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Milk Row School to 1849.1

By Frank Mortimer Hawes.
Those who have interested themselves in the history of Charlestown schools previous to 1842, as it has appeared in recent numbers of Historic Leaves, need not be told that the first recorded date which we have of a public school being established outside the Peninsula, on what is now Somerville soil, was in 1728. Unfortunately this statement can hardly be said to be substantiated until 1736, when the record is somewhat more explicit. But it will be safe to say, I think, that the Milk Row School, the only one in Somerville of that day, was established not far from 1730. A school a short distance beyond Alewife Brook, on Arlington soil, but drawing its scholars from a point as far south as the Old Powder House, may have been of an equal age; both were for ‘instructing youth in reading, writing, and ciphering.’

It is not my intention to repeat what has already appeared in print, but for the sake of completeness it seems advisable to emphasize a few points. Just when the first Milk Row Schoolhouse was built will probably never be known. That one was standing in 1780 is inferred from references on the town books to repairs made thereon. Undoubtedly it stood where later structures were built, on the easterly corner of the cemetery lot, Somerville Avenue.

May 5, 1777, the town voted to fix up ‘the block house’ for a schoolhouse. Just where this building stood I have not been able to learn. In previous articles on this subject I went on the [26] supposition that it was somewhere on the Peninsula, for we know that the schoolhouses there were both destroyed in the general conflagration of June 17, 1775, and school affairs were at a standstill for some time thereafter. But the more I think of it, the more inclined I am to believe that, being a relic of earlier days, this ‘block house’ would naturally be located in the outskirts of such a community as we imagine this one was. Another thing which seems to favor the theory that it may have stood on Somerville soil is the fact that some of the committee for making the necessary repairs were men who lived in this part of Charlestown. Is it not possible that this ancient edifice stood on the cemetery lot? How did the town obtain its title to that corner of this lot where later schoolhouses stood?

The local name for the school which we are considering, almost from first to last, was, doubtless, ‘the Milk Row School,’ but officially it was designated by various titles. After 1790 it was known as school No. 2. Sometime after 1801 and before 1812 (the records for those years are lost) it was known as No. 3, the new one at the Neck being designated No. 2. In 1829 it was called No. 5 (that at the Neck being No. 3 and the new one on lower Winter Hill Road, No. 4). The sections of the town where these schools stood were known in early times not as districts, but ‘wards.’ In 1839 our old school was known as Primary No. 20, and last of all, after 1846, and when a Somerville school, as the Milk Street Primary.

One of the earliest acts of the incorporated body of trustees was to vote, March 6, 1795, to build a schoolhouse on Milk Row. This act, no doubt, met with favor, for now and then the records are not silent to the fact that some jealousy existed, as this section of the town felt that it was not getting its proportional share of the school money. The sum voted for the new building was £ 100, or $500. Three years after, or May 14, 1798, when the trustees exhibited the building account, we learn that the cost was not far from $750. For the maintenance of this school for the year 1801-2, the town appropriated $287.

From the trustees' report of May 8, 1812, we learn that there were 133 school children, between the ages of four and [27] fourteen, outside the Neck, or less than one-eighth of the entire school population; and that no children there under seven or over fourteen were allowed to attend the town school (within the Peninsula).

Two years later, April 12, 1814, when the trustees made their semi-annual visit, this school, then under the instruction of Moses Hall, had an attendance of sixty-nine pupils. In their report they add that the schools without the Neck are kept only part of the year, and the scholars there are not confined to any age limit. (Note.—The name of Moses Hall is found in Charlestown records. See Wyman's History, and Volume II., Report of the Record Commissioners of Boston, pp. 248, 252.)

After their visit of April 12, 1815, the trustees report this school to be ‘in a respectable state of improvement. The females at this and every examination have been distinguished for their juvenile attainments as well as propriety of behavior.’ The master for the winter term, 1814-15, four months probably, was P. T. Gray, who received $82.50 for his services.

April 19, 1816, Milk Row was visited by two of the trustees and several of the inhabitants of the district. ‘The school appeared very well, notwithstanding many difficulties under which it had labored during the winter. Yorick S. Gordon, the teacher, discharged his duties acceptably.’ This gentleman, some time after this, was advertised in the papers to keep a private school in Boston. Captain George A. Gordon, of this city, who is authority for anything relating to the Gordon family, informs me that Yorick Sterne Gordon was born at Hancock, N. H., January 9, 1793; the second son of Samuel and Lydia (Ames) Gordon. He died in South Carolina, May 12, 1820, where he was employed as a teacher. He was educated at Dartmouth College, in the class of 1817, but did not graduate.

March 25, 1818, the trustees visited School No. 3. Fifty scholars were present out of a total of eighty, ‘and they appeared well in all their performances.’ Daniel Russell, the teacher, received $115. for his winter's services. The next year, 1819, we read that this school was going on very well under the care of Mr. Russell until the building was destroyed by fire. This occurred [28] March 3. We can imagine the scholars were not wholly in tears, as they escaped the ordeal of an examination that season. The late Mrs. Sarah Tufts Kidder attended the Milk Row School at the time it was burned. It has come to us through a reliable source that this old building was a ‘double decker,’ that is, not a two-story structure, but with a gallery running around on three sides of the schoolroom, thus affording seating capacity for gatherings of all kinds.

The report of 1819 says: ‘The district commences in Cambridge road, sweeps around the Cambridge line, runs across Milk Row by Isaac Tufts' to Winter Hill, by the house of Joseph Adams, Esq., to Mystic River, and down to the cluster of houses near the entrance of 3 Pole Lane, and over to the place of beginning. It contains sixty-one families and 106 children, from four to fourteen, about one-third of whom are under seven years of age.’

The following May it was voted that the new Milk Row School be erected where the former one stood. Isaac Tufts and James K. Frothingham were made a building committee, and it was decided to build of wood. The house was completed by October. ‘Its sides were filled in with brick and it was finished in a plain, neat style with two coats of paint on the outside.’ The cost was $675. Its predecessor had succumbed to the flames after a service of twenty-two or twenty-three years. This newer one, the last of the Milk Row schools, after housing a generation of children was destined to a like fate.

October 22 of that year, the school, which was in charge of Miss Charlotte Remington, was visited by Rev. Edward Turner, Isaac Tufts, and James K. Frothingham, three of the trustees. ‘They were highly gratified with the specimens of the children's improvement, particularly in reading.’ This was the first public gathering in the new building. The winter term (1819-20) was kept by Daniel Russell, who had been in charge for three seasons, and at the close the commendatory word was that the school had passed an examination ‘which was highly creditable to themselves and their instructor.’ Paige, in his History of Cambridge, p. 650, states that Daniel Russell was eldest son of [29] Philemon R. and Martha (Tufts) Russell, born about 1793; long in office at the State's prison, Charlestown; died Ipswich, December 11, 1849, aged fifty-six. Wyman's ‘Charlestown’ makes the same statement, but we have it on the best authority that Philemon R. Russell had no such son. The settlement of the estate of Mrs. Russell's father, wherein the grandchildren are named, confirms the fact that there was no Daniel. I have come no nearer than this in my attempt to learn who Daniel Russell, the teacher, was.

At this time the school had an enrollment of ninety-two. It continued to increase in numbers, as the returns for the two following winters show, when a Mr. Parker was in charge, with 100 scholars for his first term and 119 for the second season. At his last examination ‘some handsome specimens of writing were particularly noticed.’ Who this Mr. Parker was I am unable to state positively. His work as a teacher is so highly commended that it would not be strange if he were the same gentleman who was elected to the board of trustees for the following years, 1823, 1824, and 1825. His last year he was president of the board, and more than once he was one of a special committee to examine Milk Row School, the last time being October 4, 1825. This was Leonard Moody Parker (see Wyman's ‘Charlestown’), son of James Parker of Shirley, where he was born January 9, 1789. He became a councilor-at-law, naval officer, and state senator. He married Martha Lincoln of Worcester in 1814, and a daughter, Sarah Rebecca, was born while he lived in Charlestown, March, 1822. If he was the teacher in question, he was about thirty-one years old at that time.

The two following winters, when the school was taught by Nathan Blanchard, there was a falling off to 100 pupils, 1822-3, and 107 pupils in 1823-4. This was the showing of the district when the town voted to build a new schoolhouse, spring of 1821, on the Pound lot, on lower Winter Hill Road.

The reports show that a summer school had existed in the East Somerville neighborhood since 1813, and that it was held in a private building. Our old school, shorn of a part of her patronage, now had to endure a new experience—she had a rival [30] that was to grow and wax strong, while she, alas! the mother of schools, was to become less and less. Who at that time could have foreseen the changes that were to come with the many divisions and sub-divisions of this old school district?

That summer, 1824, Miss Eliza Wayne at Milk Row had a school of eighty pupils, and the next year her sister, Charlotte, had seventy-five. These ladies taught twenty weeks, or five months each, at a stipend of $4. weekly. In commendation of the former, the trustees reported that ‘the appearance and performance of her scholars as well, in writing, geography, and grammar very well. Some samples of needle work, with baskets, etc., were exhibited, all neatly executed.’ It was at this time that the trustees voted that schools beyond the Neck be no longer permitted to be closed on the afternoon of Wednesday, and that five and one-half days service be required of the instructors.

A venerable lady who has always lived in this city attended Charlotte Wayne's school, eighty-three years ago. She remembers her teacher well and once went with her on a visit to Charlestown, where Miss Wayne had a married sister living, a Mrs. Winship.

That winter, 1825-6, the Milk Row School was kept, five months, by Joshua O. Colburn, at $30. per month. Timothy Tufts remembers his name well, but can give no information about the man, or his predecessor, Michael Coombs, who taught the winter before that. Passing over the next year, when the teachers were a Miss Flanders and Ezekiel D. Dyer, we come to a name which stands out prominently in the school reports, that of Miss Ann E. Whipple, who taught the school at two different periods. At this time, May, 1827, she came with a fine record from the Lower Winter Hill School, where she had taught the previous season. So satisfactory was her work in both places that she was induced to keep a private school of a few weeks in the interim between the fall and winter terms. Later on we shall have occasion to speak of Miss Whipple again.

The next teachers, of whom I have learned nothing, were Ira Stickney and Eliza D. Ward. Joseph W. Jenks, son of Dr. [31] Jenks, a Charlestown divine, taught during the winter of 1828-9. He had a brother who kept a private school in that part of Malden which is now Everett. (Note.—While here Mr. Jenks boarded with Mrs. Phipps, daughter of a Mr. Copp, who lived in a house at the lower end of Craigie Street, on the Spring estate. Mr. Farrar, a later teacher, boarded also with Mrs. Phipps. Miss Martha Tufts has in her possession a silver medal, given her in 1827, when a pupil of Mr. Dyer. This gentleman boarded with Miss Sarah Hawkins; Mr. Sherman, and probably Mr. Coombs, boarded there also. Miss Hawkins was the sister of Guy C. Hawkins, and the house stood on Bow Street, near the site of the Methodist church. It was here that Miss Hawkins opened a private school, to be mentioned later on. She married Henry Adams, Esq., and it was with them that other teachers found a home, among them Miss Sarah M. Burnham.)

The length of the school year had now increased to ten and one-half months. Miss Catherine Blanchard, who is remembered by Timothy Tufts, was the next teacher; she was followed by Henry C. Allen and Lewis Colby, who completed that school year, 1829-30. The number enrolled for the winter was seventy-four. We have learned that Mr. Allen came from Bridgewater. Lewis Colby, a student at Harvard College, finished out the term and proved most acceptable. He was born at Bowdoinham, Me., August 19, 1808, and graduated from Harvard in the class of 1832. He also held the degree of A. M. and graduated from the Newton Theological school in 1835. He was ordained to the Baptist ministry at Cambridgeport in September of that year. During the years 1836-38 he seems to have been teaching in the South—perhaps as professor in the theological department of a denominational school in South Carolina. From 1836 to 1842 he was pastor of a church at South Berwick, Me., and from 1842 to 1849, of the Free Street church, Portland. From 1849 to 1858 he was connected with a Baptist publishing house in New York city. From 1858 to 1865 we find him living in Cambridge without a pastorate. After that he was associated with the Benedict Institute at Columbia, S. C., and from 1876 to 1878 he was president of that institution. [32] He died in Cambridge, January 6, 1888, in his eightieth year. From this barren sketch, it is possible to conceive somewhat of his long and useful life.

During the spring and summer of 1830 Milk Row School had the services of Miss Sarah A. Mead, a young lady from Waltham. She was followed by Jeremiah Sanborn, who taught the winter term, 1830-1. Miss Mead was born in Cambridge and was educated at the Lexington Institute, when under the charge of Rev. Caleb Stetson. This, it will be remembered, developed into our first State Normal School. It was here that Miss Mead became acquainted with her future husband, Bowen Adams Tufts, son of Thomas Tufts of Charlestown and Lexington. Mr. Tufts was educated at Bradford Academy, and before marriage was also a teacher in this vicinity. For several terms he taught school at Charlestown ‘End,’ called in this history the Gardner Row district. At another time he was teaching in Cambridge in a school just over the Somerville line from our Elm Street, and boarded with the parents of Timothy Tufts. Mr.Tufts and Mrs. Bowen Tufts passed their married life in Lexington. One of their large family of eleven children, Mrs. Selwyn Z. Bowman, is a resident of this city. Mrs. Sarah Mead Tufts died in October, 1874, aged about seventy; among her pupils at the old Milk Row School were the late Robert and Quincy A. Vinal.

A school census, taken in 1830, by Messrs. John Runey and Guy C. Hawkins, reports 109 scholars between the ages of four and fifteen in this district. The school calendar was now lengthened to the full twelve months of the year. The school building, now about a dozen years old, was reported to be in need of repairs and April 25, 1731, John Sweetser received $64.62 for attending to, the same.

The year 1831-2 finds the school in a fine condition, apparently, with Miss Catherine Blanchard engaged for her second term and John N. Sherman for the winter. At the close of the season, on the recommendation of Guy C. Hawkins, it was voted to retain the service of Mr. Sherman for the entire year at a salary of $360. This is the first instance, in this part of [33] Charlestown, of a teacher being hired by the year. ‘The trustees by this action incur the additional expense of $72 for meeting the wishes of the people at Milk Row.’ So, satisfactory was Mr. Sherman, as a teacher, that he was retained in all two years and a half, an extraordinary event in the history of this old school.

Efforts to learn something of this man's history have thus far failed. A suggestion has been made that he may have come from Sudbury or its vicinity. Of his pupils here Miss Martha Tufts, Captain Francis Tufts, and their sister, Mrs. Allen, remember him well. He was a popular teacher, and seems to have ruled by ‘moral suasion’ rather than by the rod. One means of interesting his pupils was to, take them on little excursions of inspection. One of these was to the State's prison in Charlestown, another to Mt. Auburn, which had but recently been laid out, a delightfully rural spot in those days.

In 1833 a curtailment of holidays was made; both Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were to be granted, but aside from this concession the actual number of days when school did not keep was reduced to fourteen for the year, viz.: Election day, Fast day, the day after the April examinations, June 1, June 17, July 4, and in August, the days of holding the American Institute (not more than four probably), Commencement day at Harvard, the day after the October examinations, Thanksgiving day, Christmas day.

John Tufts and others, about this time, enter a petition for the removal of the schoolhouse in Milk Row, and the matter is referred to three trustees, including Mr. Hawkins. This seems to be the first move towards establishing a school at Prospect Hill on Medford Street. The petition was justified, as the school population of the district had now increased to 127.

In the spring of 1834 Mr. Sherman was succeeded by Ann W. Locke, who, following such a popular teacher, seems to have had her troubles. Fortunately, the trustees sustained her, but some unruly ones evidently vented their spite by turning it upon the schoolhouse; for we read under date of June 30, ‘It having been represented by C. Thompson that the windows in [34] the schoolhouse have been badly broken, it was voted that the committee in charge get evidence and act as they think proper.’ Repairs this year amounted to $112. Miss Locke very soon after this became one of the primary teachers on the Peninsula, where her school was burned in a general conflagration, August 31, 1835.

The winter term of 1834-5 was under the management of Calvin Farrar, concerning whom the general opinion was that he was a good teacher, even if he did wield the rod, or, less metaphorically, a cow-hide strap which he kept at hand in his desk. Mr. Farrar was born at Waterford, Me., May 22, 1814, and graduated at Bowdoin College in 1834, in the same class with an elder brother, Luther Farrar, who, according to our school records, received the call to Milk Row, but for some reason, probably that of ill health, never came. They were the sons of Calvin and Bathsheba Burt (Bates) Farrar, and were descended from Daniel, brother of Deacon Samuel Farrar, of Lincoln, Mass. After graduating, young Calvin entered on a theological course at Cambridge, but he never went into the active ministry on account of his health. He experienced so much benefit from the ‘water cure’ in Brattleboro, Vt., that he was led to a careful study of that method of treatment, and opened a similar institution in his native town, which, with a competent physician to help him, proved successful for a few years. Mr. Farrar was esteemed for his social qualities, pure character, and philanthropic spirit. He was a man of considerable culture and contributed often to the press, gave lectures on various subjects, was active in the cause of education, and generous to young men in their efforts to secure its advantages. He was zealous also in promoting all movements in favor of temperance. He was never married. He died January 6, 1859. My informants think that ‘Artemas Ward’ was a nephew of Mr. Farrar.

In the spring of 1835 the trustees were fortunate to secure again the services of Miss Ann E. Whipple, this time to teach the year round, the second instance in the history of this school. The number of scholars enrolled was 116, and a most urgent petition, presented by Edwin Munroe and others, asked the trustees [35] to recommend to the voters at town meeting the expediency of building another school building. The trustees complied, and the result was that by the following November a new house was erected on Medford Street, in what was now first designated the Prospect Hill district.

Some of the women teachers of to-day will be pleased to know that ‘Miss Whipple was appointed at the same compensation for her winter school as was given to a male teacher,’ $30. a month. So well did she sustain herself during the two years which she taught at this time, that the trustees rewarded her by putting her in charge of the new Prospect Hill School. We may safely say that during the teaching of Mr. Parker, Mr. Sherman, and Miss Whipple, the Milk Row School was at its high water mark. Shorn a second time of a large strip of territory from which to draw scholars, we can understand why the old school, as far as numbers were concerned, never again attained unto its former greatness.

In 1837 we have the first mention of an ‘annual vacation,’ which was to begin August 17 and to continue to September 1. We understand that a private school was opened in the neighborhood of Union Square at this time, kept by Miss Sarah Hawkins at her own home. For the spring and summer of that year Rachel Y. Stevens was engaged as Miss Whipple's successor. She was the sister of Mrs. Underwood (wife of one of the trustees) and finds her best recommendation in the school records, which say that she was engaged because of the illness of the regular teacher, to finish out the winter term at the Gardner Row School. A Mr. Oliver March taught that winter at Milk Row.

Educational matters in 1838-9 are interesting for several reasons; one is that Miss Sarah M. Burnham first appears as the teacher at our old school. This lady had proved her ability while teaching a term at the Russell district in 1836, and again at the Lower Winter Hill School in 1837. Of her first term at Milk Row, the report says that she had seventy scholars enrolled, but the low percentage of attendance (an average of fifty) is lamented. The report speaks in high terms of her efficiency. [36] She was followed that winter by Joel Pierce, ‘an experienced, thorough teacher; very precise in his regulations and mode of teaching.’ The school numbered eighty scholars. He was the last male teacher to preside over the Milk Row School, and received $192.50.

In the spring of 1839 a new teacher, Miss Mary Dodge, was hired to teach at ‘School No. 5.’ According to recommendations considered the year previous the trustees now made a radical change in the schools without the Neck; the one at Prospect Hill was elevated to the grammar grade, and four primary schools were established,—the Prospect Hill, the Upp:r and the Lower Winter Hill, and the Milk Row. The two at the upper end of the town, namely, the Russell and the Gardner Row, were still designated as district schools. The change necessitated some slight alterations in the existing buildings, involving a total outlay of $788.37. The report adds: ‘The cumbrous desks have been removed from the Milk Row and Winter Hill schoolhouses, and these have been fitted up for the better accommodation of the primaries.’ James Twombly was the person engaged to make these changes. As Miss Dodge had not given satisfaction, by a unanimous vote of the trustees Mis Burnham was recalled to the place in November, as teacher of ‘School No. 20,’ or the Milk Row Primary, as our old school was henceforth to be called. Hers was the largest of the four primary schools, being larger than the two on Winter Hill Road together, and more than a third larger than the primary department at Prospect Hill. The average attendance of her school, for some reason, was the lowest.

This was about the condition of things at Milk Row when Somerville, with a school population of 294—less the number that was set off to Arlington, say thirty scholars—was created a new township in March, 1842. The local trustees for Milk Row district, under the old regime, and after Guy C. Hawkins retired in 1835, were Alfred Allen and James Underwood, one or both, till the division of the town. Mr. Underwood died in office March 4, 1840.

Among the few things inherited by the new town of Somerville [37] was the Milk Row schoolhouse, the oldest school structure on our soil, dating from 1819, and valued at $650.

Among other things that ‘fell to us’ were a few teachers and some of the trustees. Miss Burnham, in point of service, was the oldest of the former, having been first elected to a Charlestown school in the spring of 1836. She remained with us until August, 1846. Up to that time this was an unprecedented term of service within our borders. She received a salary of $210. Somerville benefited by the experience of two old trustees, Guy C. Hawkins and Alfred Allen, who were elected members of our first school board. We may believe that the policy of our schools, at least for a few years, was much the same as before 1842.

With the growth of the town, Miss Burnham's school increased from fifty-one, the number in 1842, to 101 pupils when she left it. This we learn from the semi-annual examinations, which came—as of old—in the spring and fall. The whole number of scholars in Somerville in 1844, between the ages of four and sixteen, as taken by the assessors (Levi Russell, Fitch Cutter, and David A. Sanborn) was 306.

May 19, 1846, the committee voted to recommend the town to build a new grammar schoolhouse near the burying ground on Milk Street, ‘provided a suitable lot can be obtained at a cost not exceeding three cents per foot.’ A lot was found, and immediate steps were taken to build thereon. It was at this juncture that Miss Burnham resigned. There is no direct reference on the records to Miss Burnham during all these years, and no allusion to her severing her connection with the school. Her efficiency is commended in general terms along with the other primary teachers. Evidently Somerville lost a good teacher when they let Miss Burnham go to Cambridge. There are several now living II this city who were her old pupils. For information about her I am chiefly indebted to Mrs. Martha Ellen (Bonner) Libby, who was a Milk Row scholar, Francis Cogswell, for so many years the superintendent of schools in Cambridge, and Mrs. Harriette Reed Woodbury, a lifelong friend of Miss Burnham, [38]

In his school report for 1879, page 40, in speaking of teachers who had resigned that year, Mr. Cogswell says:

One resigned after a service in the schools of Cambridge of more than thirty years. When I say that she was associated with me as head assistant (having charge of the English) for twenty years in the Putnam Grammar School, it will not be deemed inappropriate that I speak of her more at length.

Miss Sarah M. Burham, having taught for two or three years in what was known as the Eastern Primary School (where she went after leaving Somerville), was appointed during the year 1848 a teacher in the Putnam School, which position she held till her resignation, June 1, 1879. She was a conscientious teacher. She did not allow, as is too often the case, outside attractions to engross her mind, or tax her strength, so as to unfit her for the daily work of the school.

During all these years, except when abroad in Europe, by permission of the School Committee, she was almost without exception at her post, efficiently discharging her duties. Not content with doing the ordinary daily work of the school, though she did this most thoroughly, she sought to awaken in her pupils a desire for a wider range of studies. Her cabinet of minerals, the many books her scholars read, the drawings upon the blackboards, bear witness to the success of her efforts. Though her term of service was long, it was one of increasing value, and one of the secrets of this is, she was a constant student. No year was allowed to pass that she did not mark out for herself a definite plan of study. Miss Burnham carries into her retirement the respect and esteem of her many pupils and of all who knew her intimately.

After giving up school work she devoted herself to authorship, and among her works I have learned the names of the following, most of which may be found in the Somerville Public Library: ‘History and Uses of Lime-Stones and Marbles,’ Boston, 1883; ‘Precious Stones in Nature, Art, and Literature,’ Boston, 1889; ‘Struggles of the Nations,’ Boston (two volumes); ‘Pleasant Memories of Foreign Travel,’ Boston, 1896, Lee & Shepard were the publishers. [39]

From Mrs. Libby I learned that Miss Burnham was a member of the Baptist Church at East Cambridge, and that my informant was also in her Sunday School class there. She also remembered that her old teacher boarded in the family of Squire Henry Adams on Bow Street. The clerk of the Second Baptist Church of Cambridge informs me that Miss Burnham united with that church May 31, 1840, and died August 24, 1901. Mrs. Libby thinks she lived to be eighty-five years of age. Of her antecedents I have learned little. In her later years she was quite alone in the world; her burial was at Goffstown, N. H. The photograph which is reproduced with this article was contributed by Mrs. Woodbury, of Methuen.

August 17, 1846, Adaline L. Sanborn was elected teacher of the Milk Row Primary. Her first examination took place September 28 following, when she had on her list 101 scholars. She had to undergo no slight ordeal that day, when she faced ‘Messrs. Bell, Allen, Forster, Magoun, and Hill, of the School Board,’ who no doubt had come to see how the new teacher was doing. Another primary school was started that year in the Leland district near by. This school was held in a room hired for the purpose, and Miss Frances B. Adams was the teacher. At her examination October 2 she had an enrollment of sixty-eight pupils. Meanwhile on the lot of land recently purchased, at the corner of Milk and Kent Streets, a schoolhouse was built, the duplicate of one that was being erected at the same time in East Somerville, and January 8, 1847, it received the name of the Franklin School. One room was given to a new grammar department, and Miss Frances B. Adams took charge of the primary scholars. At the February examination, 1847, in consequence of these changes, Miss Sanborn's school was reduced to a total of sixty-four scholars, and her numbers continued to diminish. The school report for 1847 says: ‘The Primary School at Milk Street, formerly one of our largest, embracing nearly or quite 100 pupils, contains at the present time about forty, the decrease being mainly attributable to the erection of the Franklin School.’ At the examination February 13, 1849, Miss Sanborn's school had a showing of only thirty-seven, with [40] an average attendance of twenty. In consequence of this decrease, the committee voted at its meeting, held June 27, that Milk Street Primary be discontinued after the summer vacation, and that two assistant teachers be employed, one at the Prospect Hill Primary, the other at the Franklin Primary.

At their meeting held July 13, the Committee voted ‘to recommend to the Selectmen to offer suitable reward for the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons who caused the destruction of the Milk Row Primary School on the night of the 11th instant.’ July 31 Clark Bennett (of the Committee) was authorized to clear up the ruins and put the fence in order. In their annual report for 1849 is the following allusion to this event: ‘The school on the borders of the Burial Ground (Milk Street Primary), much to the surprise and indignation of our community, has fallen by the torch of the incendiary. The scholars most of them were transferred to the Prospect Hill School with their teacher, who continued there until the semiannual examination in the autumn.’

If indignation got the better of the School Committee and the community in general, we know for a fact that there was one sincere mourner when this, the one historic school of Somerville, was reduced to ashes never to rise again. From her immediate family we learn that Miss Adaline Louise Sanborn, daughter of David Ambrose and Hannah Adams (Stone) Sanborn, was born in Charlestown, January 11, 1824. The house where she died is still standing, being No. 253 Washington Street. She was educated in the schools of her native town, and besides attending the Female Seminary on Austin Street, Charlestown, where so many Somerville girls finished their education in those days, she received instruction in the French language from Rev. Henry Bacon, who resided for a time on Walnut Street. She died of typhoid fever November 16, 1850, aged twenty-six years, ten months.

In closing this history, which is not so complete as I could wish, I cannot help expressing the hope that some time the Somerville Historical Society may be instrumental in setting up a memorial tablet or marker near where, this old schoolhouse [41] stood. On it I would have an inscription something like this:—


Of the Milk Row Schoolhouse,
The Mother of our Schools, Burned July 11, 1849.
And below this, or on the obverse side:—

Teachers after March 3, 1842,

Sarah M. Burnham, Adaline L. Sanborn.

1 from a paper read before the Somerville Historical Society, February 4, 1908.

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