Nov. 30, 1719, a special meeting was held, “to see if a school shall be established for four months. Voted in the affirmative.
Also voted that the town will allow Mr. Davison
three pounds money for keeping the school the time above said, and also to diet him for the town.”
Heretofore, schools had been kept in private houses; but, Feb. 22, 1720, it was voted to build a schoolhouse.
Dec. 12, 1720: Two schools proposed and organized for the first time; one for the west end, and the other for the east.
Mr. Caleb Brooks
was engaged to keep the west school for three months, at two pounds per month; Mr. Henry Davison
the east, at the same price.
In these ways, primary instruction was provided for. Although, in their votes, they used the word “established,” it could not be strictly true; for there was no school established
, as we understand the term.
Money raised for schools was not at first put among the town charges, but raised as a separate tax. Schools were any thing but perennial; they could hardly be dignified with the title of semi-annual, and sometimes almost deserved the sobriquet of ephemeral.
At first they were kept in a central “angle,” or “squadron,” which meant district;
the next improvement was to keep a third of the time in one extremity, a third in the opposite, and a third in the centre.
Sometimes the money raised for the support of the school was divided according to the number of polls, and sometimes according to the number of children.
The church and the school were, with our fathers, the alpha and omega of town policy.
“Oct. 5, 1730: Voted to build a new schoolhouse.”
Same day: “Voted to set up a reading and writing school for six months.”
March 11, 1771: “Voted to build the schoolhouse upon the land behind the meeting-house, on the north-west corner of the land.”
1776: Voted that the master instruct girls two hours after the boys are dismissed.
By a traditional blindness, we charitably presume it must have been, our early fathers did not see that females required and deserved instruction equally with males; we therefore find the first provisions for primary schools confined to boys.
As light broke in, they allowed girls to attend the public school two hours per day; and it was not until April 5, 1790, that the question was formally considered.
On that day, a