Rockingham County, Virginia
VAGenWeb Project

A History of Rockingham County
John W. Wayland Ph.D.

Chapter XV





     The desire on the part of the Valley of Virginia people for higher education has become general only in recent years; but from early times most of them have craved for themselves and their children the rudiments of learning - or more; and therefore elementary schools grew up with the first settlements.  Frequently the pastor was also the teacher; and in many cases the church house and the school house were built on the same lot.  The records are not sufficient to give us many particulars regarding the first schools in Rockingham and adjacent sections, but we know of some that were here more than a century ago; and with these, as well as with others that came later, we shall have to do.

     In 1794 the Methodists of Harrisonburg opened a school.  It was organized under the direction of no less a person than Bishop Asbury himself.  We read on the yellowed page of the minute book:


     In conference chamber, the following persons were nominated by the Bishop as Trustees of the Harrisonburg School, viz.


Andrew Shanklin                                 Samuel McWilliams

Joseph Denny                                      Robert Harrison

Benjamin Smith                                     Thomas Harrison

Reubin Harrison                                   Joseph Cravens

Jeremiah Reagan                                  William Cravens

George Wells                                        William Hughs

Benjamin Harrison


     From the thirteen nominated, seven were chosen, as follows:


Andrew Shanklin                       Benjamin Harrison

George Wells                            Samuel McWilliams

Benjamin Smith                         Joseph Cravens

Reuben Harrison



     The elder of the circuit, who appears a few months later as Joshua Wells, was to be president of the board, ex officio; George Wells was made vice-president; Joseph Cravens, clerk; Benjamin Harrison, treasurer.

     It is said that Asbury held the conference this year (1794) in the Harrison house, on Bruce Street near Main, which is now Gen. John E. Roller’s law office.  The log church, which stood on the top of the hill where the Dunker church now stands, was new and likely unfinished; for on June 23 the seven trustees, who looked after the business of the church as well as that of the school, resolved, “that a sum sufficient to finish the Methodist meeting house suitable for said School as well as publick Preaching &c. be raised by Subscription.”

     So the meetinghouse became also the schoolroom.  Brother John Walsh was employed as teacher at a salary of fifty pounds.

     If the term “Blue Light” or “Blue Laws” could with propriety be attached to the Methodists, we should certainly be inclined to use them both in describing the rules by which this school for boys and girls was to be regulated.  They - these rules - remind us very much of some that John Wesley himself drew up for another school: - but here they are, as formulated by the seven trustees on the 23d of June, 1794.


     Rule 1.  The Scholars shall attend at Eight O’clock in the Summer and Half Past eight in the winter; and the Teacher Shall regulate the time of attendance in Spring and Autumn, according to the length of the day.

     2.  They Shall be allowed an hour for recreation in Winter, and two Hours in Summer.

     3.  They Shall be dismissed at six o’clock in Summer, and at four in Winter; and in Spring and Autumn in proportion.

     4.  The School Shall always be opened and closed with prayer.

     5.  The Teacher Shall appoint a weekly monitor out of a Senior Class, who Shall Call the list upon all Occasions, and see that the Scholars be present at all times of Publick worship in the School; and give Information of all misdemeanors in the Teachers Absence.  And also that all Scholars of Seven Years old and upwards shall attend at publick service on the Sabbath, wherever his or her Parents Guardians or Master may direct.




     6.  No gaming of any kind, nor Instruments of Play shall be tolerated.

     7.  The Tutor shall be judge of all excuses for non attendance, and shall deal with the delinquents accordingly.

     8.  A strict order of silence shall be observed in School hours.

     9.  In every case of Sinning against God, the trial shall be very Serious, the facts proved, and the Sinner Properly dealt with, according to the Judgment of the Teacher.  If it should be near the time of a Visitation (of the trustees) let it be laid over till the meeting of the Board of Trustees.

     10.  In a case of rebellion against the rules of the School, or the Authority of the Teacher, Such a Scholar with the concurrence of the Tutor, with the Trustee, Shall be dismissed.

     11.  No Scholar Shall be permitted on any account whatever to wear Ruffles or powder his hair.

     12.  The Scholars Shall be examined in the “Instructions for Children” Once a week Except the Children of such parents as disapprove the same.

     13.  There Shall be a Garden procured (if practicable) that those Scholars who choose it may Recreate themselves therein.

     14.  That no teacher Shall be Eligible for a Trustee.

     15.  It is Earnestly recommended that no person or persons will send their Children to the School without observing the Strictest punctuality, in making payment Half Yearly; And if Any Subscriber neglects payment one Year, it Shall be determined by a majority of the Trustees, whether he shall be permitted to send the Ensuing Year.

     16.  Every subscriber is required to give three months notice, if he does not continue to Send the Ensuing Year.

     17.  There Shall be no more than Forty Scholars admitted into the School and the Subscribers Shall pay to the Trustees the sum of Thirty three Shillings for each Scholar per Year.

     18.  No Subscriber shall have restitution for the Scholars loss of time, by sending more than the number, or longer than the time subscribed.


     The school evidently was continued in session the whole year.  The last Fridays in the months of November, February, May and August were days set apart for visitation.  On these days the vice-president of the board of trustees was to call a meeting of the trustees, and they were to “Examine the Scholars in their knowledge of God and progress in Learning.”

     Subscribers were to have the privilege of sending their




black servants into the school for the first year, “Under these Restrictions viz. They Shall be Classed & Seated by themselves.”

     A space in the gallery, on the right hand of the pulpit, was to be set apart for the reception of such pupils as attended public worship.  The teacher or a trustee was to sit at their right.

     If we are disposed to revolt at some of the foregoing regulations, we are certainly gratified at others.  On the whole, we must regard the provisions for this school of a hundred and fifteen years ago as remarkably sane and liberal.  One or two provisions are surprisingly progressive; for example, who would now imagine that the people of that day were planning for a school garden?

      In May of the next year, 1795, Bishop Asbury was again at Harrisonburg; and he gave on that occasion further evidence of his concern for the new school.  Under date of Wednesday, May 13, he writes in his Journal:  “Rode twenty-four miles to Rock-Town, and preached at three o’clock; and again the next day.  Here I met the trustees of our school, to whom I read my Thoughts on Education.  In the evening I left the town, and on Friday 15, rode forty miles.”

     It appears from the records that the teacher for the second year, 1795-6, was a Mr. Spencer.  It would seem that early in 1795 the trustees were planning to enlarge the school by having two departments and two teachers - Mr. Walsh and Mr. Spencer.  The new department was to be a “grammar school.”  March 16, 1795, the Board resolved that “the Grammar School Shall be under the same Rules & Regulations which have been made for the English School - except the Two last weeks in April & the Two first in October, which times shall be set apart for Vacation as Common in Grammar schools.”

     The outcome seems to have been about this - the minutes are very meager - that Mr. Spencer for the second year had a school combining in some measure the two departments contemplated.




     After 1796 I find no more references in the records to this school, definitely; but at a quarterly meeting conference held in Harrisonburg on Saturday, January 15, 1820, the matter of securing a school teacher was again under consideration.(1)

     Mrs. Carr, whose recollections went back into the first quarter of last century, mentions Richard Fletcher, Rev. Mr. Cole, and Rev. Joseph Smith as among the Harrisonburg schoolmasters of that time; and names Tiffin Harrison, Gessner Harrison, and Henry Tutwiler as pupils of Mr. Smith.  She gives the following characteristic account of school life:


     The school hours were from eight to twelve, and from two to five.  Recess was never known at that time.  We were allowed to go out once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  A piece of wood shaped like a paddle was hung on the inside of the door by a piece of string; on the one side was written the word OUT, in large letters, and on the other side was written IN.  Two girls were allowed to go out together, when the paddle was turned to OUT, and when they came in the paddle was turned to IN.  Sometimes the paddle was reversed, when two more girls would go out to meet the others and have a good time playing, until the teacher missed them; he would send for them to come back.  Girls were very seldom punished; if ever, very slightly; boys were frequently whipped or kept in after school.  We were taught reading, spelling, writing, grammar, and geography.  A pupil who had gone through Pike’s arithmetic, Morse’s geography, Murray’s grammar, and could spell a dozen words without mis-spelling three, could write a plain round hand, he was a man that was thought capable of holding any common office.  Ladies of that day never followed any profession, or meddled with men’s affairs - they could teach small children their alphabet and work samplers.


     On January 20, 1806, and Act was passed incorporating the Rockingham Library Company, the said company being authorized to procure a library for the improvement of the inhabitants.  In 1818 an Act was passed changing the time of meeting of this company.  In 1867 the Rockingham Library Association was chartered, and books opened for subscriptions at $2.50 a share; in November (1867) James Kenney was


(1) Acknowledgment is made to Dr. H. H. Sherman for access to records.




elected president of the association, J. L. Sibert vice president, O. C. Sterling, Jr., treasurer, Ran D. Cushen secretary, Wm. D. Trout, librarian.

     In the summer of 1825 S. M. Hunter and Rich. P. Fletcher were advertising the opening of a school in Harrisonburg, on August 15, in which school Greek, Latin, philosophy, rhetoric, geography, English grammar, mathematics, surveying, reading, writing, and arithmetic were to be taught.

     In February, 1826, Rockingham Academy was chartered, with Samuel Moffett, Wm. McMahon, Saml. Newman, Andrew Moffett, Isaac Thomas, Peter Grim, John Hoover, Joseph Cline, and Saml. Hoover as trustees.  This school was located between Timberville and New Market, and is now known as Plains (school and church).

     In 1827 Miss Anna Moore was conducting a school in Harrisonburg for girls; and at the same time another school, at or near the same town, was going on under the direction of Abner W. Kilpatrick.  In November, 1833, Mr. Kilpatrick was preparing to open his school at his home, 3 1/2 miles from Harrisonburg; board and tuition for 5 months for $55.

     In 1839 a project was on foot, and was probably carried through, to establish an academy in Harrisonburg.  An Act of incorporation was passed by the legislature this year or the next.

     For a year or two, beginning about 1838, a school in McGaheysville was conducted by Joseph Salyards,  probably the most famous teacher that has ever lived in the Valley of Virginia.  Born near Front Royal in 1808, he grew up at New Market, winning by toil an education in spite of poverty and obscurity.  After many years of work as a teacher in Rockingham, Page and Shenandoah, he died at New Market, August 10, 1885, full of years and honors.  Roanoke College conferred the M. A. degree upon him in 1872; and he is remembered as scholar, teacher, and poet.(2)


(2)  See biography of Salyards by Elon O. Henkel, New Market, Va.; also sketch and selections from his poems in Harris and Alderman’s Library of Southern Literature, Vol. X.




     Mr. Richard Mauzy, who went to Salyards’ school in McGaheysville, thinks he opened it in 1838.  After a year or so Salyards became temporarily insane; but in December, 1840, and January and February, 1841, he was advertising the resumption of his school at McGaheysville.

     Mr. Mauzy supplies the following list of early McGaheysville teachers”

George Mauzy, about 1830-31.

Miss Jeanetta Conrad, about 1832-33.

Charles Buck, 1833-35.

David Howard, 1836.

Mr. _____ Lamb, 1836-37.

Joseph Salyards, 1838-39, etc.

     Salyards probably taught at New Market from about 1845 to 1855; from about 1857 to 1860 he was principal of Rockingham Male Academy, located on W. Market Street, Harrisonburg, in a building that now forms part of he residence of James Kavanaugh.  Academy Street marks the place.  From 1859 or 1860, for two or three years, he was principal of Pleasant Grove Academy, located on the Valley Pike, two miles south of Mt. Crawford.  Before me are notices of this school in the “Southern Musical Advocate” of July and August, 1860, and the “Rockingham Register” of Aug. 3, 1860, and Oct. 4, 1861.  In 1860 P. S. Roller, J. R. Keagy, and D. Ross were proprietors of Pleasant Grove Academy; and Salyards was spoken of as “one of the oldest and best teachers in the Valley.”  The branches taught included languages, literature, and mathematics.  Mr. S. T. Shank, writing in the Harrisonburg “Daily News” of February 27, 1911, says that Salyards was assisted at Pleasant Grove in 1860-1 by his son.

     In August, 1862, Salyards was in charge of Cedar Grove Seminary, near Broadway; and in 1864 he was at Rosendale, on Smith’s Creek.  The old stone house at Rosendale (“Smith Creek Seminary”) in which he taught is still standing.  From Rosendale, according to Mr. Thos. L. Williamson, he went to Luray, thence returning to New Market, where he spent the remainder of his life.  Mr. Elon O.




Henkel says he went to Woodstock from Luray, coming to New Market in July, 1870.

     One of Salyards’ advanced pupils at Rosendale was a young man who was blind, but who, in spite of misfortune, has, like his master, achieved distinction.  The following paragraphs from his pen are a special contribution to this work.

     The writer is glad of the opportunity of paying a grateful tribute of reverent respect to the memory of Joseph Salyards.  He was a man of the common people. In early life he developed an extraordinary taste for the higher learning, and, without masters or schools, made himself familiar with the ancient languages to such a degree that he read Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Sanscrit with the ease and fluency of a master, and not merely the text books in those languages, but their literature with critical discrimination and judgment.  He also read and wrote in all the modern languages that had a literature.  Besides his wonderful linguistic accomplishments, he was the most profound scholar in mathematics, science, philosophy, history, and literature that Rockingham ever produced, and perhaps the State of Virginia.

     He was not appreciated in his day at his true value.  He would have adorned any chair in any school or college.  The drawback in his life was his own consent to live in the humble sphere to which he had been born, and he never made any effort to rise above it, so far as the writer knows.  In early life he was fond of attending the country dances, and not always as careful to avoid the social cup as he should have been.  It is said that he lost an eye in consequence of an attempt to go to such a frolic on a dark night, possibly in not perfect command of himself, by striking his face against a fence stake, inflicting an injury which destroyed an eye.  With one good eye, which was happily preserved, he learned more than most people, and was at the time at which the writer knew him a perfectly temperate man of most dignified bearing.  He spoke elegantly, wrote with a facile pen, and would have commanded attention in any company.  He enjoyed the friendship and high respect of the best men in




the valley of Virginia; was known most favorably by John Baldwin, A. H. H. Stuart, and Hugh Sheffy of Staunton, and the prominent men all along the beautiful valley.  The acquaintance was not very profitable to him in social life; but they loved and honored him.

     During the war between the States I was sent to his little school at Rosendale, on Smith Creek, in the northern edge of Rockingham County, where I found a rare opportunity of prosecuting my studies in the more advanced learning, which could not at that time have been found anywhere else.  He was tenderly kind to my infirmity, which made me dependent on the eyes of others, giving me all the encouragement in his vast field of wisdom and learning.

     In a stone house, which had in ante-bellum days been a still house, on the beautiful estate of the late Geroge Rosenberger, within a stone’s throw of his hospitable home, where I lived for a year or two.  Mr. Salyards taught a school composed of the sons and daughters of the surrounding farmers, in the earlier grades, as we would say now.  The venerable teacher found time in that school of sixty or more “scholars” to hear me work out my problems in the advanced courses in which I was so busy.  I had for my companion a young friend who took the same courses with me, and we enjoyed much of the great teacher’s time, both out of school and in the hours of the day’s work.  We often went to his little log house in the field, only a few hundred yards from Mr. Rosenberger’s residence, where, surrounded by his children and their mother, much younger than himself, we enjoyed his elegant conversation, and the treasures of his splendid library, a surprise in such surroundings.  He referred to his books with the readiness of one who had them entirely at his command.  No time was ever lost in finding the most abstruse references.  He seemed with almost and instinctive precision to turn to just what he wanted.  I feel that I owe any success I may be thought to have achieved in the course of my life to his instruction and inspiration.

     After nearly fifty years, I recall with wonder and aston-




ishment, that he told me with his own lips, that he had had in early life an ambition to write a literary degree after his name, and had sought from the University of Virginia the privilege of standing for examination with a view to such degree; but his request was declined.  A finer general scholar, of more varied learning than any one of the faculty, he had to be denied the distinction because, doubtless, of some ironbound rule of the institution.  In later life, however, that institution honored itself not less than him, in bestowing a degree without examination.(3)

     This backwoods philosopher for many years frequently contributed to the local press, and is still remembered doubtless by some of the older newspaper people; his articles having appeared in both prose and verse on a great variety of subjects; and possibly also he may have written for some of the magazines.  About 1874 he gave to the world a poem of which it was not worthy, and did not appreciate, for it still lingers on the shelves of the publishers, if indeed it is not out of print.  “Idothea” is almost an epic, and received a most flattering review from a great English review by a distinguished author of high literary note.  My memory is at fault as to the name of the English reviewer.  It had also flattering notice from several sources in this country.  A. W. Kercheval and the writer reviewed it for the publishers, who issued a pamphlet to advertise the book; but it was all in vain.  The rich descriptions of local scenery and personages of note in his community, and the deep philosophy of the work make it a treasure in itself, which may some day, to a more appreciative auditory, bring it into favor and general knowledge.  Prof. Salyards, in the last years of his useful life, occupied a chair in the Polytechnic Institute at new Market.

                                                                        H. H. Johnson.

                                                            Senior Teacher, Blind Department, School

                                                              for the Deaf and Blind, Romney, W. Va.,


(3)  This is a mistake.  Prof. Johnson probably had in mind the degree conferred by Roanoke College.  The University of Virginia has never conferred a degree except for residence work.




     Mr. S. H. W. Byrd of Bridgewater informs me that a number of the old citizens of his town and vicinity were pupils at an old school house that formerly stood at St. Michael’s Church.

     In August, 1840, Chas. Viquesney, a native of France, was advertising a night school at Harrisonburg, to teach French; the said school to be conducted during the coming winter.  At the same time Julius Hesse was giving notice of a writing school; and Henry Brown was announcing a “School for Females” to open September 1:  both in Harrisonburg.  On February 22, 1841, the Bridgewater debating society celebrated Washington’s birth, with the Harrisonburg band in attendance.  In 1844, as I am informed by Rev. A. Poe Boude, Wm. W. Littell was running a school in Dayton - the only 9-months school in Rockingham a that time.  Among his pupils were A. P. Boude, Danl. Smith, and John Green Smith; the Smiths being sons of Judge Danl. Smith.  The same year (1844) Wm. C. Jennings was preparing to open a school in Harrisonburg, April 29.

     In 1851 an Act was passed incorporating Rockingham Male and Female Seminary, to be established in or near Harrisonburg.  The trustees were Wm. Kiger, Thomas D. Bell, Robt. Grattan, and ten others named.  In 1854 Rockingham Male Seminary was in charge of R. W. Thurmond, principal.  In September of the same year Miss Harriet Bear was preparing to open a school for young ladies in one of the basement rooms of Andrew Chapel (Hbg.).  About 1856 the “Academy” near Broadway, first in charge of James Wright, was erected.

     During the years now under consideration, Joseph Funk, at Mountain Valley (Singer’s Glen), was conducting a school to which a number of young men came from various parts of the country.  It is probable that he was teaching at his home as early as 1825 or 1830; and his school was continued by his sons for a number of years after the civil war.  In the “Southern Musical Advocate” of July, 1859, he and his sons were advertising their school - offering to teach not only music, but




also grammar, elocution, and the art of teaching music.  Board and music tuition cost $9 a month; instruction in grammar and elocution raised the total cost to $10 a month.

     On the first Monday in September, 1860, Rockingham Male Academy, in Harrisonburg, reopened under the principalship of John W. Taylor.  Thos. D. Bell was secretary of the board of trustees.  Mathematics, natural science, Latin, Greek, French, etc., were offered.  On the first Wednesday of September, 1861, the third session of Rockingham Female Institute, in Harrisonburg, began, with J. Mark Wilson principal.

     In the early days of Reconstruction were fruitful in schools as well as in marriages.  In the fall of 1866 the following schools were announced:


Female Institute, P. M. Custer, principal.

Male Academy, E. H. Scott, principal.

School for Children, Miss Alice Houck.

                            Miss Mollie McQuaide.

                            Miss Fannie Lowman.(4)

                            Miss Carrie Harrison.

School for Young Ladies, Rev. A. Poe Boude.

Conrad’s Store.


(4)  Fannie Lowman was born at or near Rushville in 1840 or 1841, and died in Harrisonburg in November, 1909.  In spite of lameness, poor health, and few pecuniary advantages she gained an education in good schools:  in Georgetown and Staunton; in the Valley Normal at Bridgewater, the School of methods at Charlottesville, and elsewhere:  and for more than 30 years she was a teacher - two years in Texas, the remainder in Virginia.  Some of her first earnings went to aid a younger sister, who also became a teacher.  For several years before her death she was entitled to a teacher’s pension, but she preferred a meager salary with the work she loved.  With characteristic altruism, it was her wish that the very few dollars she left at death be devoted to others rather than to herself or her memory.  On learning these facts the Rockingham County Teachers Association undertook to mark her grave, in order that her own small balance might not be thus consumed, but might go to benefit the living.  The fund for a monument is growing, and her colleagues and old pupils are embracing a privilege in honoring her.




Classical School, W. K. Jennings.

Linville Creek.

            Classical School, John D. Pennybacker.(5)

Lacey Springs.

            Classical School, John W. Taylor.(6)

     Professor Taylor did not, perhaps, designate his as a classical school, but it seems to have been similar to the others that were thus called.

     In 1866 there was a Rockingham County teachers’ association, H. Handy being secretary.

     The first regular session of Harrisonburg Female Institute, A. Poe Boude principal, Mary L. Attkisson teacher of French and music, was advertised to open February 18, 1867, in the basement of the “E. M. Church on the hill.”

     In April, 1867, B. A. Hawkins opened the first session of Keezletown Academy.  In October following B. A. Hawkins and W. T. Brett were principals of Pleasant Grove Academy; at the same time P. M. Custer was principal of Rockingham Female Institute, and B. F. Wade was principal of Rockingham Male Academy, the last named two schools being at Harrisonburg.  In this same year (1867) John H. Moore had a large school at Beaver Creek.

     In 1868 W. S. Kennedy was advertising a classical school to open September 1, in the town hall at Bridgewater, to


(5)  John Dyer Pennybacker (1833-1904) was a son of Sen. I. S. Pennybacker, and a brother of J. Ed. Pennybacker (1844-1912).  His wife was Elizabeth Lincoln (1827-1905).


(6)  John W. Taylor was born 76 years ago on the west bank of the Shenandoah River, in East Rockingham, opposite what is now the town of Shenandoah.  His father was Zachary Taylor (Scotch-Irish) and his mother Nancy Eppard (German).  Winning early education under scant advantages, he taught a school at East Point when 18 or 19.  Continuing his studies at Richmond College, Randolph-Macon, and other schools, he received the A. M. degree at Randolph-Macon in 1860.  The next session he was principal of the male academy in Harrisonburg.  In 1865 he opened his school at Lacey Springs, where he has taught almost continuously to the present.  His wife was Virginia C. Lincoln, a daughter of Jacob Lincoln, of Rockingham.




continue 10 months.  At the same time J. H. Turner and G. W. Holland were principals of Rockingham Male Academy, and P. M. Custer (7) of Rockingham Female Institute.  The buildings of the last, which stood on the site of the present Harrisonburg Main Street School, had been erected a few years before the war; during the war they were used as a hospital by the Confederates. (See page 153).

     In 1870 there were at least ten schools for the white children in Harrisonburg.(8)  In the fall of 1871 the Harrisonburg graded school was organized, under the new public school system, and Rev. J. S. Loose was elected principal.  In 1871 a classical school was opened in Bridgewater, with John H. Barb principal, Richard Halstead intermediate teacher, and Frank Stover primary teacher.(9)  In 1872 S. C. Lindsay opened a classical and mathematical school in Harrisonburg, in September, to run till June of the next year.

     In 1873 a boarding and day school for young ladies was opened in the home of Rev. W. G. Campbell, his niece and two daughters being teachers.  In 1877 the house on Campbell Street, Harrisonburg, now Shaffer’s boarding house, was built for a school by the Misses Campbell.  As late as 1892 Miss S. L. Campbell was conducting the school.  Later members of the family had charge of Westminster School in Richmond.

     In 1874 and 1875 B. L. Hodge was principal of McGaheysville Male and Female Academy.  The session ran 9 months, and classical as well as English instruction was offered.

     At Dayton, in 1875, A. Paul Funkhouser and other progressive leaders in the United Brethren Church founded Shenandoah Seminary, which has grown into the well known Shenandoah Collegiate Institute and School of Music.  As in-


(7)  Rev. P. M. Custer died in Alabama in 1890, aged 70.  For particulars regarding Rockingham Female Institute, I am obliged to Mr. L. H. Ott.


(8)  Rockingham Register, June 30, 1870.


(9)  This information was given by Mr. S. H. W. Byrd.




dicated in the name, music has been much encouraged in the policy of this school.  The institution has really inherited the musical traditions and tendencies that so long distinguished the school of Joseph Funk & Sons at Singer’s Glen.  Since its organization it has grown in favor and popularity at home and abroad, particularly in the Southern States, from all of which a large number of students come annually.  It aims to supply the best of instruction by modern methods at lowest possible cost.  It exalts the moral above the merely intellectual.

     To the older buildings, two new brick structures have recently been added:  (1) Howe Memorial Building (1899), occupied exclusively by the School of Music; (2) the Administration Building (1909), four stories, containing laboratories, class-rooms, studios, officers, etc.  Separate dormitories are provided for ladies and gentlemen.  Reading rooms, literary societies, a Y.M.C.A., a Y.W.C.A., special lectures and entertainments, etc. supplement the work of the class-rooms and chapel.  The students publish a handsomely illustrated annual, “The Zynodoa,” and maintain athletic organizations.  The enrolment for 1911-12 was 259.  J. H. Ruebush is general manager; J. N. Garber is president of the board of trustees.  The board of control is composed of J. H. Ruebush, C. A. Funkhouser, G. P. Hott, and A. S. Hammack.  The faculty comprises 17 regular members.

     In March, 1876, State Supt. W. H. Ruffner visited Harrisonburg and made two addresses on education in the courthouse.  The specific purpose of his visit (he had been invited by the town council) was the erection of a public school building.  In November, 1878, Supt. Ruffner was in Harrisonburg attending a teachers’ institute.  On October 30, 1879, Judge Kenney wrote in his diary:  “The new brick school house for the free school is about finished.  Cost $5000.”  It was used for the session of 1879-80, Clarence H. Urner of New Market being principal of the school.  This building is now used for the grades in the Main Street school.  The trustees under whose direction it was built were J. L. Avis, G. O. Conrad, and G. F. Compton.




     Harrisonburg in 1878-9 had a Shakespeare Club.  Traces of the same club, or another like it, were found just twenty years later.

     In 1878 and thereabouts North Mountain Academy, near Chrisman, J. W. Jones being principal, was attracting a good deal of attention.

     In 1878 there came to Rockingham a man who probably did more than any other to commend the public schools to general favor, to stir up school spirit, and to inspire his pupils with a desire for higher learning.  This was A. C. Kimler.  From 1878 to 1881 he taught at River Bank; from 1881 to 1889, at McGaheysville.  It was at the latter place he did his great work for Rockingham.  Says Mr. Richard Mauzy:  “He established Oak Hill Academy, and was a successful teacher.”

     During his eight years at McGaheysville Professor Kimler sent students to Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke, Franklin and Marshall, Nashville Normal School, the University of Virginia, West Point, Richmond Medical College, and Baltimore Dental College.  He received letters commending their work from Dr. Smith of Randolph-Macon, Dr. Venable of the University of Virginia, and others.  Among those he sent out were the following, many of whom are well known to-day:

William Yancey, Harrisonburg, deceased.

C. N. Wyant, school principal in Pennsylvania.

Dr. J. B. Rush, Woodstock, Va.

R. H. Sheppe, teacher and educator, deceased.

Rev. J. P. Harner, Middlebrook, Va.

C. C. Herring, editor; Harrisonburg.

Rev. Melville Killian.

H. W. Bertram, lawyer and editor; Harrisonburg

Floyd W. Weaver, county clerk, Luray, Va.

J. H. Bader, educator; McGaheysville

Rev. John Life.

Fayette Hedrick, McGaheysville

Luther Hopkins, McGaheysville.




C. L. Lambert, Little Rock, Ark.(10)

     Bridgewater College dates its beginnings from 1880, when D. C. Flory, assisted by J. R. Shipman, opened a normal and collegiate institute at Spring Creek.  In 1882 the school was located at Bridgewater, where it has since gained wide recognition.  It was chartered as a college in 1889.  On December 31 of this year the main building burned, but others have taken its place until to-day there are 7 buildings; two frame, five brick.  These include a gymnasium and a central heating plant.  One of the benefactors of the school was W. B. Yount, who was president from 1892 to 1910.  The institution represents especially the educational interest of the Church of the Brethren, and is co-educational.  Work is offered leading to the degrees of B. A., M. A., Th.B., etc.  The library contains over 10,000 volumes.

     The students conduct three literary societies, the Victorian, the Virginia Lee, and the Acme; and publish a monthly magazine, founded in 1896,  the Philomathean Monthly.  A student civic league and other organizations are also maintained.  The enrolment during the session of 1911-12 was 184.

     John S. Flory is president of the college; Hiram G. Miller is president of the board of trustees.  The faculty consists of 17 regular members, with a number of assistants.  An active alumni association has been in existence since 1899.  Graduates of the institution have taken high rank at the universities, and a large number have entered the Gospel ministry.

     At Mt. Clinton, in 1890, a 2-room graded school, offering some high-school work, was built up into a 4-year high-school, and named West Central Academy.  It continued in this character till 1902.  I. S. Wampler, now fiscal secretary of the alumni association of Peabody College, Nashville, was principal; and among the other teachers were C. J. Heatwole,


(10) Abram C. Kimler graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1878.  After leaving McGaheysville he went to New Market, Va.; thence to Shepherdstown, W. Va., where he was principal of the State Normal College for several years.  At present he is principal of the Waynesboro (Va.) High School, and he is still sending students up higher.




L. R. Dinges (now studying in Germany), D. I. Suter, M. A. Good, and D. B. Wampler.  The largest enrolment in high school classes at any time was 170.  Public and private funds were combined for maintenance.  Graduates entered Washington and Lee, the University of Virginia, and other colleges. The summer normal institutes were a special feature.  About 1897 it was ascertained that 65% of all the teachers in Rockingham had at some time been students of this school.

     In 1896 Rockingham Military Academy, at Mt. Crawford, was opened under the principalship of Otey C. Hulvey. From the beginning of the second session until the suspension of the school in 1901, Capt. F. A. Byerly, now a prominent teacher in West Virginia, was principal and commandant.  The school occupied a handsome three-story building just west of the Valley Pike, at the northeast end of Mt. Crawford.  For some time, prior to his connection with the R. M. A., Capt. Byerly had conducted Sunnyside School for Girls at Pleasant Valley.

     A Rockingham County historical society was organized in 1898-9.  A committee, made up of Maj. George Chrisman, James B. Stephenson, and F. A. Byerly, drew up a constitution and by-laws.  Gen. John E. Roller was elected president.  There were 16 vice-presidents, and executive committee, a library committee, a committee on Confederate soldiers, and a reception committee.  The society was given the use of a room in the courthouse; but in spite of this official recognition, the rich field at hand, and the need of a strong organization to preserve our historical materials, interest in the organization soon fell to a low ebb.  A revival of spirit will doubtless come at some time in the future, when many golden opportunities have passed forever.  Rockingham County needs a historical society; but such a society to live must have the sympathy of many people.

     It is a common misimpression that our present public school system in Virginia is altogether a product of Reconstruction – that we had no free schools before the war.  As a matter of fact, there were legislative provisions in Virginia as early as 1780 – perhaps earlier – for the establishment of free schools;




and such schools were in actual operation from the beginning of the 19th century up to the civil war.  To be sure, these public free schools were inadequate to the general need:  they were intended for the poor, and in most cases were used only by the poor.  This fact will explain some of the prejudice against free (public) schools in more recent times.

     A few statistics from different periods will illustrate general conditions.  In 1824-5 the number of free schools in 98 counties and towns of Virginia was 2450; the number of “poor” children was 21,177; the number sent to school was 10,226; the amount expended for their tuition was $49,222.22.  Eleven counties made no report.(11)  In 1826 $45,000 was appropriated for schools in the different counties; Rockingham’s share was $942.12.

     According to the census of 1850, there were in Rockingham 2765 persons who could neither read nor write, in a total white population of 17,500.  Rockingham’s share of the school fund this year was $1399.(12)

     The increased allotment ten years later, and its distribution among the several districts of the county, are shown in the following table:



For Rockingham Co., for the Year 1861.

     The following is the apportionment made by the Superintendent of the Literary Fund for Rockingham county, for the year ending September, ’61:


Dist. No.


C. A. Sprinkel,




J. W. C. Houston,



B. F. Lincoln,



P. P. Koontz,



Wm. Sellers,



Madison West,



Jos. H. Conrad,



Wm. B. Yancey,



Y. C. Ammon,



(11) From a Virginia almanac of 1827.

(12) From a Virginia almanac of 1852.




Dist. No.


Geo. W. Kemper.




Jos. Beery,



Geo. P. Burtner,



Jacob Byerly,



M. H. Harris,



Peter Wise,



Wm. Beard,



G. R. Harrell,



F. M. Ervine,



Jesse Ralston,



Arch’d. Hopkins,



Jno. Q. Winfield,



Henry Neff,



Benj. Trumbo,



Jacob Caplinger,


                                                                                                                Chas. A. Sprinkel,

                                                                                                                  County Sup’t of Schools for

                                                                                                                     Rockingham County.


     From the Rockingham Register of Dec. 14, 1860.

     In the same issue of the Register the school teachers of the County are notified that all claims against the Board of School Commissioners must be presented each year by the October Court; the notice being signed by M. H. Harris, president, and Chas. A. Sprinkel, clerk.

     Although there was less prejudice against the free school system of 1870 and following years in the Valley than in most other sections of Virginia, many even in Rockingham looked upon it with misgiving, fearing an aggravation of the race problem, a weakening of the moral code, and various other undesirable things.  On this point Rev. W. T. Price, of Marlinton, W. Va., for 16 years a prominent citizen of Rockingham, said in a recent letter:


     When the public school system [of 1870] was first mooted, the feeling quite prevalent among the more influential people was that the effect would be a very serious one upon the religious interest of the people, through secular education . . . . The first superintendent of schools [in Rockingham] was the Rev. Mr. Loose.  He favored all efforts to have the teachers realize their moral responsibility.  The result was that a predominating element of officers and teachers were in control of the system who realized this.  The institutes were opened with prayer, the Bible was read in all the schools as a preliminary exercise, and in numerous in-




stances the school would be lead in extempore prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer would be recited in concert.  As time passed it was to be noticed that the moral and religious features became more evident, and the baneful effects of mere secularism were in great measure prevented.


     In January, 1871, it was reported that there were 7663 white and 965 colored persons in the county of school age, 5 to 21; that over 60 free schools were in operation in the county, with more than 2000 children in attendance.  There were at this time two free schools in Harrisonburg for colored pupils, but as yet none for white children.

     In November, 1874, there were 112 teachers of free schools in Rockingham, and about 90 were present at an institute in Harrisonburg.

     The following statistics are copied from the county superintendent’s report, published in September, 1876, for the year ending July 31, 1876:

Total school population, aged 5 to 21, 9815.

Total number of public schools, 157.

Average number of pupils enrolled monthly, 5060.

Average daily attendance, 3897.

Total enrolment for the session, 6446.

Average monthly salary of teachers, $32.56.

Amount received from the State, $10,165.

Amount received from the county, $8809.17.

Amount from district tax, $5818.95.

Amount of supplements paid teachers, $5050.50

Value of school property owned by districts, $8985.

Number of school houses owned by districts, 24.

     In 1889, 203 schools were open to white and 16 to colored pupils; 7348 white pupils and 617 colored were enrolled; 118 men and 85 women (white) 6 men and 10 women (colored), were employed as teachers; the total amount expended in the county for school purposes was $42,833.78; the total value of school property was $78,144.

     According to the census of 1905, the school population of the county was 9470; the number of illiterates, 443.




     The present widely recognized excellence of the Harrisonburg public schools is mainly due to the efficient and energetic principal, William H. Keister, who came here in 1894.  He has been here continuously since that time, and has built up one of the best school systems, beginning with a kindergarten and ending with a high-school following eight grades, in the State.  He has stood by the school, and the progressive school board has stood by him.  The people have stood by both.

     In 1911 Harrisonburg and the several districts of the county voted for compulsory school attendance by large majorities – Rockingham being the second county in Virginia to adopt the compulsory rule.  This year (1912) the school board of Harrisonburg has secured an aid of $250 a year for five years from the Slater Fund to introduce industrial training into the colored schools of the town.

     The year 1911 also marked the opening of the splendid Waterman School in the northern section of Harrisonburg, providing for a second kindergarten and a number of the lower grades.  In 1910 Mr. Albert G. Waterman of New York gave the town a fine lot of three acres or more for a school site; and the town at once erected thereon a stone building, with most approved equipment, for a school of the sort contemplated.  The site commands a wide view of the town and surrounding country, and is only a few hundred yards south of the old Waterman homestead, where the house and farm buildings burned on the night of July 13, 1868.(13)

     The Harrisonburg school board, composed of Messrs. W. J. Dingledine, Wm. Dean, and P. F. Spitzer, are setting a pace which, if generally followed over the State, will soon


(13) Dr. Asher Waterman, already mentioned in this book, was a surgeon in the Revolution.  He came to Harrisonburg about 1783.  August 30, 1787, he married Sarah Lochart of Augusta County.  Albert G. and Augustus Waterman were his sons, the latter probably living at the old homestead above mentioned.  Annie and Isabella were his daughters, the former marrying Chas. Douglas, the latter Robt. Gray.  Albert G., born at Harrisonburg, about 1800, went about 1827 to Philadelphia, where he




place Virginia in the front rank of educational progress.  Other recent members of the board were Hon. A. H. Snyder (1863-1910) and Dr. T. C. Firebaugh.  Dr. J. M. Biedler deserves special mention for the work he has done in forwarding medical inspection in the schools of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

     Rockingham County has had a notable history in the normal school work of Virginia.  In August, 1870, E. Armfield Legg was advertising the “Harrisonburg Normal School,” the next session of which was to begin the first Monday of September, in the basement of the Lutheran Church, and close the last Friday of June, 1871.  Teachers’ institutes were held in the county before this time, and many short summer sessions have been offered to teachers of the county for many years.  From 1884 to 1891 summer normals were held at Harrisonburg under provisions of the Peabody Fund, as many as 300 teachers being in attendance at one time.  From 1882 to 1884, and thereabouts, the institution now Bridgewater College was called the “Virginia Normal School.”

     Of all the early movements for the professional training of teachers the most notable in Rockingham, perhaps in Virginia, was carried on at Bridgewater from 1873 to 1878 by Alcide Reichenbach, (14) J. D. Bucher, (15) A. L. Fund, (16) Miss Vir-


died February 16, 1862, highly honored as a citizen and benefactor.  For 24 years preceding his death he was on the board of managers of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind.  His son, Mr. A. G. Waterman, Jr., is the honored patron of the Harrisonburg school bearing his name.


(14)  Alcide Reichenbach, A. M., was born in Switzerland in 1845, and enjoyed excellent advantages for training in both Europe and America.  For a number of years he has been a professor in Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa., where he still lives.


(15)  Dr. J. D. Bucher, still a resident of Bridgewater, was born in Pennsylvania, and has been identified for many years with various phases of educational and professional work.  He had received a 4-year course of training in the Pennsylvania normal schools.


(16)  Prof. A. L. Funk, with Prof. G. H. Hulvey and others, continued




ginia Paul, (17) Miss Laura O’Ferrall, (18) and others.  In outlining professional courses for teachers, one covering two years, another four, catalogues of the best American and German normal schools were consulted.  State Supt. Ruffner, Maj. Jed Hotchkiss, Prof. S. T. Pendleton, of Richmond, Prof. E. V. DeGraff, and others were secured as special lecturers.  Students were in attendance from a number of counties of Virginia, from West Virginia, and Ohio.  Some of the pupils that have since become prominent in education and related work are:  S. F. Lindsay, Mrs. G. B. Holsinger, Miss Fannie Lowman, Miss Fannie Speck, L. J. Heatwole, J. S. McLeod, G. R. Berlin, Cyrus H. Cline, and Rockingham Paul.  In 1875 Supt. Ruffner wrote to the principal:


     Your normal school has been a most useful institution, and I am greatly pleased that you intend to continue it.  You are offering advantages to teachers such as are hard to find anywhere else in reach of them.  They could well afford to spend a large portion of their earnings in attending upon your school.


     A detailed history of the Valley Normal School should be preserved in the educational records of Virginia.  It was perhaps the first in the State to do real normal school work.

     Shenandoah Normal College, G. W. Hoenshel, (19) princi-


normal teaching at Bridgewater and other places. He was principal of the Harrisonburg high-school in 1878-9.


(17)  Miss Virginia Paul, daughter of Peter Paul, sister of Judge John Paul, was a graduate of the State normal school at Trenton, N. J.  She taught in the Valley normal school at Bridgewater from 1876 to 1878.  She died at Ottobine, Nov. 14, 1879, aged 26.


(18)  Miss Laura O’Ferrall was a sister to Hon. Chas. T. O’Ferrall, governor of Virginia, 1894-8.


(19)  George W. Hoenshel was born at Mendon, Pa., Dec. 11, 1858.  After graduating from the Danville, Ind., Normal School, he took steps toward organizing a similar school in Virginia.  First at Middletown, then at Harrisonburg, afterward at Basic City and Reliance, he did a helpful work for the teaching profession and the cause of education.  His wife was Miss Carrie Moffett, of New Market.  He died at Reliance, April




pal, was located at Harrisonburg, on W. Market Street, from 1887 to 1890.  Other members of the faculty were A. P. Funkhouser, I. M. Groves, J. J. Cornwell, Mrs. Minnie Funkhouser, and E. U. Hoenshel.  Some of the students in 1888 were D. R. Good, I. S. Wampler, T. O. Heatwole, and Orville Dechert.

     When, in 1904, definite steps were proposed in theVirginia Senate for establishing another State normal school for women, Harrisonburg formally entered competition for the said school  The town council offered an appropriation of $5000, the county supervisors one of $10,000.  The same year a committee of the General Assembly visited Harrisonburg, among other places, to compare the claims of the respective localities.  It was not, however, until March 14, 1908, that Harrisonburg was designated, by Act of Assembly, as the place for a new State normal.  April 15, 1909, the corner stone was laid; and on September 28, following, the first session began.  At present (1912) there are four buildings, three of stone, one of brick, not counting several smaller structures.  In all, 1343 different students, representing over 90 counties of Virginia, with a number of States outside of Virginia, have been enrolled.  About 70 full graduates have been sent out – two years of work upon the basis of a 4-year high-school course being required for graduation.  Two literary societies (the Lanier and the Lee) are maintained by the students, who publish a splendid annual, “The Schoolma’am.”  A. Y. W. C. A., an athletic association, and an alumnae association are kept up, and the student body has adopted an honor system.  Julian A. Burruss, formerly of Richmond, is the president and efficient organizer of the school, to whom is due the chief credit for its phenomenal success.  He is assisted by a corps of 20 specialists, as instructors and administrative officers, together with a number of student assistants.  Hon. Geo. B. Keezell is president of the board of trustees; Hon. Floyd W.


12, 1896.  Among his published works is a 149-page volume entitled “X-Talks and Other Addresses.”  Dr. E. U. Hoenshel of Dayton, Va., well known as an educator, traveler, author, and lecturer, is a brother.




King is vice-president; Hon. Geo. N. Conrad is treasurer.  The late Hon. A. H. Snyder was a most helpful member on the original board of trustees.

     Two sons of Rockingham who long ago became famous as educators were Henry Tutwiler and Gessner Harrison, both born in Harrisonburg in 1807, one the son of the postmaster, Henry Tutwiler, the other the son of the doctor, Peachy Harrison.  They both entered the University of Virginia in 1825, where, in due time, Tutwiler got the M. A. and Harrison the M. D. degree.  It is said that Tutwiler was the first to receive the coveted Master’s degree from the new institution.  Later he went to Alabama, where his life work was given, with eminent success, to educational work.  His daughter, Julia Tutwiler, is to-day accorded first honors in Alabama among the teachers and leaders of her sex.  Henry Tutwiler lived till 1884.

     Gessner Harrison became a professor in his alma mater, and was chairman of the faculty a number of years.  He prepared serviceable test-books, and taught with the inspiring word of a leader.  His motto, “Trust God and work,” explains his life and character.  He died in 1862.  The sons of Mars dinned men’s ears at the moment, but upon the quiet lawn, and among the arcades where the scholars linger, his voice is still heard.

     Among the men and women, native or not, who have made notable contributions to Virginia’s schools, may yet be mentioned the following:  Geo. A. Baxter, of Rockingham; president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, 1799-1829; Hugh Tagart, first a Catholic priest, then a school-master, who died at Harrisonburg about 1840; Wm. S. Slusser (1836-1898), 40 years a teacher in Rockingham and Augusta; R. H. Sheppe, lately deceased, prominent first as an educational leader in Rockingham, then in the State at large; C. E. Barglebaugh, long well known as a teacher in the county, and still in active life; Miss Belle C. Hannah, long a favorite teacher, now the wife of Sen. G. B. Keezell; Chas. G. Maphis (1865 --), a native of Shenandoah,




but from 1887 to 1890 principal of the Harrisonburg schools; now professor of education in the State University; H. M. Hays, a son of Rockingham by long residence, now on the faculty of the University of Missouri; W. T. Myers, a son by birth, now on the faculty of the University of Virginia; I. N. H. Beahm (1859 --), another native, a founder of schools; H. S. Hooke, long in Harrisonburg, now in Roanoke; J. J. Lincoln, well known in the State; J. W. Basore, of Broadway and Princeton; and last, but no least, our veteran superintendent, Geo. H. Hulvey, a son of Rockingham by birth and service.

     References have already been made to the colored schools of the county and county-seat.  As early as December, 1866, Mrs. M. W. L. Smith, Miss Phoebe Libby, and Miss Ellen Crockett, from Maine and New Hampshire, were conducting a school in Harrisonburg for colored children:  82 being in attendance during the day, 100 at night.(20)  They were teaching, it was said, in the new colored church.  From time to time the school seems to have been taken from place to place.  Sometimes it was held in the basement of the church (Northern Methodist, later Catholic) that stood opposite the B. & O. station; at another time it was in a back room, somewhere, upstairs, and the boys and girls to reach it had to “climb, jump, and stoop.”  But they did it all gladly.

     In the fall of 1868 Watkins James, an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, established a colored school at Bridgewater.  Just before Christmas a lot of white fellows wrecked the furniture, but the better people condemned the act. (21)

     Within the last year or two the colored people of Harrisonburg have taken notable part in repairing and enlarging their school building, which is now a handsome and commodious structure.  The efficient principal is Mr. H. A. M. Johns, formerly of Hampton, who has been here since 1908.  Under his direction the work is making fine progress. (22)


(20) R. Register, Dec. 13, 1866


(21) Old Commonwealth, June 6, 1869.


(22) I am indebted to Prof. U. G. Wilson for a most interesting paper on the Harrisonburg colored schools; it is withheld from publication here only for lack of space.