Personal notes by the co-chairs of the rural schools project.
This project, which begins in September 2016, is an extension of our collaboration over the previous five years. We had begun work on our “Family Remembrances” in 2011, researching our ancestors who were here in Sullivan County starting in the 1850s. Three years and four volumes later we were done, or so we thought! We decided to supplement our own family’s story by sharing our recollections of another family who owned a neighboring farm and ran a boarding house, a place where we spent a great deal of time while growing up.
During that next year we wrote the two volume “Forest Farm Memories.” We then pursued getting four historical plaques installed, two in the Town of Forestburgh, one in the Town of Thompson, and one in the Village of Monticello. Thus we gained a lot of knowledge about the local area during our research, and that experience encouraged us to tackle this project. We knew that our early relatives on Rose Valley Road had gone to the one room school on South Woods Drive, two miles away. As elementary and junior high students in the 1950s we also walked to our school bus stop, which was only a quarter of a mile from that same school which was still standing then.
Working together on this project many years later has been a wonderful way to preserve a portion of our own history, while preserving one room school house history within the Town of Thompson. We are especially pleased that the names of two of our teachers from Monticello Central Schools appear on two different historic plaques since each had earlier taught at one at a one room school house in Thompson.
We hope everyone will enjoy the information about, and the photos of these schools, teachers, and students, all of which have been gathered by our very dedicated committee over the last 18 months. We also give special thanks to the former students that we interviewed for their contributions to this project. This year, historical plaques will be in place at almost half of the locations of the earliest schools, and by summer of 2019 we hope the rest will also be installed. We plan to print a book that records the progress of this project from beginning to end, and offers its readers a short account of the 20 rural schools that once existed in the Town of Thompson from the 1830s through the closing of the last one in 1960!
Gordon J MacAdam
Henry I MacAdam