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Page 12 text:
thrs month War hoxx ever mterfered so serrously xxrth
educatronal constructron and costs rose so raprdly that
rt xx as an rmpossrbrhty for the dreams of the leaders of
the drstrrct to be completed untrl the forces of democracy
had stood strong agarnst those of drctatorshrps brrng
mg a nnal vrctorv rn 1945 Thrs how ever was the same
vear whlch saw the Old Arsenal burnxng on a brrght
Sunda, nornrng rn March and made rt necessary tor
grades to be s t up 11 the town hall and ln the local
In the summer ot 1950 the central chstrrct brought
thc DeC1rasse school all thc facrlrtxes available xxrthrn
1 hmrted budget by adding a room modern plumbing
facrlrtres and fresh sanitary drmkmg water
It was xxrth great prrde that the puprls entered the
new wrng IH Russell September 1951 now to be quarter
ed rn one room as one grade now for the first trme to
have the possrbrhtres of learnrng and exploring all the
material xx hrch should be learned for one grade noxx
for the frrst trme not to be faced wrth a shortage of trme
inadequate facrlrtres and outside toilet rooms
Old Arsenal Used As a School
OLD ARSI:NAL DA1 S
QTIIIS paper read by Mmnre A VanBuren Old
Home Imght rn Russell rn 1915 tells of the Arsenal
HE war ended happrly and the arsenal xx as no longer
needed as a mrlltary station Select school were held
lt xx hxch was attended by our fathers and mothers
but It w as not untrl after the old log school house burn
ed that the arsenal became a hall of learnrng
The loxx er room xx as furmshed wrth wooden bench
es ln the upper were tables deep gashed and carved
wrth rnltlals Erght or ten puprls would srt around a
table rn chairs xx hrch were the personal property of the
scholars Sometrmes when a chalr became weak or
broken an enterprrsrng boy would exchange rt for the
safer one used by the teacher w ho unsuspecting danger
xxould find hrmself on the floor amrd the turns The
rooms were heated by large stoves whrch had a habrt of
smokrng and there were old stove prpes lrable to come
apart or fall down any txme Once upon a trme some
of that stove prpe drsappeared took unto rtself as rt
were xxrngs and flew away That remrnds me of an
other mystery I do not refer to the sllly yarns of the
ghosts amusrng themselves rolhng the cannon balls on
thc thrrd Hloor I refer to a coat a lmen coat that was
xxorn by one of the teachers during school hours and
hung by the chimney when he left the bulldmg That
coat drd serxrce durrng the fall term and at the begrn
mag of the xxmter term xx as ragged and very far from
clean One noon the grrls held a consultation Several
suggestrons were offered and at last rt was decxded that
the coat should be washed 1roned and patched That
night as thc teachers hung rt rn rts accustomed place he
Laxe lt one long lrngerrng lovrng look thrnkmg per
haps that no nore familiar object would ever meet
hrs gaze In the mornlng the hall xx as empty The coat
xx as gonc and nevcr seen aagnn
O1 cold days xx hen the xx 1nd xxould xx hustle through
the many paned xxrndoxxs xxe xxould gathcr round the
stoxc and all went merrrly tnll the teach r xxould say IH
stern toncs It that xx hlsper rs not stopped you wrll all
Wrtlr no fear of bacterra mlcrobes or other germs
the scholar of the old days found therr supreme hap
prness rn passing the water It was a pleasure that never
grcxx old though of darly occurrence and happy was
that chrld who had the prrxrlege of passrng the water to
hrs thrrsty school mates xx ho drank trccly from a tm
cup somctrmcs old and rusty
In thosc days we dld not haxc professors wc had
tcachcrs a man tcachcr rn thc xxrnter and woman
tcacher rn the summer or a man tcacher upstarrs and a
woman tcacher doxx n Each one nearly every term had
us begrn on the hrst page trll the front pages of the
book were xxorn out then of necessrty we had to be
promoted We had no need of a gymnasrum We xxere
resourceful rn Hndrng pleasure and exercrse In the
summer xxe xxould play kc p house over rn the Knox
pasture under the heautrtul trees by the srde of the
brook The shelves rn the rocks held the broken drshcs
and the parlor furnrture xx as upholstered by the softest
'Xt recess xxe xx ould play pom pom pull
1xx ay and hoxx xxc could run never stopprng to puff or
In the fall there xx as alw ays an abundant supply of
from which the chrldren would make
artrstrc baskets and ornaments In the wrnter there were
snow forts coastrng skatmg and slrdrng on the Boyd
Hull on jumpers Then there were the snow burrals A
child would be hurled rn snow the other chrldren per
formrng the funeral servrce whrch was followed by the
rescrrectron If the servrces were too long a vorce would
come from the snoxx grave Hurry up Im smotherrng
or the resurrectron would be premature
Now dont thlnk for one mrnute that rt was all
play and no work rn those good old days Wlmat did xxe
study? Well exery boy and grrl brg or httle read and
spelled a httle every dav and how we would make the
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Page 11 text:
Wt ILIL Altwwws llklEMlEMIBlER
FRO 11 LOG SCHOOL T0 CENTRAIIZED SCH001'
USSELL srtuated rn St Lawrence County anclent
huntrng ground of the Iroquors was funded rn 1805
by Russell Attwater who looked at the vrrgrn territory
rlch rn fish and game and considered rt well worth the
petty sum he pard Soon people largely from Massachu
setts and Vermont came by ox cart to settle the new
land Wrthrn four years a small log school was built
upon one of the high hrlls north of the village over
lookrng the pleasant valley below through which the
Grasse rrver wmds from east to west Thrs rs the rrve
known to the Indians as NI KENT SIA KI ffull of
big hshesj The building was heated by two fire places
and was furnrshed wrth a pulpit for use rn rellgrous
services as the first church was not buxlt untrl 1845
From the openmg of this first school under the
dlrectlon of Rollin Smith tn 1808 to the dedlcatlon of
the new wing of Knox Memorial Central School rn
1957 any observer of education rs rmpressed wlth the
steady progressive sprrrt evidenced by the people rn
therr efforts to provide for the children the very best
avarlable at any partrcular trme From a budget of 3250
rn 1809 to a budget of 3160 000 ln the present day
hnancnl sacrxhce has be n necessary One hundred
thirty eight puprls were enrolled for five months a year
rn seven schools rn 1820 Four hundred eighty seven
pupils are now enrolled rn three schools rn the central
In 1860 after the log school burned the Arsenal
was obtarned for use for the first trme as a pubhc
school At that time the length of the school term w as
declded by the state of the farm work and the SIZC of
the winter woodprle and students furnished their own
rharrs Teac iers were paid from S150 to S2 00 per
week and were boarded around Everyone wanted to
board the teacher after sprmg housecleanrng and before
In 1905 the pubhc and school hbrary was estab
hshed wrth 2100 volumes and today there are some ten
thousand books for reference purposes as well as for
lersure time readmg In 1860 however the only refer
ence book was Websters Unabridged Drctronary and
for lelsure txme the students attended evenrng spelling
schools hrrngrng their own lanterns or candles
In 1875 country schools marntamed two terms a
veir There w as an extra ten weeks nn the ullage school
and there were two departments maintained ln the vrl
lage school prrmary and advanced
The followmg year found the law bemg changed
concerning the hcensrng of teachers and they could not
thereafter obtain a hcense until they were sixteen years
of age Prevlously they had been Issued at the age of
fourteen Common practice found teachers or head
teachers younger than students rn school but so eager
were the people for education that thrs lack of maturity
on the part of the teacher drd not seem to hamper the
By 1888 the primary department rn the vrllage had
grown to approximately forty students and three terms
now bemg held one of twelve weeks and two of ten
weeks each With hundreds of dollars today bemg
spent for maps globes charts microscopes film strip
machines and other teachmg aids rt rs interesting to
note that charts for readmg and models for physiology
were only coming rnto use at this trme
The year 1890 found the first Regents examrnatrons
bemg grven rn Russell and the first Arbor Day bemg
observed By 1893 attempts were bemg made to enforce
the attendance law and wlth the establishment of the
pubhc and school hbrary ln 1901 the stage was set for
the chartering of the Unron School and its academrc
department opened in September 1905 for the first trme
The return of Seymour H Knox and Bishop Lewis
to Russell and their decrsron to do somethrng for the
drstrrct wrll be adequately covered elsewhere but rt rs
rnterestlng to note that eleven years after the dedrcatron
of the Knox Memorral I-hgh School a few women form
er Arsenal students held a prcnlc and plans were made
for 1 larger group PICUIC the followrng year This prcnlc
developed lnto the Old Arsenal Teachers and Students
Assocratron whrch was organized rn 1921 and which
down through the years to the present time has found
people returning each june from all sectrons of the
country to attend the meetrng to enloy the prcnxc lunch
and to remlnrsce of youthful days spent rn the Arsenal
A strong force for educatron thrs organrzatlon was
quick to note the advantages of centralization and many
of the workers for centrahzatron came fom the Old
Arsenal Teachers and Students Assoclatron XVork on
ccntrahzatnon began late rn the thrrtres and was brought
to a completion rn October 1911 when wrth nearly four
hundred votes cast only svcteen opposrtron votes were
registered Wxtli one of the greatest mayorrtres rn favor
this second centrahzatron rn St Lawrence County open
ed on the first of july 1912 with twenty three dlstrrcts
The twenty fourth district was added ln 1913
Centrahzatron brought new problems not the least
of w hrch w as room for the greater enrollment and
school authorrtr s were forced to operate eighteen schools
the first year and to again bring the Old Arsenal into
use for grades 16 rn the village Thirty one persons
made up the faculty and plans were rmmedrately made
for the burldmg of the wrng whrch rs bemg dedrcated
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Page 13 text:
Old Arsenal Today
Brave ghost on top of w1nd swept lull
Your guns long mute your sold1ers st1ll
Ru1ned by fire your strong walls stand
Each stone placed there by careful hand
More than a century has fled
jet planes now thunder overhead
Pay tr1bute that IS st1ll your due
rafters r1ng when we read 1n concert Str1ke t1ll the
last armed foe CXPIICS No scholar w as ever too b1g or
too far advanced to drop ar1thmet1c grammar geog
raphy al erbra rhetor1c or phys1cs We were not al
ways sat1sn1 d wlth th t1me sp nt 11 3I'1fll11'1Ct1C gram
mar or spelllng school IH the evenlng The scholars l1V
mg nearest m1ght brmg candles and IH th1s way lrghted
the room not br1ll1antly but we were contented and
happv and spent many profitable even1ngs th1s way
Parsmg was a necessary study The grammar class
would chose srdes as for a spell1ng match and a con
test wculd last a week All d1sputes were settled by
Wells and Quackenbus Grammar McNally s Geog
raphy was the joy of the scholars but the teacher al
ways susprcrous when we were h1dden beh1nd IIS large
covers How well we remember the sent1mental verses
wl lch were wr1tten on those covers Forget me not For
vet m never T1ll yonder sun shall set forever was a
favorlte verse Yes those were 'happy days A cal1co or
home spun dress took us 1nto the best SOCICIY We wer
all r1ch then r1ch IU copper toed boots and shoes for
wmtcr r1ch 1n health r1ch 1n frrends I'lCl'l 1n hope for
we each had our Castle 1n Spa1n where everyth1ng
grand and beaut1ful aw arted our com1ng Pranc1ng ste
eds l1ver1ed servants costly jewels r1ch apparel honor
tam were ours 1n our Castle 1n Spam And unfor
tunate IS that man or woman who has lost s1ght of those
WHEN THL ARSENAL BURNED
I cr1ed when the Old Arsenal burned What a host
of memorles came rushmg back to me that Sunday
mormng 1n March when the flames l1cked the solrd old
walls I stood 1n a crowd of onlookers helpless to do
anythmg and heard fragments of conversatron bu1lt
1n 1809 redcoats were com1ng th1s way sold at auc
non 1n 1850 a school IH 1861 A school' Who could
forget the long rows of seats the pot bellred stove on
cold morn1ngs the smell of hard maple burn1ng the
llIlClx rough Hoors creaky sta1rs o1l lamps and long
pcnods of rec1t.1t1ons 1n front nf the room? Who could
forget Forrest G1bbons Page Cole Carr1e GlbbOUS
Myrtl Leach Lamb Helena Kelly Florence Shaw Hugh
Kelly Ella Curt1s Maude W1lcox Harvey Pr1ce9 and
A cry went up Ther goes the roof' I cr1ed when the
Ol Arsenal burned because trad1t1on went up 1n flames
OLD ARSBNAL 4SSOCIATION
FEW women former Arsenal students spenclrng a
day tog ther 1n an mformal reun1on at Russell had
the 1nsp1rat1on to urge the organ1zat1on of all who had
t u ht or attended school 1n the old bu1ld1ng Th1s
group organ1zed 1n june 1921 IS known as the Old
Arsenal Teachers and Students ASSOCIHTIOU A con
st1tut1on was drawn up and forty became act1ve charter
FIT mbers w h1l tl11I'ICCfl were HSSOCIZIC members bemg
lusbands w1ves or ch1ldren of those who taught or
attended school rn the Arsenal The follow1ng year
saw attendance membershlp and 1nterest 1ncrease rap
ndly Annual m et1ngs have been held regularly
01d Arsenal Assoclation Meets
A 20 by 30 1nch bronze tablet was placed by th1s
ASSOCIZIIOH on the corner of the Arsenal at the cost
of S119 66 and UHYCllCd June 28 1929 w1th Rlchard
Ellsworth of Canton as speaker The tablet reads
The Old Arsenal
Bunlt by the State of New York 1809
Arsenal unt1l 1851
Russell Vrllage School 1861 1913
Teachers and Students ASSOCIZIIOH
The State of New York
Peace hath her v1ctor1es no less renowned tum
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