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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 the fresh break came last fall. The Bradenham and the Barhamsville schools are only a mile and a half apart. All the children at Barhamsville and between the Bradenham school and Barhamsville have been attending the latter school, not one parent deigning to send a child to the Bradenham school. All the patrons of the Bradenham school lived down the county on the. other side of Bradenham. Matters took a curious turn as a result of the feud. The patrons of the Bradenham school wanted the school moved into their neighborhood. The Barhamsville faction 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 Barhamsville patrons sent a petition to the Board of Reference asking it to reconsider its action. Mr. C. Sylvanus Goddin is said to be 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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