The history of the Rowena School in Palenville, our Sister Hamlet, Part 3

Rowena School

This is the third in a series.

In researching Palenville, luck brought me to some 1899-1900 Palenville Zephyr newspapers, an actual old-style hometown paper. I would relate it to other old papers that covered small-town events, small personal historical tidbits; they gave the reader a little history that could be enjoyed again, many years later.

Tidbit: The Palenville Zephyr started in 1898 and appeared to concentrate on local history.

The Zephyr said that the busiest spot in town back in 1899 was the Rowena school site. It said a gang of men worked for James Holdridge for the past two weeks, completing the foundation walls. The Zephyr said these walls were the heaviest, most substantial, ever laid in the State. Once the lumber was delivered, the contractors started primarily hired residents as employees.

The headquarters for the crew was at the near-by Winchelsea Cottages.

The paper said, “On July 1, 1900, Rowena School was formally adopted by the University of the State of New York and is now under the control of the Board of Regents.”

It went to say, “There were enrolled during the term of thirty-seven weeks, one hundred and seven pupils, as follows: Grade 1, 15, Grade 2, 14; Grade 3, 14; Grade 4, 5; (no Grade 5 listed) Grade 6, 8; Grade 7, 14; Grade 8; 18; Academic Dept—9; total, 107. There was not a break of a single day during the two terms” It continued, “The teaching force was increased to three teachers: Principal, O. F. Payne; intermediate, Miss Carolyn L. Francis; primary, Miss Ada J. Overbaugh, of Catsban.”

The paper said that the people of Palenville knew they could never repay Mr. Lawrence for his goodness to them and how much they appreciated what he did.

The community later appreciated Lawrence’s gift of $600 for necessary books, etc., that the students would need.

In 1900 the Rowena School Board members were Luman A. Lamouree, President; Cornelius DuBois, Secretary; Calvin Goodwin, Philo Peck, and Obadiah Adsit.

Tidbit: The school, District No. 3, held an election where two additional trustees were elected but were determined illegal by the State authorities so that the board stands the same as before, i.e., five members.

The Lawrence family was popular as they were mentioned often in the Zephyr. One lengthy article told of L. W. Lawrence’s daughter, Miss Rowena, and her maid had a frightening escape from what could have been a terrible accident. Their horse became spooked and ran from one side of the road to the other, over and over. Fred Haines observed what was happening, grabbed the horse by the head, and soon had things under control. “The maid deserves the credit for the nerve she displayed — her only thought was for her charge — and Fred. Haines comes in for a deal of glory for the skill he exhibited.”

Another article congratulated Lawrence on his birthday party. A New York crowd of friends was mentioned, along with the gifts they brought.

Tidbit from Palenville (1899): The Zephyr said that Palenville never looked prettier than it did then. The homeowner’s grounds were in “apple-pie order.” That the houses were well painted, and a general air of prosperity pervades. A good season was anticipated. “For the “steenth” time we reiterate this is the queen spot of Greene County; only wants a little more push and a shove, with an altogether heave, to land it the Ace, King and Queen spot.”

Wikipedia said the community, happy with the school initially, began to regret it due to the expense of maintaining it. Wikipedia said, “The building remained a source of contention, and some residents called for its demolition so that everyone could be friends again.” (This quote has not been found in any other source of history).

Palenville is a fantastic community. It shows pride in the appearance of its corridor. It has all the necessities you need in a small community: a post office, small grocery stores, a couple of churches, a gas station, a golf course, two restaurants, and a short ride to medical services. It appears a small community until you ride through its side streets and see the populated community it is. Palenville is known as “The Village of Falling Water” and “America’s First Art Colony.”

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.