Monday, October 12, 2009



This article comes from the Chamber Clipper newsletter of the Milton Chamber of Commerce. The issue date I do not have, but it is somewhere in the late1980’s or early 1990’s. It was first written by William Wagamon, the local historian at that time, now deceased, and his able assistant, Wanda Clendaniel King, who on this day of our Lord, October twelfth, two thousand and nine, is very much alive and an active ‘bridge’ player.

The article will have names of people you may not know nor remember, but they were very much part of the Milton and Broadkill Hundred population.

Bill Wagamon wrote “ Schooling, education, book learning, basic education and higher learning, are phrases that maintain knowing about one’s world and oneself, is important to mankind and the ‘schoolhouse’ is and will ever be, a revered place where we began to nurture other ideas besides ones learned at mothers knee”.

In Milton, one of the first school buildings, located next to the Chestnut Street Goshen Cemetery, also called the Milton Methodist Cemetery, was called the Milton Academy. Bill writes, “Academy, the word has such an erudite ring to it that one wishes more buildings of learning were called academies”. This building was probably built in the late 1700’s and is said to have ‘run’ from Chestnut Street to Walnut Street.. This old academy building had only two rooms so plans were made to build another school for an increasing number of Milton school children. A new building was erected in late 1800 , located on Atlantic Street. but caught fire and burned before it was ever occupied.

The old two room Academy was moved to the river, amongst the wharfs at the foot of Walnut Street, then used as a community hall for town meetings and voting. In its place was built what was or is now called by local folk ‘the old school’. This happened in 1890 and the school was named Milton High School, District #8. Students of this school found some of the ‘accommodations’ rather rustic, what with the ‘outdoor lavatory’, one for ‘boys’ and one for ‘girls’. There was no cost spared to make these outdoor buildings commodious and they were ‘well built’ and roofed with slate. Pupils attended this school from 1890 until 1933.

In his writing, ‘Bill’ said that one of the ‘outhouses’ was still in existence on ‘Puddin Hill’.

The year 1932 saw the erection of what was when this article was first written called Milton Consolidated School #8. The first graduating class there was in 1934. A gentleman named Art Wagamon was in that class. Art was Bill’s next younger brother and was lost in an air plane crash at the end of World War II.

In 1922 Milton School #8 on Chestnut Street was ‘consolidated’ and students from all the ‘one room’ schoolhouses nearby in Broadkill Hundred were brought together.

The Cave Neck School, located about one and one half miles ‘east’ of Milton, a wood structure probably built in the mid 1800’s and educated in the one room and one teacher situation, maybe 30 to 40 pupils, age six to almost twenty. Two of the Milton people, known to many old timers, were Pete Reed and Melson Carey. This school was most likely near the Cave Neck and Round Pole Bridge road intersection. Pete and the Carey fellow had to walk to the Chestnut Street school house.

The Williams School was north of Milton, located on what is now the Williams Farm Road out on the Waples Pond Road, also Route 5. It was at lease half way to Reynolds Road. Some of the Donovan children, including Martha, Sam Williams, his brother Asa and Nate, two sisters, had that walk to make to ‘get’ educated. Sam was well know about town after serving the Navy during WWII, as ‘THE SIGN PAINTER’ and painted many of the local business delivery trucks doors.

Then there was the Ingram School. History tells it was built on the old foundation of the St. Johns Episcopal Church which I place right about where Gravel Hill Road and Shingle Point Road intersect. Wagamon tells us there was a mill pond near by named Tam Mill Pond and also known as Fraser Mill Pond.

Other one room schools had been established in Prime Hook Neck, Argos Corner, Broadkill and New Market which more likely were transferred to he Milton #8 consolidated school. Close to Overbrook , east of here , Draw Bridge , Whites Chapel, West Hill and Sunshine schools probably were transferred to the Lewes district. Anyway, these children had to walk to the town school unless their fathers or mothers were not to busy to harness up the horse and buggy. Later this conditioned changed and the school district made a contract with Merritt Hopkins to transport the children to and from school. Bussing had begun.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Harry Howeth, you have been such a great contibutor to Sussex Co. history with your articles in newspaper abstacts and your unlimited time you have spent at Milton Historical Society bringing our history to others. I commend you on your efforts.
    I enjoyed your article regarding the William's School. I would like to add that my father, Ernest L. Wilson attended this school along with the daughters of Thomas Truxton Moore, grandfather of Martha Jane Donovan Burke, during the time from approximately from 1905 to 1919. They lived nearly 2 miles from the William's School and either walked the distance or rode by wagon when Thomas Moore had the time to take them. Please keep up the great work.
    Ernest H. Wilson