James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

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is your price?'—' I will charge you nothing for the use
of it if you will get it repaired.'—' Have you a black-
smith-shop in the place?'—' None nearer than a mile
and a half.'— 'Have you anything by which I can
convey the stove thither?'— 'I can lend you a horse,
but I have neither sleigh, sled, nor wagon that would
answer for such a purpose.'— ' Have you a wood-pile?'

Illil VATI'tN IN SI— KN ( (M'NTV.


— 'Do you mean to hitch my horee to the wood-pile
and drag it to the smith's shop with the stove on top?'
— 'If I injure your horse in the least,' I answered, ' I
will indemnify you for the same.' He then laughed,
and said, 'Go ahead.' While he went for the horsi I
went to the wood-pile and selected :i couple of poles
eight feet long, and, having obtained a hammer and
nails, nailed on several cross-pieces ; and, putting the
horse in these shafts, I loaded tip the broken stove
anil moved off to the blacksmith-shop.

"This the reader will say is partly romance, but I
say, upon honor, it is every word strictly true. The
repairing accomplished with dispatch, 1 returned and

put my stove ill the place for which it was prepared.

Having now furnished my room with warming appa-
ratus and a few rude seats, I advertised on the public

doors of the village that my school would open on the
ensuing .Monday morning. I repaired to my lodgings
Oppressed with anxiety for the Future. I had not as
yel one single scholar engaged certainly, though all
told me they would -•■< about it, and, if I >ucceedcd,
they would mOSl likely semi.

"I spent that night in sleeplessness, and the en-
suing Sabbath day in anything hut peace of mind.
At length Monday morning came, and 1 went at sun-
rise to my newly-prepared school-room and kindled

a file that the room might he warm in time for taking

iii the school. I then returned for my breakfast,

alter which 1 went to open bcI I, Roguish eyes

unv peering out from behind corners and suppressed

were heard as I passed along the street, but

no scholars were Been gathering. Ascending the steps,

I entered the door; and was there not a single scholar

there'/ Ye., there s:il ,i singleone, — a young man of

fifteen ox sixteen. Ee arose and handed me a note
from his father, a respectable and worth] gentleman

of Orange Co., Y V. This gentleman stated in his
note that he had heard of my intention of opening a

-' I I. ami wished to enter his son at the beginning.

"Thus opened the classical school at Deckertown

in 1883, which continued twenty years, always full in
numbers and prosperous in other p. pert-. At this

sehooi acores of young men wer lucated who are

Don eminent in each of the professions throughout
this and the adjoining States, and between tour and
five hundred teachers of schools of all grade- in
Northern New Jersey emanated from this school,
supplying the country with teachers at a ti when

they Were most I led."

Thus Mr. Rankin's school might be called the nor-
mal sehooi of Sussex: it had sent out four or five
hundred teachers before the State Normal School was
founded. We find the following reference to this

* rl I in Barber and Howe'- "Historical Colli

• ' v u Jersey :"

" Although Wantage, Sussex Co., has long been
felebrated for the wealth of its inhabitants, it has
noi. until recently, fostered Literature in it- precincts.
Formerly, the wealthy citizens who wished to educate

their children sent them off to boarding-schools in
-one different sections of the country. Common
schools also were in a low condition. No
schools of any permanency had been sustained in the
township until mar the close of 1888, when an enter-
prise was undertaken by William Rankin in the vil-
Deckertown. A few circumstances relative to
thi establishment of the school at Deckertown will
throw h, .lit on the -til |eet ef education inthi-r ,:i n

When the above-mentioned gentleman proposed to

open;, in the central and main village

in this township at the time mentioned, so little in-
terest was fell in hi- proposal that he could procure
no room but a small building fourteen feet square in
an inconvenient part of the village. This, however,
he rented, and commenced the first term with a single
scholar; and thi- lone pupil was not of the State of
New Jersey, but from New York. This discouraging

> linen, e nt did not arise from want of knowledge

of or confidence in the teacher, — for he had been favor-
ably known in the country several year- previous as a
classical instructor, — neither was it because the in-
habitants were averse to education, but it stands as
an illustration of the strength of habit on communi-
ties, and the difficulty of breaking over the barriers
Of long-continued custom."


In the progress of public -el Is the county of

Sussex labored under the Same difficulties which em-
barrassed .very other portion of the State. For more
than halt' a century there was no action taken by the

o provide for popular education, no law enacted
by the Legislature or fund created or appropriation

made for educational purposes. The people, left to
themselves, did the lust they could toward- sustaining

schools in their respective neighborh Is. The act

which gave the lir-t legal authority for laving out

scl 1 district- and for raising money by vote of the

townships for building and furnishing school-hou-es

was passed in 1829. In that year an appropriation
was made from the school fund of $20,1 for the en-
tire State, to be distributed according to the ratio of
state taxes. An equal sum continued to be appro-
priated till 1888, when it wa- increased to 180,000; in
1851 ii wa- raised to stn.Ollo, and an additional

1 1". I appropriated out of the state treasury, making

the annual amount appropriated for school purposes

SSI 1,1 II 10, at which it remained till 1867, since which
the amount has been $100,0011. The act of Is.",;
changed the ba-i- of apportionment, making it to the

counties in the ratio of population and to the town-
ships in the ratio of the school census.

[n the year 1887 a considerable fund remained in
the treasury of the United state- not required fox the
expenses of the Federal government It arose mainly,
if not entirely, from sale- of the public land- of the
United States. Congress that year, bj law. ordered
the distribution of this fund (which was called "the



surplus revenue fund") among the several States of
the Union. The same year (March 10th) the Legis-
lature of New Jersey, by law, ordered the distribution
of her share of this fund among the several counties
of the State. The share of Sussex County was
$38,689. The law directed that the board of chosen
freeholders of each county should loan this fund
within tbis State, "giving a preference to the citizens
of their respective counties," and should apportion
and pay the interest to the several townships in the
ratio of their State tax. By the school law, the town-
ships are required to appropriate the interest of the
surplus revenue received by them for the support of
public schools, and the county superintendent appor-
tions this interest to the several school districts upon
the basis of the last published school census.

The portion of this fund belonging to Sussex
County was loaned out by commissioners for a long
time, but has been called in and most of it used by
the county. In 1858, as appears by the minutes of
the board of chosen freeholders, the county had used
$21,616.24 of the principal, leaving an unexpended
balance of $17,072.76. Since that time the county
has used the balance of the principal fund, excepting
the sum of $842.38, which remains uncollected. The
county, however, pays the interest annually to the
several townships, and the same is still employed in
the support of public schools.

Among the staunch advocates of a normal school
for the education of public-school teachers was Gov-
ernor Daniel Haines, of this county, who took strong
ground in favor of it in his message in 1847. The
act was passed in 1855, and on the 24th of April of
that year the first board of trustees of the normal
school was organized. Hon. Thomas Lawrence, of
this county, was among the early friends of the insti-
tution, and is the only member of the original organ-
ization still remaining in the board. The whole prop-
erty of the institution, now owned entirely by the
State, including normal and model school buildings
and the boarding-houses, is valued at $250,000.

The State board of education was established in
1866. In 1867 the present public-school law, in most
of its essential features, was passed by the Legisla-
ture, the amendment making the schools of the State
entirely free being adopted in 1871.


The funds for the support of public schools are as
follows :

State Funds. — The trustees of the school fund are
the Governor, President of the Senate, Speaker of
the House of Assembly, Attorney-General, Secretary
of State, and Comptroller. All moneys received from
the sale and rental of lands under water, from the
tax on the capital stock of banking and insurance
companies, and all gifts and legacies are invested and
form a permanent fund, and out of the income of said
fund there is appropriated $100,000 annually, which

is apportioned among the several counties on the basis
of the school census. The amount of the State school
fund is now $1,660,502, and it is continually increasing.
In addition to the above State appropriation there is a
State tax of two mills on each dollar of valuation of
all the taxable property of the State, which is ap-
portioned among the several counties in the same
manner. The amount derived annually from this
source and appropriated by the State for the support
of schools is about $1,000,000.

County Funds. — The interest arising from the sur-
plus revenue of each county is appropriated to the
support of public schools. The amount derived an-
nually from this fund is about $30,000.

Township Funds. — The townships are authorized to
raise by taxation an additional amount for school
purposes, if necessary. The amount raised in 1878
was $24,199.

District and City Funds. — Each district and city has
power to raise funds, by taxation or by the issue of
bonds, for the erection and repair of school-houses.
About $400,000 is annually raised in the State for this
purpose. Each district and city has also power to
raise by taxation funds to pay teachers' salaries.
About $300,000 is annually raised for this object.
All the money derived from the State appropriations,
surplus revenue, and township school tax, except
twenty dollars for each district for incidentals, must
be used for the payment of teachers' salaries and the
purchase of fuel. Each district must provide suita-
ble buildings and maintain free school at least nine
months in each year to entitle it to a share of the
school moneys.

The Two-Mills Tax. — A writer in the New Jersey
Herald for April, 1879, gives the following on the
workings of the two-mills tax in Sussex County and
in the Newton District from 1873 to 1878, inclusive.
It is an instructive illustration of the operation of the
school law :

" It is provided by law that there shall be assessed,
levied, and collected, annually, on the inhabitants of
this State, and upon the taxable real and personal
property therein, two mills on each dollar of valuation
contained in the last abstract of ratables furnished by
the board of assessors of the several counties. This
two-mills tax is paid by the several township collect-
ors to the county collectors of each county. The
county collectors, in their turn, pay to the treasurer
of the State the quotas due from their respective
counties of this two-mills tax on or before the first
day of January, annually, next ensuing the assess-
ment thereof. Then the State superintendent of pub-
lic schools, on or before the first day of January of
each year, apportions the money received from all the
counties, raised by the two-mills tax, among the sev-
eral counties, in proportion to the number of children
included in the last published school census of the
counties respectively. The census is taken between
the first and the twentieth days of July of each year,



by the clerk of each school district, and shows the
number of children in the district between thelites
of five and eighteen years. The State superintendent,
on or before the tenth day of January of each year,
draws orders on the comptroller of the treasury in
favor of the county collectors for the payment of the
money thus apportioned. Then the county superin-
tendent of each county is required to apportion the
money received from the State treasurer by the county
collector of his county to the towns and cities, and
also to the several school districts, upon the basis of
the last published school census. On or before the
tenth day of February of each year the county super-
intendent is required to draw orders on the county
collector in favor of the township collectors of his
county for the payment of the money so apportioned.

"It will be seen that the two-mills tax is assessed
on the basis of the ratables, and after being collected
into one grand mass (if I may use the expression) the
money so raised 18 apportioned at Trenton among the
counties according to the number of schoolable chil-
dren, It will be seen from this, at once, that the
operation of this plan result- in a gain to the poorer
counties, unless the richer ones can hold their own
by showing a census of children corresponding in
point of number to the excess of their taxable wealth.

"The following statement shows the outgo in Sus-
sex County of the two-mills tax for each year since
1878, and the income (so to speak) received by the
county (after apportionment by the State comptroller)
for the corresponding years:

Outgo, 18-:! £12,424.40

Incomo, 1873 83,428 24

Outgo, 1874 32,116.74

Income, 1874 32,740.19

Outgo, 1*75 32,11098

Income, 1878 81,764 16

(10,1876 81,184.47

In- 1876 80,141 88

Ontgo, 1877 29,89 ■ I

Incomo, 1877 28,660,1 1

Outgo, 1878 28,421 88

In ma, 1878 26,4 16 86

" It will be observed that in 1873 this county re-
ceived $1003.84 more than it paid ; in 1874 it received
$G33.4o more than it paid; in l.K7"> the tide turned.
and it received $362.82 less than it paid; in 1*70 it
received s:i'.i;:.ii'.i less than it paid; in 1X77 it received
|1845.89 leas than it paid; in 1878 the tide turned
again, and it received $] 1.7s mi. re than it paid.

"The difference between the two-mills tax for 1*7.".
and that for L878 to wit, $6002.82— marks, though
it does not measure, the rale of shrinkage in values
during that period.

"To show the working of the two-mills tax sys-
tem in the Newton District, I subjoin a statement
show ing the produce of that tax in the town of NOT -
ton for the bust six years, and the portion received
each year by the same town in the distribution of tin-
money raised by that tax. Newi.ni 'town' and New-
ton • School District' may be considered for this pur-
pose as identical in extent, though, in fact, Newton

School District laps over a little on both Andoverand


Paid, 1 sT.-; $4054.80

Got buck, lhT.; 2409.66

Paid, 1874 4011.42

Cot Lack, 1874 3264.01

Paid, 1875 3804.61

Got kick. Is".'. 2013.38

Paid, ls70

Got back, 1S70 -

Paid, 1877 8284.44

Qol l.-k, 1S77 1958.22

Paid, L878

Got back, 1878 1501.03

" This shows that a considerable portion of the
two-mills tax raised in Newton School District goes
to the support of other districts in the same county.
Last year (1878) there came back into the county
only S14.7* more than went out of the county, yet
Newton District received that year (1878) $711.87 less
than it paid. Of course, this difference went to the
support of some of her weaker lister-districts.

"The State is divided into school districts, number-
ing now one thousand three hundred and sixty-seven.
These districts are corporate bodies, consisting of the
inhabitants who are legal voters therein. The exec-
utive officers of these corporations are trustees, three
in number, one of whom is chosen by each board as
district clerk, who is, in effect, the secretary of the
board, and by whom, with one other trustee, all or-
der- mi tin- township collector for the payment of
money must be signed. The township collectors are
the depositaries of the school moneys for final distri-
bution, and that distribution is effected through the
instrumentality of orders from the trustees on the
township collectors.

"The law provides that if the two-mills tax-money
received by any township shall be insufficient to
maintain free schools for at least nine month- in each
year, the inhabitants of the township shall, by town-
ship tax, raise such additional amount as shall be ne-
cessary for that purpose, and upon their failure to do

so tl .unity superintendent shall, unless the State

board of education shall for good cause otherwise di-
rect, withhold fro in such township all that part of
the State appropriation derived from tin- revenue of
the State, and shall apportion and distribute the same
among -n. h of the townships in the county as shall
have complied with the requirements of the law.

"In addition to the two-mills tax-money and the
State appropriation, each school district may raise by
tax such other sums of money BS thej may need for
school purposes. The -inns to l.e so raised, and the
purposes to which, when raised, they shall be ap-
plied, are to be determined upon by a majority of the
legal voters of the district, in district meeting assem-
bled, and this district tax is assessed, levied, and col-
lected by the township Officers on the inhabitants and
property of the district in the same manner a- Other
taxes are assessed, levied, and collected.

" It is further provided that no district except those
which have less than forty-five schoolable children
shall receive 1. - than $800 OUl "!' the State school



money and the surplus revenue interest, and such
moneys as may be raised for school purposes. There
are many districts which would not be entitled to as
much as this sum under the apportionment upon the
basis of the last published school census. To each
district, therefore, having forty-five schoolable chil- [
dren, $300 is first apportioned; then the residue is i
apportioned among them all upon the basis of their
census. The result is that a large number of the
small district schools are supported in part by the
larger and stronger districts. The apportionment of
the State school money (including the two-mills tax-
money) upon the basis of the school census, in con-
nection with the $300 limitation, results in an annual
loss to Newton District for the benefit of other dis-
tricts in the county, weaker in point of wealth and
possibly stronger (proportionally) in the number of
schoolable children. This loss varies from year to
year as the ratables, upon which taxes are assessed,
vary in the several townships and counties, and as the
census of schoolable children varies in the respective
school districts.

" Until this year (1879) the school law provided
that in the apportionment of school moneys districts
having forty-five children or more should receive no
less than $350. Accordingly, all districts with a
school census ranging from forty-five to about ninety
received this fixed sum. This provision was incor-
porated in the school law in 1871. In consequence
of the yearly increase in the ratables of the State, the
receipts from the two-mills tax continued to increase
till the year 1875, when they reached the maximum.
Since then there has been an annual decrease in the
ratables, and a corresponding decrease in the amount
of money received. In 1875 the two-mills tax
amounted (in the whole State) to $1,238,115.80; last
year (1878) it was but $1,132,501.38, being a decrease
of $105,614.42. The school census in the mean time
has increased from 298,000 to 321,166, an increase of
24,166. These two causes combined have reduced the
apportionment per head of the two-mills tax to the
counties from $4.16 to $3.56, — a decrease of sixty cents
per child in the amount received by the counties. In
consequence of the provision of the law referred to
remaining unchanged, the $350 districts received,
until this year, the same as theretofore, and the entire
loss fell upon the remaining districts. In order to
equalize this loss, the Legislature last winter reduced
the amount to be apportioned to the weak districts to
$300. The loss in the apportionment per head to the
large districts since 1875 is seen conspicuously in the
case of this, Sussex County. Here the number of
$350 districts has increased since 1875 from fifty-five
to seventy-five, and the maximum census in those
$350 districts from eighty-seven to one hundred and
ninety-five. The reduction in the apportionments
for the remaining districts is remarkable. In 1875 it
was $4 per child, and last year it was but $1.80. Pro-
fessor Apgar, from whose last annual report I take

these statements touching the operation of the $350
district clause of the school law, says that the appor-
tionment to the larger districts will be increased (by
the reduction to $300) to the. sum of $3.80, making a
difference (gain) to those districts of $2 per child.

" The school tax is felt to be a heavy one in these
dull times, but it is cheerfully borne. Besting its
claim to public support upon its tendency to promote
the general welfare, the public school system should
be administered in such a manner as to insure thor-
ough instruction in those practical studies which have
a direct bearing upon the business of life, — studies
which lie at the very foundation of finished scholar-
ship, and at the same time furnish the best equipment
for the every-day business of this intensely practical


The following table, taken from the report of the
county superintendent, Mr. Luther Hill, for 1879,
gives the school census and the amount of money re-
ceived by Sussex County from the two-mills tax, State
appropriation, and surplus revenue combined, from
1871 to 1879, inclusive :

Report of School Census. Public Fund.

1871 7790 $39,112.30

1872 77*5 39,435.04

1873 7652 38,518.45

1874 7640 37,733.00

1875 7691 36,619.75

1876 7530 34,922.34

1877 7432 33,203.26

1878 7382 31,091.04

1879 7054 28,829.30

" It will be seen," remarks Mr. Hill, " that we have
lost during this period more than seven hundred chil-
dren from the census, and more than $10,000 in the
public money. By reducing salaries we have made
an average of nine months in which the schools of
the county have been kept open for the year, a frac-
tion less than last year. Of the loss in the census,
more than three hundred falls in the present year,
and the result is seen in the several columns indica-
ting attendance. Three new school-houses have been
built during the year, — to wit, at Tuttle's Corners,
Tranquillity, and McAffee. These buildings have
taken the place of very poor ones, and have been
erected at a moderate expense to the districts.

" We have a surplus of teachers. Our own public
schools and private institutions are furnishing many
of them. Their averages at examination give evi-
dence of good scholarship. Some of them are teach-
ing with marked success, and others lack experience,
chiefly, to render them effective and useful. The few
normal graduates teaching in the county are success-
ful, almost without an exception. . . . Nine districts
have made application for and secured the metric ap-
paratus furnished by the State. Several new libraries
have been procured, and additions made to those al-
ready established under the library act. . . . The
work done in the schools and advancement made by
the pupils are not below that of any previous year." I



Number of dlatrlcta In ti> inty II-

cblldren of school use


Avorinc attendance for nine months and over 3,1 W

Attendance for over •■L-lit months, and leas than ten 7. a

Number «li" have attended ten mouths omUiver 6-

" " six months and ovei 1.177

" " four tli- and over I

" " less than four tli-

Am" mil apportioned ol State appropriation 826

Apportionment "f township lux 7,700.00

District tax for teachers' salaries i i 00

" building repairing;, etc 1,816.46

Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 44 of 190)