Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Wednesday in The Times.
Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Wednesday in The Times.
I recently ran across an interesting article on pioneer and abolitionist George Boxley in the Sept. 15, 1924 Noblesville Daily Ledger.
Unlike many of the stories you’ll find about Boxley, the focus of this piece wasn’t on his anti-slavery activities, but rather on his role as Adams Township’s first teacher.
Most of the information was taken from the memories of Sheridan resident Phineas G. Pearson, who as a youngster had been one of Boxley’s students. Although Pearson died in 1902, he’d spoken so often and so fondly of his experiences in the township’s first school that his tales were still remembered over 20 years later.
(Pearson is quite a story in his own right. He lost a leg during the Mexican War which prevented him from enlisting when the Civil War broke out. However, he was so bent on doing his part to help preserve the union that he managed to obtain a position as cook and secretary for an Indiana infantry company and he went to war anyway.)
As you’re probably aware by now, George Boxley arrived here in 1827 or 1828 after escaping from a Virginia jail where he’d been locked up, either for helping some slaves gain their freedom, or for planning a slave revolt, depending on the source.
His Adams Township home, later known as “Pioneer Hill Farm,” was located in the general area where the Boxley Cabin now stands, at the intersection of Sheridan’s Main and First Streets.
The article states that Boxley was educated in the best college in Virginia. I haven’t been able to verify that, but there’s no question that education was extremely important to him.
When Boxley and his family arrived in Hamilton County, they brought with them two ox carts loaded with what they considered necessities. Among those essential items were some carefully chosen books.
As soon as the family was settled in their new home, Boxley built a small log cabin where he could conduct school for his children. (There were anywhere from seven to eleven of them!) Children of other settlers were allowed to join the class, too, and Boxley taught them free of charge.
For textbooks, Boxley used his own personal books. Since he had only one volume of history, he would read each lesson aloud, then have his students recite from memory what they’d just heard. That technique worked so well, Pearson was able to repeat entire pages from memory in his old age.
In addition to the history book, Boxley used a collection of poetry and the Bible. According to Pearson, Boxley wasn’t a religious man, but he felt the Bible was “the grandest piece of literature and history ever written.”
Boxley’s students didn’t simply learn the three R’s (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic,) though. He also taught them patriotism, the importance of good citizenship and a horror of the evils of slavery, “which hatred with Mr. Boxley was a passion.”
The article goes on to note that Boxley passed his love of education on to his descendants, many of whom became teachers themselves.
Just a couple of quick additional notes . . .
It’s wooly worm time again! I’m gathering wooly worm sightings for the annual winter weather forecast. If you spot any of the little critters crawling around, please let me know where you saw them and what color they were.
Also, by any chance did someone out there count the number of fogs in August? (We’re supposed to have as many big snows during the coming winter as there are fogs in August.)
I almost forgot to start the count and I’m not entirely sure the number I have is accurate.