Deerfield — Schools

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      In 1694, Mrs. Hannah Beaman was keeping school on her own home-lot when the town was assaulted. This is the first notice of a school. In her will, dated 1723, Mrs. Beaman left her lands to the town for a school fund. In 1698, a school-house was built, 21 by 18 feet,—seven-foot posts. Each head of a family was to pay for the support of schools, whether their children attended or not. In 1700, the first school committee was John Catlin, John Hawks, and John Stebbins. In 1703, Mr. John Richards was chosen to keep school a year for £25, to be paid one-third in barley, two-thirds in wheat, corn, or rye,—no oats receivable. In 1717, the school-house was sold to Joseph Alexander for £5. In 1722, a master was hired to teach reading, writing, and ciphering. In 1737, a school-house was built. In 1782, a school-dame was employed for Green River, and a schoolmaster in 1740. In 1744, £60 were allowed Green River for schools and preaching. In 1748, Betty Childs was employed as teacher. In 1749, evening school was established. In 1750, a master the year round. In 1752, Eleazer May was master. In 1753, Nicholas Street was master. In 1754, Levi Dickinson. In 1755, James Taylor was master. In 1760, a school-house was built south of Meeting-house Hill,—Seth Phelps teacher. In 1767-70, Rufus Wells was employed. In 1767, a school-house was built at Bloody Brook, where a master to teach reading and writing was allowed in 1770. In 1767-68, Rebecca Childs was school-dame. Before the close of the Revolution the principal teachers were David Dickinson, Daniel Cooley, Samuel Barnard, Daniel Fish, Elihu Ashley. In 1779, a school-house was built at Wapping. In 1782, a master was hired to keep a grammar school. In 1787, the town was divided into six districts,—No. 1, Town Street and Cheapside; 2, Bloody Brook; 3, Wisdom; 4, Wapping and Bars; 5, Mill River; 6, Great River. The number of districts has been changed from time to time as the original districts have been subdivided and reunited. The district system was cntinued until abolished by law. In 1790 a school-house burned, and a new one was built in 1791. Schools have been kept in many of the present houses in town, either private or public. Gradually houses for schools were built in each district. All these are now owned by the town. In 1787, fifteen citizens of the town, feeling the need of instruction of a higher grade, organized a company, and built a school-house on the spot where Philo Munn's shop stands. Each share representing two scholarships, the school could not exceed 30 scholars. Freegrace Reynolds, a graduate of Yale, was employed as teacher.

Deerfield Academy.

      An act establishing this institution was approved by Gov. Adams, March 21, 1797. The same year $2700 were raised by subscription, in sums from $20 to $100, for the building and for a fund. The school building was put up—60 by 28, of brick, two stories—in 1798, and dedicated Jan. 1, 1799.
      This academy at once took rank among the best in the land. The attendance of scholars the first year was 292, from forty-one different towns. Many who have held high stations in the community were graduates or teachers in this school.
      In 1859, the academy was merged in the town high school. In 1878, its funds were transferred to the trustees of the Deer-field Academy and Dickinson High School, to be used in connection with the bequest of Mrs. Esther Dickinson. An account of this school will be found elsewhere.
      The brick school-house that stood on the common was built in 18--, and burned in 1840.
      A high school was established in 1860 at Bloody Brook.

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03 Aug 2005