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 Little Home Histories, Part 35 -- Friends Boarding School: 'Olney'.

by Melton, Sarah Pickett.

See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 34 -- Some Friends Meetings in Belmont & Guernsey Counties, Ohio.

This collection of word pictures, of the homes and people of Stillwater Quarterly Meeting of the olden times, would not be quite complete without a sketch of Friends Boarding School.

Schools were one of the early concerns of these pioneers, lately come from Virginia and the Carolinas.

Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel, but not till the burning bush and the "light shone round them from Heaven" did either reach the full possession of his powers. So Friends believed religion and education must go hand in hand.

The wonderful Friends Yearly Meeting House at Mt. Pleasant was built or completed in 1815 and soon after the subject of a Boarding school was discussed. It did not materialize until 1837, and was situated not far from the Yearly Meeting House on a farm of seventy-four acres. The minutes say "It was to be a finishing school for the youth of both sexes."

Friends (Quakers) peculiar contribution to education of that day, was that they gave thought to their daughters as well as their sons. These first years, boys and girls must be kept entirely separate, except for Meetings and lectures. They even had separate dining rooms. When it was decided for all to eat in one room, one of the teachers thought it was so improper she would not go down to the meal. One day while sitting in Meeting, the cry of fire was heard, and all went out to find the leaves in the woods near the barn had caught fire. It was soon put out.

When the astonished officers saw the boys and girls working together in distress, one said "I am afraid fires will be started, that water will not put-out." Boys and girls of today can hardly picture the primitive arrangements of that time. Only tallow candles for light, not even a cook stove, as cooking was over a wood fire, or in a Dutch Oven.

They had to wash on the porch, their towels often freezing. One of the first students writes, "We did not think of these things as hard ships, but we were enjoying a great privilege to be there."

It was with real regret in 1874, owing to doctrinal differences the Supreme Court of Ohio decreed that this building be given to another branch of Friends, but the school itself was not given up. Stillwater was soon decided as a promising center for Ohio Yearly Meeting and the present site selected upon which to build a new Boarding School. It was an unsightly wooden field, from the best timber had been taken. We can but marvel at the vision and foresight and courage of the Friends of that day. They worked together to collect funds, fell trees and commence to work. The brick was burned on the grounds. The Laundry was built first and Francis Davis and wife moved in and boarded the hands. He managed the building of the house and barn.

The school building was the size of the present one, but had three stories. School was opened on New Years, 1876, although the halls were still strewed with lumber and shavings and many of the doors were not hung.

There was no furnace, only stoves and grates, but a happier band of students would be hard to find even today. The next winter they had the largest enrollment, 109, and we wonder how faculty, helpers, and all were housed in the one building. The first graduating class was in 1879.

During the early years of the school, they graduated twice a year. In the winter term of the first class were Wilson Steer, Martha M. Holloway, and Anna Walton, all are living today. In the spring term were Anna C. Llewellyn, who is now deceased, Mary C. Bundy, who is living and Emma Holloway, deceased.

In the spring of 1910, the school building burned, but again immediate steps were taken for rebuilding. The outer walls were intact, and the present building was erected -- similar to the former one, but only two stories high to comply with the State law for schools.

Separate dormitories were necessary and other buildings were added. A home for the Principal, a cottage for helpers, one for the farmer and his wife, a laundry and a Power house. The latest addition is a modern Gymnasium. So that it all forms a desirable school plant where faculty and students and work and recreation help to develop the true Christian "Way of Life."

May we of the present day, meet the needs which arise in this War torn world (World War II), with brave courage shown by our worthy forefathers.

The name "Olney" was given by Louis Taber, who was a highly valued teacher and lecturer at Mt. Pleasant a hundred years ago (as if 1942). He was very interested in the new school at Barnesville, Ohio, and gave some lectures here and wrote the poem "Olney Green" for one of the first literaries. He was a great admirer of the poet Cowper, whose home was named Olney. The school has been familiarly known as Olney ever since.

Source: Written by: Sarah Pickett Melton, Barnesville, Ohio.

See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 36 -- Some Historical Sketches of Friends at the Ridge.

For the table of contents and first entry in this series, please see: Little Home Histories, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Introduction.

This entry is adapted from Little Home Histories in Our Early Homes, Belmont County, Ohio, which was published in 1942. Its publication was coordinated by Robert D. and Beulah Patten McDonald. This entry has been reedited for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Website by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Website. It may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Website. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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