The Old Porter School of Geddes, NY

The Old Porter School of Geddes, NY

Geddes, Onondaga County, NY

submitted by Bruce L Garner

Old Porter School - Index to Names

I append a transcription of the hand written letter that describes 'The Old Porter School of Geddes, NY. The first two thirds of the letter is a transcription of an article from an  unidentified Syracuse newspaper from about 1890; the balance is of personal memories of the  school and of the father of the writer who was teacher and principal of the school prior to 1864 when the family moved to Dakota Territory.

The father in this letter is James S. Foster. The letter is written from his oldest daughter, Clarissa Jane (Carrie), to his youngest daughter, Fannie. The following shows the family relationships, first for James Foster, and second, for his wife, Frances Ann Ripley. The latter were constructed mainly from this letter, with connections from an IGI submission. I am amazed that these presumptive relationships seem to be born out by data on the Onondaga Web page. I even find the Pharis family in whose store Foster bought an "iron dish cloth."  You have done a wonderful job in supplying truly useful genealogical data!  This is my wife's family, however, I have Hoags in my tree, perhaps also from Onondaga County.

1. Descendants of Albert FOSTER

  1    Albert FOSTER  b: 24 Jul 1800 in Salibury, CT    d: 8 Jan 1875(9?)
.      +Clarissa MAXSON  b: 26 Dec 1798    d: 5 May 1866
             [The dates for Albert and his wife, Clarissa, are from the Listing for
              the Cold Brook (South Spafford) Cemetery, on your Web page.]
..  2    James Sisson FOSTER
                      b: 20 Nov 1828 in Salisbury, Litchfield Co., CT
                      d: 1890 in Mitchell, SD
......    +Frances Ann RIPLEY
                      b: 17 Jan 1835 in Homer, NY
                      m: 06 Apr 1852 in Spafford, Onondaga, NY
                      d: Unk (SD?)
                      Father: David RIPLEY  Mother: Sally or Sarah Jane ELIOT
.......  3    Clarissa Jane FOSTER  b: 20 Jun 1853 in Homer, NY    d: 02 Nov 1937
...........    +Osgood Howard CARNEY
                      b: 10 Jun 1848 in West Dresden, Maine
                      m: 08 May 1872 in First Congregational Church, Yankton, SD
                      d: 14 Feb 1925 in Los Angeles, CA  Occupation:  Merchant, Yankton, SD
                      Father: Daniel William CARNEY  Mother: Catherine MORRISON
.......  3    Cora Helen Sabina Foster  b: 31 Jan 1855 in Spafford, Onondaga Co., NY    d: Unk
...........    +George A. Miner  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
.......  3    Bert Foster  b: 26 Aug 1857 in Spafford, Onondaga Co., NY    d: Unk
...........    +Hattie Whalen  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
.......  3    Martha Foster  b: 07 Jun 1872 in Yankton, Yankton Co., SD    d: Unk
...........    +Will Barber  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
.......  3    Thomas Maxson Foster  b: 21 Nov 1874 in Yankton, Yankton Co., SD    d: Unk
...........    +May Glenn  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
.......  3    Fannie Annabelle Foster  b: 17 Sep 1864 in Yankton, Yankton Co., SD    d: Unk
.......  3    James Bennett Foster  b: 20 Aug 1859 in Homer, Cortland Co., NY    d: Unk

2. Descendants of (__________) WARNER?

1    (__________) WARNER?  b: Unk    d: Unk
..  2    Charity WARNER?  b: Unk    d: Unk
......    +(___________) ELIOT  b: Unk    d: Unk
.......  3    Sally or Sarah Jane ELIOT  b: Unk    d: Unk
...........    +David RIPLEY  b: Bef. 1816  m: Unk in unk  d: Unk
............  4    Frances Ann RIPLEY
                          b: 17 Jan 1835 in Homer, NY    d: Unk
                          Residence: from Spafford, NY
................    +James Sisson FOSTER
                          b: 20 Nov 1828 in Salisbury, Litchfield Co., CT
                          m: 06 Apr 1852 in Spafford, Onondaga, NY
                          d: 1890 in Mitchell, SD
                         Father: Albert FOSTER  Mother: Clarissa MAXSON
............  4    Lucy Ripley  b: Unk    d: Unk
................    +(________) Hills  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
..  2    Mary Warner?  b: Unk    d: Unk
......    +(_________) Hubbell  b: Unk  m: Unk  d: Unk
.......  3    Charles Eliot Hubbell  b: Unk
.......  3    Helen Hubbell  b: Unk
...........    +(_________) Cheesebro  b: Unk    d: Unk
............  4    Charles Eliot Cheesebro  b: Unk
.......  3    Josephine Hubbell  b: Unk    d: Unk

There are over 90 names mentioned in the letter, which follows. I have a list of the names, if you should want them for indexing.

Bruce L. Garner
Danville, CA


Old Porter’s School

 in Geddes New York.

Holds the record among City School for Age.

New School Building needed.
Many well known educators have taught within its walls.
The list.

        Of the schools now, in the city, Porter School has in many respects, the most interesting history. It is the oldest, having been established in 1803, one year before the land of the original site of Syracuse was purchased from the state - The first building was a log house, and the first teacher Miss Mary Root. This building stood where the present building is now located.

        From the close of Miss Root’s work until 1825, very little is known of the school. In that year Simon Spaulding taught in a brick school house which had been erected some years before on the corner of School street and Lowell Avenue, where Charles E Hubbell’s barn now stands. Mr. Spaulding again taught from 1833 to 1836 in the basement of the Episcopal Church, which stood on St. Mark’s square.

        In 1812 a Mr. Younglove was the teacher. Mr. Fay began his work, in 1837, remaining until 1840. In the years 1840 and 1841 William Rouse was principal. N. P. Stanton assumed the duties of principal in 1845, remaining until 1848.

        In 1846 a two story brick building was erected and still stands, a part of the building now known as the Porter School.

        Mr. Stanton was succeeded by John Brooks Beale, in 1847. For some years thereafter there seemed to be a desire for change. William Bailey was in charge in 1848, James M. Winchell in 1849, E H. Hallock in 1850, Dr. W. W. Porter in 1851. After teaching one year Dr. Porter settled as a Physician in Geddes and resided here until his death in 1885. He was always a staunch friend of the public schools and for twenty five years, was president of the Board of Education in the village.

        John Bright became principal in 1852, and remained until 1855, when J. W. Lawrence became principal and remained until, 1859. He was succeeded by a Mr. Daniels remaining until 1861. Mr. Olds came in 1861 for one year, when James S. Foster was elected, staying until 1864. January 4th 1865 W. G. Chaffee, now of Oswego began work and remained until July of that year. In September 1865 Ebenezer Butler became principal remaining until April 1866, being followed by J. W. Hooper, who remained until he resigned Nov. 29, 1872   Jan. 6, 1873 H. L. Parker began his work as principal remaining until 1876, when N. D Bidwell came and was principal until 1883 when C E. White, now principal of Franklin School, was elected Superintendent. Giles H. Stillwell became principle [sic.] of the Central School, now Porter, in 1884, and the academic department was formed, and in the three years he was its principal, was a very efficient and successful High-School. When Geddes became a part of the City, Mr. White was transferred to Franklin School as principal and G H. Stillwell remained as  principal of Porter School, a name given when Geddes became a part of the City, in honor of Dr. W. W. Porter until 1887, when Prof. W. H. Scott the present principal began his labors. The school at this time dropped the academic department and became a grammar school.

        An interesting department of the school in times past, was the winter department which, was carried on for young men, not able to attend during the fall and spring terms. Among those who taught in this department were Attorneys G. W. Driscoll and Geo. McGowan and Donald McLennan, Dr. F. O. Donohue and others.

        Among the many who have been teachers in the school are; Mrs Mills Pharis nee Webb, Mrs Henry P. Smith, nee Miss Nellie Annabel  Mrs James S. Foster, Misses C. V. Hawthorne, W. H. Stevens, M E. Dickenson, S. S. Todd, L. P. Manzur, E A Robinson, M E. Farley, W. H. Averill, M. E. Denson, S. J. Stone, S. Jerome, G. H. Sweet, L. Shondy, Mr Gladding, M. A. White, F. Tucker, L. Throop, L A Hanck, H Tucker, M. Nearing, Chamberlain, Sarah Eno, Mrs. Alice Reddin nee Sissou [Sisson?], Mrs Frank Burroughs, nee Case, Mrs Margaret Lanigan nee McGovern, Mrs Carrie Curtis nee Chedzoy, Mrs Nellie Porter nee Thurston, Mrs Mary O’Brien; nee Walls, Mrs Dora Standard, Mrs. Caykendal, Mrs Sarah Leahey nee Gooley, Miss J. L. Willey (principal Gere School) and others.

        The school has ever held a high rank among the schools of the County and City, and today, in face of the fact that the old building is the poorest and most unfit for school purposes of any in the city, nearly ready to fall down, it keeps on doing the required work in a very satisfactory way.

        The present teachers are W H Scott, principal; Mrs A. L. Colt, Mary A McGowan  A. A. Morris, M. E. Bellknap, Julia Farrell, Mrs S. M. Thompson, Mrs H. F. Ryan, Marguerite Hayden, Anna Donaldson, M. A. Barrett, E W. Buckley, E. M. Holihan, A. M. Joy, C B Mills, M E Wall, Mrs Alice Pharis, Miss Agnes Town, who has just been transferred to Vine School, and her place filled by Miss Nora Power and Miss M. C. Hathaway, kintergarden. [sic.]

        It is to the credit of this school that kindergardens [sic] are now a part of the school system, the first one in the city, schools having been started here, four years ago, by the King’s Daughters circle of the West End.

        William H. Scott, principal of Porter School was born Sept 4th 1844 at Pontiac Mich. He attended the public schools of that place until prepared for Michigan University in 1862. He responded to the call for more men of Pres. Lincoln and enlisted in the Twenty-Second Regiment, Michigan infantry, and served with his regiment until the close of the war, taking part in a campaign in Kentucky under Gen. G A Gilmore after Geo. Morgan, in the Chickamangh [sic.] campaign under General Rosecrans; Chattanooga, Atlanta and Nashville, under Gen. Thomas. Discharged in July, 1865 as regimental commissary Sergeant. At the close of the war, he resumed study at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, from which he was graduated. He has been a teacher for about a quarter of a century. He came to Syracuse in 1887, from San Mateo Cal. where he was principal and has been principal of Porter School since that time.  Copied from a Syracuse paper - about 1890 Fannie - (Here is something from my memory)

        In 1846, a two story brick building was erected in Homer, N. Y. 30 miles from Syracuse & still stands a part of the building now known as Porter School, &tc.  [this 'Homer' seems to be an error?]

        That was the one in which James S. Foster (our Father) was principal from 1861 to 1864. There were two rooms up stairs Father’s and Miss Eliza Webb’s now Mrs. Mills Pharis, of Geddes.

        And two rooms on the first floor, Mrs James S. Foster (our mother) and Miss Nellie Annabel, (for whom you were named and who was a chum of Aunt Lucy Ripley Hills) was in charge of the youngest children

        In 1861. I was 8 years old and was in Mother’s room, Cora was 6[.]  In 1862, Cora and I were in Miss Webb’s room and 1863, we were in Father’s room. And remember it all so well, our class was the youngest in his room.

        Father had been teaching in Homer and Courtland some years successfully and when he went to Geddes to be examined, the Board told him the young Irish boys that worked on the canal during the season, made it a rule to “clean up” the teacher every winter and so it was a difficult place to fill. He told them he had never had any trouble with any pupils and would take the position. So we moved up to Geddes and every thing went fine until after the middle of the first term, when some slight trouble came up in school hour and Father called the big, man grown irish boy up on the floor, to explain it. The whole set of boys (1/2 doz) who were leaders arose and became sassy. When the boy he called up showed fight and before he (Father) know it, the boy had grabbed him & Father saw the situation, braced himself and licked the boy Jimmie Walsh (I think his name was) to a finish, and opened the door and calling the other boys by name expelled them all from school, and they went out, books & all, and Father collected himself and went on with the school. After School they had a Board meeting, and Father felt bad, for he liked the big hearted canal boys, who were smart and bright and had made such a good start, and the Board were surprised that Father got out so well. After supper Father went out to Jimmie Walsh’s the leader, found him home, went in and visited with the parents and Jimmie in his friendly way, told him (Jim) how sorry he was that he had to master him and for him to come back to school, for if he did not, the other boys wouldn’t as he was the leader, and the schooling meant so much to them, to get along in the world, he would miss them &ct. & how proud he was of their interest in school &ct, & their advancement, and so the next day or two after Jimmie came back with the rest of the boys & they were reinstated, after apologizing to the Board, and never had any more trouble with them.  Father was nice to them as he was to every one, and they were good friends after.

        25 years after that, one day a fine looking man, well dressed, came into Father’s Office in Mitchell So. Dak, and asked if he was James S. Foster, when Father said he was, the man said “do you remember me,” and handed Father a business card J. W. Walsh Chairman Democratic Committee &ct  Some town in No Dak Father smiled but hesitated a minute when the man  said “you are the only man that ever thrashed me,” and smiled.

        Father looked straight at him smilingly said Jimmie Walsh and they hugged each other & cried and then he said Mr. Foster, you did me more good than any man living, and that was the boy in Geddes school.

        Another association of this school was Dr. Porter and Father’s friendship. They were about the same age. Dr. Porter had a little girl named Clara, my age and a boy younger. Both families attend the Methodist Church. Father was Superintendent of the Sunday School and it was this Sunday School that gave him the large Bible with picture of the Last Supper on the cover in gilt. R. Nelson Gere was one of the names on first page who presented it.  He was Robbie Gere’s father and Chas. Pharis had a little boy Charley.  Cora liked, and Dickey Hampton another little boy same age, gave Father their group photograph.  Robbie, Charley & Dickey used to be in the old family album, Chas. and Mills Pharis were brothers.  Miss Webb became Mills Pharis 2nd wife.

        One Christmas this Sunday School had a Christmas tree with nice programme by the children and there was to be but one present for each child and when all the presents had been distributed, I didn’t get any thing and I told Father, who [said,] “Don’t feel bad, for I know old Santa Claus put a pretty book in for you, for I saw your name on it, and we will find it.” Of course he was busy, but, I looked and didn’t find any thing and we went home and I cried of course.  But the next morning little Clara Porter came up with a book with my name on it. It had been given to her by mistake, (a very easy thing to happen) But I never forgot my disappointment, nor cared for the book. Clara’s little brother had the first rocking horse I had ever seen and when we went there to play, I rode it, to my heart’s content.  I remember Dr. Porter as a very pleasant man.

        Chas. Eliot Hubbell, whose barn is mentioned on page 1, was son of Mary Hubbell sister of Charity Warner Eliot our great grand mother, and a fine young man he was, he had 2 sisters Helen, who married a Mr Cheesebro and Josie (Josephine) Aunt Lucy’s age who died in her 20’s, lung trouble, I loved her -always.  When we came home from our trip to Maine in 1881, I stopped in Geddes at Aunt Hubbells 2 days and it was there where Foster went into Mills Pharis Hardware Store and asked if they had any iron dish clothes, we had seen one at Coz Mattie Aldrich’s in Fall River Mass. & I had said I would get one, when I could.  So I got one and paid .25 for it, and Monday when I called on Mrs. Webb-Pharis next day she told me Mr. P. had told her of it.

        Cousin Mattie Aldrich gave her name to my little sister Martha Foster Barber. She was a rich & beautiful woman. I saw her once. She came to Mitchel to visit us.

        After dinner on Sunday I took Foster, Kate & Charley Cheesebro (Coz Helens boy 13) and took a walk as Father and Mother used to, out to the Cemetary where every one I know was buried, and I recognized their names on the head stones, Anthus Stewart a girl Aunt Lucy liked (Aunt Lucy stayed with us and attended school there the last year we were there.  She was 16 yrs old) Gertie Woolsan [Woohan?] & others.  Monday I called on Mrs. Nellie Annabel [looks like Annable] Smith, who was sick, but sitting up in a rocker.  My middle name is Annabel for this lady. I had my family photo, and she enjoy them, thought you (Fannie) were fine. Your picture was the one where you had a string of bead and sat on one foot in a fancy chair, when you were about 5 or 6 yrs old, & I went out to see Mary O’Connel (then married with a big family) who was our nice housekeeper ---------

[On the back -] sketches from memory about the school - Carrie

[Comment on transcription: Original document is 11 handwritten pages in ink on lined, yellow paper with binder holes punched on one edge. Most punctuation is a dash in the original, both where a sentence ends and where a phrase is set off. These were converted to commas and periods as seemed appropriate. Original spelling is preserved where possible, with obvious errors set off by “sic.” in brackets; this is with the exception of obviously omitted periods, as in “Mrs” with no period. Some underlines seem to have been added in pencil after the document was first written. Page seven is actually two pages, the end of the copied article is about two inches, and was found overlapping a matching blank space at the top of a full page, so that when overlapped, all text from the two pieces shows as one page of text. Some sentences were written in after the first writing of the document and it is not always completely clear where insertion was intended. In these instances, a “best” fit was selected. - Bruce Garner, January, 1998. Proofed and several minorcorrections made, - Bruce L. Garner, Dec. 11, 1998]

Old Porter School - Index to Names
Aldrich, Cousin Mattie          family or friend
Annabel, Miss Nellie            for whom Fannie Annabelle Foster named
Averill, [Miss?] W. H.          taught in Porter School
Bailey, William                 1848, was principal
Barrett, M. A.                  present [~1890] teacher
Beale, John Brooks              1847, was principal
Bellknap, M. E.                 present [~1890] teacher
Bidwell, N. D                   1876-1883, was principal
Bright, John                    1852-1855, was principal
Buckley, E W.                   present [~1890] teacher
Burroughs, Mrs Frank nee Case   taught in Porter School
Butler,  Ebenezer               9/1865-4/1866, was principal
Caykendal, Mrs.                 taught in Porter School
Chaffee, W. G.                  1865, was principal until July
Chamberlain, [Miss?]            taught in Porter School
Colt, Mrs A. L.                 present [~1890] teacher
Curtis, Mrs Carrie nee Chedzoy, taught in Porter School
Daniels, Mr.                    1859-1861, was principal
Denson, [Miss?] M. E.           taught in Porter School
Dickenson, [Miss?] M E.         taught in Porter School
Donaldson, Anna                 present [~1890] teacher
Donohue, Dr. F. O.              taught in Academic Department
Driscoll, Attorney G. W.        taught in Academic Department
Eliot, Charity Warner           our great grand mother
Eliot, Helen                    sister of Hubbell, Chas. Eliot, married
Mr. Cheesebro
Eliot, Josephine                sister of Hubbell, Chas. Eliot
Eno, [Miss?] Sarah              taught in Porter School
Farley, [Miss?] M E.            taught in Porter School
Farrell, Julia                  present [~1890] teacher
Fay, Mr.                        1837-1840, began his work [as teacher]
Foster, Mrs James S. nee Frances Ripley taught in Porter School
Gere, R. Nelson                 presenter of Bible to James Foster
Gere, Robbie                    son of Gere, R. Nelson
Gladding, Mr                    taught in Porter School
Hallock, E H.                   1850, was principal
Hampton, Dickey                 same age as Pharis, Charley
Hanck, [Miss?] L A              taught in Porter School
Hathaway, Miss M. C.            present [~1890] teacher, kintergarden.
Hawthorne, Miss C. V.           taught in Porter School
Hayden, Marguerite              present [~1890] teacher
Hills, Aunt Lucy Ripley         chum of Miss Nellie Annabel
Holihan, E. M.                  present [~1890] teacher
Hooper,  J. W.                  1866-9/1872, was principal
Hubbell, Charles E              his barn stands where brick school was
Hubbell, Chas. Eliot            son of Mary Hubbell sister of Charity
                                Eliot our great grand mother
Hubbell, Mary                   sister of Charity Warner Eliot
James S. Foster,                1861-1865, was principal
Jerome, [Miss?] S.              taught in Porter School
Joy, A. M.                      present [~1890] teacher
Lanigan, Mrs Margaret nee McGovern, taught in Porter School
Lawrence, J. W.                 1855-1859, was principal
Leahey, Mrs Sarah nee Gooley,   taught in Porter School
Manzur, [Miss?] L. P.           taught in Porter School
McGowan, Attorney Geo.          taught in Academic Department
McGowan, Mary A                 present [~1890] teacher
McLennan, Donald                taught in Academic Department
Mills, C B                      present [~1890] teacher
Morris, A. A.                   present [~1890] teacher
Nearing, [Miss?] M.             taught in Porter School
Olds, Mr.                       1861, was principal for one year
O’Brien, Mrs Mary nee Walls,    taught in Porter School
Parker, H. L.                   1/1873-1876, was principal
Pharis, Mrs Mills nee Webb,     taught in Porter School
Pharis, Mrs Alice               present [~1890] teacher
Pharis, Chas.
Pharis, Charley                 son of Chas. Pharis
Pharis, Mills                   brother of Pharis, Chas. or Pharis,
Porter, Dr. W. W.               1851, was principal
Porter, Mrs Nellie nee Thurston taught in Porter School
Porter, Clara                   daughter of Dr. Porter
Power, Miss Nora                present [~1890] teacher
Reddin, Mrs. Alice  nee Sissou, [Sisson?] taught in Porter School
Robinson, [Miss?] E A           taught in Porter School
Root. Miss Mary                 first teacher
Rouse, William                  1840-1841, was principal
Ryan, Mrs H. F.                 present [~1890] teacher
Scott, Prof. W. H.              1887-’present’ was principal
Scott, W H                      present [~1890] principal
Shondy, [Miss?] L.              taught in Porter School
Smith, Mrs Henry P. nee Miss Nellie Annabel taught in Porter School
Smith,  Mrs. Nellie Annabel     family or friend
Spaulding, Simon                1825, taught at brick school house on
                                corner of School St and Lowell Ave
Spaulding, Simon                1833 -1836, taught again in basement
                                of Episcopal Church on St. Mark’s Square
Standard, Mrs Dora              taught in Porter School
Stanton, N. P.                  1845-1848, was principal
Stevens, [Miss?] W. H.          taught in Porter School
Stewart,  Anthus                family or friend
Stillwell, Giles H.             1884, became principal of Central
                                now Porter
Stone, [Miss?] S. J.            taught in Porter School
Sweet, [Miss?] G. H.            taught in Porter School
Thompson, Mrs S. M.             present [~1890] teacher
Throop, [Miss?] L.              taught in Porter School
Todd, [Miss?] S. S.             taught in Porter School
Town, Miss Agnes                present [~1890] teacher, just
                                to Vine School
Tucker, [Miss?] F.              taught in Porter School
Tucker, [Miss?] H               taught in Porter School
Wall, M E                       present [~1890] teacher
Walsh, Jimmie                   leader of Irish boys
Walsh, J. W.                    same as Walsh, Jimmie
Webb, Miss Eliza                now Mrs. Mills Pharis, of Geddes
Webb, Miss                      became Mills Pharis 2nd wife
White, C E.                     1883-?, elected Superintendent, now
                                [~1890] principal Franklin School
White, [Miss?] M. A.            taught in Porter School
Willey,  Miss J. L.             taught in Porter School, ([now]
                                principal Gere School)
Winchell, James M.              1849, was principal
Woolsan [Woohan?], Gertie       family or friend
Younglove, Mr.                  1812, was teacher

Return to the Geddes page.

Return to Onondaga County USGenWeb page.

14 January 1999

19 November 2005