Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
The Romance of Old Barclay by Clarke
Chapter Eight - Schools - Their Rise and Decline
The Romance of Old Barclay

By Staley N. Clarke

Originally Published 1928, Towanda PA

Photos by Joyce M. Tice October 4, 1998
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Richard Harris and Connie Unganst and Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

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Just when the first school was established in what is now Barclay township is problematical but it probably was around 1856 when the Barclay Coal Company took men and equipment to the mountain and began working the original mine. The first record that has been found of schools in the township was in the year ending June 1, 1877, when there were three school districts in the township and there were six schools taught in them. There were school houses at Graydon, at Barclay and at Fall Creek.

Three male and three female teachers were employed—the former receiving $50 and the latter $30 per month as salaries. Four hundred and forty-one children attended the schools, of whom 233 were boys and 208 were girls. The schools averaged ten months each and the average attendance for the whole period was 400.

For a time night school was conducted for the boys who worked in the mines during the day.

Albert McCraney used to be the Santa Claus at the school for the Christmas exercises.

One percent of the valuation of the property in the township was levied for school purposes, the revenue rising therefrom being $2143.05; $607.20 was received from the state; the total receipts being $4050.15. Of that amount, $1828.76 was paid for teachers’ wages; the total expenditures for the year being $3394.71, including $266.45 for new buildings, etc.

Old Barclay was just about at its peak at that time.

The first records available now at the office of County Superintendent of Schools J. Andrew Morrow are for the year 1896. There were five teachers then in Barclay township and one in that part of the township known as Carbon Run Independent. These school districts were separate until 1911 when they were joined under the name of Barclay township. That year there were nine teachers—the most at any time in the history of the district. Old Barclay, of course, had long since been abandoned but Laquin was then in its prime.

The growth and decline of the schools is an excellent indication of the way the population shifted in the township as a result of the change in mining and lumbering operations. From 1898 to 1909 inclusive there were four teachers each year in the Barclay township district. During that time a great change took place in the Carbon Run Independent district, which later became Laquin. There from 1898 to 1902 there was only one teacher but in the latter year the boom in that section started and the record shows three teachers the next year, four the next and five in 1906 with a jump up to six in 1908 and a climax of seven in 1910, the year before the two districts became one. In the meantime the old Barclay district had dropped to two teachers in the last mentioned year.

The number of teachers in the united Barclay district from 1911 to the present time was as follows:

1912, seven 1913, six 1914, seven
1915, seven 1916, eight 1917, seven
1918, six 1919, seven 1920, seven
1921, five 1922, seven 1923, six
1924, five 1925, three 1926, one
1927, two 1928, two  

It will be noticed that the township reaches its lowest ebb of all time in 1926. That is accounted for by the fact that practically every activity in the township that would furnish employment for men had been abandoned. The chemical works, which is still running, was started up again soon afterwards, however, and that explains the jump to two teachers the following school year.

It was in 1926 that Lewis Bly started to teach the Laquin school. After three months in the place with no other teacher as a companion and only bleak hills and ruins of a once thriving village to look out upon as winter winds began to howl, he literally got "cold feet" and decided he would leave. Kenneth Aldrich, who had been teaching at Wysox, resigned from there about the same time and Supt. Morrow placed him at Laquin to fill out the term. Aldrich didn’t seem to mind the wild woods life and did pretty well at the job.

Another school character that will be remembered by many was Charles B. Kelly who was principal there in 1911. He was one of those men who stand out in one’s memory. He was one of the smartest men ever to teach the Laquin schools but he furnished considerable amusement for the country-side as well as imparting book learning to the youngsters in his charge.

Prof. McGuire taught on top of the mountain in a building, the ruins of which are still standing at Sand Run, a very short distance from the site of old Barclay village.

Others who taught on the mountain about that time were Anna Collins, Maggie Barrett, Susan Lynch and a Miss Fairchild.

In 1916 Barclay township paid its principal $100 a month, high wages for those days, and in 1917 the salary jumped to $115 a month.

Herman Norton of New Albany, now teaching in Susquehanna county, was principal at Laquin in 1919, and he was followed the next two years by Norman Ryan. Then came R. R. Beach for one term and Charles Bedford for two terms. Donald McClelland, son of Sheriff Sid McClelland and now principal at Camptown, Pa., was principal at Laquin in 1925. What took place in 1926 has already been described.

Last year the two teachers were Myron Feister, son of the station agent at Laquin and Elizabeth Leah[sp] of Canton. Both have been hired for another term.

Among those who have taught in Barclay township in addition to those already mentioned are Mrs. Mabel Holcombe, now of Troy High School; Martin Swanson, who followed Kelly at Laquin; Alice Wilson, Charlotte Luther, Louise McCraney, Esther Wilt, Helen Carroll, Edna Smiley, C. M. Bender, Charity Webb and the late Ida Disbrow. The last two mentioned taught up at old Barclay itself and a number of their former pupils there are still living in this vicinity.

The schools of the township have been fortunate in having excellent men as school directors, among them being Fred T. Barclay in 1920, W. L. McCloskey in 1923 and the present board consisting of S. D. Barclay, president; Clyde Dale, vice president; R. G. Feister, secretary; C. E. Mapes, treasurer, and Clinton Hopkins.

There have been schools on Barclay mountain around the Carbon [Page 13] Run district since Supt. Morrow entered the county office as an assistant in 1916 and he has made numerous tortuous trips up the mountainside to visit them.

In reminiscing concerning the township, Supt. Morrow recalled the time back in 1907 when as principal of Monroeton High School he decided to put on a home talent show. It was his first attempt along that line and both he and the actors were a little worried over just how it would go over. Consequently, when some complications arose over getting the hall at Monroeton on the night desired, it did not take long to decide to try the play at Laquin first. That would give them a chance to see how it was before the home folks had a chance to criticise.

The actors and what paraphernalia was necessary were loaded on a train and taken to Laquin. The hall was packed. Men and women came from miles around on horseback and on donkeys. It was a big event up there for shows were few and far between. Many of those in the audience wore the big lumberjack shirts and some were seen to be carrying guns at various locations on their anatomy. There was no way for the actors and actresses to get out of town until the next day. The show had to be good and it was. Its title was "Among the Breakers" – a very appropriate name for a play in a coal mining township. All expenses were paid and there was a small profit. Besides that, the experience there helped greatly and the play was an unqualified success when it was repeated two weeks later at Monroeton.

Among those who took part in the production, a well balanced comedy-drama, were Earl Hinman, now teaching in Sayre; Leon Crandell, Dr. Jay Mingos, Robert Musselman, Lucy Drake and Mary Ward.
Barclay Cemetery Listings
Barclay Cemetery Photos
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Coal Mining Photos

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 9/13/99
By Joyce M. Tice