The Columbia Hill one room school was located at the intersection of present day Anawana Lake Road and Whittaker Road on a small corner lot that was carved out of the farm owned by Elijah and Sarah Clark that bordered this intersection on both fronts. In 1838 the Clarks issued a lease to the school at no cost, with the only condition being that it would be kept in good repair, and the lease expired if and when the school was no longer to be used. It was used continuously for 105 years until 1943 and it was the District 17 school of the Monticello School District. Several years later, it was acquired by the Lounsbury family.
This school was located there to serve the families that were living and farming the top of Columbia Hill, which overlooked the hamlet of Hurleyville, which was ¾ of a mile away at the bottom of this huge hill. During this era of the establishment of the first public schools, students were expected to walk up to two miles to attend classes. The top of this hill provided fertile lands for the dairy farm families who eked out a living there. The hamlet of Hurleyville was actually located in the Fallsburg School District, as the town line was located near the bottom of the hill.
We are fortunate to have access to all of this school’s operating records during its years of operation. The Lounsbury family who farmed next door to the school were involved in the management of the school and when the school was closed in 1943, Daniel Lounsbury, the final trustee, took possession of the various books that recorded the minutes of annual meetings, attendance records, tax ledgers and assessments, and teachers’ contracts. These historical books have been passed down through the family and are presently held by Paul Lounsbury of Grahamsville, Daniel’s grandson, who grew up within a good stone’s throw of the school. These are the only records of any of the schools that we know of.
This view of the classroom, I suspect, was taken on the same day as the group photo shown above, as the attire of some of the students is the same. The old pot belly stove in the center kept the class warm in winter months.. School records show that the school paid between $7 and $12 per year for the wood supply!
Alida Lounsbury Brinckerhoff, 98, holds her framed copy of the above photo at her home during our visit with her in 2017. She is the last student of this group that is surviving. She is the eldest child of four born to Daniel W. Lounsbury who is included in the photo below taken in 1902 at the same location. Two of her siblings are also included in the above photo, Albert and Harry(Jim) Their little sister, Joan, was born in 1930.
These three books were found among the other artifacts that were preserved by the Lounsbury family.
Former Student Charles Cohen.