The Reighard School - Mt. Hope, Adams Twp.
Article provided by Dianne Sikurinec
This article was written about 1900 by two
graduates of the school. The school was located along present Mt. Hope
Road in Adams Township, Cambria Co. [at that time it was the Frankstown Road in
Richland Twp.] It was on the farm of Jacob Reighard.
The Old Reighard School
The old Reighard schoolhouse stood, in Richland Twp., Cambria Co., Pa. It was built in 1835 and stood on the right of Frankstown Road going east, six miles from Johnstown and one half mile this side of the noted South Fork Dam.
The lot was donated by Mr. J. Reighard; he being the lowest bidder, got the contract to build the schoolhouse for $53.
The building was 22 by 24 feet, one story, with an eight foot ceiling, and was built of hewn logs, chunked and plastered with clay mortar. There were two windows, each 2 by 10 feet (sic), one on each side of the room, and one small window in the back, with a door facing the road. Beneath the small window in the back stood a small table, 2 by 3 feet, and a homemade split-bottom chair, over which the master had habit of rubbing his hand before he sat down, to ascertain if it had a smooth surface. He well knew that a pin was an ugly thing to sit on.
In the center of the room stood a large ten-plate stove on two large blocks. On these blocks lay a large wooden poker six feet long, with a hook at one end. This was used to stir the fire in the stove. On each side of the stove were two rows of slab benches with the rough edges shaven off with a drawing knife. They had no lazy backs.
Beneath the long windows was hung, on wooden hinges, a board which was used by the advanced pupils to write on, but these boards were dropped and hung flat against the wall on an occasion of a night spelling, so as to afford more room (there was never a drop of paint on the house or furniture.)
There was a school term of 3 months in the year, and students got through at the age of seventeen or eighteen, at which time they could read, write, and "do sums". The only books used were the Testament, Ray’s Arithmetic, Cobb’s Spelling Book, and the United States Spelling Book. Pens were made of goose quills, whittled down and split at the end. The children also played such games as corner, paddle, townball, and ring in which the girls took part.
At sixteen or seventeen most boys were kept out of school to work on the farm or learn a trade, no boy then thought of leaving home before he was twenty-one.
In the winter of 1838 the master was a Mr. McCaleb, he was the fourth master. The masters all had different forms of punishment, one was the rod, another was to make a boy put on a girls hood and climb up on the woodpile behind the door, and sit there and study his lessons for an hour.
In winter when there were very deep snows, the children’s fathers used to drag great logs to the schoolhouse with their teams. This had two purposes, to make a path for the children to get to school and the logs were used for the fire.
The schoolhouse was torn down in 1861 in order to make a new one.
The pupils who attended school in the 1830's and 40's had grown up to be fine country boys and girls. About that time there was a little trouble down South, starting at Fort Sumter. The President called for soldiers and young men of the Reighard School responded to the call. Among those who responded were the following: J.C. Stineman, George B. Stineman, Daniel Stineman, J. G. Varner, S.C. Varner, S. R. Varner, Edward Reighard, Jacob Reighard, John Reighard, Adam Grambling, Solomon Grambling, Charles Grambling, Samuel Shoup, Philip Custer, George Lamb, John Lyberger, John Layton, Samuel Layton, Aaron Layton, Ezra Layton, Amaniah Penrod, George W. Penrod, Fred Custer Jr., John Croyle, Philip Croyle, Henry Keiper, Michael Finegan, Daniel Reighard, John W. Reighard, Isaiah Miller, Hartman Berg, and John H. Brown.
Seven of the above gave their lives for their country: Daniel Stineman, John Varner, John Reighard, Adam Grambling, Solomon Grambling, John Layton, and Samuel Layton.
The country school, in Cambria County of the days "before the war" can give as good a showing of talented men among its graduates as the Reighard School . The list includes at least one minister of the Gospel, one State Senator, one State Legislator, one Register and Recorder, one County Superintendent of Schools, one Sheriff, one County Auditor, one Attorney, one Chief of Police, two of the best artists of the country (George and Miss Storm), three Justices of the Peace, six of the most successful merchants of Cambria County, two successful coal operators, many school teachers, and scores of good mechanics and farmers. (Written at the turn of the century by Stephen R. Varner and Philip Custer, two old time graduates of the school.)