as pdf file
One Room Schools
on the one room schools in Epsom comes from various sources. References
are made in the original town records about the establishing of
the first school as well as mentioning several other early schoolhouses.
These same records discuss early plans to establish and change districts
with the forming of school committees. James Babb in his diary mentions
visiting several early schools around 1820, giving the name of the
teacher and the conditions surrounding the teaching, There is a
pretty large void of information from this time through the civil
war. Minutes of meetings of two schools have survived over the years,
one for the old Center Hill School, and the other for the Marden
school district. There are a few early teacher ledgers and superintendent
reports. Town reports began giving annual school reports each year
beginning in the late 1880's and continued for some time. Graduates,
teachers, conditions and scholars were generally listed. Closer
to 1900 are photos of some of the schools and the attending students.
Other references to the history of Epsom School's were written by
Rev. Jonathan Curtis; John Dolbeer in his History of Epsom; an old
home day address by Mrs. J. W. Fowler; and more recently by George
H. Yeaton and Phil Yeaton.
In the following weeks the early history of the schools will be
the subject of many blogs, and will include information from all
the above sources, and more. The information from the town reports
do not contain much history, but by publishing the names of students,
those descendants, or those researching family names or doing genealogy,
may find the names useful in placing their time and place in Epsom.
Item three of the original
charter incorporating the town of Epsom, states in part, that one
hundred acres be set aside for the benefit of a school. It was 38
years before the job of erecting was completed by Ensign McGaffey.
The schoolhouse was built on the schoolhouse lot '21 in length and
17 in bredth' and its building was put out to bid to be paid in
wither land or money, and cost 312 old tenor for 'board shingle
clapboard and stone'. There is no doubt the building was soon erected,
as town minutes reference a meeting in April of 1766 being moved
from the meetinghouse to the schoolhouse. The two buildings were
across East Street from each other and the schoolhouse became as
regular a meeting place as the meetinghouse for several years.
Mention of the school
does not show up regularly in proprietor's minutes, though the town
voted in 1776 and 1777, 20 pounds for school keeping; in 1778, no
money was voted for either preaching or schooling. The money for
schools in 1779 was 300 dollars. At this same time, the town was
trying to engage its second minister to replace the Reverend Tuck,
who was dismissed in 1774. There were regular meetings throughout
the year, and in July of 1779, in order to try and engage Mr. Thurston
as minister, a parsonage was to be built on the existing school
lot, with the school being reserved a privilege 'of one half acre
where it now stands.' All apparently subject to Mr. Thurston's accepting
the call, which he did not. A warrant at the May 1780 town meeting
was based on a complaint received by Ephraim Locke against the town
for not keeping a stated school, with judgment given to the selectmen
to raise what money would be needed to support the school during
the upcoming season.
The appropriation asked
for in 1781 for schools was one thousand pounds, but agreeable to
a vote of the town, the schoolhouse which 'was formerly built by
the proprietors of said Epsom' was put up for auction, though the
record does not state the purchaser. How this may have been related
to the complaint brought forth by Ephraim Locke is unknown. Though
records never mention it, it is assumed a new school had been built,
as one hundred silver dollars was voted on for the benefit of town
school for the year 1782 and 1783. In January of 1784 the town final
settled on and had their second minister, the Reverend Ebenezer
Hazeltine. The school received 45 pounds for the support of a school,
and work began on a parsonage for the new minister.
About this same time
(October 1780) a school was built near Capt. (Jeremiah) Prescott's,
and the town, after the fact, was asked to take charge of it, which
they refused. This is the first mention in the records of a second
schoolhouse in the town.
There is little information
on the early teachers were in town, a least in the records. In 1899,
in an old home day address by Mrs. J. W. (Ruhamah Locke) Fowler,
she gives some insight: James Gray is said to have been a school
teacher before the Revolutionary war, and tradition tells of Master
Sutton, Casey, Thomas D. Merrill, Master Batchelder, noted for the
severity of his punishment. She also gives the following: Among
some old papers have been found the following receipts: "Received
2 lbs. 8 shillings for 8 weeks' school keeping over the river in
1784, by me
Joseph Goss, Epsom , March 8, 1785."
For the next several
years the town appropriated 45 pounds each year for schooling; 55
pounds in 1789 and 50 in 1790. Again records do not show any additional
schools until 1792 when the town as asked 'to raise sixty five pounds
for the purpose of building and repairing school houses and school
keeping in Epsom and that the Selectmen being empowered to expend
said money in schooling in such districts that have school houses
and that those districts who have not school houses have till the
25th of June next to build and repair their school houses and then
if not done, the Selectmen to build and repair such school houses
out of the money raised as aforesaid and out of such districts proportion
as needed to build and repair the school houses'. This obviously
being in the plural indicates the town had grown and additional
schoolhouses had been built in the areas where the population had
grown. The next year the amount of money to support the schools
was left to the judgement of the selectmen, and with the request
to fix the schoolhouse still not complete, a warrant article was
introduced in April of 1793 to complete the unfinished schoolhouses
in town, but was voted not to raise any money for that purpose.
Undaunted, that was not to the satisfaction of all the inhabitants,
especially those in the western district, who wrote to the selectmen
of the town of Epsom:
A number of the inhabitants
of the Western district in Epsom humbly shew; That we have been
and still are desirous to promote public schools in said town for
the instruction of our children and of late we have used every excitation
in our power to have a suitable schoolhouse in the district completed
for that design, but every such effort proves abortive owing (as
we humbly conceive) to some among us who from their conduct seem
to demonstrate a total disregard to the best interests of their
families by depriving their children of the means of instruction
thereby rendering them in a great degree useless members of society
and by such conduct of theirs we being classed with them are debarred
of that for our children which we esteem as inestimable blessing.
This our grievance and
in this situation we cannot rest easy, to see our numerous offspring
which are instrumental of bringing into existence trained up like
so many heathens or brutes, in a civilized world would, and for
such neglect we cannot answer neither to God nor our consciences
and for which they well have good reason to curse rather than bless
us. We therefore seek to the town of Epsom for redress as we know
no other remedy and pray that a meeting of said town may be warned
as soon as may be that this grievance may be duly considered and
some method adopted and put in execution, that shall remove the
A pan out of the camp and give us speedy relief in finishing the
schoolhouse already begun that a school may be had seasonably for
the purpose aforesaid.
James Gray, Geo. Yewin,
Simeon Towle, Samuel Bickford, Reuben Yewin, Thomas Bickford, Sylvanus
Moses, Richard Rand, John Prescott, Jonathan Prescott Junr, Abraham
It is not clear when
the town started different districts, but the town met in August
1783 to act on the finishing of the western district schoolhouse
and to 'finish and complete the schoolhouses in other districts
in said town that are not yet done'. Again, the town voted to dismiss
the article. The 1794 appropriation for town schools was 70 pounds,
in 1796, three hundred dollars, in 1799, two hundred dollars.
The year 1804 was a pivotal
one for Epsom Schools. The Western district, which in 1793 asked
the selectmen for help in completing their schoolhouse, once again
brought a grievance to the selectman, that being that the school
was not centralized in the district. This, they said, prevented
many of them from properly educating their children. Their hope
was to be able to participate equally with the 'Eastern and Southern'
district. Those signing would have resided near the present traffic
circle, and on Goboro and Black Hall Road. They included William
Rand, James Wood, Joseph Wood, Richard Rand, Richard Rand Jr., Sylvanus
Moses, John Moses, Benjamin Towle, John Prescott, Joseph Marden
Jr., Samuel Marden, David Howe, Joseph Saturley, Samuel Rand and
Samuel Rand Jr.. The town chose a committee of James Gray, Benjamin
Moody and Samuel Morrill, probably the first school committee to
examine the situation. On March 12, 1805, three hundred and fifty
dollars was voted for the support of schools, and an additional
fifteen hundred for the building and repairing of school houses
where necessary, with the residue to those where no buildings or
repairs are necessary. The selectmen were also given the power and
were directed to centralize the schoolhouses in the various districts.
It was not until 1808
when a warrant article was made to effect a division of the town
into school districts, agreeable to an Act of the General Court
passed in 1805. The result that the town would keep the districts
in the same manner as they currently stood with six districts. According
to the Dolbeer History of Epsom, they were as follows (with his
descriptions based on the time of his writing before 1890):
District No. 1 contained
all that is now comprised within its limits; also that portion of
District No. 7 on the turnpike, below Warren Yeaton's, and from
Yeaton's to Deerfield line.
District No. 2 contained all on the turnpike from the east side
of the New Orchard road to Chichester line, and all north of the
turnpike; also from the shoe-factory to "Cyder Brook"
(so called), just south of the house of John Spurlin.
District No. 3 was composed of what is now Districts Nos. 3 and
9 (New Rye and the Mountain), and extended to the corner at Short
District No. 4 contained all on the west side of the Suncook River
lying southerly of the turnpike, and from Short Falls bridge to
the Mountain District, near the Short Falls post-office.
District No. 5 contained that portion of the "North Road"
District northerly from the turnpike, and on the turnpike from the
Northwood road to the milepost near Henry Knowles' house, and also
what is now united with Pittsfield in forming No. 6.
District No. 6 was the New Orchard District, very nearly as it now
In 1815, the second school
lot, a lot set apart from where the original school sat, from which
materials, such as wood to burn was used by the schools, was sold.
The money from the sale, about twelve hundred dollars, was kept
by the town as a school fund, with the interest from it being annually
divided among the school districts, according to their valuation.
During the period above,
the school budget stayed between 450 and 500 dollars annually. Town
records show that in 1819, John McClary, Jonathan Steele and John
Batchelder were chosen as a school committee and that a committee
be formed with one member from each district (except No. 5) to see
if district Number 5 shall agree to an alteration. That committee
of John Cate Jr., Samuel Morrill, Daniel Cilley, Richard Tripp and
Hanover Dickey. The school committee for the town was expanded to
five members in 1820, those being John McClary, Jonathan Steele,
John Batchelder, Josiah Crosby and Thomas D. Merrill.
Again in 1821, a committee
was formed to examine the possibility of altering the school districts,
the members, Josiah Sanborn, Hanover Dickey and Winthrop Fowler,
delivered their findings on February 19, 1825. The decision - 'that
in our opinion many individuals are not well convened, and do not
have their proportion of the benefit of the school in said town
as it is now districted and that the time may come when an alteration
will remedy such evil, but at present we consider it inexpedient
to make any alteration'.
The school committee
for 1823 included William Han Jr., James Babb, Thomas D. Merrill,
Jonathan Curtis Jr., and Michael McClary. The Rev. Jonathan Curtis
published a short history of the town in 1823, reporting that the
town was divided into seven districts with a total student population
of about 500 scholars, in which about five hundred dollars is annually
expended. From various reports, it appears that the schools included
the Mountain District, Center District, Short Falls District, Cilley
District and probably New Orchard Road, North Road.. It would appear
that some of these Districts may have also been assigned the numbers
The School District meeting
for District 5 met at the home of Enoch Brown in February of 1823
to change the bounds of the district, which was on North Road. Members
in attendance at the voluntary meeting were William Yeaton Jr.,
Edward Gove, Jonathan Page, Daniel Philbrick, John Babb, Daniel
Philbrick 3rd, Stephen Johnson, Ebenezer Foss, Isaac L. Ham, Elijah
Gove, Enoch Brown Jr., Ezra Allen, William Brown, Perkins Philbrick,
David Philbrick, John Ham, John Yeaton Jr., Jessee Emerson and Samuel
Prescott. Pretty good representation of the families in that area.
The school committee
for 1824 included James Babb, Samuel Peabody and William Ham Jr.;
in 1825, Moses P. Gray, William Ham and James Babb; in 1826, Jonathan
Steele, Arthur Caverno, William Ham Jr., and James Babb.
In 1833 the Mountain
District school burned and was rebuilt, and divided, adding the
New Rye District, given the number 9. According to Dolbeer, the
school in the Fowler District having been taken off District No.
4 to become District No. 8. This is how the districts stayed until
There are few records
covering the schools in Epsom from about 1840 until town reports
began to be published. Most of what has been found are individual
teacher records and a few reports, plus two record books. One record
book is for the Center Hill School, the other for the Marden District.
The New Hampshire State
papers has an entry, whereby the school district No. 6 in Epsom
was combined with a school district in Pittsfield and called the
Republican School District. A pre-printed chart was filled out by
the superintending school committee of Epsom for 1846, and listed
District No. 1, Lucy
A. Lord, teacher, first term 80 pupils, second term, 80 pupils
District No. 2, Henry F. Sanborn, teacher, first term 55 students.
Nathaniel J. Pinkham, teacher, second term, 63 students
District No. 3, David Smith, teacher, first term 27 students. No
District No. 4, Sarah D. Yeaton, teacher, first term 30 students.
Tobias Foss, teacher, second term, 45 students.
District No. 5, Mary A. Heath, teacher, first term 14 students.
John S. Cate, teacher, second term, 19 students.
District No. 6 with Chichester, first term 14 students
District No. 7, Mary A. Nealey, teacher, first term, 27 students.
William Ham, teacher, second term, 27 students.
District No. 8, Mary S. Green, teacher, first term, 22 students,
second term, 22 students.
District No. 9, Hannah M. Wells, teacher, 60 students. Jonathan
C. Sanders, second term, 55 students.
District No. 10, united with Pittsfield, 3 students.
added to their online collection, the transcribed copy of the old
Epsom Town Books that is housed at the NH State Library. The images
included school reports from 1826 to 1834. The earliest of these
reports included the name and salaries of teachers, and the later
reports are less detailed. Information on schools are also found
in the Selectmen's account records from 1835 to 1867. These accounts
give the amount allocated to each school district, and usually the
name of the Prudential Committee chairman for the districts. Unlike
the reports of 1826-1834, there is no break-down of the expenses
of each district, nor the teachers. Some additional budget lines
indicate a couple instances of new schools being built. As with
the other data in this series, this is extracted raw data from town
In the records 1826-1834, those individuals paid 'as per account'
are teachers. Schools ran at least two terms, sometimes three, which
is why there will be sometimes more than one teacher listed if different
teachers were used different terms.