Village of Hampton - It’s People, Teachers, School and Schoolmates

By Rev. D. Rogers, St. Thomas.

It is said to be a sure evidence of advanced age when a person dwells upon the past. Be that as it may, it affords much pleasure and entertainment to some of us who are well on along life’s journey.

I did not keep a written record of any kind, but it is probable that the names and dates, as given from memory are fairly correct.

Mrs. W. Webster was among the earliest of school teachers who impressed us. At times she may have appeared stern and severe, but she was really kind and good to the little folk entrusted to her care. We recall the two-ounce glass bottle with a string in its neck, which lay in the window, near her desk. When a child cried she proposed to attach it to his or her head, to catch the tears. The treatment was usually effective. I could not think then where she got the idea, but perhaps she thought of the prayer pressed our of the Psalmist by innumerable troubles – “Put those my tears into thy bottle.”

Associated with Mrs. Webster in the lower room of the school-building, which still remains, were George Smith; and n 1864-65 Wm. C. Beer, followed in 1866 by Wm. E. Tilley. The last named had just come from a term in the Normal School, Toronto, and he introduced a number of new methods and exercises. His short and frequent drillings in “mental arithmetic” were very useful and are gratefully remembered by the writer.

Unlike present conditions, the school-room was crowded that winter by many adult pupils who were putting in their last months of schooling. Among the young men, I recall “Johnnie” Elliott and my brother Fred, each about 21 years of age. Among the young women were Sarah Farley, Eliza J. Ashton, Jennie Malcolm, Grace Rogers and Emily Merrill.

What a time we had in those days when the spring examinations were held! The school-room was decorated with evergreens and festooned with flowers (off tissue paper) and the mottoes on the wall “Welcome”, etc., being made of moss. Some of the neighbouring teachers who came to assist our teacher in the Exercises were: Robert McCulloch, J. C. Groat, Alexander C. Osborne Moses A. James and F.L. Ellis, and the singing by the elder pupils, of “The little brown church in the vale” and other selections, will not easily be forgotten.

A little later, two young men came to the school to “brush up” their learning a bit: John Clarke and Robert Baker, both local preachers in the B.C. Church. The latter soon entered the ministry, and rendered effective service for years, but his course was soon terminated by his death.

As I write, the images of the many bright boys and girls rise before me: Joseph, Jessie and Harry Hoidge, Wm. And Phebe Clarke, Charles, Edna and Hannah Stonhouse, Elizabeth A. Libby, Amos and Mary Wakely, Agnes Parsons, Susannah Wilcox, James and Mary Ann Law, B. F.; J. H. and Winona Cryderman, and my companion to and from school “Jack” Trewin.

About the last week in May, 1866, the accidental and sad termination of the life of Clifford Fowke, in his father’s tannery, made a deep impression on all his school-mates Rev. Mr. Reekie of Bowmanville conducted the funeral services in the old Wesleyan Church. He announced, in a most impressive manner, Cowper’s hymn of Providence, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”

“God is His own interpreter, And he will make it plain.”

The preached discoursed on I Cor., 15:55-57. It impressed me as a great sermon. I think it was afterwards published in The Statesman.

The following year, another schoolmate, Noah Pickard, at the age of 17, was accidentally drowned, while bathing near Elliott’s Mill.

As we recall the passing of so many of those whose names are recorded here, he think of the lines that appeared I the old School Reader.

“And few are left of all our class, Excepting you and me.”

We were favoured with occasional visits and short addresses to the school by some of the parents, which by the way, might be done more frequently, with an advantage to the teacher and scholars. Among the visitors I recall Henry Elliott, Sr., H. Elliott, Jr., Thomas Fowke, James Cryderman, Thomas Clarke, John Farley and others.

I wish to assure the remaining pupils of those days, whose names have not been mentioned here, that I have not forgotten any of them, and hereby extend to one and all my sincere wishes at this time, for a joyous Christmas and a happy New Year.

On January 5th, 1921, it will be 46 years since I drove away from the old home on the seventh concession of Darlington, to my first circuit, a distance of some 110 miles. I have promised myself if spared until the summer, a somewhat protracted visit among the scenes and companions of my youth, and if the pulpits of Bowmanville and Hampton should open to me, I will be glad to convey a message of good cheer to the friends of long ago. I must also include a visit to Zion, for in the adjoining burial plot lie the remains of father and mother, deposited there respectively, in July 1893, and Nov. 1862.

May I produce, ere I close this letter, record which I have recently compiled of the number of sermons preached, and other duties connected with a minister’s work, during 41 years. (This does not include the work embraced in the four and one-half years, preceding my ordinance in 1879): Baptisms 786, Marriages 285, Funerals 258, Sermons preached 5,850, and several hundred addresses on temperance, social occasions, and in revival services.

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