Down along Bridge Street in Bridgewater, just to the right of the Bridgewater Presbyterian Church, sits a large boulder with a plaque on it. You may have driven by it many times without ever giving it a thought. This commemorative stone is a tribute to one of the Beaver area’s most respected educators. 

Scudder Hart Piersol was born on January 1, 1828, in North Sewickley Township, the twelfth of 18 children born to Jacob and Rachel (Stille) Piersol. After graduating from Beaver Academy in 1844, he served one term as the county’s superintendent of public instruction before becoming principal of the Vanport, Beaver, and Rochester schools. In 1852, he married Elizabeth Weaver (1833-1870) and together they had five children. Some time later, he left for Kansas to run a government school for the Wyandotte tribe, becoming the first white man to do so. After the close of the Civil War, he returned to Beaver County to serve as principal of the newly founded soldiers’ orphans school in Phillipsburg (today Monaca).

After being destroyed by fire in August 1876, the school relocated across the river to Bridgewater, where, in 1878, a new building—a simple, two-story, wood-frame structure—was built at the corner of Clarion and Bridge streets. This new academy at Bridgewater was operated by Professor Piersol. 

Piersol’s Academy served as a respected center for higher learning in the county for more than 25 years, up until Piersol’s death on December 29, 1903. The building was demolished in 1957 by the Sinclair Oil Company, the last resident of the property. The only reminder of the academy is the inscription on the plaque: “In memory of Prof. Scudder Hart Piersol, a great teacher, founder of Piersol’s Academy which stood on this site, erected by the alumni.”

Piersol is buried in Section T, Lot Number 8 of Beaver Cemetery.

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