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The letter EARLY SCHOOLS OF FULTON COUNTY, OHIO



WHITCOMB SCHOOL
by Otha M. Whitcomb


Samuel B. Whitcomb



Whitcomb School

     Samuel B. and Mary Jane (THOMAS) WHITCOMB, and their two sons, Melvin age 12, and Fred age 3 came to Fulton County, Ohio from Huron County, Ohio in 1864.
     Life in this part of the country at that time came far from affording the advantages and privileges of the present. Most of the traveling was by slow ox teams plodding along at three or four miles an hour over roads which were roads in name only. They were in reality but tracks in the woods bordered on either side by high brush, trees and swamps. It was a common thing to get stuck in the mud and mire and have to unload the wagon in order to get out. During the cold winters a great part of this undrained country was covered with ice, and it was his pleasure to skate on Sundays and evenings. Since there were very few fences to furnish obstructions it was possible to skate for miles. Mr. WHITCOMB enjoyed this sport immensely, and as he often said, "I'd rather skate than eat."

     Skating was not the only pastime there was also the woods with the wild game in plenty. Many winter days were spent in quest of the nimble deer which then roamed quite plentyful over this part of country. Mr. WHITCOMB's father always kept a good hound or two and when the cold snowy days of winter came they gathered a group of neighbor boys together and started out. Sometimes the chase would lead them for miles and miles over the wooded land, and not always with success, but they at least had the pleasure of the fun of the hunt. It was not an uncommon sight to see the old doe with her fawn grazing on the prairie grass that grew wild. One spring morning the father called to the children and said, 'come, see the little calves I have over here pasturing on the wheat.' They came and saw several young deer there timidly eating. 'Now watch them." He said and clapped his hands. In an instant they whirled on their hind legs and went scampering back into the brush their white tails bobbing.

Melvin WHITCOMB's life experiences after arriving in Fulton Co. as related by his youngest son, Elton WHITCOMB in a Memorial to his father.
(Obit. May, 1931)
     Here, Samuel purchased 120 acres of brush land in Pike Twp., much of the time under water. It had to be cleared and drained. He paid $5.00 an acre for this land, as did other early settlers of the area. Samuel erected the necessary buildings as he proceeded to develop the Whitcomb homestead.

     The need for a learning center became a priority for the children of the early inhabitants. The Pike Township Board of Education of Fulton Co., contracted Samuel B. WHITCOMB to build a one-room schoolhouse for District #6, on Oct. 7, 1867. According to Court records, he was to receive $100.00 as down payment, and $398.00 after the structure was completed, for a total of $498.00. The schoolhouse was to be finished by Jan. 1, 1868. Further specifications were as follows:
     The house, 'to be 18 by 22 feet, square sills to be white-oak timber, frame to be Scoutling frame, to be enclosed with good whitewood lumber, to be sided up with corner boards and fringe with twelve inch projection, cornice rail, with a short shingle roof, to be lighted with 8 lighted windows sash and glass, to be 8 by 10, to have 8 foot ceiling, to be ceiled up to bottom of windows, and to be lathed and plastered with two good coats of plaster, joined and nailed down, to be seated conveniently as possible with a desk and blackboard, to have a four panel door. The outside to have two coats of white paint- - the inside to be painted slate color, stove chimney near the back end, said building to be completed by the first day of January next."

     Nearly eight months after the completion of the one-room school the Board of Education had not made full restitution to Samuel B. WHITCOMB, although it had been used and occupied for school purposes. Court records further show that on Aug. 22, 1868 he made a Petition for payment of the $398.00 plus interest from Jan. 1, 1868. Samuel claimed he fulfilled the contract as per specifications, within the time limit.





The Board claimed workmanship was not acceptable, nor was it completed on time, but they offered to pay WHITCOMB $275.00 instead of $398.00 as contracted. In another Court session on Mar. 6, 1869 the jury awarded Samuel B. WHITCOMB $354.73, which he evidently accepted. (This schoolhouse was erected on the corner of Fulton County roads 12 & L in Pike Twp., and became known as the Whitcomb School).

     The school of the community was at that time located on the Whitcomb homestead and therefore assumed the family name which it still holds. It was not only a school but served also as a community center. Sundays it served a a church and here began what later developed into the U. B. church. Later a new church was built on the present site near Winameg. During the winter they met at the old school house for socials, spelling contests, singing schools, and all community gatherings. Mr. WHITCOMB took great interest in this and lead the singing for some time. Most of those who attended these social affairs often walked from several miles distance, the school was moved to the corner a mile north.
     (Obit: Melvin WHITCOMB
         May, 1931)


     Mr. WHITCOMB always stood for those things, which were high and upbuilding to home and community. He served as a member of the school board of Pike Twp. for eight years, and township offices for a number of years always putting in them his best judgement and interests.


(Excerpts: Obit. May, 1931
        &
History of Fulton County, II pg. 87,
by Frank Reighard
Published 1920)
     This School house had served the community in many ways for years. According to the Fulton County Atlas the Whitcomb School was relocated one mile north (Co. Rd. 12-M) of the original school sometime between 1875 and 1888. Some historical writings indicate that the school had been burned, too.

     The Whitcomb family continued to maintain a great interest in the community and school system. Fred, Melvin WHITCOMB's younger brother, served prominently politically. Melvin had been a member of the Board of Education in Pike Twp. for eight years prior to 1920, and possibly longer, and boarded some of the teachers at the WHITCOMB residence.

     One such teacher, Amy SWART, daughter of George & Mary (HORN) SWART of Oak Shade, Ohio area was hired to teach at Whitcomb School, and lived with Melvin & Katherine (STUCKEY) WHITCOMB and their eight children. Amy received a salary of $40.00 presumably paying $10.00 board and room, as the family recalls she received $30.00 a month. Here Amy SWART became acquainted with Charles WHITCOMB, one of the eight children. They were later married on Valentine' Day, 1920.




     This second school of the area continued to be called the Whitcomb School. The first school (Co. Rd. 12-L) was listed as in District #6. The new school was known as being in District #3. After the Board of Education elected to consolidate the one-room schools, and the Pike Elementary School had been built at Winameg in 1938, the fate of the old one-room schools became obsolete educationally. Some were sold, used as farm buildings, torn down and used to build the bus garages at the Pike school at Winameg, and perhaps other uses. This particular Whitcomb School was purchased, removed and found a resting place on the Vernon BUYER property, one mile west near the corner (Co. Rd. 13-M).



     The following records are an accumulation of items handed down through the Whitcomb family. Perhaps other students who attended the Whitcomb School can add personally to this school's history, too.

     I had the opportunity to attend this school from 1930 1938, graduating the year of its closure. The education I received served me well, as I pursued further studies, and a career in the teaching field. I have always felt grateful that my pioneer ancestors had a part in the establishment of a school facility, and to all those who had helped to foster and promote this education system over the 70 years of its existence.
         Sincerely,
         Otha M. Whitcomb
         May, 2001



ndex:
 1. Introduction
 2. One-Room Schools
 3. Samuel WHITCOMB,
 4. Whitcomb School Building
 5. Old School Friends, 1896-1897
 6. Class Photo, 1912-1913
 7. Souvenir Card & Class List, 1912-1913
 8. Souvenir Card & Class List, 1913-1914
 9. Class Photo, 1915-1916
10. Dorothy BROWN, Teacher, 1916-1917
11. Amy SWART, Teacher, 1918-1919
12. More Amy SWART Class photos &
      Souvenir Cards

13. Class Photo, 1935-1936
14. Daily Teaching Program
15. Teacher List
16. Attendance Spread Sheet
17. PTA Minutes, 1937-1938, Final Year
18. Commencement 1938 Program
19. Pike Centralized School Article


OME:  Back to Fulton County Schools Front Page.

Fulton County, Ohio School Photos
Created July 6, 2001
Web page copyright 2001 by Charles Paul Keller

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