Chester’s School District #7

In my collection is an old ledger for Chester’s School District number seven. Chester’s school districts changed their numbers as years went by and populations increased. This ledger begins in 1815 and continues through 1844.

First, I’ll give you a number of ledger entries. These entries are minutes of the meetings with many names, some I recognized. I called Peter Farrar to see what he might know. Peter recognized many names that I didn’t.

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Seventh School District title page. Photo by Ron Patch.

As is somewhat common in books produced in Vermont in the early days, this ledger has wooden covers (oak). The wood boards were covered with leather when new. Today most of the leather is gone, exposing the wooden boards.

The first entry is: “The Records of the seventh School District in Chester. Nov 4th, 1815. At a school Meeting warned and holden in said District 1. Chose Wm Arrington Moderator to govern said meeting 2. Chose Ebenezer Thompson first Committee clerk and treasurer 3. Chose Wm Arrington 2nd Committee 4. Chose Jesse Putnam 3rd Committee 5. Chose Wm Arrington Collector 6. Voted to rais thirty dollar for the support of a school the Year ensuing on the ground of 1815 7. Voted to have three months Winter School and three months Summer School 8. Found in the hands of the treasurer four dollars & fifty seven cts 9. Voted to buy a Blank book for the clerk records.” I found this entry rather interesting. The blank book mentioned would be the book I’m writing about.

I found a March 1, 1817 entry rather interesting: “To see if the dis (district) will agree to build a brick house instead of stone. Signed Fisher Kibling Clerk.”

The next meeting of March 8, 1817: “Voted to build with brick in sted of stone. Voted raze two hundred and fifty dollars to de fray the expenses of said house.”

October 28, 1817: “First chose Josiah Barnes Moderator, 2nd Fisher Kibling Clerk protem, 3rd Voted to raise thirty two dollars and eight cents on the list of 1817 to pay a ballance due for finishing the school house in said district.” With this information we can conclude the schoolhouse was built in 1817.

There are many pages regarding how much each family contributed to paying for the yearly firewood. All residents are listed as to how much they owe. Most paid $1.00 to $1.16. There is mention of paying the mistress (teacher) but the amount was not recorded.

As I read the minutes in the 1820s, they are now buying fourteen cords of wood yearly. Now we have a Master as well as a Mistress. August 18, 1821, paid Jeremiah Atwood $30 for teaching.

The ledger continues for many years with similar minutes. Elect officers, buy wood and keep school three months in winter and three months in summer. But this school term changes in the October 22, 1832 minutes: “Voted that the committee be instructed to hire Abigail Parker 5 months in Winter and 3 in the summer.” In future entries I see they returned to six months.

The last entry in my ledger is for October 14, 1844. At the Chester Historical Society we have another ledger for the Seventh School District. This is the treasurer’s ledger where all expenses are listed. This ledger begins September 3, 1861 and ends April 25, 1892.

April 25, 1892 may be a significant date. I say that because there are many pages left blank after this date. Perhaps this is when school was last kept in this district.

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Seventh District school, Circa 1880. Photo provided.

At the historical society we have a photo of a brick schoolhouse. Written on the reverse is “School District #7.” I include that photo with this article. I trust this is accurate. This school was located up the Reservoir Road. Drive up the hill, left of the Reservoir, two or three miles. When the road makes a sharp right, stop here. If you walk out on the left, you can kick up old bricks. This is where number seven was.

From Martha Bessey’s notes: This school was known as the Butternut Hill School, Oak Hill or Rainbow Hill School. Reportedly the school had fallen in and the bricks were sold to build a fireplace and chimney at the Richardson place on the lower Reservoir Road. Someone once told me, perhaps Martha, that the bricks in her chimney also came from this school.

This week’s old saying. “Two men were talking at the post office. One said, ‘You remind me of an army buddy.’ To which the other man said, ‘You were in the army?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. The other man said, ‘On whose side?’”

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