One-Room School House (updated)

Nova Scotia School, 22 Deforest Street, Watertown CT (2016)

My grandmother Mabel Black Gould (1893-1996) attended the small white-clapboard Nova Scotia School in Watertown CT as a young girl around the turn of the 20th century. Along with her siblings, she walked or road a horse from her home at Birch Farm on Northfield Road to the schoolhouse that was at the corner of Fern Hill Road and Route 6.

Mabel Gould and her brother Ray with their horses, Maude and Molly.
Mabel Black Gould’s childhood home
The Brick House at Birch Farm, Northfield Road, Watertown CT (2016)

The tiny school house was just one room with wooden desks. It held 28 elementary school-aged students. Mabel was an avid reader but the school only had a few books, and they were kept on a high shelf. She read all the books many times, she told me. Later in life, she would go the Ridgewood Public Library every week to borrow books.

My mother recalls Mabel telling the story of her black stockings. Every day, she wore black stockings to school. One morning, her stockings were torn, and she had no others. So her mother, Grandma Black, used a black marker to hide the hole.

I don’t know the name of her teacher, but Miss Jessie Wheeler was teaching in the school house in 1898, around the time when Mabel might have started school at the age of five.

Waterbury Evening Democrat April 19, 1898

The school was active in the community of Watertown. As this undated newspaper clipping shows, the Nova Scotia teacher organized a picnic with a program that included recitations by Mabel and her siblings.

On another occasion, the whole school went to Mabel’s home at Birch Farm to have a picnic.

E.M. Black was Mabel Black Gould’s father, Elnathan Mitchell Black.
Waterbury Evening Democrat June 27, 1903

Mabel went on to graduate from high school in Watertown. In another post, I will tell you about Mabel’s teacher-training and career as a teacher before her marriage to J. Howard Gould.

Mabel Black Gould walking to school across a field in Watertown CT,
circa 1908.

The Nova Scotia School closed in 1929. In 2009, the building was moved 22 Deforest Street in the center Watertown. (Interestingly, DeForest is a family name. Mabel’s great-grandmother was Anna Eliza DeForest). The school house is maintained by the Watertown Historical Society.

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