Pittsfield Township Historical Society :: Fosdick School (Third), 1868-????
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Fosdick School Circa 1914

Location: Now a home at 507 Bemis Road.

Captions: Fosdick School Circa 1914. Students of Fosdick School in 1914. Fosdick School today - Front. Fosdick School today - Rear.

Fosdick School was originally a frame structure, which was bricked between 1868 and 1870 with materials left over from construction of the new Union School. The first school was built for $500 in 1831? to educate children living near Michigan Avenue.

History of Fosdick School, Pittsfield Township, Washtenaw County, State of Michigan

Note: The following account was written by the students attending Fosdick School during 1940-1941.

Fosdick School Students in 1914

Fosdick School, an old landmark in York Township, is three miles east of Saline, on the southeast corner of Bemis and Fosdick Roads. For years it was known as "the brick school on the townline" but has been called Fosdick School for as long as anyone can remember. The land where the school stands was a part of the land the Fosdick family owned at one time. They owned land on three of the corners around the school and still own a farm across from the school, although they do not live there.

A few years ago the name of Cadmus was talked of, but the people were very much apposed to a change in the name. Part of the district is in York and the rest in Pittsfield Township.

There have been three schools in our district, the first was up by Ernst's, or perhaps I should say on the east side of Ernst's home. We do not know whether it was a log or a frame building as all the old records were burned when Mr. Mitchell was director. He lived in a big log house that stood where Feldkamp's house is.

Fosdick School Today

Much that we learned we got from Mrs. Fosdick who now lives in Saline and from Mrs. Frank Hollis, who was a Wheelock. They came to the school and answered all the questions they could. We enjoyed their visits very much.

The second school stood in front of our present school and was a one room brick building. The inside was very rough; there was not as much in the old school as we have. The school had little square windows.

Fosdick School Today

The school we now have was built in 1868 by Sam Andrews who built the old Saline High School in the same year. The other school was then torn down and the bricks were sold.

There were two rows of maple trees around the school at that time. The school yard was the same size as it is now and had a fence all the way around it. The children could not go outside the school yard unless it was to get a ball that went over the fence.

Our present school has wood and steel seats that are movable. They are single seats and face the south of the room. Years ago the seats were double and were fastened to the floor. In the second school the seats were rough planks with no backs and were very uncomfortable. There were two rows along the outside of the room. The girls sat on the right side of the room and the boys on the left.

They had a stage up all the time, for the teacher's desk. Now we only put one up for entertainments.

All the lights they ever had years ago were lamps and lanterns. They didn't have any entertainments at night so all they needed the lights were on cloudy days. Later they had programs at Christmas and on the last day of school. Now we have electric lights in our school. Every month we have a P>T>A>

In the second school and in our present school "Round-Oak" stove furnished the heat. It had a drum on top and was supposed to throw the heat into the room. It roasted their heads and nearly froze their feet. The big boys started the fire when they got to school. Several years ago a basement was dug under part of the school and a furnace that lets the heat circulate was installed. A small wooden addition was built on the back of the school to cover the stairway to the basement.

There was no hall as we have now. They had no musical instrument until in this building, then there was an organ. Now we have a piano.

The children played games much as we do now. They did not have many toys and what they had were mostly homemade. They had a ball and bat. Now we have swings and a merry-go-round, as well as a ball and bat. In the second school there were no blackboard, but in our school they went all across the south end of the schoolroom until the furnace was put in. Then some was taken out because of the chimney.

There was no well so water had to be carried from across the road. Those who washed (they didn't all wash, they washed at home, Mrs. Hollis said) used the same washbasin and bar soap. They all drank out of the same dipper. One of the children passed the water. Now we have a well, a fountain with a faucet so that we can wash under running water, paper towels, liquid soap, and individual cups kept in a cupboard.

Then there was no big bell, they used a small hand bell. There was no clock, no calendar, no flag or flagpole, no pictures on the walls, no globe and not many books. They boys and girls used slates to do their work on, usually using their hands for erasers. Later, they had pencils and rough paper. They made ink out of berries and pens out of quills. Now we have all theses things they didn't have and many more besides. We have a kindergarten table and some little chairs, a sand table, and a steel cabinet which holds many school supplies.

Years ago there was an average of thirty pupils enrolled. This year there are sixteen, but the average now is about twenty.

There used to be two terms of school, summer and winter. The girls and little boys went to school in summer and sometimes in winter if the weather weren't too bad, but the big boys just went in winter as they had to work at home in summer. The ages of the pupils were from six to eighteen or twenty. Because of the large boys, there was usually a man teacher for the winter term.

The teachers did not get paid much, but didn't have to pay board and room as they "boarded around", staying in the different homes where there were children in school, the time depending on the number of children in the home. After they had gone the rounds they started over again. We found only two records of teacher's salary. In 1875 Kitty Saure received two hundred four dollars for nine months of school. In 1869 she received fifty five dollars for two months and a half and another teacher one hundred twenty seven dollars for five and a half months.

The people had to furnish so much wood according to the number of children in school. Some girls taught school when they finished. Now people have to go to high school and to college before they can teach school.

Thomas Smurthwaite, who was the first teacher in our present school was born in Pittsfield Township, but not in our district. He served as township clerk for two terms. Other early teachers were John Lee, Sarah Martin who married George Shaw, Hattie Lindsley, Ida Burraugh, Wilbur Wilson, Miss Batchelder, Olivia Cooks and Olive Wheelock.

They didn't have grades as we do now. The first thing the little people did was to learn their abc's. When they finished the primer they went to the first reader, then to second and through the fifth reader. They were marked by presents. Everyone had a copy book. The Bible was read every morning.

In 1895 the textbooks were Harper's Arithmetic, Young's Botany, Harper's Civil Government, Swinton's Grammer, Cutter's Physiology, Harper's Reader, and Barne's U. S. History.

Sometimes the teachers were rather strict. One day two boys got to talking in school and the teacher tied their tongues together. Sometimes they had to stand on one foot in front of the room or sit with a girl for punishment. One day when the superintendent of schools came to visit a boy put some little dolls on his chair. The teachers used to switch the children if they were naughty.

In 1829, J. L. Wheelock, who was born in Ontario County, N. Y. came to Michigan. A few years later his parents settled on a farm in Pittsfield Township. For a time they lived on Bemis Road east of the school. Some of his children have lived in the district ever since.

In 1853, C. C. Fosdick also from N. Y. and settled in Pittsfield Township, but owned land in York, as well.

Lemuel Clark came from N. Y. in 1835.

George Coe was born in 1837. Other early settlers were S. Rogers born here in 1843, S. R. Crittenden, H. Bennett, Isaac Suddaby, H. Wheeler, and Jerome Lashier, who was born in 1833, came to York when two and was "one of a better class of citizens of this county", according to the "History of Washtenaw County," 1880, B. House, S. R. Culver, A. H. Hotchkins, and Clark Rogers.

The early homes were made of logs, usually just one room. They had open fireplaces for heat and cooking. Their only light was from the fireplace and candles, but they usually went to bed when it got dark. There was a ladder leading upstairs where there was just room enough for the children to sleep. It was a very low place, called a loft.

Later the homes were small frame buildings. There were more houses in the district then there are now.

The roads were laid out as they are now, but were very muddy as they didn't use gravel on them. Sometimes people got stuck and had to have another horse pull them out. Often they drove in the fields. There was much more snow winters then we have now. In early times they used a horse and wagon for transportation, later they used a horse and buggy. When it was hot or rainy they took an umbrella to hold over their heads.

They didn't have mail boxes and rural delivery around here until about thirty five years ago. People had to go to town for their mail.

They held Sunday School in this school. There weren't many sermons those days. Mr. Howard, who lived where Feldkamps do, had charge of the Sunday School.

They used to have corn husking bees for the men and quilting bees for the women, but they didn't have many entertainments.

Those who are in school now are: Lois McTaggart and Donnie Curtis, First Grade; Carl Curtis, Second Grade; Clayton Curtis, Helen McTaggart, and Hilda Sally, Third Grade; Donnie Visel, Fourth Grade; Geraldine Braun, Keith Chambers, Leroy Curtis and Loyd Feldkamp, Fifth Grade; Walter Sally, Dorothy Wackenhut, and Donald Wiedman, Sixth Grade; and Erma Visel, Eighth Grade. Miss Electa Murray is our teacher this year. Duane Braun is in Seventh Grade. The Curtis boys are moving so there will be twelve in our school.

Many of our parents went to this same school, but Wheelocks are the only people in the district who were living here in 1871. Changes take place so quickly that we are including a map of the present homes so the coming generation can see what the district was like in "our" day.

1. Fosdick School
2. Paul Braun
3. Theodore Feldkamp
4. Edward Schnerey
5. Andrew Ernst
6. Clyde Wells (not living there yet)
7. Fred Kleinschmidt
8. Charles Sally
9. William McTaggart
10. Reuben Visel
11. Don DeJohn
12. Alferd Chambers
13. Jake Schroen
14. John Johnson
15. Jacob Gala
16. William Wackenhut
17. Gottlieb Girbach
18. Carl Seeger
19. Arthur Heininger
20. Ruben Feldkamp
21. Garth Beckington
22. George Wiedman
23. Albert Heininger
24. Ward Wheelock
25. Fred Kruger
26. Antheine Bellow
27. William Paul
28. ????
29. Franklin Hollis
30. Raymond Niethammer
31. Harold Armbruster
32. Otto Hagens

Source: Pittsfield Township records, box 1, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. This entry is from a history of Washtenaw County Schools written by students in the schools and loaned to the Bentley Historical Library by Julius W. Haab, County Superintendent, August 1943. It has been edited slightly for inclusion on the Pittsfield Township Historical Society Website.

 

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