Reliving History Of Old County Churches, School
The Daily Review, August 6, 1975
By: Julie Beckwith
Despite the over 100 degree temperature Saturday, over 40 residents of the area and one resident of Florida enjoyed the all-day bus tour of three old Bradford County churches, the old Maple Grove School in LeRaysville, and the old mill in Stevensville.
The Maple Grove School located in Pike Township in a grove just outside the LeRaysville Borough limits on the road leading to Gillette's Bridge and Wysox is over 100 years old. It is thought to have been built prior to the Civil War, maybe in the late 1850's.
The building, restored by the Maple Grove Historical Research Club of the Northeast Bradford High School, is now a museum. This school historical research club is the only one of its kind in Bradford County and was organized by Andrew Johnson, history teacher at Northeast. At the time of restoration of the old school, there were 15 students in the club who worked on the project for two years.
The restoration of the one-room schoolhouse was completed in 1965. The entire front of the building has been resided and painted. The floor in the cloak room has been replaced, and the interior has been painted. The seats, mostly double, and teacher's desk are original, as are the blackboards in the room.
Pupils stopped going to the little schoolhouse in 1922 when the LeRaysville Elementary School opened.
Some century-old books remaining in the schoolhouse are Robinson's Progressive Arithmetic (1860); Swinton's Complete Course in Geography (1870); "First Year Music" by Hollis Dann, former Canton teacher; "The Flambeau" a music book used at Teacher's Institute; Colburns Intellectual Arithmetic (1828), the oldest book in the school; and several first grade books that belonged to Alice Hollister, a longtime teacher in the Third Ward School in Towanda.
Other artifacts of interest at Maple Grove are pictures showing the stages of restoration; three slates used instead of tablet paper; a set of wall maps dating from 1914 and Scarborough's map of Pennsylvania, dated 1904; the original stove in the center of the room; two hand bells for summoning pupils from recess; an ancient pen and inkwell holder swiveling from the railing on the teacher's desk; an old water jug with spigot, pail and dipper; and two varieties of student lunch boxes in the cloak room.
On the chalkboard is a letter from J. Andrew Morrow, once a county superintendent of schools; a Pennsylvania teacher's certificate dated 1860; a teacher's daily schedule; and a copy of a stock certificate of the LeRaysville Phalanx an "ideal" community established in the 1840's on the hill just above the Maple Grove School.
Teachers known to have taught at Maple Grove include Lena Wood (1901-1902), Mayvis Clark (1904-1904), Beatrice Chaffee (1918-1920) and Anna Whited.
The first stop on the tour was the Standing Stone Universalist Church, Nelson Perry Stevens, great-great-great grandson of Asa Stevens, who died in the Wyoming Massacre of 1778, spoke to the touring residents. The architect and builder of the church was William Kingsley. The church took about a year and one-half to build, being completed in 1858 at an expense of about $1,200.
In 1919, an 11 foot by six foot wide memorial mosaic depicting the ascension of Christ was dedicated by the descendants of Asa Stevens. The mosaic, which weighs about one ton, was made in Italy and is a genuine Venetian mosaic. The Italian artist worked at Tiffany's in New York. The mosaic was brought to Standing Stone from the Wilkes-Barre Universalist Church for only the cost of transportation. It is now given a great value. Stevensville stands quite sturdy. The group was unable to go inside the structure, since it was just resold this past week.
A big disappointment of the tour was that the group was unable to go inside St. Mattrew's Episcopal Church in Stevensville. The church was founded in 1799 and was the first Episcopalian church in Bradford County. The first church building was destroyed by fire. Church services were then held temporarily in a barn and then in a store owned by Salmon Bosworth. In 1814 the present structure was erected. The church has been remodeled and repaired. In 1894 the two story pulpit was removed and the present alcove added. The steps were made from a quarry nearby. The original oil lamps still hang inside. The church is open Sundays at 4 p.m. during the summer months.
The Neath-Welsh Congregational Church was founded in 1832. The crowd tiring from the hot day and the long journey, was soon revived when Rev. Jatko and others from the congregation played a song on the bells for the group's welcoming. Myrtle Thomas, historian, talked to the gathering concerning the church. Regular prayer meetings were held by the Welch settlers until 1831, when Daniel Jones, a Welsh Congregationalist minister, came to preach. During the summer, they met in a log barn, and in homes during the winter months. In 1834, a building which served as both a school and church was erected. This stood on the east side of the cemetery.
The building which is now the community hall was built in 1848 as a place of worship and a schoolhouse. Welsh was the original language of worship, but English eventually took hold. In 1872 another church was erected, but was destroyed by fire in December of 1927. The present Congregationalist church was dedicated in 1929 and was built on the former's foundation. Church services are held in the sanctuary every Sunday except on some winter Sundays when the roads are impassable. A Welsh hymn-sing is held each year by the congregation. This year it will be held in October.
The group ended their long, hot day at the Congregationalist
church, where refreshments were served. Included in the refreshments were
Welsh cookies, which delighted the tour group.