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Cabot Plains School Restored

Cabot, Vermont

Photo Credit: Bonnie S. Dannenberg

District #1 - Cabot Plains School

"The first log schoolhouse stood at the foot of Shephard Hill, just north of where the road near Harvey SMITH'S intersects with the Hazen road. Wooden pins were driven into the logs, and boards laid on them, for writing-desks; benches were used for seats. The scholars had to turn their face to the wall to write. The first school was taught by John GUNN, in the summer of 1792. . .After a few years, a schoolhouse was commenced by district No. 1, nearly opposite the burying-ground; but being a bleak spot, was removed before finished, down into the corner of the field near the Junction." (Hemenway)

"It isn't exactly where the first marker was, because Leon PERRY told me at the time we were dong the retracing of the Bayley-Hazen Road, they made a better curve there. . .it would have been right in the middle of the road and he just moved it where it is, which is perfectly alright." -- Jennie DONALDSON

"The marker used to be on that three-cornered piece -- it was on the opposite side of the road from where Leon put it. He put it over there in Stone's pasture. Now there's that building there, the old Walbridge schoolhouse was moved up there. They moved it up into that field, but that ain't where the original schoolhouse was.

"My first teacher, I think, was Sadie ALCROE, then Miss KIMBALL, and LAMBERTON. I think Rube BARNETT took care of the school, was janitor. Nat STOCKER did, too. He lived where MAYNARDS later live, right next to the school. There was two outhouses, one for girls and one for boys. We made our own swings, and we played around the brook. The brook and the trees. Anything else to play with we had to do it on our own, nobody built us any playground. Most everybody brought their lunches. The ROY family and the BURTNETTS, they had to walk from down by the pond [on the Bayley-Hazen road]. Mother always insisted when they came over the top of the hill there, facing that north wind, if they were cold they had to come in and get warmed up, and then they'd go along to school. Some days you couldn't see those kids coming over the hill up there, the snow was blowing so. Then there were the DUNN children from over beyond the STONE'S, and Pliney MCCORMICK from over by the railroad tracks, and Walter BARNETT. There were three or four ENNIS boys, just beyond Ellie BARNETT'S. Then over where Howard STONE used to be was where STEVENSES lived --Clayton, Kettle and Howard STEVENS, and after that, of course, the POTTERS lived there.

"We had an old big stove, a big high one, stand up six feet or so, and when it was hot it kept us warm in there. The stovepipe went the whole length of the room to the chimney on the end nearest MAYNARDS. They got water in pails from MAYNARDS', and we used to drink out of that, or out of the brook. We fell in a few times, too. I went all but the eighth grade on the Plains. [Our parents] figured we weren't getting good enough education there, we'd go to the village. Hud [Harold] and I went to the village for eighth grade, at the old school building." -- Aaron BOLTON

"I went to school with the BARNETT'S, the DUNN'S, and MAYNARDS. I think our teacher was Marjory RYAN, and she boarded at the STEVENS down by Molly's Pond -- they used to live where Howard STONE lived. . .where the BADGER place was. There was Christy and Myra WALTERS -- oh, they was smart. I don't know if they were foster kids, but they lived with the BADGERS. It was eight grades. There was a Miss SULLIVAN, Clara CARPENTER, I don't think I had her, but the other kids had her. I think [my brothers] Bernard and Stanley had her. [My sisters,] Athelene and Phyllis wer younger. And this Miss SULLIVAN was from over Montpelier way, I think.

"In the morning we'd get up and the boys had to go out and do the barn chores, help Dad first. We would have our breakfast -- muffins and warmed up potato, sometimes with bread and salt pork. It took us about an hour to walk. That was a mile and a half. We had to go any way we could get there in the winter, up by the GAMBLE'S, or up across on the crust when it would hold us. We was just little kids, and if it was a really bad day, the teacher would let us out early so we could get home. We girls didn't have much for rubbers, our feet was cold. The wind was blowing, Lord, we couldn't hardly see. Mother had to thaw us out by the oven. I used to go help with chores, too, but I had to thaw out before I could go out." -- Cora EWEN NEWTON

That was a little school. All eight grades. Leona PIERCE -- Leona LAWSON taught there. Hazel PIERCE CARPENTER taught there. too. and my first teacher was a Miss SILLOWAY." -- Freda MAYNARD STONE

That year, 1928, parents began to see the school building was too small for the number of pupils. Miss MCALLAN was vocal about the conditions at the school, and soon there was a campaign for a new school.

"I talked with Aaron's mother [Grace], and of course I had four of her kids, Mabel, Jack, Bill, and Bob, crammed in there with thirty-one kids. We talked about how we could get the money to do it because we knew the town wouldn't do it. We started talking about who some of the old timers were that went to school there years ago -- who had money, and they said they would write to some, and we got Flossie STONE interested, because Florence used to teach over there too. She knew some people who had money, so we wrote to all of these people and the money started rolling in. John BOLTON gave money, Abbie SMITH was one -- she taught there, too, and her brother, Joe gave, and I think Tom, too. Then we got the superintendent, it was Max BARROWS then, in on it." -- Arletta BOLTON

"My father said he'd give some land. But [the school directors and superintendent] picked a spot right in the middle of his forty-acre field. Ed GOULD was one of the directors, and he said, 'I thingk that's being a little bit out of reason, when a man donates a piece of land for a school building to take it right out of the middle of his field, when you could put it out in the corner here.' So they finally decided to put it across the brook from the field. A lot of the farmers donated their time. Budd BRUCE was the only one paid. He was a carpenter. But the foundation, cement work was all done by different ones. I remember when they were putting in the foundation, Jack FOSTER was down there that day to help, and he didn't agree with Budd BRUCE -- the way they were putting in the foundation. He said, 'If you're going to put it in that way, I'm going home. I'n not going to have anything to do with it beause the first winter it will all go to pieces.' He went home. And that first winter the foundation was all cracked. It's all been done over now. None of the old foundation is there now. They put in a five or six inch wall with no reinforcing or anything. Wasn't very good judgement. Then they run the damn sewer right out into the brook. They didn't have any septic tank. Within two or three years they had to dig it up and put in a septic tank. Then they put in the furnace that didn't work -- all the heat came in at the top of the room -- and it smoked like the devil." -- Aaron BOLTON

"There was a dining room downstairs in the basement, and a kitchen area in one section. They had a good stove and kitchen that the PTA -- Grace BOLTON, Flossie STONE, and Lizzie MCCORMICK all did a lot of hard work there." -- Arletta BOLTON

"The first male teacher we ever had was Clyde PEPEAU. And he was good. He was a French guy. . .Mr. PEPEAU, he was, well a young man and there was the FOSTER boys, Charles, Andrew, and Fred. . ." -- Freda STONE

The 1933 - 34 school year saw between 20 and 23 pupils at the Plains School. Regis WOODCOCK was teaching there then. She had Jimmy and Louise BARNETTT, Robert BOLTON, Phyllis EWEN, Andrew, Fred and Marjorie FOSTER, Ellen, John, Marjory, and Mary GAMBLE, Clara HARRINGTON, Lillian LEACH, Elizabeth, Ernest, Frederick, Isabelle, and Martin MAYNARD, Edward STONE, Elizabeth STRAYER, Ruth ROBISON, Willard MAY, and Gordon ARCHAMBAULT, spanning all eight grades. The FOSTER children were often late. They had to walk well over a mile to school Fred was late sixteen times that year, Andrew was late twelve. Marjorie only six times. Everyone was tardy at some time or other, except the MAYNARD children.

The Plains School had an active PTA group. The teachers were enthusiastic about putting on plays and entertainment for the parents to earn money for special books, or, as in 1940, tuning the piano. That year they put on an operetta, "The Queen of Hearts" which earned them $2.00. Betty PIKE, the teacher at that time, started a "sewing circle" to make a quilt to sell, but only two ladies came to their first meeting. She wrote in her plan book, "No business was completed. All ladies very busy during spring's work." When school closed that June, the school picnic was held "at the head of Joe's Pond. We built stone fireplaces and roasted frankfurts, marshmallows to eat with our lunches."

The school closed in 1948.

"There were a lot of people who wanted to keep the one-room schools. The only ones who didn't want to were the state and the school directors -- two of which had their children enrolled in private schools elsewhere. . .Other towns had one-room schools. . .One of the reasons they gave for closing was because they couldn't get a teacher at Cabot Plains School. . .Aaron BOLTON'S wife was the teacher and she had taught there for a number of years, and the odd thing about it was when they consolidated [to the] school in Cabot Village, she was teaching there. So much for their theory they couldn't get a teacher. She was living right beside the school house at the time, almost." -- Warren ALEXANDER

According to Warren, there never was a vote at town meeting on closing the schools: "As I remember, they [school directors, Arecca URBAN, Clara SMITH, and Ted BOTHFELD] did it on their own." [1948]

The old school building is now owned by Theresa Maynard REMICK. The "new" building was sold in 1950 to Bedros BAHARIAN, a former minister in Cabot for $1,000. It is now the summer home of Paul and Bonnie BOLTON BAHARIAN.

Quotes - Source "Cabot, Vermont A Collection of Memories From The Century Past" A Publication of the Cabot Oral History Committee - 1999. Excerpts - pp - 105 &140-143.

Book available. $20.00. To order, e-mail the President Bonnie Dannenberg of the Cabot Historical Society: bonniesd@together.net

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