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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Robert Way Made A Great Impact As A Teacher, Scholar, Friend

Dallas Bogan on 4 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Without our modern schools and the many fine teachers, our society would be nothing more than a primitive civilization. Many of the teachers of yesteryear set the trend for modern ideas and the present ways of education. For sixty years one of these excellent educators was Robert Way, a well-known pioneer Quaker schoolteacher of the times.
He was born at Newberry, York Co., Pa., July 17, 1788. His parents, in 1794, moved to St. Clair Township, Bedford, Pa., where his father built a mill on Bobb's Creek. Here Robert grew to manhood.
He later went to school at Ellicott's Mills, Md., and afterward taught school in Bedford County, Pa.
In early October 1813, he and Joseph and Thomas Whinery traveled to Clinton County, Ohio, and in November of that year, began teaching on Dutch Creek, approximately three or four miles northwest of Wilmington.
Judge Abner Haines, a former student of Robert Way's, and a past resident of Eaton, describes the construction of the old schoolhouse in this way:
"It stood on the east bank of Long Branch, and on the south side of the Wilmington road, about a half mile southeast of where Azariah Wall formerly resided. It was quite a primitive structure, built of logs and covered with clapboards sustained by ridge and held down by weight poles.
"The old neighbors, Azariah and John Wall, Amos Lundy, John Lewis, Anthony Stanley, Jonathan Dillon, John, Jacob, Joseph and Job Haines, and others met in the primitive forest and agreed on the site.
"In two days they cut the logs, hauled them together, reared and inclosed the house. Azariah Wall, Amos Lundy, Anthony Stanley and Job Haines notched the ends of the logs and carried up the corners in cabin style. Jonathan Dillon rived the clapboards, and Joseph Haines did the carpenter work. Thomas Whinery superintended the stick and clay chimney.
"The house was about 18x20 feet, with a puncheon door on the south side. Two logs were removed on the north and south sides, nearly their whole length. These spaces were cross-barred by small oak stiles, to which paper was pasted, and oiled with opossum or coon grease, for the purpose of letting in the light.
"West of the house about one hundred and fifty yards, was the spring used by the scholars for water. Near by the spring stood a smooth beech tree which bore the name of Jeremiah H. Reynolds, and in a line just below that of Robert Way, elegantly carved in the bark by a knife. The scholars used to discuss the respective merits of these autographs, and were much divided in opinion as to which was the most elegantly executed." Mr. Way spent the summer of 1814 in Pennsylvania with friends and relatives. He returned to Ohio in the fall and, during the winter of 1814-15, again taught at the Dutch Creek Schoolhouse.
Robert Eachus and Way built a schoolhouse about two miles northwest of Wilmington on Stony Ridge, which Way called Todd's Fork Schoolhouse; Way taught this school during the years 1816- 17.
Returning to Pennsylvania in the winter of 1817-18, he taught for six months at Dunning's Creek.
He next taught for three months in Warren County, Ohio, about one and one-half miles north of Harveysburg. This school was built about 1817, and was said to have been the first schoolhouse built in Massie Township.
In 1819, he furthered his education by attending Ohio University at Athens. His stay lasted until January 1821, when he returned to Pennsylvania and taught again at Dunning's Creek, this term lasting until the following September.
Way returned, with his friend, Edwin A. Vickroy, a former pupil of his in Bedford County, Pa., to Springboro. The journey was made from Bedford County to Pittsburgh on foot, and from this point they purchased a water-craft and descended the Ohio as far as Belpre, first stopping at Wheeling.
They spent a few days at Wheeling and then drifted down to Marietta. They visited the homes of Mr. Skinner and Mr. Putnam, son of Gen. Rufus Putnam, whose sons had been schoolmates of Way at Athens.
At Belpre they discarded their water-craft and continued their path on foot, first to Athens, where they spent a week among the scholars, and then by foot to Wilmington. Here they spent some time visiting with Mr. Morris, Samuel D. Hale, Dr. Farquhar, James Fife, etc.
They next stopped at Harveysburg where they visited an aunt of Mr. Way. Here they attended a community Friends meeting where Mr. Vickroy sat next to a man who had a severe ague chill, the first he had ever witnessed.
Our subject was next appointed teacher at Springboro with Mr. Vickroy as assistant. As fate would have it, both gentlemen met their brides-to-be while in this endeavor.
Robert Way met his pupil, Abigail Williams, and two years later they were wed, the ceremony taking place at Fairfield Meeting House, Highland County. He taught at Clear Creek, Leesburg and Hillsboro in that county.
Mr. Vickroy became acquainted with Cornelia Harlan, daughter of Hon. George Harlan of the Ridgeville neighborhood, and, in 1823, the couple were married. They moved to Pennsylvania and spent the next fifty-seven years together.
Way, in 1832 and 1833, reported speeches in shorthand in the Ohio House of Representatives, and with a sure job in hand, he moved to Columbus.
He had reported in shorthand a Quaker Monthly Meeting entitled: "Sermon delivered by Pricilla Cadwallader, in the Meeting House of Waynesville, Miami on the 1st day, 26th of 9th month, 1830, being the first day preceding the yearly meeting." The sermon filled four double column pages of fine print and was less than an hour long.
Robert Way's shorthand method was used by him fourteen years before a system of phonography was first introduced to America from England. It was 23 years later before Ben Pitman came from England to America and began the publication at Cincinnati of elementary books of instruction in phonography.
Way's shorthand method possibly conformed to condensed and irregular signs of words, which were generally used by stenographers.
Way returned to Springboro in 1837 where he supervised a boarding school for two years.
His next vocation consisted of milling in Cincinnati, but as teaching was his profession, he returned in 1843 to teaching in the Butterworth neighborhood, near Foster's Crossing, next at Martinsville and then at Waynesville.
The year 1845 found him teaching near Morrow. Here the Beech Grove School was built for him where he taught for six years.
His next move was to Selma, Clark County, where he taught a term. He was next employed at Springfield where he taught two years.
He moved back to the Wilmington neighborhood in 1854, where he resided until his death. At his residence he taught for eleven more years. His age was at this time 77 years. He gave up teaching and retired after 60 years in the profession. Because of the small population at the time, a great number of the early area residents were his students.
His life long friend, E.A. Vickroy, said of him: "Of all the teachers I ever went to, Robert Way was the model schoolmaster; He made teaching his life work; what more useful and noble calling?"
Abigail Way died in Wilmington February 24, 1869. She spent forty-six years of her life being a wife, mother and friend. Robert Way died two years later. Both are buried in Sugar Grove Cemetery at Wilmington.

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This page created 4 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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