MARSHALL COUNTY SCHOOLS

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 reads: "Religion, Morality, and Knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." Religion, Morality and Knowledge are the strength and support of our country. They are so interwoven as to become the "warp and woof" of our culture.

The first task of the early settlers was to build a home. Almost immediately church services were held in the log cabin. The fostering of learning followed. Sometimes the pioneer mother who had received some "learnin" would, in her own home, teach the neighbor children as she went about her work. The children read orally, spelled orally, ciphered orally. In fact, due to a scarcity of paper, pencils and slates, everything was "out loud". One can readily see why they were called "blab" schools.

The first buildings were of rough logs, the cracks filled with stones, chunks and mortar. A window was covered with oiled paper. Logs were split with legs fastened to the halves to provide benches. A crude board fastened to a wall became the writing desk. The floor, when covered, was of puncheon or split logs. At one end of the small log structure was a fire-place for which the fathers and larger boys provided the wood. Quill pens were used when paper was available. The ink was made from berry juice. Slates were common, with each child having his own. A soap stone was used as a slate pencil.

Hewed log school houses replaced the log cabin type. The school buildings were used for Sunday School and preaching services. The subscription schools were not free. Tuition for a pupil was usually two or three dollars a month for a period of three months. The teacher "boarded around" in the homes of the pupils. These schools were called "Field Schools" because they were located on some worn out piece of land.

The first free schools were set up for children who could not afford to pay, so were called "poor schools". Many felt there was a stigma attached, so refused to attend.

Early text books used were: U. S. Spelling Book, The McGuffey Readers, Rays Practical Arithmetic, The Western Calculator, Mental Arithmetic, Pinco's Grammar, Harvey's English Grammar, and Osgood's Progressive Speller.

The 1863 constitution for the new state, West Virginia, provided for a township system of government. Marshall County was divided into nine districts. Each district was divided into townships. These townships constituted school districts which were divided into communities referred to as sub-districts and numbered. This process of division and providing buildings in which to hold school was a major task.

Each school district was, in a manner, independent from other districts. It had its own set of three trustees who fixed the course of study, examined the teachers to determine their qualifications, hired and fired teachers at their own discretion, and provided for building maintainance. In September, 1878 a County System of examining teachers was introduced. In 1903 a system of certifying teachers was adopted by the state thus eliminating the old county system. Graduation from public school was introduced in Marshall County in 1876. A plan for grading the county and village schools was adopted in 1888.

In 1933 a County Unit System was adopted by the state. Local independent systems ceased to exist. The county school system was administered from one central location, Moundsville. Louis R. Potts was the first Superintendent of Schools for Marshall County. Free textbooks became available after the passing of a levy in 1959.

With superb guidance from the Administration, an appreciative and responsive public, and a good tax base, Marshall County has developed one of the finest county school systems in the state.



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