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The fate of one-room schools in Wentworth

A cottage owner remembers the one-room school, now closed, which once occupied this space.
A cottage owner remembers the one-room school, now closed, which once occupied this space. - Submitted

Wentworth News with Hope Bridgewater

In 1959 the reign of the six one-room schools in Wentworth at Appleton, East Wentworth, Lower Wentworth, West Wentworth, Wentworth Centre, and the Wentworth Station/Valley was over with their amalgamation into a new Consolidated Elementary School at Wentworth Centre where all the students in Grades Primary to 6 were bused.

Students in the upper grades were bused to the district high school in Pugwash.

What happened to all the empty school buildings? It is interesting to know as part of our history and also to know how a community handles this problem.

In this column, an example of the empty building in Appleton is used by showing its history and what happened at the end.

Olive Lynds, the last teacher of the Appleton School Section 93, wrote the story which is told in the book, Reflections of Wentworth One-Room Schools 1819-1959, edited by the School Reunion Committee 2012 and published for the Reunion by WCDC C@Psite.

Only a small number of these were published for people attending the reunion.

Olive Lynds' comments follows:

“At the head of the Mattatall Lake is the small settlement of Appleton, Cumberland County. At one time it consisted of approximately 14 families, all farmers. The need for a school arose so the men decided to build one. The neighbouring settlement of Lake Road...were the possessors of a Baptist Church which was no longer used. Those people gave the church to be used as the school and also to be used for church purposes of any denomination. First the church had to be torn down, removed from its position on the Lake Road to the new settlement where it was to be rebuilt. It was rebuilt as a school in 1883. It was necessary now to choose a name for the settlement...Appletown as each farm had a nice apple orchard... the name was sent to Halifax to be recorded and due to some error in print the name became Appleton.

The school was a one-room building with approximately 24 students attending under the direction of one teacher...By 1910, 16 pupils were attending grades one to nine and Appleton School became Section 93...At this time some family names were McGill, Lynds, Murray, Bonnell, Patriquin and Upham.

School was held regularly and church services were held on Sunday. By 1933 the school was continuing with four scholars, Grades 5,6, 10, 11. In 1934 the school closed as only one child was available.

In 1945, Mrs. Thomas (Helen) Lynds was informed she could have the school opened if there were five scholars. She took a child from the Home, Betty Kaye, her daughter Lois, Isaac Murray moved into the section with 3 children, Lloyd, Murdock & Carman and the school was reopened. Attendance increased as other children became old enough to go to school. Mrs. Lynds also held Sunday School on Friday afternoon while School continued... In the face of 1959, the new Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School was opened and children were transported by bus to the new school and the older ones bused to Pugwash District High School.

The Appleton school was now closed and sold for a residence.”

To update the fate of the school as a residence, a photo was recently taken which shows that the cottage owner is proud of the building's history as the owner keeps the schools sign on the front  and it reads “Appleton School Sect. No.93.” Now, that is a very successful ending for this once empty school building.

As for the other five empty Wentworth one-room school buildings, one had a sad ending, one had a bland ending, and two had a happy ending like Appleton. Future columns will tell their story.

As for Appleton's school fate, there are photos to enhance its reputation. Shown are two photos of the cottage with the Appleton School sign on the front of the cottage: one up close and one further back showing its rural environment. Then, the photos of Eleanor Murray in different grades at the Appleton school reveal an Appleton student and who is now Mrs. Eleanor Sprague, an active community member of Wentworth.

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