“Dear Ella, This is a picture of our new school house, hope you will get a chance to see it sometime. Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Evelyn Haines.” So wrote Mrs. Haines to her friend Ella on December 23, 1909.
In 1925 Anna Haines Barthold interviewed for a teaching position in the Two Room School House. She wrote about this and of some of her recollections teaching there. This is her story:
“It was in August of 1925 that I had just come home from Ocean City summer school. My father came home from Vincentown and said he had heard that Tabernacle School needed a teacher. When he took me to see Mr. Tustin ( a school board member), I told him that I had very little experience. Mr. Tustin replied that he did not care about that. All that he cared about was keeping “them” from “tearing the school house down.”
There were four rows of desks, a large p[ot-belly stove, a teacher’s desk and chair and two narrow wooden benches each about four feet long. A small blackboard was on one wall. The other three walls were solid, large paned windows. There was an iron pump in the hall and an outside toilet. There was a trap door in the floor by the stove. It was used to get wood up from the cellar.
Mr. Caleb Rogers was the janitor. He would stop by and build the fire on his way to work. If it went out it was up to me to rebuild it. Some of the logs were so large and knotty that they could not be pushed into the door. The trick was to heave them and hope they went in. Many times it took more than one try and they landed on the floor. Everyone drank out of the same cup and those children, who stayed for lunch, never washed their hands. In 1926, as noted in my diary, I asked the Board of Education to supply some primary chairs that could be used when we had reading groups. They agreed to purchase the chairs.
In the winter the water pump froze. The big boys carried pails of water from the store for daily use. The cellar had wooden doors. The wood was stored there and there was no insulation. During the winter the floor was very cold. The large windows were often frosted with ice but the children never complained. But I bought cotton stockings at the Mt. Holly Grant Store and wore them under my silk stockings. One cold day I had the windows up part-way and was having a lesson in physical training. In walked Dr. Kaser, Burlington County Superintendent of schools, and Dr. Savitz, New Jersey Commissioner of Education. They complamented us for having the windows open and having physical exercises. Dr. Kaser came once a year to sign the register. We had very interesting P. T. A. meetings with good support from the parents. I remember playing the big baby-grand piano in the principal’s room. On these nights I was invited for dinner with either Mrs. Ralph Haines, Mrs. Tustin or Mrs. Worrell. Mrs. Worrell always had creamed chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade cake.
We received our pay only once a month and it was usually our responsibility to get our checks after school. We started out about the time the men were coming home from work. The first stop was at the district clerk’s home. Then, from there, to the Alloway farm and then finally to the Haines farm. Often we sat in Mr. Haines’ library waiting for him to come in from milking the cows. Sometimes I arrived home on the farm in Vincentown around seven o’clock at night.
In order to cover the curriculum for each grade, I had to combine Spelling and Social Studies. I would teach second and third grade Social Studies for second grade one year. The next year I would teach Third Grade Social Studies to both grades. The first and second grades were programed in the same manner. English was taught separately to the Third Grade and Reading and Arithmetic were also taught separately. The Bolenious Reading System was used for all grades. The Beginners read from charts with large letters. Each grade took home lists of spelling words to study. I let the Second Grade children help hear he First Graders review each day’s word, the Third Grade helped the Second Graders and I reviewed the Third Graders. Then on every Friday, each grade had a test. The program was so successful that Miss Purnell had a teacher from Greenbank come and observe us one day. Then we had writing. The entire class, even the little First Graders, had to learn the Palmer Writing Method. Each desk had an inkwell which included a wooden pen with a metal tip for each child. Thinking back, I can’t imagine how they ever accomplished it as well as they did.
We had holiday programs and picnics. On one occasion Mrs. Beaumont helped me transport the children. Mr. Amos Allen still remembers riding on the running board of my Ford car. I remember the picnic and taking the car, but not anyone riding on the running board.
At the close of the 1926 school year, the day before Memorial Day was the last day. My salary was $90.00 a month less the New Jersey Teacher’s Pension Fund.The children that I remember having in my class that first year were: Harry Cotton, Dorothy Moore, Vincent Moore, Mark Moore, Sarah Prickett, Beatrice Gerber, Lillian Gerber, Vincent Bowker, Emma and Frank (John) Beaumont, Richard Tustin, Gladys DeCamp, Raymond and Frank Worrell, Eddie Kuliga, Fred and Tommy Beebe, Pearl Pepper, Amos Allen, Charles Yates, Harry Patton, Joseph Rogers, Ernest Cutts and Viola Cutts. The next year the two additional students were Everett and Sammy Haines.”
Mrs. Barthold also kept a diary during calendar year 1926. It is reproduced in it’s entirety below.
Excerpts from my 1926 diary
Jan. 4- First day of school after holidays- children were good.
Jan. 7- Same old thing. Go after check or you won’t get it.
Jan. 8- Took three hours to scrape varnish off desk.
Jan. 15- Stayed after school to varnish desk.
Jan. 19- Charles Yates cried all day.
Jan. 20- Had fun with the children.
Feb. 1- Another good day.
Mar. 3- Attended Board meeting. Asked for primary chairs for children to sit in during Reading lessons. Board members agreed to purchase some.
Mar. 4- Miss Haines came and showed slides.
Mar. 5- A good day. Helped Charles and Lillian with their writing.
Mar. 24- Miss Purnell and Miss Hewitt visited (helping teachers).
Mar. 26- Dr. Haines examined the children. My car broke down. Leonard got a man to fix it.
May 14- Stayed at Mrs. Tustin’s for supper. Went down in the swamps with Kathryn. Took plants up to the Hall.
May 15- My sister Mary and I went to Tustin’s for the play “Sophronia’s Wedding.”
May 17- Miss Purnell came to help plan the school meet.
May 18- Meet was at Smithville. Tabernacle came in second. It was their first intermural meet for Tabernacle.
May 20- Examination papers, for the Third Grade, came from the Burlington County office. First and Second Grade exams are made up by the teacher.
May 24- Miss Purnell came and made out the supply list for 1926-27.
May 25- Third Grade children passed English test even though it was somewhat difficult.
May 26- Third Grade had the Arithmetic test.
May 27- Third Grade had Spelling test. Miss Haines sat up until one o’clock in the morning marking test papers.
May 28- Took children on a picnic. Miss Carroll lost her sweater. Mr. Farrell brought us home. Miss Haines stayed at Worrell’s for supper. Had lots of fun.
Sep. 7- Tuesday- school started today. Things were much better than last year.
Oct. 7- Miss Purnell gave children some tests.
Oct. 14- Miss Purnell gave more tests.
Oct. 29- Children had Halloween Party.
Nov. 12- I stayed with Vera Cotton at Brown’s in Indian Mills. We rose early and drove to Hammonton to get the train to Atlantic City.We attended the New Jersey Teacher’s Convention.
Nov. 24- Primary children went into Miss Carroll’s room (principal) for Thanksgiving program.
Dec. 23- Was the last day of school before Christmas vacation.
This concludes the diary.
This concludes our report on the Two Room School House. In 1936 it was physically moved to a new location and considerably renovated and enlarged.