Delaware County- Delaware Township
As of 2021, I count five remaining schoolhouses in Delaware Township, including three within the Albany town school system’s old limits.
The history of education in Delaware Township is fractious like Center Township’s, in that for most of its existence, the town of Albany operated its own school system separate from the rest of Delaware Township1. This arrangement led Albany, like the Muncie high schools, to be excluded from the county basketball tourney2. Outside of Albany’s limits, the historic school consolidation of Delaware Township centered around the community of DeSoto.
The first school in Delaware Township was taught by Joseph Godlove, who lived north of what was then a village called Sharon around 1835. Godlove used the kitchen of his early cabin as his classroom3. In 1836, a log structure that was once the residence of William Venard near the center of Albany was used as a schoolhouse, and the following year a purpose-built schoolhouse was built on Adam Keever’s farm two miles south of Albany4.
The first schools built under the provisions of a new law that provided funds for public schools were at District 2 near where Godlove’s school had been established, District 6 east of the White Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, and District 9 on the land of Thomas Myers. Enoch Current and John Bortsfield built the schools at Districts 6 and 8 for $275 each, and John H. Ellis was paid $290 to erect the schoolhouse at District 25.
Aside from the adoption of Indiana’s 1851 constitution, there was no event more significant to the livelihood of Delaware County’s common schoolhouses than Charles Van Matre’s trip to the town of Webster in Wayne County. In 1897 Van Matre, the county’s superintendent of schools – along with trustees Thornburg and Hollinger- ventured thirty-five miles south to see Webster’s newly-consolidated school, which combined three buildings into one and “answered every purpose of the three6”.
In 1887, two schoolhouses served Albany- Delaware Township’s commercial center. They stood catty-cornered from one another, on the northwest and southeast corners of what’s now West State Street and North Delaware Street7. The school at the southeast corner, originally built as a church, still stands as a private home. The larger of the two schools, first built in 18768, later became part of the passenger depot of the Muncie & Portland Traction Company9 after the turn of the century. A graded schoolhouse that replaced both structures was erected in 188910. In 1893 Albany was expanded east of Halfway Creek and a second public school was erected shortly after. It, too, still stands.
In 1898, Delaware Township was home to eleven schoolhouses outside of Albany, and all of them were brick except for two recently-built frame structures at District 9: Valley College and District 11: DeSoto11.
The effects of Van Matre’s 1897 trip to Wayne County soon came into practice: Hearing rumblings of school consolidation elsewhere, Districts 4, 8, and 9 petitioned District 11 in DeSoto to allow them to close down and send their pupils there in 1900, but the frame schoolhouse there was too small to accommodate so many students. It wasn’t until 1905 that Delaware Township began to consolidate its schools in earnest, closing the District 2 school and sending its pupils to Albany. That year, District 4 was combined with District 9 although the resulting school wasn’t graded, and District 8 was combined with District 1112.
A 1907 law that obligated township trustees to shutter schoolhouses with fewer than twelve students led to the closure of the District 10 schoolhouse, and its pupils were sent to Albany13. The following year, a consolidated school at DeSoto large enough to take on additional scholars was dedicated. It absorbed the students of Districts 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 1114. The school at District 7 was not originally intended to consolidate at that time, but it burned down prior to the start of classes that year15.
The new Delaware Township School at DeSoto, a near-replica of Perry Township’s brick Center School with two stories, four rooms, and an auditorium, cost trustees $13,000 to erect16.
As time drew on, the District 3 schoolhouse on Muncie-Granville Pike closed after the 1911-12 school year17. In 1914, the town of Albany constructed a new high school after the expanded 1889 building was condemned by the state18. The District 6 school at the southwest corner of what’s now North County Road 800-East and East County Road 500-North closed in 1917 during Mable Tharp’s tenure as teacher19.
In 1923, a gymnasium and high school classrooms were added to the rear of the DeSoto schoolhouse20. Thirty-five years later, a new, six-classroom DeSoto Elementary School that cost $181,000 and housed 195 pupils21 in grades one through six became Delaware Township’s next school. That same year, a $225,000 Albany Elementary School was built just east of the old high school, consisting of eight classrooms, a teacher’s lounge, kitchen, multipurpose room, clinic, and offices to serve grades 1-622.
In 1959, Indiana’s State Commission for the Reorganization of School Corporations passed new guidelines for school districts specifying that, at a minimum, each must have a resident school population of at least 1,000 students in terms of average daily attendance, as well as an adjusted assessed valuation of at least $5,000 per pupil in average daily attendance. The only districts in the county that met both minimum requirements were Muncie Community Schools and Yorktown23. As a result, DeSoto High School merged with, Royerton High School in Hamilton Township and Eaton High School in Union Township eight years later to form the Delaware Metropolitan School District. The following September, DeSoto’s High School was discontinued, though it still housed students in grades seven and eight.
In 1963, Albany’s school board agreed to a plan that saw it join Redkey and Dunkirk schools through a proposed new structure in Jay County’s Richland Township24. Ultimately, the arrangement didn’t happen, but five years later, Albany’s schools joined the Delaware Metropolitan School District. Albany’s High School was transformed into a middle school.
A major addition to the DeSoto Elementary School was completed in 197125 and the old DeSoto High School was demolished the following year26 The old Albany High School closed in 1980 and was demolished that year though its bell was saved and put on display in the adjacent, expanded, elementary school27. Two years later, Albany Elementary School received a 21,000 square-foot addition that consisted of a library, music room, art room, conference areas, testing facilities, a gymnasium, an a teacher’s lounge that cost $1.7 million28.
The DeSoto Elementary School closed in 2010 and was most recently home to the Delaware Christian Academy. In 2021, the Delaware Community School system operated only one school, Albany Elementary, in Delaware Township.
Several schoolhouses existed in Albany prior to the present building.
1. Grabil, M. (1961, August 15). School Bond Deadline Set. The Muncie Star. p. 1.
2. Lemasters, R. (1973, January 14). Yorktown Tigers Win County Tourney, 76-48. The Muncie Star. p. C1.
3. Helm, T. B. (1881). Mount Pleasant Township. In History of Delaware County, Indiana: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. book, Kingman Brothers.
4. Ellis, J. S. (1898, August 17). Our County. Its History and Early Settlement by Townships. The Muncie Morning News. p. 6.
5. (See footnote 4).
6. Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, pp. 237–237). book, Lewis Publishing Company.
7. Griffing, B. N. (1887). An atlas of Delaware County, Indiana. map, Philadelphia, PA; Griffing, Gordon, & Company.
8. Naetzker, C. (1980, May 7). The Albany Traction Terminal: A Symbol From The Past. Ball State University. print.
9. (See footnote 8).
10. Albany County’s Second Largest Town, Rich In History (1927, September 25). The Muncie Star. pp. 40-41.
11. (See footnote 4).
12. (See footnote 6).
13. (See footnote 6).
14. Patrons Celebrate. (1908, April 11). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 9.
15. (See footnote 6).
16. Ask for new bids on DeSoto School. (1907, July 8). The Muncie Press. p. 1.
17. Delaware County Public Schools. (1912). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1912-1913. Muncie, IN.
18. Albany School House Condemned By Board (1913, April 23). The Muncie Star. p. 12.
19. Delaware County Public Schools. (1917). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1917-1918. Muncie, IN.
20. Normal Notes. (1923, November 24). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 12.
21. Delaware County Reflects Growth With School Construction (1958, November 30). The Muncie Star. p. A-9.
22. (See footnote 21).
23. Delaware County Committee for the Reorganization of School Corporations. (1959). A Comprehensive plan for the reorganization of school corporations of Delaware County Indiana. Muncie, IN; Delaware County Committee for the Reorganization of School Corporations.
24. Albany O.K.’s School Plan (1963, March 15). The Muncie Evening Press. pp. 1-2.
25. Metro Board Approves Plans for New DeSoto School (1970, March 27). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 11.2
26. Grand Opening. (1972, July 2). The Muncie Star. p. 1.
27. Satterfield, E. (1980, September 10). Del Com Schools Show Decine in Enrollment. The Muncie Star. p.
28. Mason, L. (1982, January 27). Albany School Addition to Be Dedicated. The Muncie Star. p. 6.