L. G. SANSOM, SUPERINTENDENT.
Prior to the year 1862, we had very few schools in Wayne county. What few we had were subscription schools, the teachers for which were hired by the wealthier settlers. Sometimes the poorer class were allowed to attend these schools. The settlers would come together and throw up a round log cabin. This cabin had a spacious fire-place taking up almost all of one end of the building; this was the heating apparatus. For ventilation there was usually a log left out on either side of the building. This was covered with greased paper in winter, through which the imperfect rays of light penetrated, giving the pupil some light for study. The furniture of the room consisted of some rude benches made by splitting poles in halves and putting legs into them.
In the year 1862 a small allowance was made from the State of Virginia for the support of the schools in Wayne county. At this time there were five districts in the county, in each of which was appointed a commissioner of educational affairs, and these five constituted the board of public school fund of Wayne county.
During the Civil War there were very few schools in the county, most of the able-bodied men being engaged in the war. After the war was over, the cause of free schools was again revived, but their progress was naturally slow. About the year 1867 the bitter feelings growing out of the war between the states having somewhat subsided, all parties now felt the need of a permanent educational system. The State fund had naturally accumulated, there being no schools to pay for, until the Boards of Education were able to build hewn-log houses in the most densely populated districts, and had funds sufficient to pay for about forty-nine days of school annually.
S. P. Webb, of Ceredo, was the first county superintendent of Wayne county, and was appointed in 1868. Mr. Webb was educated in one of the eastern colleges; besides having had a thorough training in the common branches, he knew something of the classics. We now had a county superintendent to look after our educational affairs together with three members from each magisterial district as a board of education of that district. There were also three trustees in each sub-district, their duty being to see that the schools are taught as the law requires.
In 1872 was called a State constitutional convention which met at Charleston. Resolutions were prepared and submitted to this convention, which made ample provisions for a system of free schools, and without very many changes were adopted and ratified by this convention. These with very few alterations remain the basis of our free school system. The Boards of education continued to build log houses wherever they were most needed, and many poor children enjoyed the blessings of a free school education. At this time—1875—there were eighty-six log houses in Wayne county, but the work of building went steadily on.
In the year 1888 the first frame school house was built in Wayne county. Under a series of laws passed since 1872 we have been advancing rapidly indeed. These are, a law passed in 1894, lengthening the term of school officers from two to four years, a law creating a county school book board, and various other laws for the betterment of the school system.
We have indeed made wonderful progress. With twenty log huts in 1861, we now have 172 neat frame buildings, one seven-room brick building in Ceredo, one four-room frame building in Kenova, and two four- room buildings under construction, one at Wayne, the county seat, the other at East Lynn, a mining town in Stonewall district. From 400 children, who attended school in Wayne county in 1862, we now have 7560 in school. With a State appropriation for 1862 of possibly a few hundred dollars, we now, in 1906, receive $16,087.06.
Source: "The History of Education in West Virginia", By West Virginia State Dept. of Education, 1907
Transcribed by K. Torp
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