Saturday, January 30, 2021

Jane Coomes

Historic postcard of first schoolhouse in Kentucky
Personal collection

The replica at Old Ford Harrod State Park is of the first schoolhouse in Kentucky looks “as though Mrs. Jane Coomes might appear any moment to summon the fort children to their lessons.” Jane Coomes came to Kentucky with her husband William in 1775 as members of a group of Catholics from Maryland. 

In 1776 Mrs. Coomes became the first school teacher in Kentucky and the first woman at Fort Harrod to boil spring water and produce salt. In her teaching of the fort children, Mrs. Coomes used the primitive version of the Old English Horn Book. These “books” were of clapboard and paddle-shape, the handle whittled to fit the little fingers, and the alphabet or Lord’s Prayer crudely drawn with berry juices or charcoal. 
Harrodsburg Post Office
Mural of the first school teacher and schoolhouse

Jane Coomes taught her lessons to the young pioneers during her ten years at Fort Harrod, bringing education to the frontier and hope for the future of Kentucky, until she resettled in Nelson County.

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