Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: July, 1938 Volume 1 Number 4, Pages 22–23

Early Schools in Tredyffrin Township

Mildred F. Bradley

Page 22

1. Unnamed School.

Early settlers in Tredyffrin Township chose the Great Valley as the best location to start their homes, and in the earliest history we find all the meeting houses and many of the schools located there.

The first Settlers were serious minded people who almost immediately made places of worship, usually with a School House in the same locality, frequently on the same plot of ground, so that the first schools of Tredyffrin (except Davis School near Howell's Tavern) were essentially parochial inasmuch as they were connected with and controlled by the Valley Friends, Great Valley Baptist or Presbyterians certainly, and probably St. Peter's Episcopalians.

However, up until 1809 all Schools were "Pay Schools" and three cents a day seems to have been the popular price for an education. In that year a law was passed requiring the County to provide a free education for all children between the ages of five and twelve years. This meant that parents who were unable to pay for their children's education would have to declare themselves paupers in order to avail themselves of the advantage of free education, therefore the children of poor but proud parents did not attend school.

Probably one of the most ancient schools in the township is one of which we do not even know the name. It was situated on the Walker Road at the present site of a Sycamore Tree. The Walker Family History mentions Samuel Wells in 1755, of three pounds, four shillings for one-fourth schooling for two children; possibly at this school.

A story goes that one day Anthony Wayne, who was passing on horseback, stopped to ask the teacher if there were any of the Walker children present There was one, a little girl, who came forward to be picked up and kissed by the general. Ralph Hunt, to whom this story had been told, located the site of the school by a number of articles plowed up in the field.

Valley Friends' Meetinghouse and School

Page 23

2. Valley Friends' Meeting School.

The Valley Friends Meeting was formed in 1714 and the log Meeting House was located in the northeastern section of the present burying grounds on the Eagle Road, and at one side stood the Friends School.

William Walker tells of going to school there in 1859 at which time William Beel was the teacher. This teacher was succeeded in 1862 or 1863 by Eliza B. Walker, sister of Dr. James B. Walker, and she was followed by Sallie Eaches of Lionville, daughter of Virgil Eaches.

Some of the pupils who attended school there are still to be found nearby and include William Colket, and Isaac Walker. It was discontinued about 1871, the Fairview School being built about that time as part of the Public School System, so the children of the Friends School either attended Fairview or the Great Valley Baptist Union School.

About 1873, the present Valley Friends Meetinghouse was built on the opposite side of the road from the graveyard and it seemed that several of the families of the Meeting were desirous of having their children taught according to the principals of the Society of Friends and so organized their own school in the Meeting House.

The tuition was set at $25.00 for each family and the first teachers were Lydia Martin now of West Chester, and Ella Thomas. School lasted nine months in the year and one could go straight to College from the school.

The first two teachers were succeeded by Marion Preston (Lewis) and Lydia Kirk. Among the students who attended this school were Jacob Beidler, Jonathan Tyson, Dr. Charles Roberts and Clarence Roberts. Thirty-two students attended the school which lasted only a few years.


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