Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Atkinson's School: The Class of 1895

Thanks to my cousin, Vicky (Culbert) Schloendorf for sending this newspaper clipping of the Class of 1895.

S.S. No. 2 Biddulph, also known as Atkinson's School, class of 1895.

Generations of Culbert descendants attended S.S. No. 2 Biddulph, also known as Atkinson's School, near Lucan, Ontario. The article that accompanies the photo was written around 1963 when the new Biddulph Central School opened, and Atkinson's School closed. 

Below this image, I've typed the legend that identifies the people in the photo. It's followed by a transcription of the article.

Click on this image of the Class of 1895 to enlarge it. Four grandchildren of John Culbert & Mary Ward are in this photo: siblings Arthur, Myron, Mary, and Ethel Culbert. At that time, schoolhouses contained only one room so children of all ages were educated by the same teacher, in the same classroom.

CLASS OF 1895 – Pupils of the now-closed SS No.2, Biddulph, posed for this group photograph in 1895 with their teacher Russell Hodgins. All but one could be identified by former pupils living in Lucan. About half the group still survive.(Note from blog author: This was written around 1963 therefore no members of the group still survive.)

Top row (from left): Willie Dobbs, Minor Dobbs, Wilbert Neil, Labanna Hodgins, Francis Neil, Tom Flynn, Leon Abbott, Dan Rivington, Percy Abbott, Eli Davis, ARTHUR CULBERT, Dufferin Hodgins.

Second row: Charlotte McCann, Rennie Revington, Annie Atkinson, Ella Herbert, Fannie Flynn, Willa Hodgins, Annie Dobbs, Annie Atkinson, Mary Ann Flynn, Edith Levette, Louisa Armitage, Lily Neil, Bert Abbott, Eli Thompson, Will Dickens.

Third row: MYRON CULBERT, George Dobbs, Percy Armitage, Edith Fraser, Ada McCann, MARY CULBERT, Flossie Hodgins, Birdie Monkton, Pearl Hodgins, (unidentified), Alfred Dickens, Reginald Hodgins.

Fourth row: Laura Neil, Lucy Herbert, Pearl Herbert, Bella Herbert, Lina Abbott, Etta Dobs, Minnie Neil, ETHEL CULBERT, Louisa Hodgins, Hannah McCann, Florence Armitage, Clara Monkton, Mabel Hodgins.

Fifth row: Lloyd Fraser, Malcolm Hodgins, Bob Flynn, Ernie Neil, Art Dobbs, Alex Hodgins, Wesley Neil.

When ‘Sablewrackers’ Battled ‘Drylanders’: Closing of Biddulph School Brings Flood of Memories

By Lina E. Abbott

Article published in the Exeter Times Advocate (c1963)

S.S. No. 2, Biddulph, was one of the Biddulph schools which closed its doors this year with the opening of the new Central School.

The now deserted brick school, which replaced a log school, is situated on the Atkinson sideroad, half way between concession 3 and 4 Biddulph, about 4 miles north of Lucan.

East of the school, ran the Ausauble River, which proved a big asset to the children, living on Concession 4, for it enabled the older pupils to skate part way to school, during the winter, drawing their smaller brothers and sisters behind them, either on a sled or by their coat-tails, and in summer many a cooling dip was enjoyed, on the way home from school.

Children living east of the school were nicknamed ‘Sablewrackers’ and those west, ‘Dry-Landers’. Many a combat took place between the two rival groups.

Back in the nineties (1890s), the school was surrounded by woods, on three sides, which afforded endless amusement for the children, who were not confined to the schoolyard. A number of swings hung from the tall nearby trees. In summer the girls gathered arm-loads of spring flowers and in the autumn make houses of leaves.

In winter, lunches were devoured, in record time, and old and young ran to the river for a skate or slide. The ringing of the school bell, warned all of the time to return for the afternoon studies.

Races, tag, baseball, football, prisoners’ base, had their place on the school ground. Another favourite game was throwing a ball over the school porch. If anyone caught it, his team chased the opposing team around the school. Anyone tagged became a member of that team. The game was to get everyone on one side but the school bell invariably prevented this.

Rows of partitioned shelves inside the porch held the lunch pails, and boxes. Often the teacher had to play detective to try and discover the culprit, when sandwiches, cookies and apples mysteriously disappeared.

A large wood stove parboiled the children sitting near it and helped to keep, those at a distance, from freezing. The long line of stove pipes from the stove to the chimney periodically – probably with some big boys’ assistance – collapsed, and to the joy of all the pupils a part holiday was declared until the trustees could make the necessary repairs.

What became of the pupils of 1895, shown in the accompanying photograph? The majority of the boys became well-to-do Biddulph farmers and the girls became farmer’s wives. A number of the pupils chose the teaching profession and one boy became a dentist. The bright lights of Toronto lured a few, many heard the call of the West and a few decided to live and die in the United States.

What the fate of the old school will be, only time can tell.

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