The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Media Township History

Years ago when Margie Barber and I were discussing early history of this township, she gave me this history of the area-commemoration of the town of Media's 125th birthday, these articles written by Faree Mathers are being shared.--Virginia Ross

Part VII

Coming from Eastern homes where they had enjoyed some educational advantages, the early settlers soon felt need of the same privileges for their children. The requirement for teaching by law was simply to spell, read, write and cipher and that very imperfectly for as late as 1842 applicants for schools were asked, "How far have you been in the arithmetic?"

If A could show that he (or she) had been as far as page 150 and - B could show that he had been as far as page 165, it was B's school sure. In those days the school masters, as they were then called, needed no time pieces, for they taught all day from early morning till late in the evening, one hour at noon, no other recess during the day.

A wooden hook hanging upon a nail just inside the door showed that all were in, for when a scholar went out, he took the hook with him and brought it back again upon his return. They had no outside toilets so the boys and girls took to the brush.

The schools were supported by subscription, each patron paying as much per pupil during a term of school. Teachers received from $11 to $14 per month. The pupils ranged from 6 to 20 years. There was no classification but each family gave their children such books as they had in their possession as the Life of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, American Prospector, McGuffey Reader, The Old English Reader and Story of Joseph. Some of the children more fortunate than others had spelling books from which they learned their letters and bits of miscellaneous poetry. Each pupil did a great deal of reading from the New Testament as soon as he was able to master the vocabulary. The quill pen was the one in use so that much of the teacher's time was spent making and mending pens. They used slates and slate pencils. The pupils usually graduated as soon as their parents thought they were able to help support the family.

The boys and girls often wore clothing made from homespun flax and wool. Girls as well as boys often wore heavy cowhide boots. One day a little boy in the Walnut Grove neighborhood started to school in his first pair new pants. He got part way to school and then refused to go any further for he thought the boys and girls would make fun of him. So his cousins took him back home. He put on his dress and went back to school willingly.

When school was dismissed for the day, it was the custom for all the children to bow to their teacher and leave the room.