Some old Owasco district No. 1 schoolhouse records from 1893 to 1937 were recently given to the town of Owasco from Beth Batlle, historian of Skaneateles. Beth was at The Creamery one day when the box of records was removed from storage. Decisions — what to do with them? Beth seized the opportunity to return them to Owasco for our records. I drove to her home to pick them up and have spent the last two weeks reviewing them.
The stone schoolhouse at Baptist Corners is the only one-room schoolhouse in the area that remains intact as a schoolhouse, with several desks and the original blackboard (at the proper height for young arms to reach). The raised teachers’ platform is gone now, but former students remember its location. The privies were outside, one for boys and the other for girls. The building is graced with wide, high windows that cover one side and bathe the schoolroom with light.
Mark and Amy Marsden have kept the building historically sound. Mark's father, Harold Marsden, purchased the building from Irving Van Arsdale. Harold Marsden used the building for years for his plumbing, heating and electrical business. Mark's family fondly called it “the shop.”
In 2012, they were awarded a William G. Pomeroy Foundation grant for a historic marker that was dedicated and placed by the roadside. One of the pictures shown with this column is the marker and describes how the school was made from fieldstone from the local farmers’ fields, and donated for the building.
The other six schoolhouses in the area have been either torn down or converted into private homes.
Just this week, schoolhouse No. 2 in the hamlet had a garage sale. This school, built in 1892 from local brick, has been sold to a couple from out of state. The present owners “completely raised the roof” with a jumped-out three-room dormer on the back wall to create more living space upstairs. The original floors in this two-room schoolhouse were carefully restored. I cannot help but think of the hundreds of feet that walked those floors. The original No. 2 schoolhouse was located where the Owasco church parsonage is today. The story goes that the wooden schoolhouses kept burning down, hence the effort to erect a brick building around the corner!
I found a poignant connection while researching the records of schoolhouse No. 1. In 1893, Walter Guppy is a trustee of the stone schoolhouse. His daughter Laura M. Guppy was 5 and a student. In 1912, Laura was 19 and listed as the teacher! She was the faithful teacher for many, many years. Laura never married. I believe that the 44 successive years of the stone schoolhouse records were kept by her in the same careful, neat handwriting begun by her father. They were turned over to the Skaneateles Historical Society at The Creamery by the Baumgartner family.
I would like to share with you the names of the students in 1893. Their teacher was Millie Bevier: Arthur Wallace, 14; Frank Wallace, 12; Millie Wallace, 11; Mary Wallace, 7; Katie Doyle, 10; Annie Doyle, 8; Ethel Howard, 8; Vera Howard, 5; Minnie Drake, 12; Eva Lowe 7; Laura M. Guppy, 5.
Laurel Auchampaugh is the Owasco historian and can be reached at the Owasco Town Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoons or at firstname.lastname@example.org.