Ohio's Putnam County New England School House History Page
Interviewer unknown - People interviewed: Bernard Fenbert and Mary "Molly" (Hornung) Roof

    Brother Oliver Weaver suggested that there was an interesting story about how the New England School received its name. The community was of solid German extraction. One would have thought a name representative of their heritage might have been proposed. Mrs. Utendorf had donated the land with certain stipulations but apparently not that the school carry the Utendorf name. It seems there were two names proposed ... New England and Frog Town with proponents on both sides.

    The following account was provided by Bernard Fenbert:
Bernard Fenbert's great grandfather, Bernard, Herman Fenbert, favored New England. Captain Kleman (as he was known) wanted the school called Frog Town. Both men were German born Americans and proud of their new country. Both men had had military careers. Both owned sabers. They proposed to settle the matter by fighting a duel. Now this was a serious matter but not worth losing one?s life's blood over. There was a saw mill across from where the duel was to take place. The carpenter turned out wooden balls to fit on the end of the sabers. The first to strike the other on the shoulder was to win. Bernard Herman Fenbert can be credited with a win. The choice was made. New England became the name of the school. Frog Town was the name given to what was sometimes is called the Averesch school. The Bernard Fenbert, who gave me the story, attended New England school. His teacher was Miss Mary Winkleman. He had a perfect attendance record and was justly proud of that. Of course, he told me he had perfect grades too.

    The following are Mary "Molly" (Hornung) Roof's memories of New England school:
The New England School was located on the Base Line, now Road M, east of Route 65. This was two miles south of Ottawa. The school was a frame building when I started there in 1893. The desks were double; but there were so many children that we had to sit three in a seat. It was heated with a long stove which burned cord wood. The boys carried the three foot pieces of wood in each afternoon before they went home. Many tramps soon learned about this warm building. The teacher's desk was located on a raised platform. It was a table-like desk. We stood in front of his desk on the raised platform for our classes. We were well supplied with books. Each family furnished the books. We had reading, arithmetic, grammar, spelling, and geography. Each child had a wood pencil box for one pencil and one pen. The ink was in the ink well. The paper was the yellow goldenrod tablet, but we used our slates more than we did paper. We had single and double slates. There was no water at school. Twice a day the girls carried it from the nearest neighbor in a large red bucket. Everyone drank from the same dipper. We had another building which consisted of the woodshed and the outhouse. The woodshed also served as a barn for the teacher's transportation, which might be his bicycle or her horse. The outhouse was divided by a partition which did not reach to the ceiling. Much looking was done on both sides. The seat was made of two strips of wood. At first there was no paper, but later catalogues were used.

    Inside the school, on either side of the door, were shelves and a row of nails. The shelves were for the tin lunch pails and the nails were for the coats. The boys used one side and the girls the other. Many lunches were frozen when the children arrived at school, but they thawed by noon.

    My first teacher was Theodore Kerner who lived in Ottawa. He rode a bicycle to school. Next was Sylvester Kohls from Ft. Jennings who roomed with a neighbor. Mary Straman used a horse and buggy. Louis Welty lived in a log cabin.

    Two forms of punishment were switching and kneeling on a three sided piece of wood. Often the child fainted. It was the switching that caused the end of my schooling. The teacher drew a horse. It was so crooked that I laughed. I had my hands switched. That was my last day in school. My mother wanted me to quit so she could get started on her spring work. I was the oldest girl. I had four brothers and six sisters. I didn't want to quit, but after my hand switching I was glad to do so.

    I think one of my teachers was the first litterbug. Every noon he took a walk. He always walked in the same direction, stopped at the same spot, turned and came back to school. Many empty bottles were found at his stopping place.

    The original school was torn down and was replaced by a brick building. This brick building was used until about 1940. The, children then went to Ottawa, Glandorf, and Columbus Grove.

NOTE: The brick construction probably took place between 1907 and 1910 Confirmation not available.

    I am now 94 years old and I live in Ottawa. I am still learning. Every day I read the paper, read my magazines, and listen to the television. My favorite programs are the news, Lawrence Welk, and Johnnie Carson. I am very thankful for my little red schoolhouse education.

This picture looks similiar to the New England School, but not an actual photograph. Click to view larger

Similiar to ones used at New England School. Click to view larger

No One-Room school of the time period was this bright. But you get the idea. Click to view larger

NOTE: Mary Roof died August 3, 1981, at the age of 94.

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