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Atkins Schooltime Memories

Atkins Schooltime Memories
Schooltime Memories of Martin Atkins

My parents, came across the Ohio River, in 1810, and located near where the town of English, Indiana, now stands.


The Indians were scattered through the country lying between Jasper and Vincennes, but I never saw any hereabouts. Our schools were not such comfortable and elegant structures as the children of the present have. They used to be built of logs. A man representing himself as teacher; would come into a community and agree to teach the children as far as the single rule of three, for say $2 to $2.50 a pupil for a term of three months. If there were enough children in the neighborhood to warrant the parents in hiring the "A" teacher.

The farmers would get together and build a log house, say 18 feet x 20 feet. There were no floors in the house, benches made of 8-inch poplar logs split in two, with wooden pegs for legs served as seats.

There was one "writing desk" at which those who wished to learn to write would take turns. The "desk" was made by boring two auger holes into one of the logs in the wall, and driving into the holes two wooden pegs, on which a couple of boards were laid.

The house was not supplied with windows. At convenient distances chinks were left out from between logs, through which the light and cold wind could enter.

A large chink hole in front of the "writing desk" was covered with a sheet of greased paper, so that the pupil could stand at the desk without being frozen by the wind.

The chimney was built of sticks covered with a plaster made of mud, to keep them from burning.

At the noon hour, the teacher and pupils would "turn in" and gather wood.

A small sapling or tree log was dragged by hand to the door of the school house, when it was cut into good lengths and a heap of wood not unlike a "brush heap" was piled onto the "fireplace" and the house heated.

A radius of six miles was considered a "school district," so some of the children were compelled to go three miles or more to school.

Often the children would have to draw their benches up the fireplace and huddle around the fire to keep warm.

In those times a rifle was the next thing to a man's wife, and possibly some of them were cherished more than the "old woman."

The farmer could stand in his door and shoot game in the woods or fields near by. Such game as deer, turkeys and squirrels was abundant, but at times the farmer was compelled to stand with his gun in hand, and shoot at wolves, which came to kill and annoy his sheep. At other times turkeys would bother his wheat and deer would stalk through his corn. The rights were often made unpleasant by the cries of catamounts, wildcats, and even panthers.

It required 3 good dogs, trained in the art, to capture a catamount. I killed a wildcat at one time which was so long it reached from my shoulder to the ground when I carried it by the hind paws and I am six feet tall. If young people now growing could only appreciate the many advantages they enjoy, they would make better use of their time and opportunities.

Schooltime Memories

of Martin Atkins

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Image #27
RAW October 16 2021 410 0 comments 0 out of 0 ratings

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