West Virginia State Site

Harrison County West Virginia

School Records

Transcribed and donated by Barb Ziegermeyer

In 1671 Sir William Berkely, Governor of Virginia, in replying to an inquiry made by an official in England as to what provision was made for public instruction in his colony made the following famous response:

"I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have, these hundred years, for learning has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best Government.   God keep us from both."

The sentiments expressed by the Governor seemed to have lingered in Virginia to some extent, for many years, and early legislation of. Virginia shows but little development towards establishing free schools. As late as the year 1857, with a population of a million and a half, only 41,608 children were attending school, while Massachusetts with a smaller population had five times as many and New Hampshire with one fifth of her population had twice as many.

The first constitution of West Virginia provided for the establishment of free schools, and with less than a million inhabitants in 1906, she had 255,160 children attending schooL

In 1908 Harrison County had 286 schools and 11.215 children of school age.

The first settlers west of the Mountains early turned their attention towards the education of their children, and gave encouragement to the establishment of "Old Field Schools."

Luther Haymond, who was born in 1809, describes one of these schools as follows:

"The school houses were generally old abandoned log cabins, the furniture consisted of slabs with holes bored in each end and pins driven in them for legs. For those learning to write a space was hewed out about six inches wide between two logs and sticks were set up perpendicularly in this space, and on them was pasted paper mostly foolscap that had been used as copy books. This paper being greased, afforded enough light for the boys and girls of that primitive age.

Holes were bored in the logs under this open space, wooden pins driven in and a board a little sloping laid on them, this constituted the writing desk.

The master made all the pens out of goose quills. He would write a line at the head of a page of paper in his best style, and the scholars would rule the paper with a piece of lead, and copy his sample.

I remember one copy was "Six times six is thirty six." The books used were Primers, Webster's Spelling book and the Testament I recollect an older brother at one school used "Gulliver's Travels" as a reading book. It was the custom for the teacher or master, as he was called, to go around in a neighborhood and procure subscriptions for as many scholars as the head of the family could furnish and pay for. The tuition was, I think, about two or two and a half dollars per scholar, which was sometimes paid in linsey, linen or grain.

The branches taught were reading, writing and arithmetic. I never heard of grammar.

I remember at one school that I attended that a middle aged woman was a scholar with four or five of her children, some nearly grown. Her object was to learn to read so that she could read the Bible, and it was said that she learned faster than her children.

The neighborhood of Clarksburg was peopled by an excellent class of pioneers of English descent and at a very early period took high rank as an educational center, and its influence was widely felt.

The Randolph Academy was chartered by an Act of the General Assembly passed December 31, 1787, and provides that the first meeting of the Trustees, shall be held on the Second Monday in May, 1788, at Mor-gantown and "Fix upon some healthy and convenient place within one of the Counties of Ohio, Monongalia, Harrison and Randolph for the purpose of erecting therein the necessary buildings for the said Academy."

At this time the law required that one sixth of the County Surveyor's fees should be applied for the support of William and Mary College at Williamsburg, but this act authorized the surveyors for the four counties named to turn in the one sixth of their fees to the support of the Randolph Academy.

It is supposed that the meeting of the Board of Trustees was held at Morgan town, as authorized by the act chartering the Institution, and that Clarksburg was selected as the place to construct the buildings, but as some of the first leaves of the old minute book in which was recorded the proceedings of the Board, are missing, the facts cannot now be ascertained.

The first meeting of the trustees contained in the minute book is as follows:

Clarksburg, Harrison County, the 18th. Aug. 1788.

Pursuant to an adjournment of the board of trustees for the Randolph Academy the following trustees met, viz.:
George Jackson, John Powers, John Wilson.
John Haymond is by the said trustees appointed Clerk pro tempore.
The number of trustees not being sufficient to make a board, the trustees adjourned till tomorrow at twelve o'clock.

John Haymond, Clk. Pro-Tem.

After two more failures to secure a meeting on September 16, 1788. a quorum of the Board of trustees finally was brought together, at which were present Robert Maxwell, George Jackson, Benjamin Wilson, Nicholas Carpenter, John Wilson, John Powers, Jacob Westfall, John Jackson, John Prunty, Hezekiah Davisson, Joseph Hastings and William Barkely.
John Haymond was chosen clerk and Robert Maxwell, Chairman.

William Haymond, John McCally and Daniel Davisson were appointed   a  committee  to  superintend  the  building  of   the   Randolph Academy.

The delays were long and vexations and it was not until 1793 that anything definite was accomplished as will be shown by the following entry:

Harrison County, Clarksburg, Saturday, February 23, 1793.

Pursuant to adjournment of the Board of Trustees of the 2nd. of January last, the following trustees met, viz.:

George Jackson, John Powers, Joseph Hastings, H. Davisson, John Prunty, John McCally, Daniel Davisson, Maxwell Armstrong, George Arnold, Vm. Robinson and Benjamin Coplin.

Resolved that the Randolph Academy be built of wood and frame work, and be thirty six feet in length and twenty in breadth, agreeable to the original plan, except the cupalo, and be let this afternoon to the lowest bidder, under the immediate direction of the Board, and to be completely finished on or before the first day of November next in a workmanlike manner.

Resolved also that the purchaser give bond with approved security.

Resolved also that the undertaker be paid his money by three installments, to-wit: one third when the frame is raised, the second third at finishing said house and the other third in six months after the said house is finished.

The building of the said Academy being exposed to sale, Mr. David Hewes being the lowest bidder, undertook the same at one hundred and seventy nine pounds, and entered into bond with Hezekiah Davisson his surety (in the sum of three hundred and fifty eight pounds) and to complete the same on or before the first day of November next.
Resolved that the Treasurer either on rect. of Mr. William Hay-mond or Mr. Benjamin Wilson, that the Randolph Academy is raised agreeably to the plan and bill of scantling to him produced, pay Mr. David Hewes the sum of 59.13.

And then the Board adjourned till the Saturday last before the third Monday in March next

John Haymond, C. R. A.

June 4, 1795, last payment directed to be made to David Hewes, Constructor, at a meeting of the Board held this day.

Clarksburg, Monday July 20, 1795.

Pursuant to its adjournment of the 4th. of June, the board of trustees of Randolph Academy met, viz.: George Jackson, Joseph Hastings, John Powers, John Prunty, James Arnold, George Arnold, 'William Barkley and Benjamin Coplin, Gent. Trustees.

On motion of Wm. Jackson, seconded by Wm. Prunty, Mr. Joseph Hastings was unanimously chosen chairman to the board. In conformity to an order of the board of trustees of the 24th. of June, last, the Clerk laid before the board a letter from the Rev. George Towers, signifying his willingness to accept of an appointment as a teacher in the Randolph Academy on certain conditions.

Resolved that the Rev. George Towers be employed as a teacher in the Randolph Academy at the rate of two hundred and fifty dollars per annum to be paid in quarter yearly payments (provided he shall consider the same to be a competency) and that the Clerk take bond from the said Towers for the faithful performance in the said office, agreeably, to an order of the Board at their last session, and that he be under the direction of the board during the said year which shall commence on the first day of August next.

Resolved, that for each Latin scholar who shall be taught by the said teacher, there shall be paid sixteen dollars; for each English scholar five dollars; for each scholar in grammar and arithmetic six dollars, and for each scholar in the mathematics, if the said Towers will teach that science, eight dollars per annum, which shall be paid in quarter yearly payments to the Treasurer of the Randolph Academy, and for every scholar who shall be taught for a shorter time than one year shall be paid a sum in proportion to the above.
And then the Board adjourned till Saturday next, at three o'clock P. M.

John Haymond, C. R. A.

At a meeting of the Trustees of the Randolph Academy on the 21st. day of December, 1799.

Benjamin Wilson, John McCally, Benjamin Coplin, Daniel Davisson, William Martin, George Arnold, John Black and Hedgeman Triplett, present.
Ordered that the address by the trustees of the Randolph Academy on the 21st. day of December, 1799, be made a part of the record of the trustees' proceedings at the public examination of the scholars of the Randolph Academy on the 21st. of December 1799 in the presence of the trustees and a respectable audience the following oration or address was delivered by Col. Benjamin Wilson:

Sir: Permit us to tender to you our unfeigned thanks for the particular attention you have given to the tuition of the pupils committed to your charge, as well as the strict watch over their morals, and whereas the late enlargement of your charge will increase your vigilance to watch over their morals, we give you the assurance of this board, that nothing shall be wanting on our parts to render you assistance to make the institution respectable. Therefore, permit us to enumerate some of the dangerous ills which is to command your attention, as well without the Seminary as within, viz.: the willful breach of the Sabbath day, lying, cursing, swearing, quarreling, frequenting taverns or still houses by night or by day, and in particular the infamous ill of gaming, together with other ills not enumerated. You will also please inspire such of your youths as have arrived to the age of discretion to avoid all low company, and at all times and places to sequester themselves from such. Should any of the public rules of the Seminary be wantonly violated, by those who are of the years of discretion, for the first offense, you are solemnly to admonish them; for the second offense, you are to call on three of the trustees, who are to join you in admonition, and for the third offense you are to call on the chairman who will gammons a hoard who will acquit, suspend or expel the offender if found guilty."

Ordered that a copy of the above order he set up in the Academy.

The trustees earnestly recommend it to those who have children, to send them to Divine Worship every Sabbath day when there is preaching in said town."

So it appears that the Academy finally opened its doors for pupils in the Fall of 1795 under the supervision of the Reverend George Towers, a Presbyterian Minister, a native of England and a graduate of the Oxford University, who is described in the advertisement of the Trustees as a "Gentleman of undoubted character and abilities, who has engaged to teach the Latin and Greek languages, the English grammatically, Arithmetic and Geography."

Tradition states that the institution flourished for some years and that after the charter expired, the building was used for educational purposes until about the year 1842.   Mr. Towers died in 1816.

The North Western Virginia Academy

The Northwestern Virginia Academy was built in 1843 a short distance West of the Randolph building and after the establishment of the public school system was used for that purpose until the construction of the present High School Building in 1894 on the same site.

The lot on which these three mentioned buildings were built was conveyed to the Trustees of the Randolph Academy by Thomas Barkeley and Hezetriah Davisson on May 2, 1793, and is recorded in Deed Book No. 2, page 434.

The beginning corner of the lot is described as being at a "dead tree, standing N. 10° E. 38 poles and 15 links from the North-westerly corner of the Court House, and the dimensions are given as being 20 poles in length and 10 poles in breadth and as containing "One and a quarter acres."

The Court House referred to above then stood on the North East corner of Second and Main Streets opposite where the present Presbyterian Church building stands.

The North Western Virginia Academy was incorporated by an Act of the Virginia Legislature in the year 1842, with the following trustees named in the Act:

Edwin S. Duncan, John J. Allen, Samuel L. Hays, William A. Harrison, Waldo P. Goff, Charles Lewis, George Pritchard, John W. Coffman, Augustine J. Smith, Richard W. Moore, Walter Ebert, Nathan Goff, Gideon D. Camden, John Stealey, John Talbott, Solomon Parsons, Joshua Smith, Adam Carper and John J. Swayze.

By an Act of the Legislature passed January 24, 1843, the Board of Trustees were authorized to add ten additional members to their number.

The building (which) was of brick, two stories high, 71 feet by 44 feet, surmounted by a cupola.

The first floor was divided into a large hall, on the right of which was a large room called the chapel, on the left were two school rooms.

The second floor was divided into five rooms. The building stood on the West End of the old Randolph Academy ground and partially on a lot donated by John J. Allen.

The expenses of construction was raised by a general subscription of money and donations of lumber and other building materials.

The contractor was Joseph Warwick and the woodwork was done by John Cain.

When in 1843 the building was sufficiently completed, it was turned over by the trustees to the Methodist Episcopal Church Conference to conduct the school.

The Reverend Gordon Battelle was the first principal and the first session opened for pupils October 1, 1843.

Mr. Battelle, a man of recognized ability continued in charge for about twelve years, when he was succeeded by Reverend Alexander Martin.   The last to hold the position was R. A. Arthur, before the civil war.

The enterprise was quite successful in giving advantages of a higher education than had ever before been offered to the youth of Clarksburg and surrounding counties.

During the war the building was occupied by the government as a barracks, guard house and hospital.

Private schools were for a time taught in it, and in 1866 the trustees turned it over to the public school system, and it was occupied for that purpose as long as the building stood.

The Board of Education of the Clarksburg District added two rooms to the West End of the old building. In 1894 the old building was torn away, except the new part and the present building was constructed, which is to be known officially as the "Tower's School" in honor of the first teacher of the Randolph Academy.

The Clarksburg Independent School District has constructed several other substantial buildings and the County at this time, (1909) ia dotted with white school houses and they are doing good work in a noble cause.

The establishment of this institution of learning has been of vast importance to the people of Western Virginia, and the originators, builded better than they knew. Prom its portals men have gone out into the world and become famous in many walks of life. Its pupils have been members of Congress, constitutional conventions, the legislature, Judges of Courts, Officers of the Army, County officials and filled many honorable positions in business life.

It has done a noble work and the ground on which it stood has for a hundred and fourteen years resounded with the pattering feet and the playful voices of the children of Clarksburg, and thousands of men and women scattered to all parts of the continent have looked back to this hallowed time honored spot with feelings of grateful recollection.

 Following are programs of exercises held by the pupils, which explain themselves


 December 15. 1858.


 Part 1. Selected.



Oration, T. S. Hursey "Pitt's Speech on Stamp Act."

 Oration, Edward Davis "Change, not Reform"

 Oration, F. M. Horner "Separation of the States"

 Oration, R. T. Lowndes "Why I Don't Marry"


Oration, C. T. Lowndes "Up Salt River"
Dialogue, E. Butcher, Morden; N. Goff, Lenox


 Part II - Original.

Oration, D. Wilson "American Enterprise"
Oration, N. Goff "Our Country"
Oration, M. Jackson "Filibustering"



Clarksburg, Harrison County, Va.

Powell, Printer

Order of Exercises, Thursday Evening September 24th, 1846.


 Part I Selected

1. The Thunder Storm W. W. Roach
2. New England's Dead Henry Haymond
3. Love of Country Y. B. Shinn
4. No Excellence Without Labor T. Armstrong
5. Ireland W. Haymond


6. Passing the Rubicund Hugh H. Lee
7. Cost of Glory M. Harrison
8. False Estimation of War A. Owens
9. Spirit of Freedom B. Smith
10. Duelling J. A. Sehon
11. The Bible W. W. Lewis


12. Defence of the Colonies J. B. Woodward
13. Murder Will Out W. G. Harrison
14. The Indian C. Golf
15. Qualification for Office D. Dicks
16. Evils of War John J. Davis
17. The Age of Reason E. B. Ebert


18. Patriotism A. J. Smith, Jr.
19. Our Western Domain Geo. Johnson
20. Cicero Against Cataline N. Lewis
21. The Veterans of Bunker Hill C. McCally
22. The Eagle P. A. Davisson
23. True and False Progress C. T. Harrison


 Part II Original

24. Lafayette J. S. Cox
25. Mind, the Glory of Man J. W. McCoy
26. The Deity Seen in Nature R. W. Barnes


27. Napoleon G. L. Pigott
28. Our Country W. C. Carper

Music Benediction .

One of the land marks which will be remembered by the pupils for the last sixty five years, is the old stone mile post, which stood on the corner of Pike Street, opposite the Academy, on one side is "R. 108" and on the other "P. 85," meaning the distance in miles to Romney and Parkersburg by the Northwestern Turnpike. The upper part of the old stone has been taken from its location and placed in a prominent place in the foundation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, (Goff Chapel) now being built, 1909.

Broaddus Female College.

The Broaddus Female College of Winchester conducted by the Rev. Edward J. Willis, a Baptist Institution, was removed to Clarksburg in 1876, and for a time occupied the old Bartlett Hotel building, the site of which now belongs to the Court House Park, which stood on Main and Third Streets, having been purchased by the County from Lloyd Lowndes.

In 1878 a large brick building was constructed in Haymond's grove, and the school moved into it.

The building has been enlarged and the school has done excellent work for many years.

In 1908 the property was sold and the institution was removed to Philippi in this year, 1909.

The Salem Academy.

The Salem Academy was incorporated under the laws of West Vir­ginia on December 28, 1888, with the usual privilege of corporations, to be located in the town of Salem. The charter sets forth that the Institution is to be subject to the regulations of the Seventh Day Baptist Educational Society, for the purpose of teaching all of the various branches of learning, comprising a thorough Academic and Collegiate course.

 The Incorporators were:

G. W. F. Randolph James N. David
A. L. Childers J. L. Huffman
Lloyd F. Randolph Uric Randolph
F. M. Swlger C. M. Randolph
L. B. Davis Ernest Randolph
Charles N. Mason Hiram Wilson
Jesse F. Randolph   

The Academy began its first term in the public school building April 1, 1889, with J. L. Huffman as acting principal.

During the following year the school was held in a building belonging to Hon. Jesse F. Randolph.

In December 1889 the Academy was completed and occupied for school purposes.

In 1890 Professor S. L. Maxsn was elected President and he was succeeded by Rev.. T. L. Gardner.

The Institution has gained a wide reputation for excellent work and it gives promise of greater influence in the future.

St. Joseph's Academy

About the year 1867, a small parish school was established by the Catholic Church Society under the direction of Miss Mary White.

In 1871 the home residence of James M. Jackson, on the East Side of Elk Creek was purchased, remodeled and a colony of the Sisters of St. Joseph's was sent from Wheeling and a first class Academy for young ladies was opened.

In 1876 Centennial Hall was constructed and in it the preparatory and parish schools are taught.

The institution is in a flourishing condition.


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