CIVIL WAR – THE OPENING OF CUTLER SCHOOL
We remember very distinctly Lincoln’s taking his place as President of the United States on March 4, 1851, and his first call for volunteers in that awful Civil War.
The first gun on Fort Sumpter has been fired, and Lincoln is calling for troops, and recruiting officers are in every township of the northern states, drumming up volunteers. A big army is now in the United States. The cannon are booming, the drums are beating, the bugle call is being obeyed and the “Boys in Blue” are marching.
I must here keep close to the historic “old Smith home” and to the history of the “lone Smith family.”
In August, 1850, after securing proper titles to their lands near Fort Riley, Kansas, Alexander and John returned to Ohio and to our mother’s home, to remain for a few years.
“They returned to enlist in the army, in the Company with the rest of our brothers. Uncle Alexander did enlist, but my father (John) was rejected because he was suffering from aguo contracted in Kansas.
Alice M. S. Handsaker
The first trip John made after returning and putting on his best clothes was to Coolville to see a very bright, black eyed girl with whom he had gone to school when she was only a child. This was Jane D. Creesy, daughter of Churchill and Betsy Creesy, from the state of New Hampshire. These were a fine family with five children.
On April 15, 1861, John and Jennie were married in the large, beautiful Creesy home in Coolville. It was a fine wedding, over one hundred guests being present.
Alexander, Margaret, James, Joseph and I were at this wedding. Mother, Jane, Priscilla, Matilda and Lucinda prepared the “infare feast” for the next day, and there were over one hundred guests to eat at the same old dining table, and the same old wedding table cloth was used.
This was a fine, bright April day with the orchards beautifully in bloom. The guests all were lively and happy and everyone had a good time.
Early in the spring of 1851, Joseph and Lucinda each received certificates to teach school in Washington county, and in the fall of 1861, Joseph went to a normal school in Barlow. He had a fine time there at this extra good school, learning how to teach.
Joseph received his first certificate to teach in November, 1859, and taught the Goddard school near Cutler, which was his first experience in teaching. He boarded with Wood Goddard and wife. He had fine success teaching here, and all the parents and scholars were his friends at the close of the term.
On the last day of school, Matilda and I rode to school on horseback and had a fine time at a “spelling match” etc.
Mrs. Goddard had prepared one of the finest suppers we had ever tasted, or Joseph, Matilda and me to eat before starting home after that last day of school. Wood Goddard and wife were a grand couple, and she was so refined and kind to all guests in their fine home.
About the middle of November, 1861, Joseph began teaching the first school in Cutler, in the new frame school house, and this term lasted until April 1862.
The opening of the Cutler school, so soon after the dedication of the Centenary M. E. Church near Cutler, was a great event in the history of the town of Cutler.
The district was fractional, Dr. Harsha giving he Fairfield half of the school ground and my father giving the Decatur Township part of the school grounds. Several families from the old log school house on Dutch Ridge were now in the Cutler district.
This was a very large, fine school, and Joseph proved himself worthy to be the teacher, and gave credit to the “lone Smith family.”
Dr. Harsha was a civil engineer and was one of the finest mathematicians in the state of Ohio. He could solve any problem in arithmetic or algebra, and so could George Dinsmore who was teaching in Decatur, near Cutler. And Joseph was fine in both arithmetic and algebra and all the other studies, and had attended normal school and teachers’ institute with George Dinsmore. They were friends and chums while they lived, and both talked much with Dr. Harsha who encouraged new and better schools every place near us. These three men did wonders in improving ways of teaching and traducing all the latest and best school books.
R. D. Caruthers an Dr. Harsha had married sisters of our brother-in-law, Benoni H. Dawson.
Joseph was greatly beloved, as he was very pleasant knew just how to teach and explain everything to us; and the scholars, being gifted this term, accomplished much.
Matilda, Lucinda and I attended this term, and Lucinda had a certificate to teach, and she heard many classes for Joseph till January, when she left us to teach the Dr. Newell school in Decatur township near us.
The summer of 1862, Lucinda taught the Cutler school, and Matilda and I went to school to her. This was a good school also.
The winter of ’62 and ’63, Joseph again taught the Cutler school, which was very like the winter before this, Matilda and I again going to school to our brother Joseph. Lucinda was teaching some place near us but I forget which school it was.
The fall of 1863, Matilda, Lucinda and I went to normal school in Barlow where we were instructed in teaching, and we also attended teacher’s institute in Marietta. Martha and I handed tobacco for brother John, with Rebecca Harris, - boarding at brother William’s home, and we at home. This was the last of November and all of December, 1863.
This was a fine crop and belonged to brothers William and John, being raised on William’s new farm. We worked in a log tobacco house by a stove, and took our dinner and made coffee on the stove. John, William and Miss Harris were with us all of the time.