School (1830?-1880?) at Rogers Mountain, Gaspereau Mountain, now Forest Hill
Written by Murrille Schofield of Gaspereau, January 1980
It was located on the corner of the Gaspereau to Greenfield and the New Road connecting the Fielden (Fielding) Road, now called the Newtonville Road. With 9 foot posts and a gable roof, its outside dimensions were and are 19 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches. The axe-hewn frame was mortised and tennoned with wooden pegs. Apparently there was at least four windows and probably five or six. The original door frame is still clearly visible.
The walls were sheathed and there was a ceiling, above which was an attic with an outside manhole entrance and there was probably also one in the ceiling. The stove pipe went up through the peak of the roof where at one time a fire broke out, according to the scorched and blackened boards, and the attempt to repair the roof. There is another hole for a stovepipe cut later through the side of the gable roof, well down from the peak or saddle board.
The boards used are one inch thick, unplaned and a few in the roof were sawn tree-run, that is the edges were not cut straight by a saw (edger) but left as the outside shape of the log. There was a double floor nailed to sturdy joists left in the ground but flattened and smoothed on top by the axe or adz. Spikes and board nails used, including shingle nails, were hand forged and fashioned by the blacksmith.
The original location of the building has been occupied by the Forest Hill Meeting House (Baptist) since 1897. Sometime during the early 1880s (after 1882) the School was moved down the road half a mile or more to become the start of a small barn for the late Edgar Oberon Schofield (Mariner) on the corner of what is now (1980) the Greenfield and Newtonville Roads.
The old School was placed and is still standing on the same site, now the property of Murrille Schofield (1980), grandson of the late Edgar Schofield (1852-1917).
Edgar settled on the property in the spring of 1882 and moved into the new house, still standing. Three wings and a veranda have been added over the years. The school has two succeeding stables attached to the south side. The school building itself was used as a haymow while the partitioned "teachers office" sheltered hens. It is now used as a woodhouse (with a new double floor as of 1977) and a storage space for lumber and old furniture.
It is difficult to determine when the School was built but two of Murrille Schofields great-grandmothers, Oliver Rogers (1826-1901) and Rosetta Eagles (1831-1902) lived nearby and probably attended, as both could read and write according to their letters held by M.S.
Also there was Elizabeth Eagles (1828-1915), an older sister of Rosetta, who taught school in the building, probably in the 1840s and definitely in the 1850s and 1860s when Edgar Schofield and his brothers were attending, one at a time, because great-grandfather James Schofield (m. Rosetta Eagles) had a slim pocketbook and could only send one at a time. "Free Schools," so called, were established in Nova Scotia in 1864. Elizabeth married late in life to Ed Davison, local merchant, who built the big house by the Gaspereau Bridge, across from the present Fina Service Station, in the 1880s.
The children of Elisha Rogers, who moved to Cumberland County in the 1860s, must have attended. Stephen became a school principal out west while brothers Dan and Benjamin became merchants. Benjamin became Mayor of Stellarton in 1912. He was a well traveled man who supported the Temperance Movement from his own pocket by lectures and print. He was born in 1852, about half a mile from the School.
The late Kenneth Hunter, grist miller of Gaspereau, born in 1877 and lived to be 96, remembered the mountain boys coming down to the Gaspereau School after theirs had closed. What stuck in his memory was that in the winter the mountain lads wore on their feet not rubbers, boots or larrigans but cattle and moose shanks. They would have been warm enough but rather smelly in a heated room.
Some of the family names who might have attended (there was no compulsion) would include: Eagles, Rogers, Coldwell, Schofield, Walsh, Davison, Atwell, Fielden, Kennie, Johnson, Thompson and Davis.
For some reason, the location of the School is not shown on the Church Map published circa 1864. Yet at that time, my great-uncle, Ernest Schofield (1856-1932) was attending. He became a very well read man like two of his older brothers, Edgar and Orlando, and ocassionally amused himself by writing satiric verse about the community and penning humoursly barbed letters to the editor of the Wolfville Acadian. The Church Map made other mistakes, as it placed the house of Elisha Rogers on the wrong road.
The degree of literacy fostered in the community by this school was evident in the winter of 1860-61 when a debating society was organized. The late Russell Eagles, who died in 1978, had among his papers and historical artifacts a record of such, as read by Murrille Schofield. His great uncle, Russell Eagles (1834-1912), brother of Elizabeth and Rosetta, was the secretary.
Probably the enrollment at the School was not more than twenty pupils and they attended maybe from three to five years, as many children in the last century were working full time at ages 10, 11, 12. Yet in that short time of formal education, under very primitive conditions, they learned to read, write, and compute and laid the foundations for careers as prosperous merchants, teachers and mariners who navigated and sailed the Seven Seas. Murrille Schofield - January 1980