|Phineas P. Whitehouse to Mrs. Edna D. Cheney
March 11, 1867
The Freedmen's Record
March 11, 1867
Mrs. Edna D. Cheney
As I informed you in a previous communication my school is made up of both white and black children. The white I
instruct in the morning, the colored I attend to in the afternoon; and for the benefit of colored adults who cannot attend
in the day, I have an extra school Tuesday and Friday evenings.
The attendance as may be seen by the reports, was not so full during the winter months as in the autumn. I had some
scholars who will not probably attend in the summer, but the falling off in little ones exceeded in numbers the few I
gained. Sickness and the severe weather did something to make the attendance more irregular than it would
otherwise have been. Four little girls in one family were all sick at one time; and during the cold weather of January
and a part of February many little bare feet were obliged to remain in-doors. As mild weather returns I expect to see
such back in their places.
My white pupils who attend in the morning, are, of course, farther advanced than the others; and, consequently, there
is a greater variety in the branches taught. Physical geography and grammar are among the studies. Some scholars
in arithmetic are pretty well advanced. One girl Miss Annie Larcombe, has been very industrious and deserves much
credit for her perseverance. She has been ill half the time since the commencement of the present term; but she
improved her time when at school and studied at home when able, and is now on the last page of Greenleaf's
Common School Arithmetic.
In the afternoon, among the colored children, the only branches taught have heretofore been reading and spelling,
arithmetic and penmanship. There are none in this school in the alphabet or primer. Most read in the first and second
reader. Till very recently I had a class of three in the 3rd reader -- all belonging to one family. Two of these later have
left school to work and will not probably come again to the day school the present season. Most of those in arithmetic
who number 10 learn quite readily. Only one of these is actually dull.
The night school, held semi-weekly, is made by, as I said in one of my reports, of adults who work in the day, the older
scholars who attend, and a few of the afternoon---all colored. In this school our time is principally occupied in reading
exercise. It is truly encouraging to see these men and women, after working all day, come in and study the reader so
attentively. It is true their tired bodies and weary heads often say silently if not in words, "I am unfit for study." And not
infrequently the nodding head falls involuntarily on the desk before it. I have not a heart to chide such for sleeping in
school-time. I simply wake them when it comes to their turn to read, and say nothing. This school, though smaller in
numbers than either of the other s, is still quite interesting. I trust those who attend do not spend the hours altogether
Both the white and colored pupils manifest a good degree of interest in the school, and all feel proud of the beautiful
new school house, the liberal donation of Mr. William E. Coffin, of your city. The house has a fine bell, the sound of it
which seems to be peculiarly pleasing to the colored children, the little boys, and some of the little girls, even delight to
? it at school time and almost every day as I return from morning school --- "Can I ring de bell, sir?" is sounded in my
ears. Sometimes no less than four, ---"Billy", "Jack", "Teeny," and " S A Luz," meet me on my way home with this
question on this lips. Of course I am pleased to gratify all as far as I'm able.
I am very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Phineas P. Whitehouse was from Southampton New Hampshire. He had been a corporal in the 6th New Hampshire,
Company C when he was wounded and his right arm amputated. He taught himself to write again using his left hand.