School Days
Mayfield's rich heritage traced back to early one-room schools


Mayfield Town Historian

This article appeared in The Sunday Leader-Herald on June 6, 1999.  It was written by Mayfield Town Historian, Betty Tabor.  It is transcribed here with her permission.


    Anyone in Mayfield who knows me as their historian, may also know that my favorite subjects are Mayfield's cemeteries, glove shops and schools.

    Mayfield's rich heritage has been attributed to the growth of the glove industry and the schools.

    In 1794 there were three schools in the Town of Mayfield.  These schools were built of logs, notched together at the corners of the building with a door in the middle of one side, a small window in each end, and the cracks between the logs filled with mud.

    At one time, there were 15 schools in the Town of Mayfield.  One of our early schools was constructed in 1816 in Riceville.  I feel very fortunate to have a record book of the school board meetings of this school from 1824 to 1871.   The board clerk for the first few years was non-other than our famous Oliver Rice, builder of  our Rice Homestead owned by the Mayfield Historical Society.  I assume the school was on the same piece of land owned by Oliver Rice, where the last Riceville School was built (on the Steve Miller property) was torn down only a few years ago.

    The parents of each child was responsible for supplying their share of dry, hard wood for heating the school.  School was in session four months in the winter and five months during the summer.  Children were needed to work on the farm during the spring and fall season.  The "necessary house" was often referred to.  (I assume that this was the proper name for the outhouse.)  This area was rich in farmland where wheat, potatoes, etc. were raised, so the parents often needed their children to help with the planting and harvesting.

   It is not sure how many times the Riceville School was rebuilt and in 1941 the doors were closed forever, at which time there were only eight students.  For many years, Riceville was the hub of activity in Mayfield and the Riceville School was largely attended.  I have a 1896 report card, however no photos of the Riceville School.  The school closed in 1941.

Right:  Roy Pettengill's fourth grade report card, Riceville School, 1896.


   The Black Street School located on the Perth line was built about 1850.  There were 25-30 pupils each year attending school.  In the 1930s this school and the Vail Mills School was taken into the Broadalbin District.

   There was a second school in Vail Mills known as School District #2 which replaced one built in the 1830s near the pond.  In 1930, this school also became part of the Broadalbin District which included the first six grades, with 40 pupils.

    The first school in Woods Hollow was built of logs at an early date, possibly one of the schools built before 1794.  It was replaced by a wood frame school house about 1868.  This school also became a part of Broadalbin School District a year before the land was taken over by the Sacandaga Reservoir in 1928.  The records have been lost or destroyed.  This school was also known as Closeville School.

    Red Bunch school originally stood on a dirt road near the F.J. & g. Railroad tracks.  Between 1860-65 the school was moved between Red Bunch and Gloversville Road, and Mayfield to Vail Mills Road.  It was painted red.  The school which intersects at three roads is now part of a church and is used for storage.  Classes were held in this school only during fair weather days of  late spring, all summer and early autumn.  The Red Bunch School closed its doors in 1940.

    School District #6 was known as Union Free School, located on North Main Street, and was built in the 1860s.  This was one of the later built schools and remained open until the "new school" was built in 1890 on School Street on t he land where the present high school is.  Following the closing of the North Main Street School, various businesses used it until 1916 when it was converted into a house.  It has housed many families including Dr. Horenstein where he conducted his medical services.  It is presently owned and lived in by the cantons.  The new #6 school built in 1890 contained eight grades, so many teachers were hired.  This school was in operation until 1939 when the present school was constructed.  For a brief period, the new and the old stood side by side, until the first one was demolished.  Aside from the photos and written memorabilia connected with the 1890 school, the one souvenir I have is a metal sign from the boys room which says "BOYS".

    The first graduating class from the new school, in 1940, held their 50th reunion in 1990.  Many Mayfield residents who graduated in this class are still living in Mayfield.  When pupils registered the first school day in September 1939 they had to stand, as the desks and chairs had not arrived.  The new school cost about $238,000 equipped, which houses grades K through 12.

    The school bell from the Union Free School was resurrected last year after "sleeping" for nearly 60 years.  The Mayfield Historical Society proudly owns this bell, which is on display in the Rice Homestead.  The bell will eventually be mounted outside to peel again and be on display for interested people to view.

    This school contained the elementary and high school grades until 1958 when the new elementary school housing grades K through 6 was built on North Main Street.  This year, remodeling and additions will take place in both the elementary and high schools.

    The largest school in the Mayfield School District was Jackson Summit School #7 but it is not known when the original school, which burned down in 1865, was built.  There were 50 to 60 pupils attending this school, which was used until 1939.  Garth Wemple purchased the building and converted it into a home.  The Dan Hannis family presently live there.

    The Jackson Summit School, like most other Mayfield Schools from the past, contained a box wood stove, kerosene lamps and benches.  The boys were separated from the girls and many Mayfield people remember this school well.

    District #8 school was located on the Mountain Road at Cary's Corners.  The original #8 school, which was built in 1826, is now under the Great Sacandaga Lake.  District #8 School was one of the last schools erected.  Built in 1928, it contained 6 grades.  Wages for teachers for the winter term were $118.00 and in the summer, $120.35.  The school was remodeled into a home and is presently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Wemple.  The school closed in 1939.

    Built in the early 1900s, the Cranberry Creek School was located two and a half miles north of Mayfield on Route 30.  The school burned down in the early 1950s shortly after it closed.  This school was the only local school with two rooms, with 60-70 students attending grades one through eight, and was the last country school operating in the Mayfield School District.

    Frank's Corner School #10 was located at the end of Progress Road and Route 29.  This school was also an early school and in 1835, $12.02 was the amount of public money apportioned to the school.

 Munsonville School, 1916

Helen Winnie, Jenne Fox, Tom
Johnson, Scott VanDenburgh and 
teacher, Mildred Benndick.

    District #11 was the Munsonville School named after the Munsons who lived in that area.  It was located at the present end of Vandenburgh Point Road.  The school was discontinued when the area was flooded for the Great Sacandaga Lake.  This school was also located on the former Vlaie Road to Summer House Point.  I have a photo of this school and the four attending students and their teacher taken in 1916.  One of the students, Scott VanDenburgh, is still alive and is 91 years old.

     The Mountain Road School #12 was located six and a half miles North of Mayfield on the Mountain Road.  It was known as the Collins District School as the land belonged to Mr. Collins.  This was a very old school and in 1846 there were 43 pupils and the teacher's salary was $28.84.  About 1934, the district became a part of the Northville School District.

    In 1908-90, there were 15 teachers in Mayfield out of 116 teachers in Fulton county and one was a college graduate.  Seventeen were male teachers and 99 were female.  In the 1820s, the Dennie Hollow School was known as Cozzens School.  The late Mrs. Bernice Holden told me that she attended this school in the 1870s and 1880s, and a teacher at that time did not have to go to college to teach reading, writing and figuring.  The school is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Van Nostrand.

    The Shawville School, district #14 was located on Shawville Hill (School Street).  In 1887 there were 25-30 pupils attending it.

    In 1888 a cyclone blew the school down and a timber from the school hit a lady; killing her.  In an 1881 town board meeting, minutes note that there was a #15 school under the name of Charles Blowers and Lefler School.  Later another school was located over Big Moose Filling Station, housing grades 5 through 8.  Until further proven, I am assuming That Lefler School was #15.  It was located between Dennies Crossing and Mayfield Center on Dr. Coons Road.  This school was built at the turn of the century.

    Several children came from Gloversville to attend this school in the fall and returned to Gloversville when winter arrived.

    There are many, many stories that can told by Mayfield people who have attended these schools.  Now we are into the computer age and gone  are the ringing of the large school bell, the big black stove in the center of the room, the silence in the room during studying, and the teacher in the front of the room attired in her long skirt and white blouse.

    I attended a one room school house for a period of time while growing up in Northern New York state, and these recollections will remain with me forever.

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Copyright 1999, Betty Tabor
Copyright 1999, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:10:21 PDT