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Early Schools

Early Schools
by Charles F. Sulivan

            The first settlement of Dayton was made April 1st 1796. The Indians became threatening in 1799 and the settlement decided to build a block house to protect themselves from attack and it was located where the Soldiers monument now stands.
            An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so after it was built, it was not used for that purpose, but Ben Van Cleve invited all the children to come there to school and he taught them there all that winter. I infer he was not paid for his services, for he took time off to gather his corn and again to be clerk of the court at Chillicothe.
            Several private schools existed for a short time, one by my grandmother, Dionicea Sullivan who had a select school for girls in my grandfather’s tailor shop on W Third street where the Gibbons Arcade is now, the parents paying tuition for them.
            In 1836, a law was passed by the state legislature to have public schools free to all children. Naturally this law was not popular to all and some objection was shown.
            A tax levy was laid to raise $6,000.00 to build two schools, one on Second street between Madison & Sears two stories high which was called the first district school, and the other on Perry between First and Second streets and it was called the Second District.
            This was a large building, three stories high and a large room at each corner upon each floor, with a large hall running at right angles to each other, twelve rooms in all, holding 40 children each. The halls were used as cloak rooms and the boys entrance was from the north, while the girls from the south. The yard in the rear was divided equally by a tight board fence, and the pump was at the end of the fence so that it could be used from either side. Later the pump was removed and city water installed with a drinking faucet upon each side. The east and west hall on the second floor was later included in Miss Houghtenlen’s room seventh grade, while a portion toward the street was partitioned off for the principal to hold some classes. Peter Loudin was the janitor, a very fine colored man very willing and anxious to serve, and I was much interested in him. Once when he went to wash his hands I asked him if the black on his hands would come off?
            All of the children of our family attended that school and the Central High School, The teachers when I attended were Alice Traebing, first grade, 387 W Second. Emma Moody, second, loved by all her pupils, 18 N Wilkinson. Rosa Whelan, third, 28 E Sixth, good teacher but not popular. Miss Bradley, fouth, May & June, Quite popular. Winifred Gleason, fifth, her first job, 48 Richard. Fanny McReynolds, sixth, 509 W Second, addressed her pupils as Mr. & Miss. Sarah Houghtelen, seventh, 23 N Wilkinson. Alice Jennings, principal, 12 Van Buren, very positive in her decisions. Prof. F. C. Meyers, music in all the schools, talked broken. Prof. C. B. Nettleton, writing in all the schools.
Miss Thomas, first year latin. Miss Curtis, history, physiology. B. C. Noyes, latin, civil government. Herbert Kincaid, greek, latin. Miss Wilson, geometry trigonometry, astronomy. W. B. Werthner, algebra, botany. Wm. Watkins, german. Capt. C. B. Stivers, principal, physics, chemistry.

Chas. F. Sullivan
April,  1947