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Edinger Hill School, Tuscarora Township 1863-1963

School: Edinger Hill  School - History
Township: Tuscarora Township, Bradford County
Written bvy Pearl MESSERSMITH Learn
Year: 1963
Article Submitted by Clayton Magee
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Built in 1863

Author: Pearl MESSERSMITH Learn, August, 1963

Submitted by Clayton Magee

The Edinger Hill one room schoolhouse has served as a community center for 100 years and still stands as a sturdy landmark where people of the neighborhood frequently meet for social civic activities.

Edinger Hill is situated in the south-central part of Tuscarora Township and joins Wyoming County on the south. Edinger Hill was one time known as South Spring Hill and was called Edinger District No. 3.

The center of activity is the School House. The McCloe Pond, which is the real landmark, is just southeast of the schoolhouse. This schoolhouse is located on the Learn paroperty on the corner where the road leads to Ruger Hollow.

The old schoolhouse was just across the road. Lallavene Edinger Barrowcliff, Nathan Learn, Maggie Christian Warner and Dem Edinger spent their first school year in the old schoolhouse and their second year in the new one. The present schoolhouse was built by Rufus Cleveland and son, Edwin, in 1863. He was Mrs. Pearl Culver’s grandfather. Edinger Hill has been represented by the following school directors: John Ruger, Lester Smith, Peter Learn, Frank Gray, George Warner, and John Culver.

The activities have been many and varied. In the earlier days Sunday School was held regularly and preachers came up from the Braintrim Baptist Church of Laceyville, Pa., to hold services. Rev. Dunmire is the one most often mentioned. Some of the Sunday School Superintendents were: Peter Learn, Jennie Barrowcliff, Nathan Learn, and later years, John Culver and Mr. Brodhurn. Children’s Day was held each June.

Another event which is often talked of was Singing School in which all the singers took part. (Some were very good singers.) Singing School Season was concluded with a concert. Elmer Clapper, a man with one arm, and the father of the late Harry Clapper of Silvara, Pa., taught two years. Fred Blocher, John Mitten, Frank Shultz, Charles VanGorder, and a man by the name of Bradley were others who taught Singing School.

Those were the Good Old Days! There was good skating on the McCloe Pond and it furnished a good past-time for the pupils. Some occasionally had to make up time for being late, when being so taken up with the sport they forgot to hear the school bell.

Fox-and-Geese was another favorite winter-time game, and with the schoolhouse being located by the hillside, sleigh riding had it’s place too. The school children were sorry when the snow was gone. There were other games for the fall and spring. When the days were stormy, games were played inside at intermission.

Some of the children had to walk quite long distances to school. Horses and sleighs furnished the transportation in winter.

A pot bellied stove in the center of the schoolhouse furnished the heat. The ceilings were high and the children often sat around the stove nearly all fore-noon on very cold days. The teacher had to be her own janitor.

In the early days, there was a Summer and a Winter Term of about three months each, and the teachers boarded at the different homes. Their pay was very inadequate. The boys had to work on the farms in summer so didn’t get too much schooling. There would be some pupils as old or older than their teacher. All grades were taught.

At Christmastime, other holidays, and the last day of school, the teacher and pupils would put on programs and all the neighborhood would turn out for the special occasion. (In those days they were called Exhibitions.)

The three R’s were taught and some of the older ones were a whiz at mental arithmetic. Spelling bees were held and the school has turned out some champion spellers. They stood in a line in front of the room for oral spelling. Long benches were placed in the front of the room and when the teacher called a class, it would come to the front bench to recite. In the meantime, the others had to concentrate on their own lessons to be ready when their class was called. Ink wells were placed in a hole in the desk and copy books were provided. There was a writing period set aside each day.

Winnie Neiderberger tells me the boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other as was the custom in those days. When the teacher wanted to punish a girl she sometimes asked her to sit on the boys’ side of the room.

There were the strict and the lenient teachers, but they were allowed to punish in those days. Parents knew what it meant to "Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child". Some parents even told their children that if they got a licking at school, they would get another when they got home.

In the summer of 1921, a Miss Edwards taught a Red Cross Nursing Class at the school with nearly all of the women of the neighborhood taking the course.

The Edinger Hill school has turned out a Judge, Assistant County Superintendent of Schools, Teachers, Nurses, Farmers, Electricians, etc. It is still in good condition after one hundred years. Originally the walls were plastered and blackboards painted. We are told that there is a map of Pennsylvania drawn on the blackboard by Charles Culver, John Christian and Fred Pickett underneath the ceiled walls which have since been placed on the schoolroom. A new floor was laid and paint applied inside and out. This is about the extent of repairs.

The school was very reluctantly closed in 1943 and pupils sent to Laceyville, Pa.

During the time Lisle Carr taught (1929), we asked Supt. J. Andrew Morrow to come and help organize a "Home and School League". The membership was divided up into groups who put on the entertainment for each school month. The first officers were: President, George Warner; Vice President, Mrs. Fred Kissell; Sec. Treas., Miss Lisle Carr; Pianist, Mrs. Denzel Bennett. Those who took part in the first program were: Mr. William Siegel, Mrs. Melissa Messersmith, Mrs. Sam Culver, Miss Lisle Carr, and Mrs. Albert Learn. Many were timid and said they never could take part and get up in front of the room but in time some of those same people became our best performers. Some very fine programs were put on including music, plays, skits, monologues, etc., such as "The Chicken Stealing Case", including the whole group, and "Old Black Joe", in which Frank Gray played the leading role. Good outside speakers were often included. Refreshments and visiting concluded the evening. Trays and chairs were purchased. It indeed was a tonic for the soul and promoted a good spirit.

In time the "Home and School League" became known as the P.T.A. and was affiliated with the Bradford County P.T.A. Lisle Carr served as Secretary and Pearl Learn as President of the Bradford County P.T.A. at one time which gave us more knowledge of the work. We often had visitors at our programs and they would remark, "You are all like one big family". Of course the children were always included.

Not willing to give up our close association and good times when the school was closed in 1943, the name was changed to "Good Neighbor Club", and monthly meetings are continued the 2nd Saturday evening of each month during the school year with a community supper to climax the May meeting. During the summer, we have a weiner roast on the grounds.

The schoolhouse was put up for sale December 22, 1954, and the Ladies Aid Society was the lucky buyer. The school seats and desks were retained. It is now known as the L.A.S. Community Hall in which the L.A.S. holds a meeting the 2nd Thursday of each month. The heating system has been changed to an oil heater and an electric stove and large sink have been installed.

We are proud of our one room Edinger Hill Schoolhouse which has served its community so well.


At this time, 1963, the oldest residents are nearly all gone and it is impossible to tell how many or who many of the first teachers were. We have, however, heard Albert’s father, Nathan Learn, speak of a teacher that he went to by the name of Ed Elliot, who was very strict.

Mrs. Jennie Burrowcliff Georgia Trangue (sp?) 1909 to

Miss Mayme Elliott taught about 1886/87 May Jayne 1910 – 11

Carrie Crawford taught in 1887 Lavinia Christian 1911, 12, 13, 14

Laura Gray in 1888 Nellie Learn 1914 – 15

Ed Lane and his sister Alice also taught Frank Ford 1915 – 16

Ida Drake Wakley Mary Gray 1916, 17, 18

Ella Mahoney 1890 Harry Donavan 1918 – 19

John Erskine H. S. Wintermute 1919 – 20

Anna Erskine Pearl Learn 1920, 21, 22

Louella Winslow Lavinia Bronson Oct. 1922 – Dec. 1922

George Lacey Esther Keithline – Finished Lavinia’s term to 1923

Charles M. Culver 1893 – 94 Esther Keithline 1923 – 24

Edith Lacey Vera McLaud 1924 –25

Lloyd Smith 1899 – 01 Lisle Carr 1925, 26, 27

Bertha Christian Frances Harrison 1927 – 28

Mary Gray 1902 – 03 Electra Edwards 1928 – 29

Sam Culver 1903 – 04 Lisle Carr 1929, 30, 31

Harry Donavan 1904 – 05 Lisle Rafferty 1931, 32, 33

Fred Kissell 1905 – 06 Alice Beaumont 1933, 34, 35, 36

Warren Place 906 – 07 Hazel Monogan 1936, 37, 38, 39

Grace Shumway 1907 – 08 Dorothy Westcott 1939, 40, 41

Floyd Drake 1908 – 09 Florence Bennett 1941, 42, 43

NOTE: This information submitted by Mr. Clayton Magee to Joyce M. Tice website. His letter told us that Pearl MESSERSMITH Learn was a teacher for a number of years at the school. The Learns are an old Edinger Hill family. While she and Albert, her husband, are gone there are still Learns on the Hill.

Another photo sent in by Carol HOOSE Brotzman July 2007
Estimate 1920s.
Photo of Edinger Hill School - I believe 2006
Carol HOOSE Brotzman sent it in. 

Margaret Gray

Edinger Hill School

This booklet was written by Miss Margaret  Marie Gray (March 30, 1915 - May 15, 2006) buried in the Lacey Street Cemetery, Laceyville, PA  May 16, 2006. She was the daughter of Frank and Cora Mae Whitney Gray.


We are glad you have come to see our piece of Vanishing Americana, our old school house.

Built in 1863 at a cost of $848.00 on the corner of the Morris Learn Farm by Rufus Cleveland (John Culver’s great grandfather) it has sheltered many generations of children down through the years.

It has also served as a focal point of entertainment and of spiritual worship for the community, beginning with singing schools, Sunday Schools, and some church services.

Here in this one room school building, many people met their Savior in evangelistic meetings.

In my father’s diary, he tells of going to a social at the school house.

The girls packed a box with good sandwiches, cake, fruit and etc.... wrapping it very carefully.

The boys would buy them at an auction, then the couple would sit together at a school desk, and eat from the box, and enjoy the evening.

Christmas was a source of enjoyment, the school children put on a program, songs, plays, and individual recitations.

After this program gifts were given from the teacher to the children, and from the children to the teacher.

Santa Claus came in with a Ho, Ho, Ho and jingling sleigh bells with his pack of gifts (which the adults had brought when they came, and deposited in a big box).

The box was passed out a window, behind the curtains to the waiting Santa, outside and everyone received a present. Parents also fixed bags of candy, oranges, and popcorn balls for the children. Cake, sandwiches, coffee, and milk were served to the audience.

Another amusement was the good neighbor club, a spin off from the P.T.A.

The whole community was divided into eight or nine committees who furnished the entertainment for the winter months.

One month after several meetings by a committee, the program was presented, part of it a play.

After the play one of the actors (a man) could not find his long winter underwear, and went home rather upset until he found the long johns on his own bed at home.

To get back to the school …

At the time the school house was built, the civil war was winding down.

Our community being primarily dairy farming, not too many went into the armed services. Some paid a substitute to go for them.

Oxen were still being used for farming, until the latter part of the century.

The way of life changed gradually.

Children carried the same type of lunches to school, home made bread sandwiches and fruit.

The early school books were reading, history, spelling, arithmetic, and penmanship.

Most of the students were taught to write with a fancy flair to their letters, and some examples of this writing were beautiful.

Teachers came and left, most did not stay more than three years, some less.

The school director (one in each district) had the school house cleaned once a year, had wood and coal put in the coal house, and had a can of kerosene available for lamps in the school house, patched broken windows, and paid the teacher once a month. He also hired the teacher for the year.

I remember as a child carrying the teacher’s check to school, in fear and trembling because I knew what would happen if I lost it.

When a hard snow storm came up during the school day teams of horses would appear, pulling the sleigh, and pick up the children even if it wasn’t closing time for the school.

My dad would drive a sleigh with two horses and a box on the sleigh, with two top boxes on top of the first box.

The top boxes had no floor so it made a box about three feet deep.

Straw was placed in the bottom of the sleigh and blankets were tied over the top, so only the driver was outside.

In the box were heated soap stones wrapped in a piece of blanket, to keep us warm. When we came to a house where some of the children lived, the corner of the blanket was untied and the children crawled out, the blanket was retied down as we went on to the next place.

It took thirty or forty minutes to get to our house (1 ½ miles) depending on how much the roads were drifted.

The driver always carried a shovel for the sleigh.

We wore buttoned leggings, rubbers, a few had boots, or artics.

Aunt Mary Gray was the teacher at the turn of the century.

The teacher also fired the big pot bellied stove, cleaned out ashes, got in wood, and coal (or had a big boy get it), patched cut fingers, removed slivers, kept order, etc….

She had one student she was very fond of, and Aunt Mary had high hopes of her young friend also becoming a teacher.

December 31, 1901, Edith Warner, Aunt Mary’s friend wrote quite a lot of arithmetic problems on the black board for Aunt Mary. Edith who was almost fifteen years old came from a poor but good family.

There were two other children in the family, George six, and Susie eight years old.

It was Edith who looked after her small brother and sister to see to it they had their hats, mittens, coats and leggings on, and that they had their dinner pails.

That afternoon, a light snow was falling as the children started for home.

Aunt Mary told them good-bye, fixed the fire, swept the floor, and went home for the night.

That evening there was just enough snow for sleigh riding, so a group of children gathered at the top of what is now John Pary’s hill.

Several rode down the hill, then Edith got on her sled, with seven year old Emma Smith Whipple on the back of the sled.

Something happened, and the sled slid into a rock on the side of the road, and Edith’s head struck the rock – Emma was thrown off, and wasn’t hurt.

Edith was carried home (at the top of the hill), a doctor and neighbor women called, but nothing could be done, she died in the night. The whole community was in shock but school was held the next day.

The children were so upset not many classes were held.

Aunt Mary gathered the children around her, and comforted them.

There were many why’s. Aunt Mary hugged them close and said through tears, "children, when God picks a flower for his garden he always picks the best."

Life went on but no one would erase the arithmetic problems for many days.

The school day started with the teacher ringing the bell at 9 a.m.

It was rung to call the children in from the morning and afternoon recesses, and 1 p.m. for the ending of the noon hour.

The teacher had a tap bell on her desk to call classes for recitation.

The first thing in the morning was a short Bible reading, and then all stood and repeated the Lord’s Prayer, and the Flag Salute.

Sometimes the teacher would play a song on the pump organ, or later the piano.

When the teacher tapped her bell, the first class would stand, march to the recitation benches and sit down.

She would then call on different ones to recite.

After they received their next assignments they went back to their seats, and the next class was called, and so it went through the day.

Woe betide the girl with hair braids when the inkwells were filled with ink from a big blue bottle, for penmanship class, if a boy full of mischief sat behind her.

He would dip her braids into the ink.

Most of the seats had two students sitting in the seats, but never a boy and girl sitting together.

About three thirty the smaller children were dismissed to go home, the older ones at four p.m.

There was no fear of child molestation or kidnapping, and people called on neighbors in the evening, walking without fear.

In the early 1900’s in March there was one bad crime committed in the house just below the school house.

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Learn, an aged couple, were robbed, and severely beaten by the son of a man they had befriended.

He was caught and tried in court and sentenced by the Honorable Judge Charles Culver a former student of Edinger Hill, and a teacher during the years 1893-1894.

In the spring we enjoyed our walk to school.

The birds, especially the blue birds were plentiful, and the flowers in abundance. Violets, bluets, lilacs, snow balls, bridal wreath to name a few, were plentiful.

The teacher’s desk had a bouquet most of the time.

I am sure if the old building could talk it would say something like this:

Today I stand proud in my new coat of paint, so happy to have visitors. I cried when the children came no more, but there were still gatherings with good times. I’ve seen wars, hurricanes, blizzards, and bad thunderstorms. I’ve heard laughter and crying – held Bridal showers, birthday parties, picnics, and funeral dinners, Sunday School and Church services, too. Anniversary parties were one of my best things. I’ve been the center of my little community. I’ve seen children come and children go – watched them grow up – some to go on to schools of higher learning – some settled near me to do the most important thing in the world – raise a good God fearing family. I am proud to be a part of America I’ve watched grow, and as my bell peals out over the land on this flag day, June 14, 1992, I stand tall and proud – proud of my country, and proud of the people who cared enough to restore me.

Thanks for coming and God Bless.

p.s. The Old School Building Still Speaks.

Today is my 129th birthday. I was built on the land of the Learn Family, and today the present owners of the land, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Learn will be presented one red rose for the yearly rent, as legally planned in 1954, by Albert Learn, Eugene Learn’s Grandfather.

Margaret Gray

June 1992

Edinger Hill Teachers

A Miss Mayme Ellio taught about 1886-87

Carrie Crawford taught in 1887

Laura Gray in 1888

Ed Lane and his sister Alice also taught

Ida Drake Wakley
Ella Mahoney 1890 Nellie Learn 1914-15
John Erskine Frank Ford 1915-16
Anna Erskine Mary Gray 1916-18
Louella Winslow Harry Donavan 1918-19
George Lacey H. S. Wintermute 1919-20
Charles M. Culver 1893-94 Pearl Learn 1920-22
Edith Lacey Lavinia Bronson Oct. to Dec in 1922
Lloyd Smith 1899-01 Esther Keithline Dec 1922-23
Bertha Christian Esther Keithline 1923-24
Mary Gray 1902-03 Vera McLaud 1924-25
Sam Culver 1903-04 Lisle Carr 1925-27
Harry Donavan 1904-05 Frances Harrison 1927-28
Fred Kissell 1905-06 Electra Edwards 1928-29
Warren Place 1906-07 Lisle Carr 1929-31
Grace Shumay 1907-08 Lisle Rafferty 1931-33
Floyd Drake 1908-09 Alice Beaumont 1933-36
Georgia Transue 1909-10 Hazel Monogan 1936-39
May Jayne 1910-11 Dorothy Westcott 1939-41
Lavinia Christian 1911-14 Florence Bennett 1941-43

Edinger Hill School Class of 1890

Back Row Standing, left to right – Vern ruger, Dady Girl, Fannie Culver, Frank Gray, Ella Mahoney (Teacher), Lizzie Warner, Vernie Wakeman, __________ McCloe

Next Row Standing, left to right – Fida Barrowcliff, Ressa & Retta Warner, Ken Barrowcliff, Dady Boy, Lloyd Smith, Mart Christian

Sitting, left to right - _______ McCloe, Dady Boy, Florence Smith, Dady Girl, Alta Barrowcliff, Sam Culver, Harry Edinger, Clayton Wakeley, ________ 2 McCloe’s

Front Row – Harry & Pearl Learn, ________McCloe, Eliza Dady, Winifred Barrowcliff, Lucy Wakeman & Clayton Wakeley’s sister.

This photo was given to me by  Gwen Christian Burgess of Laceyville, PA.  Margaret Gray in the 1940s.  She was the historian and church clerk of the Braintrim Baptist Church in Laceyville, PA.
Her obit:
Daily Review May 16, 2006

Miss Margaret Marie Gray of Edinger Hill, Tuscarora Township, went go be with her Lord and Savior on May 15, 2006, at the home of her special friends Randy and Rene Brigham, with whom Margaret had lived for the past year. She was 91 years young.
Margaret was born on March 30, 1915, on the Gray family homestead farm at Edinger Hill, the daughter of Frank and Cora May Whitney Gray.  A graduate of Laceyville High School, Class of 1933 Margaret worked on the family farm, did housekeeping for others and was a nanny for a family in New York. Margaret took courses from State College and the Moody Bible Institute and eventually sought a career in nursing, obtaining her degree from Wilkes-Barre General in 1940.
Margaret was a nurse at the Pennsylvania Hospital at Philadelphia and Tyler Memorial Hospital for several years. The greater portion of her life was spent on the family dairy farm at Edinger Hill where, after her father’s death in 1941 and in partnership with her brother Paul, she helped run the farm and cared for her invalid mother.
While farming, she was influential in many local youths’ lives, when they were hired as farm hands. For many years, Miss Gray took in boys and let them stay at her home, while they worked at the farm.
Many were the holidays spent with family gathered around the large dining room table enjoying a feast created by Margaret for her family.
Margaret possessed a wonderful sense of humor evident in her writing and story telling of ancestral history, of which she was exceedingly proud. She was the last surviving director of the Tuscarora Township Historical Society, in which she was actively involved. A member since its inception in 1981, Margaret was desirous of a future permanent building in which to house the records and memorabilia of our rich local history.  The Lord’s work was of utmost importance to Margaret. She was a long-standing member of the Braintrim Baptist Church, where her great-grandfather, the beloved Rev. Davis Dimock Gray, was minister from 1849 to 1881. Margaret played an active role in Sunday school at Braintrim Baptist Church, playing piano and teaching for more than 25 years. She served as a church clerk, keeping diligent records and serving as the unofficial church historian.  Margaret was also a member of the Edinger Hill Ladies Aid Society and a past member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution through her ancestor, Lt. James Wells. Margaret and her brother Paul loved to collect antiques and family memorabilia. Margaret also loved traveling but often remarked how she loved home. Much of her time in later years was spent with paintbrush in hand creating many paintings for local scenery and with preserving family photos and genealogical records for the family.
Margaret was predeceased by her brother William Alonzo Gray, in 1975; brother Paul Frank Gray, in 1976; her only sister, Dorothy L. (Gray) Culver, in 2004; nephews, Larry Gray and Russell Snyder; and nieces Jeanne Walter Culver and Mary Robinson Wheaton Culver.
She leaves behind several nieces and nephews, Karl and Adalina Gray Young of Florida, Ladonna Gray Jayne of Laceyville, Patrick Gray of Pittsburgh, D. Louise Culver Snyder of Minneola, Texas, Robert O. Culver of Angola, N.Y., Phillip G. Culver of Vernon, David and Barbara Culver of Black Walnut, and Robert and Linda Culver English of Silvara; several great-nieces and great-nephews; and special friends Randy and Rene Brigham of Edinger Hill.  Committal services are at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, at the Lacey Street Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. May 23 the Braintrim Baptist Church. Anyone wishing to send flowers in her memory may send them to the Braintrim Baptist Church, Laceyville, Pa.

Daily Review May 22, 2006
Miss Margaret Marie Gray of Edinger Hill, Tuscarora Township, went to be with her Lord and Savior on May 15, 2006, at the home of her special friends Randy and Rene Brigham, with whom Margaret had lived for the past year. She was 91 years young.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. May 23 at the Braintrim Baptist Church. Anyone wishing to send flowers in her memory may send them to the Braintrim Baptist Church, Laceyville, Pa.

Undated News Clipping - [1992-1999]

[Illustration:  The Edinger Hill School was constructed in 1863]

Open House Sunday at Old Edinger Hill School

This Sunday, June 14, the Ladies’ Aid Society of Edinger Hill will hold an Open House at The Old Schoolhouse from 2 to 4 p.m.  The building has been nearly all restored to its original state with furnishings, and spruced up with new paint and repairs.

The first schoolhouse was built across the road from the present building.  The present one was constructed by Rufus Cleveland and his son, Edwin in 1863.  Rufus was a great grandfather of John Culver.

The building stands where the dirt road leads to Ruger Hollow two miles from Laceyville Borough.

It is a one room structure and has served as the center for social activities of the community for 129 years.  Records from May 1, 1870 on, show that the South Spring Hill Sabbath School met there regularly and later it was called the Edinger Hill Sunday School.  There was also a Singing School that had many good teachers and many eager pupils.

Pupils walked to and from school for two terms of three months each.  In exceptionally cold weather they were picked up with horses and sleigh.  The teacher boarded with neighborhood families and the salary was meager.  Teaching eight grades plus being the janitor, too, demanded sincere dedication.  In 1929 a Home and School League was formed and later became the PTA.

The school closed for classes in 1943 and the Good Neighbor Club of families from the area gathered once a month to enjoy dinners and local entertainment.  In 1955 the Ladies’ Aid Society bought the building and they meet each month for a business meeting and to enjoy good fellowship.

The folks on Edinger Hill invite everyone of the area who have lived there or are interested in seeing the school, to stop in Sunday afternoon.

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