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Rocky start for Longstown One-Room Schoolhouse

One-Room School Desks (Pinterest Photo)
One-Room School Desks (Pinterest Photo)

One of the many issues that resulted in the establishment of Springettsbury Township in 1891 was a long-standing desire by a group of residents near Longstown to have a schoolhouse built in their neighborhood. The Longstown residents felt the resulting new, more-rural, school district, in a new township to be named Springettsbury, divided from the suburban part of Spring Garden Township, would better appreciate their need for a Longstown schoolhouse. Longstown children had to walk up to 2-miles over hilly roads to attend school at Lefever’s schoolhouse; down with the valley children.

Over the next 15-years the numbers of students attending Lefever’s schoolhouse (along today’s Haines Road, just south of Eastern Boulevard) shifted until the majority were attending from the Longstown area (along Mount Rose Avenue / East Prospect Road and west of Route 24). The requests of the Longtown residents continued to be ignored until 1906, when they were able to get an impartial special inspector appointed to look into the matter.

It took five additional years before the September 1912 opening of the Longstown One-Room Schoolhouse. The school desks figured in the rocky start of classes; all because there was still infighting between the school directors over the Longstown schoolhouse. In fact, an opening day fracas resulted in the arrest of one of the school directors.

Longstown Schoolhouse was Years in the Making

The Longtown residents achieved their first hurdle, in getting a schoolhouse, in 1906, when they were able to get an impartial special inspector appointed to look into the matter. An article in the September 24, 1907, issue of The York Daily reported on the outcome. Quoting that article in its entirety.

The School Directors of Springettsbury Township will have to show cause next Monday why they should not erect a school house in Longstown in order to suitably accommodate the children of the township. The directors were charged with neglect of duty in this matter in report filed before Judge Bittenger yesterday by Lee S. Stoner, of Hellam, who had been appointed a special inspector to investigate the school accommodation at Lefever’s School House in the township. Mr. Stoner found that last year there were 48 pupils attending that school. The room is 26-feet by 34-feet and has 28 seats. The majority of the pupils are obliged to walk from one and a half to two miles to the school house over a hilly country so that in winter the school is almost inaccessible. The center of population is at the village of Longstown, and at that place Inspector Stoner recommends that a new school house be built. He further says that the directors of Springettsbury Township have been importuned frequently to build a new school house, but have refused and neglected to do so.

The formation of Springettsbury Township and the relative location of Longstown to the Lefever’s Schoolhouse are shown on this mark-up of the Spring Garden Township page from the 1876 Beach Nichols Atlas of York County. I’ve also shown the relative location of the next closest schoolhouse; i.e. Stony Brook; between 1859 and 1913, it was located at the “Y” where Old Orchard Road branches off of Locust Grove Road.

Spring Garden Township page from the 1876 Beach Nichols Atlas of York County (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2016)
Spring Garden Township page from the 1876 Beach Nichols Atlas of York County (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2016)

The recommendations by Inspector Stoner did not produce any action by the School Directors of Springettsbury Township. The Longstown residents returned to a waiting mode for their schoolhouse, until a petition was put forth in 1911 to form an Independent School District within Springettsbury Township.

Being at odds with the Springettsbury Township School District for many years, the Longstown residents threw their support behind the effort to establish the Independent School District within the township. Upon the courts granting the petition, for a separate and independent school district, Longstown’s support was rewarded with the approval of plans for their own schoolhouse.

September of 1912 saw the opening of the initial two schoolhouses, both brand new, in the Springettsbury Township Independent School District; the two-room Hiestand Schoolhouse, in East York, and the one-room Longstown Schoolhouse. The goodwill amongst the school directors of the independent school district did not last long, as was seen in this article within the September 10, 1912, issue of The York Daily:


Director Wambaugh, Springettsbury, Has Been Placed Under Arrest

The first day of school in the new model school house built by the Independent District of Springettsbury Township, near Longstown, witnessed a scene not at all in keeping with the model school idea, when Solomon Wambaugh, a director, it is alleged, dumped all of the desks outdoors and broke up the session. The opening of the school has been postponed until today. Information was made before Alderman Walter F. Owen, this city, against Wambaugh upon charge of damaging and defacing school property. The warrant was served yesterday by Constable Woltman, the defendant entering bail for a hearing.

One of the directors said yesterday that Wambaugh, who resides in Longstown and championed that building, raised a row during the summer when, the East York school house having been first erected, it was suggested that the plans for the Longstown building be somewhat modified. When the buildings were completed new desks were purchased for the East York school and the old Lefever school desks were polished up and placed in the Longstown building. A director said yesterday this arrangement was only temporary. Wambaugh, it is stated strongly opposed the placing of the old desks in the new building but gave no intimation of proposing any radical action.

Stay tuned for additional posts on the Longstown One-Room Schoolhouse in Springettsbury Township. A photo of this schoolhouse is elusive; if any of my readers know a source, let me know.

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