Looking Backward - Lysander Goes To School

This is the third in a series of stories about our early schools, in this case the old Fenner School, District #8.

I've mentioned before that if you were born in Baldwinsville like me, then you're probably related to everyone here somehow. As one of my mother's 24 first cousins, Rosalyn Snow is no exception. Rosalyn and her husband, Gerry, live out in Iona (or Ionia) Corners in the town of Van Buren. They once ran one of the largest egg farms in the area. Before Rosalyn married Gerry, she was known as Rosalyn Reeves of the town of Lysander.

Rosalyn's father, Edward Reeves, and my maternal grandmother, Bernice Reeves Foster, were brother and sister. They grew up on the road west of Beaver (or Mud) Lake named for their father, Arthur Reeves. Folks by that name lived on the road more than 100 years ago, and they probably still will 100 years from now. It's a short road, running from Wheaton Road on the west to Fenner Road on the east. On the east side of this latter intersection sits a small, gray house. For years, it was the Fenner School and the community around it was known as the Fenner District, #8. Rosalyn said that the district and road both received their name from the Fenners, the first family to settle and farm the area. Pearl Palmer, former Lysander Town Historian, agrees.

Pearl Palmer edited a series of articles about the Fenner District in the Messenger back in 1950. This series was based on a manuscript titled "History of District #8, Lysander" by long-time Fenner Road resident, Charlie Keller. According to Charlie, "One of the former Fenner brothers, John L. Fenner, known as Deacon Fenner, settled in that area when the country was new and cleared considerable land. He built a log house on the southwest part of the farm. Later he built the homestead. On this farm was a shingle mill. Deacon Fenner was a carpenter by trade and turned out shingles in his mill. The farm lying next east was known as the James L. Fenner farm, one of the brothers of Deacon Fenner and Frederick Fenner. The school district was established in the year 1825. The original school house stood on the farm known as the Fenner farm, and in the forties (1840s), a new site was purchased and a new school was built where it now stands, on the Ralph Huntington farm." I now have two of the old deeds to the early Fenner farm, which my great grandfather Arthur Reeves bought in 1898. It's now part and parcel of the working farm owned and operated by three of his great grandsons, Mark, Brian and Andy. The Reeves "boys" are the sons of Arthur's oldest grandchild, Cecil Reeves, Rosalyn's oldest brother.

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