Remembering the Past: Raritan Township Schools

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By Diane Norek Harrison

EDISON-This is from my own material dated 1882 when Edison Township was known as Raritan Township: Although the allotment of a portion of the common lands for the benefit of schools is evidence of the interest in education felt by the first settlers, yet there was no action on the part of the town (then Woodbridge) to effect the establishment of a school, until 1689. This was in march of that year, and James Fullerton, who owned lands with his brother, near what is now Plainfield township, and near Oak-Tree School, as it was called, in this township, was employed as “schoolmaster.”

In 1694 it appears that one John Conger was opposed to a free school for the next year, which Mr. Brown was desired to teach at a salary of twenty-four pounds, and Mr. Conger protested against the school over his signature, which was that of “his Mark.” We next learn of John Baker, in the same year, being employed “to teach for six months on trial,” he to keep “ye school this winter time until nine o’clock at night.”

During the Revolutionary war, and until about 1784, there were no schools taught. A tax upon dogs was appropriated for for schooling poor children.

The present school districts (1882) are named Lafayette, Fairfield, Oak-Tree, New Durham, Friendship, No. 10, and the old Franklin schoolhouse. The names of Miss Abigail Thomas, Mr. Lane, Mr. Tibbitts, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Alpheus, W. Kellogg, 1839, J. Newton Smith.

The Metuchen schoolhouse in the year 1842 was removed, and the present substantial building has taken its place, finished in 1871 at a cost of about $9000.

I will not have anymore Edison or Carteret columns this year, unless I hear from readers. Have your own school memories or past material for any  of the towns?

Perth Amboy is celebrating their 325th Anniversary of its charter, 1683-2008. If anyone has memories or past material from the last 325 years please send.

Summer is “unofficially” over. Hoping to hear from more readers from all seven towns to finish my 2008 columns. If you have Halloween memories or past material from the area I need all by Sept. 28 and don’t forget I am looking for winter and Christmas memories or past material from all seven towns. Send your scouting, plays, school, houses of worship, town, organization’s parties, where you saw Santa, stores that were decorated, where you did Christmas shopping, bought Christmas ornaments or live trees, sleigh riding, ice skating, bon fires, etc. It is not politically correct to use Christmas anymore with the end of the year festivities, but it sure is in my column. Send all winter and Christmas past information to me by Nov. 1. Have Hanukkah information from the past of the area? Please send also! Your name does not have to be used with past information sent, but please state if you wish not to be identified.

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com   or send “copies” of your material to me at CMD Media, P.O. Box 1061 Rahway, N.J. 07065.


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