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  • Way Back Wednesday's: Education In Scioto County Part 2

    By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings Stories Inspired From "History of Scioto County" The City Schools Portsmouth schools got their start when Henry Massie, the town's founder, donated lots 130 and 140 for school purposes. Second Street School was built on the site, and Fourth Street School later was built on lot 39, also donated by Massie. These, of course, came much later than the settling of the town. Alexandria school, which disappeared with the early town after Portsmouth was developing, reportedly was founded in 1806. Twelve years later Joseph Wheeler opened an "English School" as Wheeler's Academy, with fees of $2.50 quarterly, plus expense assistance with firewood. Clarkson Smith later opened another subscription school on Second Street with fees of $25 a year. Furniture in the schools was meager, with split logs for seats, with wide boards fastened to walls for desks. Generally boys and girls attended classes in separate rooms. A co-educational academy was proposed in 1827, but even at that, separate classes were the rule, with safe distances between male and female classrooms. Boys were to be taught grammar, geography and Latin, with Greek at an additional cost. Girls were to get classes in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and plain and fancy needlecraft. Financial success of subscription schools seems to have been less than ideal. While the proprietors were trying to get the co-educational school started, another teacher was pleading with parents to pay up before forcing him into bankruptcy. The first "free school" was taught by George R. Kelley (1829) in a small frame building near Front and Washington Sts. The school, financed from the sale of Section 16 of the township as provided by the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1785, was able to operate only until the funds were gone — about three months. Public sentiment was strongly in favor for those with children, but even more so for payment by those with children, only. Few people seemed sufficiently interested in public schools to support taxes for education purposes. Funding sources for the free school remain unidentified. Also in 1836 the city gave property at Fifth and Court Sts. to James Lodwick, Washington Kinney and Peter Kinney for a free school. They built a 2-story brick structure at a cost of $900. The lower section also was used by the Select Female Academy. All Saints Church used the upper part at one time for its Sunday School. At a later date the city bought the property back and used it as a full public school. One of the most significant steps in Portsmouth educational development came in 1838 when the town charter was amended placing the onus of education on the town, giving power to levy taxes, buy lots, pay teachers, supply fuel and furnish equipment. This, in fact, was the beginning of public schools for the city. By 1842 enrollment had grown to 468 in the city, but average daily attendance was only 220, a problem that plagued the system for years. This was before compulsory attendance, and at a time when the school was segregating male and female students. Per-pupil expenses for 1842 were listed at $7.52. With the passing of the months, attendance grew, and more buildings were needed. This came at a time when private schools still were available and apparently beginning to prosper. Building costs also were increasing, and by 1850 the contract for the three-story, 12-room building at Second and Chillicothe Sts. was $7,184. Finally, in 1857, the city turned schools over to a board of education, following approval of public voting. This action came only a year after the city had opened its first high school in the face of strong opposition. Education beyond the basics still was considered an unnecessary frill. Five seniors graduated in 1860, the first of a growing trend. By 1874 there were 13 graduates, but in 1875 the class dropped to six. On the positive side, by 1876, 31 of the city teachers were products of the high school. Portsmouth experienced remarkable growth late in the 1800s and early 1900s. Schools kept pace. The high school was moved to Gallia and Waller Sts. property in 1897, and by 1912 the original part of a new building was occupied, with additional space provided in 1922. Records of 1908 showed schools operating as: Bond Street, Campbell Street, Eleventh Street, Highland, Fourth Street, Offnere Street, Second Street and Union Street. Garfield and Lincoln were in use by 1916, and McKinley was under construction by 1917. Massie School replaced Second Street School.

  • Way Back Wednesday's: Education In Scioto County Part 1

    By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings Stories Inspired From "History of Scioto County" Hello and welcome back to the fourth edition of Way Back Wednesday’s where we are aiming to highlight the amazing and vast history that is within our county! This week we are taking a look at segments of “Education In Scioto County”, courtesy of the “History of Scioto County” by the Portsmouth Area Recognition Society. This story is broken into three separate categories and we will cover all three categories over three weeks: county schools, city schools, and parochial schools. From humble beginnings of puncheon floors, split-log seats and desks to match, schools have somehow progressed to today’s very sophisticated learning centers. Many are complete with contour seats, carpeted or tile floors, and computerized teaching aids. In less than 180 years Scioto County education has progressed from virtually nothing to a broad-based opportunity for almost everyone, ranging from academic, technical, vocational, and college programs. County Schools “Just Happened” County schools, not unlike Topsy if anyone remembers that far back, seem to have "just happened" until around 1914 when the Ohio School Code provided for county school districts with boards of education and superintendents. Before that there were 24 school districts in the county, and they left few records of their growth. The present county system, developed as a result of the 1914 Code, has to be credited to a great extent to the efforts of the late E.O. McCowen, the first superintendent. McCowen was selected to the position in June 1914, when presidents of the 24 districts (all independent) gathered to implement the mandate of the new Code. They selected the board which chose McCowen for the task of conforming to the new rules and regulations. What was to become a long-time assignment began with 108 one-room schools; two 4-year high schools (Wheelers-burg and Lucasville) and three two-year high schools (New Boston, South Webster and Green Township). There were 19 districts without high schools. In fact, total high school enrollment in 1914 was only 180, reflecting still the lack of concern for more than basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Generally, conditions were poor, and many students couldn't afford to travel to Portsmouth or one of the other high schools. Eighth grade was the end for many. Salary increases — to as high as $160 a month in 1920 —free textbooks, school tax levies and longer terms combined to give more attention to the schools. Consolidation made it easier to offer high school, and by 1926 South Webster, Green, Minford, McDermott, Otway and Rarden had four-year programs. From 1926 to 1937 high school enrollment in the county doubled. The 1984-85 records, by district and schools are: BLOOM — Vernon 312, Scioto Furnace 114, South Webster 291 and Bloom High School 511. CLAY — Rosemount 230, Rubyville 156 and Clay High School 372. GREEN — Elementary 457 and High School 404. MINFORD — Primary 527, Middle 647 and High School 472. NEW BOSTON — Stanton Primary 193, Oak Intermediate 132 and Glenwood High School 234. NORTHWEST — McDermott 441, Morgan 305, Otway 352, Union 368 and Northwest High School 612. VALLEY Glendale 132, Elementary 393, Intermediate 447 and Valley High School 409. WASHINGTON — Dry Run 156, Friendship 313, Jenkins 325, Nauvoo 579 and Portsmouth West High School 665, the county's largest. Total enrollment for the term was 12,299, reflecting that the system of constructing schools where buses could bring in the children was paying dividends.

  • Way Back Wednesday's: The County Seat Story

    By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings Stories Inspired From "History of Scioto County" Hello and welcome back to the third edition of Way Back Wednesday’s where we are aiming to highlight the amazing and vast history that is within our county! This week we are taking a look at, “The County Seat Story” courtesy of the “History of Scioto County” by the Portsmouth Area Recognition Society. Samuel Marshall, Sr. was one of the first white settlers to ever build his home in Scioto County. This was in 1796 and sparked the massive influx of settlers shortly after in what is now known as the area of Alexandria. Alexandria grew over the years and became the headquarters of government and business in this section of the county. Businesses moved in permanently and this area became a trading center for suppliers. The town gained a post office on July 1, 1808 and became incorporated March 15, 1815. When floods took over Alexandria, the county seat moved to Portsmouth and so did its settlers. Soon Alexandria was washed away from the river into oblivion. In 1820 the town was recorded to have 527 residents. Market Street was the center of town. Work was being done on the courthouse. It took three years and approximately a million dollars to build. Portsmouth soon became the valley’s trading center. Several trading houses opened and commercial advantages of the area were placed under development. When the canal was completed in 1832 it made Portsmouth the largest distributing port on the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Social, political, and business life in Portsmouth centered around the canal from 1825 to 1860. Between 1825 and 1828, Portsmouth saw sixty-eight different steam boats arrive and depart. In 1828 it saw 804. These boats were magnificent. They featured excellent cuisine, bridal suites, and more. The foundries of the area made thousands of cannonballs during the Civil War. Shiploads of soldiers and supplies left Portsmouth’s docks to aid in the Union cause. This area is surrounded by glorious history. It is a privilege to write and share these stories with you. Come back next week as we take a look at the education in Scioto County!

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