Josiah Rhinehart Sypher.

School history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time online

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In 1836, he was appointed first Controller of the United States
Treasury, by President Jackson, and in 1838, was made Collector of
the Port of Philadelphia. During his administration as governor,
he gave the whole power of that office to encourage the enlargement
and perfection of the great public improvements, and to the estab-
lishment and defense of the system of common schools. He was
the unflinching friend of education, preferred public good before
his own advancement, and sacrificed his great popularity with his
political party, by patriotically sustaining the efforts of the people
to found a system of free schools. This noble man died in 1840,


IT. No special efforts were made during the first year to
put the system in operation. The law was in some respects
imperfect, and was not understood by the officers whose duty
it was to enforce it. In 1836, the act of 1834 was revised
so as to adapt it to the wants and condition of the people.

18. Joseph Ritner* was at that time governor of the Com-
monwealth. He Avas a true type of the Pennsylvania Ger-
mans — firm, and even obstinate in the right; an earnest ad-
vocate of free education, he resolved that the school law
should be enforced, and it was enforced. He appointed
Thomas H. Burrowesf secretary of the Commonwealth, and
intrusted to him the execution of the law.

beloved by the whole people of the Commonwealth. The children
in the common schools of his native county have raised a fund by
penny collections, to erect a monument to his memory, in commem-
oration of his distinguished services.

* Joseph Kitner is a native of Berks county, of German parentage;
he received a very limited education in Lancaster, and is truly a
*' self-made man," rising from ignorance and obscurity by the force
of his own high qualities. He removed to Washington county, where
he was a practical and hard-working farmer; was a member of the
legislature and speaker of the House of Eepresentatives. In 1835 he
was elected Governor of the State, and won imperishable honor as
the steadfast supporter of the Common School System. Governor
Eitner retired to private life on a farm in Cumberland county.

f Thomas Henry Burrowes was born, November 16th, 1805, at
Strasburg, Lancaster county, Pa., of highly respectable Irish parent-
age. He was liberally educated in schools at Quebec, and in Trinity

17. What was done in the first year of the law? When was it
amended ?

18. Who was governor in 1830? What was the character of Gov-
ernor Kitner? W^hat did he resolve to do? Who was appointed
secretary of the Commonwealth ?


19. The secretary entered earnestly upon the work of
organizing the school system. He issued instructions to the
school officers throughout the State; he traveled into the
several counties and addressed the people, answering their
objections and removing their prejudices; he directed the
public officers of every county in the performance of their
duties; and presented full and instructive reports to the

College, Dublin, Ireland, where his parents resided ( aring short
periods. In 1825, the family returned to Pennsylvania, and the son
entered upon a course of legal study, and was admitted to the bar
of Lancaster county in 1829. In 1831, he was elected a member
of the legislature, and re-elected in 1832; in 1835, he was appointed
to the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth, to which the Super-
intendency of Common Schools was then ex officio attached. Mr.
Burrowes made the work of popular education a subject of careful
study, prepared a revised school bill, which was passed in 1886, and
then, with fidelity and great energy, devoted himself to the execu-
tion of the law. In 1837, he published a plan and drawing for the
improvement of schoolhouses and furniture, which was widely used.
In 1839, by a change of State administration, the superin tendency
of schools passed into other hands; but Mr. Burrowes, as a farmer
and lawyer, never lost his interest in public education. In 1852,
he established the Pennsylvania School Journal in Lancaster, of
which he has ever since been editor and proprietor. In 1854, he
prepared for the State the descriptive matter for the Pennsylvania
School Architectui^e. After having written all the important school
bills that passed the legislature after 1836, he crowned this eminent
service to the State in 1857, hj drafting the Normal School Law,
which, though wholly new and original, is unsurpassed by an}^ legis-
lation on this subject in Europe or America. In 1860, he was again
called to administer the school system. In 1864, he was appointed
Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphan Schools, and established these
institutions in different parts of the State.

19. How did the secretary organize the school system?

education: 263

legislature, wherein he indicated what amendments and
alterations were necessary to perfect the law.

20. In his report, made to the legislature in 1838, Mr.
Burrowes said: "It is true, the system is neither in fall
operation, nor is its machinery perfect; but the momentous
question, can education be made as general and unbought
as liberty ? has been answered in the affirmative in Penn-

21. In many districts the law was not accepted. The
State had been settled by an intelligent, liberty-loving peo-
ple, who had fled from Europe to escape the freedom of
governments, wherein arbitrary laws destroyed liberty of
conscience, and oppressed independent Christians. They
valued free education as highly as they valued free worship
and free speech. All denominations of Christians, whether
Protestant or Catholic, came to Pennsylvania, bringing their
preachers and school-teachers, and by the side of the log
church they built the log schoolhouse in every county and
in every settlement. The work of educating all the children
was made the sacred duty of the church ; and because our
ancestors feared that the State would not do this work as
well as the church did it, they opposed the Common School
System. They loved education, they favored free schools,
but they distrusted State supervision.

22. The German people believed that all schools should
be under the care of Christian denominations, and therefore

20. What did Mr. Burrowes say in his report to the legislature ?

21. Why was the law not accepted in many districts? How did
all denominations of Christians come to Pennsylvania? How were
the children educated? Why did many of the Christian people
oppose the Common School System?

22. Why were the Germans especially hostile to the Common


regarded the State system as one that would defraud the
church of its most powerful auxiliary ; they feared also that
the interests of the Germans would suffer by the gradual
exclusion of the German language from the public schools.
Therefore, notwithstanding their zeal in the work of provid-
ing free education under church patronage, they were hostile
to what they called " political schools."

23. The progress of events, however, so far removed these
prejudices, that in 1849 the section of the act of 1836, which
left the adoption of the system to the option of each district
was repealed, and the provisions of the law were extended to
every township throughout the State.

24. The school system was, however, not successfully ad-
ministered until after the passage of the act of 1854, when,
for the first time, its oflQcers were clothed with adequate
powers to enforce the law. Though the general plan of the
system remained unchanged, new and important features
were introduced.

25. Subdivisions of school districts and sub-committees
were abolished; ample power was given to enforce the
collection of school taxes; the School Department was di-
rected to publish a manual of School Architecture,* and
Directors were authorized to levy a "building tax" and to
locate schoolhouses. The law provided that geography and
grammar, together with such higher branches as the Directors

* This manual, prepared by Dr. Thomas H. Burrowes, was pub-
lished by the State Department, and contained numerous cuts, and
illustrations giving plans, accompanied by explanations, f r the
erection of schoolhouses suitable for every grade.

23. When was the law made general?

24. "What occurred in 1854?

25. What were some of the provisions of the law of 1854? What
important new office was created?


might prescribe, should be added to the list of studies taught
in every school ; the Directors were empowered to establish
graded schools, and to assign pupils to the proper grades.
The office of County Superintendent was established, and the
law prescribed the qualifications and duties of that office '.

26. The appointment of a Deputy Superintendent of
schools was authorized, whose duty it was to administer
the system, under the supervision of the secretary of the
Commonwealth, who still remained ex officio Chief Superin-
tendent, and finally, the school term was increased to four
months for each year. The old law required only three

2T. The county superintendency soon proved itself worthy
to be called the "right arm" of the system. Under the
guidance of the Department, it organized the educational
forces in every part of the State, and infused greater energy
into the work. The Deputy State Superintendent and the
County Superintendents aroused and educated public senti-
ment, and the Directors, clothed with ample powers, carried
out with considerable zeal the much-needed reforms.

28. To these stimulating influences were added the efforts
of teachers, struggling, by means of Institutes, County and
State Associations, and annual conventions, not yet author-
ized by law, to improve themselves and to elevate their
calling to the dignity of a learned profession.

29. The Act of ISot, which separated the school superin-
tendency from the office of the secretary of the Common-

26. What new State office was established ? How was the school
term changed?

27. What did the county superintendency do?

28. What eft'orts were made hy teachers?

29. What act was passed in 1857? What effect had this on tho



wealth and made it an independent department, and which
placed the system in all its parts above and beyond the
arena of party politics, greatly increased its power for good.
But the Normal School Law, passed by the legislature in
the same year, was the crowning work of school legislation
in Pennsylvania. It settled the public policy on the subject
of education, set a high standard for future generations to
work up to, and substantially completed the organic structure
of the Common School System.

30. The State is divided into twelve normal districts, and
each district is authorized to erect a State Normal School.
The first institution established under this law was the Nor-
mal School for the Second District, at Millersville, in Lan-
caster county, recognized by State authority in 1859. The
Normal School for the Twelfth District, at Edinboro', in Erie
county, was recognized in 1861; for the Fifth District, at
Mansfield, Tioga county, in 1862, and for the Third District,
named "Keystone Normal School," at Kutztown, in Berks
county, in 1866.*

31. Under the law of separation, Henry C. Hickokf was

* The Principals of the State Normal Schools, in 18C8, were Ed-
ward Brooks, A.M., Second District; Rev. J. S. Ermentrout, A.M.,
Third District; Fordyce A. Allen, Fifth District; and Joseph A.
Cooper, A.M., Twelfth District.

f Henry Cuyler Hickok was born in Cayuga county, New York,
April 26th, 1818. When four years of age, he came with his father's

system? What other act was passed this year? What was the eifect
of this law ?

30. How is the State divided? How many State Normal Schools
are there? Where are they located, and when were they recog-

31. Who was the first State Superintendent of Common Schools
under the law of 1854?


appointed Superintendent of Common Schools, and organ-
ized the department as a distinct branch of the State govern-
ment. He held the office till 1860.

32. Thomas II. Burrowes, the veteran laborer in the cause
of education, was appointed Superintendent of Common
Schools in 1860, and administered the system in its full
vigor, which he had so skillfully organized and wisely
managed in the first years of its history. During his ad-
ministration, a law was enacted which limited the number
of days in a school month to twenty-two; established Dis-
trict Institutes, to be held every alternate Saturday of the
school term ; directed that these two days of Institutes
shall be recorded as two of the twenty-two days of the
month, and that no schools shall be kept open on Saturday.
In 1863, Mr. Burrowes was succeeded by Charles R. Co-
burn,* a teacher of thirty years' experience. Three years

family to Pennsylvania ; received an academic and collegiate educa-
tion; was admitted to the bar upon attaining his majority; practiced
his profession in Dauphin, Perry, and Union counties from 1840 to
1855, and for some years edited the Lewisburg Chronicle. In January,
1855, he was appointed Deputy Superintendent, and in June, 1857,
State Superintendent of Common Schools.

* Charles Rittenhouse Coburn was born in Bradford county, June
3d, 1809. At the age of eighteen he engaged in teaching in his
native county, and in 1835 took charge of the public school in Owogo,
New York. In 1854, he was elected Professor of Mathematics and
Principal of the Normal Department of Susquehanna Collegiate In-
stitute, at Towanda ; was for a time one of the editors of the New

32. "Who was appointed Superintendent in 18G0'' "What law was
passed during his administration? Who succeeded Mr. Burrowes?
When was Professor Wickersham appointed Superintendent of Com-
mon Schools?


later, James P. Wickersliam* was appointed Superintendent,
and ably conducted the affairs of the Department.

33. No important legislation has taken place since the
passage of the Normal School Bill, but the great work of
building up and perfecting the system of education has
gone steadily forward.

York Teacher. In 1857, he was elected Superintendent of Schools
for Bradford county, and in 1863, was appointed State Superintendent
of Common Schools, which office he resigned in 18G6.

* James Pyle Wickersham, descended from a Quaker family that
came to this country soon after the arrival of "William Penn, was
horn in Chester county, March 5th, 1825. At the age of sixteen, he
hegan teaching school in the winter months, and attended TJnionvillo
Academy during the summer. His success as an instructor of youth
was so marked, that he resolved to make education the work of his
life. In 1845, he hecame principal of the Marietta Academy ; he
was one of the founders of the Lancaster County Teachers' Associa-
tion in 1851, and was its second president; was one of the founders
of the Pennsylvania State Teachers' Association, and was chosen its
fourth president. Under the law of 1854, he was elected Superin-
tendent of Schools for Lancaster county, and was one of the most
efficient local school officers in the State. Under his administra-
tion in the county, a "Teachers' Institute" was held at Millers-
ville, during the summer of 1855, wherein was demonstrated the
utility of practical professional training, and out of which grew the
State Normal School at that place. In the following year, Mr.
Wickersham resigned the office of County Superintendent to accept
the principalship of the Normal School at Millersville. He was
principal of the institution ten years, during which period he at-
tained a national reputation as a puhlic educator, and as the author
of " School Economy " and " Methods of Instruction." In 1865, he
was elected president of the National Teachers' Association. He
was appointed State Superintendent of Common Schools in 1866,

33. What is the present condition of the school system ?




Coal Fields. — Anthracite. — Bituminous. — Iroji Ore.

1. Anthracite coal was first discovered and used, in this
State, in the Wyoming valley, in 17G8. Two blacksmiths,
Obadiah Gore and his brother, who came to Pennsylvania
with the Connecticut settlers, successfully used "stone coal"
in their forge, and thus introduced its use to the smiths of
that region. In 1808, Judge Jesse Fell, of Wilkesbarre,
burned coal in a grate in his house. This was the beginning
of the use of coal as fuel for warming houses.

2. At the beginning of the Revolutionary war, coal was
carried down the Susquehanna for the use of the govern-
ment arsenal at Carlisle. The trade soon extended to Ma-
rietta and Columbia, where, in 1810, coal was sold at from
eight to ten dollars a ton.

Chapter XXXVII. — 1. When and where was anthracite coal
first discovered? Who were the first to use coal successfully?
2. When and where was coal first used by the government?



3. The mines in the Wyoming valley were slowly devel-
oped, chiefly because there was no easy transportation by
which the coal could reach a market. In 1829, the Delaware
and Hudson Canal Company completed its works from the
Hudson river to the eastern end of the coal fields, and during
that year sent tOOO tons of coal to New York. The trade
over this line increased rapidly, and rose to nearly 2,000,000
tons per annum.

4. The completion of the Pennsylvania canal, and of three
lines of railroad, gave ample facilities to the miners of this
valley to send their products to the great markets of the

5. Coal was discovered in the Lehigh region, twenty-three
years after it had been found in Wyoming; but the miners
of the Lehigh were much earlier in opening communication
and getting their coal to market. The trade from this valley
increased rapidly, and has ever stood at the head of the list.
The discovery was made in Bear mountain, nine miles west
of Mauch Chunk, by Philip Ginter, a poor hunter of that
vicinity, in 1^9 L

6. Philip was one day hunting in the mountains, when he
struck his foot against a black stone which rolled away
before him. His attention was attracted to the roots of a
fallen tree, where he saw several pieces of clean black rock,
which he believed was coal. He had heard of the "stone
coals " in Wyoming valley, and thought this might be the

3. How were the Wyoming mines developed? What was the first
outlet to market? How did trade increase?

4. How did the completion of the Pennsylvania canal affect the

5. When and by whom war, coal discovered in the Lehigh region?

6. Descrihe the discoverv?


same kind.^ He took a piece of it to Fort Allen and showed
it to Colonel Jacob Weiss. Colonel Weiss carried the
specimen to Philadelphia, where it was inspected and found
to be genuine anthracite coal.

Y. Philip Ginter was paid for his discovery, and, in 1193,
the Lehigh Coal Mine Company was formed, and took up
6000 acres of land, which is now the chief property of the
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company,* and is of immense

8. In 1803, the mining company started six loaded arks
down the Lehigh; only two of them reached Philadelphia,
containing less than 200 tons of coal. The difficulty of find-
ing purchasers proved to be as great as that of reaching the
market. Finally the city authorities bought the coal to use
at the waterworks. But it could not be burned, and hence
was thrown away as worthless; afterward it was broken up
and spread on the foot-walks of the public grounds. In 1814,
two more ark loads reached the city, and were sold for
twenty-one dollars a ton, to be used at the wire factory near
the Falls of the Schuylkill.

9. The improvement of the river navigation and the con-
struction of the Lehigh canal, and the State canal along the
Delaware, and the subsequent building of two lines of rail-
road from this coal field, gave the miners and manufacturers
cheap and rapid transportation for the products of their labor.

* The original company was composed of Robert Morris, the great
financier of the Revolution, J. Anthony Morris, Charles Cist, Jacob
Weiss, and Michael Hillegas.

7. When was the Lehigh Coal Mine Company formed?

8. Describe the arrival of the first coal in Philadelphia ? When
did the second shipment arrive?

9. What increased the facilities of transportation ?


10. Coal was discovered in the Schuylkill region, on
Broad mountain, in 1*790, by Nicho Allen, a hunter. He
had camped for the night under a ledge of rocks, and kin-
dled a fire on some fragments of black stone that had fallen
from the overhanging ledge; by the side of this he laid
down to sleep. Some time in the night he woke, and found
the rocks red hot and burning, and, for an instant, feared the
mountain would be consumed. Allen made his discovery
known, and five years later, the blacksmiths on the Schuyl-
kill were using " stone coal " in their forges.

11. In 1810, William Morris, living near Port Carbon,
took a wagon load of coal to Philadelphia, but was unable to
sell it. The next effort was made by Colonel George Shoe-
maker, of Pottsville, in 1812; he took nine wagon loads of
coal to the city, and, after the most persistent efforts, succeeded
in selling two loads — one to White & Hazzard, proprietors
of the Fairmount nail and wire works, and the other to
Mellen & Bishop, owners of the Delaware rolling mill — the
other seven loads he gave to several blacksmiths, who prom-
ised to give it a fair trial. But before Colonel Shoemaker
left the city, a warrant was issued for his arrest as a swindler
and an impostor.

12. White & Hazzard, however, determined to test the
load they had purchased. They directed their men to build
a good fire in the furnace, and to put in the coal Half of
the day was spent in "poking, and raking, and stirring, and
blowing," but "Colonel Shoemaker's rocks " would not burn.

10. How was coal discovered in the Schuylkill region ?

11. Kelate the early efforts made to introduce the use of coal in

12. Who finally discovered how to burn anthracite coal in furnaces,
and how was the discovery made?


Finally, at dinner-time, the men slammed the doors of the
furnace shut, and went home. When they returned to their
work, behold ! the furnace was red hot! The coal was burn-
ing at a white heat, and so hot a fire had never been seen
before. Thus it was discovered, that if the coal is put in
the fire and let alone, it will burn. Mellen & Bishop also
succeeded in burning the load they had bought, and the fact
that anthracite coal could be used as fuel was fully demon-

13. Two years after this important discovery, the improve-
ment of the navigation of the Schuylkill was commenced.
The first shipment of coal was made in 1822, and during that
year, 1480 tons reached Philadelphia. The navigation was
completed in 1825, when 6500 tons of coal came down from the
mines on the Schuylkill. In 1841, the Reading railroad was
opened from the Delaware to the coal fields. The trade over
these lines of transportation has increased rapidly, and in
186t amounted to 4,129,815 tons.

14. The anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania is 4*70
square miles in extent, and lies in three great fields, sepa-
rated by mountain ranges. They are called the Southern^
the Middle, and the Wyoming or Northern Goal Fields.

15. The Southern Field is seventy-three miles in length,
and an average of two miles in breadth. It begins on the
Lehigh river, in a sharp narrow point, and widens toward
the west. Its center is near Minersville, where it is five

13. "When was the first shipment of coal made down the Schuyl-
kill? When was the Keading railroad completed? How did these
works affect the coal trade?

14. What is the extent of the anthracite coal region ? How many
coal fields are there? Name them?

15. Describe the Southern Coal Field?


miles wide. From this point westward it grows narrower,
and at Tremont it is only three miles in width ; five miles
beyond Tremont, it separates into two prongs. The south-
ern prong extends westward, to a point near Dauphin, on
the Susquehanna; the northern prong, seventeen miles in
length, extends into Lykens valley.

16. There is a detached basin lying in this field, known as
Mine Hill Basin ; it is on the northern edge of the main seam,
and is fourteen miles long and about half a mile wide.

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Online LibraryJosiah Rhinehart SypherSchool history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time → online text (page 18 of 24)