Early Day Schools In Mansfield's History

Richland Co., Ohio


School Records

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Early Day Schools In Mansfield's History

THE MANSFIELD NEWS:  12 October 1901, Vol. 17, No. 190


Submitted by Amy


EARLY DAY SCHOOLS -- Many of the older citizens of Mansfield will be interested in an article on the early day schools of Mansfield published on the third page of the second part of today's paper.  The information in large part is from records kept by Levi Zimmerman, of West Fourth Street, clerk of the school district many years ago, to whom for use of which and to Curator Edward Wilkinson of Memorial museum for assistance in making research for interesting data therein, the NEWS is indebted.


Some Data from the Records of the First Board of Directors of District No. 1

When the H.C. Hedges block was destroyed by fire in 1870 the records of the Mansfield board of education were destroyed and the loss of these has been greatly regretted by lovers of local history who would have loved to delve among these chronicles of the beginnings of the Mansfield public schools.  It will be interesting to know in view of this fact that the venerable Levi Zimmerman, of West Fourth street, has in his possession the records of the first board of directors of district No. 1, in Mansfield.  The settlers of Mansfield and Richland county, like the sturdy Puritans in New England who founded Harvard college within a few years after they landed on Plymouth Rock, were great believers in education and though with no public money available for educational purposes, established schools in the various communities.  Here school was taught at least a few months in the year.  The history of Richland county tells of the various schools where the youth of early Mansfield secured their education, one of the first being that taught by Eliza Wolf in one of the blockhouses on the square;  another in a one-story log cabin on Main street;  another taught by the father of Mrs. John Sherman, located at the corner of Second and Walnut street and later on, Judge Stewart taught one on Park avenue west between Walnut and Mulberry;  and there were numerous others in the years from the time of the first settlers came until the regular public school system of Mansfield was established.  These school were maintained mostly by subscriptions.

The "Big Spring" school house, a frame building erected in 1818 on a hill above the Big Spring, is one of the early school houses.  The old red school house, corner of West Fourth and Mulberry streets, was erected some years afterward.

"I attended the school taught by Alexander Barr," said Levi Zimmerman, who is still hale and hearty in his 88th. year.  "It was in the northeast part of the old town plat.  It was in the Big Spring school house in 1831 and 1832 that I attended -- 70 years ago.  A few of the scholars in that school were the Rev. Russell Bigelow's daughters;  Governor Mordecai Bartley's boys and girls;  Eben P. Sturges' boys;  John Wiler's boys and girls and others.  Most of the scholars have died long ago."

After the petition was presented to the council in March, 1846, the corporate limits of Mansfield were divided into three school districts, the first to include all that part of town east of Walnut street and north of the public square;  No. 2, all south of the north line of the public square and east of Walnut, except that the line running north and south between 2nd. and 3rd. streets should follow Main instead of Walnut;  and the third district included the part of town not included in the other two divisions.

It is the record of the proceedings of the first directors of school district No. 1 that Mr. Zimmerman has.  He was the district clerk and treasurer and the records of the various meetings are full of interest.

It is prized all the more because so many of the records of the schools were destroyed in the Hedges fire.  Glimpses are given of the town and the people and the schools then are in vivid contrast with the schools of Mansfield today.

The first entry bears the date of Oct. 6, 1847, when it is recorded that the school directors of district No. 1 met at Levi Zimmerman's;  that John McCullough was made chairman and Levi Zimmerman, district clerk and treasurer.  It was decided to have four months of school.

Under the date of Oct. 20 (1847), it is written that the school had been deferred until the next year.  At the meeting of Feb. 18, 1848, it was resolved to call a special meeting of the voters of the district at Nelson A. Rheinaker's on March 18 to decide whether to levy a tax and erect a building for school purposes.

The record next contains a copy of the notice which was posted in three places in the town, notifying the voters that a meeting would be held to take up the matter of levying a tax and erecting a school building.

The minutes of March 18 of that year state that Dr. E. Teagarden was made chairman of the meeting held that day and that John McCullough presented a resolution to allow $800 for school purposes and that this was laid on the table, and a resolution presented by Mr. McCullough was adopted appointing Levi Irwin, Henry Schreffler and Samuel Carrothers a committee to make out a report of the cost of erecting a one-story building, 30 by 60 feet;  a two-story building 30 by 60 and a two-story building 24 by 40.  It being desired to get estimates as to the best structure to erect.

A notice, posted in three public places in the district next appears, notifying the voters that on Monday, April 17, a meeting will be held at Levi Zimmerman's shop to vote for or against a tax for erecting a school house.

At the meeting of April 17 Dr. Teagarden was called to the chair and the committee appointed reported that a building 30 by 60 would cost $963;  30 by 60, two stories, $1,555;  24 by 40 two stories, $950;  digging cellar, stone and stone work, seats and painting not included in the calculations.  On motion of Mr. McCullough, the resolution was taken from the table and $1,000 was voted for school purposes and at the meeting of April 10, 1848, at Joseph Hildreth's house the directors "bargained" with him for the three school lots or the block at the northeast corner of of the old town plat and agreed to pay him $1000 and as there was only $700 coming to the district from the sale of the school lot in the old corporation, Mr. Hildreth agreed to wait until the last money is paid in on the Hable property and take his pay out of that.


The record brings out an interesting incident of that time.  Frederick Hable was a tailor who had his shop somewhere near where Shonfield's store is now.  Foos, a demented man, who lived at the jail on Adams street and often went to Hable's shop, was seen on the street for several days and to everyone he met he said in his jerky style:  "Better bury Hable.  Better bury Hable."  Many who heard this thought nothing about it, but when it was discovered that the tailor, Hable, had not been seen for a few days, it was decided that the matter ought to be looked into, that maybe there was something in what old Foos had said.


It was in the winter time and when some of the citizens went to Hable's shop they found that he was indeed dead.  Foos having been the only one who had known of it, though he had tried in his peculiar way to make the discovery known.  Rats had mutilated the body quite badly and as no relatives of the dead tailor could be found, the remains were buried in the Mansfield cemetery.  Hable had some property and as no one ever claimed it, it was put into the school fund of the town.


The record of district No. 1 for April 20, 1848, states that the school directors met and agreed to have two schools taught in the school district for the term of four months, commencing May 1.  It was decided to employ two female teachers, Sarah C. Mason at $58 for the four months' term and Emily Armentrout for $48 for the term.  The directors rented a room of Ellzy Hedges (father of Henry C. Hedges) for $16 for the four months.  For the other school a room was rented from Sarah Mason for $6 for the term.


When the directors met May 15 it was agreed to build a two-story school house 26 by 48 feet, of brick and on June 3 following the directors articled with John Bradley and George W. Rue for building the structure.  It was first arranged to have the walls 13 inches thick, but this was afterward changed to 18.  The contractors were to furnish all materials and complete the house ready for seats and painting, except locks, spouting and some minor things, the price to be $1,458.50.  It was provided that the first story was to be completed by Oct. 1, 1848 and the entire job by May 1, 1849.  The records show the payments to be as follows:  Cash, $240, deeding 60 feet of west side of school block, including old school house for $368;  payment, Oct. 1, $300;  payment, Feb. 1, 1849, $300;  May 1, $250.  It was arranged at the meeting Aug. 4 to have the walls 18 inches thick and the directors agreed to deed to Bradley and Rue 30 feet of the west side of the school lot, value $150, for which the contractors agreed to grade the lot, put down walk and bring to the grade of Fourth street, increase the wall to 18 inches, flare the windows in the lower story, dig foundation, etc.

Other entries tell of settlements with the teachers and copy of notices of meetings of householders and tax payers in district No. 1, Sept. 15, but this meeting was not held on account of a change in the school law.


At the meeting of the directors, Dec. 25, 1848, Mr. Jacobs and Miss Webster were employed, each for three months, beginning the first week in January, Jacobs to receive $25 per month and Miss Webster $16 per month.  At the meeting in March, 1849, Mr. Jacobs was re-employed for five months at $30 per month and it was agreed to hire a female teacher also.  The record states that the meeting April 4, 1849, was held at the school house and the directors allowed some bills.  Two dollars was paid for taking enumeration of pupils for 1847 and 1848.  For strips for hanging hats the board paid $1 and 50 cents for putting a back in a seat.  Under date of April 9 the following statement of school finances is given:  

Receipts:  Due from sale of school lots, $700;  due from Hable estate as reported by Joseph Hildreth, $610.63;  taxes assessed, $1000;  due from Bradley and Rue for 20 feet off west side of school lot and old school house, $518;  total $2,828.63.  

Expenditures:  Paid for school lots, $1000;  Bradley & Rue per contract $1,458.50;  Increasing wall $150;  total $2,608.50

Balance in township treasury last year, $33.36;  on hand this year, $165.24;  paid Jacobs $75;  paid Webster, $48;  balance $75.60.

At the meeting of April 9, 1849, the following voters took part in the election:    

James Wallace, Rozero Lloyd, Charles Ashton, N. Rheinaker, S. Wood, L. Emerson, F.W. Strong, J. McCullough, J. Harvey, William Cummings, Samuel Carrothers, H. Endly, A.N. Wigley, John Dull, A.P. Winslow, F. Wharf, Eli Teagarden, J.H. Wigley, W.D. McBride, C. Keil, Peter Feeman, Samuel Mains, William Shamer, John Super, W.H. Rhodes, A. Littier, Jesse Myers, William Meily, Samuel Carrothers.

On this vote for school directors Levi Zimmerman was elected for three years, receiving 27 votes and John McCullough who received 22 votes was elected for two years.  C. Keil received  eight votes.  There were 17 votes in favor of a tax for the schools six months of the year, and twelve against the proposition.  This vote was by virtue of an act of the legislature in 1848.

Under the date of June 9, 1848, it is recorded that the directors have been pressed for money, the expenses for the school building having been more than estimated and "there are some names on our tax list that nothing can be collected from."  On July 2, 1849, a tax was voted to pay off the amount due;  also to seat and furnish desks for the upper room and for paving in front of the lot.  J.H. Wigley voted against the measure and McCullough, Zimmerman, George Heser, N.A. Rheinaker and James Wallace in favor.  Some further records show that orders were given to G.L. Jacobs and Miss Clark for salary and that Mr. Jacobs was given some cash raised on subscription.  In October, 1849, Mr. Jacobs was hired at $25 per month to teach the winter school for three months, beginning the middle of November and Miss Webster at $16 per month, and later when school began it is recorded that by the consent of the directors the male scholars were put under Mr. Jacobs and the females were given to Miss Webster to teach.  Further entries tell of the paying off of bills, notices for a meeting to elect a director and finally that the records had been drawn off and handed to Mr. Shreffler, the new district clerk.  

In 1850 Mr. Zimmerman went to California and that ended his duties as clerk of the directors.  It is owing to his having drawn off the records of the board for the time he was clerk that they are preserved today.

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