From the early eighteen hundreds until the centralization of Westfield schools in the mid-nineteen forties there were many one-room school houses in the area surrounding the Village of Westfield. Children, who lived in the township but not within the village limits, attended District Schools until they were ready for high school. Many hold memories, fond or not-so-fond, of these educational institutions. Some of these buildings are no longer standing; some have been converted into “cute” little homes. One out on West Main Road is now the location of Chautauqua Energy Incorporated and with its recent additions bears little resemblance to District 4, Rogersville Schoolhouse.
Although this building has not been used as a school for many years, would you believe that there is still meeting an organization which was founded in 1916 for the promotions of the welfare and progress of the pupils of Rogersville District School? True, some of the members never had any direct connection with the old school district but they still are known as The Rogersville Mothers’ Club. They meet several times during the year and always have a picnic in August and a Christmas Get-Together.
In 1966 the club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a luncheon at Pinter’s Restaurant, which 23 of the 25 enrolled members attended. At this time the late Florence Stark wrote a story for The Westfield Republican about the happy occasion and included a bit of history of the club.
After the fine dinner at Pinter’s the afternoon was spent at the home of Mrs. Harry Taylor where memorabilia was displayed including a table setting of doll dishes once belonging to Mrs. John Spencer, now owned by Elsie Johnston Hogan, an old doll belonging to Mary McGarrell, mother of Maude Light, a pair of handmade doll’s chairs once belonging to Marietta Hamilton, now owned by her grand-daughter, Mrs. Robert Augur. The cloth on the display table, hand woven, red and white, had belonged to Hannah Cass Tyler, great-grandmother of Kari Rosel.
In February 1916 Mrs. Reuting, Mrs. William Young and Mrs. Charles Ogden came from Westfield to help organize the club. The following officers were elected: president, Mrs. John Rollman (at whose home the meeting was held); vice-president, Mrs. H.H. Wallace; secretary, Mrs. Jay Barber and treasurer, Mrs. August Freling. Meetings were held once a month and the mothers brought their pre-school children with them – in the days when children were “seen and not heard.” At holiday time the children presented programs with songs and recitations and once a year a picnic was held for the families, especially the fathers.
During the first years of the club much sewing, knitting and quilting was done for at that time World War I was going on and the need was great. By the time the club was 10 years old the membership had increased from the original 10 to 52.
In 1941 when the club celebrated its 25th anniversary with a dinner at the home of Louise Harrington, one of the founders, Mrs. Young, was present and talked of the progress and changes during the past 25 years, one of them being the method of transportation from horse and buggy or sleigh to cars. There were, at the 25th milestone, 31 members.
Now, in 1984, the gatherings of the Rogersville Mothers’ Club are mostly for fun and sociability, they still carry the old name even though many of them are grandmothers and even great grandmothers. I’ll wager that when they get together there is much talk about the “good old days” even though they find the present days pretty good too.
I asked Isabelle Haskin to tell me the names of some of the members who still enjoy getting together, and she mentioned Louise Freling, Maude Light, Eleanor Mead, Minnie Franz, Ora Drake, Mary Dinsbier, Fern Barber and Isabelle Haskin.
Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
Rogersville Mothers’ Club continues to meet long after the old school is closed. Photo shows the group who celebrated the 50th anniversary of the club in 1966. Back row, left to right, are: Nellie Dibble; Kate Rosel; Alice Spute; Edith Johnston; Isabelle Haskin; Elsie Mead, treasurer; Maude Light, president; Pansy Johnston, secretary; Esther Reardon; Marguerite Breads, vice president; and Minnie Franz. Front row are: Florence McCutcheon; Sarah Isham; Marguerite Canfield; Martha Larson; Orah Drake; Martha Howard; May Taylor; Eleanor Mead; Mary Heider; Lillian Cranston; Clara Brumagin; and Doris Karrow.