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Published March 06. 2021 06:07AM

Tony Giordano, the owner of the Frantz one-room schoolhouse dating back to the 1850s, gathered highlights from records that have survived for so many years. The situations and events they faced are not unlike some of the things we have faced in the last year.

Illness spreads

Mr. Gower, the teacher at the Frantz school, took notice that Richard Borger, who had perfect attendance during the current marking period, was now suddenly absent three days in a row. The 12, 13 and 14 of February.

Mr. Gower was very concerned. As an experienced teacher, he knew that such a string of absences was often the signal that the cold and flu season had begun.

Mr. Gower understood the importance of social distancing to prevent the spread of germs. But with near 100 percent attendance on Feb. 11, all 29 boys and 12 of the 14 girls, he had no choice but to have students squeeze together, doubling up at every desk. Forty-one kids squeezed into a single room measuring 567 square feet was a germ incubator. And on these cold winter days, the windows were all shut tight so there was no ventilation.

Considering that Richard had six brothers, one sister and seven cousins in his class, there was no question that these germs would be brought home to parents and preschoolers.

Giordano had the chance to look ahead at the coming attendance and sure enough extended absences spread through the student body like a wildfire. Very sadly, back in 1883 there was no vaccine to battle the virus. And the attendance records shared here are indeed from 1883.

Mr. Gower was the sole teacher in the Frantz one-room schoolhouse of Eldred Township in Monroe County. His 43 students ranged in age from 6 to 15 years of age.

Living museum

The Frantz one-room school had opened 28 years earlier in 1855, five years before the American Civil War. The school had closed in 1945, but fortunately the townspeople restored the weather-worn, decaying building in 2015.

And it became a “living” museum, holding classes and special events. The building also created an awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts and records from the past.

But maybe most importantly, the building is now a source of valuable civic information such as Earth Day cleanup opportunities and recently lifesaving information about fighting the COVID-19 virus.

School records

A treasure trove of monthly school records dating back to as far as 1879 had been available to the public at the school. The records include the names and ages of all the students, their attendance records, grades and conduct marks.

The records also include a list of what textbooks were used each year, the monthly salary receipts of the teachers – Mr. Gower was paid $23 a month (a big $5 raise from just a couple of years earlier) and a list of visitors to the school and the subjects taught.

Sadly, these records are currently under quarantine (actually, we humans are under quarantine and thus not able to visit the school). So, the school’s volunteers have created a public Facebook page and placed copies of all available school records there for public view from the comfort of their homes.

To access the page, search for 1855 Frantz One-Room Schoolhouse Records on Facebook.

Keep checking the page. From time to time, photos from the 1855 one-room school are added, highlighting the artifacts preserved at the school. Visitors can also comment on the Facebook page or post their own history-related photos.

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