Harrison Twp. District 6
Its likely that the first purpose-built school in the township was in a cabin on the farm of Job Garner during the winter of 1834-35 (Helm, 1881). Five years later, Garner officially granted the township a portion of his land for the use of a schoolhouse (Delaware, 1840). The structure was located about two-fifths of a mile north of the town of Bethel on the west side of North County Road 775-West (Kingman, 1874).
Beginning in 1852, most of the log schoolhouses of Harrison Township were converted to more substantial, frame structures. The town of Bethel -or Stout, as it was called after the surname of its postmaster (Kemper, 1908)- was never much more than a church, some houses, and an Odd Fellows’ lodge that also served as a grocery. In 1881, Helm listed the schoolhouse as District 6, taught by J. S. Muncey.
In 1896 the District 8: Buncum schoolhouse was consolidated with District 8 (Denny, 1925), leading to the 1898 construction of the extant two-room building on Joseph A. Quick’s land (Delaware, 1900) a mile north of Bethel at the corner of North County Road 775-West and West County Road 500-North.
As originally built, the structure consisted of two stories, a gabled roof, and a large belfry and spire that projected from its northeastern corner (Ball State, 2017). Unlike most one-room schoolhouses, Bethel was accredited to instruct pupils from grades 1-9, or through at least one year of high school (Spurgeon, 1995). Those choosing to continue their studies would have needed to take courses at a consolidated high school such as those in Gaston in Washington Township or Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant.
The Bethel schoolhouse closed after the 1923-24 school year in order to consolidate into the new Harrison Township Consolidated School located a mile and three-quarters east. At that time, Hobart F. Black of Muncie was the principal and taught grades 5-8, while Edith K. Lewis of Alexandria taught grades 1-4 (Delaware, 1923).
Shortly after the schoolhouse closed, it was remodeled into a dwelling through the removal of its belfry, peaked roof, and second story. Ruth Taylor -a former student- purchased the building and lived there until her death in 1977 (Services, 1977). Subsequently, her son lived in the structure until his own death thirty-one years later.
Today, the District 8 schoolhouse is abandoned. In April, 2021, the current owner began demolishing the structure, though it still stands in compromised form as of September.
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 (pp. 268–269). book, Kingman Brothers.
Delaware County, Indiana. (1840 February 6). Deed Book 4. p. 603.
Kingman Brothers. (1874). Map of Delaware County, Indiana. Chicago, IL.
Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, p. 252). book, Lewis Publishing Company.
Denny, L.W. (1925, June 5). New School To Be Real Center. The Muncie Morning Star. p. 12.
Delaware County Map, 1900 (2018, October 1). Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.
Ball State University Libraries. (2017). Bethel School. Ball State Digital Media Repository. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://dmr.bsu.edu/digital/collection/MunHisPhoto/id/609/rec/1.
Spurgeon, B. (1995, May 25). Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. P. 4.
Delaware County Public Schools. (1923). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1923-1924. Muncie, IN.
Services set Sunday for Ruth E. Taylor. (1977. February 11). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 6.