Shelburne — Schools
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The first attempt to provide schools seems to have been made in 1770, when it was voted to divide the place into four parts, and to have school one month in each part. Watson Freeman taught school in Shelburne about this time, and he was probably the first school-teacher in these parts.
In 1771, £15 were raised for schooling, and, five school districts being created, each district was permitted to draw £3 for school support, but, the district failing to keep school, was to forfeit all claim upon the £3.
In 1777 the districts were still five, but the annual appropriation amounted to £30.
During his ministry, Rev. Theophilus Packard, pastor of the First Congregational Church, prepared many pupils for college, and thirty-one for the ministry. Among the teachers of select schools were Augustus Pomeroy, Elizabeth. Smith, Caroline Webster, Marion Packard, S. W. Kellogg, Pliny Fisk, and Rowland Howes.
Of Stephen Taylor, who was a tavern-keeper and teamster as well as a school-teacher in the long-ago, it is told that he was very fond of his pipe, and used invariably to smoke it while listening to the recitations of his pupils.
In 1793 the town proposed to found an academy, and agreed to raise £200 for the purpose, conditioned upon the Legislature's extending some aid toward the project, but the Legislature declined to encourage the enterprise, and it was therefore at that time abandoned; but in 1833 local public spirit proved equal to the emergency; and the academy was incorporated in that year as the Franklin Academy, and re-chartered in 1847 as the Shelburne Falls Academy.
This institution of learning, known as the Shelburne Falls Academy, was founded upon a fund of $5000, raised by individual subscriptions, and of that fund $1500 were devoted to the erection of the academy building, and upon the income of the $3500 residue, the academy has since been maintained. The school took high rank from the outset, and was exceedingly prosperous until the introduction of high schools narrowed its sphere of usefulness. It is now a free school to all children in the town, and is still maintained by the original fund, which is somewhat shorn of its proportions, but promises speedily to be increased by the friends of the enterprise.
The Arms Academy, for whose endowment Ira Arms bequeathed, upon his death, in 1859, a fund of $18,000, will be erected during the year 1879, upon a handsome piece of ground of about two acres in area, and located in the eastern portion of Shelburne Falls village. The Arms Academy fund had reached, in March, 1879, upward of $40,000, and of that sum it was proposed to invest $10,000 in an academy building, and to apply $10,000 to the furnishing of the school and the engagement of a corps of teachers. $20,000 of the sum is to remain, under the conditions of the will, upon permanent investment, the income of which is to be devoted to the support of the academy.
Among the college graduates natives of Shelburne were Lewis Long, Robert Hubbard, Jr., Amariah Chandler, Ezra and Pliny Fisk, Samuel I. Wells, William Wells, George Bull, Theophilus Packard, Jr., Levi Pratt, Joseph Anderson, Giles Lyman, Alvan S. Anderson, Pliny Fisk (2d), Daniel T. Fisk, S. W. Kellogg, J. F. Severance, Samuel Fisk, W. W. Ladden, D. W. Wilcox, Asa S. Fisk, and Asa S. Hardy.
The report of the school committee in 1878 stated that for the scholastic year of 1877 and 1878 there were eleven schools in the town, including primary, grammar, intermediate, and high schools, for which the expenditures were $3700, and at which the average attendance was 207.
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