399 Morganston Road, Morganston

(1883)
Roll No. 1411-011-040-05700-0000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Brick Schoolhouse

This “little red brick schoolhouse” is a familiar sight on the landscape of Northumberland County.

In the 19th century, Cramahe Township was divided into 26 school districts of about 1,700 acres each so that no student would have to walk more than two miles to school.

Ten of the districts did not build schools but land records show that land for the others were purchased between 1860 and 1894. The subject property was purchased by Cramahe Township School Section 16 from William Morrow Davidson in 1883.

The schools of that era were usually one room with whatever brick cladding could offer in terms of insulation. There was a wood burning stove in the centre of the room with student desks in twos or threes around the school room. Often there were metal shingles on the roof as is the case here. Four pane windows were not double glazed and did not offer much protection from the Canadian winters nor a sufficient amount of light given the lack of electricity.

The school teachers of that era were a hardy bunch, keeping all grades learning according to their age, performing the job of caretaker, wood hauler, first aid, and a myriad of other requirements heaped on, usually, a very young person who had been educated but perhaps not exposed to these hardships. Nonetheless, generations of children received an education, when they weren’t enlisted to help with the harvest on the family farm.

In order to provide an education for their youngsters, farmers and small town folk created their own schools – usually a settler’s home, general store or the town church to start, until an individual schoolhouse could be built.

History or Associative Value

McKague (1888) states in “The History of Cramahe Township” that the township was divided in the 19th Century into 26 school districts of about 1700 acres each. The property which includes the subject land, changed hands many times. The house at 399 Highway 27 is virtually identical construction to several of the other 19th century Cramahe schoolhouses illustrated in Argyris (2000), so it was probably built around 1883 as a school and was never the residence of any of the previous owners.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

399 Highway 27, Morganston, Ontario Cramahe Township, Concession 8, Lot 13

McKague (1888) states in “The History of Cramahe Township” that the township was divided in the 19th Century into 26 school districts of about 1700 acres each so that no student would have to walk more than two miles to school. Ten of these districts never had schools built, but land records show that the properties for the others were purchased between 1860 and 1894. 399 Highway 27 was one of these schools. It sits on 1⁄2 acre in the northwestern corner of the eastern half of Lot 13 of Concession 8. This property was sold to Cramahe Township School Section 16 by William Morrow Davidson (1830-1891) and his wife Sarah (née Brock, 1838-1907) on 32 January 1883.

The whole 200 acres of Lot 13, Concession 8 were originally granted to Kenneth McPherson (?-?). on 17 May 1802. No further information has been found about McPherson, but by 28 March 1831 he had lost the property. On that date it was transferred by Newcastle District Sheriff Henry Ruttan (1792-1871) to Colborne entrepreneur James D. Goslee (1794-1865) and Goslee immediately (same date) transferred it to Cramahe Township farmer Abraham Van Wicklen (1787-?).

Van Wicklen retained ownership until 1 March 1851 when he and his wife Elizabeth (née Carr, ?-?) sold the property to Ira Beach (1822-1853), a farmer living in Ernestown Township in Lennox and Addington County. Beach took out a mortgage on 31 July 1852 with the Trust and Loan Company of Upper Canada. The Trust and Loan Company would later sell the property, so at some point it gained ownership. This was probably when Beach died on 10 November 1853.

The Trust and Loan Company of Upper Canada sold the eastern half of Lot 13 to Nesbitt O’Donovan Kirchhoffer (1813-1879) on 1 February 1859. Kirchhoffer was a Port Hope barrister.

Kirchhoffer and his wife Julia (née Read, 1811-1881) sold the eastern half of Lot 13 to farmer William Morrow Davidson on 4 June 1859. Davidson would continue to own the land until his death in 1890, by which time he had sold the schoolhouse property to the Township.

Ruttan, Goslee, Beach, and Kirchhoffer were never residents on Lot 13, and it wouldn’t be surprising if McPherson could be added to this list. Van Wicklen also owned the adjacent Lots 14 of Concessions 8 and 9, each containing 200 acres. Davidson owned the property under discussion from 1859 to 1890. He also owned a bit less than half of Lot 11 in Concession 9 from 1871 to 1890. The building at 399 Highway 27 appears to have virtually identical construction to several of the other 19th century Cramahe schoolhouses illustrated in Argyris (2000), so it was probably built around 1883 as a school and was never the residence of any of the previous owners of the land.

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