Camps Mills Schoolhouse No. 5

Corner of Sulpher Springs Road & Old Salt Point Road, Camps Mills

        The Camps Mills Schoolhouse is one of four one-room schools built of limestone donated by Elisha Camp from his quarry at Chaumont during the 1830s.
        The school serves as a private residence today, for which the row of windows was an addition.

1864 Map showing "S.H. No. 5"
Vintage Photos. . . . 


Students of 1923. . . .



Teacher's Memories . . . . 
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.

        Siblings Esther, Margery, Beulah, and Leon Washburn, were born and reared upon the Washburn Farm situated less than a mile south of the school on Salt Point Road, and all were students at Camps Mills Schoolhouse No. 5 during the 1910's and 1920's.  In good weather they used to walk to school, and in  wintertime, when snow was too deep, their father William drove them to school by horse-and-sleigh or buggy.
        As young women in the early 1930's, both Esther and Margery became teachers—Esther at Camps Mills Schoolhouse (at left) for two years, and Margery just down the road at Sulpher Springs Schoohouse No. 19 for three years.

        In a telephone interview on 13 February 2000 with the author (Mark, their sister Beulah's grandson), 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 . . . . 


        In an earlier telephone conversation that took place in about 1996, Margery Washburn shared the following paraphrased description of her time at Sulpher Springs Schoolhouse No. 12one of the other limestone schools built in the 1830s:

        "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 and they used to store them in the building for the winter until the ground thawed!"

Anecdotes from students and visitors. . . . 

Shirley Conklin Farone <

       "That school was known as the Camps Mills Schoolhouse.  In the 50's there was a family of Alcombracks who lived next door going to Bagg's Corners. Wesley Alcombrack, whose 
mother was a Resseguie, is still alive and . . . . attended the school before it closed.  His wife's name is Alice -- she was a Branche. 
        "[An] old pump organ [was] stored in the back room during the late 40's and early 50's -- they used to have Pedro parties in that schoolhouse when I was young and we kids used to go back  there and play it while our parents were playing cards.  Spent many of fun evening playing on the swings there, too. 
        "A Pedro game is a card game which was very popular in the 1940's thru 1960's, mostly played from people in the farm communities -- Mom and Dad used to go to The Ferry on Pillar Point, Camps Mills, Rutland Community Hall and Perch River Grange -- probably more places, too, but I can't remember them now.  It was sort of like Rook if you remember that game.  Rook was the game sanctioned by the staunch Methodists (not officially!!) -- for some reason it was okay.  <grin> 
        "Might also check with Edward Cobb, Jr. at Camps Mills Rd. -- he or his father (not sure?) was the Town Supervisor for Hounsfield -- the Cobbs lived the first farm down from the Schoolhouse and undoubtedly his Dad went to school there.
        ". . . a couple more people . . . . the Mains and Natalie Parker (both Resseguies.)  Natalie Parker . . . lives in Watertown with her daughter, Shirley, a retired teacher at Black River Elementary.  They were great friends of my parents - provided lots of competition for my Dad who THOUGHT he was pretty good at Pedro."

Florence Secor <>

        "I will comment further to Shirley Farone's message . . . . 
        "I went to that school when I was 5 yrs. old.  Also, my mother's brother, Raymond Cornwell who was living with us at the time and is 7 yrs. older than I am, went to school there.  Story from mother was that she didn't send me to school in the winter because she thought it was to cold for me to walk there - that would have been school year 1929.  As a result I had to do first grade over again at Field's Settlement school after we moved.
        "In those days the Sulphur Springs road was a dirt road to the best of my knowledge.  I know of Wesley Alcombrack that she mentions.  He is son of Clarence Alcombrack who did electrical work for me in the early 70s.  He was 72 at the time.  So son Wesley should be around my age of 75. . . He [knows] of others that went to that school.
        "When she talks about Edward Cobb, Jr. living the first farm down from the school house - I believe she is referring to Sulphur Springs Rd going east.*  If so, that is where we lived in 1929.  I have looked and saw where Jerricho Rd. is - I would have never walked from there to school.  Clarence Alcombrach built a new house corner Jerricho Rd. and Sulphur Springs Road in the early 70's.
        "Natalie Parker to the best of my knowledge is not alive. . . . She was sister of Charlie Resseguie.  After my father died in March 1968, Dora Resseguie, a close friend of my mother,  and Charlie came to visit my mother in Dec. 1968 to see if my mother would go to Florida and keep house for Charlie.  Yes, she went. 
        "When I went to school there I can remember there being two sets of double school desks (with the lift tops) side by side in the middle of the room, an isle on each side and then another row of seats on each wall.  Looking in the school room from the front door, I sat about the 2nd seat back from the front on the extreme right side of those double desks being put together side by side."

* Note to the reader: Ed Cobb's house was one house west on Sulpher Springs Rd.

© Mark A. Wentling, 2000-2006
Updated 1 January 2006