First School Built in Preble 1801
Backstory and Context
To start, it is worth mentioning that the town of Preble, NY was part of Onondaga County prior to 1808, which is when Preble became part of Cortland County. The First School in Preble was founded in 1801 and was taught by one teacher, Miss Ruth Thorp. The school was the center of many towns and some included present day northern Tully and Southern/Eastern Homer. The school was short lived, as it was disbanded when several new school districts began to organize in Cortland County. While the school was disbanded, it paved the way for more schools. This began the growth of the respected Cortland County towns and villages, such as Preble.
The First School was one of the first established structures in the town of Preble, NY, and later Tully, NY. By April 8 1808 the town detached from Tully and was renamed Preble, after Commodore Edward Preble. Preble sat on the Syracuse, Binghamton, and New York Railroad. It started with just a couple churches, the First School (with just two teachers in employment), a couple of blacksmiths, and a series of other shops. The town contained roughly 400 inhabitants, by 1810 the population increased to 1,179. Preble’s population began slowly increasing to roughly 1,435 by 1830, then it slowly began declining after the next few decades.
Preble had a fairly consistent population throughout the early-mid 19th century. It was a town that had a slow progression with the first post office not emerging until 1812. The settlers of Preble originally received their mail from Pompey Hill, NY. It wasn’t until 1804 that the first church was established in Preble, then Tully. The church was originally named the Congregational Church of Tully, later to be renamed to the First Presbyterian Church of Preble after the Tully detachment of 1808. By 1865 the population was 1,267 and the town itself was roughly 16,114 acres.
Why should anyone care about the first school of a small New York town? A historical marker for a school that is no longer standing seems pretty insignificant. However, consider the challenges the people of a new settlement must face, especially at the start of the 19th century. With the erection of a school, the settlement starts to become more of a permanent place. It becomes more homely for the residents, and the settlers will receive an education. The First School marked the achievement of a successful town that remains to this day. The marker is the schools location, but the physical building is no longer there. The marker is a reminder to the people of present day Preble of the early history of the town.
It is worth noting that prior to the discovery of the New World, the land that Preble resides on was part of the Iroquois nation. By the start of the early 19th century, the Iroquois land was significantly pushed back, and/or taken.
By: Marissa Spoto, Gavin Brown, Brent Smith, & Matt Bartley
Goodwin, Hermon Camp. Pioneer History, Or, Cortland County and the Boarder Wars of New York. 1859, A.B. Burdick Publisher pg. 175
Unknown. “History of Preble, New York.” Published: Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1869.