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Full text of "Address made at the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the settlement of Cazenovia, N.Y., on "school day." June 13, 1893"

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<£XZ> OF THE -3^vg 

Centennial Anniversary 

GN5> OF THE-^^© 

Settlement of Cazenovia, N. Y., 

"School Day," June 13, 1893, 

Clerk of the Board of Education. 


iW~ ^w^^>". 




^Z?-OF THE ^S>^ 

Centennial Anniversary 

S^vE^ OF THE -3XJ) 

Settlement of Ca^enoYia, N. 

• JL »< 

"School Dag," June 13. 1893, 

— ^BY* — 


Clerk of the Board o¥ Education. 


Presses Of 

TheCazenovia Republican, 


The Development of the Common School 
System of the State of Ne-vw York. 

At the time of the settlement of Cazenovia. there were 
no common schools in the state of Xew York, nor was 
there any provisions for them. 

And this, althongh the first public schools in America 
were established in the state of Xew York. 

In 1631. when the States General of Holland committed 
the government of the infant colony of Xew Amsterdam 
to the Dutch West India Company, it was enjoined that 
the colony should * "find speedy means to maintain a clergy- 
man and a schoolmaster. ' ' and it was required that * 'each 
householder and inhabitant should bear such tax and 
public charge as should be considered proper for their main- 
tenance." Foot years later, the expenses of the school- 
master were three hundred and sixty florins, or about one 
hundred and fifty dollars, no mean sum for those days. 
In 1664. when the colony was surrendered to the English, 
every considerable settlement had a public school, taught 
by more or less permanent teachers, and supported largely 
or wholly, at the public expensr. 

With the advent of English rule, all this was changed. 
The policy of the English governors was to discourage the 
education of the common people, the rulers being appre- 
hensive that common schools would nourish and strength- 
en a spirit of in dependence, which had even then made con - 

slderable headway. Not only was the public aid withdrawn 
from the common schools, but the instructions from the home 
government to the colonial governors uniformly provided, 
that no person should be permitted to come from England 
to teach, even in a private school, without a license from the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and that no person here should 
do so without the license of the governor. It is true that in 
1702, an act was passed entitled "An act for the encourage- 
ment of a grammar free school in the city of New York," 
but this bill was passed while the Dutch element was 
still strong if not predominant and the governor and coun- 
cil refused to approve the measure until it was amended T 
so as to require that the teacher should be licensed by the 
bishop of London, or by the governor of the pro- 
vince. When by the terms of this act, its j)rovisions expired 
at the end of seven years, it was not renewed Thereafter 
there were no common schools in the colony of New York. 

Under the colonial government, however, Kings, (after- 
wards Columbia) College, and several academies were 

Immediately after the Revolutionary war, that greatest 
of New York's governors, George Clinton, said to the legis- 
lature of 1784, "There is scarce anything more worthy of 
your attention than the revival and encouragement of sem- 
inaries of learning." In that year, the legislature passed an 
act creating the Board of Regents of the University. The 
members of this board were the very foremost citizens of 
the state. The Regents had jurisdiction only over colleges 
and academies, and had no responsibility concerning ele- 
mentary schools. Yet in 1787 the board transmitted to the 
legislature a report containing the following recommenda- 
tions, probably drafted by Hamilton. 

"But before your committee conclude, they feel them- 
selves bound in faithfulness to add, that the erecting of pub- 
lic schools for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic is 

an object of very great importance, which ought not to be left 
to the discretion of private men, but should be promoted by 
public authority. Of so much knowledge, no citizen ought 
to be destitute, and yet it is a reflection, as true as it is 
painful, that too many of our youth are brought up in ut- 
ter ignorance. This is a reproach under which we have 
long laboured, unmoved by the examples of our neighbors, 
who, not leaving the education of their children to chance, 
have widely diffused throughout their state a public pro- 
vision for such instruction. Your committee are sensible 
that the Regents aro invested with no funds of which they 
have the disposal, but they nevertheless conceive it to be 
their duty to bring the subject before the honorable the 
legislature, who alone can provide a remedy." 

The legislature paid no heed to this apjDeal. 

Six years after this, and just one hundred years ago, 
the Regents recurred to this matter urgently, and in 
their reports of 1793, 1794 and 1795, strongly pressed 
the subject. In the latter year the old governor spoke to 
the legislature in this wise: 

"While it is evident that the general establishment and 
liberal endowment of academies are highly to be commended 
and are attended with the most beneficial consequences, yet 
it cannot be denied that they are principally confined to 
the children of the opulent, and that a great portion of the 
community is excluded from their immediate advantages. 
The establishment of common schools throughout the state 
is happily calculated to remedy this inconvenience, and 
will therefore engage your early and decided considera- 

These representations produced from the legislature of 1795 
an act entitled, "An act for the encouragement of schools." 
It appropriated $100,000 each year for five years from 
the state treasury for the purpose of encouraging and main- 
taining schools in the several cities and towns of this state, 

in which the children of the inhabitants residing in the 
state shall be instructed in the English language, or be 
taught English grammar, arithmetic, mathematics and such 
other branches of knowledge as are most useful and neces 
sary to complete a good education." The sum appropriate^ 
was munificent, when we consider that the assessed value of 
the property in the state was but $100,000,000 and that 
the state was heavily in debt. In addition to the state ap- 
propriation, each town was required to raise by tax one half 
as much money as it received from the state. This gener- 
ous action had great and immediate effect. Three years 
after the passage of the act, or in 1798, there were within 
the state 1,352 common schools with 59,660 pupils. 

Still there was provided no general control or supervision 
of the schools. It was left to the people of the several 
towns, to organize school districts, erect school houses and 
maintain schools. 

The annual appropriation of $100,000 expired by the 
terms of the act in 1800, and, owing to a difference of opinion 
in the legislature as to the propriety of providing for a 
system of state superintendence, it was not renewed. 

The several governors in each of the five succeeding years 
brought the subject of common schools to the attention of 
the legislature, until in 1805 acts were passed creating a per- 
manent common school fund, and from that time the com- 
mon school system has, in spite of some neglect and many 
set-backs, on the whole grown in strength and useful- 

In the first decade of this century, many acts were 
passed for the encouragement of common schools in par 
ticular localities, some providing for the raising of money 
by local taxation, some by setting apart for the purposes 
of schools particular local funds, such as the excise fund. 
Notable among these acts, was one passed in 1805 incorpo- 
rating DeWitt Clinton and others, as "The society for es- 

tablishing a free school in the city of New York for -the 
education of such poor children as do not belong to, or are 
not provided for by any religious society," a corporation 
which had control of the common schools of New York city 
until 1853. 

Up to 1812, all the acts passed by the legislature were for 
the encouragement of public schools; the establishment and gov- 
ernment of the schools was left to the discretion of the 
towns and the zeal of the inhabitants. 

In 1812, the time had come when the state government 
was ready to command the founding of comman schools 
throughout the state and to provide impsritatively for enabl- 
ing every child in the state to have at least the rudiments of 
an education. So, on the 19th day of June 1812, was enacted 
"An act for the establishment of schools". A State Super- 
intendent of Common Schools was to be appointed, with an 
annual salary of three hundred dollars, who was to have 
the general charge of the common schools of the state and 
to distribute the public school monies among the several 
counties. In each town, Commissioners of Common Schools 
were to be elected at town meeting, whose duty it was to divide 
the towns into schoool districts, and to call upon the inhab- 
itants of each district to meet for the purpose of organizing 
the districts, for the election of trustees, and to provide for 
the erection of a school house and the maintenance of the 
school. Inspectors of schools were also to be elected in 
each town, whose duty it was to examine and license 
teachers and to visit schools. 

Gideon Hawley, then a young lawyer in Albany, was ap- 
pointed State Superintendent, and owing to his energy and 
ability, the new system was put into successful operation 
throughout the state in an almost incredibly short space of 
time. Since that time, every child in the state has had an 
opportunity of obtaining the rudiments of an education. 

In 1821, the office of State Supertendent was abolished, 

and its duties devolved upon the Secretary of State. This 
action, which, at the time, it was feared would be disastrous 
to the interests of the common schools, proved to be, on 
the whole, beneficial, owing entirely to the zeal and 
eminent ability af the four great men, who from 1826 to 
1845 occupied the chair of Secretary of State — Azariah C. 
Plagg, John A. Dix, John C. Spencer and Samuel Young. 
To Henry S. Randall, also, Secretary of State in 1852 and 
1853, the common school system owes a debt of gratitude 
for his invaluable service in its behalf. In 1854 the Depart- 
ment of Public Instruction was created. In 1841, the office 
of County Superintendent of Common Schools was created, 
and it was abolished in 1847. The offices of Town Commis- 
sioner and Town Inspector were abolished in 1843 and the 
office of Town Superintendent was created. In 1856 the 
latter office was abolished and the office of District Com- 
missioner was created. Thus we have had supervision of 
the common schools by state officers since 1812, by county 
or district officers from 1841 to 1847 and from 1856 to the 
present time, and by town officers from 1795 to 1856. 

At present the system is highly centralized, owing to the 
vast powers, original and appellate, which from time to 
time have been vested in the Department of Public Instruc- 
tion. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is now the 
most powerful officer in the state. Practically, he has 
complete control of every school officer and every teacher 
in the state. His hand reaches into the remotest school dis- 
trict, and from his mandate there is no effectual appeal,even 
to the courts. It is but just to say these great powers have not 
been abused, but have been exercised with the greatest 
wisdom and vigor, and have never been prostituted to per- 
sonal aggrandizement or political advancement. To 
Abram B. Weaver, State Superintendent from 1833 to 1874; 
to N"eil Grilmour, Superintendent from 1874 to 1883; and to 
Andrew S. Draper, who held the same office from 1886 to 

1892, from whose address delivered before the State Teachers' 
Association in 1890. many of the foregoing facts are quoted, 
we owe, in a great measure, the existing admirable system 
for the training and examination of teachers and for the 
vigilant superintendence of the schools and school officers. 

The first Normal School for the training of teachers in 
this state was founded at Albany in 1844, and the second at 
Oswego in 1863. There are now within the state eleven of 
these institutions, and their influence in raising the 
standard of qualifications for teaching cannot well be 
over estimated. Not only have those teachers who have 
attended those schools been greatly benefited, but their in- 
direct influence has been in the highest degree beneficent. 
Indeed it may be said, that the effect of these schools has 
largely tended to elevate the business of common school 
teaching to the dignity of a profession, instead of being a 
make-shift for earning a living in the intervals between 
other avocations. 

In 1849, the policy was adopted providing for the instruc- 
tion of classes in academies in the science and practice of 
common school teaching, thus giving at a small expense 
much needed and useful training to a very large number of 
common school teachers. 

The first Teachers' Institute was held in Tompkins county 
in 1843, by the School Commissioner with an attendance of 
twenty eight members. It was a local enterprise, and re- 
ceived no aid from the state. In 1847, the legislature ap- 
propriated the sum of sixty dollars for the use and benefit 
of Teachers' Institutes. From this small beginning has 
arisen the existing system with its staff of instructors, its 
elaborate methods, and its very large application. The 
Teachers' Institute, besides bringing to the knowledge of 
teachers the latest methods in pedagogy, and the latest 
improvement in school books and apparatus, are invaluable 
occasions for the exchange of ideas and for the inspiring of 

the esprit du corps which is so necessary in a lonely profes- 
sion. The establishment in recent years of the "Regents- 
examinations" for the scholars, and of uniform examina- 
tions for the teachers, have done very much for the cause of 

In glancing at the development of the common school 
system in this state, two striking facts force themselves 
upon our attention. The first is the steady advance towards 
the centralization of power. One hundred years ago, all 
elementary schools were private affairs, receiving no aid from 
the state, and subject to no control or even supervision. In 
1795 and 1805 common schools were encouraged by state 
aid, but their establishment was left to local action and 
there was no supervision. By the act of 1812. the state com- 
pelled the establishment of common schools throughout the 
state, and provided for the a state superintendent, but the 
government of the schools and the licensing of teachers was 
committed to town officers, the state superintendent's office 
being little more than a bureau for the distribution of pub- 
lic monies, with only advisory powers. Gideon Hawley, 
however, exercised these powers with such ability and zeal, 
that, at the end of his term, the bureau had become a de- 
partment. Thirty years later, county officers were pro- 
vided for, having certain appellate jurisdiction over the town 
school officers. In 1856, the power of licensing teachers 
was taken from the towns and given to the District Commis- 
sioners, and in recent years this power has been practically 
vested in the State Department. In effect, all power is now 
vested in the State Superintendent, whenever he chooses to 
exercise it. By the provisions relating tojcosts, even the 
courts are practically deprived of the jurisdiction which 
they habitually exercise over the other, even the highest 
branches of the state government. 

Two changes remain to be made to complete a logically 
uniform system: First, the abolition of the school districts 

and the creation of town boards of education with a paid 
practical teacher as executive officer: and Secondly, the abo- 
lition of the elective office of District School Commissioner, 
and the devolution of its duties upon officers appointed by, 
and immediately responsible to, the State Department of 
Public Instruction. These changes, in my opinion will soon 
be made 

This tendency to centralization in the administration of 
school matters is well worthy of attention of statesmen, and, 
all the more so, because the movement was gradual, and 
at each step of its progress scarcely observed, or at least 
was little commented on. The same tendency can be noted 
in the change made in organization of the militia, and is be- 
ginning to be dimly perceptible in the new law relating to 
highways. It may be, that we have outgrown the system of 
the local administration of public affairs, so highly prized 
by our forefathers and that the new conditions imposed 
upon us by the vast improvements in the means of communi- 
cation, and by the concentration of influences in larger 
towns, may demand that the administration of all branches 
of government shall be committed to a central bureau. 

Again, until 1867, | the expenses of maintaining the com- 
mon schools after applying to that purpose the public monies 
received from the state, were collected from the parents of 
the children attending. This evidently tended to the dim- 
in uation of school attendance, and in the villages, to the en- 
couragement of private or select schools. In that year the 
common schools were made absolutely free. In 1874, an act 
was passed requiring that every child between the ages of 
eight and fourteen years should attend school at least four- 
teen weeks in each year. 

Thus, one hundred years ago, a parent, desiring to give an 
elementary education to his child, was obliged to provide it 
at his own pains and cost. Later, thestate, recognizing the ad- 
vantage of general education, encouraged the establishment of 

schools by the grant of public monies. Then the whole 
territory of the state was mapped out into school districts, 
and supervision and inspection by public officers provided 
for, the parents however being still responsible for part of 
the expense. Next the whole expenses of the common 
schools was imposed upon the tax-papers, and the schools 
made absolutely free. Finally by law every child in the 
state is compelled to attend school long enough to gain a 
knowledge of the rudiments of an education. 

Thus a century ago, an elementary education was a priv- 
ilege which, if enjoyed, must be paid for by the individual. 
Now it is a duty, imposed by the state, provided by the 
state, and enforced by the state under pains and penalties. 

Schools of Cazenovia. 

The first school in Cazenovia was kept in a building which 
stood south of the west bridge, near the corner of Lake 
Avenue and Rippleton road. Who the first teacher was, 
we unhappily do not know. To this school in 1796, Gen. 
Jonathan Forman, of revolutionary fame, was wont to lead 
his little daughter Mary across the low nnrailed bridge 
which then spanned the outlet, as yet un vexed by dams. This 
little girl grew up to become the wife of Henry Seymour, of 
Pompey and the mother of several children, one of whom 
was Horatio Seymour, and another is a lady who for more 
than half a century has dwelt among us, honored and be- 

About the begining of this century, another school house 
was erected on the west side of Sullivan street north of the 

These buildings were successively used for religious ser- 
vices until the erection of the meeting house on the Green. 

In 1805, stimulated probably by the provisions of the 

1 3 

statute of that year, nearly all of the principal inhabitants 
united in an agreement to purchase a lot in a more central 
locality and to erect a more commodious school house. This 
agreement, which is in existence and can be seen at the 
Public Library, provides for the raising of the sum of three 
hundred and forty-five dollars, in shares of fifteen dollars 
each, payable one third in cash, one third in wheat and one 
third in Indian corn. The holders of shares were to be en- 
titled to one vote in the management of the enterprise for 
each share. There were twenty-six subscribers to this agree- 
ment, twenty subscribing one share each and six subscribing 
half of a share each. It is a singular fact that of only two 
or three of those subscribers, are there any descendants now 
residing in this place. A lot sixty feet square was pur- 
chased of Lemuel Kingsbury, situated on the east side of 
Sullivan street where the west end of Seminary street now 
is for, forty-five dollars. The remaining three hundred dol 
lars were paid to Mr. Lincklaen, who erected the building, 
doubtless at an expense exceeding the sum subscribed. 
When in 1814, School District No. 1 (late No. 21) was 
erected, this lot and building was purchased for its school. 
At that time, Seminary or, as it was first called, Court street, 
was being opened, and the court house was in process of 
erection, and the greater portion of the school lot was ap- 
propriated to the new street, the village paying as damages 
the sum of $117.50. The school house was then moved 
north to the north corner of Sullivan and Seminary streets, 
where it still stands in a dilapidated condition. In recent 
years it has been used as an engine house. This is doubtless 
the oldest school house in this region, though for many 
years it has been perverted to base uses. 

At the first town meeting after the passage of the act of 
1812, were elected three commissioners and six school 
inspectors, and the supervisor was authorized to levy for 
school purposes double the amount of our j)roportion of the 


interest of the school fund, on the taxable inhabitants of 
the town. 

In 1813, the school commissioners proceeded to divide the 
town into fifteen school districts, and two more were created 
in the following year. Two of the districts were in the 
village, the dividing line between them being Mill and 
Lincklaen streets. Another district was many years after- 
ward created in the north-east part of the village. 

It will be seen that the school system was strongly offi- 
cered, at least so far as regarded numbers, there being three 
commissioners and six inspectors in the town. As a rule the 
men chosen to fill these offices were intelligent and patriotic 
citizens, but it is evident that "the multitude of counselors" 
in the end proved detrimental to the interests of the schools, 
and in 1843, the people abolished the offices of town school 
commissioners and school inspectors and vested their 
functions in a single Town Superintendent. It may be re- 
marked in passing that the Inspectors received a salary of 
fifty cents per day. In 1814 the school houses were erected 
and the common schools were opened, and from that time 
to this have been in continuous operation with various de- 
grees of success. The school house in the west village dis- 
trict was, as has been heretofore stated, on the north corner 
of Sullivan and Seminary streets, and that in the east dis 
trict was erected on Centre street, which then, at its outlet 
into Albany street, was a mere lane. About forty years 
ago, the origin 4 school house of the west district was sold 
to the village, and a new two story building erected on the 
lot where the Union School now stands. About the same 
time, the eastern district purchased the house and lot on 
the corner of Nelson and Fenner streets, and removed its 
school hither. In the latter part of 1875, the three village 
districts were united into a Union School District, and in 
1887, a new school building was erected on the Sullivan 
street lot, in which, since that time, all the departments of 
the school have been held. 


Select Schools. 

There have been in the village, at all times until the for- 
mation of the Union School District, private or select 
schools, sometimes as many as seven. It would be impos- 
sible, if it were desirable, to enumerate these schools, as 
there is, of course, no record of them. Some were kept for 
only a single term, and others continued in operation for 
years. Some were good, some bad, and some indifferent. 
Those that were elementary need no particular mention as 
they probably did not differ greatly from the common 
schools, except that, being confined mainly to the instruction 
of small children, they were more orderly. 

I may be permitted to say, however, that one of these 
schools was held in the building which I now occupy as an 
office, and there I went to school before I was three years 
old. Thus I am ending life where I began it, sleeping in 
the room in which I was born, and passing my days in the 
room in which I began the business of life. 

There were some schools of a higher grade. 

In 1815, Theophilus Wilson, a young physician of great 
promise, and, in the language of the inscription on his 
tombstone, "a graduate of Dartmouth college and an orna- 
ment to his profession, to society and to the church," died 
by taking poison through mistake, leaving a widow, Grace 
Wilson, and a son a few months old. The young widow, in 
order to support herself and her child, opened a girls' school 
on Sullivan street, directly opposite Seminary street, and 
continued it for about twenty years. The building was of 
two stories and there were two departments, one for young 


ladies, and one for little girls. The only boy who ever at- 
tended this school, besides Mrs. Wilson's son, was the late 
Denise Ledyard. The little girls were taught in the lower 
room by an assistant, who for many years was Miss Abby 
Staples a neice of Mrs. Wilson. The young ladies were 
taught above by the principal. The whole school, however 
had their lessons in writing from Mrs. Wilson, who excelled 
in penmanship, and the assistant taught arithmetic in both 
departments, as Mrs. Wilson was not good at figures. Be- 
sides the ordinary curriculum, the young ladies were 
instructed in embroidery, in drawing and in painting in 
India ink and in water colors. In painting and drawing, 
monumental urns shaded by weeping willows were the fav- 
orite designs, and many specimens of this work are still ex- 
tant. Mrs. Wilson lived in a small house situated near 
the center of the lot now occupied by the Union School 
House. The front yard was full of lilac bushes, with a 
grass plot between the house and the school, and an apple 
orchard at the sides and in the rear of the house. A lady 
who attended this school in 1825 says, "to my childish 
eyes this was the prettiest and greenest of spots." 

In 1834, a Miss Talcott opened a young ladies' school of 
high order, at first kept in Mrs. Wilson 1 s school house, and 
afterwards in the old Madison County House on the south 
side of the public square. Of this school, the same lady re- 
marks, "she changed our studies from dry Arithmetic and 
Latin to the more interesting ones of History, English Lit- 
erature, Physical Geography, etc.. to our great delight. I 
must say that old Dr. Blanchard was a splendid teacher of 

For some years, about 1850, the Misses Savage, nieces of 
Gideon Hawley, the first State Superintendent, had an ex- 
cellent girls' school on Mill street. 

About 1830, Daniel E. Burhans opened a boy's school in 
a building which stood on Seminary street, just west of 

the 'Baptist church. Burhans was the son of an Episcopal 
clergyman of prominence in Connecticut, and was himself 
a highly educated man. He must have been a good teacher for 
those times, or his grave faults would not have been so long 
tolerated. It was a large school, boys of all ages being ad- 
mitted, and there being at all times an assistant teacher. 
He was of intemperate habits, and it was not unusual on a 
Monday morning to find a notice on the school house" door, 
to the effect that the school would be closed for a time on 
account of the sickness of the teacher. On recovering from 
the effects of his Sunday debauch, he would reappear and the 
school would be resumed. He was crael to the last degree. 
The boys regarded him with absolute terror, and yet they 
had a certain respect for his abiltiies. At last, the time 
came when Barhans' sprees became so frequent and so j>ro- 
longed, that toleration ceased to be a virtue, and a High 
School was instituted in a building which was erected for 
the purpose on the corner of Sullivan street and the public 
square, under the general auspices of the Rev. E. S. Bar- 
rows, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church. I think I am 
not mistaken in believing that this school was started in 
rivalry with, if not in opposition to, the Seminary. Its 
head teachers were college graduates, and its course of 
study was about the same as in the academies of those days. 
Among its teachers were Lysander H. Brown, afterwards a 
prominent lawyer of Northern New York, who died within 
the past year; Henry Callahan, who died in 1888, having 
for the last quarter of a century of his life been the princ- 
ipal of a celebrated school in Delaware County, and a Mr. 
Whiting, a queer absent minded man, who afterwards 
became a Mormon elder. There was another master of this 
school, as to whom I deliberately and solemnly resolved 
that, if I lived to "grow up" and ever met him, 
I would whip him if I could ; and further, that if I 
did not live to ' ' grow up ' ' , or should never meet him, I 

would, on the Judgment Day, myself arraign him at the 
bir of Almighty God for his cruelty to me. When I did 
"grow up" I, of course, thought better of the latter part of 
this resolution. The first clause of the resolution I have 
never formally recanted. Whether, if we should meet, I 
would carry it out, I declare I do not know. I used to long- 
to meet him ; now I hope we shall never see each other. It 
seems horrible— it is horrible, that I should thus bear an 
enmity for a life time. But I vividly recall with what sav- 
age glee he lacerated my tender flesh with his cruel raw-' 
hide, upon little or no provocation, and now, after the lapse 
of more than half a century, my old, sluggish blood runs 
hot with indignation, when I recall the physical agony, 
and, more cutting than his blows, the deep humiliation, the 
abasing degradation which this man inflicted upon me, 
causelessly and wantonly. But there was another teacher, 
Frederick Dean, just, kind, capable, accomplished, and I 
think learned, whom I loved with the passionate devotion 
which I think only a school-boy can feel for one of his own 
sex. He administered corporal punishment, but for just 
cause, not brutally, but as if he suffered more than the cul- 
prit, and when it was over, often both teacher and pupil 
were in tears. Soon after leaving Cazenovia, he went 
as a missionary to far-off and benighted Texas, and died of 
yellow fever almost immediately upon arriving there. I 
remember that, on the Saturday afternoon after I heard of 
his death, instead of joining my fellows in their sports, I 
went alone to the cemetery to mourn for my friend who 
then lay buried in a distant land. After Mr. Barrows went 
away, the High School as such was discontinued, but many 
private schools were kept in the school-house on the square, 
some for boys, some for girls, and some for both sexes. 
Many of these schools were of high character. 

The Seminary* 

Of the Seminary, it is not within the scope of this ad- 
dress to speak. Although it has been of the greatest bene- 
fit to the educational interests of the place, its influence has 
been general rather than local. " Its sound has gone out 
into all lands, and its words unto the ends of the world." 
Yet it would be inexcusable not to mention the names of 
Augustus W. Smith, erudite and blameless ; of John W. 
Tyler, who dying at the age of twenty-six, leaving neither 
child nor literary production, yet left a memory which, 
after the lapse of sixty years, is still green; of George Peck, 
shrewd and far-sighted ; of Alverson and Armstrong, 
thorough and enlightened ; of the Bannisters, Henry and Ed- 
ward ; and of Bostwick Hawley, not to speak of those now liv- 
ing to adorn the highest stations in the church, or the leading 
chairs in universities ; or of those, of lesser fame, who 
have played well their part in the conflict between igno- 
rance and knowledge, between vice and virtue. The glo- 
rious history of the Seminary was recited at the semi-cen- 
tennial of 1875 and is recorded in the volume published the 
next year entitled, " The First Fifty Years of Cazenovia 
Seminary." Of its present condition, we shall hear some- 
thing later this afternoon. 

It would be unpardonable not to mention Orlando Blan- 
chard, in even the briefest review of the educational institu- 
tions of Cazenovia. He taught in the Seminary, in the 
select schools, and gave private lessons. He was a profound 
mathematician, an enthusiastic astronomer, a skilful chem- 
ist, an expert pharmacist, and a practical mechanic. He 

wrote an arithmetic, which, far excelled anything published 
before his day. He constructed orreries, clocks and organs. 
He calculated for himself the orbits of the planets and 
measured the flight of comets. But he loved no man and 
hated every woman. " Grand, gloomy and peculiar. ' ' with- 
out kindred and without friends, he pursued alone the ten- 
or of his way, commanding respect for his splendid and 
versatile genius, and repelling all sympathies, by his intol- 
erable eccentricites. 

Schools of Olden Times. 

In speaking of the schools of former times, I can only 
speak of them as they were in my school days, that is 
from 1830 to 1840. 

Two things must be first said. The rural district schools 
at that time were superior to the village district schools. 
For this, there was good reason. The rural population was 
then at its height. The rural population of school age was 
at least double what it is now, and they continued their 
attendance upon school to a much later age. It was com- 
mon for young men and young ladies to attend the winter 
district school until the age of from 17 to 21 . So it was, that in 
districts where there were in attendance sixty years ago 
forty or fifty pupils, there are now no more than fifteen or 
twenty, or even less. 

In the village, however, there were always select schools, 
which took away the larger number, and, on the whole, the 
better class of small children, and the young men and young 
women went to the Seminary, the high school, or to Mrs. 
Wilson or Miss Talcott. 

Again, the district schools were not as uniform as they are 
now. There was no standard of qualification for teachers, 

and no system for their examination. School officers granted 
certificates to teachers upon such examination as they 
chose to make, or upon no examination. Then there was 
no effective supervision. The district commissioners had 
not been provided for, and the office of State Superin- 
tendent was vested in the Secretary of State. 

In fact, every thing depended upon the teacher. If the 
teacher was capable, it was a good school. If he was in- 
efficient, it could not be helped . 

The furniture of the school house was of the rudest 
kind There was a continuous desk around the wall for 
the older scholars, with backless benches, generally made 
of slabs, before them, and smaller benches down the middle 
of the room for the little ones. There was a small black- 
board about large enough for one or two children to use, 
and that was all the apparatus, except the instruments of tor- 

The text books, according to modern standards, were 
wretched. They contained rules which were to be learned 
by heart, but explained nothing, and illustrated nothing. 
Even the geographies were as dry as the multiplication 

The teachers were of as many kinds as there are trees in 
a forest. They had absolutely no training in the theory 
and practice of teaching. Though Pestalozzi had died in 
1827, his works were unknown in this country, and Horace 
Mann did not commence his great work until 1837. There 
were no normal schools, teachers classes, or teachers insti- 
tutes. There were no teachers associations, and no period- 
icals treating of methods in teaching. The teacher work- 
ed in his own way, absolutely uncontrolled and unadvised. 
There were some college men, who worked their way by 
teaching school in the long winter vacation. There were 
other bright young fellows who took up teaching to earn 
the necessary means to prepare for the professions. There 


were some hard headed older men, like Enos dishing and 
the Severances, who taught school in the winter intervals be- 
tween their other avocations. There were a few capable 
men and women who made teaching their profession. And 
there were a host of young men and women, half educated, 
immature and wholly indifferent to their work, who taught 
for a term or two, through the favor of the trustees, simply 
for the pittance they could earn by it. When a teacher had 
a genius for the work, an enthusiasm was aroused which is 
never evoked at the present day. 

Of methods, there were none. The lessons were learned 
from the text book by heart and recited literally. If the 
pupil could recite the lesson in the very words of the text 
book, it was all right, whether he understood it or not. If 
he could not, punishment followed. The teacher sat in his 
chair all the time, except when replenishing the fire, 
or administering discipline. In arithmetic, we learned the 
rules by heart and applied them to the examples, under- 
standing nothing of the reason of the processes. I did not 
understand square root until I was nearly a man, although 
I could work out all the examples. In geography, we were 
made to recite in concert the names of the rivers, capes, 
mountains, etc., thus : "Lake Maracaibo, Lake Maracaibo, 
Lake delosPalos, Lake de los Palos," etc., Cape May, Cape 
May, Cape Henlopen, Cape Henlopen," etc., but we knew 
nothing of Physical or Political Geography as it is now 

Much attention was paid to oral spelling. Spelling con- 
tests were frequent, and often the older inhabitants of 
the district would gather at the school house in the evening 
and heartily engage in the fray. I do not think, on the 
whole, the pupils spelt as well as the school children do 
now. Writing was done mainly with the slate and pencil. 
Paper was dear and there were no wooden lead pencils. A 
very few children had pencil cases of real or base silver, 

2 3 

the others had ''[plummets," which were of hammered lead 
about as large as a slate pencil, sharpened to a point. 
When a child was promoted to the dignity of writing in a 
copy book with pen and ink, he brought a goose quill to 
school with his copy book, made of cheap paper stitched 
together. The time of the teacher between the hearing of 
recitations was fully employed in making and mending the 
pens, of which there was always a pile on his table, and in 
" setting copies. 1 " In one exercise alone were the schools 
of fifty years ago superior to those of the present day. In 
reading and in declaiming, the greatest pains were taken. 
Saturday forenoons, (for the schools were then kept five 
and a half days in the week, ) were given up to reading and 
declamation. The boys declaimed and the girls read before 
the school at least once a fortnight. Then at the end of 
the term there was an " exhibition." at which essays were 
read, orations were declaimed, poems were recited, dia- 
logues and colloquies were rendered with great effect. I 
am very much mistaken, if, at those ''exhibitions " and 
even at some of the Saturday morning performances in the 
schools, there was not better enunciation, emphasis and 
general delivery than is often found at the "readings" 
and the '• recitals, " that we now pay money to hear in the 
Casa-Nova. I know that Andrews used to "speak " better 
on the Seminary chapel stage, than he does now from the 
pulpit, and Tench Fairchild on a Saturday forenoon would 
deliver Webster's reply to Haynes,or Mark Anthony's ora- 
tion over the body of Caesar, with more force and effect than 
is now often exhibited on the stage. Oratory seems to 
have become a lost art, or least is relegated to the stage and 
in a few instances to the lecture platform. 

The schools were governed by terrorizing the pupils. 
Corporal punishment was administered habitually, daily, 
and often with the greatest severity. The ferule, a hard 
wood ruler half a yard long and a third of an inch thick, 


was the usual instrument Besides, there were [he strap of 
sole leather, the switch and the terrible raw-hide. These 
were applied upon the hands, the thighs, the arms, legs, 
and sometimes even upon the head or the feet. Some teach- 
ers were very ingenious in devising new tortures. Child- 
ren were made to stoop over and hold their finger over a 
particular nail in the floor until their backs ached fearfully 
from the unusual strain ; they were hung by their hands 
upon an open door until the edge made creases in their 
fingers ; they were sent out to cut an apple sprout to be 
used for their own torture and compelled to harden it in 
the stove. A peculiarly irritating punishment was to have 
ones ears snapped by a quill pen, especially when it was ad- 
ministered by the teacher approaching stealthily from be- 
hind. Perhaps the worst piinishment that can be inflicted 
upon a child five years old, is to shut him up in a dark 
closet with the intimation that, if he made an outcry, some 
crawling thing would come out of the dark corners and 
bite him. All these punishments and others I have suffer- 
ed, and I was a good boy too, as boys go. I do not mean 
to say that teachers were uniformly unjust or that all 
were intentionally cruel. The children often acted very bad- 
ly, and I am sure that the teachers often did not know 
how much pain they inflicted. It was the general custom 
to flog and to flog severely. It was a point of honor with the 
boys to make no outcry, as long as it was possible to re- 
frain. The boy who could take a severe whipping with a 
grin on his face was the hero of the hour. We never told 
our parents of any punishment inflicted on us, and if they 
discovered the blisters on our hands or the welts on our 
bodies, we made light of it to them. This was partly be- 
cause we thought it manly to refain from complaints, and 
partly because we believed, often mistakenly, that they 
would side with the teacher and punish us again. The ef- 
fect of these severe punishments upon the sufferers varied 

— ^ 2S — . 

with their dispositions. Some, a very few, became sneaks 
and tell-tales ; some became sullen, moody and dispirited, 
and some brave spirits bore their pains manfully, and ex- 
ercised all their wits and energies in the endeavor to get 
even with the teacher. The effect upon the discipline 
of the school was unqualifiedly bad. There was almost 
constant war between the teacher and the scholars, at least 
the male portion of them. This war was open and declared 
when we dared. When we did not dare, it was an guerilla 
warfare. All sorts of tricks were played, and all kinds of 
annoyances contrived to make it unpleasant for him. It 
was not uncommon for the teacher to be thrown out of the 
school house by the larger boys, and the school to be brok- 
en up. It was often stipulated in the contract between the 
trustees and the teacher, that he should have no pay, unless 
he taught to the end of the term. Some districts acquired 
a notoriety for its bad boys, and the principal qualification 
for a teacher in them was to be able to whip the whole school. 
Fighting was common, both between the boys of the same 
school, and between them and outsiders, and no attempt 
was made to suppress it. There was war for many years 
between the high school boys, with their allies in the vil- 
lage, and the Seminary students They fought singly and 
by battalions. The Seminarians were called '" Brimstones," 
I suppose because of the fervid character of the Methodist 
sermons of those days, and in return they called the vil- 
lage boys "Sulphurs." When a party of Seminarians 
strayed beyond their precincts, especially in the evening, 
the cry of " Brimstones " would be raised and the villagers 
would hasten to the fray. All this has happily passed 
away, long since. 

But our school days were not, on the whole, unhappy. 
Some of the teachers were kind, and many were just if 
severe, and even the cruel ones had their gracious moods. 
Even at the worst, we consoled ourselves with the common 


maxim, philosophical if imgrammatical: " Scolding don't 
hurt none, licking dosen't last ]oug, kill me he dasn't.' 
Then there were the joyous recesses and noontimes, with 
their " two- old-cat," their " turn-out- jack " and their 
"prisoner's base." And there were the blessed Saturday 
afternoons, looked forward to with eagerness and remem- 
bered with delight, when the "mountains and hills," the 
" ice and snow," the "seas and floods," "all the green 
things upon the earth," the "beasts and cattle," the 
"worms and feathered fowls," and "all that move in the 
waters," awaited us. And above all the childish friend- 
ships. Other loves there are, more fervent and more dear ; 
filial, fraternal, conjugal and paternal. But all these have 
something of obligation. The love of a boy for his fellow 
alone is unconstrained, free, equal and without a taint of 
selfishness. It was my happiness to contract some of these 
friendships, which have lasted through life, an d the frag- 
rant memory of which, when severed by death, is the 
solace of age. 

The rural school house in the olden time was much mor e 
the centre of social life of the district than it is now. Be- 
sides the spelling matches, there were held in the school 
house religious and political meetings, singing schools, de- 
bating clubs, and literary societies, at which were often 
read essays and poems of no little merit. 

The Union Schools. 

In the autumn of 1875, as has been heretofore stated, the 
village school districts were consolidated into a Union 
School District For the remainder of the school year, 
however, or until the fall of 1876, the former teachers were 
retained and the schools carried on separately as before, 
as it was a difficult task to arrange the course of study for 
the graded school, and to grade the pupils. A comparison 
therefore of the reports of 1876 and 1892, will show the dif 
ference between the existing Union School and the district 
schools immediately preceding it. In 1876, there were in 
the village seven select schools ; now none, except a kinder- 
garten for children under the statutory age. In 1876, there 
were 516 children in the district between the ages of 5 dil&~ 
21 ; in 1892, there were 483. The number of resident 
children attending the district schools some part of the 
year in 1876 was 217 ; the number in 1892 was 329. The 
average attendance of resident children in 1 876 was less 
than 96 ; in 1892 the number was over 246. The whole 
number of days attendance of resident children in 1876 was 
16,779 ; the number in 1892 was 47,872. In 1892, every 
child in the district, except one, between the ages of 8 and 
14, the compulsory age, attended the Union Shcool. The 
number of teachers in the district schools in 1876 was 4 ; 
in 1892 the number was 7. The expense of the district 
schools in 1876 was $1,218.80; in 1892 it was $4,391.04. 
The cost of a day's schooling in 1876 was about seven cents; 
in 1892 it was about eight and a half cents. 


There is no academic department in the school. The 
course of study includes only the ' ' common branches. ' 
There are nine grades occupying a year each. The pupils are 
instructed in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithme- 
tic, civil government, American history, physiology and 
vocal music. There is also a cooking class a part of the 
year. In connection with the school there is a savings in- 
stitution, the net deposits uf which by the children in the 
school year 1892 amounted to $548.04. 

There can, I think, be no doubt that this school is, as it 
ought to be, by far the best school of its grade that ever ex- 
isted in Cazenovia — -as regards the character and capacity 
of the teachers, the methods and thoroughness of the in- 
struction, the discipline of the school, the behavior and 
studiousness of the scholars, and the happiness of both 
teachers and pupils.