The very first school building erected within the Township
was one of logs built by New Garden Friends near their Meeting House in 1777.
(It was located just about where the fireplace is in the yard today.) Friends were
pioneers in education in Chester County. The Yearly Meeting from time to time
gave earnest and practical advice relative to establishing schools, and in 1778
- a year after New Garden School was established - advised that ground should
be provided within the scope of each Monthly Meeting with sufficient space for
a garden, orchard, grass for a cow, etc., plus a suitable house and stable be
provided for a teacher of staid character and proper qualifications. It also
recommended that funds be collected for establishing and supporting schools.
Within the buildings, desks were provided for older
children; benches without backs for the younger. A desk for the teacher, a
bucket, and what was called a "pass" comprised most of the
furnishings. The latter was a small paddle with the words "in" and
"out" written on its opposite sides. The New Garden building had in
lieu of the large stove usually provided in the buildings a large fireplace to
furnish heat. Schools were conducted upon a subscription plan whereby parents
and guardians of those who attended paid the teachers' salaries.
On August 31, 1807, plans were made to build another school
house within the Township. A group of men met and made the following agreement:
"In order to build a School-House on the Land of
William Thompson in the Township of Newgarden near the old brick kiln we the
subscribers hereby promise to pay Swithin Shortlidge or any other person who
shall be mutually agreed upon to review the same the sum annexed to our names
for the intent and meaning of the above building which as to size materials,
etc., etc., is to be agreed upon by the subscribers after the said Thompson has
secured the ground to them by lease or otherways."
It was signed by:
Each man pledged a certain sum of money. The largest amount
promised at any one time was $12.00 by William Thompson who was an Assessor.
This agreement in all likelihood covered the purchase of 36 perches of land
from Jonathan and Catherine Moore on January 23, 1808 for $5.00, part of their
210 acre farm that lay in what is now Kaolin and on into the State of Delaware.
A Deed covering the sale passed to Thomas Wilson, Thomas Wickersham, Jonathan
Pyle, Thomas Withers, Israel Hoopes, and Benjamin Seal, for the purpose of
erecting a School House in the Township of New Garden along the great road
leading from Lancaster to New Port.
Wilson, Wickersham, etal. were chosen by the subscribers as Trustees. When
their number was down to two, they were to convey the property to other
trustees chosen by the subscribers.
An Act passed April 4, 1809 provided free education to those
children between five and twelve years of age whose parents were unable to do
so. Schools built for this purpose were often called "Paupers'
Schools," and this small stone building may have been just such a one.
Assessors were required to make returns of all "poor children," and
after they were checked and revised, parents were notified to which school
their children would be sent. The first year returns were filed, 1810, New Garden
reported five poor children. The list included the names of boys and girls, and
contradicts the story that this school was a boarding school for boys, only.
Perhaps it was used in later years for that purpose. Superintendent of Newgarden School,
Joseph Sharp and William West, signed the bill sent to the County Commissioners
covering tuition payments in 1813. Usually, the bills identified it only as the
school of certain teachers. Thus, it was variously the school of William Gawthrop,
John Chandler, Aaron P. Osmond, and Phebe Hoopes, among others.
No females were supposedly employed in Chester County
schools until about 1840 for it was considered rather a disgrace than otherwise
for women to teach. The title of schoolmistress was more avoided than sought by
young ladies. However, residents of New
Garden then, as now,
didn't always do the things expected of them! Phebe Hoopes taught in 1814 and
received $2.21 tuition for teaching poor children, with approval given by
Benjamin Hoopes and William West.
The name "Chestnut Green" first appeared in 1822
when "Chestnut Green Seminary subscribers Israel Hoopes, Joel Baily, and
Isaiah somebody received the bill of Aaron P. Osmond for teaching poor
children." Ten years later Directors Evan Brown, Robert L. Watter , Joshua
Jefferis and Eber Sharp approved Elizabeth Dixson to teach "Orthography
Writing, Arythmatic, Grammer, Geography, Algibra Mensuration." A statement
by the Directors of the school in 1834 after an examination by them, apparently
to make certain that poor children were receiving a proper education, said in
"We send to the same school and pay at the same rate
and we believe that the above named children were taught and treated in the
same manner, that the other children of the school were taught and
The Directors in 1846, William Jones, Nathaniel Wilkinson,
and Hiram Walker, advertised for a man to teach at the common school known as
Chestnut Green. Twenty years later, all the trustees were reported to have died
and new ones were needed for the property purchased from Jonathan Moore.
Citizens met as contributors and patrons of the school at a public meeting in
the New Garden Hotel on November 8, 1866 to elect new ones and selected Jabez
Thompson, William Howard, Benjamin Williamson and John Mendenhall, along with
John Wilson and Thomas Marvel who were appointed Chairman and Secretary,
respectively. The Trustees then sold the property to the New
District for $1.00; the New Garden School District in turn sold it the same
day to George P. Pierson. An undated note says that the last teacher there was
Lake, Jr. in his history,
"Hockessin, A Pictorial History," reports:
"The earliest date for a public school deed found in
this area is for the Eden school, just over the Pennsylvania line,
recorded in September 1815. While the district for this school was located
within Pennsylvania, children from the Little
Baltimore area, and from Limestone
Road as far south as Tweed's Tavern (Valley Road)
attended the school, prior to the opening of North Star School in 1847."
This school appears on a Delaware
map of 1823, located just over the line in Pennsylvania. There were no references to it
by name or location in the varied information on New Garden
schools. A stone marked "EDEN-1814" in the newest section of Little
Baltimore is believed to mark the location of the old building, and that is now
in the State of Delaware.
Perhaps it closed when North Star School opened and remained unused as a school
building for so many years that its identity became lost. The ruins of a small
building were still standing there in the early 1900s.
The only reference to a school by this name appeared in a
newspaper advertisement in 1836 stating:
"A man well qualified will meet with good situation
if application be made soon to the committee of the employers of Union School.
On Behalf of said Committee -Amos Barnard and Jeremiah Starr."
It has not been further identified.
When the question of accepting a common school system was
submitted to delegates representing school districts of Chester County
in 1834 and 1835, a considerable majority voted "no," for many
opposed sending their children with the poor. In 1836, however, quite a change
took place in public opinion. Of 45 districts, delegates of 38 voted in its
favor; soon thereafter the system became general. New Garden Township
adopted the free school law in 1839. The number of poor children had jumped
from five in 1810 to 87 by 1835 within our Township. When the free school law
was adopted, this reporting of "poor children" ceased.
School was said to have
been the first free school within the Township, and it is likely that Chestnut
Green followed shortly after. Directors of the Common Schools of New Garden
Township - John Richards, Amos Barnard, Joseph Newlin, John W. Thomas, Joseph
Thompson, and Nathaniel Wilkinson - arranged in 1838 for four new schools to be
built. They were the ones we came to know as Walnut Run on Landenberg Road;
Greenwood Dell on Hillendale Road; Penn Green on Penn Green Road (also called
Penn Grove School); and Toughkenamon School, although they were not identified
by name in the beginning. The last one, Toughkenamon, was on the corner of
and Polo Roads and is not to be confused with the later one on Toughkenamon
hill (or Schoolhouse Hill.)
Another school was built two years later in Landenberg along
(now Laurel Woods Road.)
An earlier school was conducted in Landenberg by one Peter Dougherty who taught
classes in a part of the weave mill from 1828 to 1832. All of the new
buildings, plus the log school house of the Friends and Chestnut Green School
House made a total of seven scattered throughout the Township available for
children's education. The school system expanded in 1847 when Cedar Springs
school house was built near the site of present Liberty Knoll Apartments.
Public school attendance outgrew the log school house and
the Meeting resumed control in 1848 and reopened a Friends School
which continued until 1856. Attendance had grown quite small by that time as
many Friends patronized the public schools, and the school was closed. The
building was converted to a dwelling that rented for $35.00 per month until
1872. In need of repair by that time, the Meeting decided to take it down after
almost a hundred years of service to education. Many Friends with sentimental
memories felt it was a great desecration when this place of learning was
demolished and the lumber used to build a barn on the Miller farm.
Classes began at 8:00 a.m. in those early years and ended at
4:00 p.m. with an hour out for lunch. A teacher was expected to maintain full control
within the building to earn his or her salary of $25.00 or $30.00 per month.
Christmas Day was often the only holiday. Wood had to be brought in daily to
keep the stove going and the water bucket had to be filled, often at a nearby
farmhouse. No concern existed over the fact that all used the same drinking cup
or dipper for there was not yet any worry about germs or bacteria being a real
danger. Children asked to be excused often in good weather to visit the
"little house outback," for a bit of daydreaming could be done while
going and coming, but teacher applied a paddle if a child misbehaved too often.
The classroom furniture resembled that described in the Friends' School -
benches for the children; a few desks; and a table or desk for the teacher.
The school known as Sunny Dell near Sunny Dell Road on Route 41 was built in
1862 on one acre of land purchased for $200.00. Earlier schools had been built
on lots of approximately one-quarter of an acre purchased for amounts ranging
from $5.00 to $25.00. Another lot was sold to the School Directors by Sidney
Marsh on the Doe Run-Newark Road in 1870. It appears that the first
Toughkenamon School was used only a short time, for a map of 1847 shows Hoopes'
School, a private one, at that location.
By 1873 efforts were being made to move the public school
classes from the dilapidated building in Landenberg to the new hall atop Martin
Landenberger and Company's general store. The Directors resisted since they
felt it was too near a public house. Just how long the old building was used
has not been determined, but they were still arguing about a site for the new
building in 1875. The Board of Directors petitioned the Court of Common Pleas
for settlement, stating:
"That the board of Directors of said District have
been unable to procure an eligible site for the erection of a School House as
they have deemed expedient by agreement with owners of the land and have on
behalf of said district entered upon and occupied a certain piece of land the
property of Ury Anna and Alfred Williams, minor children of James J. Williams,
deceased, who have for their guardian Septimus E. Nivin which said lot of land
they have designated and marked off and which is bounded and described,"
"That the said Board of Directors have entered upon
and occupied said tract of land for the purpose of erecting thereon a school
house with its necessary and convenient appurtenances."
The Court appointed three men who owned no property in this
district to meet, decide the matter, and to determine the value of land taken;
whether any damage was sustained; and to whom damages were payable. Damages of
$180.00 were awarded to Ury Anna and Alfred Williams, but paid to David Niven
to partly satisfy his lien on the property. The newspaper reported on the
"A lively contest - For some weeks past the village
of Landenberg has been exercised over the location of a site for a new
school-house, the citizens dividing off into 'downtown' and 'uptown' parties.
Meetings have been held, addresses made, resolutions adopted, etc. The 'uptown'
party triumphed and a new school-house will be built upon the high hill N. E.
Landenberg School and the school on Toughkenamon hill have
been called sister schools for they were built on basically the same plan and
within a short time of each other. The fate of Landenberg's old school building
in Laurel Woods is unknown. Many years ago, someone said they thought it had
been used as a tavern or drinking hall by mill workers of the area.
There were various reports of students who aspired to
pugilistic honors, but one in 1876 developed into quite a fuss when some
favored using only persuasion to maintain a peaceful classroom, while others
favored a more physical means. Teacher A. G. Yeatman of Toughkenamon School
chose the "West Chester Local News" in which to state his argument:
"...there are men, and women too, in this village who
are anxiously waiting an opportunity to express their opinion on the subject of
public school government... Now gentlemen, and ladies too, when you see one in
the school-room who is both willing to use moral suasion and able to use
physical force, and when the former fails, the latter has to be substituted,
and that, too, with good results; you take precisely the opposite side of the
argument that you did when suspension was resorted to as the only means... If
you think that moral suasion is all that is necessary... then come in and try
it; and if you will... keep good order... and use nothing but moral suasion, I
will do the teaching; and moreover, I will pay you laboring man's wages for
every day that you wish to try it; but first, you must let me tell them plainly
that you are to keep order and I am to do nothing but teach; and it matters not
what they may do, you are not to whip one of them..."
"If your business should seem to prohibit your
accepting, we will try and get you a substitute... for I feel that you would
soon resign the school-room position..."
Teachers present when the New Garden Teachers Institute met
in January 1876 with Directors Joseph P. Chambers, James H. Hollingsworth,
Benjamin I. Miller, Washington Ewing, William Brown, and Thompson Richards,
Landenberg School - William H.
Walnut Run - Maggie White
Penn Green - Mary Gunning
Sunny Dell - L. Jennie Coates
Toughkenamon - Alfred G. Yeatman
Cedar Springs - Annie Hayman
Greenwood Dell - Carrie Palmer
After the argument over the change in boundary lines between
London Grove and New Garden Townships, the School Board reorganized and shortened
the school term from 8½ months to eight months because parents wanted children
at home to help with work on the farms. The next year, Republicans of the
Township voted for three School Directors, and as this was one more than
provided for by law, the whole vote was thrown out and the Democratic
Directors, Milton Strahorn and Washington Ewing, were declared elected. Bids
were received in July of 1884 for building a Frame School House at Avondale.
Property was purchased from James and Rebecca Watson for $200.00 and the
building erected on Third Street. M. Lydia Mendenhall was appointed teacher
there in 1886, bringing the number of schools in the Township to eight. This
particular one was inherited by Avondale when it became a Borough in 1894, and
is now the Galilee U. A. M. E. Church.
Students' achievements were extensively reported to the
newspapers in the 1880s. Those with perfect attendance were listed; children
who received high grades were acknowledged; various entertainments and
festivities were noted; and many problems were aired. Some schools published
their own newspapers, usually handwritten, in which students expressed their
opinions on varied subjects and displayed their writing talents. The
"Sunny Dell Intelligence" was edited by Ida A. Wollaston in May 1876.
"The Students Prize" of Walnut Run School was written under the
direction of Editresses Emma Jefferis, Lydia M. Shortlidge, and Sarah Moore,
while Hanna L. Shortlidge, Ellis Hicks, Thomas B. Miller, Constantine Strong,
Harriet Wilson, and Jacob Conoway contributed.
Some random selections from various local newspapers follow:
Landenberg School Whipping Case"
"Mr. Editor: I desire to correct an error which has
gained publicity through your columns in reference to the Landenberg whipping
case. Your informant does injustice to the teacher by misrepresenting the
facts. The truth is the boy punished had given the teacher a great deal of
trouble, at one time using such language to her as would have undoubtedly
caused his expulsion from the school had it been brought to the knowledge of
the School Board. The teacher had exhausted every means to govern him, using
the rod more than once through the advise of his parents, who did not want him
suspended. At this particular time some bad feeling had been engendered by
sending other members of the family home for bad conduct, and the arrest was
made to retaliate rather than get redress for the abuse of the boy, which it is
generally thought was inflicted at home. On inquiry the directors found the
whipping at school consisted of about fifteen strokes with an ordinary switch.
They concluded that the boy had not been abused, and were present to support
the teacher at the trial. The prosecution, finding public sentiment was
entirely with the teacher, did not appear, but paid the costs and gave it
"A MEMBER OF THE BOARD"
This followed the arrest and trial of a lady teacher who
whipped a young man for striking a little girl with a stone.
"The following is the report of Landenberg School...
February 10, 1887: Those present every day during the month were: Carrie Ewing,
Martha Hird, Eva Merritt, Laura Ewing, Emma Ross, Annie Savage, Anna Crossan,
Lena Hird, Charlie Walker, Charlie Hughes, Elmer Walker, William Ross, James
Graham, Warren Walker, James Fisher, Joseph Rigler and Fritz Roser; those
missing one-half day: Annie Spencer, Asa Walker, John Whitley and Willie
Merrit; not over two days: Ida Ewing, Lizzie Hird, Lillie Spencer, Frank
Cochran, Thomas Pierson, Frank Crossan, Willie Kellett, Newton Palmer, Joseph
Ross and Eddie Palmer."
"Mame A. Pollock, Teacher"
"A MODEL SCHOOL - A visit to the school of Penn
Green... presided over by Miss Hettie Yerkes... showed a well disciplined and
methodically conducted school. The attendance will average over forty scholars.
The excellent management of the school reflects no small credit on Miss Yerkes
as a teacher."
"...pupils of Penns Grove School in conjunction with
the teacher, Miss Jennie Lamborn, collected... enough money to procure a bell
for the belfrey of the school house and pay for putting it up. The bell was
hung during the spring vacation (1884). After deducting the expenses... from
the money collected there remains... $1.92 which will be expended for something
for the school."
"The report of Sunny Dell School... May 21, 1886:
Number in attendance 30; average daily attendance 24, with the following...
attending every day: Willie Kelleher, Harvey Wollaston, Walter Wollaston,
Herbert Goodwill, Frank Phipps, Willie Brown, Edna Brown, Eva Schrader, Ella
Kelleher, Lillian Foote, Bertha Goodwin and Anna Connell. The teacher of this
school was M. Jennie Wright."
The Sunny Dell Home and School League organized during the
winter of 1917. President was D. F. Sheehan; Secretary, Mrs. Nathan Lamborn;
and Treasurer, Mr. John Schrader. Captain Robinson, "our good
friend," donated a large dictionary in 1919, and later books and money for
"January 1880: Walnut Run School is again without a
teacher, having had three within a few months. The first one was made sick by
the odor of the fresh paint, and the second one was likewise affected, and the
school has been in charge of Miss Eva Wright, one of the pupils who is holding
the fort until a regular teacher is appointed.
The "Walnut Run Literary Society" met March 15,
1889 for a social evening that included various recitations and selected
readings. Harvey Underwood was President and Lottie Cowen served as Secretary.
Those with perfect attendance at Walnut Run in May 1906, were:
"James Hollingsworth, Herbert Hollingsworth, William Anderson,
Christy Anderson, Frank Brandenberger, Norman Keidel, Leslie Newlin, Charles
Hendrickson, Charles Brandenberger, Jesse Hendrickson, Mabel Enright, Viola
Newlin, Elizabeth Browning, Clara Hendrickson, Gertrude Peirson and Anna
Peirson. Those present every day but one were: Earl Newlin, Rosa Brandenberger,
Grace Simmons and Morris Friend. Number of pupils enrolled, 29; males 15,
"Anna Blanche Moore, Teacher"
"June 1880 - Rebecca Lemon, of Toughkenamon, has
attended the public school... for the past four years without missing a single
day. She is a bright, willing girl of fifteen, an excellent student, and
promises to make a fine scholar."
"October 1884 - A few mornings ago a Kennett Square
man driving near the public school at Toughkenamon saw a number of boys
pitching at a stake. He remarked that it was a little late in the season for
playing marbles when he was assured that is wasn't marbles they were pitching there,
but money; and sure enough, they were pitching dimes and half dimes at a stake.
One of the boys had a handful of the coin which he exhibited with great
And the following students were reported with good
attendance at Toughkenamon School in November 1887:
"Number enrolled, boys 24, girls 26. Those who
attended every day are: Willie Strahorn, Willie Pugh, Willard Carpenter, Walter
Scott, Eddie Kugler, Walter Kugler, Jennie Carpenter, Annie Pugh, Mattie Heaps,
Jennie Reese, Florence Burton, Clemmin Burton and Mary Johnson. Those missing
but half a day are Enos Strahorn, Thomas Heaps, Willie Jeanes, Sally Jeanes,
Lottie Sherrer and Rebecca Johnson. Those missing but one day are Willie
Hannum, Lavina Hannum, Dora Townsend, Alpha Townsend, Clara Reese, Kate McKay
and Carrie Johnson."
"J. Jennie Wright, Teacher"
"Cedar Spring School reported an attendance of 39
with an average of 34 daily, with the following pupils present every day during
the month (of June 1886): Thomas Milhous, Taylor W. Richards, Sara S. Barnard,
Anna J. Taylor, and Mary Boyer. One pupil deserved special mention, Taylor W.
Richards, who had not missed a day in two years. The teacher of this school was
M. Lydia Mendenhall."
"Report of Greenwood Dell school... 4th mo., 13th,
1881. Number of pupils on roll 32. No. in attendance since 4th mo. 1st, 22.
Monthly examination averages are as follows: Lidie Thomas 94, Martie Pratt and
Lawrence Thompson each 98, the former making four perfect marks (100) this and
the previous month; Frank Milhous, Laura Cloud, and Anny Lucy each 93, Anna
Thompson 92, Jesse Milhous 95, Howard Thompson and Caleb Brinton each 88. This
month Martie Pratt and Lidie Thomas rank first in class A. Frank Milhous, Caleb
Brinton and Howard Thompson each second. In class B, Anna Thompson first, Laura
Cloud, second; Iona Wagner, Annie Chambers and Caleb Brinton attended every day
during the month."
"Mary Michener, Teacher
Between 1875 and 1880 additional land was purchased
adjoining Penn Green, Cedar Spring and Greenwood Schools, and a piece added by
condemnation proceedings to Walnut Run. Various reports indicate the schools
may have been rebuilt at the same time, and some indication that entire new
structures may have been substituted for old ones, but no other information
really substantiates this. A photograph of Sunny Dell School taken after this
period of time clearly shows an addition made to the front of the building. The
following letter touches on rebuilding:
"The schools... opened on Monday, September 6th
(1880) under... the following teachers: Toughkenamon, Miss Sue Speakman; Cedar
Springs, Miss Faroe; Sunny Dell, Miss Anna Leonard; Penn Green, Miss Martin;
Walnut Run, Miss Annie M. Brown; Landenburg, Miss Josephine Boice; and
Greenwood Dell, Miss Mary Nelson. A building is in process of erection at the
latter place which will be completed in about a month.
The school buildings...are all new... substantially built
of brick, neat and attractive... pleasantly located. The furniture is of the
most approved style, and nearly all of the schools are furnished with a large
bell. That the citizens of this township have a love for the beautiful is
evident from the pretty and somewhat romantic names with which they have
christened their schools. Some of them, however, are misnomers, the 'Walnut
Run' for instance, there being no walnut trees in the immediate vicinity, but those
of the willow variety. We would therefore suggest that a more appropriate name
would be 'Willow Brook.'
"The text-books... are very good with the exceptions
of the readers and arithmetic. Greenleaf's old common school arithmetic... is
the most inferior work of the time now extant. Outline maps are greatly needed,
as the present ones are in so dilapidated a condition that it is almost
impossible to use. They... bear the scars... of many a hard-fought campaign;
and if perchance it is necessary to use them,
We take them up gingerly,
Handle with care,
Lest we make larger
The rents that are there.
As New Garden takes such pride in her school buildings,
she will no doubt see that they are supplied with appropriate apparatus ere
By 1893 there were about five hundred children of school age
in the Township, but still eight school buildings. Two of these had two
teachers handling almost ninety children in each. The Directors, Isaac
Richards, Joel B. Pusey, Mrs. Saran Sharpless, Mrs. Sallie Shortlidge, E. K.
Taylor, and W. W. Sullivan considered adding a graded school at New Garden
village in 1894; one at Toughkenamon the following year; and a third at
Landenberg in 1896. The school tax rate of 2½ mills would be raised to cover
additional building costs. A year later, February 1894, it was reported:
School House Needed"
"The School Directors of New Garden Township are
discussing the question of a new school for the lower end of the township. The
change in the boundary line placed several families in the township who were
formerly in Delaware, and these families are a long distance from Walnut Run...
This fact and the increase in the school population demand a new school
Still another year passed. Another letter was written by a
woman who strongly berated the Board of Directors for "playing
politics!" Some parts of her letter read:
"There being a great deal of power invested in a
school board, it is very important that the people... should look well to the
interests of the children... and not ignore them for the benefit of directors
or teachers... Directors should be appointed by a unanimous agreement of the
people... and not by political strategy... teachers should have but few laws in
the government of her school room, and great care should be taken that they be
well defined and understood by the pupils and strictly observed... My judgment
is few teachers are fit for a position in the school room who have not been
In 1891 the School Directors... appointed a teacher for
one of the schools who produced a satisfactory certificate and made a favorable
impression on the Superintendent and Directors. But when she entered the school
room and the little children... were assembled, she not only expressed her
disappointment in looks but in words... that the school was not what she would
like as she did not like little children, and it was evident that the children
did not like her... She expressed a desire to remain for three years in order
to make a record as a teacher and she was permitted to do so. Many of the
children were kept at home. Others were sent to another school and when it
became so large that the teacher could not get through with her classes, an
assistant was appointed. No one was sent back or discharged from the school.
(The children who had gone) were not missed. When she left
the school at the end of her third year it was very small. When the teacher
that succeeded her entered... in fall of 1894 and the children were gathered
together, it was surprising to see such a large number of pupils... the school
soon filled up to its normal condition that of four years previous. Then the
Directors began to devise some plan to get rid of the children."
She went on to say that the Directors refused to appoint an
assistant as they had done earlier, and began sending away children. The
teacher refused to tell the children they couldn't attend, and they remained
until one father came with the message that since they had discharged a family
of Irish, others had to go because the Irish would kick!
"We have a brave set of agents... afraid of the
Irish... and afraid of their Republican constituents...
Our township is under the control of a political caucus...
the office of School Director is as much sought after as though it was a
financial success, and after a Director has served for two or three successive
times, he feels that he is competent to fill a county office (or) to aspire to
a State office.
For several years the Directors... planned a new building
and the establishment of a high school in the village of New Garden... Every
winter a notice is given out that the present Board of Directors sanctions this
movement. This announcement creates quite an interest and they are re-elected,
after which there are many protests... The Directors of our township deny there
are local districts and claim their right to send the children from one end of
the township to the other. They do not acknowledge that they are the people's
agents, but claim that the people are their subjects and have no right to
interfere with their proceedings...
I am an old woman, have almost reached my three score
years and ten, saw the first public school building in the township erected and
was one of the first to enter it as a pupil and have never known so little
interest taken in them by the patrons of the schools. The only hope for the
poor is to get into a town or borough. All those that can in any way afford it
send their children to select or sectarian schools. How is this to be
"P. S. H."
Perhaps her anger aroused the Board, for in June of that
same year it was announced that Hoopes and Strickland were awarded the contract
for a new school building in Landenberg, and G. Pugh the one for a new school
at Toughkenamon, with work to start immediately. Entire new buildings were not
constructed, but second stories were added to each of the existing ones in
those villages. Grades one through four were taught in the first floor room and
five through eight in the second.
During 1898 and 1899 it was necessary to use the Lyceum
House for classroom facilities, but in August of 1900 another school building
was under construction. It sat on a lot purchased from Edward Dillon for
$315.00 at the corner of Route 41 and New Garden Road and adjoined the Lyceum
House. Two names have been attached to this building, New Garden School and the
Central School. It included a two year high school course, but closed in only
ten years. When it was sold to Benjamin Walton in 1911, it was listed as
Central Grammar School. Area children who received a high school education
after that found it elsewhere. One young lady, Anne Sheehan, the daughter of
the aforementioned Daniel Sheehan, was the only graduate in the Class of 1914
from Avondale. She reported that her attendance was required there since her
father had worked so strenuously to have the third year added to its course. On
Graduation Day she was ushered from that hall of learning with all the pomp and
circumstance that would have been given to a class of a hundred. She finished
her fourth year of high school in Kennett.
Walnut Run School was sold in 1916, followed by Cedar Springs
in 1917. The Townships of New Garden and London Grove, along with the Boroughs
of West Grove and Avondale agreed to consolidate their districts, subject to
taxpayer approval, in 1920. To the utter dismay of the Boards involved, New
Garden rejected the consolidation and continued independently until 1931 when
it became part of the Kennett Consolidated School District. The remaining
school buildings were then closed and sold. The "little red
schoolhouses" were all gone.
Central School is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Williams; Walnut Run that of Mr. and Mrs. William Aurig; Cedar Springs was torn
down when Liberty Knoll Apartments were built. Greenwood Dell is the residence
of Mrs. Catherine Francescon; Sunny Dell that of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Patterson;
Landenberg the home of' Mr. and Mrs. John C. Breckenridge. Toughkenamon School
is a residence; Penn Green School has been demolished. Chestnut Green School
House, the oldest standing in our Township stands sadly empty on the property
of its owner, Mrs. Raymond O'Neal.
Information of the school of Hannah Cope may be found under
the section entitled Toughkenamon. One of the oldest and best known boarding
schools in New Garden Township was that of Enoch Lewis. Located in the house now
owned by the Bonafacino family on New Garden Road near Route 41, it was opened
on October 1, 1808, by a man of superior abilities who had long been respected
for his achievements both in education and for his work with the Society of
Friends of which he was a member.
Lewis was born in Radnor to Evan and Jane Meredith Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis was a woman of superior intellect, particularly noted for her
mathematical ability. Her son soon showed a passion for figures and a great
thirst for knowledge. His education was limited to that received by other
farmers' sons of the time, and after he was eight years old, he attended school
only three months out of each year for he was needed on the family farm. He
learned all his teachers could supply and at age 15 very successfully taught
the Radnor school himself. After a year, he went to Philadelphia and enrolled
at Friends' Academy where he attended half a day, and taught classes the other
half. This ended when his instructor died and he turned to surveying as well as
teaching for a few years. Alice Jackson, daughter of Isaac and Hannah Jackson
of New Garden Township, became his wife in May 1799. Because of recurring
yellow fever epidemics he left teaching for awhile, but shortly assumed
direction of the mathematical department at the Friends' boarding-school which
had been established at West town a short time earlier. He continued there
until 1808. His father-in-law died in the meantime and Lewis purchased of the
heirs part of the farm in New Garden Township including the "mansion
building" and moved there. He spent the summer of 1808 enlarging the
dwelling to provide accommodations for pupils. Enrollment in the "New
Garden Boarding School for Boys" increased rapidly to 25. Although he had
originally intended teaching only mathematics, he soon added reading, English
grammar, Geography and experimental philosophy. Mrs. Lewis often taught the
reading and grammar classes. During long winter evenings lectures were
delivered, and experiments exhibited on the laws of gravitation, mechanical
action, light, heat, and electricity. Between 1808 and 1812, although busy with
his school, Lewis revised for publication books on algebra and trigonometry.
When his wife died in 1813, Lewis dismissed school and went on a tour of
southern states to ascertain the sentiments of the leading men there on the
subject of Negro slavery. As October 1814 neared, Lewis decided to reopen
school. Board was $160.00 per year, but later dropped to $30.00 per quarter.
Lewis only taught for half the year since he preferred to tend to his farm
during the summer months. His son, Joseph, taught from 1819 to 1821, and left
to take charge of Chester County Academy in Great Valley at age 20. Enoch Lewis
remarried in 1815, and ten years later in order to save himself from financial
loss, purchased a house in Wilmington, Delaware, where he opened a school for
young men interested in mathematics. He returned to New Garden in 1836 and
stayed eleven more years before moving to Philadelphia and selling his local
property. Lewis died in Philadelphia at age 85 in 1856. His influence was
readily felt in the Township for he was considered an uncommonly kind man who
took great interest in those around him. He frequently lost money that he lent
others. It has been said that while many lived more brilliant lives, rarely did
any live a better one than Enoch Lewis.
Sometime after Lewis' school closed, another operated by
Benjamin Hoopes, Jr. opened above Toughkenamon, located one mile north-west of
the Hammer and Trowel Inn. It first appears on a map of 1847, and its
advertisements in 1852 and 1853 state that the New Garden Boarding School for
Young Men and Boys would open for twenty weeks in July. It supplied a
substantial English Education with lectures of various scientific subjects
scheduled for once a week. Tuition, boarding and washing were supplied for
$35.00 over a twelve weeks period.
A map of 1860 shows a school building at this location, but
does not identify it by any name and no further references were found to