Salem Twp. District 7


The Salem Township District 7 schoolhouse, Center. Photo taken April 14, 2021. From the author’s collection.

The site of Salem Township’s District 7 school is one of the township’s earliest, originating when a schoolhouse was established on Henry Miller’s land during the winter of 1883-34 (Helm, 1881). The first school there was a log building with a puncheon floor, stick-and-mud chimney, and wide fireplace. The school burned up in a fire early in its history but was replaced by one nearly identical, according to Helm. 

Miller deeded the acre the new schoolhouse sat on to the county during the summer of 1839 (Delaware, 1839) but the second schoolhouse caught fire and burned down as well. In 1846, the community filed a remonstrance with the intent of erecting a more permanent brick building, but it failed. Private donations funded the third schoolhouse on Miller’s land (Helm), which was the first building that held common classes under the 1852 constitutional change that authorized a free schooling system (Natali, 2007). 

Around 1880 Salem Township underwent a redistricting. At that time, the Shepp schoolhouse -later known as Walnut Grove- was listed as District 7 (Salem, 1880).

By 1881, the building was known as the Center school due to its location in the county. The geographic accuracy of its nomenclature can be reasonably quibbled about, but at any rate, 7 was Salem Township’s center-most district. The extant schoolhouse was built in 1882 to replace its thirty-six year old brick predecessor (Delaware, 2021). 

In 1897, Delaware County Superintendent of Schools Charles Van Matre began exploring consolidating one-room schools into larger structures. Salem Township -Van Matre’s own district- began combining schools three years later. In 1901, students at Salem Township’s District 2 Pike’s Peak school consolidated into Daleville as well as either District 6, Walnut Grove; or District 7, Center- unfortunately, the record is unclear. The Pike’s Peak school -apparently christened when a pioneer family camped there for the night on their way to the famous mountain in Colorado (Greene, 1973)- reopened in 1903, its students going back to the old school per its original district boundaries.  That year the Center school, District 7, was abandoned, its students being dispersed to Daleville and Cross Roads. Fortunately for the livelihood of this particular place, Salem Township had a finicky history with consolidation efforts (Kemper, 1908). 

Two years later, Center was re-established, like Pike’s Peak retaining its own district (Kemper). The schoolhouse lasted until 1915, when Elizabeth Schaeffer was teacher. At that time, students at Center were sent to Daleville. Among other schoolhouses, only Distritct 10 -Crossroads- lasted longer. Uniquely, though the Crossroads graded school closed down in 1920, its timbers were purchased, torn apart, moved, and re-assembled as the inn and restaurant at Land O’ Nod on US-35 (Good et al.).

Today, Salem Township’s 1882 Center schoolhouse stands at a quiet intersection just north of IN-67 at the southeast corner of W. County Road 500-S and S. County Road 600-W. It has long since been repurposed into a home, though some of the original brickwork is visible around its windows and front door. The old schoolhouse’s most recent resident was Ball State Professor Emeritus of Music Theory and Composition Jody Nagel and his wife.


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. (1839, June 7). Deed Book 4. p. 226.

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.

Salem Township Shows. (1880, March 24). The Muncie Daily Times, p. 2.

Delaware County Office of Information & GIS Services. (2021). Parcel ID: 1410100001000. Delaware County, Indiana Assessor. map, Muncie, IN.

Greene, D. (1973, April 2). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star Press. p. 4.

Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, p. 253). book, Lewis Publishing Company.

Delaware County Public Schools. (1914). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1914-1915. Muncie, IN. 

Good, R., Good, K., & Kendall, B. (2019, September 16). “Remember When- Perry Township”. personal.