THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF AYTON SCHOOL 1841 - 1891

 

CHAPTER XI. GEORGE DIXON'S FAREWELL.

Preface
Contents
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Appendix

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Contents

“THE only change in the establishment, which it appears necessary to notice, is the engagement of Ralph Dixon, son of the superintendent, as principal teacher of the boys; the committee made this arrangement on serious deliberation, under the conviction that after sixteen years of almost uninterrupted exertion in teaching, our valued Friend, George Dixon, was entitled to some abatement of his duties. He retains, however, the entire superintending control and oversight of the school, together with the religious instruction of the boys and their education generally; and he purposes to be their companion when occupied in agriculture and gardening, the latter being an object the committee have long desired to attain.”

The above arrangement is referred to in the report for 1858.

“In accordance with the report of last year, the services of our Friend, George Dixon, are now very much confined to general superintendence and religious instruction and care. His son, Ralph Dixon, acts as master in the school, and is agreeably assisted by the two apprentices, the elder of whom has had the benefit of twelve months study at the Flounder’s Institute.”

In 1849 we had three or four scholars finishing their education who wished to be teachers; they were allowed to remain in the school until they could find situations. This added to the expenses and increased the average cost. The committee refer to these in the report. “The committee have acted upon the desire of many of its members to give to the children alike when in school and at work the advantage of more constant supervision with direct and earnest care.”

“They have also been solicitous to do their part to increase the number of duly qualified teachers in our religious society by encouraging such young persons as evince taste and qualification to remain as such, though not absolutely required, or fulfilling all the duties of assistant teachers and apprentices. These important objects have doubtless pressed somewhat heavily on the funds of the institution.”

As my son, Ralph, gained experience in managing the institution, I was further relieved of all responsibility as teacher, except the scripture lessons and general oversight. The report for 1861 states: “The relative position of our valued superintendent and his son Ralph Dixon, have during the past year been somewhat changed. Greater responsibility now devolves upon the latter, thus affording George Dixon some relief from the constant mental toil which he has cheerfully borne from the first establishment of the institution.”

Ralph Dixon married Elizabeth Fox, of Dewsbury, who had faithfully served her apprenticeship as teacher to the girls from 1851 to 1855. He and his wife were requested in 1862 to reside in the institution. In 1859 my son John married Louisa Wilson, who had been governess at the school. With the hope of withdrawing entirely from the institution, my wife and I settled down in a new house which I had built in George Street, which is now known as California. After two years’ residence in our new house, my dear wife became paralysed and died in 1865. My oldest daughter, Alice, after finishing her apprenticeship as teacher of the girls, had entered York School for further improvement, when she had finished her education, returned home and became my housekeeper.

In a few months I was deprived of her services by her marriage with David Fox, of Darlington. My youngest daughter, Sara Ann, took her place, as my youngest son, George was employed in John Dunning’s office, at Middlesbrough; we were the only occupants of a large house. I had begun a brick-yard and tile-sheds behind my house, rented land for farming, and opened quarries on the moor, carrying the stones to Middlesbrough in wagons, also timbers for the ironstone mines, which I cut up at a small steam saw-mill. The civil war in America had closed, and all the slaves in the Southern States had obtained their freedom, and I determined to give a few years of my life to establishing schools for their education, wind up all my affairs and embark for America, early in 1866, accompanied by my daughter Sarah Ann, who was invited by her uncle, Dr. Swinburn, of Rochester, New York State, to reside in his family while I was carrying out my mission to the Freedmen. The following paragraph in the report for 1865 explains my movements:-

“Our dear friend, George Dixon, who has occupied the position of superintendent of the institution since its establishment 25 years ago, and to whose exertions and thoughtful care under the blessing of the Almighty, the school has been much indebted, resigned his important charge in the latter part of last year, believing it right to leave this country for a time, and on the 10th of 2nd month sailed from Liverpool for North America, with a view, among other objects, of assisting in the labours of Friends on behalf of the destitute Freedmen. He is succeeded by his son, Ralph Dixon, who has for some years held a responsible position in this establishment, and whose experience qualifies him for the situation; the duties of superintendent have devolved upon him from the commencement of the present year.”

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