Kent County's Last Log School

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This structure was the last of the log school-houses, built about 1828-30 at the juncture of the Howard Harwich Town-line and Ridge Road, serving families around Rushton's Corners.

The Rushton family was the first. They came from Nova Scotia in 1825, also the McCully's from Nova Scotia, then the Barnes family from the United States, but formerly from England. Then cane Ridley's, Alexanders, Mills, Gilberts, Mattice, Coopers, Fenacy's, Thumbs and others who took up land around the Corners.

Cabins of the settlers were made of logs, also farm buildings, no care

being taken with the foundations which soon rotted. This schoolhouse building however was well made from the start and elevated on piers. It outlasted many later buildings of frame and board construction and even the first brick schoolhouse built to take its place. It remained in constant use as a schoolhouse till 1876 when a brick schoolhouse was built across the road, now the site of present Union S.S. No. 7 Howard and No. 1 Harwich.

The log building was then abandoned as a schoolhouse and used by the farmer on whose land it was situated for various purposes, first as a sheep pen. By 1907 the brick schoolhouse was 31 years old but condemned by Education Department and had to be rebuilt. In order to carry on school while a new one was being built, the old log building was again called into service. After the livestock was removed and the building thoroughly cleaned, temporary black boards were installed, seats moved from across the road and schooling continued under Mrs Blanch Marshall Slacer who was living in Ridgetown.

The Log building did not long survive the erection of the new school. The adjoining farms had by now passed to another generation and strangers, who had no reverence for its historic significance, did have use for its timbers; so it was demolished. None of the early schools seems to have playgrounds as it was not deemed to be part of education of children - plenty of work for the settler's families.

First wages paid to the teachers for a quarter term was 2 shillings, 6 pence.

In 1876 a bell was purchased. The Log school was torn down. Some who attended this school who became professional in manhood are: Dr. Sam McCully; Dr. Bob Ingram, Dr. John McCully, Dr. Robert Smith; Dr. M. Warren, Dr. Lewis Eastlake, Lawyer Ralph McCully, Angus Smith, civil engineer, Lawyer John Mitton, Dr. Kencil Mitton, Dr. Wm Davis, Margaret, learned teaching.

The same bell that called the children in at 9 o'clock 71 years ago is still performing its duty.

One of the scholars in the log schoolhouse, John Scane II was the first white settler born at the Colonel Talbot home on Talbot Road between London and Windsor. Dr R. Ingram became one of the teachers in the brick building - salary $400 a year. He was the son of Mathew Ingram, a farmer near Rushton's Corners. Henry Thumb of York State, a blacksmith by trade came to Rushton's Corners in 1845. Robert Barne, whose trade was paper embosser in England, came in 1859. Shewburg family came from England. Their daughter Lucinda taught in the log school in 1865. James Mitton who came from Yorkshire, England in 1858, attended the log school. He married and had one daughter and 5 sons by 1st marriage: Jane, John, Robert, Henry, and one daughter by 2nd marriage, Mary.

David Mills taught in the log school and became the Superintendent of Public Schools. In 1864 he was elected to Parliament and made Cabinet Minister. In 1896 he was appointed Senator. In 1897 he was made Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Mr Walter Mills, formerly a barrister of Ridgetown, and Blake Mills of Palmyra were sons.

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