History of Thompson-Ledgemont Schools

From the History of Geauga and Lake Counties published in 1878 by Williams Brothers, Philadelphia, we learn that the first school in Thompson was taught by Lurena Hulburt during the summer of 1809 in the log house of her father, Seth Hulburt.  The first building erected as a school was a log building in the village of Thompson.  It was also used as a church and by the Township officials.  The Pioneer and General History of Geauga County, published in 1953, states that in 1827 the Township Trustees laid out five school districts.

In 1840 the Trustees subdivided these into ten school districts.  From the original minutes book of School District No. 8 (�Germany� School, or East Thompson) we read that the annual school meeting was held Sept. 16, 1842.  John Fowler was elected moderator for the meeting.  School directors were then elected: John H. Winn for three years; John Ernst for two years, Benjamin Kimble for one year

In September 1844, the annual school meeting, District No. 8, voted to build a schoolhouse twenty feet square.  This school was voted to be �free to all denomination of religious worship.�

At the special meeting on November 18, 1844, with two-thirds of all voters present, there was a unanimous affirmative vote to build a 20 by 24 foot building.

On a motion to raise $150 to finance the building by a tax payable Jan. 1, 1845, affirmative votes numbered ten, negative votes, three.  A motion was carried that the school directors should take care of the building, and prosecute any person who should mark, cut, deface or write on said building.  A school building was built at the corner Thompson and Sidley Roads.

In 1850 at the annual school district meeting, �a vote was taken and decided in the affirmative that a tax of twenty dollars be raised in the district from the taxable property to support a school eight months in the ensuing year.  (Signed) Ashbel Tillotson, chairman.�

Schools in the other Districts must have had equally interesting histories.

Other District School were:

Ireland School, at Rock Creek and Sidley Roads, closed in 1921;

South Thompson or Burg School on Rt. 528, consolidated in 1924;

West Thompson School, originally at Thompson-Leroy Road and Clay Street, moved before 1905 north on Clay Street and consolidated 1924;

Bostwick�s Corner School at Rock Creek Road and Clay Street, consolidated in 1932;

Tillotson�s Corner School at Rock Creek Road and Rt. 528, probably not used as a school in this century (it is presently (1976) used as a TV repair shop);

A school at Ledge and Moseley Roads, replace by one east on Moseley Road but was also not used as a school after 1895;

A school at Moseley Road and Clay Street existed for a period of time;

And, of course, the Center School located on the site of the present (1976) elementary building.

In November 1923, the West Thompson, East Thompson and South Thompson District voted to consolidate with the Center District.  This was not accomplished without controversy, and regrets over the loss of �our neighborhood school� were expressed.  Economy of operation, modern facilities, and a higher quality education were given as reasons for consolidation and, as Jim Philips of Philips Road said, �If school buses were used, improved roads will come.�

The following paragraphs were composed by M.V. Collen and his wife, Janet

With the elimination of these outlying elementary schools, the matter of transportation of these pupils became of prime importance.  In the early stages kid hacks were used.  These were wagons with canvas covers and drawn by horses.  In the wintertime the driver provided blankets to keep the children warm.  In times of deep mud the children often got out and walked along the side of the road.  With the improvement of roads through the use of much ledge gravel small school buses were bought by the drivers.  The school board gave them sufficient salary to pay for the bus in two or three years and more to pay for the driver�s time.  After he had paid for the bus he was sitting on top of the world with no more payments to make.  With the increase in the number of pupils and larger more costly buses, the state took over the purchase of the buses.

The old school building at the Center of Thompson, built in 1896, provided housing for the first graduating class of Thompson High School in 1898.  This class consisted of Leon Smith (older brother of Perry Smith), Kathleen (Kitty) Sullivan, and Louis McKnight.  This brick building had two stories.  The ground floor was originally one room for the first four grades; the other eight grades were on the second floor.

By 1921 the lower room had been divided into two rooms, one for grades 1-3 and the other for 4-6.  The large second story room was used by grades 7-12.

In the school year 1921-1922, three teachers took care of the classes of these six grades.  These teachers were E. B. Kelmer, principal, Anna Hulbert and M.V. Collen.

In 1924 the upper floor of the building was removed and new sections were constructed around the lower floor.  These were first built at the north, west and south sides of the old building.  A hallway separated these three parts from the old building.  The front room of the south section was used for grades 1 and 2.  The back section was used for grades 3 and 4.  The front room of the north section was used by grades 5 and 6, the back room by grades 7 and 8.  The ground floor room of the building was used for a gym and for classes.  The large west room was used as an assembly, study hall and library.  The new wooden gym was built in 1928 by Hazen Lathrope and Myron Town at a cost of about $6,000.  The County Superintendent of Schools procured $1,500 from the State Department of Education to help pay for the construction.  At a later date the stage was built at the south end with the heating unit under the stage and one small dressing room on each side of the furnace.

In the year 1930 the Home-Ec (Smith-Hughes Act) classes for girls was introduced in Thompson High School.  This Smith-Hughes program was sponsored by the federal government.  This course covered nine months of regular school and two months of summer projects supervised by the teacher.  These projects consisted of the girls redecorating their own rooms at home, some cooking or sewing projects.  The first teacher was Miss Thompson who stayed only one year, then Miss Mary Lyons, followed by Miss Zula Dowler who was highly recommended and highly rated by the state director of Home-Ec, Miss Enid Lunn.

Starting in 1921, the heads of the school were as follows: 1921-1923, E. B. Kellmer; 1923-1926, C.S. Rice; 1926-1951, M.V. Collen; 1951-1958, Robert Lindsey; 1958-1962, Wilmer Bechtel; 1962-1972, Bernard Taylor; and 1972-present (1976), Carl Hinkle.

My period (writes M. V. Collen) in the school for thirty-nine years should receive a note of comment.  Since I taught more than half time while I was head of the school, I had a closer association with the pupils than an administrator who sits in his office all the time.  I enjoyed working with young people and generally had cordial and friendly relationships with them.

(Editor�s note: M. V. Collen during his tenure as school superintendent presented fourteen high school diplomas to the seven brothers and seven sisters in the Stanley Loveland family.)

In 1948 an addition of vocational rooms and classrooms was made.  1955 saw the dedication of the new elementary school on Thompson Road above Ledge Hill.

In August 1959, the County School Board formed a new School District by combining the Thompson and Montville districts.  The County Board appointed a new School Board for the District � Art Colbow and Bert Beadsley from Montville; Ernie Wagner, Robert Smith, and Charles Moseley from Thompson.  This Board was instructed to select a name for the District and to operate the school system beginning with the fall term. �Ledgemont� was the name chosen.

As the school population increased, additional space was added at the elementary school.  The latest addition, completed in 1971, was done with much volunteer labor and skills.  Upon its completion, a reversal was made.  Grades 1-6 were moved to the older building on Rt. 528, and grades 9-12 moved to the Thompson Road buildings.

Ledgemont joined the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School in 1973.

Facts and dates are difficult to research.  A suggestion is made that the clerk of the School Board be requested to summarize briefly after the school term ends the business and happenings of the past year.  Future historians will be grateful.


Above information from the 1976 book
Thompson Ohio Bicentennial Community