The Harris School; Former District 6, Town of Champion

Harris School, Champion District 6

In 1914 the town of Champion had 504 children over five and under 15 years of age.  The township educated 572 in that year and matched the $77.21 it received in state aid.

District No. 6, town of Champion, lies to the west of Champion village.  Taking the road "over the hills" to Watertown from the village of Champion, one sights the WCNY -TV tower and as the old broadcasting studio is approached, a gravel side-road turns off to the left about one-half mile short of the studio.

The Harris Schoolhouse lies a short distance down this road, appearing as two white objects from the county highway - the large one being the school building and the tiny one the old outdoor toilets.  The site is surrounded by fields and pastures of the neighboring farms and a 1,200 foot hill rolls upward on the southwest quarter.  To the west and north appear the abrupt drop-offs of the Rutland hills, below which Townsend Creek winds its way, one branch of which has its source near the Harris School.

The first schoolhouse of District 6 was not located on the present site, but up the road a short distance, on a knoll.  The present school lot was taken from the Harris homestead which was located opposite corner from the present home of Ms. Margaret O'Brien.  Leonard Harris and his wife sold one-quarter acre to the district for $7.96 on January 6, 1880.

Any records of the Harris school before 1900 have disappeared, but some information has come to us from memories of older residents; Sunday School classes in the building were under the direction of Seward Merrill.  Attendance at the public school varied from 1 to 20 pupils.  District 6 had its share of pupil pranks and strong measures were taken by the teachers to control them.

Drinking water for the pupils was procured from a nearby spring, until a well was drilled.  There was a woodhouse, but the Harris School never had inside toilets, the outside ones being used until the day it closed.  In 1934 the trustee was instructed to build a new chimney on the south side of the school from the ground up.

Harris school was closed in 1951.  The pupils were contracted to the West Carthage school for $1,200, with $300 extra to bring the kindergarten children home at noon.

Teachers prior to 1913 included; Elizabeth Hill, Letta Douglas, Lena Fiestel, Cora Harris, Grace Harris, Julie Conroy, Mae Goodenough, Squire Snell, Cadwell Lewis, Miss Mallory, Emma Peck, Emma Dell Graves, and Carrie Owens.

Roll of teachers beginning with 1913:  1913-14 Jessie Purcell; 1914-17 Dora Lanphear; 1917-18 Magdalene Lanphear; 1919-21 Anna S. McAvery; 1921-22 Ralph Patchin, 1923-24 Anna E. Stewell; 1923-24 Lillian Williams; 1925-26 Jessie Purcell; 1926-28 Dora Baker, 1928-29 Rachel L Watal; 1929-32 Mrs. Dora Baker; 1932-33  Marion Bradish; 1933-35 Mrs. Minnie Rounds.  1935-36 George A. Cutting, 1936-38 Mrs. Minnie Rounds; 1938-40 Mrs. Mary Burnash; 1940-44 Mrs. Minnie Rounds; 1944-45 Helen ?, Doris Evans; 1945-46 Elizabeth Engelhart; 1946-47 Helen Stracey; 1947-48 Lita Harris; 1948-50 Mrs. Florence Washburn; 1950-51 Mrs. Minnie Rounds.

In retrospect, it may be said that the Harris School was aptly named, for the Harrises were among the original settlers of Champion.  They located in District 6 and sold the land for the school and generations of Harris children attended it.  Indeed, the district had never been without a Harris family since its beginning.

 

CRT, August 21, 1958

The Harris School is today the home of Mr. and Mrs. Don Rohr.  Additions have been made to both sides of the original school house.

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