A turn-of-the-century school day

Second-grade pupils recently experienced a turn-of-the-century school day at the Pleasant Hill School House Historical Museum located on state Route 213, Steubenville.

About 50 pupils and their teachers and some parents from Stanton Elementary School in Hammondsville were divided into two groups. Group one was dropped off at the school house, while group two headed to Historic Fort Steuben in downtown Steubenville. The groups switched locations in the afternoon.

As the original school bell was rung, the first group arrived by school bus instead of the usual horse-drawn wagon or by walking as they did in the late 1800s. The teachers greeted them in period costume.

The opening exercise was conducted by Gloria Renda, project director. A discussion of the 38-star American flag preceded the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of “America.”

Edison retired teacher Joyce Zimmerman continued with reading class at the reading table surrounded by McGuffey Readers. Avis Henry, an East Liverpool retired teacher, taught addition and subtraction from a 1910 arithmetic book. The children worked their problems on slate boards at their restored school desks.

Since it was raining, retired Edison teachers Connie Crawford and Karen Lundquist conducted indoor games with the pupils at their desks.

Lunch was brought from their homes in brown bags instead of lunch buckets. Bottled water was provided instead of the pail of water with ladle that was used in the “olden” days, a museum spokesperson explained. Restroom visits to the outdoor bathroom “Porta Potty” had to be made in the rain as needed with the Sears catalog replaced by toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the spokesperson said.

At noon, the students boarded the school bus for a tour of Historic Fort Steuben on North Third Street, Steubenville, where Judy Bratten, executive director, greeted them and discussed the history of the fort that was established in 1787.

The pupils visited the eight buildings presenting life on the Ohio frontier with docents David Nicholson, Lloyd Wells and Larry Coleman, all retired teachers, and volunteers Bob Burns and Brenda Harris. A highlight of the trip was a visit to the Fort museum shop where the pupils were able to purchase inexpensive items representative of the fort’s time period.

The fort and school house museum are open for visits and tours. For information, contact the fort at (740) 283-1787 and the school house at (740) 264-3565.