Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Springfield Township Schools

West Springfield Academy History

Contributed by Evelyn Baker


Evelyn Baker has written the article which appears below. Evelyn has advised that the article is based on information in various editions of the yearbook, "Applesauce", and in many newspaper clippings from early editions of The Conneaut News Herald and the Albion News. If you have comments on this article, please direct them to her.

Please see also a partial alumni listing in the article "Applesauce - The Yearbook".


THE WEST SPRINGFIELD ACADEMY

" ... so that those who come after us may know ... "

"I make this brief record of our first proceedings, so that those who may come after us, & who may manage the school, may know how and why it started; & also whether education, good breeding, and politeness would not rather be promoted than retarded, & whether it will also work to better advantage than would our present poor, miserable, and insufficient common school system". .... GILBERT HURD, Secretary

At an accidental meeting of citizens, among them ZACHARIAH THOMAS, SAMUEL REA, Jr., RILEY POTTER, & HARRY MALLORY, Esq., & others, the subject of education was discussed. It was resolved to make an effort to erect & sustain an academic school. The meeting was held at RILEY POTTER’S store in West Springfield, December 1852. The main objection from the town folks, was that it would destroy the common school system. Undeterred, a committee consisting of ZACHARIAH THOMAS, NATHAN GOULD, & SAMUEL REA, Jr. obtained subscriptions.

Eighty-one shares of stock, at $25 a share, were sold to erect the building on Rt. 6 N. The West Springfield Academy opened the first term of school on September 9, 1854. Labor Day was not yet established, & school opened on the first Monday in September. Under the supervision of JOHN A. AUSTIN, members of the old faculty were W. H. HILLER, JOSEPH H. COLT, & C.C. SHEFFIELD.

A law creating a County Superintendent of Public schools was passed in 1854. L. W. SAVAGE, of Springfield, served in that position from June 8, until June 1863. He held a Teachers Institute to enhance the curriculum.

December 1859, the West Springfield Academy burned down. A new brick building was completed on the same site by 1862. It contained two rooms on the ground floor & an auditorium on the upper floor with a seating capacity of 300. Each room was heated with a wood stove. Professor W. H. CUMMING from the faculty of Hamilton College, Canada, was Principal. He taught advanced students; ELVIRA DEVERAUX & IDA HILL, Intermediate; CARRIE HOWARD, Primary; STELLA HURLBURT, Music; DELL POTTER, Elocution; ROBERT ARMSTRONG, Bookkeeping; CLINTON THOMPSON, Penmanship. Attendance increased to approximately 200 & the Academy became highly respected.

A Boarding Hall stood across the road from the school for students who lived at a distance. It was usually crowded to capacity & many students boarded in private homes. There was a 7 p.m. curfew from Monday through Thursday. Slates were considered noisy, so students had to furnish their own white paper, the size of a double sheet of newspaper. They bought their own books for the year.

In 1886, The Academy enjoyed a 16 member Cornet Band under the leadership of BERT ANDERSON. Members were: JACK RATIBUN, IRA HITES, FLORIAN MURRAY, LEE MARSH, FRANK SEMLER, CHARLES REYNOLDS, MAURICE POTTER, JAY MOON, JAMES THOMAS, STEVE MARSH, JOE HEURITT, CHESTER POTTER, GLENN VAUCE, CHARLES LAUGHERY, BERTON MURRAY, WITH PERRY JERILS, drummer.

The West Springfield Academy became a high school in 1896, when 2 grades were added. A yearbook was published with a pithy name, Applesauce. A four year course was adopted in 1902.

In 1908, the West Springfield Basketball Team won the County Championship. The West Mill Creek & Springfield teams were tied at the final period of play and the game went into overtime. Springfield scored and won the trophy. The team had traveled on a chartered Conneaut & Erie Traction street car to play on a neutral floor in Erie, Pa. Teammates were: MORT MAAS, HOWARD EISAMAN, CHESTER WELSH, ERNEST WHITNEY, GRANT WALKER, HERBERT TONY, ROSS WHEELER, Coach & Principal, R. B. PROUDFIT.

The front brick wall collapsed in 1912 while workmen were excavating for a new addition. The entire school had to be torn down. A new school was, once again, rebuilt boasting four grade school rooms on the first floor, two high school rooms & an auditorium on the second floor. Principal CHARLES CROSS, & teacher CARRIE MERSHON were assigned 7 - 8 classes each. A coal chute was located in the back with a generous basement bin to hold all that could be shoveled in.

October 19, 1932, a new Junior Senior High School annex was dedicated. It was a Public Works Administration project of the Great Depression, during the Presidency of FRANKLIN DELNO ROOSEVELT. His name was inscribed on a plaque in the lower hallway. Enrollment reached over 300 with more than 13 teachers. The West Springfield Academy had become a handsome structure, likened unto a fortress.

The last graduation class was in 1958. At the turn of the 21st Century, Springfield is a part of the Northwestern School District.


This page was last updated on  Tuesday, October 16, 2001 .

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