Monday, May 25, 2015

Bethesda School Nr 40

Above the Bethesda School in the 1920's, photo from the Delaware archive.

Bethesda School was a one room school house that was across the road  (Today it is called Wootten Road ) from Bethesda Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was near Raccoon Pond, and is just west of Terrapin Hill (39 ft above sea level).  It was in Broadcreek hundreds, Sussex county Delaware. 

There was sufficient population in this area to support a church and a school.  The school served what at that time was called school district 40.  About a mile away was the community of Bull's Mill.  The streams around this area had been dammed for saw mills and grain mills a hundred years or so before the school came along.  With the creation of mills roads were made to get to these mills and since the mills required workers a population begin to settle around them and retail stores came into being to serve that population.  Bull's mill had a couple of stores and several houses.  It was named for Manaen Bull who was one of a series of owners of the various mills in the area.  The saw mills cut the cypress in the swamp areas around Bull's Mill.  The other type of trees were cut and made into charcoal to melt the local deposits of bog iron into ingots.  An old bog iron furnace was located just north  of Bull's mill.  Bull's Mill had a post office but by 1862 it was closed and moved to Lowes Crossroads.  The Postmaster for Bulls Mill in 1857 was James H. Boyce and in 1861 it was Ebenezer H. Tyre.  The custom of the day was to put these small post offices in general stores in the town they served so we can assume Boyce and Tyre both were store owners.
The date the school was built is unclear but by 1913 it was in existence as it is shown on this 1913 map below. 

The school was closed down on March 11th 1938 and wrapped into the Laurel School district.  In 1914  the school had one teacher and he taught grades 1 thru 7.  The teacher in 1914 was Harry F. Lewes, in 1915 it was Glen W. Thompson, in 1919 it was Mrs. Helen M. Morris and by 1921 the teacher was Mary F. West.  The school had about 30 students (22 boys, 8 girls) spread over grades 1 to 7. 
Other teachers at the school were; 1923, Norman R. Lewis, and arriving in 1924 was William J. Hitchens.  Mr. Hitchens would remain the teacher at Bethesda until 1937 when Mrs. Grace A. Hastings would wrap up the final year of it's service.
The trustees of the school were of course local residents.  From 1914 to 1937 some of those trustees were John Stanford LeCates, C. G. West, Joseph A. Whaley, Glenn W. Thompson, E. M. Mitchell, Harry E. English, McCready Whaley, Paul T. Whaley, Charles L. Hudson, and George T. Thawley.

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