The Schoolhouse

In Steuben County, August is fair time and for SCHS that means our annual Open House at the restored Babcock Hollow Schoolhouse on the fairgrounds. During this year's six day fair the second full week of August, many dedicated volunteers man the schoolhouse from 10 AM to 8 PM hosting over 2500 interested visitors. For most fair goers, a visit to the schoolhouse is more than a hurried or casual walk-through experience. Many guests linger over our nineteen volumes of collected pictures and related information of schools, many with students and teachers, once used in their area of the County. Other guests prefer to compare the location of a school on our 1929 school map with a contemporary county map to note the location of a particular school, perhaps one attended by themselves, a parent, grandparent or other relative. From this involvement with both the schoolhouse displays and in interaction with our SCHS hosts, much new information is gleaned about our county's former one-room schools. For this, or for corrections to our existing records, the Society, and especially the one-room school project committee, is deeply grateful.

Our one-room school project is an ongoing research study initiated several years ago by then board member, Catherine Pierce, and later given significant status as a Society Project by the Board of Trustees. With increased effort in recent years we have made considerable progress in our school records as public awareness of the project has increased among our membership and especially among residents in the thirty-two townships in Steuben County. To date we have identified and charted approximately 372 known County schools up until the year 1930 when centralization of many school districts began. The Society now has information, i.e., school locations and district numbers, pictures of the school building, many with students and teachers, or related information for nearly half the known schools in the County at that time. We are steadily making progress in our continuing search but our records are by no means complete and much work remains to be done. We continually appeal to our membership and to the public at large to join us in this quest for one room school pictures or any related information. Pictures submitted to the Society will be returned to the owner upon request and may be brought to the Magee House or sent to us at SCHS, Box 349, Bath, NY 14810.

Additionally, the One-Room School Committee extends a cordial invitation to any concerned and interested SCHS member to consider joining our team of volunteer hosts and hostesses at the Babcock Hollow District 11 Schoolhouse during the County Fair. The usual volunteer work schedule consists of a two person, two hour session from 10 AM to 8 PM each day during the fair with each volunteer choosing the day and time most convenient to his or her individual schedule. Based on their comments our volunteers consider their time at the Babcock Schoolhouse during the fair both an enjoyable and stimulating experience.

If you’d like to help us, please contact us at the Magee House at 607-776-9930 or simply send us a note indicating your interest and we will telephone you during June or July to arrange a mutually convenient time slot.

by Roland Bentley