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Columns

June 21, 2014

Area schooling could be rough-and-tumble in 19th century

Another school year is coming to an end for the schools across our region. It is a time to reflect upon achievements for some, what lies ahead after school is out, and to say so long to friends and good riddance to enemies.

Hudson Lyon saw more than 40 of these “cycles” as a teacher, and a few more while as a student, in what were then one-room schoolhouses in the West Bainbridge area. The Lyon family had settled in the area around 1800. On state Route 206 today, a traveler will see Lyon Road and Newton Hollow Road, the area where this story took place long ago.

In February 1950, Hudson Lyon was 93 years old and recalled his school years as told to what was then the Binghamton Sunday Press. He was born on a farm on Lyon Road in 1857 and began teaching when he was 20.

There were two terms in the one-room schools: winter and summer. Lyon got his first job in a winter term. As he described it, women were hired for the summer because able-bodied men were needed for farm work during the warm, growing months.

During the winters, there was little to do on the farms except chores, so this became a time when boys and young men went to school. As Lyon said, it wasn’t because they desired an education, but to pass the time, and “to raise some Cain.” It required a man to manage the students. If the bigger boys didn’t like their teacher, it wasn’t unusual for them to throw him out bodily, be it an open door or window, whichever was closer. 

Lyon said he never “got thrown out on his ear,” and got along well with his students. Other teachers he knew had to deal with problems that continue today: guns and bullying.

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