Another IAGenWeb Project

About 1870 - 1880

From Nashua Reporter 1955 Centennial Edition

.... Articles from old Nashua Posts and old Reporters have disclosed a wealth of information and interesting history about Nashua and Old Bradford. The following article was taken from a 1914 Reporter; its author is unknown as it is signed by "one of the boys". It is headed "OLD SCHOOL DAYS."

...."School days, school days,
....Dear old golden rule days.
....Readin' and writin' and 'rithmetic
....Taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick"

...."School days in Nashua may be divided into three parts, ancient, medieval and modern. The ancient days were those of the old wood school building on the site of the present high school building. It was then the early 70's that the old brick school building was erected and then the old building was moved down-town and converted into the First Methodist church on the site of the present church, later being moved across the street, and recently the building has been torn down. It had served its purpose. I cannot recall much of those old days, as I spent only one day or part of a day there. I had teased to go to school and so I was sent with an older boy and for some reason, good or bad, he was given a "lickin". I did not fancy that and for fear I would be treated likewise I went home quickly and I did not go back."
...."When next I started on the royal road to learning it was in the new building and that was the beginning of the medieval period. Miss Louisa Robinson was the primary teacher and she was a dear, good teacher. It was in this room I learned the lesson that things are not what they seem. The other boys (and possibly girls) took notes or letters from the teachers home with them. I did not see why I could not do the same, but before long she asked me to carry a note and I found out to my sorrow what the note said. It said that I was not a model boy and suggested some needed reforms. I suppose she accomplished her purpose as I don't remember a second note. One day during recitation the flames suddenly came through the register in front of us and we were frightened a lot. But fortunately no particular damage was done."
...."In due time were were sent on to the second room where we found one of the best teachers. We received our share of punishments and I still have some of the rewards of merit cards she gave us. After years of service Miss Romelia Smith went out to Colorado to continue in her good work. It is a singular coincidence that these two excellent teachers finished their labors very nearly the same time about a year ago. I had not seen Miss Smith (Mrs. Wells) for many years and regretted very much that I was unable to meet her on her last visit to Nashua a few years ago. In another year we were sent upstairs and Miss Alma Davis (now Mrs. Whitaker) had her troubles with us, but to our sorrow she went to a better position and Miss Warren took us in hand, and some of us can still feel the hand. We learned easily, especially mischief, and sometimes we think we were promoted to make room for BETTER ones. We were quite young when we were sent to the high room, but we felt pretty big."
...."George Bennett labored with us for a term and the next fall Henry Adams, fresh from Iowa College, introduced us to new studies. He knew what he was doing, but now I think it was Greek to many of us. Then came the "Dark Ages" when W. H. Palmer amused us for two years. His famous "Code of Laws" was remembered for many a year. He had good qualities and under different conditions would have been a good teacher."
...."It was during his reign that the system of "graduating" the more advanced pupils whom he could not bring within the "code".[sic] The spokesman for the board of education always made a flowery speech, they call it an "address" nowadays, and then, as now, the "would-be-graduates" were painfully silent and at the close of the exercises we were told to 'beat it', and we did, but in a few days we were generally back at our old tricks. Oh, those were happy days!"
...."Mr. DeArmond tried for two years to bring order out of chaos, then went to Chicago where he is now practicing law."
...."After spending five years in this one room we were taken in hand by Henry Felker and even against our wishes we were forced to learn and during the next two years we made rapid advancement. I finished my public school career during Mr. Felker's second year. I can look back at those two years as the major part of my school life. Felker, in spite of all his faults and failings, was a born teacher and in many lines it was hard to find his equal. He prepared the way so that when he was succeeded by Mr. Taylor the modern period had begun and soon after that the first regular graduation took place."
...."We often recall the names of our classmates, some who were dropped by the wayside and some began at a later date and finished before us. We have lost all trace of some, others we sometimes hear of in their distant homes. Many have crossed the 'river' but they live in memory. A few of those who attended school between 1870 and 1880 still live in or near Nashua. Following are the names of some who have passed to the other side: Arthur Williams, Lee Allrad, Frank Butler, Fern Barron, Porter Barron, Louis Fairbairn, Louis Harsberg, Charlie Parish, Frank Parish, Nelson Brown, Whit Troy, Hadley Hall, Moses Lytle, Nellie (Williams) Stevens, Emma (Gibson) Cassidy, Alice Reed (Thorne), Rema Brown, Clara (Howard) Prudhon, Rose Dunlap, Lulu (Vance) Fairbairn and Adel (Smedley)."
...."The conditions under which we attended school were entirely different than those of today, but there were many happy days and many lasting friendships. It was there we received our first incentive to our work in after-life. About 35 years of pleasure and sorrow have passed away since then and in memory's ship we go back to the by-gone days when Adams started us in botany, DeArmond in history and Felker grounded us in algebra and latin."
...."We can remember "Uncle" Joe Coler when he came over to complain of the boys who had broken down his new picket fence, and when 'Grandpa' Scales made a vigorous kick when the boys invaded his yard. Those who lived near the school house had their troubles, and they were live ones, too. We well remember when the furnace did not work, stoves were installed and how we alternately froze and roasted while in mischief or in study. There were many painful recollections of those days of the hick'ry stick. One of the boys once said after he had been punished, 'I don't think I deserved it then, but there have been plenty times I did.'"
...."Our whole school life was spent in the old brick 'neath the shade of the maples. We drank from the old tin dipper at the school well with never a thought of the multitudes of microbes contained therein. We enjoyed them all."
....If any of the old double desks remain you can find many an initial carved thereon, and perchance ont [sic] of your works of art. We put in good time from 9 to 12 and 1 to 4 and very few holidays did we have. Very often at recess there would be a fistic encounter, but while we knew of them we were very careful to keep such knowledge from our teachers, as we did not think it for their good (or our good either) to see such sport. We had no telephones, no electric lights, phonographs and no movies, still we lived, enjoyed life and had many a good time. It was about 1875 when the famous "Lightening Lecturer" spent a week in Nashua and the pupils enjoyed that time to the fullest, and I doubt not that the same doctor could entertain you about ancient school days in Nashua."
...."Mr. Felker was the first to introduce a course of study and to grade the schools up to the same. But it was not until later that the first regular class was graduated. This takes us up to the modern period and there are many who can tell about the years since then. Those who attended the schools before 1880 have no organization and while they are widely separated they still look back to the old school days and wish that they might go once more in answer to the old bell and meet with the classmates of yore. ONE OF THE BOYS."

Contributed by Claudia Groh. Transcribed by Mike Peterson