Columbia County,

New York

By Capt. Franklin Ellis273


      A minute account of the early schools in Germantown cannot be easily obtained.  It is stated that school was established 1711, the next year after the emigration of the Palatines; but its exact location is unknown, though very probably it was in the neighborhood where the old churches stood, near the present residences of Gale, Fingar, and Rockefeller.

     The schools of those early times were, no doubt, in connection with the churches, and taught by the pastors.  Among the papers of the Lutheran church is a deed bearing date Aug. 15 1758, form Johannes Heanor, of "forty acres of land, for the use of the Palatine minister and his successors forever, who shall likewise teach a school there."

     With these brief hints we are compelled to dismiss a hundred years of school history.  It is not probable that education was very widely diffused.  The very large number of names upon old documents bearing the significant addition "his mark," and of even very prominent public men,--officers of churches and towns,--indicates that the mass of the people were not familiar with schools.  These were patriarchal times, when the common idea of a great man was one who could read the Bible and the almanac without spelling out the hard words; when the children were all baptized, and the family records were trusted to the dominie's entry in the church books.  If there arose any occasion to settle the date of a birth, or a marriage, or a death, the dominie was appealed to, and the church record was conclusive.  With the opening of the present century increased attention was given to schools.  The new law of 1812, which required each town to raise money to secure their share of the public money, was concurred in, and the modern system of schools was commenced.

     At the annual town-meeting of 1813 inspectors of schools were chosen,--Frederick Rockefeller, Isaac Sanford, John Staats, Jacobus Kline; and also Commissioners Peter Sharp, Simon Rockefeller, and Philip P. Clum.  In September of that year the town was divided into four school districts,--No. 1. having forty-eight taxable inhabitants; No. 2, forty-three; No. 4, Twenty-four; No 3 is not given.

     In subsequent years the following persons served one or more years each as inspectors of common schools:  Henry Rockefeller, Peter Sharp, Philip W. Rockefeller, John P. Clum, George Rockefeller, Wm. I. Snyder, James Hatch, Ebenezer Brinton, Wm. Heart, Jr., Philip Staats, Jr., Wessel S. B. Van Orden, Andrew Hover, Simon Rockefeller, Peter Snyder, Elias Fingar, Wm. Overbaugh, Seth Ten Broeck, Nicholas Shultis, John Kline, Marsena Hitchcock, Jacob Sharp, David Sturtevant, John Rudy, Peter Fingar, Elias Lasher, A. T. Park, George Wackerhagen, Thomas Lasher, George W. Calkins, Philip Rockefeller, John H. Sturges, Edward G. Lasher, Charles De Witt; down to 1843, when the office was abolished.

     From 1813 to 1843 the following persons served as school commissioners one or more years each:  Peter B. Lasher, Bastian C. Lasher, John Cline, Jacob C. Fingar, Philip W. Rockefeller, William S. Snyder, Philip I. Rockefeller, John Hover, William Chapman, Jr., Adam Spealman, Wm. Overbaugh, Wessel T. B. Van Orden, John Harvey, Peter D. Rockefeller, Jacobus Kline, Elias Fingar, Peter Snyder, Samuel Snyder, Jeremiah Hover, Allen Nash, David Lasher, David Sturtevant, Marsena Hitchcock, Philip Rouse, Henry Dick, Jr., Adam P. Clum, John W. Rockefeller, David Philips, Henry Sheffer, Peter Dick, Peter F. Rockefeller, Philip I. Staats, Garret Lasher, Philip P. Rockefeller, Philip A. Clum, Peter Sturges, Peter D. Rockefeller, John P. Clum, George W. Calkins, Harmon Staats, Jonas Lasher, Gilbert I. Lasher, Samuel W. Snyder, Peter Dick, Robert C. Rouse, Valentine Fingar.

     The system having been abolished, town superintendents were chosen as follows:  1844, Charles De Witt; 1845, Charles De Witt; 1846, Jacob C. Ashley; 1847, Jacob C. Ashley; 1848, Valentine Fingar; 1850, Lewis C. Lasher; 1852, George W. Calkins; 1854, Charles De Witt.  No election recorded in 1856, and the office was abolished that year.

     At the present time there are six school-houses in the town.  There are also two parts of districts in the southwest corner of the town, the school-houses for which are in Clermont.

     The school-house at Germantown village is one of fair size, in which two teachers are sometimes employed.  District No. 2 enjoys the advantages of railroad property, rendering the taxes on other property very light.

     In 1855 the amount of public money for the support of schools was three hundred and ninety-nine dollars and thirty-one cents.

     The following apportionment by the school commissioners, under date of March 19, 1878, shows to some extent the present condition of the schools.

District No. No. of Children Public Money
No. 1 90 $183.11
No. 2 110 211.49
No. 3. 45 118.87
No. 4 65 142.73
No. 5 109 287.71
No. 6 83 182.85
TOTAL 502 $1126.76

      The public money is therefore about three times what it was twenty-three years ago.

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