The Everett School and Its Teachers
Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Harriet Wales Fletcher Morse (1827-1907) lot 103
Nancy Maria Chamberlain Page (c 1839-1924) lot 42
Abby Frances Ellis (1844-1872) lot 112
Chester H. Comey (1832-1881) lot 43
Built by the Town of Dedham, the Everett School was dedicated in December, 1851. It replaced the old North District School and was an indication of the growing population in South Dedham. The school was located on land previously owned by the Everett family and was named after Israel Everett, a Revolutionary War veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Although the wood-framed building originally had only two classrooms, one on the first floor, one on the second floor, it was considered one of Dedham’s most well-appointed schools at the time it was built. During the mid-19th century, north and south wings were added. When the Guild School was built on Guild Street in 1894, nearly adjacent to the Everett School, the Guild Square area became the educational centerpiece of Norwood. The Guild School was destroyed by fire in 1929 and only a year later, the Everett School was demolished to make way for the current post office. At the same time, Central Street was extended to Washington cutting through what had been the Everett School playground.
For close to 80 years, the Everett School stood at the heart of South Dedham, later Norwood, and its teachers educated generations of children in its classrooms. Among the Everett School’s early teachers were four who are buried in Old Parish Cemetery:
Harriet Wales Fletcher Morse (1827-1907)
Harriet Wales was born on December 30, 1827 in Orford, N.H., the daughter of Samuel and Hannah Wales. She was educated at the Academy at Bradford, Vermont, and began her teaching career in the public schools of Orford. By the age of 29, she had married and was widowed.
From 1856 to 1858 she was a teacher in the Everett School of South Dedham. In July of 1858, the widow Harriet Wales Fletcher married Charles E. Morse of West Dedham, a widower with two sons. Once she married, Harriet had to give up her teaching job. In 1874, Mrs. Harriet Morse, by then a widow, opened a private school at her home at 880 Washington Street in Norwood. Her school had an excellent reputation and she kept the school open until 1905, teaching 3 generations of local children.
Nancy Maria Chamberlain Page (c 1839-1924)
Born in South Dedham, Nancy Maria Chamberlain was educated by J. Nelson Stevens in South Dedham and attended a private school in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She was a school teacher in the Everett School from 1855-1856. In 1875, Nancy Chamberlain married John B. Page, a local farmer. After her husband’s death, she continued to live in their home at 397 Washington Street, eventually renting out rooms to boarders.
On January 11, 1924, Mrs. Page died tragically in a fire in her home. Although there was an immediate response to her cries for help, it was too late to save her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Abby Frances Ellis (1844-1872)
Abby Frances Ellis was born in South Dedham in 1844. Her parents were Alvin L. Ellis and Martha B. Dean Ellis. Alvin Ellis worked as a butcher, a packer, a teamster, and in 1870, a depot master for the railroad. When the new town of Norwood was founded in 1872, Alvin Ellis became its first official “town pound keeper.” Alvin and Martha had twelve children. The family was plagued by tuberculosis, then referred to as consumption, which was a leading cause of death in the United States at the end of the 19th century.
Abby Ellis lived with her parents and siblings for her entire life. In the 1865 Census, she was listed as a “domestic” (likely working for a local family), but by the 1870 Census, her occupation was “school teacher.” Ellis taught at the Everett School from 1867-1871. On January 4, 1872, Abby Ellis died of consumption. She was 28 years old.
Chester H. Comey (1832-1881)
Chester Holbrook Comey was born on February 22, 1832, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. He was educated at Pierce Academy in Middleboro, and at Bridgewater Normal School, graduating from there in the class of 1852. He married Sarah D. Rich on August 27, 1855 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The couple had four children, only one of whom (Charles Rich Comey, born in 1856) reached adulthood. Three of their children are buried in the family lot in Old Parish: Frank Holbrook Comey (1859-1859); Louisa Greenby Comey (1862-1867); Phillip Robinson Comey (1871-1872).
Chester Comey was the Everett School master in South Dedham from 1857 through July, 1863. The family left South Dedham in 1869. Comey died on March 31, 1881, in Cambridge at the age of 49. He is buried in Old Parish Cemetery with his wife, who died in 1907, and their children.