Squash Hole School, Croghan District 14

District No. 14 was located in the town of Croghan and partly in the town of Wilna, with its schoolhouse situated in the town of Croghan on the River road leading from Carthage to Naumburg.  It was known as the "Squash Hole" School because of its proximity to a small creek which enters the Black River just north of the schoolhouse.

The River Road crosses this stream on a small bridge now; but many years ago, before the road was improved for autos, the spot was a dreaded morass to cross with horses, especially during the wet season.  A short distance south of the Squash Hole school, the old State road joins the River Road from the east.  The Black River detours away from the River Road in a wide arc near the school site, approaching the highway again at the "squash hole".

The school building is parallel to the road, with its entrance facing north, and a cement sidewalk leading to the door.  It is situated on a low bluff, overlooking the river, on the west side of the road.  Originally, District 14 was known as No 16, having been created as such on May 5, 1848, by order of School Commissioner B. R. Ellis.  It became No. 14 on October 8, 1864. 

On November 2, 1887, District No.14 acquired its lot of one-quarter of an acre for the sum of $1, from David W. Ash and Orpha V., his wife.  The deed, recording in Book of Deeds, page 88.  There is good evidence that District 14 was supporting a school many years before its deed was drawn.

A clothier and tailor shop proprietor of Carthage, the late John W. Clark, often said that he had taught school at the Squash Hole school before the Civil War, of which he was a veteran. 

John Farr, Charles M. Holden and Edmond Stubbs were the trustees for District 14 when, in 1870, part of the district was siphoned off to form a new district, No. 17 whose schoolhouse was on the Wrape Road and was known, appropriately , as the Wrape school.  No. 17 eventually was taken into Wilna District 13, which operated the Castle school at the time of centralization.

Little is known about the operation of District 14 school until about 1900.  An old attendance record report, dated 1914 lists the school searing capacity as 21.  Drinking water was brought from the neighbors' wells. 

The last annual meeting at the Squash Hole school was held in 1953.  Voters attending were plainly not deterred by talk of centralization for upkeep of their schoolhouse. District 14 adhered to this course for two more years, but its strength was waning, and as the spring of 1956 blossomed into summer, the last pupils passed out the door, the teacher gathered up her things, and the door of the Squash Hole school was locked shut, never to  open again.  At a meeting in 1959, attended by three voters, permission was given for the building to be sold at auction.

 

This picture of the 1939 Squash Hole School class was donated by Duane Steiner, Old State Road. He was able to name all the students:  Front row, left to right:  James Hiscock, Leona Card Pignone Mosell, Joseph Zecher, Duane Steiner, Beverly Branigan, Fred Bingle, Wilbur Roggie (d), Evelyn Hiscock. Second row, left to right; Everet Card, Beulah Roggie Beller, Betty Bingle L'Huillier, Wesley Card, Leslie Card, Jack Ebersol, Elton Roggie (d), Niles Roggie (d).  The teacher was Mary Frances Zehr O'Connor Scanlon (d).

 

The long list of teachers associated with the school includes Mr. Clark, who taught before the Civil War; and Magdelene Lanphear, Bertha and Jennie Hubbard, Sophia Riley, Mabel Wisner, Mary Waite, Ida Slaid (Slade) and sisters Nellie, Agnes and Katherine Shea, all of whom taught there between 1900 and 1914.  Thereafter, the roster reads as follows:  1914-16, Ruth Zecher; 1916-17, Mrs. Marie Bintz; 1917-18, Ethel H. Clark; 1918-19, Florence M. Brown; 1919-20, Ruth S. Dickenson; 1920-22, Mabel Waggoner; 1922-24, Dorothy Reffanacht; 1924-25 Mrs. Dorothy Reffanacht Bingle; 1925-28, Ruth Zahn; 1928-29, Frances Boursy; 1929-31, Susanne B. Gill.  1931-32, Beulah Perry; 1932-22, Mary L. Zahn; 1933-34, Beulah Perry; 1934-36, Ruth M. Patterson;  1936-38, Beulah L. Perry; 1938-39, Kathleen Bergin; 1939-40, Kathleen Bergin, Mary F. Zehr; 1940-42, Mrs. Mildred P. Goutremont; 1942-43, Mrs. Clara E. Hall; 1943-45,Mrs. Mona L. Tiffany; 1945-46, Mrs. Tiffany and Mrs. Loretta O'Neil; 1946-47, Mrs. O'Neil; 1947-51, Grace E. Sheley; 1951-54, Helen Zecher; 1954-56, Mrs. Beverly Siedlecki.

first row:  Wendell Davis, Ronnie Austin, Harold Hammond
second row:  Brenda Walsemann O'Donnell, Mary Harper Sweeney, Joy Steiner LaCroix
third row:  Miss Grace Sheley, teacher, and Ann Davis     Picture circa 1950

The Black River still rolls silently by the Squash Hole school; the grass in its yard still greens in the spring and withers in the fall.  The school sits on the windswept bluff and patiently waits; waits for the teacher to arrive and to make things orderly; waits for the pupils to come; waits for the learning to continue.

CRT, Feb 5, 1959

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Location of Squash Hole School February 2004