Were you or a family member a graduate of Peters Township High School from the years 1905 to 1952? 

Visit our Class Lists page as we honor the students of the first 50 years of education at the high school. See the names of class members, commencement announcements, photos, and a history of the High School written for the Golden Jubilee program in June 1952. 

On this page, we return to the very beginning ...

In 1903, commencement exercises were held  for the 
first two graduates of Peters Township High School: 
Emily Matthews and Mary Patterson. 

According to the 1996 Keyhole  (a quarterly publication 
of the Genealogical Society of Southwestern PA), Mary Jane Ruhama Patterson was born on January 17, 1883. She was the youngest child of John and Elizabeth Patterson. Prior to his marriage, her father served with Company A of the 85th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. 

Mary lived with her parents and three older brothers -- Hamilton, Richard and William -- on a farm between Peters Creek United Presbyterian Church and what was then the Wright's School. School teachers would board with them over the winter months.

This photograph of the students who attended the Wright School was 
taken circa 1895. Mary's older brother, eighteen-year-old Richard, 
is the tall young man in the back row center, ninth from the left. 
After leaving Wright School, he went on to teach at his first school, 
Hillside School near Peter's Creek for the sum of $32 a month. 
He graduated from Slippery Rock College with the class of 1902 and 
continued his teaching career for 25 years. 

Mary attended a winter session of
classes at Muskingum College in New
Concord, Ohio during early 1901 before
the Peters Township High School was
formed in 1902. 

On March 21, 1901 she penciled a charming letter to her brother, Richard. The first page of the letter is pictured at the right. Below is the entire text of Mary's letter.


Click on the letter to enlarge.


New Concord, O.
Mar. 21, 1901

Dear Brother:
Poor little fellow! He did not get as long a letter as he wanted! Poor fellow!

But never mind I will write you a letter that will be worth answering, but it will be written with a lead pencil although as a general rule I do not approve of a lead pencil. I have been almost provoked that you did not answer my letter even if it was short I did not have much time. It seemed to me I could not get into the way of studying, reading, writing or doing anything at night. I was used to going to bed so early at home and I always get sleepy so early but I must break my self of the habit for I do not have time to do the studying I ought to in the morning.

Miss Herdman and I are all alone in the house now. There are still two girls come in to their meals but they are going tomorrow morning. Ah me! I wrote to see if they would not met me go home and not stay for the spring term, for it is going to make a larger debt that I care to carry. My meals were $.06 cents or $15.50 that means about $42 I am in debt already and I donít know how I can pay it back. I wish I had some brains for arithmetic. I think possibly I might creep through if I had. No I donít suppose I could for I got so nervous in the exams here that things just seemed to leave me, but it is over with now and if I flunked I flunked, and I am not concious (sic) of fooling away my time.

I read Willís letter if I did not have one of my own and I am glad you are getting along well and have good order. What do you cook for yourself? I expect you live on eggs and potatoes with the jackets on and things that are easy to cook. Do you buy bakers bread or do you get some women to bake for you?

I had a letter from mother (not from you) and she said that your school would be out in about two weeks and I want to know if you are going to have anything extra. You ought to have at any rate for donít you remember the excitement we used to feel over the "last day of school"?

I donít know whether you can read this or not for the pencil goes slipping along so that I can hardly guide it.

Do you still have those boys that could draw so well in school? Do you think you will go to school this spring? Did you know Wilda Brownlee when you went to school? I think from what her sister Lou says she must have been going about the same time you were. She was not in that picture of the Wash. Co. students was she? We had a picture taken of the fort last week that will be nice to have. If I stay on in school I donít know what studies I ought to take. I suppose if I flunked in any of my exams, I will have to take the studies next term.

Well I feel rather lonesome tonight the house seems so quiet, but I canít go home anyway for I only have a little over a dollar left. I shall write letters for I owe about six. I guess I shall have to write to Ella Gillispie for she was complaining to mother about and mother to her I did not know her address and she gave her address so I have no excuse and any way there are worse girls the (sic) Ella, I like her better now than I used to. I think she has improved wonderfully.

I had a letter from Edna today and she said Jean Wicks had a beau, Howard Kerr of Thomas. He had her at a party at Vogels. Babies should be in their cribs at night not at parties with "beaus".

I had more fun when I went to common school that I do now and it seems to me I could get my lessons much more easily.

Every body is connected here as at home. Miss Herdman is related to the Giffens of Washington County, her father came from there. I think Washington Co. has sent out people all over the U.S. One old women (sic) out here told me that was where the good people came from and I believe her.

I know you must think this a rather flighty letter but I just write what comes uppermost with out regard to rules of Rhetoric. Now, if you think this letter is long enough to be worth answering I will close.

Your loving sister

Mary R. Patterson

Mary, on the right, with friends

After graduation in 1903 from Peters Township High School, Mary attended and graduated from Muskingum College in May 1907. Her college yearbook relates the following about her: "Weight, 145; Height, 5-7; Favorite Author, Dickens; Favorite Study, Literature; Politics, Republican; Color Eyes, Blue Gray; Familiarity, 'Patty'. 

Mary Patterson is remembered in the Keyhole
as a very kind and gentle person...She taught school until she had to retire to take care of her ailing mother and father. She lived on the farm until her death on February 6, 1955."


Pictured here in her later years is our other first graduate, Emily Matthews. While information about Emily is limited, we do know that she was born in 1885 to Chatham Glenn Matthews and Margaret Jane McMurray. She was followed by a sister, Martha Mabel Matthews, in 1887 and a brother, Harvey McMurray Matthews, in 1889. Brother Harvey later became a teacher at Peters Township High School in 1913.

Miss Matthew continued her education and graduated from Westminster College. She married Ernest Vinton Clements, and together they raised three sons. Emily and her husband were missionaries in Punjab, India for over 50 years. She died in 1978 at the age of 93.


Photo courtesy of Robert Matthews

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