Held at: Old Eagle School [Contact Us]Private Way, Strafford, PA, 19087
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Old Eagle School. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Old Eagle School is an 18th-century schoolhouse located in the community of Strafford, Pennsylvania, part of Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. The school's original structure was built in 1768, although the current building was constructed in 1788 and expanded to its present size in 1842. Initially, donated by Jacob Sharraden, a German Lutheran, for 'religious and educational purposes,' the land also includes burial grounds with the remains of Revolutionary War soldiers. In 1895, after a legal dispute between the local community and the Tredyffrin School District over ownership of the schoolhouse, the title to the property was granted to a local group of trustees. As of 2016, Old Eagle School continues to be overseen by a board of trustees, who are responsible for the upkeep of the school and grounds, and is largely used for community events.
"It was the custom of German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s to build a church and have a school connected with it. Such were the beginnings of the Old Eagle School when in 1765, Jacob Sharraden, a German immigrant who was proprietor of a grist mill and a man of wealth and education, bought 150 acres in Tredyffrin [Chester County, Pennsylvania] just north of the present Strafford railroad station, and set aside from this ground a lot for a church and schoolhouse. A deed, executed by him to certain individuals of the community as Trustees, covered the present graveyard, church, and schoolhouse lot and dedicated them to public use.
"In 1768, a log structure was built which was superseded in 1788 by the rubble stone structure we see today...Children paid 3 cents per day to attend school, or $2 per quarter and had to provide their own goose-quill pens...Children were educated up to the age of 12. By that time it was hoped they would read and write.
"The original schoolhouse was smaller than today's building. It initially faced Old Eagle School Road. On that side one can notice the walled-up entryway that consisted of double doors and was flanked by windows, one of which (north side) is completely walled up and the other narrowed. Over the old entry is a stone with the initials "A.G." and "1794" with a shamrock scratched on it. This is reportedly the initials of Andrew Garden, the Irish schoolmaster of that time. In 1842, the schoolhouse was enlarged by about one third, and one can notice the difference in the coloration of the stones used to extend the building toward Private Way.
"In 1836, Pennsylvania adopted the Central School System and the administration of the schoolhouse gradually passed from the Trustees to the Tredyffrin Township School District which assumed complete control in 1854. In 1872, the school board erected a new school at Pechin's Corner (Upper Gulph and Old Eagle School Roads), and the key to the Old Eagle School was given to the Union Sunday School. The building was intermittently used by preachers for the next 20 years. At one point in the 1860s, Old St. David's Episcopal Church raised funds with the hopes of establishing a mission in the building. In 1895, litigation between members of the community and the Tredyffrin School District was resolved against the school district. The courts determined that the school district did not own the schoolhouse. Title to the property was established in five trustees, since expanded to nine, to be held by them 'for the general use and good of the neighborhood for religious, educational purposes and the repose of the dead.'
Not Famous, But Faithful
"In the adjoining graveyard are some 70 graves which include those of many early settlers of the area as well as several revolutionary soldiers who died during the Valley Forge encampment of 1777 to 1778. The graves of these patriots are simply marked by field stones. In 1905, the Trustees placed a bronze tablet on a large boulder on the western slope of the graveyard bearing the following inscription: 'In unmarked graves within this ancient burial ground were whose names...are inscribe upon this boulder in grateful remembrance of the common debt due these humble patriots this memorial was dedicated in 1905.'
"Also in the graveyard is found a monument to Margaretta Werkiser who was the wife of Christian Werkiser and daughter of Jacob Sharraden who donated the property for the school. The inscription on her tomb reads 'Verses on tombstones are but idly spent, the living character is the monument.' Margaretta Werkiser must have been a woman of great character during the Revolutionary War, for it was reported that she bravely crossed British lines to walk to Philadelphia to bring back much needed medical supplies for the patriots."
Quoted text from: The Old Eagle School. "History." 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. http://www.oldeagleschool.org/History.html.
Fuller, Frank. "Henry Pleasants, and the Old Eagle School." Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society 36, no. 3 (July 1998): 91-98.
Vacca, Megan. "Background Note." In Finding Aid for Henry Pleasants Collection, (Collection 1508), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Accessed August 16, 2016. http://hsp.org/sites/default/files/legacy_files/migrated/findingaid1508pleasants.pdf.
The Trustees of Old Eagle School records, 1865-2000s (bulk 1920s-1990s), consist of correspondence, deeds, minutes, financial records, and property materials, as well as histories of the school, newspaper clippings and research materials relating to the school, photographs, and other materials.
Trustees records include correspondence, 1877-2000s, containing letters from Charles Pennypacker relating to the court case with the Tredyffrin School District; financial records, 1895-2000s, such as bills and receipts, bank and other financial statements, check stubs, Henry Pleasants' treasurer's notebook (1895-1923), treasurer's reports, tax materials, insurance materials, donation/pledge cards and other fundraising materials, and other documents; administrative materials, including minutes, 1950s-2000s (with gaps), lists of trustees and their contact information, and petitions appointing trustees; and property and legal materials, such as technical drawings of the general area around the school, a blueprint of the building, materials relating to maintenance and repairs (plans, bids, and materials from building and property focused fundraising efforts), documents relating to graveyard and its maintenance, some materials from the Strafford Garden Club (responsible for maintenance of the school's burial ground in the 1950s and 1960s), a deed (1895) giving the community the rights to the school and its property, a few court documents and other legal papers related to the case, estate materials from bequests received by Old Eagle School, and inventories of objects in the schoolhouse.
Henry Pleasants (1853-1929) was a lawyer and first cousin of American artist John Singer Sargent. Pleasants lived in Radnor, PA and was an active member of his community, serving as vestryman at nearby St. David's Church and a trustee of Old Eagle School for several years. He also wrote and published histories of both the church and the school. In addition to Henry Pleasants' treasurer notebook, there are other materials relating to Pleasants in the collection, including copies of his published history of the school, originally printed in 1909.
Other history and research materials related to the school and the Strafford area include typed histories of the school, booklets and pamphlets with the history of the school, histories of the Sharraden family (who donated the land for the school), notebooks with handwritten research notes and narratives about the school and related topics, binders with photocopies of written histories about the school, newspaper clippings and photocopied newspaper clippings related to the school and the surrounding area, a small portion of research files organized by topic (e.g. graveyard, Revolutionary War, and other topics), and a scrapbook with photocopies of primary source documents relating to Old Eagle School.
There are also some photographs, circa 1960s-1990s, in the collection, many depicting gravestones in the school's burial ground and the school building, as well as some prints of a drawing of the school.
Other materials in the collection include an unidentified handwritten booklet with names, 1865; National Register for Historic Places and PA Register application materials, circa 1989-1990s; research related to grant applications; printed matter, including booklets from events at the school, brochures, stationery, and photocopies of broadsides; catalogs for ordering school supplies, 1917; a small amount of printed matter from the Stafford Civic Association, the Radnor Historical Society, and other local organizations; and thank you notes from school children.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Old Eagle School directly for more information.
- Interest (Ownership rights)
- Rural schools
- School buildings
- Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of
- Old Eagle School
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Old Eagle School for information about accessing this collection.