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Memories of a Westfield one-room rural school

August 20, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

While trying to settle on a topic for BeeLines, your Westfield Historian decided to do some more sorting and settling in her new digs at Edgewater, and discovered the perfect item for this week. What with summer coming to a close, and schools opening soon, a letter enclosing a couple of photos from about 1925 brought back memories of Hardscrabble #3, nicknamed "People's College" when my dad, Don Blackburn, taught there in the 1930s and early 1940s.

"These are pictures of the children who went to the Hardscrabble Road School," wrote Vesta Rater Breedlove, on the first of two sheets of peach note paper wrapped around the photos. She goes on to tell about several of the youngsters identified in one of the photos. "The boy, Harold Knolton, grew up to be a stunt pilot who did loops, upside down etc. He lost his life in a plane crash. His father was Kerry Knolton."

"The Tempas family lived on the Hardscrabble Road. The parents, I believe were Leis & Mable Tempas & some of the children were Clyde, Walter, Dorothy & Lou. Clyde Tempas became a carpenter & worked for Tallman Construction in Sherman, N.Y. They did quite a bit of the building of the Inn at the Peak, working there five years."

Article Photos

Submitted Photo
Above and below are pictures of the children who went to the Hardscrabble Road School.

"My parents, Clifford & Mabel Rater lived on the Hardscrabble Road right where the Munson Road comes up & joins or dead-ends at the Hardscrabble. My dad had the C L RATER DAIRY & delivered raw milk in glass bottles to the village of Westfield, later selling out to Vine City when the law was passed for milk to be pasteurized. He also had Concord grapes & sour cherries for money crops. So my first year of school was at that Hardscrabble Road school when Don Blackburn was the teacher of all the grades in the school."

"Since my dad bought a dairy farm on the Hannum Road off Rt. 430, I attended the Mayville Central School on the hill in the village of Mayville from second grade through the 12th grade."

The photo with the 10 children is labeled on the back, "School on Hardscrabble Rd. Westfield NY." On the front is written, "School in 1925 & 6."

The photo with four children has the following written on the back: "Harold Knolton, Laura McGerald, Junior Colburn, Dorothy Tempas; These were kids who went to Hardscrabble Road school in Westfield, NY." The four children are also labeled by first name on the front of the photo, left to right, "Harold K Laura & Junior Dorothy"

The 13 rural schools were closed in the early 1940s when the Westfield School District started bussing the children to the Village grade, junior, and senior high schools. By 1946, Westfield schools had become centralized as Westfield Academy and Central School.

The following is a list of the Westfield Rural Schools:

1. Westfield Union Free School - between Academy and Cottage Streets on East Main.

2. Nettle Hill - at Nettle Hill Corners, junction of Westfield-Sherman Road & Rt. 76

3. Hardscrabble - Between Munson & Jillson on the north side of Hardscrabble Rd.

4. Rogersville - on Rt. 20 at Forsythe, at the corner of Rogersville Road

5. White School House - across from Nixon farm, corner of Munson and Rt. 20

6. Birch - Felton & Prospect Rd

7. Lombard or Haight Corner - Parker at Pigeon Road.

8. Fairbanks - Parker near Kent Road

9. Barcelona - 6th Street Barcelona

10. Bourne - Route 5 East Lake Road at McKinley (near Bourne's Beach)

11. Volusia - near Culver, Ogden, and Westfield Sherman Roads

12. Porter - Westfield-Sherman Road near Jones Rd.

13. Hopkins - Parker near Belson Road

Faithful Readers, please share your memories and photos of the old rural one-room schools in Westfield; Contact Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Historian by phone: 716-397-9254, or by email: or on Westfield Historian Facebook page.



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