History of Somerset County Schools (part 1)

Created: Monday, 14 September 2015 Last Updated: Monday, 14 September 2015 Written by Administrator Print Email

The first school in Addison Township was taught in a private house near Petersburg, in 1792. The first schoolhouse was built in 1800, near the Casselman river, on land now owned by William Hanna. Adam Bowlin, a better hunter than teacher, was the instructor. The township promptly accepted the free-school law in 1834 and under such earnest school directors as Gen. Ross and Judge Hanna, the schools soon became efficient.

A school was taught at Shaffer\'s church, Allegheny township, by Mr. Appleman, in 1810. Early schools were held in private houses. Little attention was then paid to education. Free schools were adopted by the township in 1835. At New Baltimore the first school was organized in the Catholic church, in 1830. A schoolhouse was built in 1863. S. M. Topper was the first teacher in this building.

The town of Berlin maintained schools from a very early date. The Reformed and Lutheran congregations each had schoolhouses and schools as early as 1780. The schoolhouses were built of round logs; the benches were made of slabs and the tables of rough boards. A stone schoolhouse was built near the Reformed church in 1825, and about the same time a new frame building took the place of an old schoolhouse which stood on the present site of the Lutheran Sunday-school building. Berlin formed an independent school district in 1836, and the following year adopted the free-school system. Schoolhouses have since been erected in 1837, 1857 and 1876. Philip Smith, Rev. John Brubaker and I. F. Rodabaugh were efficient teachers in this town. An old church was converted into a seminary in 1853, and was kept open five terms.

In Brother\'s Valley township German schools were taught very early. The people were opposed to the free schools, and did not accept them until 1849. Prior to that time few buildings were erected solely for schools, and in 1850 but six schools were maintained in the township.

A few German schools were taught in Conemaugh township as early as 1800. Education, however, received little attention. After the common-school law was passed, it was evaded by electing directors who refused to enforce it. This state of affairs continued until 1869, when the friends of the common-school system made complaint to the court and the directors were made to discharge their duties.

Peter Fahrny taught a German school in Elk Lick township in 1794, in a log house on the Christopher Garlitz farm. Jackson Griffith probably taught the first English school in 1810. The schoolhouse was an old dwelling which stood on the present John J. Keim farm. Afterward a man named Turney taught here. The old house had no desks, and the citizens made a few of rough boards and placed them in the room; but when the teacher came, he was indignant and threw the furniture out, stating that desks had a tendency to make lazy pupils. The first schoolhouse was built on Samuel Lichty\'s farm, about 1830. Free schools were accepted in 1844.
In Salisbury, a round-log schoolhouse was built on a lot of land donated by Joseph Markley, about 1800. The first teacher was named Warfield; McConnell was his successor. Peter Welfley taught several terms successfully. Jost J. Stutzman was the next teacher, and on account of his proficiency in grammar he was called the \'\'Grammar King." His home was in Salisbury, and Mr. Stutzman devoted forty-five years of his life to the teacher\'s profession. L. A. Smith and J. D. Meese have also been efficient teachers in the town.

Peter Engel taught the first school in Greenville township, in the old Greenville church, in 1810. The present system was adopted in 1835.

A school was taught in a private house near Bakersville, in Jefferson township, in 1801. James White, an inebriate, taught in 1815. William Scott and Henry Weimer were later teachers. Jefferson township was included in Somerset until 1847.

In Jenner township, Moses Fream taught the first school, in his own house, in 1804. The first schoolhouse was built in 1814. A second was erected near the Quaker church in 1816, and in it Samuel Boyles taught school.

The first school in Larimer township was taught at the White Oak church in 1824, by Daniel De Haven, who was then pastor of the congregation. At the time of the adoption of the common-school system in 1835, there were but two schools within the present limits of the township.

Middle Creek was a part of Milford until 1853. The first schoolhouse was built near Barron\'s church, in 1815. David Tedrow, George Tedrow and George Lenhart were early teachers. Jesse Moore and John Boucher were active and energetic members of the first school board. Josiah Pile and Evan Scott were among the best qualified teachers when the township was formed.

In Milford township log buildings were early erected, which served both as churches and schoolhouses. A Mr. Wilkinson taught in an old church near Jacob Critchfield\'s present residence, in 1807. There were few schoolhouses until 1834, when the free-school system went into effect in the township. A schoolhouse was built where New Centreville now is, in 1798. A small house joined to it served as the temporary residence of the teacher. Here Jacob Weimer resided and taught the school for several years. The third schoolhouse on the same site was completed in 1874. It contains two large and well furnished rooms.

In Northampton township Charles Peterson taught a German school in 1796, in the house of Philip Poorbaugh. The first schoolhouse was built on the Valentine Bridigum farm, and in it a German school was taught in 1816. The township (then included in Southampton) adopted the free schools in 1835.

(Source: History of Bedford, Somerset & Fulton Counties, PA; 1884)