Historical Sketches of Bluehill Maine

The Old Schoolhouse of Blue Hills Maine

The Old Schoolhouse, the next building upon the road, stood upon a ledge at the left corner of what is now the shore road to Parker’s Point. It was an old-style square structure with square roof, unpainted and ancient-looking, that had been moved from beyond Bragdon’s brook, its first location, about 1830 or 1831.

It was the first school building on its original site, where the writer attended school and afterwards upon this site. In winter it was attempted to be heated by a wood fire in an open fireplace, but a few feet from the fire it was as cold as a barn with the cold wind passing under the building and up through cracks in the floor which set the scholars shivering With the cold, which, even the thought of now, causes a,n unpleasant sensation to the writer.

Moses Pillsbury was the teacher for years in that house, and the school was a mixed one, containing scholars from four to twenty years of age. The writer cannot think of one beside himself now living who attended that school with him yes, there is one, Almira Wood, now Mrs. J. Q. A. Butler, of New York. She probably would remember the incident of a dead crow being thrown down the chimney by boys outside, and the stir and smell it made in the schoolroom, when the feathers and flesh of the bird began burning, and the anger of Master Pillsbury at the trick played upon him and the school.

The old schoolhouse took fire on a Saturday afternoon in 1833, and was entirely consumed, with no scholar to mourn its loss. The writer was on the spot to see the last of its frame all afire, fall and be consumed. A boy of the neighborhood, but not a native, was an attendant at that school and related to the writer under a promise of secrecy how the building took fire. As he has been dead many years and his name is not to be revealed, there is now no harm in stating how the fire originated.

He said that passing in the afternoon he went into the schoolhouse. The fire of the forenoon was still smouldering in the fireplace. He thought of how he and others had suffered with the cold therein, and the desire came to him to have it warmed up for once, and then a better and warmer house would be built.

He took a live coal from the embers, placed it in a crack in the floor, fanned it until the fire had good headway, then slipped out, fastened the door and made his escape down through the pastures in in rear and back to the highway and shouted fire with all his might.

The result was the total destruction of the old house and the erection of a better and warmer one upon another site nearer the tide mills. Great was the wonder how the old house took fire – two boys only knew the secret as above. No one ever mentioned that boy’s name in connection with its destruction, and until now, for more than seventy years, the writer has kept the secret committed to him.

Butler, Pillsbury, Wood,

Candage, R. A. F. Historical Sketches of Blue Hill, Maine. Ellsworth, Maine: Hancock County Publishing Company, Printers. 1905.

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