The Sulpher Springs Schoolhouse is one of four one-room schools built of limestone donated by Elisha Camp from his quarry at Chaumont during the 1830s.

Map showing "S.H. No. 19"

 

Teacher's Memories . . . . 

        As young women in the early 1930's, sisters Esther and Margery Washburn became teachers—Margery at Sulpher Springs Schoohouse No. 19 for three years, and Esther just down the road at Camps Mills Schoolhouse No. 5 for two years.

Esther (Washburn) Fee, now 90, at left, and her sister Margery (Washburn) Gordonier, now 88, at right, shown here at Esther's home in 1999, were teachers at Camps Mills Schoolhouse No. 5 and Sulpher Springs Schoolhouse No. 19 respectively.
 
 

        In a telephone conversation with the author (Mark, their sister Beulah's grandson), that took place in 1996, Margery shared the following paraphrased description of her time spent teaching at Sulpher Springs Schoolhouse No. 19:

        "When I was much younger, I used to teach at the Sulpher Springs Schoolhouse.  In back of the school was a cemetery -- I remember being a brand new teacher and being scared to death because in the winter time it was too cold to bury the bodies, so they used to store them in the school for the winter until the ground thawed!"
        In a telephone interview on 13 February 2000, Esther Fee and Margery Gordonier, both now widows in the town of Adams, recounted their memories of teaching in those early days:
Mark: What made you decide to teach?  Were you influenced by your grandmother, Esther Stoodley Washburn, who was also a teacher?
Margery: Well, I always wanted to teach as long as I can remember. . . . 

Esther:
Yes, so did I; I always wanted to teach too.

Mark: Did you need to attend special training in order to teach?
Esther: Yes, after graduating high school we went to Dexter School for Teacher Training for one year.  After that you were allowed to teach for up to three years.  Then, you had to go back to special school for more training if you wanted to continue.

Mark: I see.  So after the first year of training did you get to pick what school you wanted to teach at or were you assigned one?
Esther: Oh no, we were on our own to find a job!

Margery: Yes, you were on your own.

Mark: How long did you each teach?
Esther:
I taught at Camps Mills for two years.
Margery: Yes, and I taught for three years at Sulpher Springs.

Mark: Which grades did you teach?
Esther:
I taught kindergarten through seventh grade; after that you went to the school at Sackets.
Margery: Yes, and I taught first grade to seventh grade.

Mark: Were the grades taught all together, or were they split up into morning and afternoon?  What was the arrangement?
Esther & Margery (together!):  Oh, we taught them all at the same time!!!

Margery:Yes, all of them at the same time.

Mark: That's quite a job!  How long was the school day?  When did it start and end?
Esther:
Well, as I recall, I taught Monday through Friday from 8 o'clock in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. . . . 
Margery: Yes, the same at my school.

Mark: So you were left alone all day in a one-room schoolhouse with children in kindergarten through seventh grade -- what a task!
Esther:
Yes, well, we were supervised too.  Mr. Ceigler checked on you.  He'd travel around to the different schools and makesure everything was alright.
Margery: Yes, that's right, Mr. Ceigler did . . . . 




© Mark A. Wentling, 2000