Andrew was born in a tiny cottage in Scotland. His father was a fine linen weaver, but with the invention of mechanized looms, weavers across the community were losing work. Fortunately, Andrew’s mother Mag was a strong, resourceful woman who managed to put food on the table by helping the local cobbler and running a small “sweetie” shop from her front door.
Andrew started attending the local school at age 8, which was typical for boys at the time. Schools charged a tuition and the Carnegies could only afford the Rolland School, a Lancastrian method school with between 180 and 190 children of the poor and working classes. With no money for an assistant, the strict headmaster managed the whole school with form monitors who dictated the lessons to their respective forms. Each pupil was to copy the dictation to their slates where they were to memorize and recite it back to the older student. Mr. Martin observed the proceedings from his desk on an elevated podium. If he deemed any child to be slovenly, sleeping or stupid, he would hurl his tawse (leather strap) at the student, who was required to return it and receive a lash across the hands. Fortunately, young Andrew was very good at memorization and recitation so he never had to be punished. Plus he had the advantage of being excused from memorizing catechism because his father did not belong to either of the reigning churches, and arranged for him to be excused from catechism. (more…)