The Springfield Schools – 1775-1928
Did you know that for over 150 years, there was a school at Springfield? In the eighteenth century each home was a school and for many children it was the only schooling they received. Mothers passed their knowledge on to their children.
When formal education began at Springfield is not known. A picture in the Museum of a log building identified as the first community school, built in 1775. It had two doors, one on the north side and one on the south. There were no glass windows although there were probably some openings covered by wooden shutters. The seats were log slab benches with no backs.
In Fourth month 1805, the monthly meeting recommended “the Schooling of some of Asa Arnolds children and some of Moses Mendenhals.” In Fifth month members directed “that a subscription be made in order to proceed to the work.” In Sixth month five acres of land “joining this Meetinghouse Lot” were donated by Caleb Reece and John Nixon, “for the use and benefit of the Society.” The minutes of Tenth month 1805 state: “This Meeting thinks it Necessary to provide a Stove for the use of the school.”
In about 1820, Springfield established a First day school, also called Sabbath school, the forerunner of the Sunday school. Begun by Abigail Albertson in her home, Springfield tradition claims that it was the first Sunday school organized in North Carolina. The First day school lasted all day Sunday and was the only schooling for some children. It was begun to fill in the educational crack through which fell the poor and the orphans. It also was intended to keep children occupied on Sunday.
The period from 1861-1865 in North Carolina was a bleak time for education and a bleak time for living in general. Quakers, along with everyone else, were affected by the war in hundreds of ways. Schooling was interrupted at Springfield as elsewhere. The school reemerged after the war, mainly through the Baltimore Association, which helped to build a new school house, a wooden building with modern windows and doors.
In 1865 the Baltimore Association began a Normal School at Springfield. During the summer when the regular school was not in session, there was a course to train men and women how to teach. Before the Normal Schools, teachers were simply students who had more education than their pupils.
The last school at Springfield was built in 1907. It was a two-story brick building, across the driveway from the current museum building. It eventually became part of the newly established Guilford County school system. Grades one through seven were taught there. Most of the students walked on dirt roads to and from school, carrying their lunches and books.
Often when a big rain would come the children couldn’t attend school because of the swollen streams near the school site. After some time the fathers built a foot bridge to take place of the stepping stones.
The Springfield School continued until all of its students were assigned to the Allen Jay School in the fall of 1928.
The big cast-iron bell from the Springfield School was moved over to the new meetinghouse in 1927, All that remains of the school today are a brick marker on the lawn across from the Museum, and a set of stone steps leading down to Springfield Road.
Adapted from a Memorial Sunday talk by Brenda Haworth in 1994