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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Barhamsville School Controversy Pt. 1

New Kent Community Wrought Up.Two School-Houses Burned.
The citizens of New Kent county, in the neighborhood of Barhamsville, are greatly wrought up over school matters. Two school-houses have recently been burned, both, under very unusual circumstances, as the superintendent of the county schools himself states. And two neighborhoods are waging a fierce tight against each other. They have done so for nearly ten years, and the settlement is apparently further off than ever before. Superintendent George  Fisher, of the New Kent Schools, was in the city yesterday to lay the matter before Dr. Southall the Superintendent of Public, instruction. He makes a lengthy report to Dr Southall stating that he is in a serious dilemma, and asks for advise as to what is best to be done.
To give a history of this trouble, which involves some of the most prominent people in that section of the county, is to give the history of the two neighborhoods of Barhamsville and Bradenham for ten years past. The feud started, between two families many years ago. A member of one family was supposed to have said something ugly about a prominent member of another family. Later this family wanted a school in their section of tho county, that is, down near Plum Point. This is the Weir Creek district. The other family, with all that was in them, opposed it. A Board of Reference was called and the new school was decided upon. This became the "Bradenham" School. But tho other family and their friends who lived at Barhamsville have fought the school ever since. Mr. Fisher says that it has been the "bone of contention" ever since it was built.
And so matters went on, the two neighborhoods nagging at each other until thefresh break came last fall. The Bradenham and the Barhamsville schools areonly a mile and a half apart. All thechildren at Barhamsville and between the Bradenham school and Barhamsvillehave been attending the latter school, notcue parent deigning to send a child to theBradenham school. All the patrons oftho Bradenham school lived down thecounty on the. other side of Bradenham. Matters took a curious turn as a resultof the feud. The patrons of the Bradenham school wanted the school moved intotheir neighborhood. The Barhamsvillefaction would not hear to this, and determined to fight it with all their might.They didn't send their children there,but they were not willing to see the school moved on the ground that the locality to which Bradenham people wanted to take it was not healthy, etc. So matters stood and the question of moving had not been settled. It was apparently settled, however, just before the session, was to begin last fall, by the Bradenham schoolhouse being burned in the night. Mr Fisher says that no fire had been built in the house for months.
In due time a new schoolhouse was begun. But so strong was the suspicion of the incendiary origin of the fire and so certain did some feel that the new schoolhouse would also be burned that the persons who sold the lumber to the building contractor refused to deliver it until he had taken out a builder's insurance. About the middle of last month patrons of the Bradenham School sent a petition to Mr. Fisher asking for a Board of Reference to determine whether or not the new school-house, which was then half finished, should be moved to the place they wanted!. The board decided that it should be moved. The leader of this movement is recognized to be Mr. W. Jackson Taylor. But the contractor said that he was employed to build the school-house there and there he would build it. Just at Christmas the Barhamville patrons sent a petition to the Board of Reference asking it to reconsider its action. Mr. C. Sylvanus Goddin is said tobe the leader here.
Close upon this petition, just-ten days ago the school-house at Barhamsville was burned to the ground. Mr. Fisher admits that he is at his wits end to know what to do, and wants the advice of the State superintendent.

- The Richmond Times, January 22, 1902

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