One of the first things to be done after the very beginnings of a settlement was to build a school and hire a teacher. This was the case in what was then Youngstown Township, where the first school was established by 1805 or sooner. It was a one room log cabin that might have been something like that above (I cannot find any actual renderings) built on Central Square. Most sources say that it was on the site of the Civil War Soldiers Monument.
The first teacher to be hired was Perlee Brush. We know he was teaching by the fall of 1806 because of an account statement dated October 6, 1806 by Robert Montgomery, who lived just east of the village. Brush had obtained from him cloth for a coat and pants for his teaching clothing, and a subsequent purchase on October 17 of thread, linen, and leather for shirts and shoes. This likely represented a good portion of his salary.
Perlee Brush was no mere school teacher. Like many early settlers in the Youngstown area, he was born in Connecticut, a graduate in 1793 of Yale College, and admitted to the bar after reading law in Connecticut. He was fluent in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, as well as trained in the law. When he moved to the Western Reserve, he was admitted to the Trumbull County bar, of which Youngstown was a part at this time.
The school had 20 to 30 students in summer and 40 in the winter. They paid $1.50 a term for the basic instruction in reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic. The cost of the higher branches of grammar and geography was $2.00 a term.
Brush was succeeded in Youngstown by James Noyes after a few years. He was a “tall, slim man from Connecticut.” In 1818, Jabez Manning took on these duties followed by Phebe Wick, the first woman at this school, in 1820.
Brush, known as “Old Perlee,” not so much for his age as for his wide acquaintanceships, taught in the area for many years in both Hubbard and Poland. He also practiced law in the justice courts and higher courts in Warren.
In 1826, according to Ohio Genealogy Express, he purchased 100 acres of land in Hubbard. A fellow resident gave this description of his farm:
“A small stream, called Yankee Run, flowed through his land, on which there was an old-fashioned carding machine and fulling mill, which he operated for about a year, and then turned his attention to his farm.”
He lived by himself on the farm until, late in life and in failing health, he was cared for by a neighbor. He died in 1852 at the age of 84. By this time, schools had sprung up throughout the area. Public education would come around the middle of the century. Two years after Brush’s death, Judge William Rayen left a Bequest for a public high school, and in 1866, The Rayen School opened. But it all started with “Old Perlee” Brush, who brought his academic training to lowly one-room schoolhouses in the Youngstown area, setting many of the first generation of children in the village on the path to become Youngstown’s future leaders.
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!