By Dan Cole, Charlotte Historical Society
In his memoirs published in 1888, Civil War General Philip Sheridan recalls his early schooling:
“When I was old enough I was sent to the village school, which was taught by an old-time Irish ‘master’ (Mr. McNanly) … who, holding that to spare the rod was to spoil the child, if unable to detect the real culprit when any offense had been committed, would consistently apply the switch to the whole school without discrimination. It must be conceded that by this means he never failed to catch the guilty mischief-maker.
“The school-year was divided into terms of three months, the teacher being paid in each term a certain sum — three dollars, I think, for each pupil — and having an additional perquisite in the privilege of boarding around at his option in the different families to which his scholars belonged. This feature was more than acceptable to the parents … but the pupils were in almost unanimous opposition because Mr. McNanly’s unheralded advent at anyone’s house resulted frequently in the discovery that some favorite child had been playing ‘hookey,’ which means absenting one’s self from school without permission, to go on a fishing or a swimming frolic.
“Such at least was my experience more than once, for Mr. McNanly particularly favored my mother’s house … and many a time a comparison of notes proved that I had been in the woods with two playfellows, named Binckly and Greiner, when the master thought I was home, ill, and my mother, that I was at school, deeply immersed in study.
“However, with these and other delinquencies not uncommon among boys, I learned at McNanly’s school … about as far as I could be carried up to the age of 14. This was all the education then bestowed on me — with the exception of progressing in some of these branches by voluntary study, and by practical applications in others.”
In this issue, we look at school No. 5. It was located on what is now Greenbush Road about half a mile north of the West Village on the west side. According to information gathered by the Charlotte Library, school No. 5 was known as the Barton School. It was named for builder and owner of the tavern in the village, Joseph Barton.
According to Frank Thornton, late president of the Charlotte Historical Society, the school burned in 1895 and the students were moved to the seminary building, which will be covered in a future issue.
For more about the history of Charlotte’s schoolhouses, you can check out our library’s website (charlottepubliclibrary.org). In the middle of the bar at the top of the home page, hover over “at the library.” On the drop-down menu, hover over “special collections.” On the drop-down menu here click on “local history & genealogy.” Scroll down to “presentations” and click “read it” next to “Jenny Cole’s Charlotte schoolhouse story walk.”