Archive for March, 2011


March 23, 2011



In each generation of the twentieth century the number of Marstons Mills school children seems to have doubled. By the First World War the one-room schoolhouse built in 1851 had become too small for the growing number of children in the village. Town meeting of 1915 voted $5,250 to add a room and improve the school grounds. Hamlin & Fish, the principal builder of Cotuit, did the work for just under $5000, and local men like Bennett Cammett did the outside work.


Ted Pierce, who had studied for five years in the old building, explained that the old part was on the right (north), separated from the new room by a hallway with the entrance facing east onto the road. New seats were put in, and the potbellied stove replaced by a furnace. But the big improvement was indoor toilets at the west end of the hall, boys on the right, girls on the left.


In less than 20 years the 1915 schoolhouse was inadequate. Enrollment of 48 in 1915 nearly doubled to 93 in 1932. At first the increase came from closing the one-room Newtown and Plains schools, whose students were sent to West Barnstable, and the rest “barged” by bus to the village school. In the twenties crowding was reduced by busing fifth and sixth graders to Cotuit and Osterville.


In 1936 town meeting voted $2000 to buy 15 acres behind the church between Main Street and the new Route 28, and $25,000 to move and expand the old building. The town got federal depression help from the Emergency Relief Act. Samuel J. Moloney did the major building for about $15,000, but with cost overrun of $750. The 1851/1915 building was moved uphill to the new site in the summer of 1936. The number of rooms doubled to four, with an dining/assembly room and kitchen in the basement. Completion missed fall school opening, but formally opened 10 Nov. 1936.


Lacking a Parent-Teacher Association, the principal suggested setting up the Go-Getters Mother’s Club in 1950, with Mrs. John Walo the first president. Club fund-raisers made it possible to give the school a film projector, a TV and freezer, and money for field trips, books, records, and films.


Again, the number of students had doubled in less than 20 years. In 1957 the town paid $420,000 for a new six-room school for 200 students, with the first kindergarten, and a multi-purpose hall for cafeteria, assemblies and gym. The entrance was reversed from Route 28 to face Main Street. It opened on 16 Feb. 1959.


Fortunately for lovers of history, the old 1851/1916 schoolhouse was rescued by Bob Hayden, who moved it a quarter of a mile west on Route 28. First used as “Antiques of Tomorrow”, it is now the Lawrence Funeral Home. On the right hand side is the frame of the 1851 schoolhouse.


For a third time Marstons Mills outgrew its new school. In 1988 the town built a new elementary school on the Osterville-West Barnstable Road. It cost $6.9 million dollars, 30% paid by the state. With 25 classrooms, a cafeteria, gym and library it taught 470 students.


In 1994 the Barnstable Middle School was built south of the new elementary school ar a cost of $16,585,000. This served 780 students in grades six through eight for the whole town. In 2004 the town-funded but independently governed Horace Mann Charter School took over both buildings, with a combined enrollment of 1250.


In 1998 the town’s pupils peaked at 7000. The decline of over 15% in the next decade radically affected the use of the three schools in Marstons Mills. In 2010 the town closed the 1957 elementary school building off Main Street. Today it remains unused.



March 23, 2011



Public schools in Marstons Mills go back more than 250 years. In 1732 the town supported a “Squadron School” whose male teacher, usually a college graduate, taught in private homes, in this case 15 weeks at Benjamin Goodspeed’s. For over sixty years the itinerant teacher was Joseph Lewis (1702-1788), who graduated from Harvard in 1724. In 1742 Marstons Mills got four months near Benjamin Marston’s. Town leaders like Judge Nymphas Marston would have been educated in this way.


After the American Revolution (1794) the town created 13 school districts whose inhabitants were required to support a grammar school. Three of these were in today’s Marstons Mills: #7 in the Plains with 39 children, #8 in Jones’ neighborhood (Newtown) with 38 children, and the village #9 with 48 children, 125 all told. Local citizens taxed themselves and usually built a one-room schoolhouse. By 1818 Marstons Mills had three schools, in Newtown, the Plains and the village center.


The most remarkable teacher in early Marstons Mills was Amos Otis, Jr. (1801-75), the author of the authoritative Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families. He taught here for 15 years, walking eight miles from his home in Barnstable village to school, and back. Otis went on to become founder of the Barnstable Bank and Barnstable County Insurance, an early promoter of the railroad, the temperance society, the Academy and agricultural society.


We do not know where the first Mills school was located, but by 1848 the town wanted it replaced as both “worn out” and “inconvenient”, declaring it one of several schools that were “little better than caves or dog kennels, unfit for anything save habitations for cattle and swine.”


So the local taxpayers built a new school about where the Mills Restaurant now stands, on land bought from Chipman Hinckley. Finished in October 1851 by builder C. E. King, and officially called “one of the best in town” it was formally dedicated on 6 Dec. 1851 by the respected educator Freeman N. Blake, principal of Barnstable Academy. This one room building faced south on the road to West Barnstable, with separate doors for boys and girls. On the gable peak was a flagpole and a cupola with a big brass bell. No indoor plumbing, of course, so there were separate girls and boys privies out back.


In 1869 Barnstable abandoned the district system, and began consolidating districts, facing the fact that schools were not all in walking distance by providing transport by large horse-drawn wagons, called “barges”.


The favorite teacher was Mrs. Addie Gertrude Crosby (1853-1939). At retirement she was lauded as “one of the best teachers in Massachusetts.” Born in Pondsville, daughter of Capt. Joseph Crocker, sister of long-time postmistress Hattie Mecarta, and also sister of Minnie the wife of Oliver Crocker, Jr., and Fremont Crocker who carried on the family farm.


She began 38 years of teaching in 1874. In 1885 she married the widower Capt. Abner F. Crosby of Cotuit, who had lost his first wife when she was only 26. But he died of TB at age 55 in 1892. During much of the eighteen-nineties Addie taught in the Mixed School of Marstons Mills, in which teachers taught all grades, ages 6 to 15. In 1900 she moved to Osterville, where she taught for 12 years, much beloved, and remembered by Elmer Whitely as “an old time teacher [who] demanded attention. There you began to learn your three R’s and no fooling.” On retirement she was longtime president of the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union which won the achievement of Prohibition.


Ted Pierce, who attended the old school for five years (repeating one grade) drew a diagram of the school’s layout: boys came in the right door, girls thru the left. Between the doors was the wood box, and the stove, its stovepipe running overhead to the chimney at the far end. Although a student could get a drink at the pump outside, inside the door was a water barrel with dipper for common use. Jean Parker told how “Mother cautioned us about drinking from the dipper by putting our mouths over the rim, It was better to put the dipper rim under our lips.”


There were two platforms, on the left was the teacher’s desk, on the right “where bad kids stood”. Ted must have spent much time there, as he recalled that the teacher would go outside to talk to the stage driver and put an older girl in charge. When she came back she asked who was acting up. The girl would say Ted Pierce did this and that. “Ted Pierce didn’t do anything.” Outside, on the left was the woodshed, at the far end of which were the toilets, again boys on the right, girls on the left. This was the village school until 1915, with similar schools in Newtown and The Plains.


The last teacher at the one-room school was Lillian G. Murdock. Born in 1878, she came from North Abington to tutor in Sandwich, graduated from Hyannis Normal School in 1907, evidently married, and taught at Marstons Mills as Mrs. Chandler, until 1912 when she took her maiden name as Miss Murdock. Although Ted Pierce hated her because “She loved me in a bad way”, she was well liked in the village, noted for getting the first Victrola for the schools, for her singing and organizing Christmas parties, and teaching Sunday School. After 15 years here she took a job teaching in Rockland, and remarried a Plains widower John Gibby.


One-room teaching could not have been too bad, for all the Higgins children, including Roger who became head of the English department at Andover Academy, and his brother the Harvard trained Dr. Donald Higgins, began in the Marstons Mills school.




March 7, 2011


Katharine Fredrica LENROOT born Superior, WI 1891 (d. 1982). Internationalist child welfare expert; head of US Children’s Bureau; adviser to League of Nations on white slave traffic; aided European children in WWII, founding UNICEF 1946, President of 8th Pan-American Children’s Conference 1942; International Youth Charter. “We cannot put aside until after the war our concern for children…Ours is the twofold task of assuring a future for our children and rearing children fit for a future which shall be built upon foundations of justice, security and mercy for all. (2 May 1942, 8th Pan-Am. Child Congress).

Rev. Addie L. (Cameron) WYATT born Brookhaven MS 1924. Labor leader who worked with M.L. King.


1908: Suffragist Protest New York City marked first celebration on March 8.

1910: “We Choose Life…Not Death” Socialist Declaration by Clara Zetkin.

1913: European Women rally for peace.

1917: Russian women strike for “Bread and Peace” sparked the Russian Revolution.

1918: 3,000 Women demanded Peace, Vienna.

1946: First American celebration of International Women’s Day, by Congress of American Women, New York City.

1965: Soviet Union made this a public holiday.

1975: United Nations first sponsored the annual event.

1979: 15,000 Iranian Women occupied Palace of Justice, Tehran.

1981: 3,000 Women staged Die-In against missles at NATO’s Ramstein airbase

1982: WILPF’s STAR CAMPAIGN began to protest the Arms Race;
General Strike in France led by Movement de Liberation des Femmes.

1983: One Million Signatures for peace presented to NATO by WILPF by 10,000 women.
Italian Women blockaded Comiso Base in nonviolent protest.
Angolan “Women Demand Peace”, Luanda.

1984: British Women passed out “Peace Pies” at Bank of England, London.
Peruvian Women demonstrated against all violence.
150 Women picketed Presidio San Francisco.
1985: European women circulate petition for denuclearization.

1986: Asia Pacific Forum on Women founded.

1989: 400 Women erect Peace Tent, Tel Aviv.

1997: Women’s Peace Petition to spend 5% of military budget on health, education & jobs.
2003: 25 Code Pink Women arrested at White House in protest against Iraq War.

2007: 539 Women’s Events around the world.