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Billy Lynch Was 1868 School ...
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Billy Lynch Was 1868 School ...
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Newspaper Article: BILLY LYNCH WAS 1868 SCHOOL MASTER AT SAM GATY WHEN BRAWN WAS AS IMPORTANT AS BRAINS

Among the interesting narratives of early days none are more interesting than the tales of the early schoolmasters. Time was when Pike county’s pioneer schools called for brawn as well as brain. Nearly every back-woods school had its gang and its gang leader. School athletics in those days consisted chiefly of running the teacher out of the district. Teachers oftentimes had to rule with a rod of iron. Usually it was the stove-poker. Occasionally the early-day schoolmaster had to “lay out” the “big bad boys” of the school with the stove-poker, as did Charles Benbrook down in the old Highland district, south of Pittsfield. The story of Benbrook’s famous “poker battle” was long a classic among Highlanders.
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The late John W. (Billy) Lynch was one of Pittsfield’s veteran schoolmasters who had many entertaining recollections of early school days in Pike county. Mr. Lynch taught his first school in 1868 at what was known as the Sam Gaty school in what is now the Rock Hill district in Spring Creek township. The schoolhouse was a rude, barn-sided structure about 18 by 20 feet and stood about one-half mile east of the present Bay Creek bridge near Rock Hill. The school’s equipment and surroundings were as rude as the school room itself and Mr. Lynch said that his own qualifications as a teacher at that time were about as rude as the other appurtenances of the school.
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Mr. Lynch recalled that during that first term of school at Sam Gaty he was his own janitor, cutting his own wood and doing whatever other chores were necessary for the upkeep and maintenance of the school. The stove was a rude, rickety affair full of wide cracks and with a door that had to be propped shut. There was no state distributive school fund in those days and no state requirements to be met, as there are now. Mr. Lynch lived at the time on what is now the A.G. Sowers place north of Pittsfield. He secured bed and board in the Sam Gaty neighborhood for $1.75 a week.
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John G. Pettingill was County School Superintendent when Mr. Lynch wrote and passed his first examination an October 1, 1868. Pettingill was Pike county’s first school superintendent (assuming the office in 1865) and was also the last of the school commissioners who preceded the superintendents. The boy, Lynch, attended common school back in Indiana, where he was born in Putnam county on February 19, 1843; the son of Caselton and Miriam Lynch. He had had also about three months’ schooling in Chillicothe, Mo., before the family came to Pike county. Although in later years he acquired some two or three years high school training under Prof. Pike in the Pittsfield schools and additional pedagogic training in the summer schools, when he tackled his first teaching job at Sam Gaty he had nothing to his credit but a little common school education. The Sam Gaty directors, however, were not concerned so much about the educational qualifications of a teacher. What they wanted was a teacher who could lick one Jackie Hamilton. Lynch took the contract.
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Jackie Hamilton, it appears, was the bully of the Sam Gaty district. He is represented as being a big, bluff, rough-spoken, blustering old fellow with a pugnacious disposition and a special antipathy for schoolteachers. It is said that his hobby was running schoolteachers out of the district and that he had a perfect score up to the time of Lynch. Lynch took the job of teaching the Sam Gaty school, Jackie Hamilton notwithstanding.
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When Lynch went to Sam Gaty there was doubtless some speculation in the district as to how long he would stay. It was probably quite generally assumed that his stay would be brief and eventful. The district sat back and waited. The inevitable happened. The schoolmaster and Jackie Hamilton mixed, and mixed right.
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One raw evening while Lynch and his pupils were hovering close in around the fire, the stove suddenly spat flame and hot ashes and burning chunks of wood in all directions through the schoolroom. The children fled pell-mell. Jackie Hamilton had loaded one of Lynch’s stovewood sticks with gunpowder. Only the dilapidated condition of the old stove and the fact that the door blew open prevented the stove from being blown to pieces. In this manner Jackie Hamilton saluted the new teacher.
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A man named Applegate, a fiddler of the old school, sometimes came to Lynch’s schoolhouse after school hours to “fiddle” for the schoolmaster and his pupils. One evening while Applegate was “fiddling”, one of Lynch’s pupils came back to the schoolhouse with a story that Jackie Hamilton wouldn’t let him pass his place on his road home. Lynch went back with his pupil and met Hamilton. Hamilton swore that the boy should not pass and threatened him with dire consequences for having hit his (Hamilton’s) boy with a rock. Lynch advised Hamilton that he was going to see that the boy went home unmolested and proceeded to shed his coat. Hamilton stormed and fumed but did not give battle. Lynch thereupon put on his coat and went back to his schoolroom. Then the Hamiltons started the story in the district that Jackie made the schoolteacher put on his coat and slink back to his school room like a whipped cur.
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Lynch’s prestige in the district was threatened. He had to rout Hamilton and rout him utterly. Arming himself with an old “hoss pistol”, Lynch sallied forth in quest of Hamilton. He met him in the woods. Hamilton was in a wagon. Lynch told Hamilton that settlement time had come. Hamilton swore that the schoolmaster’s time had come. He scrambled out of the wagon, dragging a shotgun with him. As he rolled over the wheel he found himself looking down the barrel of Lynch’s old “hoss pistol”. Hamilton lit a-running. Lynch ordered him to drop his gun. He did. Hamilton crashed through the underbrush, waded a stream and scrambled up the farther bank, leaving the forest primeval to solitude and to Lynch. Thus ended the Hamiltonian era in Sam Gaty.
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Mr. Lynch recalled that the school text books of 1868 consisted of Green’s grammar, Willard’s U.S. history, Ray’s third-part arithmetic, and McGuffey’s fourth reader. Teaching was practically limited to the seven little common branches, namely, reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, geography, grammar and U.S. history. Rarely was there any call for the four higher branches, to-wit: zoology, physiology, botany and philosophy. Girls did not take to grammar in those days. If a girl could read, write and spell she was considered fairly well educated.
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Mr. Lynch taught a total of 138 months in Pike county’s schools. In his 23 years of service as a schoolmaster he had many and varied experiences but none perhaps more interesting than those of that first year at Sam Gaty.

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