What is the Dickinson School Trust?
The Dickinson Fund was created by a bequest of Richard Dickinson in May 1824. In his will he left to the town property that when sold, produced the significant sum of $14,900 then to be kept in a trust, “the interest of which shall be appropriated for the support of the schools in the town.” The trust provided a significant portion of the town’s school budget up through the 1870’s and is prominently mentioned in the annual Town Reports through that period. It is last mentioned in the Town Report of 1914, and from then on has been relegated to a minor role in supporting education in the town. In 1827, the Town of Southwick built the Dickinson Grammar School using town general funds and it was named in honor of Mr. Dickinson. The town voted to build the school because they knew they could rely on the interest from the Dickinson Fund
coming in for yearly support of maintenance and for the teaching staff at the nine district schools. The first floor contained three rooms for classrooms and the second floor served as the town hail.
Who Was Richard Dickinson?
Richard Dickinson was born in Glastonbury, CT on December 13, 1762 and married Abigail Bates of Granville, MA on June 2, 1793. Richard and Abigail Dickinson settled in Southwick and had a home where lBS now resides on College Highway and Coes Hill Road. Richard and Abigail Dickinson did not have any children. Early town records identify’ that Richard Dickinson to be a speculator in Real Estate and he owned a distillery. By 1824, Richard Dickinson owned many parcels in town. His lands were divided by a town committee into 24 parcels that were sold either by private sale or at public auction. The town held the mortgages on these properties, the interest and principal were paid to the town, and the income and expenses were managed by the Dickinson School Fund Trustees elected each year by the town. The income was so great and cost of
education so small, that from the late 1820’s and for several decades thereafter, the town of Southwick did not have to raise one dime in taxes for the support of schools!
The Dickinson School Trust Today
The trust is administered by three elected trustees, one of which is elected each year at the annual town election. The Dickinson School Trust in the last several years has been funding teacher’s grants that have brought innovative programs to the schools. The grants have funded programs from elementary school to high school, in English, Social Studies, and Science. Programs include a history of Southwick ABC’s coloring book designed and produced by third graders, a middle school historical inventory of Southwick, visiting artists Baba Brinkman and Barbara Scavotto-Earley, high tech environmental testing and research equipment for the middle school and painting of murals in the Point Grove Tunnel on the Rail Trail. In 2012, the Dickinson School Trust 2011 awarded grants that will help fund a Living History by Civil War Re-enactors with
a Civil War Encampment and hands-on in class teaching by members of the 10th MA Vol. Infantry and 9th MA Artillery Co. and a second award for Literary Voices of the Pioneer Valley. An attempt will be made to video-record these events for re-utilization in the school district and for broadcast over the public access channel as appropriate.
The Dickinson School Trust Tomorrow
The Dickinson School Trustees are seeking your help with financial contributions to the Dickinson School Trust. Your “non tax-deductible” contribution would assist the trust to be more viable and would provide the ability to fund more extensive projects for the next 150 years. Checks should be made out to the Town of Southwick with “Dickinson School Trust” written in the memo field. Checks should be mailed to the Southwick Town Treasurer, 454 College Highway, Southwick, MA 01077.