Shutesbury — Schools
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The first entry on the records touching the matter of public education was made in 1762, when it was voted to "do something in order to the having a school in the town for the benefit of the children." No action was, however, taken upon this resolution, and it was not until 1765 that another effort was made on education's behalf, when £6 were raised for schooling. In 1767 the town, by a vote, refused to raise any money for the support of schools that year, but in 1768 it was agreed to raise £4 for a school. In 1771, £6 were raised, but a resolution to build a school-house was voted down. In 1774 the interests of education began to improve, for in that year 10 were raised for their advancement.
During this year school was kept in the meeting-house and at John Wilde's house. In 1777 education lagged again, for the town declined then to raise funds for its support, and pursued a similar course in 1779 and 1780, but in 1781 there was a reawakening, and £12 were raised and divided between the North End and the centre. The allowance for schools fell in 1782 to £9, and in that year, too, the school lands were sold, although shortly thereafter educational interests brightened again through a gratuity of $1040, received by the town from the clerk of the Court of General Sessions.
In 1784 the town declined to raise funds for the support of schools, and in 1788 created five school districts, the first being east of Swift River, the second east of the meeting-house, the third west of the meeting-house, the fourth east of the second, and the fifth west of the third and fourth. The number of districts was increased in 1791 to six.
The number of school districts in the town in 1878 was seven, the amount of money set apart for school support in 1877 was $1122, and the average daily attendance 95 scholars. Among the graduates at American colleges from Shutesbury may be noted Samuel Leonard, Sanford Leach, Elijah Fish, James Spear, and Diah Ball. The latter went out to China as a missionary, and died there some years ago. There is at Shutesbury Centre a small town library, founded by Mr. John Brown, of Boston (a former resident of Shutesbury), who, in 1832, presented the town with 100 books.