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 Tyler County

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In submitting this my third annual report, the Free Schools of Tyler county show a healthful and permanent growth, which will compare very favorably with preceding school years. The enumeration has increased 112 over last year's report, the enrollment 324 and the average daily attendance 436 over the school year ending, June 30, 1887.

During the school year ending June 30, 1888, I visited all the schools in the county with the exception of two which had closed before I reached them. Out of the eighty-seven teachers employed last year, none were from beyond the borders of West Virginia, and few from outside Tyler county. The students growing up are beginning to realize that we are no longer dependent upon foreign teachers to be employed to teach our Free Schools; having just as good talent at home and all that is necessary is its cultivation, which out teachers and those preparing to teach are now doing by attending the West Virginia University, State Normal Schools and select normal schools near home. This is the inspiration and cause of the good work accomplished within our schools, and myself, in connection with the school officers of the county, are trying to foster and encourage such principles among our students, and if in course of time we older teachers fail to respond to the call, the younger citizens and associates of West Virginia, may come to the front and take our places.

Source: Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Free Schools of West Virginia, by Benjamin S. Morgan, State Superintendent, 1888 - Transcribed by C. Anthony

The Tyler Academy, at Middlebourne, in Tyler county, incorporated January 30, 1827.

Source: The History of Education In West Virginia, by WV State Dept. of Education, 1907 - Transcribed by C. Anthony


Education in Tyler County previous to the establishment of the free school system was in a very crude condition. Agriculture was the chief Industry, and it required about all of the time of the hardy farmer to acquire the necessities of the home. Education was then a luxury which but few could enjoy. Though the farmer wished to educate his children, he had not the means to pay for their tuition, and In many instances the children could not be spared from the farm. But as the years passed by conditions changed. Other industries sprang up; oil and gas were discovered. Dame Nature smiled graciously on all. Many farms, whose chief products were greenbrlers, ragweeds and tax bills, soon were spouting forth abundantly streams of rich yellow liquid bringing Immediate wealth to the poor farmer who had for years been toiling hard and earnestly over the rough and rugged hills./p>

Before the free schools were established the only opportunities offered the youth for intellectual improvement were In private schools, and very poor ones they were. There Is nothing that shows progress more vividly than to contrast one of the "old field" schools with one of our schools of today. The private school was established usually In this manner: Some teacher, or, as he was more commonly called, a master, would wander Into the community from Ohio or Pennsylvania; a contract would be circulated around among the citizens, who would sign a certain number of pupils and agree to pay a certain sum of money to the master for tuition. If there was no building in the community that could bo used as a school house, a crude log structure would be hastily prepared. The heating apparatus was usually a huge fireplace occupying most of one end of the room. A broad slab supported by wooden pins in the wall formed the writing desk, the seats were constructed from sapplings about six Inches in diameter spilt and cut Into pieces five or six feet long; two holes were bored In each end and wooden pegs Inserted, forming the legs of the seat. The master was a person well qualified to keep school, but unqualified to teach school. He was an absolute monarch In governing, and from stories oft related by our fathers and grand fathers, the lads in the old school had to "toe the mark."

So little was done In educational affairs while this county was a part of Virginia that it need not be mentioned in this sketch. Free schools were established In 1865. The first examination was held in Sistersville. Miss Emlllne Jones, the first applicant, received a second grade certificate. The schools did not make much progress till about 1880. At that time the county was supplied with buildings sufficient to accommodato the pupils. By that time all the old log houses had been abandoned and their places filled by more comfortable frame buildings. Since then we have made steady progress.

Our schools are In very good condition at present. We do not boast of an ideal school system. We see the need of many improvements, many which we are now making and others which we hope to see made in the near future. Great improvement has been made In buildings, and much useful apparatus has been supplied during the past few years. The School Improvement League Is organized in this county and has done good work. The school boards have been interested and have responded by selecting more beautiful locations and erecting better buildings. The rural school buildings that are being built In this county at the present time are not surpassed If equaled In any other part of the State.

The teaching fraternity of Tyler, we think second to none In the State. Several of our teachers are trained graduates of the Normal Schools of the State. Many others are graduates of recognized high schools or denominational schools of standing, others have attended the normal schools, but have not graduated. Most of our teachers are young, but they are enthusiastic and Industrious and do very excellent work.

Tyler has now 130 schools, with an attendance of 4,230 pupils. The total enumeration being 5,375; over 80 per cent, of the enumerated youth of the county are In attendance In the public schools. This is a great Improvement over the conditions that used to exist and shows that, although the compulsory school law Is not aa effective as It should be, it has done much good. The average term In Tyler is six months, and the average wages throughout the county for first, second and third grade teachers are, respectively, $45.00, $35.00 and $30.00 per month. The average number of pupils enrolled In each room of the county and village schools Is thirty; In the graded and high schools, forty-two.

The Sistersville public schools employ thirty teachers and have enrolled over 1,000 pupils. This Is an ideal school from the primary rooms to the high school. For completeness and thoroughness of the work done In all the grades and in the high school the Sistersvllle schools have few equals south of Mason and Dixon's line. This school has developed during the last fifteen years from a poorly graded four-room school to Its present proportions and efficiency. Professor J. D. Garrison is City Superintendent. He Is a good school man and is maintaining a very high educational sentiment in the city, as Is evidenced by the many improvements made during his administration. The high school course has been strengthened until It Is now one of the accredited schools of the West Virginia University. Two courses are given the Latin and the English. The Latin course prepares for the University. The English course Is designed for those who are not expecting to continue longer in school. Five teachers are employed In the high school, including the superintendent. The departmental method of work is In operation. Miss Anna N. Elliott Is principal of the high school and In charge of the department of mathematics. Miss Elliott la a graduate of the Wheeling High School, a student of the West Virginia University, and one of the best teachers in the State. Miss Mary D. Hutchinson, a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, has charge of the Latin and German languages. Miss Florence M. Ramsey, another Mount Holyoke graduate, Is teacher of English, Miss Henna Shriver, a graduate of Washington (Pa.) Seminary and Marshall College, has the department of history. There are no teachers employed In the high school or in the grades who are not graduates of a recognized high school, normal school or college.

Music and drawing have been added to the curriculum in Slstersvllle and are in charge of a special teacher. Miss Mary L. Peck, a graduate of the Oberlln Conservatory of Music, has charge of the work and Is doing nicely. A new high school building Is In process of erection at Sistersville, costing about 45,000.00a beautiful two-story buff brick building of fifteen rooms, Including a large assembly room and a room fitted up with modern apparatus as a laboratory for teaching chemistry and physics. The building will have a large campus, which can easily be made one of the most beautiful in the State. The Ohio River and the hills to the west form a very picturesque landscape, viewed from the building.

The Middlebourne Graded School employs four teachers and has enrolled 140 pupils. Professor Frank Haught la principal and Is doing all that can be expected. The building Is too small to accommodate the pupils properly. Miss Hallle M. Swan Is first assistant. Mr. C. B. Hamilton has charge of the intermediate room and Miss Maude Carpenter is primary teacher.

The Friendly Graded School employs four teachers and has enrolled 120 pupils. Professor B. S. Lively is principal and Is doing good work, ably assisted by the following corps of teachers: Mr. J. E. Morgan, third room; Miss Maude Martin, second room; Miss Eleanor Horn, first room. Friendly has secured a very suitable modern school building.

There are several other schools In the county I would like to give special mention, but space will not permit. The schools of the county are all doing nicely; I congratulate the teachers, pupils and patrons on this fact and hope that the progress of the past will continue, greatly augmented In the days that are to come

The proposition for the establishment of a county high school in this county, submitted to the voters at the last election, carried by a large majority. The Board of Directors have secured a beautiful site for the building at Middlebourne and have adopted plans for the erection of a building costing about $40,000.00. I am proud that Tyler is the first to establish a county high school, and hope that the future of the school will be such as to lead other counties to emulate our example.

Transcribed by C. Anthony From: The History of Education in West Virginia, 1907



The action of the Tyler county board of education, in whatever it does in establishing the new Tyler county high school, will be watched with interest by the school men of the state. This will be the first county high school in West Virginia, and it will necessarily attract attention. An admirable design for the building has been selected, adn the board gives evidence of knowing what it is doing. THE SCHOOL JOURNAL would like to take the liberty of urging the board to be exceedingly careful in the selection of a principal for the school. It is not safe to appoint anybody except a thoroughly trained college man, sound in educational principles and successful in practice. To secure such a man, a good salary must be offered. The standing and success of the school will depend very largely upon its first principal.

Source: The West Virginia School Journal, Volume 35, WV State Dept. of Free Schools, 1906, Transcribed by C. Anthony

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