Monday, October 31, 2011

Our First School Teacher(s)

Education is a cornerstone of all eras in history.  Our early pioneers knew this.  Moses Cleaveland was a Yale graduate.  David Abbott had an advanced education.  John Walworth and Samuel Huntington were educated men.  Roads such as Girdled, Chillicothe, and Corduroy connected early townships and villages. This drew our first settlers together.  Educated professionals came to serve our new communities.  The pioneers agreed a little learning could come in handy at market.  Learning to read from a family Bible was a start, but formal schools, the Three R's and more were on the horizon.

Abraham Tappan came to the Western Reserve in 1801.  A member of John Walworth's supply party, he served as an agent for the Connecticut Land Company.  His early years here in the county saw him survey areas west of the Cuyahoga and assist with the layout of Chillicothe Road.  He also served as a postmaster at Unionville and Associate Judge of Geauga County ( Common Pleas).  Tappan is best remembered for being our first county school teacher.  In the winter of his first year in the county, he taught in a small log cabin on the bank of the Grand River.  A dozen pupils were collected for that first class.

Ten years passed after Tappen's class before further formal classrooms reappeared.  In 1811 Miss Kate Smith of Euclid taught in a Mentor log cabin.  In 1812 Franklin Paine became the first schoolmaster of a two story frame building on the square in Painesville.  Mary Crary of Kirtland taught her first class in Madison in 1813.  Aaron Wheeler served as a teacher in Unionville's school in its first year (1814).  Estelle Crary held her first classes in Kirtland in that same year.  1814 also saw Lovinia Hulbert become the first teacher for the Leroy- Thompson joint school district.  Schools in Perry and Concord followed the very next year.  A nephew of Governor Samuel Huntington arrived in 1816 and served three generations of learners.  His name was Flavius Josephus Huntington.

The list of our first school teachers are familiar pioneer names:  Crary, Huntington, Paine, and Tappen.  Their early efforts led to the first high school in 1823 ( Painesville Academy).  A medical college came to Willoughby in 1834.  A teacher's seminary in Kirtland followed in 1838.  The public schools ( 500 students, 10 teachers) of Painesville were established in 1852.  From these pioneer beginnings our modern school system had begun.

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