School Vandalism (In the Olden Days)

by on January 18, 2013 in Educational, Life in Nelson, Rick Church
1883 School #3

1883 School #7: The shutters on the windows in this 1883 picture certainly weren’t installed to deflect arrows.

 

Early Nelson schools experienced vandalism.  Numerous rules were adopted and published by the town that defined responsibility for damage and that give us a picture of the problems for schools almost two hundred years ago – problems not so different from today. An example is an 1838  set of bylaws adopted on the occasion of the opening of the two-storey brick schoolhouse in the village.

 


To preserve the schoolhouse from petty damages:

First: That from and after this day if any person or persons shall break a square of glass from the schoolhouse in this district, such person or persons shall replace the same within two days after it is broken or pay the sum of twenty-five cents to the agent of the district to be appropriated by said agent to the use of the district.

Second: That from and after this day if any person or persons shall cut or mark the benches or the schoolhouse anywhere so as to disfigure said schoolhouse shall pay the sum of ten cents for each such offence to the agent of the district to be appropriated by said agent to the use of the district.

Third: That it shall be the duty of the agent of this district to put up in the schoolhouse a copy of the foregoing bylaws at the commencement of every school in this district. Also to acquaint the teachers with the same and to request them to have such laws strictly enforced.

Undoubtedly School Number Seven had minor issues like initials carved in desks or schoolbooks defaced. We know from the record that there was serious damage as well.

On two occasions in the1850’s large number of glass windowpanes were replaced and the stovepipe was stolen on one occasion and found dumped at the nearby home of Samuel Scripture.

1851: Mr. Yardley was paid to install 24 panes of glass. There were 64 in the school’s four windows.

1851: Mr. Yardley was paid to install 24 panes of glass. There were 64 in the school’s four windows.

1853: Ten more lites of glass.

1853: Ten more lites of glass.

“ Two knees of stove pipe corresponding to some stolen from the school room were reported found and left at the house of Samuel Scripture.”

“ Two knees of stove pipe corresponding to some stolen from the school room were reported found and left at the house of Samuel Scripture.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the fifth installment of a long article on the operation of one of Nelson’s early schools.  The main source for the series is the seventy page record of School Number Seven from 1820 to 1858 which was generously donated to the town archives with many other valuable historical papers by Ethan Tolman. Thanks to a grant secured by Susan Hansel, the record of School Number Seven is preserved and available to the public on a CD at the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library.  The balance of the source documents are the Nelson Town Records preserved in the Town Archives and material on the Woodcock Patent located at the Cheshire County Historical Society. Click here to read the previous article in this series.

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