ACADEMIES & PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS
JUNIATA VALLEY NORMAL SCHOOL
The following information was extracted from
the book, History of Perry County Pennsylvania; H. H. Hain; Hain-Moore Co.;
Harrisburg, Pa.; 1922. Chapter XVIII.
That a State Normal School was not located somewhere in
Perry County is not the fault of Prof. Silas Wright, but rather of the
citizenship of the communities; for Mr. Wright strained every effort to have it
done. The general apathy--sometimes even yet displayed towards incoming
things, industrial plants, etc.---was the barrier against which Prof. Wright's
efforts spent their force, and the project failed. Looking towards the
establishment of the State Normal School of the Sixth District within the
borders of the county, the Juniata Valley Normal School was opened on April 8,
1867, in the new brick schoolhouse at Newport, for which $ 12.50 a month was
paid as rental. The attendance at the first term was 141, a remarkably
good showing. Two terms were conducted, the first being from April 8 to
June 28, and the second from July 29 to September 17. The second session
had an attendance of ninety-seven; of these twenty-two were to attendants the
first time. During the first session, on May 3, the Normal Echo Literary
Society was organized.
Newport not having displayed as much interest as Millerstown, which offered its
school building rent free for the school, the sessions of 1868 began in the
Millerstown school building on April 8, with an attendance of 140. At the
very first term (in Newport) the theory class numbered forty-one, a number which
it always exceeded in later years. The instructors were teachers of
prominence, and beside Professor Wright were Nannie J. Alexander (Millersville,
'66), a cultured musician; M. M. Rutt, of the same class at Millersville; Mina
Kerr, and Prof. Charles W. Super, who taught ancient languages and German, and
who later became president of the Ohio University. During 1875 Professor
Super got a temporary leave of absence from his position as head of the
department of Ancient Languages and German in Wesleyan College in Ohio, in order
to teach the languages for Mr. Wright.
A list of textbooks in use in the Juniata Valley Normal School at Millerstown in
186, follows: Raub's and Sander's Union Spellers, Sander's Union Readers,
Kidd's Elocution, Kerl's Grammars, Trench's Study of Words, Brook's Arithmetics
and Geometry, Ray's New Algebras, Payson, Dunton & Scribner's Penmanship,
Bartholomew's Drawing, Coppee's Elements of Rhetoric and Map Drawing, Seavey's
and Goodrich's History of the United States, Sheppard's Constitution, Gray's
Botany, Hillside's Geology, Quackenbo's Natural Philosophy, Wickersham's School
Ecomony and Method's of Instruction, Haven's Mental Philosophy, Hickok's Moral
Science, Harkness' Latin, etc.
A 'calendar" of the Juniata Valley Normal School at Millerstown for 1868
"First term of twelve weeks, opens April 6; closes June 26,
"Last term of eight weeks, opens August 3; closes September 26, 1868.
"The Faculty: Silas Wright, M.E., principal; Nannie J. Alexander, B.E.;
Mina J. Kerr, and O. P. Wright (pupil assistant)."
The location is described as being "easy of access by private
conveyance or stage from every section of the county, and from east or west on
the Pennsylvania Central Railroad." The price of boarding for the
session of five months is named as $ 60. Prof. Silas Wright organized this
school and was always its principal, save for a few weeks of the second summer
term of 1871.
A glance over several old programs of the Normal Echo Literary Society recalls
names of others days, many of whom attained distinction, with a few still living
and active in business. The first anniversary of the society was
celebrated Friday evening, May 29, 1868, the officers being:
A. M. Markel, Markelville, President.
Amanda Passmore, Newport, Secretary.
Mina J. Kerr, Donally' Mills, Editress.
Charles H. Heffley, Duncannon, Critic.
On the program were P. S. Lesh, May N.
Donally, Mina J. Kerr, and Alfred M. Markel. A debate was a part of the
program, the question being, "Resolved, that human language is of Divine
origin." The speakers on the affirmative side were S. B. Fahnestock,
Wm. N. Ehrhart, O. P. Wright, and H. C. Magee; those on the negative side were
H. C. Gantt, W. W. Haines, C. A. Frank, and J. R. Runyon.
The second anniversary was celebrated Friday evening, May 28, 1869, the
following being the officers:
S. B. Fahnestock, Millerstown, President.
Josephine Debray, Millerstown, Secretary.
L. C. Zimmerman, Editor.
M. E. Haines, Critic.
On the program were H. C. Magee, Laura E.
Goodman, Haly L. Kerr, H. C. Gantt, L. C. Zimmerman, and P. S. Lesh. The
question for debate was: "Resolved, that the crusades were beneficial
to Europe." Those assigned to the affirmative were O. P. Wright and
Perry K. Brandt, and those assigned to the negative were Wm. N. Ehrhart and J.
Prof. John S. Campbell, long one of Perry County's prominent educators, with the
terse comment, "It did a good work," expresses the opinion of all who
have any knowledge of the great work of the Juniata Valley Normal School.
Dozens of its students became educators, lawyers, physicians, ministers of the
Gospel, bankers, business men and intelligent farmers and homemakers.
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