School rivalry emerges in story of bygone schools


By Rhonda Bletner - [email protected]



While historic photos are available of the old brick school no longer extant, nothing portrays the two schools mentioned in this story; and even in 1884, the structures were already gone.

While historic photos are available of the old brick school no longer extant, nothing portrays the two schools mentioned in this story; and even in 1884, the structures were already gone.


BELLVILLE — A length article about the school reunion populated an 1884 issue of The Bellville Star and with graduation approaching, it’s appropriate to share it here. An excerpt of the story is shared below.

1854-1884 Thirty Years Ago

Judge Moses R. Dickey taught the Bellville High School, and this evening, Aug. 21, 1884, the surviving scholars of the class of 1854, held a reunion at the residence of Mr. And Mrs. John W. Zent, to renew old acquaintances and to rehearse the Commencement exercises of that year.

The house was lit up with tallow candles such as illuniated the school house thirty years ago and the time-honored tray and snuffers were on hand. The toilets of the ladies were in the fashion of 1864, some wearing the identical dresses worn by them at that time.

Judge Dickey being absent, Mrs. Maria (Patterson) Lafferty, (the only teacher of that day present) took charge of the school.

[A list of the students’ names followed. It was actually a roll call with students solemnly responding)

Maria (Patterson) Lafferty read her essay (with a candle held by Mary (Bowles) Edwards):

“Most of the incidents called up at this reunion gather around the high school of 1854, taught by Prof. Dickey, now of Cleveland, Ohio. Quite a number of his former pupils are represented in person, and some of the absent are remembered by their letters or essays. Your memories cluster around the school building in ‘Lower Canada’ [recalling the Bellville schools’ rivalry], standing on what is now a vacant lot on the corner of Ogle and Markey Streets. Mrs. Lucy Oldfield taught in the lower room, while you pupils were in that high school room under surroundings of happiness and security.

“Lyons roamed through Upper Canada. Prof. Lyons ought to be held in high esteem tonight for he taught in the high room in Upper Canada.

You have seen fit to give me, a teacher in the Primary Department of Upper Canada in 1854, a place on the program this evening, and I trust, a small place in your memories of those happy days.

“That school was taught on the lot where Mrs. Young low lives, on South Bell Street. To my knowledge not a vestige of that building remains. We can gather in our fancy this evening, enough kindling wood from its trusty old timbers to kindle memory’s fire afhresh. My wpupils, whose names come to first, are: Ellie Bowers, Hettie Wilcox, Ann Bailey, Porter and James Whitten, Israel and Ed Moody, Allie and Clark Flaharty, I cannot take time to mention all.

“We teachers of that day did the best with what we could with our appliances which consisted mainly of a rough blackboard, an unvarnished desk, straight backed unpainted seats, a wooden fire shovel and a bunch of the rods of correction, which served as lightening rods’ and the lightening generally struck the disobedient scholar. We had few or no maps and charts. Now, with our large brick school house, and a deep tomed bell in the belfry, and a coal furnace in the basement, with patent desks and chairs, with handsome clocks, globes, maps and charts, and a recitation room, which for artistic finish, ought to be styled a reception room,—with all these, they have never improved on the good old way of getting an education…”

Her reminiscences continued in the program as did essays and letters from former students, music, and a poem by Sarah (Gurney) Thrailkill, which began, “We’ve me tonight dear schoolmates, and in the days of yore, when together we attended school in the year of ’54. Roll back the scroll, dear schoolmates, full thirty years tonight, and view again our school days in the bright cheery light…”

While historic photos are available of the old brick school no longer extant, nothing portrays the two schools mentioned in this story; and even in 1884, the structures were already gone.
https://www.galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2022/05/web1_thumbnail_Max-Stahl2.jpgWhile historic photos are available of the old brick school no longer extant, nothing portrays the two schools mentioned in this story; and even in 1884, the structures were already gone.

By Rhonda Bletner

[email protected]