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  • Writer's pictureDonald Yamasaki

HSH hosts Early Schools of Atlantic County presentation

Photo Courtesy of Donald Yamasaki Presenters from the “Schools in Early Atlantic County” presentation, which was held on Oct. 22 at the Canoe Club.

The Historical Society of Hammonton hosted the Atlantic County Roundtable of Historical Organizations to present “Schools in Early Atlantic County.”

The presentation was held on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Canoe Club. This was the second presentation of “Schools in Early Atlantic County”; the first was presented the weekend prior in Somers Point, N.J.

There were multiple presenters that gave a little history of the townships in Atlantic County.

They would focus on one school in the township and give an in-depth look at those schools.

Multiple presenters could not be in attendance for various reasons, so towns like Margate and Pleasantville were summarized instead of given full presentations.

Dale Lunkart started out the presentations. She told the history of the first schoolhouse in Atlantic County which was in Weekstown. Silas Morse, the third Superintendent of schools from 1877 to 1892, was credited by Lunkart as the source for this information.

“We think that education in Atlantic County basically started in the 1600s with the Quakers who would teach their children in their homes, and then it went to church schools. And then finally public education came into being,” Lunkart said.

Historical Society of Hammonton Trustee Deborah White gave a presentation on early Hammonton schools.

“Our first little school appeared about 1815 and it was about one mile west of the head of the lake along Main Road and it was really our church. It was a Methodist Episcopal Church, but they did hold classes at this church,” White said.

White showed maps and photos of Hammonton schools of the past and she explained what had happened to them. The land that St. Joseph’s Academy once belonged to another school. There were about nine schools shown on a map of schools in Hammonton from 1860 to 1890.

Norman Goos spoke about Port Republic and the history of their schooling. An interesting claim that Goos made was that prior to the Civil Rights movement, neither Galloway nor Port Republic segregated their schools.

“Everybody talks about segregation. Galloway and Port Republic did not segregate their schools, they were inclusive. But when you get to Egg Harbor City, the schools were 100 percent segregated,” Goos said.

Estell Manor, Egg Harbor Township, Linwood, Somers Point, Galloway and Longport were all other townships mentioned throughout the presentation. A majority of these schools started out as schoolhouses with single rooms. Many of these original schools were modified or destroyed because there were rises in the amount of students in the schools.

Each presenter had brought some artifacts for the audience to take a look at once the presentations were over. For Egg Harbor Township, there was a brick on display from one of the original schools. There were multiple historical books that were on display and other neat artifacts.

White spoke about how the historical societies in the Atlantic County meet at the Atlantic County Historical Society in Somers Point about four times a year. They discuss presentations that each historical society is doing and they discuss problems that they may be facing to exchange ideas for potential solutions. They try to do an event like the “Schools in Early Atlantic County” presentation once a year. This was their first year doing the presentation at two locations. They wanted to see how it would turn out, doing an extra location.

The Historical Society of Hammonton Museum building is open to the public on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Private tours can also be arranged by appointment.


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