were empowered to lay a floor, make seats, and lay a hearth at the school which we are now considering, but which was designated in that one instance ‘the Russells' School.’
Very appropriate would it have been if this name, thus unofficially reported, had been retained.
Had such been the case, we might to-day be proud in having one school, at least, with a name perpetuating memories of an earlier time.
As it is, none of our school buildings has a name which antedates the incorporation of Somerville
May 10, 1802, we read that the schoolhouse near Alewife Bridge is to be repaired at an expense not exceeding $100. At that time, or later, we conclude that this building, less than twenty years old, had been considerably damaged by fire, for the trustees are given discretion to repair or build anew.
May 3, 1803 (1805?), the reported expense for rebuilding, in addition to $100 previously voted, was $400.
Some time after 1801, but before 1812—the school records for that period are lost—this school was known as No. 4.
The change was necessitated by the creation of a new district at the Neck.
For the year last mentioned No. 4 had an attendance of thirty-four scholars, a number which did not vary materially from that time to the very end of its existence, although in 1814 we read of a membership of fifty-eight, at which time we have the first recorded name of a teacher there, that of Jacob Pierce
, or ‘Master Pierce,’ as he was called.
The next winter we find him teaching this same school, when he received $123.75 for his services.
The two brothers, Philemon R., Jr., and Levi Russell
, were pupils of Master Pierce, a very good teacher, but tradition says that he used to fortify himself for his daily duties in the schoolroom by carrying a little ‘black strap’ in his boot-leg!
He was a fine penman, and made all his pupils ‘good writers.’
April 3, 1818, the trustees examined School No. 4
, when about forty scholars were present out of a total of fifty-two. J. Underwood
was the teacher.
This was without doubt James Underwood
, afterwards one of the trustees, who died in office March 4, 1840.