The winter before I was seven years of age I attended district school with my aunt now in her eighty seventh year (present date March 1st 1901.) at that time 19 years old. It was the old fashioned school about seventy scholars, and only one man to teach, and he seemed to know how to run the job. My class use to be called to take their places on the floor, and to toe a certain crack in the floor. The rule in this spelling class was for the one who left off at the head at last lesson for the day and woe to the one who missed and let some one go above him, but if he kept the head of the class through the day, he with much pride placed himself at the foot at the next mornings lesson. This was a great inducement to me. I remember the excitement I labored under, I know I would tremble when a missed word came to me.
Once at the word from the teacher, "The boys may go out." I had taken a doughnut from my dinner pail to eat when out, another boy knocked it out of my hand, others with their feet kept it hustling on the floor, but when they were called in by rapping, the master called up those large boys - men g? they appeared to me, there was quite a row of them. Then the master commenced the punishment with a ruler of hard wood on the inside of the outstretched hand. It was a quiet house, except some sobbing of the larger girls. I looked the performance in great surprise, comparing it in my own mind to the Emperor of China's punishment, this school masters punishment seemed large for so small an offense. Immediately after this happening on opening school there was not a ruler to be had all were broken up or were lost; the affair passed quietly until close of school when the master stated. That it was to be the duty of the scholars to bring rulers, as all writing was did on white paper the teacher ruling the lines at such distances apart with a lead plummet as his judgement suggested. The next day brought rulers; they seem to have been made in quantities, with a hole in one end, then strung on a cord, to my eyes there were hundreds of them, the teacher took notice of the generous quantity.
When the day was bright the scholars made a ring and then was wrestled according to size and one must be found to take the place of the one throwed. after several throws I was hustled in to throw Sam May, this I had not looked for, and I endeavored to escape. But that was not the rule. So Sam chinched me, and I was mad and did not work at any known rules of wrestling. But Sam pulled my hair some to get a good clinch, upon that I was entirely beside myself and knocked him over clinching my hands in his hair. There was a big yell from both sides to each favorite. Finally I was taken off from Sam with both hands full of Sam's flaxen hair. We were both in tears. I do not think I was ever so mad in my life. But they could not get Sam to tackle me again.
A year later when eight years there was a commotion in the school district, there were so many scholars for the one school that finally a division of the district occurred, and we on our side of the Otter Creek had a new building and it was called the Red School House. A woman teacher was provided and our school was more quiet. I recollect one teacher her name was Lucinda Lawrence; she had some faculty to punish without ferrule or beech rods. My next brother younger could not be kept in exact behavior, so Miss Lucinda found in her dress pocket a string or a ? cord, my brother Henry when he saw the cord. Wished to know if she was going to p? a horse? Yes, she said, and proceeded to tie him up to a convenient post in the room, this proved effective to maintain authority.
In the summer following a boy was admitted to the school one year my senior, he came from the larger district, brought the rough manners with him he considered it was his duty to run things at all recesses. After a day or two he went pushing and smashing the scholars generally, throwing a light weight boy of the name of Sylvester Harris against a writing desk knocking him senseless. I immediately grabbed Richard Wadleigh which was his name crowded him to the front door and pushed him down the nine steps. He went off home limping, at an examination by the committee I was exonerated from all blame, and the boys father was notified the boy could not attend that school.
(The full diary will be located here when complete.)