poorly furnished. Wages for several years were twelve dollars per month. Benjamin Kinsey, Isaac Philson, Jacob Miller, John W.Bowen, James Allison, Robert Miller, Henry Whitaker and G.S. Mullin were among the first teachers. Uniformity of textbooks and general classification were secured about 1857.

Among the early teachers of Providence township (now East and West Providence) were Francis and John Wilkins, John McLaughlin, “Master” Jaques, Edward Kerr, Peter Jamison and Solomon and Asa Williams. Schoolhouses poor, and but little classification until 1860. Steady progress since.

First directors of Pleasantville borough (1871): Adam Ickes, A.J. Kegg, Isaac T. Bowen, Amos Harbaugh, Daniel Price and Joseph B. Smith. Further notice given in the history of the borough.

For history of the Allegheny Male and Female Seminary, Rainsburg, see sketch of that town. First directors (1856): Samuel Williams, John A. Gump, N.C. Evans, B.F. Gump, V. Freet and B. Sheely.

Saxton borough has a good schoolhouse and a prosperous school. Prominent school men and directors have been E.A. Fackler, John Fulton, E.H. Turner, David Stoler, Dr. C.W. Moore, I.K. Little, E.J. Rauch and Messrs, Eichelberger. Teachers : W.S. Brenneman, W. F. Hughes, S.B. Stoler, J.O. Smith and others.

First directors of St. Clairsville borough (1867): G.B. Amick, Rev. C.W. Heilman, Rev. J. Peters, Abraham Corle, Josiah Imler and John Beckley. Rev. C.W. Heilman, S.W. Keyser, J.G. Ake, Miss Ella McLaughlin, and others, have been the teacher. (See sketch in borough history.)

Among the first directors of Snake Spring township (1857) : Michael Lutz, Hon. J.G. Hartley, B.R. Ashcom, Henry Hershberger, M.C. Ritchey and William Turney. Among the principal teachers: Isaiah Rawlins, Maggie McCleery, H.F. Gump, Josiah Amos, W.W. Spanks, J.T. Jamison, Samuel Amos and O.G. McCoy.

St. Clair township (now East and West St. Clair) was formed in 1814. In 1820 there were four schoolhouses. Leading teachers from 1814 to 1836: John Kemp, Mark C. Shepherd, James Smith, Levi Lamburn, Thomas and James Allison. Free schools had few friends, and the system was not adopted until 1846. John B. Potts, James and John Blackburn, Eli Miller, J. Gordon and Thomas McCoy were the first directors. Henry Whitaker, Aaron Frazier, Jennings Oldham, Robert and Martin Miller, Thomas Schooley, John Guyer, D. M. Wonders, Miss E. P. Blackburn, J. Porter, J.A. Livingston, Adam Ickes and Austin Wright have been teachers since the free system was adopted. Old methods of teaching were abandoned in 1858—60.

In Southampton township David Howsare, David Sell, Simmons and Nicholas Cooper, Warman Johnson and Denton Stevens were the principal teachers prior to 1836, when the free schools were opened. In that year the township contained three schoolhouses, two of which were also used for public worship. Thirteen log schoolhouses were then built. William Lashley, Joseph Barkman, William Robinson, John Pendergast, George Blankley and Henry Turney were the first directors. Strong opposition to free schools was made, and in 1857 a board of directors which was chosen refused to serve, and there were no schools. This state of affairs continued until 1866, when, by action of the court, schools were re-opened. Good progress has since been made.

The citizens of Schellsburg have generally been zealous in the support of schools. In 1825, a brick schoolhouse was erected by private contributions and a graded school established. Samuel Clendenong, Peter O. Hagan and C.W. Leffingwell were successful teachers before the free schools. The village became a borough in 1838. First directors: John Garlinger, Benjamin Blymier, Jacob Poorman, John Rininger, Isaac Mengle and Godfrey Yeager. First teacher: Patricia Grant. Uniformity of textbooks was adopted in 1841. The schools have generally had efficient teachers and have been highly prosperous. The school-building is a fine one.

Union township, now Union and King, adopted the free school system in 1843. Early teachers of subscription schools : Jacob Klahn, Robert Bullard, Samuel Karn, Amos McCreary, William McDonald and Thomas Vowel. Free schools were accepted through the efforts of Joseph B. Ake, Samuel Karn, Joseph Imler, John Crist, Michael Wertz and William Griffith. First directors: Frederick Stuffier, Michael Moses, John Crist, Jacob Cloas and Joseph Imler. In 1858, classification and uniformity of text-books were secured.

First directors of Woodberry borough (1868): William Pearson, William Simpson, D.R.P. Sweeny, C.W. Allen, Dr. C.F. Oelig, Samuel Beamer and Jacob Brenneman. David Price was the first teacher. The borough has a good brick school-building and an interesting school.

In Woodberry township, Philip Fishburn, Benjamin Griffith, William Pringle, David Mixel, James Roche, Jacob Livengood and William Ralston were the leading teachers from 1816 to 1834. English and German were generally taught. Free schools were opposed and the law was not accepted for some time. First directors: Dr. Samuel H. Smith, Samuel Buck, Frederick Washeim, John Keagy, Daniel Holsiniger and Samuel Haffley. Among the friends of the schools were Samuel Brown, Jacob Hipple, Jacob Long, Leonard Furry, Christian Sounder, Thomas Brown and Daniel Snowberger. Henry Miller, John McDonald and Jacob Miller were successful teachers under the present system.

South Woodberry was formed in 1844. In f848, under a very progressive schoolboard, much interest in education was aroused. The first institute in the county was held in this township in 1849. Among the most active directors were Adam Haderman and Joseph B. Noble. Successful teachers: John B. Fluke, J.B. Furry, J.R. Durborrow, D.C. Long and Daniel Reed. The township has good schoolhouses and good schools.

Coaldale borough generally maintains good schools. John Taylor, Lemuel Evans, Joshua Aurandt, Dr. Jenkins and others have served as directors.

The schools of the new townships—Bloom-field, West St. Clair, King and Mann —are included in the sketches relating to the townships from which they were formed. Many facts relative to borough schools are given in the borough histories. Several of the townships have held township institutes annually, which have had an important influence in improving the schools.

The present condition of the schools of the county will be seen in the following statistics, which are taken from the latest report of the state superintendent:

Whole number of schools in the county in 1882, 234 1/2; average number of months taught, 5.52 ; number of male teachers, 202 1/2; number of female teachers, 54; average salary of male teachers, per month, $31.41 ; average salary of female teachers, per month, $25.41 ; number of male scholars, 4,889; number of female scholars, 4,356; average number attending school, 6,485; average per cent of attendance, 82; total amount of tax levied for school and building purposes, $40,556.07; state appropriation, $7,016.21 ; total receipts, $57,812.35; total expenditures, $55,607.64.


Dr. F.C. Reamer was born near Sideling Hill, in the present county of Fulton, Pennsylvania, in 1821. He studied medicine with Dr. Francis B. Barclay, of Bedford, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, April 4, 1845. He began the practice of his profession at Hancock, Maryland. In the spring of 1849 or 1850, he located at Bedford, but a few months later removed to McConnellsburg, the then recently established county-seat of the new county of Fulton. It seems that his anticipations were not realized there, however, for in the spring of 1854 he again returned to Bedford, where he resided until, his death, which occurred April 28, 1870, at the age of forty-nine years. From September 16, 1862, to February 3, 1865, he served as surgeon, with the rank of major, of the 143d regt. Penn. Vols. His wife, formerly Miss Georgiana A., daughter of Abraham Kerns, of Bedford, died May 28, 1869.


* For most of the Information contained in this chapter, the editor is Indebted to an article, by Prof. J.W. Hughes, on the schools of Bedford county, in the report of the state superintendent for the year 1877.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 232-235, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties

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