The Lakewood Public Schools - 1984: A Compilation of Histories

First Schools

First Schools by Luella Wise
Early Days of Lakewood
, by the Historical Research Committee, Lakewood Chapter: Mrs. Milton D. McIntyre, chairman, Nell R. Farmer, editor.
[Lakewood, O.] Lakewood chapter. National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, c1936, Pg. 97 – 99.

It has been impossible to find absolutely authentic information about early schools and teachers, yet the recollections of so many of the old residents have been identical, that indications point to a reasonable assurance of the accuracy of the data.

Jonathan Parshall, a house-to-house carpenter, seems to have been the first teacher. In 1829, he lived on a small piece of land adjoining that of Mars Wagar. He was neither especially intelligent nor industrious, but considered himself fitted to teach the young. The cultural background of all New England pioneers influence them to educate their children. There were no schoolhouses yet built, so the first schools were in private homes. Jonathan Parshall used the back room of Mars Wagar's home for his school.

In 1830, a log schoolhouse was built nearly opposite the James Nicholson house. The first teacher was a young woman from Olmsted. A one-room brick structure later replaced the log house, this in turn being made into a two-room school. The house was finally remodeled into a dwelling house used by the pioneer Walter Phelps.

At one time there was a log schoolhouse at the present Cannon Avenue, about where St. James Catholic School now stands. It was later replaced by a one-room frame schoolhouse.

Reverend Ricker and his daughter, Tina, kept a private school for little girls at the corner of what is now Detroit Avenue and Thoreau Road.

Some of the children living near the valley went to a small frame schoolhouse at Phinneys Corners. (There is now an old brick schoolhouse on the same site, the corner of Wooster and Center Ridge Roads.) Cord wood was piled high around the building, and several days' supply was brought in at a time in order to have it dry enough to burn. The children crossed the river on an old grapevine bridge.

The Swedenborgian Church had a great influence on the whole community in the early days, and many of the pastors taught as well as preached. Among these minister-teachers were Reverend Asa Goodwin, Willard Day, Louis Mercer, and Reverend Leonard Foster. Mr. Glasier, father of Miss Jessie Glasier, taught one year. He was a young theological student at the time.

Leonard Taster taught one winter, and his brother Edwin, the next. They were hired by the Wagars, and lived with Francis Wagar. Other teachers were a Miss Turner, Miss Addie Johnson who lived at the Ezra Nicholson home, Ellen Calkins (said to have married Joseph Howe), and Arthur Russell, who gave up his teaching to enlist at the beginning of the Civil War.

The next date is fixed from the recollections of Lura Wagar Ashley, born October 10, 1843. As a child of six, she went to the school at the present Cannon Avenue. Her next school was a one-story brick building on Warren Road. It was the bell on this schoolhouse which Mars Wagar II tolled to announce the assassination of President Lincoln. In 1861, Lura Wagar taught at the Cannon School, and the next year taught at the one on Warren.Road. Her sister, Adah Wagar, also taught about this time. They each received twenty dollars a month.

About Civil War time, there was a small frame schoolhouse on the northeast side of the present Highland and Detroit Avenues. Miss Mary Alger was the teacher. The school district extended east to the Cleveland township line, and was composed mostly of farmers on Detroit Avenue.

The following notice was taken from the original records of "The Lake Shore Union Separate School District No. 1." Notice-- the qualified electors of Sub-school Districts Numbers 6, 8 and 10 or Rockport Township will take notice -- That on the 28th day of January A. D.,187l, at the Brick School House in Sub-Division Number six (6), an election will be held for the purpose of voting on the question of joining said THREE sub-school districts, and organizing the same into a Separate School District. Said election to be held on same day, between the hours of 1 o'clock and 4 o'clock p.m. Those in favor of said Separate School District voting "School". Those opposing voting "No School". Rockport -- January 13, 1871. Signed, Alfred Elwell, Collins French, John Spalding, W. E. Clarke, Jas. Howe, M. C. Hall, P. E. Hall, George Krauss." Seven or more of these notices were posted in the most conspicuous places within the proposed school district at the time dated. District No.6 was East; No.8 was Central; and No. 10, West, on or near Detroit Avenue. This brought the district under the Ohio Common Schools Act passed April 9th, 1867. Of the twenty-seven ballots cast, all said "School". From this time on records were kept.

Luella Sanborn Wise wrote this article, First Schools, which appeared in the Early Days of Lakewood, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1936.