Old Stone School, Champion District 5

 

The site of the Old Stone School was located on Route 3, between the villages of Great Bend and Deferiet, not far from the western bank of the Black River where Route 3 crosses it.  Situated on the north side of the road, the site is opposite the lower entrance to Johnnycake Road (Jackson II Road) which leads up the western side of the Black River.  A large portion of District No. 5 is encircled by the river known as the great bend, where it turns from the northerly course and swings west.  A short, dead-end road leads into this area, leaving Route 3 near the Old Stone School site.

On July 25, 1835, this district was created as No.19.  According to Jefferson County Book of Deeds, 113, page 220, Chauncy Coffeen and his wife Mary, sold 1000 square feet of land to District 19 for the sum of $3, on July 27, 1838.  The school building itself was located on a small rise, with a sharp drop-off behind it.  The adjacent area has been built up quite thickly in recent years, being part of the thriving Deferiet village expansion.  The schoolhouse was built of stone, with its entrance facing the road.  Drinking water was brought from neighbors' well.  Around 1900, the school was being attended by 15 to 20 pupils. 

Some of these pupils, not unlike many others, became convinced that the spelling lessons were too hard.  Deciding to do something about it, they hid their spelling books in a pile of stones on Johnnycake Road, "finding' them again on the last day of school.

Among the recollections of some of the former pupils, three teachers Miss Stone, Nellie Ford and a Miss Gibbons were mentioned.  The Old Stone School (having become part of District 5 on July 18, 1864) was closed about 1907, and the books in the district library were divided among the last pupils who attended.

After the school was closed, it stood idle for many years.  Finally, in 1923, the voters decided to sell the building, feeling that it was in the best interests of the district to continue to contact its pupils to neighboring villages.  A resolution to this effect was passed at the annual school meeting on May 1, 1923.  The building was sold to John and Julia Soyak in July of the same year, with the condition that it was torn down.  That was carried out and the stone was used for sub-basing for the dead-end road leading into the north end of District No. 5. 

In the expansion of Pine Camp in 1949, the whole of the northern part of District No. 5, lying inside the great bend of the Black River was taken by the government.  This area was not thickly settled and its loss to the district was not a stunning one.

District No. 5, by closing its school so early, was not confronted with many of the problems which had beset the other districts in connection with the operation of their schools, especially during their last 30 years.  Of those long ago years were the Old Stone School was in operational, more is unknown than known.

 

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CRT, Jan. 29, 1959