Niles Twp. District 3
The history of Niles Township’s District 3 schoolhouse begins in 1836, when John W. Vincent entered into section 27 (Helm 1881). It’s unclear when the first schoolhouse on his land was built, but it was probably prior to the state passing a law providing resources for a free, common school system (Natali, 2007). According to Helm, there were ten school districts in the county that year.
In 1874, a schoolhouse -labeled as District 7- was standing on Vincent’s land (Kingman, 1874) about a football field’s length south of the extant structure (Oak Grove, 1940). Helm referred to it as the Wingate school due to its proximity to the farm of James Wingate, a cousin of Vincent’s, and the two families actually held reunions at the structure (Spurgeon, 1994). By 1887, the schoolhouse had been realigned to serve Niles Township’s District 3 (Griffing, 1887) and, later, the school was called Oak Grove (Former, 1952). The current schoolhouse was completed in 1889 (Delaware, 2021).
Niles Township never had an incorporated community. Consequently, it had no natural center of population aside from the sparsely-settled community of Granville, so consolidation of its schools proved difficult in terms of finding students a place to go. Though the township began combining them in earnest in 1903 (Kemper, 1908), it took thirteen years before the District 3 school closed (Delaware, 1916). Its students were sent to Albany in neighboring Delaware Township, though districts 1, 4, 6, 8, and 9 also closed down that year. Students at those schools were split up between Albany, Eaton, and Dunkirk schools (Delaware, 1959).
By the 1940s the schoolhouse still stood as a community building that hosted meetings for churches, farms, and politics. It also served as a polling place or as a repository for other activities. Electricity was installed in 1946, and that year the building’s accommodations consisted of a large stove, sixteen-foot tables, and a small kitchen (Greene, 1946). Today, the building is well-maintained and still owned by the Niles Township Trustee. The original bell is in the cupola underneath modern siding (Baer, 1988).
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.
Natali, B. L. (2007). The Impact of Caleb Mills on the Hoosier Education Debate: An Edition of Two Unpublished Addresses (thesis). University Graduate School, Indianapolis.
Kingman Brothers. (1874). Map of Delaware County, Indiana. Chicago, IL.
Oak Grove School Reunion September 8. (1940, August 30). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 6.
Griffing, B. N. (1887). Mt. Pleasant Township. An atlas of Delaware County, Indiana . map, Philadelphia, PA; Griffing, Gordon, & Company.
Former Pupils at Oak Grove in 50th Reunion. (1952, September 9). The Muncie Star. p. 8.
Delaware County Office of Information & GIS Services. (2021). Parcel ID: 0427400014000. Delaware County, Indiana Assessor. map, Muncie, IN.
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.
Delaware County Public Schools. (1916). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1916-1917. Muncie, IN.
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.
Greene, D. (1946, October 29). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 6.
Baer, D. (1988, June 4). Tour of eight historical structures is Sunday. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 13.