James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

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building since 1822, he is still in possession of all his
faculties, and as active in business affairs as most
men at the age of fifty years. He was born in the
township of Knowlton, Jan. 16, 1797 (O. S.).


There are in this township seven school districts ami
six joint districts, four of which belonging to Knowl-
ton, one to Frelinghuysen, and one to Hardwick town-

Blairstown District, No. 73, is located in the Paul-
inskill valley, on the east side of the township.

The first building known to have been used for
school purposes in this district was located not fat
from the present Presbyterian church, and almost
upon the site where Mrs. Cooke's barn now stands.
It was a frame structure, 16 by 20 feet, built of rough
oak boards and shingles. It was not built originally

Soo history "I' the Warren County Press, in this work.



for a Bchool-house, and in 1819 ii was removed a
short distance and converted into a blacksmith-shop.

In 1822 :i lirirk school-house was built on the south
Bide of the Paulinskill, on the bill back of the old
poplar-tree, on tin- farm then owned by John Lanter-
in n n ;i in I Abram Buttz, at a cost of $250. Isaac Cris-
1 1 1 : 1 1 1 was the contractor and builder. The size of the
building was 18 bj 26 feet, with one i i and a vesti-
bule, [ts genera] appearance was very creditable al
so early a day in the history of this place.

The building now occupied for a < 1 i — 1 1- i • - 1 school was
built in 1848 of stone and rough-cast, and in size
22 by 50 feet, with L6 feel square wings on either
tod. The building is located on an eminenci
Looking the village, and the main part surmounted
with a belfry, which gives it quite a respectable ap-

As the State made little provisions for the mainte-
nance of public schools at that date, the prominent
citizens of Blairstown, of whom the \renerable John
Bunnell was the prime mover, had iliis building

erected for a parochial school, I the plai

ration deeded to the trustees of the Presbyterian
I'lniivli and their successors for the purposi
parochial school. Upon the removal of the parochial
Bchool to I Hair I la 1 1, in 1850, the " Old Academy" was
■ • iln- school district, ami i- now iii possession

of its trustees, and their occupation of it tor gel ]

purposes is nol likely t<> ever !»■ disturbed.

Tlic na - of all tin- teachers who taught in the

ti r- 1 building cannot be ascertained, but it is known,
however, that a Mrs. Bennett, the wife of on,- of tin-
pioneer merchants, taught here lor one or two terms.

o ir teacher in tin' old brick scl l-house was

Lbner Conner, a Yankee, then Boyce and Allen, Isaac

then a M r. R rs, « lio n as succi ded by

Mr. Grinwel), an Irishman, and then a Mr. Ainmer-
man. He was followed by Charles Edgortou, who in
turn was succeeded bj Stryker Talmadge, and he by
Morris < Irisman, now an honored resident of this town-
ship. Mi— Margaret Shipman then made a most i \
eel lent record here as a teacher. The two last teach-
ers in the "old brick" were Miss M. Howell and Dr.
Isaiah Condit. The doctor ceased teaching in 1849,
Bud has Bince then practiced medicine at his homo in
Pover, V J.

The total amount received for si hool purposes in
1879 was $875; value of school property, $2000;
total number of children in district between the ag< -

of five and eighteen years was 80; number of nths

taught, 9 ; ber of children on school register, 62 ;

number of children the school-house will seat, 60;
weragi ittendan 26 : ■ female teacher employ ed.

Centrevillc District, No. 70, is a joint district with
Kiiowlton, and located in the southwest part of this
township. The scl l-house is located on the town-
ship line, and valued at $900. Appropriation- for
100 : scholars in district between the ages of
live ami eighteen, 18; ten months' school, with II

pupils registered and an averagi

The scho - a seating capacity for 50 pupil-.

There was employed during 1880 one male teacher.

k'alaiaiua District, No. 71. i- an interior di-trirt,

south of the Paulinskill Creek. The school-house

is located near Painter's Mill, and i- valued at $1

with a seating capacity of 50. The school was taught

tei aths during the year, with an average attendance

of 22. There are 54 pupil- in the district of scho

and 17 enrolled on tie- school register. There was

on,- male teacher, ami an appropriation of $300.

Union Brick District, No. 72, i- located in the
southwest corner of the town-hip. The school-house
i-; near the centre of tie- district, ami is valued at

$800. I he l-house will seat 45 scholars.

an- in i In- district 10 pupil- of school age, 36 enrolled

he school register, and an average attendance of

11. The appropriation for 1880 was $300, and ten
months' school, with one male teacher.

Walnut Valley District, No. 74, is located on the
north side of the Paulinskill Creek. The school in
this district in 1813 was taught by Coryell Moot

in the house where Joshua Smith now live-, and the

first school-house was built at Jacksonburg. I -

present school-house is one-third of a mile north of

Walnut Valley Post-Office, mar the centre
district, and is valued at $1000, and will seat 75 pupils.
Thi n are in tin- district 59 pupils of -'-hool age, 57
registered, with an average attendance of 24 in L880.

Tie- appropriation for the year was $300, an

female teacher.

Mount Vernon District, No. 75, is a mountain dis-
trict, occupying the west corner of the township. The
school-house is in tie- south part of the district, and
is valued at sjon. There are 28 pupil- of school age
in the district, and 23 registered in 1880. I
there was a school three and five-tenths month- by

One male teacher, and an appropriation of SM'.i.~.

The school-house "ill accommodate l" scholars.

Jacksonburg District, No. 76, is an interior district,
situated on the north side of the Paulinskill, with a

school-] -e valued at $400. Xhere are in the district

53 ol si 1 1 age, 52 registered, and an average attend-
ance of 22. There was in 1880 an appropriation ol'
$300 i"i nine ami five-tenths months' school by one

male teacher. Tin- school-house »ill ace iodate50


Washington District, N ,. 77. i- the companion of
No, 75, and occupies the side of Blue Mountain. The
school-house is located in the south part of the dis-
and is valued at $450, and ha- a Beating ca-
pacity of 55. The appropriation for 1880 was $300,
for one male teacher, with nine and five-tenths months'

There are in the district of scl I age 53, and

11 registered, with an average attendance of 16,

Total amount of apportionment from the State ap-
propriation for Blairstown in \<\' was $2180.68

Total amount received from all source- lor public

school purposes, $22




This flourishing institution of learning is located in
the pleasant, thriving, and healthy village of Blairs-
town, Warren Co., N. J., at present the terminus of
the Blairstown Railway, hy which it is connected with
the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad at
Delaware Station, N. J. There are two trains daily
each way between Blairstown and New York, Phila-
delphia, Scranton, Binghamton, and intermediate

The academy, as indicated hy its name, is under the
charge of the Presbytery of Newton, in the Synod of
New Jersey. It is essentially religious in its char-
acter, but has never been a proselyting institution.
It is designed to benefit not only the children of Pres-
byterians, but those of all denominations, who are
freely received and partake equally of its advantages.
In fact, not to speak of the lawyers, physicians,
teachers, and others who have here been prepared
for college or for business, a number of ministers now
prominent in other denominations of Christians have
been among its students at some time in the past.
The effect of the institution upon a previously ne-
glected region has been most salutary. It is with
pleasure we record the interest manifested by many
in this community in .the education of their children.
Numbers who have never enjoyed special educational
advantages themselves have shown a commendable
zeal in sustaining an enterprise by which those advan-
tages may be secured to their offspring.

So far as human instrumentality is concerned, three
men are especially worthy of commendation on ac-
count of the honorable zeal manifested in behalf of
the institution in its infancy.

1. John Bunnell, then doing a large and successful
business in carriage manufacturing, and a ruling elder
in the church at Blairstown, was one of the very first
to urge the importance of building an academy. He
was active in circulating a subscription to raise funds
for the original building, bringing to the enterprise
an enthusiastic zeal which never faltered until the
institution was firmly and successfully established.
Without his earnest advocacy, it is doubtful whether
the school would have been established when it was.

2. The late Rev. John A. Reiley, long pastor of the
church of Blairstown, of whom we have spoken
more fully on another page. (See account of Blairs-
town Presbyterian Church.)

3. John I. Blair, Esq., whose name it bears, who is
widely known not only as the generous founder of the
academy, but as the friend of Christian education
elsewhere, and whose name is held in grateful re-
membrance especially at Princeton and Lafayette

To the fostering care of the Presbytery of Newton,
particularly for the labors and attendance of members
of its body as members of the board of directors and

* Hy c. E. Vuil.

committees of examination, from the organization
until now, is the academy indebted for much of the
success that has attended it through all its history.
The board of education of the Presbyterian Church
also at different times in its earlier days favored the
institution with substantial material aid.

On the 6th day of April, 1848, at a public meeting
held in the Presbyterian church at Blairstown, a
building committee, consisting of Peter Lanterman,
John Bunnell, Dr. I. W. Condict, John Hull, John
Konkle, John I. Blair, and John Messier, was ap-
pointed to superintend the erection of a two-story
frame or stone academy, not to be more than 36 by
24 feet in size, on a site offered gratuitously for that
purpose by the owner, John I. Blair. During the
summer of that year, after frequent deliberations, the
foundations of a substantial stone edifice, 48 by 24
feet, one story high, were laid on the above site, and
the work so vigorously prosecuted that the building
was completed and occupied during the succeeding
holidays, the school having in the mean while been
opened on the 16th of November in the district school-
house, a small brick building then standing on the
hill beyond the Blairstown Railway depot, and just
south of the present residence of John R. Logan.
The lot was conveyed to a board of trustees, Aug. 22,
1848, by deed giving the control to the Session of the
Blairstown Presbyterian Church. The academy build-
ing was divided into two rooms, occupied by the pri-
mary and higher departments respectively, separated
by folding-doors, which were thrown open during the
opening and closing exercises, and on other necessary
occasions. Across the end of the classical department
was a broad platform, occupied by the desk of the
principal and by the classes in recitation, as well as
for purposes of declamation. The enlightened and
highly Christian plan recommended by the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, of engrafting
the religious element upon seminaries of learning,
commending itself to the majority of those interested,
the institution was accordingly opened as a parochial
school, with I. W. Condict, M.D., then a practicing
physician of the village, now of Dover, N. J., as

At the opening of the school it was remarkably
well patronized, not only by the immediate com-
munity, but from the surrounding neighborhood.
Numbers coming from a distance obtained board in
the place for the purpose of attending it. It was
from the first emphatically a religious school. Special
efforts were made to give prominence to the Word of
God. Not only was the Bible read in the opening
exercises of each day, accompanied by services of
prayer and praise, but it was made a book of study
and daily reference in various ways. Apart from its
religious character, the school was efficiently con-
ducted, and well deserved the liberal support it re-
ceived, which doubtless contributed in no small de-
gree to lay a broad foundation for what has been



accomplished in subsequent years. Confidently be-
lieving, from what was alreadj risible, that a bright
future awaited their beloved enterprise, in the sum-
mer of is 1:1 ih,- Se - ion of i in' church of Blairstown,
through their pastor, Mr. Reiley, made a tender of
their school to the Presbytery of Newton, and it was
formally taken under the care of the latter as a Pres-
bj terial academy.

At the close of the first year, Dr. Condict, in ac-
cordance with the understanding at the time of his
acceptance of the office of teacher, resigned his situ-
ation, and was succeeded in the autumn of 1849 by
the late Rev. James < >. Moore.

Mi. Moore, as well as Ki- predecessor, had had con-
siderable experience in teaching, and the (now I
byterial academ] under his care continued to enjoy

a (air degree of public favor. A g lly number of

pupils continued to come into the village from abroad
tn enjoy the advantages of education that were here
pffered, and quite a number of young men from the
immediate neighborhood were soon stimulated to
enter upon a course of Btudy preparatory for college.
i if i be lattei class the institution soon had graduates
fimn West Point .Military Academy and from Prince-
ton and Lafayette Colleges, and from year to year
since baa furnished students for these and other col-
including Yale, Rutgers, and the I niversitj of

Pennsylvania. Quiti a large iher of young men,

also, who have here been fitted for college, have taken
a theological course, and are mow preaching the.gos-
ni i in different part- of our land, while others -till
iri 1 1 • • 'a pursuing their Btudies with the view of en-
tering the same sacred calling.

[n the winter of 1849 52 the infant academ) rei i i . ■ d
a valuable library of I 1 " 111 volumes and upwards of
(100 in money from friends in Philadelphia, Prince-
ton, Trenton, and (few Brunswick, through the per-
sonal solicitation of the Rev. Mr. Reiley, aided by the
generous and friendly secretary of the board of edu-
cation, the Rev. Dr. < Shester.

[n the summer of 1851 the institution was favored
with what had from the beginning been felt to bea
great desideratum, viz., a boarding-house into which
pupils from abroad could be received, in order to their
under the immediate care and supervision of
icher. A capacious, convenient, and imposing
two-story frame building, 6 I feet long by 26 feet deep,
wnli covered piazza in front, was erected partly on the

site of the present largi i stone edifice of the sa na

uitable dial ie from the academy, and appro-
priately designated "Blair Hall." ii being, I
with the grounds and appurtenances, the munificent
if) ol tfr. Blair for the sole benefit of the school. The
advantage of this building as a permanent n
For the principal, in which he could accommodate a
famiU of forty without expense to the community
and free of rent to the teacher, was felt to be one de-
i in be held in highest estei m.

In the spring of 1852, Mr. Moore resigned In* >itu-

ation as principal, ami about the middle of tl
suing July was succeeded in office by the Rev. J.
Kiil.v Davis, the doors of the institution having in
the mean time been kept op< n, and instruction given
by J. C Johnson, M.D., then and still a resident phy-
sician of the place, together with the pastor, Rev. Mr.

Mr. Davis entered upon his duties under circum-
-.iiiii-w hat discouraging, it being in the middle
of the term, and the Bchool having suffered materially
in the absence of a teacher devoted exclusively to it-
interests. In the following winter, however, the
prospects brightened, and encouraging numbei
again in attendance. From this period until 1854

the scl I continued to be reasonably well attended,

when the principal, for reasons considered satisfac-
tory, again rest

<>n the 10th of May of that year, J. Benry John-
son, LM., mi" ni Morristown, N. J., upon the ■

solicitati f several of its patrons, took upon him-

Belf the management of the academy. At this time
the only public conveyance was a tri-weekl;

through tin- village between Waterloo and

Sir Isburg, and it was with no little difficulty that

scholars and their baggage were transported over the

in tains and bills to and from the "unknown

regions" of Blairstown.

Mr. Johnson possessed one advantage over all his
predecessors which, with other influences, gave to the
academy under him a greater degree of prosperity
than it had enjoyed at any previous time, and marked
bis advent as an epoch in its history. He was not

only known a* an experienced and -uccc"ful teacher

of youth, but was at the time of bis election to this sit-
uation at the hi ad of an interesting school in the city

of Newark. Upon his leaving there for his tn IW field

of tabor about a score of his former pupils came with
him, and the school during his principalship and for
some \car- subsequently continued to enjoy a liberal
share of patronage from that place. The number of
pupils from abroad was now greatly increased. The
academ] soon became too small; so that in the -nm-
mer of 1855 it was found necessary to erect a wing at
either cud o( the original building, without which
enlargement it would have been impossible to accom-
the scl I. So completely were the most

-anguine hope- of it> friend- realized in the prosper-
ity ot' the school that both hall and academj were
filled to their utmost capacity. The faculty at this
time consisted of the principal, "tic male and three
female assistants, including a teacher of vocal and
instrumental music, and a teacher of the parochial
school, with which the district or public school was
then connected.

It ma] interest some to know that the maximum

at thi> time for hoard, tuition (except extras .

and washing was only $120 for forty-four week-.

Such a -' ale, of course, could only be possible under

the price- then ruling lor provisions, flour |G a liar-



rel, good meats 10 cents a pound, and other things in

One of the most precious revivals of religion with
which the school was ever blessed — and there have
been many during the third of a century of its exist-
ence — occurred during one of the earlier years of
Mr. Johnson's connection with it. Commencing
almost without observation, it extended until all the
boarding-pupils and many of the day-scholars were
interested, and was only interrupted by the close of
tin.- term and the scattering of the pupils.

On the 30th of September, 1S58, the first decennial
celebration of the founding of the academy was held
in the Presbyterian church. The occasion drew to-
gether a large concourse of the friends of the school.
An able address was delivered by Rev. Hugh N. Wil-
son, D.D., of New Brunswick, N. J. The Rev. Mr.
Reiley also read a brief history of the school, giving
an account of its origin, and of its struggles and suc-
cesses during the first ten years of its existence, from
which many of the facts above given are derived.

From this period until the spring of 1861 there
occurred nothing calling for special notice. The
school continued to prosper under the able manage-
ment of the beloved principal and his — in her own
proper and very important department — equally effi-
cient wife, until the above date, when, against the
urgent and repeated protests of the friends of the in-
stitution, Mr. Johnson resigned, having first intro-
duced, as his successor, S. S. Stevens, A.M., now of
Newton, N. J. On leaving Blairstown, Mr. Johnson
retired to his farm near Morristown, N. J., and subse-
quently taught in that town, where he has for a num-
ber of years past been engaged in the real-estate

In addition to the hearty commendation of his im-
mediate predecessor, Mr. Stevens, who had for sev-
eral years been at the head of young ladies' schools
in Richmond, Va., and Newark, N. J., brought testi-
monials of a high order from many of his former
patrons and from the faculty of Union College, New
York, and entered upon the duties of his new office,
under the most flattering auspices, in the month of
April, 1861. The academy building had been recently
remodeled and repaired, so as to make it more conve-
nient and attractive. The means of access had been
improved in the month of July previous by the estab-
lishment of a daily mail line. Stages left Blairstown
every weekday morning for Waterloo, on the Morris
and Essex Railroad, and Delaware Station, on the
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, re-
spectively, and returned the same afternoon. During
tin- year 1862, to meet the requirements of increasing
applications, Blair Hall was enlarged by the addition
of a wing, so as to accommodate 50 pupils in addi-
tion to the family of the principal. In the following
year, by the addition of ;i third story, the accoinmo-
dations for pupils were again largely increased.
On the 22d of December, 1863, in testimony of

their appreciation of the endowment of the professor-
ship of geology and physical geography in Princeton
College by Mr. Blair, the trustees of that institution
adopted a resolution that the sons of ministers (.1'
Newton Presbytery fitted for college at Blair Hall
should for all time to come receive their tuition in
any of the regular classes free of charge.

During the winter term of 1S64-65 the academy
attained its highest degree of prosperity, there being
during that term a total of 119 students in attendance.
Of these, 31 were members of the parochial or primary
department, and 88 of the academical. Of the latter,
63 were boarding pupils at Blair Hall.

On the 29th of December, 1866, in acknowledg-
ment of a gift of §8000 by Mr. Blair, the trustees of
Lafayette College adopted a resolution in effect the
same as that of Princeton College above mentioned.

On the night of Dee. 18, 1867, while the pupils of
the academy were giving an exhibition in Mechanics'
Hall, a public hall of the village, on the eve of the
Christmas holiday, the audience were startled by the
alarm of fire. An hour or two later Blair Hall, the
pride and glory of the place, was a smouldering heap
of ruins. Who shall describe the feelings of the friends
of the academy at this unexpected calamity? The
houses of many of the villagers were thrown open to
the teachers and students, most of whom lost every-
thing but the clothing they had on. Letters of con-
dolence poured in from every quarter, and several
prominent and influential religious papers contained
cordial expressions of sympathy. But, as is so fre-
quently the case, what we thought a calamity proved
a blessing in disguise. It was the darkest hour that
preceded the dawn of a brighter day. Immediately
upon his return home, Mr. Blair announced his de-
termination to rebuild on an enlarged scale. A de-
sirable piece of ground adjoining the property was
purchased to give additional room. The foundations
of the present stately and substantial stone structure
were laid early in the spring of 1868, and the west
wing so far completed as to be occupied by the school
in April, 1869, temporary quarters having been ob-
tained in the mean while in Mechanics' Hall.

The new Blair Hall is 120 feet long and 35 feet
deep, with wings on either end 40 by 30 feet, all three
stories high, exclusive of attic and basement. It is
covered with slate, supplied in all stories with pure,
soft spring water, brought through subterranean iron
pipes a distance of nearly a mile and a half, and is
heated throughout by steam. Occupying a prominent
point overlooking the village, it is a striking object
of vision for miles around, while the views from the
observatory, the upper rooms, and the broad front
piazza are very extensive and beautiful.

At the beginning of the academic year of 1868-69,
the primary department having been for several years
the source of considerable annoyance on account of

Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 163 of 190)