SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOLS.
The first recorded action of Newfane in regard to schools was taken March 15, 1784, when it was voted to divide the town into five school districts, and the following committee were chosen to hire teachers for the several schools: Charles Evans, 1st district ; John Morse, 2d district ; Daniel Taylor, 3d district; Jonathan Park, 4th district ; Jonas Cook, 5th district. At a meeting held September 7, 1790, the town was divided into seven districts, and March 20, 1792, it was again divided into eight districts. March 4, 1799, the 9th district was added to the list, and the sum of one hundred pounds voted for the support of schools. March 22, 1802, the 10th district was formed; March 20, 1809, the 11th district, and March 10, 1817, the 12th and 13th districts.
We have not space in this article to mention the various changes which have been made, from time to time, in the boundaries of the different districts. It is sufficient to say that they have been so numerous and complete that but little idea of original locations can be formed from present names. There are, at present, ten organized school districts in town.
District No. 1 comprises Whitakerville, and the immediate surrounding territory ; No. 2 includes the village of Fayetteville; No. 3 is situated midway. between Fayetteville and Williamsville; No. 5 is known as the parish district ; No. 6 includes the village of Williamsville; No. 7 occupies the northwest corner of the town; No. 8 includes the village of Pondville ; No. 9 is the first district north of Fayetteville ; No. 10 embraces the Adams neighborhood; No. 11 takes in Stratton Hill, now called, and is a joint district with No. 14 in Marlboro. In addition may be mentioned several small notches in the town, embracing only four families in the aggregate, connected with districts in Townshend, Dummerston and Dover. District No. 4, embracing Newfane Hill, was dissolved and annexed to
other districts, by vote of the town, March 31, 1873, having been unable to support a school for many years previous to that date.
Prior to 1815 the schools of Newfane were supported, most of the time, by direct appropriations from the town treasury. Since about that date the districts have received some aid from the town, varying in amount at different times according to the different laws in force, but have supported schools, in the main, by direct taxes upon their separate grand lists. The law in force at the present time requires the town to appropriate; annually, a sum equal to nine per cent, of its grand list, for a school fund, to be divided among the several districts, one-half of said amount equally, and the balance in proportion to the aggregate attendance of scholars.
The following table may be of interest as showing the number of scholars attending the common schools of the town in 1824 and in 1874, the fiftieth and one-hundredth years, respectively, of its existence as an organization:
Districts, Scholars, 1824, Scholars, 1874.
No. 1 23 26
" 2 26 34
" 3 4 14
" 4 58
" 5 65 12
" 6 80 35
" 7 47 19
" 8 62 33
" 9 50 28
" 10 31 9
" 11 25 6
" 12 9
Townshend and Newfane, 5
Dummerston and " 2
Dover and " 2
Totals, 518 225
Decrease in attendance, 56 per cent.
Population of town, 1820, 1506.
" " " 1870, 1113.
Decrease in population, 26 per cent.
The following table shows the number of weeks of school sustained by the several districts in 1874, the rates per cent, raised on the grand list for support of the same, and the population of the town, by districts, in January, 1877.
Districts, No. of weeks, 1874, Rate per cent. of tax, Pop., 1877.
No. 1 20 57 73
" 2 24 12 255
" 3 24 24 71
" 5 20 22
" 6 30 15 175
" 7 20 45 60
" 8 24 50 121
" 9 24 50 104
" 10 22 60 42
" 11 20 50 25
Towns'd and Newfane, 24 22 6
Dum'st'n " " 24 112½ 6
Dover " " 24 25 9
Population of town, January, 1877, 988
As will be seen from the above figures the burden of school district taxation is one which falls very unequally upon the inhabitants of different sections of the town; and it is a question now considerably agitated by some of our citizens, whether the present system is an improvement upon that formerly in use, of paying all school expenses by orders drawn upon the common treasury.
The practice of school supervision by a committee chosen by the town, commenced in 1828. At the annual March meeting held in that year, Chandler Bates, Roswell M. Field, Geo. A. Morse, Roger Birchard and Huntington Fitch, were chosen a committee to superintend schools. This practice evidently soon came into disrepute, as men of a lower standard of intellect were chosen at each successive election till 1833, when the office was filled by persons said to be chiefly noted for ignorance.
In 1847 the practice was renewed, and Foster Hartwell, Otis Warren and Darwin Adams were chosen superintendents. Since the latter date the position has been occu‑
pied by the following persons: 1851, Otis Warren; 1852,'53, O. S. Morris and Otis Warren ; 1854, George Fisher and Phineas Howe ; 1855, J. P. Huntington ; 1856, George Arnold ; 1857, Phineas Howe ; 1858, '59, Solomon Bixby ; 1860 and 1866, D. B. Morse; 1861, W. W. Hayward; 1862, '63, '65, '68, R. M. Pratt ; 1864, Benjamin Ober and J. W. Willmarth ; 1869, J. W. Croker ; 1870, '71, '72, J. H. Merrifield; 1873, '74, '75, A. M. Merrifield; 1876, Charles Burnham.
The inhabitants of this town, quick to detect a necessity for better educational facilities than were afforded by their common schools, took measures, at an early date, to secure the establishment of an academy. An act incorporating the Windham County Grammar School was granted by the legislature, October 31, 1801, in which the following persons were named as the first board of trustees: Luke Knowlton, Jason Duncan, Asa Wheelock, Samuel Fletcher, Jonas Whitney, James Shafter, Martin Field, Esqrs., and Mr. Joseph Ellis. A suitable building was erected, and for several years the institution enjoyed high repute. Many persons who afterward occupied honorable positions in the affairs of the county and state, received their education at this place. This school had a run of about fifteen years, and then became a subject of that general decline which about that time began to attach itself to all the public enterprises of the village on the hill. The academy building was used for several years for district school purposes and was finally taken down and removed to Fayetteville.
For many years the inhabitants of the town have supported one or more select schools for a portion of the time, which, though not of an academic character, have been very useful as aids to the common school work.
The following is a list of the natives of Newfane who have graduated from colleges:
Ephraim Holland Newton, Middlebury, 1810.
Luke Whitcomb, " 1813.
Charles K. Field, Middlebury, 1822.
Roswell M. Field, " 1822.
Chesselden Ellis, Union, N. Y., 1823.
Lewis Grout, Yale, 1842.
Hollis Reed, Williams. 1826.
Admatha Grout, Dartmouth, 1845.
Henry M. Grout, Williams, 1854.
Henry K. Field, Amherst, 1869.
The following, though not natives, have received a collegiate education while residents of the town. Calvin Knowlton moved to Newfane with his father in 1772, fitted for college here, and graduated, at Dartmouth, in 1784 ; Edward J. and Samuel R. Warren, sons of Dr. John P. Warren, graduated, — Edward at Dartmouth in 1846, and Samuel at Yale in 1860.
William H. Hodges, graduated at Colby University, Waterville, Maine, in 1851.
Four young men from Newfane are now obtaining a collegiate education:
Webster Merrifield, at Yale, class of 1877
Aaron C. Dickinson, at Tufts, " " 1878
R. Morton Sherman, " " " 1880,
John N. Shipman. at Madison University, Hamilton, N. Y., class of 1880.
THE PONDVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH,
FORMERLY CALLED MARLBORO AND NEWFANE.
This church was organized October 29th, 1794, from members of the Dummerston Church, fifteen males and seven females. The council was composed as follows: Eld. Whitman Jacobs, Moderator, and Deas. Barney and Carpenter, of 2d Guilford Church ; Eld. Asa Hibbard, and Brn. Lewis Allen and Ebnr. Brown, of Putney Church ; Eld. Perky Hicks, Dea. Darius Bullock, and Brn. Jos. Carpenter and Benj. Ballou, Scribe, of 3d Guilford Church. There were added to these, Nehemiah Fisher, of 2d Guilford Church, and Eld. Freeman, Dea. French and Br. Wakefield. This council met at the house of Nehemiah Fisher, in Newfane.