This week, with Easter upon us, and lambs an iconic symbol of Easter, it seemed the perfect time to share this image of a schoolhouse. Although the image is not an Australian one at all (it is a schoolhouse in Sterling, Massachusetts, USA), the story behind the image is a fascinating one.
Most Australian’s would know the childhood rhyme ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’, yet very few realise that the rhyme is based on a true event. Mary Sawyer, born in 1806, lived in Sterling, on a farm with her family. One morning her father and she went out to the barn and found two lambs had been born during the night. One though was close to death because it’s mother had not accepted it. Mary asked her father, and was given permission to try to save the lamb and raise it herself. She spent all day and night nursing the lamb and much to her delight, it survived. Yet having been hand raised, it didn’t much care for the other sheep, but preferred horses, cows and of course, Mary herself, who the lamb would often follow around.
One day, Mary and her brother set off for school and the lamb followed. Mary’s borate, Nat suggested they take the lamb to school and when they arrived, Mary tucked the lamb into a blanket at her feet. Eventually, the lamb made a noise and was found out, but the teacher reacted well, laughing and sending the lamb outside for Mary to take home later in the day.
This would have been the end of the story, were it not for the Nephew of the local minister visiting at the time of the events. The nephew, John Roulstone penned the first few stanzas of the famous poem and handed them to Mary a few days later – and thus the rhyme was born!