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February 20, 2008 > History: Centerville School District

History: Centerville School District

Centerville was one of the three original school districts created by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for Washington Township. The district covered the central area from the Alvarado School District on the north to the Mission San Jose School District on the south. The size of the district was reduced by the formation of Alviso School District in 1856 and Lincoln School District in 1865.

The first public school house was built back of the Crosby place "near the lagoon" which would be near the present BART station. In pioneer days this lagoon was connected by a swale to Stiver's Lagoon, now Lake Elizabeth, and Central Park.

Later, the school was moved to the corner of the Overacker Ranch near Centerville, where it served until replaced by a new school on the present Fremont Boulevard in 1881. The original building was described in February 1880 as "a certain old dilapidated school-house, weather-beaten and of a spruce-gummy color, boards broken off, blinds on one hinge-in a word, just what any old, long-suffering school-house would be." At this time the old building was being remodeled into a house by Tom Nelson. It eventually became part of Bell's Bicycle Shop.

Charles Shinn wrote that the first teacher was a Mr. Murphy followed by Erastus Johnson. Other sources show that Johnson was paid $1200 to teach that first year. Johnson was a Centerville farmer who taught school and tutored at times.

A. A. Moore wrote that in 1858 he attended a schoolhouse about midway between Niles and Centerville. He recalled teachers F. P. Dann and Stephen Nye. Students included J. M. Alviso, Charley Overacker, Billie Blacow and two Threlfall boys. Stephen Nye, who later became a famous judge, recalled that the first money he earned in California was as a teacher at Centerville School for three months. In 1861 he was elected District Attorney of Alameda County.

The History of Washington Township lists Miss Everett, Stephen Nye, Frederick Dann, Frederick Campbell, Kirke Brier and Miss Julia Rappleye as early day instructors. This book also recounts the story of Miss Everett driving one day with Jonathon Mayhew, to whom she was engaged. They met the Reverend W. W. Brier also driving, and the marriage ceremony was performed then and there, none of the parties alighting from their vehicles." That's the way Miss Everett became Mrs. Mayhew.

Our oldest complete record for Centerville School is the "Public School Register of Centerville District NO.2 for the years 1865-1867. The first term in the register began Jan. 8, 1866, and ended June 1. Records for two classes were alternated in this one register. There were 27 names entered for the first month for one class. Alice Overacker, 6, was the youngest student, and Carrie Beck was oldest, at 18 years and 7 months.

The second class listed 29 names. Fred Ross and James Thompson were age eight; William Blacow was 19 years and 2 months old.

The teacher's summary notes that the teacher took charge of the school Aug. 7, 1865. Records for the fall term apparently were kept in another book. A total of 52 boys and 40 girls had enrolled during the year, but the average daily attendance was only 49.

Classes were held for 174 days that school year. The teacher was paid $80 a month. There were 40 volumes in the school library, and the teacher took the periodicals "California Teacher," "Massachusetts Teacher," "New York Teacher" and "American Education Monthly." Trustees made seven visits, the county superintendent three and other people 35.

Julie A. Rappleye was the teacher for this term of five months. She noted that the decrease in attendance in the last month was caused by whooping cough and by closing the school three days for a "teacher's institute" and four days when the teacher was ill.

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