Rushton Log & Brick Schools

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Rushton's Log School was built in the year 1843 and received its name from the first settler and owner of the farm on which it was "built. It was situated on the north east corner of the Ridge Road and the Howard-Harwich Townline on lot 7 of Howard Township.

After many delays due to the rebellion of 1837, the Crown Deed of Mr Rushton's farm was received. Although he had resided on this property as early as 1825, Mr Rushton passed away before the Crown Deed was received. The family of Jacob Rushton consisted of five sons and two daughters, namely: Richard, Thomas, Esther, George, Charlotte, Joseph and Jeremiah.

Richard Rushton, like his ancestors, was a Liberal and an active worker for his party. He held the office of Justice of the Peace and assessor of Howard Township for several years. He attended the Methodist Church in which he was very active. He had one son James born in the old homestead November 23, 1833 where he grew to manhood. In 1875 James moved to Ridgetown and started a grain business and he was also interested in a brokerage concern. He became well liked and prominent and served the Ridgetown Council as Reeve for two years and was made Justice of the Peace and a member of the town council for twelve years. He was also a valued member of A.O.U.W. Lodge, being its treasurer for twenty-one years. At his retirement they presented him with a gold watch for his loyal and faithful services. While living at Rushton's Corners on the farm, he was trustee of the school for sixteen years and on moving to town he held the same position on the school board there.

The Rushtons owned the first cheese factory in this district and after one hundred years had elapsed the Stirling Construction Company workmen unearthed from under the old road a wooden drain in perfect state of preservation This drain had carried the whey and waste from the old cheese factory to Mr Rushton's pig sty on the north side of the road.

Those who took part in the erection of the old log school in l843, were the trustees and rate-payers who all gave their time free. The farmers and builders of the school were Oxley Rushton, John Scane II, Samuel McCully, Captain Cochrane, Henry Mitton (father of D.L.Mitton), Malcolm McLean (grand-father of Mrs Wm. Tape), Mr Mills, the Rushton's Colonel Patterson and the other old settlers.

So anxious were these old people to hear the word of God, Mrs McCully organized a Sunday School and she was a most capable teacher. Her father was a Baptist minister, so with help from the settlers Sunday services were held in the school.

A letter, written to John Scane II who was the first Treasurer of the old log school in 1834, is still in the possession of the Charles Welbury Scane family. It is dated June 31, l847 and states "I would come back to teach if the trustees would agree to give me one hundred and twenty dollars for the period of six months and you, John Scane, let me have my room back where the stove is for studying, as I want to write off an exam myself this year. I will be of no bother and I will cut what wood I burn and do such like." signed "Yours Truly, Samuel Harper, Ann Arbor, Michigan".

On October 8, 1852 another letter was written to Mr Scane asking for wages for the quarter term amounting to two shillings and six pence. This letter was signed by Jacob Smith.

We are told Samuel Harper did not get the wage he asked for, but nevertheless came back. Some of the old settlers have told us the reason he came back was that he was in love with Maggie Moodie.

Some of Mr Harper's pupils were, John Cochrane, Charles W. Scane, Gilbert Cochrane, Mrs Joseph Hamil (Alice Scane).

The names of some of the teachers who taught in the old log schoolhouse were:

Samuel Harper, who boarded with John Scane II and his wife Catherine Marsh Scane, in the years 1843 - 1845

Miss Margaret McKinlay 1846

Samuel Harper returned, 1847 - 1849

Samuel Kirby l850 - l851

Jacob Smith l852

David Mills (Hon. David) l856 - 1860

Mr Harrison 1861 - 1863

Miss Lucindia Shewburg l864 - l865

Miss Francis Smith 1866 - l867

Miss Elizabeth Smith 1869 - 1871

Mr James Logan 1872 - 1876

In 1876 a new brick school was erected directly across the road from the old log school. This old log school was torn down in 1920.

The trustees of the new brick school were Rubin Mattice, Samuel McCully, Henry Mitton and James Rushton, treasurer.

These trustees went with a party of other men of the district including Jack Elliott, Samuel Elliott, Charles Scane Sr. and Charles W. Scane to the World's Fair in Philadelphia in 1876. Here they purchased the school bell, which was placed on Rushton's first brick school and still remains in use on the present school, which was remodelled in 1915.

Miss Blanche Marshall was the teacher at the time of remodelling and taught in the old log school until the work on the other school had been completed.

This closed the chapter of the old school and it was torn down in 1920. The timbers were still in good condition and were taken to Crew's Fishery at Port Alma, where they were made use of.

The teachers in the first brick school were:

Transferred from the log school in 1876

Mr James Logan 1876 - 1879

Miss Jennie Robertson 1882

Mr J.C. Black 1880

Miss Bessie Mills 1885

Mr Walter McBrayne 1886

Miss Burr 1887

Miss Florence Armstrong 1890

Mrs Minchell 1892

Miss A.E. Alfred 1894

Mr Robert Ingram 1895

Miss Mamie Campbell (Mrs Duncan McDiarmid, 1900, Sept. - December)

Miss Blanche Campbell 1901

Miss Florence Cuchan 1902 - 1904

Mr George Campbell 1904 - 1905

Miss Blanche Marshall 1905 - 1908

Miss Lizzie Cameron 1909 - 1912

A few more of the later teachers were:

Miss Ada Holmes 1913 - 1915

Miss Blanche Marshall 1915 - 1916

Donald Shaw and Miss Alice Little 1917 - 1918

Miss Bessie Handy 1918

Miss Alma Cummings 1918-1919

Miss Zeta Mervin 1919-1920

Miss Mabel Russell 1921 - 1922

Miss Irene Moore 1923 - 1925

Miss Jean Skakel 1926 - 1929

Miss Watts 1930 - 1931

Miss Ruth Chapel 1932

Miss Greta French 1933 - 1937

Miss Jean Sommerville 1937 - 1941

Miss Eileen Chambers 1942

Miss Esther Young 1943

Mrs Ferguson Rae (Eileen Chambers) 1944 - 1946

Miss Betty Cowell 1947 - 1948

Mrs Neil McMillan 1948 - 1953

Mrs Harold Childs 1953 - 1958

Mrs Fred Walters 1958 -

The same bell that called the children in at nine o'clock seventy-one years

ago is still performing its duty.

Some of the professional men who attended the old school were:

Dr. Samuel McCully

Dr. John McCully

Mr. Ralph McCully

Dr. Lewis Eastlake

Dr. Robert Smith

Dr. M. Warren

Mr. Angus Smith, Civil Engineer

Miss Margaret Smith, Teacher

From the "brick school:

Dr. Robert Ingram

Mr. John Mitton

Dr. Harold McLarty

Dr. William Davis

Dr. Kencil Mitton

Boy's who served in

World War 1.

Harold McLarty

John Cochrane

William Louch

Noble Cooper

George Louch

Robert Nablo

Dr. Robert Ingram

World War 2.

George Gilbert

Norman Beehler

Carl Lenentine

Eddie Stepenick

James Attwood

Lewis James Fox

Dr. Robert Ingram, a scholar and teacher at the brick school, got his Public schooling under the teaching of J.C. Black. He started to teach in 1895 at Rushton's Corners at a salary of $300 which they soon raised to $400. He later became a medical doctor and for some years has been doctoring at Coboconk. Dr. Ingram was a son of Mr and Mrs Mathew Ingram on the Howard Road.

One of the old families was the McCullys, who settled at the corners in l835 Born to Samuel McCully and his wife Hannah (Pipes) McCully were Dr. Jonathan, Hannah, the wife of Charles Eastlake, Margaret, the wife of Louis Rowe, Dr. Samuel and Ralph.

Mrs Samuel (Hannah Pipes) McCully during her girlhood in Nova Scotia was a member of the Baptist Church and as a Sunday School Teacher she taught Sir Charles Tupper, whose father was the minister of their church at that time.

Henry Thumb was born in New York State in 1801 and his wife Elizabeth Clark in England in l8l7. They came to Rushton's Corners in 1843 and Mr Thumb was a blacksmith. They had six daughters and one son, namely: Agusta (Mrs Jeremiah Rushton), Catherine (Mrs Walter Coleman), Eliza (Mrs Henry Redny who had a son, a dentist, in Chicago), Anna (Mrs James Alexander), Emma (Mrs John Knights who had four children), Ida (Mrs John Haggart) and John.

In 1885 John Thumb married Emma Hughs of Dresden who was born in England in 1862. They had one daughter Dell Marion born April l4, 1901, and she was a successful school teacher and a born artist.

The Robert Barnes family came in 1839. Mr Barne's trade was paper embosser and colourer in England but he followed the blacksmithing and shoemaking in his spare time while farming on his farm in Harwich Township. They had eight children: Louis, John, Mary (who was an artist and some of her paintings are in Toronto Art Galleries), Emma (who was a graduate of Whitby Ladies College and school of Art -- one of her paintings being the house of Harriet Bucher Stowe in which was written the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin") and Thomas who was a mechanic and he built a peppermint mill and manufactured oil of peppermint as well as cultivating several acres of herbs.

John Scane the II was one of the first white settlers. He was born at the home of Colonel Talbot on old Talbot Street and was the first white child born on Talbot Street between London and Windsor. The Scane family is mentioned elsewhere in this book.

The Shewburg family were early settlers but unfortunately we have little history of this respected family. We do know, however Lusinda Shewburg taught school in the old log schoolhouse around 1865 and Peter, her brother, served as trustee at one time and was one of our long-term councillors of Howard Township. Lusinda Shewburg married George Gilbert and became the mother of Rose and Roy Gilbert.

The Henry Mitton family (son of James Mitton). James Mitton was born in Yorkshire England. He came to Canada and settled on the tenth concession, lot 4 in Howard Township in the year 1838. He had one daughter and three sons by the first marriage, namely: Jane, John, Robert and Henry, and one daughter by a second marriage.

Henry Mitton, the youngest son of James Mitton, lived on the homestead on the Ridge Road. He married Mary Jane McBrayne. They had six children, namely: James, Archie, Katherine, Whaley, John A. and Dorward L.

Dorward L. Mitton, the youngest son, lived on the homestead. He married Bertha Misner of Bothwell, Ontario. They had three children, namely: Kencil, Edna and Bernice who died at one year of age.

Henry Mitton was one of the first trustees of Rushton's school. Later Dorward L. Mitton was trustee and Secretary-Treasurer from 1917-1946.

Kencil Mitton received his public school education at Rushton's school, then attended Ridgetown High School. He later attended Western University where he received his Doctor's degree. He is now practising in Schenectady, N.Y.

Edna Mitton, who married Andrew N. Everitt, is now living on the homestead on the Ridge Road.

The Mills family is one of the old families and Bessie Mills was one of the school teachers at the old school. Her brother Nathanial Mills was at one time a lawyer in Ridgetown.

Mr. David Mills was the fourth teacher of the old log school and became a very prominent man. Hon. David Mills, as he was later called, in time became Superintendent of Public Schools. In 1864 he was elected to Parliament and in 1876 was made a cabinet minister, serving under Alexander McKenzie for two years. He was returned to Parliament in 1882 and again in 1886, serving until 1896, when he was appointed Senator. In 1897 he was made Minister of Justice. He was also Attorney General. December 17,i860, Mr Mills married Mary Brown of Chatham, and resided in the old homestead at Palmyra until l885, when they moved to London. In 1883 he was called to the bar and in 1890 he was made King's Council. In 1872 he was hired by the Province to examine and define the North West boundary of the province and was one of the council in England in 1884.

He was a man of culture and dignity and a staunch Liberal.

Mr Walter Mills formerly barrister of Ridgetown and Mr Blake Mills of Palmyra were sons of David Mills and there were several other children.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.
2004-10-29