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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: February 9, 1859

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Description of Page: Weekly Letter from Washington in col. 1.

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(Column 1)
Summary: Editorial concerning the Annual Report of County Superintendent for Common Schools. Editors praise the work of P. M. Shoemaker.
(Names in announcement: P.M. Shoemaker)
Full Text of Article:

In presenting for the inspection of our readers the annual report of the County Superintendent of Common Schools it gives us a peculiar pleasure to bestow a word of just praise on the gentleman who fills that important position. For many years the cause of education in Franklin County has been in a languishing condition, and the Common School System was fast sinking into disrepute with the people. Propositions were openly made to abolish the office of County Superintendent, and a decided feeling of hostility was apparent, in almost every district in the County, against the whole system of public education. At this juncture, Mr. P. M. Shoemaker was elected County Superintendent. He entered upon his duties with a formidable array of difficulties staring him in the face. His office was unpopular-- the whole system in disrepute--teachers incompetent--schools at a low ebb, and no interest taken in the cause of education. It was a gloomy picture to contemplate, and any one of less sagacity and energy, than he possessed would have shrunk from the Herculean labors before them. Not so with Mr. Shoemaker; with hand, heart and brain, he engaged in the work. In a quiet but determined manner has he, by his example and exertions, reformed, remodelled, and improved our schools until they now fully and fairly realized the sanguine expectations of the friends of the Common School System of Education. We are aware that there is still much to accomplish before we can pronounce our schools perfect, but Mr. Shoemaker is fully equal to the task, and under his supervision, the day is not far distant, when the public schools of Franklin will take rank with those of any other county in the State.
Franklin County.
SCHOOL HOUSES.--1st class, good, 1; 2d class, improvable, 154; 3d class, unfit, 35.

Material of School Houses.--Brick, 135; stone, 17; log, 24; frame, 14.

School Furniture.--1st class, good, none; 2d class, medium, 136; 3d class, unfit, 54.

SCHOOLS.--1st class, graded, 24; 2d class, classified, 84; 3d class, neither graded nor classified, 94.

TEACHERS.--Ages of Teachers.--Under seventeen, 3; between seventeen and twenty one, 52; between twenty one and twenty five, 57; between twenty five and thirty, 26; between thirty and forty, 36; between forty and fifty, 17; over fifty, 11.

Birthplace of Teachers.--Born in Pennsylvania, 182; born out of Pennsylvania, 20.

Experience in Teaching.--Taught less than one year, 66; from one to three years, 47; from three to six years, 32; from six to ten years, 22; from ten to twenty years, 20; over twenty years, 15.

Professional Reading.--Number who have read books or periodicals on teaching, 89; number who have not, 118.

Permanent Teachers.--Number who intend to make teaching a permanent business, 132; those who do not, 70.

Grade of Teachers.--1st class, qualified, 50; 2d class, medium; 3d class, unfit, 38.

GENERAL REMARKS.--In the first class I have placed the Washington street house, Chambersburg. In the second class there are some very good houses, but not so constructed, in all particulars, as to entitle them to be classed in the first division, but might be made such with very little expense. Two of this class, and the best, are in Hamilton; the one was described by my predecessor; the other is called Webster's school house, was built last summer, and is in every respect similar to the first.

I will here state that the efficient and energetic board of directors of Chambersburg have in process of erection a very fine school building; one that will be an ornament to the town as well as a great advantage in grading the schools, and will reflect great credit upon the worthy board of directors. It is much needed, for some of the present houses are illy calculated for their uses.

Examinations and Certificates.--In some of the districts a majority of the directors, and many of the citizens, were present to witness the public examination of teachers, and appeared to be pleased with the manner of conducting them, as well as interested in them. In other districts but few directors or citizens were present, and in some none.

My predecessors granted one hundred and thirteen professional certificates during the first three years of the superintendency, but most of the holders of them have either abandoned the profession or left the country.

County Association.--We have a county association of teachers and friends of education. It was organized in November, 1854. It holds two meetings each year in Chambersburg; generally in May and November. The last meeting convened May 6th, 1858; the proceedings were quite interesting and instructive. It was attended by about fifty teachers, and many of the friends of education. Although the association has not been as numerously attended as we could wish, yet it has been productive of much good in awakening teachers, and impressing upon their minds the dignity and value of their profession. There never was as efficient and energetic a band of teachers in the county as there is at the present time. It has also had its influence on public opinion, enlisting it to a great extent on the side of education. It has also been instrumental in removing some of the objections urged against the school system. I believe our people need only to understand it properly to approve it. No considerable portion of the citizens of this county are opposed to the present school system; on the contrary, I believe that a majority are favorable to it, especially of the thinking and more intelligent part of the community. It is true there are still many objections urged against certain features of it, but I think a few years more will remove most of them.

District Institutes.--There had been teachers' institutes organized in two or three districts prior to my election. Since that time they have been organized in a majority of the districts in the county. But in none have they been so successfully carried on as in St. Thomas, Antrim and Letterkenny. In the first named the meetings were held semi monthly in the evening, and were productive of much good, not only in improving and awakening the teachers, but also in informing the public of the workings of the school system, and in removing much of the opposition to it. In the second the meetings were held every alternate Saturday, and considerable interest was manifested in them by teachers, directors and citizens. In the last mentioned the meetings were held the same as in the first, but not productive of quite so much good, although of great benefit to the teachers of the district.

Visitations.--I commenced my visitations about the first of October, visiting those schools which commenced earliest first. In some of the districts I visited three schools per day; in others but two. Of the two hundred and two schools in the county, I visited one hundred and ninety eight; four I failed to visit. I visited forty schools twice.

I generally remained long enough in the school room to hear all the classes recite. Sometimes the teacher conducted the recitations, and I observed the manner of imparting instruction; at other times I heard the recitations myself. I frequently gave the classes a short examination. In cases where I thought the teacher was not properly discharging his duty, I privately and kindly pointed out his errors, and urged him to correct them. Before leaving a school I generally occupied a few moments in talking to the scholars in plain language, such as they could easily understand, urging them to be studious; showing them the advantages of a good education, and trying to impress upon their youthful minds that an education of the head and not of the heart may prove to them no better than a curse.

I was accompanied to many of the schools by the directors, and sometimes by teachers and citizens, who manifested a lively interest in the recitations and examinations. The directors of some of the districts are entitled to much credit, as a majority of each board left their work and went along to the schools of their respective districts; in some few cases spending three and four days with me, and rendering me valuable assistance. The districts alluded to are St. Thomas, Metal, Antrim, Montgomery, Waynesboro', Chambersburg and Hamilton. In a majority of the other districts I was accompanied by a few of the directors to some of the schools; but the same interest was not manifested as in the above. I met many schools, in my visitations, which are commendable in almost every respect.

Public Meetings.--During the winter upwards of thirty public meetings were held in different parts of the county, in which the nature and duties of my office were explained, the necessity of regular attendance of pupils, of proper classification, and uniformity of text books, as well as the duties and responsibilities of parents and teachers; and in all cases the necessity of improvement was urged upon teachers, and as a means of such improvement, tried to induce them to attend the Normal school. I also urged upon directors and citizens the necessity of improving school houses and school grounds, and other things that benefit our schools. The meetings were generally well attended.

Text Books.--A majority of the districts have complied with the requisitions of the law in adopting a regular series of text books. But in the requisition that "these shall be used and no others," has not been fully complied with in more than two or three districts. In some of the schools I found copies of nearly all the school books published since the days of Pythagoras. This want of uniformity in text books is seriously felt, and is a great barrier to classification. We hope, however, to have this hindrance obviated, or nearly so, during the coming year.

Directors' Visits.--In some of the districts directors and citizens visit the schools regularly; in others they neglect it almost entirely.

Teachers' Salaries.--In a majority of the districts teachers are paid according to qualifications and skill in the art of teaching. The provisional certificates are divided into two grades; making in all three grades. First grade, professional; second grade, good provisional; third grade, medium. The first grade gets from two to four dollars more per month than the second; and the second from two to four more than the third. But the salaries are entirely inadequate to the labor performed in the school room.

Improvement.--The improvement in this county has not been such as could be desired; but no thinking man can compare the present with fours years ago and justly say there has been no improvement made. I think it is stamped on a majority of the schools of the county.

Normal School.--We have a Normal school in connection with the Chambersburg Academy, under the control of John K. Shryock, in whose hands no enterprise can fail, as he is a gifted, efficient and successful teacher. There are about forty students in the Normal department. It commenced on the 19th of April and is to continue ten weeks.

Acknowledgments.--In almost every part of the county I received the kindest attention from directors, citizens and teachers, and their hospitality was generously extended to me. For this they have my grateful thanks.

In conclusion, I hope the day is not far distant when the free schools of Franklin county shall be her proudest boast.
County Superintendent.

UPPER STRASBURG, June 17, 1858.

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Description of Page: Large table showing Aggregate Amount of Assessments and Valuation of the several towns in the county. Across cols. 3-5.

Railroad to Gettysburg
(Column 1)
Summary: Editorial stresses the importance of and need for a rail connection to Gettysburg. Claims the line would be good for farmers and merchants, as a direct connection to Baltimore
Full Text of Article:

--The importance of a connection with the Railroad at Gettysburg is attracting the attention of the businessmen of this neighborhood. We have heard considerable talk, within a few days past, of having a survey made in order to show the practicability of constructing a road, over a route of an easy grade, and free from any unusual expense in building. Such a route we are assured exists and that a survey of it will be made at an early day. The great advantages that a connection with the Gettysburg road would open up to our farmers, and the business community, are so obvious that self interest must sooner or later determine its completion. By the route proposed which would only require about twenty four miles of road to be built, we would obtain a direct railroad communication with the Baltimore market, at a saving of forty three miles in distance and at least twenty five per cent on freight over the roundabout road we are now obliged to travel to get to that market. The Merchants of Baltimore see the necessity of this road, in order to secure the trade and produce of the great Cumberland Valley, and express themselves as ready to invest their money in it whenever the demand is made upon them. From the well known energetic character of the men who are agitating this subject in our community, we have no doubt whatever that this road will be built at no very distant day.

A Grand Movement
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Summary: Praising the establishment of a local Young Men's Christian Association. Includes list of officers.
(Names in announcement: William Reed, Jacob Brand, A.N. Rankin, R. Hunsher, W.H.R. Dietrich, Jacob Hoke, J.S. Nixon, B.B. Henchy, J.R. Smith, J.J. Rebman, J.W. Deal, William Adams, George Mengel, L.H. McCauley, S.M. Shilto, Anthony Holler, W.H. Sullenberger, M. Gillam, J.K. Shyrock)
Full Text of Article:

--It affords us much gratification to record the fact that a "Young Men's Christian Association" has been organized in this place. These societies are rapidly springing up in all our principal towns, and are found to be productive of much good. It is the object of the members of these associations to seek out young men and bring them under Christian influences; surround them with moral associates, and use every religious instrumentality to effect a change in their thoughts and habits. Such societies are the visible embodiment of Christian philanthropy, and are calculated to confer great blessings upon the minds and morals of the young men of the present day. It is the duty of every Christian citizen to aid by his best efforts in arraying on the side of these associations whatever of intelligence, patriotism and Christian philanthropy may exist in the community. The interests of religion--of humanity--of our country--of the world--of unborn generations--demand it at their hands. It is a high and holy vocation our Young Men have assumed and not without its responsibilities. We trust it may be sustained by an energy commensurate with its real and vast importance, and with a full sense of accountability to God for the right use of the means they have assumed for doing good.

The Society in this place has been permanently organized, a Constitution and By-Laws adopted, and the following named gentlemen elected as officers:

President.--Wm. G. Reed
Vice Presidents.--Jacob Brand, A. N. Rankin, B. Y. Hamsher, W. H. R. Detrich, Jacob Hoke, J. S. Nixon, B. B. Henchy, J. R. Smith.
Recording Secretary.--J. J. Rehman.
Corresponding Secretary.--J. W. Deal.
Treasurer.--Wm. Adams.
Librarian.--Geo. H. Mengel.

At a stated meeting held on Monday evening, the following Board of Managers were elected, vix:--L. H. McCauley, S. H. Shillito, Anthony Holler, W. H. Sullenburger, M. Gillan, J. K. Shryock. The Board of Managers are notified to meet on Monday Evening, February 14th, at the office of Wm. Adams, Esq.

Receipts and Expenditures of the Poor House
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Summary: Annual report of County Poor House
(Names in announcement: William McKinstry, Mrs. Wrants, William Shin, Matthew Gillan, Jacob Strickler, J.W. Douglas)
(Column 3)
Summary: Married on February 1 at Montgomery Hotel.
(Names in announcement: Rev. Samuel Phillips, Lawlin Gilbert, Ann Cushstone)
(Column 3)
Summary: Married on January 13 at Indian Queen Hotel.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W.D.C. Rodrock, Abrahm Wise, Kate Beans)

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Description of Page: all ads

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