Montague — Schools
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The first mention made in the records of school matters was at a meeting held Dec. 1, 1755, when it was resolved "that we will hire a school four months this winter, and that we give those people a liberty to keep school (that live on Province lands) on the District charge so long as their portion of said money will allow, according to what they pay in the town-rate." Under the same date it was agreed to allow Asahel Gunn "what was due for his wife's keeping school, which money was expected to be paid by the town." At the same time it was voted to allow Joseph Root £30 2s. for "keeping school" and for work as assessor and treasurer.
In March, 1757, it was determined to build a school-house, 16 feet wide and 18 feet long, with hewed or sawed logs, and "to set it south of the road, near Ensign King's barn, and near the mill swamp."
In December, 1757, it was resolved "to hire a school four months this winter, to be kept in Joseph Root's corn-house." Later in the same month the school was ordered to be kept at the house of the Widow Smith. In March, 1759, a committee was appointed to buy John Scott's house (in which Widow Preston lived) for a school-house. If they couldn't buy it, they were to procure "stuf" for a school-house. Scott's house was probably purchased, for in 1761 a committee was appointed to repair the school-house and make it comfortable for the winter.
In 1762 it was agreed to give Moses Gunn 40s. per month to teach school four months. In 1764, Deacon Gunn was allowed 5s. 4d. to kindle the fire in the school-house four months. In 1765 it was agreed to hire a "school-dame" for the summer, and that school should be kept in three different parts of the district, six weeks in each part,—at Sergt. Harvey's, Moses Taylor's, and Dr. Gunn's.
In 1765 the inhabitants of the north part of the district were allowed 32s. to be employed in schooling. In 1766 it was voted to build a school-house "of wood," 18 feet in length and 17 in width. It was decided to locate this school-house adjoining to Deacon Gunn's fence, about 11 rods southeasterly of the meeting-house. In 1767 it was voted to hire a school "dame," and to have school. taught that summer in four different parts of the district.
In 1771, Oliver Root was hired to keep the school four months, at 36s. per month. In 1773, Aaron Easterbrook was hired to teach school ten months. Oliver Root was again hired to teach school in 1776. About this time there were probably schools in the northwestern, the northern, and the northeastern portions of the district, for those sections were voted their proportion of the school money.
There are now in the town eighteen public schools, of which one is a high school, located at Montague Centre. This school was created in 1870, and now occupies a handsome brick building, which was erected in 1873, at a cost of $14,000. The building contains, besides the high school, a primary and a grammar school. A graded school at Turner's Falls occupies a brick building that cost $15,000, and there is at that place also another school building, whose construction cost $2500. The graded school at the Falls, known as a useful and valuable institution of learning, is called the Oakman School, in honor of R. N. Oakman, Esq., of Montague, who contributed liberally toward the erection of the edifice. There is a $6000 brick structure at Montague City, used as a graded school, and in the eastern district, at Miller's Falls, there is a $2500 school-house. The town appropriated, in 1878, $7000 for school purposes, and in that year the average daily attendance of pupils reached 600.
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09 Jul 2005