24 August 2017

The Lost Schools

A casual study of the 1860 Farm Map of Hillsboro' reveals that by the middle of the 19th century nearly the whole of the township - save for the top of the Neshanic (Sourland) Mountain - had been settled for some time. Farmsteads, villages, and churches - some with already a century-long history - fill the map. Schools were also well-established by this time, and by the end of the decade had been formed into 15 districts, numbers 39 through 53 in Somerset County.

1873 Washington District 49
Although the "district" designations were dropped at the end of the century, all of the schoolhouses, or their successors, were still in use - save one. Some time between the 1878 and 1879 New Jersey School Reports, Washington District School Number 49, the Flaggtown School, was dropped from the list. This school was not in the district which would later build the Flagtown School of which we all remember - that was the Flaggtown Station District. The Washington District school was on Amwell Road, on the section that today is designated as East Mountain Road, opposite the intersection of Mill Lane. 

1878 Hillsborough School Districts
This was right in the heart if the original village of Flaggtown, named after Jacob Flagg and his descendants who owned property and a prominent tavern there in the 18th century. In those days, Mill Lane continued southeast across Amwell (East Mountain) Road and joined at a right angle with an extension of Eisler Lane. Within a few years the US Postal Service forced the village to change its name to Frankfort in order to avoid confusion with the post office at Flagtown Station - but by that time the original Flagtown School was long gone.

Notice for the sale by auction of the District 49 Washington (Flagtown) School
6 March 1879 Somerset Gazette (from the collection of the author)

The school, all of its contents, and the 1/3-acre property were sold at auction on April 8, 1879, after some sort of legal action was initiated by Elisha Wood, who owned the adjoining property at what would today be the northeast corner of East Mountain Road and the Amwell Road Bypass. It is unknown whether the school building was demolished or moved to another location.

1873 Woodville District 39
Another longtime school about which very little is known is the District 39 Woodville School, perhaps also known as the Roycefield School because of its location north of the village on the south side of Duke's Parkway. In those days, and up until the middle of the 20th century Duke's Parkway between the current Route 206 and Roycefield Road was known as Woodville Road. 

1895 Hillsborough School Districts
Today the site of the school is on property owned by Duke Farms, and it is presumed that the school - still active as late as 1895 - was closed during J.B. Duke's persistent land acquisitions between 1893 and 1916. In any case, I have yet to find anything at all about the school. It, like the original Flagtown School, remains lost.

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