Knox School 5 School Stories

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Stories from Knox School No. 5

Stories from Knox School No. 5

As part of the restoration project of Knox No. 5, the Helderberg Kiwanis Club and the New Scotland Historical Association interviewed former students from the community. The stories they collected paint a picture of daily life in this one-room schoolhouse and reveal the lasting impression the instructors and fellow students made on the children who passed through the schoolhouse doors.

The School Day

The day began by building a fire in the wood-stove and filling the water bucket. Depending on the season, students traveled by foot, car, wagon, or sledge to school. When students arrived, they said the Pledge of Allegiance and started their lessons. The teacher taught one lesson to the entire class. The children studied reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history. The curriculum also focused on hygiene and manners.

The students played many games at recess, including anti-over, fox-and-geese, hopscotch, jump-rope, and duck-on-a-rock. To play anti-over the children formed two teams, one on each side of a building. The first team threw the ball over the roof and the second tried to catch the ball. Whoever caught the ball then tried to tag as many members of the other team as he/she could before the others reached a safe spot. Duck-on-a-rock was played by one child guarding a stone on a surface while the other children threw stones to try and knock the guarded stone over.


Children played fox-and-geese in the snow. A circle with two intersecting paths was marked out in the snow and one person played the fox who tried to catch the other children playing geese. All children had to stay on the path. When caught, that child became the fox.

School Chores

I used to carry the water up and put it in a little cooler they used to have up there, it was a porcelain cooler..., started the fire in the winter, swept the floor once in a while. For the year I got 10 dollars... and I deposited that 10 dollars in the Albany Savings Bank.

Bill Salisbury recalling his work at the school in 1937 during an interview on June 9, 2003.

Original stove in school. Photograph courtesy at David Sagendorf

Outhouse Trauma

"When Curt and Dave were in school, I would go out to the girls' room and be sitting there— and they would come and open the door and stand there and make remarks. Embarrassed me terribly... I didn't want to go to the toilet anymore, cause I didn't want them coming out and making fun of me. Mom asked me one time why I was so uncomfortable and had to stop in the toilet before I came in the house and I finally told her what's going on, and she said, "I'll take care of them, I'll tell Beulah."...So the next morning when Beulah came by to go to school, she stopped her and let her know what was going on. She said, "well, that won't happen anymore." She got after the two of them and they shaped up."

Pauline Salisbury remembers a story from her time at Knox No. 5 during an interview on February 22, 2002. She attended the school from 1930-1936.

Students at Knox School No. 5

Bill Salisbury on the grounds of Knox School, early 1930s.

Photograph courtesy Pauline Salisbury Williams.

Students at School No. 5

Christina Sagendorf, Beulah Ketcham, David Sagendorf, Marshall Wagner and Joe Wagner sit outside the school May 10, 1929

Students from Knox No. 5 on a picnic mid-1920s. Front Row: Marshall Warner, Beulah Ketcham, Ken Pitcher, Ora Zimmer. Back row: Isabell Quay-Baker, Christina Sagendorf, Unknown woman.

Photographs courtesy of David Sagendorf

Beulah. Ketcham, Isabell Quay, Edith Ketcham, and an unknown girl, ca. 1928. Each of these girls attended Knox school at different times in the 1920s and into the 1930s. Edith Ketcham taught at the school around 1932.

Photograph courtesy of Pauline Salisbury Williman

Marshall Warner, Beulah Ketchum, and David Sagendorf study at their desks, ca. 1929.

Photograph courtesy of David Sagendorf

Pauline, Grace, and Bill Salisbury, late 1920s.

Photograph courtesy of Pauline Salisbury Williman

Pauline Salisbury Williman, March 13, 2008

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Driscoll

William “Bill” Salisbury 2009

William “Bill” Salisbury at the school house. October 10, 2009

Photograph courtesy of John Elberfeld

Knox School No. 5 Teachers

In Knox School No. 5, one teacher taught students from five years of age through middle school. Students worked at their own pace, sometimes finishing a grade early. There were two terms each year, a winter term and summer term. Fanny M. Ellis, pictured above, taught at the school in 1929.

Photograph courtesy of David Sagendorf.

Fanny Ellis "I remember the stories folks used to tell...She was a wild driver, whatever kind of car she had. She would go out and one night she drove into a telephone pole...the car was almost standing on its rear bumper. She almost drove up the pole."

Pauline Salisbury Williman recalling Fanny Ellis, a teacher at Knox No. 5 in 1929, during an interview on February 22, 2002.

Venita Davis

Photograph courtesy of Pauline Salisbury

Salisbury Home The Salisbury home where single teachers boarded with the Salisbury family.

Photograph courtesy Pauline Salisbury Williman