Historic timeline at Hallowell Elementary School by Justine Musick
Historic timeline at Hallowell Elementary School by Justine Musick

Horsham Schools

Horsham Schools


The following is taken from The History of Horsham by Craven.

The first school in Horsham Township was the Horsham Friends School. The original deed, dated March 27, 1719, from Hannah Carpenter conveyed 50 acres to the members of Horsham Friends Meeting to be used for a meetinghouse, a school house, and a burial ground. Hannah acted in behalf of her late husband, Samuel Carpenter, who had arranged before his death to transfer this part of his land.

The date 1739 is found on a stone wall of the school building now standing on the meeting grounds at Easton and Norristown Roads. The first documentary evidence of the existence of a school was an advertisement for a teacher published in 1753.

It was the custom of the Friends to provide education for their children. Their schools were open to all and so were considered ‘common’ or ‘public’ schools. Tuition was not free; however, and at the time of the founding of the school, tuition was fixed by law at 3 cents per day. In addition to the ‘common’ school, private schools were held in the homes of various members of the meeting. Some of these schools were for girls only.

A committee of prominent Friends: John Lukens, Surveyor General of Pennsylvania, Abraham Lukens, and Benjamin Cadwallader were overseers of the Friends School. The names of the early teachers have not been preserved, but a John Ewers from Bucks County is mentioned as the instructor for many years before the Revolution. Isaac Comly of Byberry, Pa. was a teacher in 1799. Another teacher, John Comly, wrote a Spelling Book which became popular and was used for over 100 years in the schools in the area. In 1855 a new stove, costing $14.14, was installed in the school. In 1859 a second story was added to the building.

A Library was established in Horsham Township in 1799 and was incorporated in 1809. Its location prior to 1840 is unknown. From 1840 to 1850 it was housed in an upstairs room of Absalom Michener’s, a store on Easton Road not far from the meetinghouse. In 1859 the library was moved to the second story of the Friends School House. By 1874, through lack of interest, its 1600 volumes were sold and the library disbanded.

Horsham Friends School was discontinued in 1922, and the building used by the township as a school until 1927, while awaiting the completion of the Horsham Elementary School on Easton Road. In 1934 the Friends School was renovated for use as a private music studio, and since 1954, has been used as a private kindergarten and nursery school.

The second school in the township was the Shay School, which was replaced in 1804 by the Babylon School House. The lot, on which it was erected near the intersection of Horsham and Babylon Roads, was deeded to the Babylon School Trustees by Joseph Nixon and his wife in 1805.

The Babylon School had one room. All the children would sit in the one room with the smaller children in front and the larger ones in the back. The coal stove was in the middle of the room.

The big boys would carry the coal from the cellar, but the teacher was responsible for the fire and for emptying the ashes.

In 1830, each township in Pennsylvania had to vote for or against public education. There was much opposition to the idea of secular education, since most of the residents of Horsham felt that education should be overseen by a group associated with a church or meeting.

By 1842, the ‘public and free’ school system had only partially been adopted. In summer, the teacher was paid 3 cents per day for each pupil whose parents were wealthy enough. This was called ‘pay school’. During the winter months, tuition was free, coming from the taxpayers. Usually there were eight levels, although schools were not officially graded in Horsham until 1890.

One of the earliest teachers at the Babylon School was John Cadwallader. In roughly chronological order, some of the schoolmasters and school mistresses, as they were then called, were: Samuel Cadwallader, Damuel (Samuel?) Davis, Jesse Hubbs, Eli Carver, Joseph Roney, Thomas Kenderdine (1845), Jesse Trump (1847), Isaac Iredell, William Adams, Ann Edwards, Mary Walton, Isaac Jenkins, Patrick Grant, and Jeremiah Larzalere. The last teacher in the Babylon School House and the first in the new Horsham Public School built on the same site in 1858 was James M. Danenhauer.

Some of the older residents of Horsham can recall school days at the school at Babylon. The school day in the first decade of the twentieth century opened at 9:00 AM signaled by the ringing of the school bell. A passage from the Bible was read. The Lord’s Prayer was then said, followed by a hymn or a song. There were two fifteen minute recesses and one hour for lunch. School closed at 4:00 P.M.

The curriculum in the upper grades consisted of Algebra, American Literature, Etymology (the derivation of words), Mental Arithmetic, and Physical Geography, plus Reading and Writing. The Montgomery County Superintendent of Schools visited the school at least twice a year, and gave the final examinations to the graduating class. The commencement exercises were held in the Prospectville Community Hall.

The Horsham Public School at Babylon was a private dwelling, but has been relocated to allow a bank to put a branch office there.

The Horsham Grade School, located at Homestead Lane and Norristown Road was a two-room school house, built about 1854. In the last decade of the nineteenth century some of the teachers were: Miss Mary Walter, Miss Annie Bigony, Miss Bessie Grater, and Mrs. Sarah Watson. In 1894 Miss Cora Fuller taught all 10 grades at the school. Later classes were divided, and grades one through four were taught by Miss Letitia Montgomery in a room on the second floor. Before this, the upstairs room had been used as an assembly room. In the 1930’s the school building was converted to a dwelling. It still stands today, but is in a state of disrepair.

A one-room school house called the Prospectville School was built in 1800 on Horsham Road near Limekiln Pike, and now serves as the Chapel of the Whitemarsh Memorial Park.

In 1905 the total enrollment for the public schools, not including the Friends School, which by that time was considered a private school, was 200 pupils. There were five teachers whose salaries ranged from $25 to $50 per month. The school budget for the year of 1905 was $3,500 to $4,000.

In 1909 a two-room school house was built on Cedar Hill Road to accommodate the children in the northwestern end of the township This was called the Pen Blair School; "Penblair", being a Scottish term meaning an ‘Upland Plain’. Wesley Mullin was the architect, George Zeitler, the builder, and Cy Hoffman, the mason.

In 1927 the township had built the Horsham Elementary School to serve the children in the eastern part of Horsham. When the Dorothea Simons Elementary School was completed at Prospectville in 1933, the four old school houses, with their coal stoves, water pumps, and out buildings were deemed obsolete, and so were closed.

Through the years students who lived in Horsham could choose to go to High School in Ambler, Abington, Hatboro, North Penn, or Upper Moreland. The township paid their tuition, but each student had to provide his own transportation. In 1950 the Hatboro-Horsham School Jointure took place. Afterwards, all students of high school age who wished to attend public school attended Hatboro-Horsham High School. In 1962, all elementary schools in Hatboro and Horsham were placed under one jurisdiction, and in 1966 the Hatboro-Horsham School District was formed.

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Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
A Community Benefit Organization

Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
We are A Community Benefit Organization
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215-343-0659 | Email

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