22 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
as they are now generally known, would send their children, for a year or so, to their own school at West Town, when they were say about fourteen to sixteen years of age, but the poor farmer with a mortgage on his farm (as was gen¬ eraUy the case), and with a large family of children to raise, and interest on a mortgage to be paid, had but Uttle chance to give any of his sons an education beyond what they could get at the winter subscription schools.
It was my good fortune to get along well with the teachers. I do not remember getting a whipping at school or even a severe rebuke. I do not claim that I was any better or freer from pranks than other boys, but in school I was a student. When out, I was a boy amongst the others. At that time the schoolmaster was a perfect despot, making his own rules and enforcing them absolutely. Should his oral commands not be obeyed at once, the rod was appUed until the command was compUed with, and there was no appeal. Should the victims complain to their parents, the reply was, " Behave yourself and do as the master tells you, and you won't get thrashed." This was cold comfort, consequentiy but few complaints were made at home. In the winter schools, the course of instruction was extremely simple. Comly's spelling book, with definitions, was studied; in reading, the introductions and sequel of the EngUsh reader, and the Columbian Orator were the books used; history, geography, and grammar were not taught. In mathematics, Pike and Bennett's Arithmetic completed the studies, except in the case of a very few pupils, whose parents Uved near the school and were able to let their children attend in the summer; boys who had mastered Pike and Bennett struggled with mensuration for the purpose of becoming surveyors, a title that commanded some respect at that time, and to see a surveyor with his instruments and chain measuring the farms and roads.