School District Number 2

Bowker place. Notice schoolhouse in right foreground. Chester Historical Society photo

The photo with this article is the Huyler-Kibbe place on Route 11 to Springfield. In earlier days it had been the girls’ seminary. You can clearly see School District Number 2 schoolhouse in the right foreground. The house and barns haven’t changed much. Extensive pastures can be seen.

The photo is from a glass negative that dates to around 1900. At upper left, you can see where the plate has been broken. In 1857, this place was occupied by Pierpont F. Bowker. I mention his name because of supporting documents I have.

In my collection are records of Chester’s 22 school districts. Here I offer what I find for District Number 2, from a document dated Feb. 24, 1857. There are two columns, with a list of “Heads of Families” on the left. The right column is the “Names of Children.”

“List of Scholars in District No. 2. Heads of families [followed by] Names of Children; P.F. Bowker – Bryant & Maryann; Joel Clark – Charles, Lucyjane, Rosa.” It continues to name all families and children attending this school, followed by: “Number of scholars living in Chester, 21; Number of scholars living in Springfield, 4; Number of weeks summer school, 8; Number of weeks winter school, 10; Amount of wages paid for summer school, $18; Amount paid for winter school, $27.50; Cost of board for teachers for the year, $20; Cost of Fuel, Furniture & incidentals, $14.

I certify the above to be true returns for District No. 2 as required by law.

Attst Pierpont F. Bowker, District Clerk.”


Pierpont F. Bowker

Title page of “The Indian Vegetable” by Pierpont F. Bowker

I have an old book published in 1836. The title is “The Indian Vegetable, Family Instructor,” and it is written by Pierpont F. Bowker. It contains 180 pages of old American Indian remedies using different plants, mosses, and tree barks.

There are 182 different remedies cited in the book utilizing dozens of different plants, roots, and herbs for different ailments. Here’s a recipe for a toothache:

“If the tooth be hollow, clear it, take a piece of fresh dug bloodroot, break it open, and apply the bleeding part to the marrow of the tooth. It will give immediate relief, and is an easy medicine.”

Another remedy:

“Rattlesnake root

The Indians make great use of this. It grows wild in the woods, to the height of eight inches, and has a beautiful leaf, the ground work of which is dark green, striped and checked with light. The leaves all project from the bottom. The stalk is nearly bare. It has a spike of small white flowers. It is a good antidote for the bite of the rattlesnake, and is good for the catarrh and asthma.”


District Number 2 schoolhouse

The photo of this school is one of two I know. I think it was 1965 when the current Route 11 to Springfield opened. In the photo, the old road can be seen as a dirt road. You can see it between the school and the Bowker place.

Old Route 11 meandered its way to Springfield. For those who know where I live, the old road is down over the bank opposite my place. It came up the hill to Stoodley Road. It then went along the pond near Stan Flint’s place to Damon Road, then onto Slab City Road.

I vaguely remember the schoolhouse. I remember it as a decrepit building. I also have the Prudential Committee record book for this school district. It covers the years 1867-1882.

This week’s old saying comes from my mother. I said to her, “I saw a deer on the way to school this morning.” “What grade was he in?” she asked.

Back To Top