Marshall Historical Society

Ken McConnell
The Waterville Times, August 20, 1979

The following article was compiled by Ken McConnell, Town of Marshall Historian, to commemorate Marshall's 150th anniversary.

This is not a history as in the Oneida County history book, but is a collection of stories and legends, which contributed to shaping a township, a hamlet, a people.

Did you know that at one time Marshall had 11 school districts, three of which were shared with Brothertown Indian children? A Miss Wheat taught Indians and settlers together in a little school that sat in what is now the parking lot of St. Peter's Li'l Cellar (old Macabee Hall.) The little schoolhouse in Dicksville, owned by Blanche Hinman, was once an Indian Church. Pupils, both red and white, paid tuition of "One quarter cord of good hard wood two feet long" or cash equivalent at one dollar per cord. The term started November 1 and ran for five months. Later a summer term was added. The school marm was paid one dollar per week and additional expenses totaled $40 per year, including the construction of a fence to keep cows out of the playground.

How many of you remember the old Deansboro High School on West Hill Road? It burned in 1931, necessitating the merger with Waterville, and building of a new grade school in 1932.

If you remember that, I'll bet you didn't know that its predecessor was called the West Hill Academy. It was established in the 1840's by the Deansville Stock Co. and featured two years of high school.

There was also Knob Academy located on the hill south of the old train station. It was headed by Professor Poole who taught math, philosophy, rhetoric, language, astronomy, and natural history. The building was torn down in 1906 and the lumber was used to build Gordon Bishop's house.

The Deansville Methodist Church had a select school in its basement until 1850.

One old school building was moved in 1913 and was used by Don William's father as a blacksmith shop.

The old Hanover High School taught up to 100 pupils and was located across from the old stage stop, which still stands. Deportment, how to enter and leave a room, manners, and conversation were among the subjects taught there.

Rev. Dr. Ely Burcherd conducted a boy's school in the early 1800's just south of Addington's on Hanover Road.

I doubt if anyone remembers when Miss Freelove Southworth turned out her class held in the school at the foot of Kurt Schactler's hill. She let the children out to watch the local boys march off to fight in the War of 1812 at Sacket's Harbor. They had stood in line at Paris Green and every ninth man was chosen.

How about the "Fool's Cap" naughty children had to wear, or being marched back and forth in the classroom with a tuning fork affixed to the ear? Remember how the boy was being punished by "holding down the nail?" (This consisted of bending over and holding a finger on a nail until the teacher was satisfied.) His nose bled and he shook his head, spraying blood on the girls and making them scream. Those were the days, alright.

Then there was the time in March, 1806, when young Matilda McConnell returned from boarding school three miles away with a fever. It was the dreaded typhoid, and within days, a sad and stricken Thaddeus McConnell buried his wife, mother, and only daughter in the cemetery on Post Street. He and his sons were so disabled that the neighbors made their way through spring snow to do the chores and leave food on the doorstep.

That same little cemetery is the very one that students from the Fairfield Medical Academy stole a cadaver from one dark night. What do you suppose went through those boys minds as they drove their horse and wagon back to Herkimer County with their gruesome load?

There's the story about the stage driver running the line between Utica and Waterville (which was formed in 1819.) It was a cold, dark, and stormy night as he set out from Utica to bring the mail. There were no passengers aboard. The tavern keeper at Hanover thought he had heard the stage stop over the howl of the wind. "A bit late" he thought, "But that could be expected on a terrible night like this." But why didn't he come in for some rum and warm up before the fire? Finally the tavern keeper slipped on his coat, grabbed his lantern and went outside to find the driver frozen dead at the reins.

Don't forget the Indians! First there was Tom Kindness, who lived on Bogan Road. How the children loved Tom! One day he was pretending he was a horse on the boardwalk in front of the Old American. Some smart alecks inside decided he should look like a horse, too. They forced him into a harness with bells and drove him up and down Main Street. While they were laughing at their joke, Tom took off for Sangerfield and sold the outfit! The boys had to pay the harness owner out of their own pockets.

Romance "Matt" Wyatt was the last of the Brothertown Indians. He lived on the "trail" as he called it, between Deansboro and Oriskany Falls. (On Rt. 12B across from the Signal Trailer Court). As a boy he ran nonstop to Sauquoit Valley with news of the Deansville small pox epidemic. When he worked the canal, men would fight to see who went through the narrow locks first. It's said he was never bested.

But, Demon Rum got the best of Matt for awhile. One Sunday morning the sound of organ and choir awoke him as he lay sleeping in the gutter in front of the church in Oriskany Falls. Matt thought he had died and gone to Heaven. He never drank again.

Matt Wyatt's grave is in the Deansboro Cemetery decorated with a Civil War Veteran marker.

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