Homer, NY Early Schools and Teachers

Early Schools in Homer NY

Schools. — The first school-house erected in the village of Homer was located about twelve rods beyond where the railroad crosses the wagon road leading to Little York. The second school building stood on the public green; it was a small, rude affair and was built prior to 1801. The third building for school purposes was also erected on the green; it was a two-story structure in which were employed two teachers. This building stood until the year 1839, when it was sold at auction and bid off by "Squire" Canfield for the Methodist Church society. In it the first court in the county was held prior to 1809. The building is at present owned by Pembroke Pierce and stands on the corner of Eagle and Cayuga streets In the year 1819 the first academy building was erected. It was originally two stories high and of wood, 54 by 32 feet in dimensions; subsequent additions were made until it was 54 by 100 feet. It was used until 1869, when the present handsome structure was erected.

Joshua Ballard was the first teacher in the town of Homer; but it is not now known how long he presided in either of the early school-houses. The next teacher of prominence was Adin Webb, who is described as "a tall, straight, sprightly young man, dignified in demeanor and with a good education." With but one year as an exception Mr. Webb taught seventeen successive years. He was a native of Windham county, Conn.; his father was one of the heroes of the Revolution and served in that portion of the army that was engaged in the battle of Bennington and the capture of Burgoyne. In 1800 Mr. Webb was married to Deborah Carter, and they came with his parents to this State, locating near Cazenovia lake. In 1805 he was solicited by friends to come to Homer and teach the village school for a term of ten months. Being a capable singer he taught singing school at the same time, and being successful in both vocations, he decided to remain and make his permanent home in Homer. During the whole period of his residence here he was leader of the choir in the Congregational Church.

In this connection mention should be made of the name of Stephen W. Clark, who for a number of years was principal of the [Cortland] Academy. He was a man of varied attainments and was the author of an analysis of the English language, an etymological chart and a practical grammar, in which words and phrases are classified according to their offices and their various relations to one another, all of which works met with general recognition. Mr. Clark was the third son of Joseph and Mary Clark, and younger brother of Myron H. Clark, ex-governor of New York. He was born at Naples, N.Y., April 24th, 1810. After spending his earlier years in agricultural pursuits in his native town and as a mercantile clerk in Canandaigua, he finished his preparatory studies in Franklin Academy, Prattsburg, N.Y., and entered Amherst College in 1833. Here he devoted himself especially to the study of natural sciences, graduating with honor in 1837. He soon entered upon his chosen profession and followed teaching almost without interruption for many years. He was at different times principal of Groton Academy, the Monroe Collegiate Institute, East Bloomfield Academy and Cortland Academy.