Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oakfield, NY One Room School House: By Aunt CB, Uncle Jack and Pat Kinsella Herdeg

We’ve written about the Center Lisle School House (, so now it’s the Taylor family’s turn to hear about their school house.

The Union Free Schoolhouse is now a home; Aunt CB never got a chance to go inside of it, but as a home now, it probably has had extensive renovations and would not look much like the Woodlawn Taylors remembered it.

Years ago, during one of their visits to Aunt Florence’s home (Florence Taylor Doran), Jack Kinsella asked her to tell him about the one room schoolhouse that all the Taylor children attended while growing up next door at Woodlawn.

It stood at the intersection of their road (MacComber Rd) and the Oakfield-Batavia Townline Rd, in Oakfield, NY.

The drinking water used was carried daily from the well at “Woodlawn” by the older students. Quite often during the late summer someone in the Taylor family would come down with typhoid fever. It was a common illness at that time, and could be fatal. You may remember that Florence’s younger sister, Mildred, was still recuperating from typhoid fever when Florence came home from school with scarlet fever. Mildred caught it, was too frail to get through it and died. Only years later, when typhoid’s cause was better understood, did the Taylors realize that their farm well was being contaminated by its proximity to the barn and animal waste. Aunt CB often wonders how many school children caught typhoid from the water at the school house.

Aunt Florence told of one student, Clara NewKirk, who came to school in a two wheeled gig. Upon arrival, she would put the reins around the whip socket and send the horse home. In the afternoon, her father would send the horse and gig (alone) after her and then she drove it home!

Later, in 1911, Ethel Baker accepted a position at the Oakfield school house to teach 7th and 8th grade mathematics and art. She met Lloyd Taylor at a “Christian Endeavor” (Presbyterian youth social group). Soon, Florence Taylor, Lloyd’s younger sister, noticed that her brother began meeting her after school to help her unharness her horse and he would ask her all sorts of questions about her teacher.

Eventually, as Ethel was included in the group of young people who often gathered at ‘Woodlawn’ for taffy pulls, Florence realized that Lloyd and Ethel were interested in one another.

Aunt CB continues the story: “Daddy and Mom used to go back for yearly reunions at the school house. Every fall, they would meet there with Daddy's old school mates and they would go into the school and eat. Each year they would appoint a classmate to arrange for the pot luck meal they enjoyed together. Mom usually took her beans she was famous for!! These reunions went on for many years, maybe from the 1940’s through the 1960’s.”

When the school closed for good, Lloyd made sure he got his old desk, which Jim Kinsella now has in his extensive ‘historical pub’.

In both Center Lisle and Oakfield, the one room school house held so many memories and stories!

Picture One: 1960 Reunion--Lloyd is in front row near the right, Ethel is diagonally two rows above him.

Picture Two: School house in the early 1960's

Picture Three: Aunt CB’s diagram of what school used to look like inside

Picture Four: Lloyd’s school desk

Picture Five: Lloyd’s pencil case


Aunt CB/MOM said...

Actually the school house as a home does not look too different from this picture. The tall chimney in front has been removed but inside who knows?
I can't even imagine teaching all those grades but those who attended a one room said it was just like a BIG family!!
I do know from pictures that Lloyd and Floyd Taylor, twins on their first dau at school wore "Little Lord Faunleroy" siuts with a tie and a sailor hat!!

Evelyn Taylor said...

Well, Bryant Taylor and I got into the schoolhouse at one point. It was open and empty. We have a small heat register from it, which hangs on my livingroom wall as a decorative work of art!