Prendergast Academy & Juty Smith

Prendergast Academy
"Juty" Smith

by Dr. Gilbert W. Hazeltine


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REV. PHILLIP SMITH, said to be a Baptist clergy-man, came to Jamestown in 1825 and opened a select school in Keyes's shop chamber. This school was the last of the series included under the name of Prendergast Academy. Smith was an educated man and a good teacher. He was a small, near-sighted man and wore spectacles. He opened and closed each session of the school with a short prayer. He had certain set forms which he used, a peculiar posture and peculiarities of pronunciation which provoked the larger boys to imitate him, to his great annoyance. One peculiarity of pronunciation was, that such words as duty and dutiful he pronounced as if spelled juty and jutiful. 

Soon in consequence he was nicknamed "Juty Smith" and "Old Jutiful," and "Old Spectacles." For this disrespect the small boys got floggings, and the larger ones lectures on Christian deportment and juty. Smith very soon resorted to the plan of praying with his eyes open that he might detect those who mocked him. He soon found that this was not practical, for in watching his scholars he would forget his prayer and the room would be filled with a roar of laughter. He finally resorted to the plan of kneeling before his chair with his back to his unruly scholars, and after a short time the disturbance and mocking which had so annoyed him ceased.

We have in a previous chapter described the situation of the Keyes shop-about eight feet below the house with the stairs filling this space between the two and going up to a wide platform at the west end, from which was the door into the schoolroom. Silas SOUTHLAND, who now resides on the lake this side of Lakewood, eldest son of Judson Southland who was a prominent citizen of Jamestown at an early day, attended this school. Silas was decidedly the fat boy of the town. His avoirdupois when ten years old was something tremendous-his diameter seemingly fully equaled his length, and his daring fully equaled his adipose; he was the butt as well as the pet of the school. Frank WAITE one day said to him, "Let us see YOU ride down these stairs on your sled." "No, I guess not," says Silas, "I fear it would hurt me. You ride down, and if you don't break your neck, I will try it." Frank declared that he dare not try it, but thought that Silas dare attempt anything. "Well," says Silas, "as you own you are a coward, and we all know you are, else you would not mock 'Old Juty' when he is praying, I will try it."

Laying down on his sled he told Frank to give him a start and down he went, head foremost, not stopping until he had reached the middle of the bridge at the foot of Main street. That day he received the name of "Old Put "-a name that clung to him for many years, and to the present day for aught we know to the contrary. Mr. Southland will pardon us for bringing up this incident of his early life.

Mr. SMITH taught a large and most excellent school for two years and then left for a more advantageous situation, we think in Ohio. A Miss FARNHAM then taught the school one term, but the school was not a success and she left. At the period we are now speaking of many objected to sending their children to the district schools, and Mrs. Charles R. Harvey-then Miss Rebecca Hayward-was induced to teach a select school. After Miss FARNHAM left, Keyes's shop chamber was rented for a billiard saloon, and the first billiard tables ever in Jamestown were placed there in 1828.

The second story of Tew's tin and sheet iron factory on the southeast corner of Main and Fourth streets was secured and made into a school room. In this Miss HAYWARD taught her large and successful school. How long it continued we do not just remember, but we believe until near the time she was married to Col. Charles R., HARVEY

Dr Gilbert W Hazeltine,
History of Ellicott

Source:  Submitted by Dolores Davidson, 2002.