Monday, November 3, 2014

Twenty Mile Stream School by Mary Adams Fulhum

Memories of Mrs. Mary Adams Fullum, widow of Wallace Sullivan Fullum of Twenty-Mile Stream Cavendish.
Mary was born in Cavendish 9 April 1836, daughter of Proctor and Mary (Baldwin) Adams. (see Families of Cavendish, Vol. 1, and Vol 3). 

"A Few Reminiscences of School District Number Five, Twenty-Mile Stream, in Cavendish"
by Mary Adams Fulhum, Bellows Falls, Vermont.  Written in 1910.

                  Sometime in the last years of the 17th century, my maternal grandfather, Thomas Baldwin,became an inhabitant of the Twenty-Mile Stream School District, bringing his bride and their very few belongings by ox team from Massachusetts, to the historic Captain John Coffeen Place, leaving my grandmother there while he prepared a home for them.  It was a little log cabin in the northwest corner of the district and the northwest corner of the town as well.  In those early years his milling had to be done by carrying bags of grain on his back and later on horseback to Chester, I think. 

                  There were born to them nine children—six boys and three girls.  My mother next to the youngest of the children, commenced her schooling in a room in the home of Mr. James Smith, now [1920] the home of the Willis Spaulding family.  Between the terms of school she helped about the household duties.  She learned to spin both flax and wool and also to weave them into cloth which later was colored and made into garments for all members of the household by a seamstress hired by the family for the purpose.  The boots and shoes of the family were manufactured by a traveling cobbler or shoemaker who made a business of going from house to house, plying his trade or "whipping the cat" as it was then called.  After a while several industries had started up in the immediate neighborhood. There was a carding machine for forming the wool into rolls, ready for the spinning wheels which had previously been done by hand cards.  Then a starch factory was put in operation by Esquire William Smith where people could dispose of their surplus potatoes to be made into starch. In the meantime the people had built themselves a schoolhouse near the center of the district, that being the old one that was torn down in 1861. 

                  About the year 1820 my paternal grandfather, Salathiel Adams Sr., located in the south end of the district on the place known I think, as the Shurtleff Tavern, and in which he also entertained travelers.  It stood on the rise of ground directly across the road from where Mr. Walton Green's barn now stands.  After awhile his two sons Salathiel Jr. and Proctor Adams, joined him and built themselves homes—one on each side of him.  Salathiel Adams Jr. built where Walton Green now lives and Proctor where John Dix lives.  The brothers made an industry of hop raising, each one having a house for curing or drying them.  They also had a mill for cider making a little farther up the stream.  Proctor gave up his interest in both of these enterprises after a few years and so they were continued by Salathiel. Salathiel also had and operated a mill across the stream for sawing lumber.  The cider mill was washed away in the freshet of 1869, but the sawmill is now standing.  

                  Seventy years ago, the little burg at the south end of the district afforded quite a number of different vocations. Salathiel Adams was a carpenter and a joiner and conducted both cider and saw mills.  Salathiel Adams Sr. was a cooper.  Proctor Adams was a shoemaker.  Stillman Marsh was the blacksmith and Zenas Clark was the tanner.

                  The school operated in an orderly fashion.  Each family in the district sent its quota of scholars to the square roofed schoolhouse and most of them were a good large quota at that. The schoolroom had two rows of seats around its outer edge and between 40 and 50 lads and lassies took their allotted places upon them.  At night when the oldest were lined up for the last spelling, they reached fully across two sides of the schoolroom.  There was usually held two terms of school of three months each in each year.  Each district had the ruling of their own affairs. They held yearly meetings and appointed a Clerk, Treasurer, Prudential Committee and Tax Collector, to conduct the affairs for the year.  The laws of the State of Vermont required each district to maintain a certain number of weeks of school at their own expense.  When they complied with that, they could draw from the Town a certain amount of State money which the State provided each Town for that purpose.  There came a time when several of the districts in our town failed to comply with the requirements of the State, thereby losing their portion of public money.  The surplus money was then distributed amongst those that had conformed to the law—the Wheeler School being one of them.  It enabled the people to maintain the two terms of four months each for two or three years, but by that time, the delinquents had got their eyes opened to the situation and returned to their proper way.

                  Three generations of my family have conned the rudiments of their education within the walls of the two schoolrooms.  My mother, myself and my children.  My first teacher was Sally Hall, a daughter of Captain James Wharrol Hall, then living just outside the district's limits in the town of Reading.  For over half a century, this Cavendish District was my home.  May God's Blessings rest upon it." 

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