Sears Gardner was the Town of Lumberland’s supervisor in 1825, when a school was started for children in the area of Halfway Brook Village and Barryville. James Eldred, was the Town Clerk, Commissioner of Highways, and in July, Town Marshall.
The community felt a school was needed, and as was done in those times, a subscription paper was circulated to see if there was enough interest to start a school.
Francis Quick circulated the subscription document which stated that school would be for three months of the year at a time, and would be taught every week day, and on alternate Saturdays. People were to add their signatures and the number of children they were responsible for if they were committed to supporting the school.
Nine parents signed up twenty-eight students. The Francis Quick family, and the Van Tuyl family (Daniel and Rebecca), each had five children. The Calvin Crane family had four as did Jane Johnston, the widowed mother of John W. Johnston. The Levi Middaugh Family had three; so did James and Almira Hooker. Daniel Pool had two children. The Nicholas Morris Family and David Quick’s Family each had one.
It was agreed that a school was needed. Students came from a distance of over four miles by way of the river, but less by the route over the hills. The area stretched from the Van Tuyl property on the south to the Johnston family on the north, and included both sides of the Delaware River. A few came from beyond the valley.
The school house was built on a level piece of land surrounded by trees, with a spring of water nearby, southwest of Hugh Quick’s home. With the help of their ox teams, and axes, the men and boys built a 16 foot square log schoolhouse, in eight days. The walls were seven feet high with windows on three sides, and a huge chimney and fireplace on the fourth. The door had a wooden latch and string.
There was one chair for the teacher. For the students, wooden slabs were turned flat side upward with legs made from saplings as benches. There was even a place to hang hats and bonnets.
School opened August 1, in 1825. Fifty year old Fannie Hooker, sister of James T. Hooker (husband of Almira Austin), was the teacher. Aunt Fannie, as she was called, taught for $10 a month, and boarded at several homes of the school children.
Miss Hooker was quite tall with large black eyes and a strong loud voice. She wrote poorly, but was a fluent reader and a good speller. She mainly used Noah Webster’s Spelling Book, and the New Testament as a reader, because they were accessible to most of the students.
Johnston’s “Reminiscences” was the resource for the information about the school.