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“Tales of the Past” by Frank Connor

Tales of the Past

Chapter 11 - Schools and Churches of Livonia Center.

by Frank Connor


The minutes of the first school meeting held in the town read as follows: “November 19th, 1817. By order of the Commissioners of Common Schools a meeting was convened at William Bacons of District No. 5 and made choice of Oliver Woodruff, Chairman - Henry Pierce, Clerk - Samuel W. Spencer, John B. Parsons and Lester Kingsbury, Trustees - Leverett Dennison, Collector. Voted that the trustees shall repair the house of George Pratt and make it comfortable for the winter term. That thirty cords of wood shall be prepared for the school, then an average to be made on the scholars. That delinquents in wood shall pay 10S. per cord to the trustees. That the Instructors board shall be considered at 10S. per week. That the meeting be adjourned to this place on the second Tuesday of October next.”

Meetings were held at the houses of the different persons who had children going to school. Some of these meetings were adjourned till “early candle lighting” instead of a specified hour.

The first regular school house was erected in 1819, the contract having been let to P. B. Ripley for $369.00. The total cost of the building and equipment was $392.54. There was considerable discussion during the building about the chimney. The Franklin stove was coming into use about then (a stove similar to this can be seen at the museum) and it was undecided whether they would use one of these stoves or a fireplace. It was finally decided to use the fireplace. This was used until 1822 when they voted to install a, “Brick Patent Fireplace”. (Who knows what these were?) This method of heating did not prove satisfactory and in 1823 a stove was installed at a cost of $14.02.

An interesting entry in the clerk’s minutes shows that in 1830 they raised by taxation the sum of $2.00 for administration and maintenance. It would be interesting to know how the teachers were paid at this time. There are no entries that show how the money for their wages was raised. It may have been assessed according to the number of scholars in school, each parent paying prorate. Fuel expense was paid in this way.

During the early times the school house was used for church and other community meetings. Rental was paid in wood. Each group had their own wood pile, which was used for their own benefit.

The legislature of New York passed on April 13th, 1835, an act requiring each school district to establish a library. A scholar had to present to the librarian an order, signed by the parent or guardian, before a book could be drawn. The book could be kept four weeks without charge.

It was voted June 24th, 1837, to build a cobble-stone school house at a cost of $400.00. This building still stands, being located on the cemetery road across from where Lewis Jerome now lives. In 1839 it was made into a two-room school and the trustees were instructed by the voters to hire two teachers at a salary not to exceed twenty dollars per month. This building was used until 1853. That year the trustees recommended that the Academy building be purchased at $400.00. This resolution was lost, but in its place a resolution to rent the Academy was adopted.

The Academy was a private school, built about 1830. The records of this school have been lost or destroyed and not much is known regarding it. It appears that it was operated strictly for those able to pay for private instruction and that they taught a number of subjects not covered by the district school then. Home economics was one of the subjects. The building was a two-story affair and stood near where the present school house now stands. A part of it is being used by Coy & Lindsley for a storage. Evidently the upper room was rented out for use as a village building. It is said that a Masonic and an Odd Fellows Lodge met here. I have not been able to discover any record or mention of these lodges in the various histories. This building was purchased in 1867 for $200.00 and remodeled into a modern school for those times. The boundaries of the district took in a considerable portion of the present corporation of Livonia.

The Center was the business place for the township previous to the coming of the Erie Railroad into Livonia.