Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Isaac C. Hill, Involved with Pelham Education for Forty-Five Years, Retired in 1922

Isaac C. Hill was an important figure in the development and evolution of public education in the Town of Pelham.  I have written about Hill on a number of occasions.  For examples, see:

Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2005:  Isaac C. Hill's Reminiscences of Early Public Schools in Pelham.

Tue., Mar. 28, 2006:  More Reminiscences of Isaac C. Hill of Early Public Schools in Pelham.

Mon., Aug. 11, 2014:  Excerpts of January 8, 1889 Remarks Dedicating a New School Building in Pelhamville.

While there have been many devoted administrators, instructors, Board of Education members, and support personnel in the Pelham public school system during the last two hundred years, few have had the sort of long-term impact on the public schools and, more particularly, the school that we know today as Hutchinson Elementary School, that Isaac C. Hill had in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Hill retired from his position as "Supervising Principal" in the Pelham School system not long after a professional administrator was hired by the Board of Education at the time of the opening of the first Pelham High School (in a portion of the building that serves today as Siwanoy Elementary School) to oversee the entire school system.  

Hill was a beloved figure in the Pelham public school system for nearly fifty years.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article that appeared in The Pelham Sun on the occasion of Mr. Hill's retirement from the Board of Education in 1922..

Supervising Princcipal Isaac C. Hill.

"Retires After Many Years Of Devoted Service
Isaac C. Hill, Connected with Pelham's Educational Institutions For Forty-Five Years
Term of Office Extends Back to Time When Pelham Had Only Three Teachers On Staff

The retirement of Isaac C. Hill from the Board of Education brings to a close a period of over forty-five years of devoted service in the cause of education in The Pelhams.  Back in the days of 1877, Mr. Hill came from Mount Vernon to become principal of the Prospect Hill school at Pelham Manor.  The school at that time was housed in a wooden shack on the Split Rock road and the staff consisted of Mr. Hill and one other.  About 20 pupils were then attending the school, many of them as old as the teacher himself.  They were graded and Mr. Hill taught five of the grades.  

After a year's work in Pelham Manor, in January 1878, he took charge of the Pelhamville school, which was then situated near the site of the present Hutchinson school, which was then situated near the site of the present Hutchinson school.  This was in the days when the schoolhouse was warmed by a huge heater in the center of the room and a water pail and tin dipper supplied the needs of the thirsty scholars.  The blackboards were painted on the wall.

From 1877 to 1914 Mr. Hill presided over the destinies of the Hutchinson school.  During that period he has seen the original building enlarged and later destroyed by fire, and the present structure erected.  

In 1913 Mr. Hill, who was then supervising principal, expressed a desire to retire from active school duty, but was requested by the Board of Education to continue for another year as supervising principal.  On his retirement in 1914, he was made the guest of honor at a public meeting, when the presentation of a diamond ring and an engrossed testimonial, as an appreciation of his services, was made to him, and at the same time Mrs. Hill was presented with a diamond brooch.  

Immediately following his retirement as supervising principal, Mr. Hill was appointed to the Board of Education and has held that position continuously until the present time.  The closing years of his service saw the erection of the new Memorial High School.  Thomas Hewitt was president of the Board when Mr. Hill first took office, Robert A. Homes being at the head of the school board when Mr. Hill retired.

The first Regents' graduaate from Hutchinson school was Attorney Harry A. Anderson who passed with honors in all divisions.  The first graduating class in 1889 consisted of his daughter, Ida, now wife of Supervisor David Lyon, and Mrs. Walter Barker.  Three generations of one family went through Hutchinson school during Mr. Hill's term of office -- the late Patrick Marvel, his daughter, Mrs. Rose McGuire, and her son.  

Mr. Hill achieved an enviable reputation for ability and conscientious effort during his term as principal.  Back in the '80s, when Joseph Wood was president of the Board of Education of Mount Vernon, the Pelham schools were held up as an example for Mount Vernon.

The conscientious performance of his duty is borne out by the fact that in the Hutchinson school three more subjects were taught in addition to those demanded by the curriculum.  How good that teaching was may be gathered from the fact that at least two of the pupils of Mr. Hill's regime are now in charge of New York high schools -- Miss Mary Conlon and Frederick Ernst.  During his thirty-seven years of duty as a member of the faculty only one complaint was ever made against Mr. Hill.  That occurred when he insisted that the child of a foreign-born resident learn to recite from memory the preamble to the Constitution.  The charge was made to the Board of Education, but the complainant neglected to appear at the hearing.  

'It's quite a long way back to 1877, when the staff of the Pelham schools was only three, to the present day, when the faculty numbers 54, isn't it?' a Sun reporter queried Mr. Hill at his Third avenue home.

'Yes,' replied Mr. Hill in a reminiscent tone.  'I remember well the first day I came from Mount Vernon to Pelham to take up the school duties.  A well-known resident met me on the street and inquired as to where I was going.  When I told him I was going to Pelham, he said 'Pelham!'  You'll never get along with them up there.  You'll stay about two days.'  And that,' Mr. Hill smiled, 'that was almost 46 years ago and I'm still in Pelham.'"

Source:  Retires After Many Years of Devoted Service -- Isaac C. Hill, Connected With Pelham's Educational Institutions For Forty-Five Years, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 5, 1922, p. 7, col. 1.  

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