Old Brown's Mill School filled with memories

June 24, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

photos: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Old Brown's Mill School

One school of thought says when courses are over for the summer, the classroom is the last place students want to be.

To better appreciate today's conveniences, they can take some lessons from the past.

--cont from lifestyle--

A good place to see education in its early stages of development is Old Brown's Mill School Museum in Kauffman, Pa.

The one-room school three miles north of Greencastle, Pa., is a quiet reminder of a way of life that has fallen by the wayside, but it's not hard to imagine a room filled with spirited children.


The Old Brown's Mill School was built in 1836, and it served the community until a consolidated school was opened in 1922. In 1935, the Old Brown's Mill School was restored and dedicated as a memorial to the one-room schools of Franklin County.

The school has a special place in many people's hearts because they helped to restore it, says Bernice Reese, coordinator of the museum.

To help finance the restoration, children in Franklin County schools were asked to contribute.

By the time the building was dedicated in October 1935, about 7,000 pupils and teachers had given more than $500.

PrimersLedgers recording the donations are on display at the front of the museum, and former students and their families delight in finding their names in the lists of faded ink, says Reese, a Chambersburg, Pa., resident who retired in 1975 after teaching in the Chambersburg area schools for almost 40 years.

Glen Cump, a Greencastle resident who attended first and second grades at the school from 1920 until 1922, has a particular fondness for the stone building that housed first through eighth grades.

The 84-year-old historian renewed his ties with the school after he retired from Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. 19 years ago, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge and memories with visitors.

The museum, which is preserved as a historic site on the Pennsylvania Trail of History, is open on summer weekends. The museum opens for the season Saturday, July 4, from 1 to 4 p.m., and visitors can see it at other times by appointment.

The Franklin County Chapter of Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees is responsible for providing volunteers to serve as hosts and hostesses, with assistance from American Association of Retired Persons, Franklin County Daughters of the American Revolution, The Kittochtinny Historical Society and Old Brown's Mill School Alumni.

The school property was deeded to Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1962, and since 1976, Greencastle-Antrim School District has supervised its availability to visitors.

Slates and booksThe museum houses a variety of educational memorabilia, including furniture, books, slates and school annuals.

Visitors are fascinated by the framed photographs of the school's students and teachers, Reese says.

"They stand around and look at these pictures and see if they can identify any of the people," Reese says.

According to Cump, the school had 43 teachers.

In 1868, a teacher's monthly salary was $11.21 for women and $17.21 for men, he says.

Reese says the teacher's desk on the raised platform at the front of the classroom intrigues visitors. The teacher's elevated position allowed him or her to better keep an eye on the students, she says.

No one knows that better than Cump.

He says the desks of the period, with their cavities for inkwells, bring back memories - especially one incident that happened when he was about 8 years old.

"The young lady in front of me had a long pigtail, and I fished that pigtail into that cavity," Cump recalls.

Cump closed the desk, and when his classmate tried to get up, her hair was stuck.

When Cump was called to the front of the class to take his punishment, the teacher and other students discovered Cump had torn a hole in the seat of his pants at recess.

"They all laughed, and I never got a licking," he says.


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