Compiled and Written by: Marian M. Smith (March 2009)
The New Mahoning School which I attended from 1931-1939 is deteriorating very fast. If something isn’t done soon to repair it, there will just be a memory of our early education system in our village.
In the mid 1830’s the Pennsylvania Public School Law was adopted. Up until this time there were private schools in the limits of Mahoning Township, the first of which were kept by the Moravians at the Gnaden Hutten Mission along the Mahoning Creek in what today is Lehighton and Graverville in Mahoning Township.
At that point in time, most of the land in what is New Mahoning south of Mahoning Dr. West reaching to the Mahoning Creek was owned by a farmer, Henry Arner, whose homestead was at 523 Mill Road (where today is Remmey Pallet Co.).
Mahoning Township adopted the Pennsylvania Public School Law in 1840. The first public school building in New Mahoning was known as the “Amer” School. It was at 2307 Mahoning Drive West (where Charles and Lula Schock latter lived). The property had been part of the original Henry Amer farm, hence the “Amer” School. It is not known when it was built, there are some conflicting information. According to the History of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon Counties (1894), Ammon Arner, Born in 1822, Son of Henry Amer, attended the “Amer” School. If the school was built when the school law was adopted or soon after, Ammon would have been 18 or 19 years old, rather unusual for a farm boy to be attending school at that age. The school could have been built before the Public School Law was adopted by Mahoning and used as a private school that Ammon Amer could have attended. However, the school had to be built several years before 1861 because when President Lincoln’s call for troops came to enlist in the Union Army of the Civil War, there were 37 soldiers, pupils, who had attended “Amer” School, that answered the call.
The Beginning of the Village of New Mahoning
In 1820, Jacob Fenstermacher built the first tavern in New Mahoning. “Mahoning” is corrupted from “Mahonhanne”, tongue of the Delaware Indians, means “a steam flowing near a lick”. He and his wife Anna migrated from Long Swamp (now Lehigh Co.) across the Blue Mountain to New Mahoning and settled along the trail that led to Summit Hill, the small village that sprung from the discovery of hard coal some 20 years earlier.
He owned a farm consisting of most of the land on the north side of Mahoning Drive West, north to the mountain, east to Pine Creek and west to about 2530 Mahoning Drive West (Glenn Miller Property Today). He built his home and tavern on what today is 2210 Mahoning Drive West (Dr. Diaz Property Today). The wagon trail to Summit Hill ran on the west side of the tavern. Today it’s the driveway between 2210 and 2228 Mahoning Drive West. There were only fields on the east and west sides of the tavern. The inn was known as an early stage coach stop. Fenstermacher operated the farm and ran the tavern. As the community grew he built a stone addition to his home and ran a butcher shop along side the inn.
In this wild and unsettled valley, the family had to battle Indians and wild bees and wolf packs. They usually kept shepherd dogs which guarded their business and farm animals against such attacks.
In his later years, Jacob’s son Stephen took over the business and operated until the turn of the 20th century when it was sold to Thomas Beltz, who built a new hotel just east of the tavern 2186 Mahoning Drive West. For some years the original tavern stood and was used as a tenant house. What was the tavern area was rented to Charles Gerber who was a saddler and ran a saddle shop. Sometime in the early 1900rds, the oldest tavern in the Valley was torn down and by 1926 the present home was built on the site (Dr. Diaz Property) by Thomas Beltz. The “new” hotel (which still stands today) was sold and the Beltz family moved into their new home.
At that time the Beltz family consisted of:
- The widowed Thomas Beltz
- His 3 adult children: widowed daughter Emma Zehner, bachelor son Louis Beltz and spinster daughter Olive Beltz.
- His grandchildren: Emma’s children: Charles Zehner and Mary Fritz and husband Howard Fritz
- His great-grandchildren: Mary’s children: Olive Fritz and Helen Fritz
Mahoning Township was divided into districts when they adopted the Public School Law in 1840. By 1884 there were 10 districts and New Mahoning was District #4.
Records of the “Amer” School from 1865 — 1871 show:
- School Began December 16, 1865 and ended March 14, 1866.
- There were 25 male and 25 female students (a lot of students for 1 room).
- The teacher, Louise C. Hunsicker, was paid $66 for 2 months.
The subjects were:
- Written Arithmetic
- Geography, Grammar
- Writing Mental Arithmetic
- History of the United States
Visitors were welcome anytime and were registered in the record book. Every month someone visited. It would be the County Superintendent, School Directors or just a citizen, perhaps a parent to one of the pupils.
Other teachers during that period were:
- Josiah Mussleman ($40.00 per month) ..
- Wilmont Camp ($35.00 per month) ..
- J.C. Christman ($38.00 per month) ..
Male Students and age:Moses D. Amer 14
- Moses D. Amer 14
- Griffith Eberts 5
- Franklin Eberts 7
- Israel F. Amer 15
- Charles F. Sittler 6
- Charles Fritz 14
- Henry Fritz 16
- Tighiman G. Amer 7
- Thomas H Amer 5
- D. H. Long 14
- Johanan H. Reigel 14
- Josiah Herring 12
- John Herring 16
- Thomas J Amer 9
- Kate J. Arner 12
- William Madam 14
- George Mussleman 9
- Jerome Reigel 11
- Washington Reinsmith 6
- Timothy Reinsmith 7
- Henry Reinsmith 9
- Adam Smith 14
- Moses Snyder 10
- Edmund T. Fritz 8
- W.T. Long 10
Female Students and age:
- Ellen C. Amer 5
- Louisa E. Amer 18
- Sarah Eberts 8
- Louisa Eberts 9
- Hannah Fenstermacher 6
- Hannah Fritz 14
- Sarah Fritz 6
- Sarah Herring 14
- Angeline Herring 9
- Mary Kemerer 13
- Abbie Kemerer 16
- Mary Madara 10
- Suvilla Miller 11
- Mary Miller 13
- Ellen Miller 5
- Henrietta Miller 7
- Lizzie Mussleman 16
- Jane Reinsmith 13
- Sallie J. Reigel 6
- Violet Sittler 5
- Violet Snyder 5
- Lovena Youse 7
- Sarah C. Walker 9
Additional names during 1865 — 1870 at “Amer” School:
- George B.C. Amer
- Brinton Amer
- Morris Amer
- G.C. McKeever
- Mary E. Fritz
- Catherine C. Eberts
- Kate Eberts
- Amanda Eberts
- Milton Eberts
- Griffith Eberts
- Emma Eberts
- Franklin Eberts
- Ella Fritz
- Ella J. Fritz
- William Gildner
- Emma Grazly
- Loevina Herring
- Amanda Kugler
- Andrew J. Miller
- Hebron Miller
- Eugene Miller
- James Neal
- William Neal
- Nelson Nothstein
- Milton Nothstein
- Granville Reinsmith
- Albenia Reinsmith
- Wailes Sittler
- Louis H. Shingles
- Mary A. Snyder
- Thomas Snyder
- Aggie Snyder
- T.W. Snyder
It should be noted that at the time of the township adopting the Pennsylvania Public School Law, the “Amer” School was already operating — probably one of the private schools of the township. However. there was no village of “New Mahoning” at that time. The only homes were: The Jacob Fenstermacher tavern at 2210 Mahoning Drive West, The Henry Amer farm at 543 Mill Road, and the Amos Riegel farm and blacksmith shop at 1772 Mahoning Drive West. The pupils came from as far west as the county line (Schuylkill), from Strauss Valley and upper Beaver Run: from as far as Country Club Road on the east and to the Mahoning Creek on the south. People didn’t settle in a village in that point in time. They needed enough property to have some out buildings and barn for a few animals and fields to grow enough food to sustain the family and the animals. Not until 1867 (after the Civil War) did homes begin to one by one spring up into a village. From 1900 to the 1930’s the remainders of the homes in the center village were built. In 1869 Ammon Amer had built the General Store and Post Office on the south east corner of the village. His daughter Kate, married to Louis Zimmerman, ran it and in 1894 bought it from her father. Tilghman Amer lived at 767 Mill Road in 1875. Tilghman died in 1880 and home sold to John Bradbury. A blacksmith shop was on the property on the north side of the house. John Bradbury was the blacksmith. In 1931 it was run by George 0. Mertz (known as “OS” Mertz) when it burned down.
From the old record book October 1907 — April 1914 (New School):
- Anna M. Keiser – $50 per month
- Harvey E. Zimmerman – $40 per month
- Hattie A. Eberts – $40 per month
- Mrs. Hattie A. Wertman* – $40 per month
- C.A. Sensinger – $50 per month
- Neda L. Fenstermacher** – $50 per month
* Could be the same as Hattie A. Eberts. Probably got married to a Wertman.
**She became Mrs. Harry f. Newmayer during the year.
Additional names through those years:
- Stanley 0. Amer 14
- Jennie 0. Eberts 11
- Frederick 0. Miler 14
- Lewis A. Zimmerman 16
- George Amer 5
- Andrew Balliet
- Dorothy Clouser
- Russell D. Miller
- Charles D. Schock
- Claude D. Zeigler 13
- Walter D. Zimmerman
- Edna Davis 7
- Clara E. K. Mertz 13
- Howard E. Long 6
- Gertrude E. Sinyard
- Jonas Eberts 14
- Mable Eberts 5
- Willie Eberts 6
- Mary Eiheorst
- Robert F. Whitehead 16
- Esther Gerber 5
- Paul Gerber 6
- Willie Heisler 5
- Edna K Eberts
- Cora L. Rex
- Dorothy McLean 5
- Catherine Mertz 4
- Oliver Mertz 6
- Alice Miller
- John Miller
- Jennie Miller
- Frederic Miller 15
- Milton Miller 17
- Anna Miller 6
- Samuel Miller 6
- Clarence Murphy
- Milton Rex
- Wallace Rex 5
- Kenneth Rex 6
- Thomas Rex 6
- Lewellyn Rex 6
- John Sabol
- Stephen Sabol 6
- Stanley Sigli
- Clarence Siglin
- James Sinyard
- Maurice Sinyard 6
- Mamie Wehr 6
- Thomas Zimmerman 5
- Mary Zupko 11
- Anna Zupko 8
In 1902 Thomas Beltz deeded to Mahoning School District a lot for a new school (the building which is now next to the fire company). Most of the districts probably all had new buildings built in this era. New Mahoning and Normal Square were the only school houses with a bell tower, I never heard why, perhaps someone donated the bells. Six of the ten original school houses still stand. Four of them were remodeled into homes, one is the “Mahoning Union Sunday School” and of course the “New Mahoning: School, which is in dire need of repair. It is indeed a shame to neglect a historic building like that.
“The 1902 New Mahoning School — My Memories!”
The entrance to the school from the road was in the center of the building. From the street was a concrete slab landing, then several steps to the landing at the doorway. There were “pipe” railings at the steps and landing. The hallway entered to the school below the belfry where the bell rope hung. The teacher often left the bigger boys ring the bell at the beginning of the class session. The bell also was rung 5 minutes before as a warning to be ready. School started at 9:00a.m. and classes ended at 4:00p.m.We also had a 15 minute recess in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lunch hour was from 12:00 noon until 1:00p.m.
In the hallway was a shelf on the right on which stood a gray earthen-ware crock with several blue stripes around it. It had a lid, and a spigot at the bottom. It probably held about 2 ‘A gallons of water. That was our water fountain. There was no well on the property, so the water was carried in an agate bucket from the neighbor’s back porch hand pump, across the street (the Benjamin Schock home). The older boys did that job every morning. Each pupil had a cup at his/her desk that he/she used to drink from. Some pupils had one of those neat little metal cups that could telescope together to a small disk with a lid to pop on. It took up very little space. I had a plain old tin cup. I suppose they stayed at school all year. I don’t remember taking my cup home to be washed!
From the hallway you entered the classroom from the rear. Inside, on the right was a cloak room for the boys and on the left one for the girls. There were hooks on all sides for coats to be hung and shelves above them for lunch boxes. I very seldom carried lunch. I went home, as did the other neighborhood “kids”. There was plenty of time to run home, grab lunch and be back in time to still play on the playground till classes began.
In the back of the school house at the property line were two wooden outhouses (toilets); the boys on the left and the girls on the right. There was a high wooden fence around the front of them which had to be entered from the side. It was to obstruct the view into the toilet in case the door would be left open. While school was in session you’d have to raise your hand if you needed to use the toilet. 1 finger meant #1, or you had to urinate; 2 fingers, #2, meant you need to have a bowel movement. (I never could understand why the teacher needed to know what function your body needed to do. Perhaps the teacher used that method to allow the amount of time you could be gone.)
At some point in time, it could have been after WWI when the economy was quite prosperous; two small rooms where built onto the school house, facing the road, in which chemical toilets were installed. The same style as were found in State and National Parks. A metal pipe from the toilet seat fastened to a tank in the ground in which chemicals were put (I don’t know what reaction took place — but I suppose those tanks had to be emptied periodically). To enter the toilets we had to go through the cloak rooms. They were still in use in 1931, but by my second year in school they were closed. We were in the midst of the “Great Depression” and chemicals were not affordable, so we were back to the old reliable outside toilets.
A large hot air type furnace stood in the south-west corner of the classroom, next to the girls cloak room door. It was surrounded with a metal shield which stood about 10 or 12 inches from the floor and allowed the cold air from the floor to circulate up around the hot stove and flow out into the room. The shield was the perfect place to hang our wet gloves, scarves and jackets when coming in from playing in the snow. (I can still smell the musty steam that came from the wet woolen clothing.)
The desks in our school were all for 1 individual. Some of the schools had double desks. The desk and seat were connected as one unit. However, the seat that was attached to the front of the desk was occupied by a pupil whose desk was attached to the seat of the pupil in front of him. The lower desks were up front for the smaller children and the higher ones in the back of the room for the older pupils. One year when we came back to school we had some new desks in the front several rows. The tops of the desks were hinged so as to lift up to put in your supplies. Each desk had a small swivel chair fastened to the floor. We thought they were really neat!
The teacher’s desk stood at the left side in front of the pupils; the recitation bench was on the right side and faced the slate blackboard which ran across the entire width of the room. Above the blackboard on one side of the room hung a picture of George Washington and on the other side a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
The floor was wooden. During the summer they were treated with an oil-based solution. Every Friday after classes, some pupils stayed and helped clean. An oily sawdust type of green material was spread on the floor to absorb the dust and then swept. The erasers from the blackboard were taken outside and “clapped” together to get all the chalk out of them. The blackboard was washed with water.
There is a basement under the school, but I doubt that it was there when built. I suspect when they began to burn coal instead of wood an outside cellar door was put in on the east side and a partial basement (ground base) was dug. It was the coal bin. Again, the older boys always saw that the coal bucket was full. Sometime in the mid to late 1930’s, another area of the basement was dug up and carried out in buckets. That floor area was concreted and shelves and cabinets were put in to store school supplies. It was my understanding that the directors stored supplies for the entire district in our basement.
In the beginning of the school term, each pupil was given a pencil, a lined yellow page writing tablet and a box of eight crayons. I don’t recall how often we got new allotments, but I’m sure it wasn’t too often. The higher grades also received a bottle of ink for their inkwell on the upper right hand corner of their desk and a wooden straight pen with pen points that could be replaced when dull.
The school day began with the ringing of the bell and everyone coming in from the playground in orderly fashion and taking their assigned seats. When everyone was settled, the teacher would read a scripture from the Holy Bible; everyone then prayed the Lord’s Prayer. After that we Pledged Allegiance to our Flag. We faced the flag and saluted with our right hand above our right eye. When we’d come to the part “to the flag” in the pledge we would reach our right arm forward toward the flag, palm upward and finish the pledge. Following the pledge we’d sing a song from “The golden Songbook”, and then classes would begin.
There was no electricity in the building, but 5 windows on the west side and 3 on the east side gave plenty of light. Each class in their turn went up to the recitation bench to be taught. If you didn’t know the answer to the teachers question or couldn’t spell a word, you’d move to the last seat on the bench; and as others wouldn’t know answers they too would go to the end, enabling you to move toward the head of the class. For arithmetic we usually had to go to the blackboard to solve our problems. While one class would be up front the rest of the pupils were in their seats, had to be quiet and do homework. Of course we could hear everything that the teacher and the class up front would say. By the time we got to eighth grade we already had heard every subject of all the grades for eight times — so we pretty well knew what we were expected to know.
In Reading Class each pupil had to read a few paragraphs of a story. If the class had only 2 or 3 students, the story would be continued the next day. Our class had seven pupils, so we usually could finish the story in one day.
All grades had Reading, Penmanship and arithmetic beginning in 1St grade. In fourth grade we added History, Geography (called Journey in Distant Lands), English and Health. Also in fourth grade we got Music Lessons. John Kresge had graduated from college and the school district hired him as a music teacher. Once a week he came and taught a class in reading music. (He did the same in the other 9 schools.) We had Art Class once a week — the last class every Friday.
The teacher in those days wore many “hats”. First and foremost he was the schoolmaster; a compassionate person who was a strict disciplinarian; he was the “coach” and if necessary the playground referee; the school nurse, the stove stocker, the janitor, and the “parent” who helped the small pupils dress into their winter clothes. I had 5 very good teachers in New Mahoning School: grades 1st ,2nel and 3rd — L. Harry Kershner; 4th — Dorothy McLean (she became Mrs. John Kresge); 5th — Clara Koch; 6th — Robert Schaffer; and 7th and 8th — Russel Hahn.
In those days a teacher could discipline a pupil, but it didn’t happen often in my school, most pupils respected their teachers; and besides most children were warned by their parents “If you get a “paddling” in school, you’ll get another one when you get home.” Only one time did a big boy get a “paddling” while I was in school. I had no idea what he did to deserve it.
An incident I always remember concerning Mr. Kershner was when I was in 1 St grade. Dr. Warren Sittler who lived next to the school was very sick and bedfast in a room facing the school. From the middle of winter Mr. Kershner didn’t ring the bell in the belfry in order not to disturb the Doctor. He had a hand-held butcher bell and would walk around on the schoolyard and ring it to get our attention. Not until I became an adult did I realize what a kind gesture that was on Mr. Kershner’s part.
There was a row of maple trees planted around the perimeter of the school ground, except on the east side along the Doctor’s property. There was a tall hedge row for privacy. They did however leave an opening where we could go through to retrieve any stray balls. (The Doctor’s house was built about 15 years after the school.)
On the north-west corner of the schoolyard was the ball diamond. Home plate was near a maple tree; 1st base was to the east, 2’ base to the north and 3rd base west to another tree. Every recess and noon there was someone playing ball. There was no team, no coach. As many “kids” that wanted to play could — big or small; boy or girl. It was called “batter up”. When the person was at bat, if he struck out, or if he made it around the bases and back to home plate, he was through batting and went to be a fielder. Everyone moved up one space — another fielder went to 3rd base and third base to second, second to first, first base to pitcher and pitcher to catcher, catcher to batter. All the extra players were “fielders” and all you had to remember was which person you followed. The game was an ongoing game — wherever you left off at recess you started at noon. There was no score — but everyone who played had fun. Sometimes the male teachers would get into the ball game also. There also were a volleyball and net; a croquet set and a basketball and net. The volleyball net and croquet set had to be taken in at evening — so that was too much bother to set it up for a short time, so it wasn’t used so often. We played “barley over” the school house, or hop-scotch, tag, hide and seek or just run around and had fun.
The lower railing on the east side of the porch landing was missing. Harold Frey already was a gymnast (although he didn’t know it). He would hang onto the top rail and swing himself around — they called it “skinning the cat”. Soon most of the boys and some girls wanted to try it. Others would cheer them on.
Grades 1, 2 and 3 were allowed to be dismissed at 2:30 when recess began, but most would stay to play until the bell rang after recess at 2:45 and then go home.
In itself, the playground was an education. It was generally the first “social” gathering between 40-50 children for most 1st graders. All ages of pupils had to learn to mingle and socially get along with each other. As you got older you helped the smaller ones with their playground problems; and you looked up to and respected the higher schoolmates; your peers were equal, so we had a lot of the same interests.
No one wanted the teacher to get involved with playground problems, so they’d be solved by discussing (arguing), Fie simply walking away. We learned that we can disagree without being disagreeable!
Although we lacked some of the elements common to today’s schools, we were not entirely without special events; Celebrations were held during the year!
As February began, art class was evolved in making a “Valentine Box”. A cardboard box was covered with white crepe paper and decorated with lace trimmed red hearts. A slit was cut into the top of the box in order to be able to drop valentines into it. Each pupil would make special valentines out of colored construction paper and some were decorated with lace also. Very few pupils had ‘store-bought’ valentines — they couldn’t
afford them. Sometimes a special friend would receive a ‘bought’ card — but that was an exception. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the last class period on Valentine’s Day! That’s when the box was opened and the valentines distributed. This was another lesson learned (and not from a book), that everything in life is not always fair. The most popular ‘kids’ got the biggest and prettiest valentines — sometimes even `store-bought’ and the unpopular received smaller home-made cards, and not nearly as many. (In those days, every pupil didn’t send every other pupil a card.) However everyone did get a ‘store-bought’ valentine from the teacher. On occasion a certain boy or girl would send a special card to the “Love of their life”, which would create a lot of excitement. One year a girl got a special ‘store-bought’ card from a boy asking to be his Sweetheart! She positively despised this boy! When she saw who it was from, she directly marched back to the stove, opened the door and threw this beautiful card into the fire. Everyone was shocked that she would burn such a special card.
We also had Halloween Parties. Because we had no electricity in our school, the party was held in the 100F Lodge hall which was at 2141 Mahoning Drive West (today Leaser’s Garage). It then was on the property of Wallace Miller who ran the corner General Store. The party was held on the ground floor. The older pupils helped to decorate it after school. There were shocks of corn stalks; bales of straw; pumpkins; goblins; and ghosts hanging from the ceiling. As you entered the dimly lit room it was sort of eerie, especially for a little ‘kid’. Chairs were set up around the perimeter of the room where everyone sat, eyeing everyone else — but not saying a word. It was interesting just to see how everyone was dressed. There was no such thing as a ‘bought Halloween costume’ — these were depression years — you dressed in old patched clothes with a bundle tied to a stick slung over your shoulder as a `ho-bo’; or in your father’s or big brothers hunting clothes; a boy might dress like a girl or a girl like a boy. The party was not just for the pupils but also the parents — you couldn’t let your small children come alone — so naturally the parents also had to be in costume — in order to hide the child’s identity. The teacher would start to ‘guess’ who these characters were. When one was identified, he could help to ‘guess’ — and so on till all were revealed. After that, games were played and refreshments were enjoyed; usually fresh cider, apples and corn candy. The next day after school the decorations had to be taken out and the hall cleaned, and the excitement settled down till the next year.
Of course there was always a Christmas Program. We would have 2 hour programs with ever pupil participating — they were real productions; held in the Chapel at Normal Square. We had to start early in December to learn our parts. There was always one feature play with a lot of students, and then the lower grades each had a separate play or skit and recitations. There was a lot of singing and audience participation in carol singing. Mrs. Olive Eberts accompanied on the piano. The program was at night, so that afternoon we had ‘dress’ rehearsal. The entire student body walked from New Mahoning School to Normal Square, had rehearsal, and then walked back in time for dismissal at 4:00.
The Chapel was the perfect place for such a program. There is a stage across the front of the room with a trap door and steps in the corner which was used to exit the stage or enter it from the basement.
The auditorium was always full with parents, relatives and neighbors. There weren’t too many social functions in those years, so people just enjoyed a festive night out. Christmas programs were always exciting for everyone! There was no admission charge, but a free-will offering was taken. The Chapel rent of $5.00 was paid and the rest was used to buy playground equipment. (There was no money from the school district for the schoolyard, so we had to buy what equipment we had with money we earned.) Mother way we earned money was by selling packets of assorted flower and vegetable seeds. In late winter everyone got seed packets to take home and sell to family, relatives or neighbors. They cost $0.05 and $0.10 a pack. The problem was that most neighbors also had school children, so we couldn’t sell any to them. For our garden, my mother raised most of her plants from seed, so she always bought most of the packets that I had.
The school term ended around the middle of May. Of course everyone looked forward to that day — not only because school would be ‘over’, but because we would have a picnic that afternoon. In the morning we cleaned the school house and turned in our books; and then the bigger boys set up a picnic stand behind the school house. They set up barrels and laid boards from one to the other for a ‘counter’. Inside the ‘stand’ there were hot dogs boiling in a huge kettle on a gas hot plate. There were galvanized tubs with ice. filled with bottles of soda. There were pretzels and assorted candies. Each pupil got a hot dog on a bun and a bottle of soda with a straw. There were always several ‘mothers’ there helping in the ‘stand’. I suppose the parents bought the food. (I never did think of asking who paid for it.) Believe me a hot dog and a soda was a real treat in those days. One year a mother came with a large insulated bag containing dry ice and Dixie Cups of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. 01-1 MY! It was a small waxed paper cup with a flat paper lid pressed into the top of the cup. There was a small tab with which to pull it open. It held only about ‘/2 cup,;qice cream — but what a treat! Each pupil got a cup and with a small flat wooden spoonoavored every bit of it! What memories!
The school picnic was a fun packed day with games and contests with prizes, topped with the good food. It also was a day of mixed emotions — there was so much fun and joy, but we also realized that we probably wouldn’t see a lot of our friends until the next fall.
During the years of the New Mahoning School (1840’s to 1955) by far the most celebrated event was in September of 1908 — The dedication of a brass plaque commemorating the 37 Civil War Veterans who at one time had attended the school.
For many years after the war, Sergeant J. F. Kressley (a brother to my grandfather, Daniel — also a veteran) wanted to do something to commemorate the death of this best buddy, Sergeant Oliver F. Mussleman who gave his life on the battlefield of Antietam. After much discussion, Kressley and a committee of fellow veterans decided that a brass plaque with all the names of veterans that had attended the Mahoning School should be placed in the schoolroom. So it was that the names of 35 soldiers that had been pupils and two teachers of the school were engraved on the plaque. Six of the pupils were either killed in action, or died afterwards from wounds. At this same occasion a large flag was raised, floated and presented to the school, plus a flag pole by the local chapter of the Deutsche Gemeinschoft — A German Fraternal Order. The Germeinschaoft Quartette rendered
musical numbers. The address presenting the flag was made of Rev. Charles F. Freeman of Summit Hill, and the address of acceptance was made by Co. Superintendents of schools, James J. Bevan. Dr. Thomas M. Balliet, well known educator of New York University and Hon. E. M. Mulhearn of Mauch Chunk gave dedication addresses. Prayer by Rev. C.D. Kressley, son of veteran Daniel Kressley; remarks by Chairman C.C. Fulton, Post Div. Commander of the Sons of Veterans of Carbon County. There was music by the Lehighton Band. The unveiling of the plaque was by Russell D. Miller, six year old grandson of veteran Daniel Kressley.
In his report to the Department of Public Instruction in Harrisburg. James J. Bevan. in regard to the dedication of the plaque, wrote: “It is believed that no other single country school, either in the State or Nation, can equal this record of pupils sent out as soldiers in defense of the Union”.
The plaque hung in the front of the classroom in the center above the blackboard until Mahoning and East Penn township consolidated and a new Elementary School was built at 2466 Mahoning Drive East. Since 1955 the plaque hangs in the foyer of Mahoning Elementary School. (It was very much in need of cleaning and repair when I last saw it.)
Another note as to when the first school was built. Elias S. Hoppes is one of the veterans name on the plaque. According to the pamphlet about the dedication. Elias and four of his sons served in the Civil War. The sons however were NOT connected to the school. If you do the math, it’s obvious that the father must have gone to school before 1840. Therefore the first “Arner”school would have been built before the Public School Law was adopted.
Same personal notes pertaining to the dedication ceremony:
Veteran Daniel Kressley was my grandfather; Russell A Miller who unveiled the plaque was my oldest brother; William H Miller, committee member and member of the 6ermeinschoft Quartet was my father; and Tames F. Kressley was an uncle to my mother, Ella Kressley Miller. Even though this event took place 17 years before I was born, I was aware of it ever since I can remember and felt especially proud to know that my grandfather’s name was on that plaque when I’d sit in school and gaze upon it.
In researching this history, I realize that there must have been 3 school buildings. The first “Amer” school at 2307 Mahoning Drive West is the one that was on the Amer family property. By all indications it was originally a private school because the Public School Law had not been adopted till 1840. This was the school from which 35 pupils and 2 teachers volunteered for the Union Forces during the Civil War. When the law was adopted in Mahoning Township, the school was one that continued, but as a public school.
On October 18, 1869 Ammon and Anna Amer deeded to the school district that piece of property and in 1873 the school district built a new school on it (the building where Lula and Charles Schack lived).
In 1902 when Thomas Beltz deeded a piece of property on the north side of Mahoning Drive West to the school district where the present school house was built. The old school was sold to Benjamin Schock, the roof was raised and a second story added to make a home for his family.
It was over a half of century since the 1 room schools in Mahoning Township have closed and it’s heartbreaking to know that so many generations to come will have no clue as to what a 1 room school with 8 grades was like, Attending classes in a one room school house with 8 grades is an experience that someone who has never done can never fully understand The friendships and relationships developed during the years of 1931 – 1939 in which I attended the New Mahoning School are in a special class of their own. If only some of the schools could have been preserved/ It is an era past that can never be repeated but will live on in my mind and heart forever!
– Marian M. Smith