Delaware County- Union Township

As of 2021, I count three remaining schoolhouses in Salem Township.

District 2: Poor
District 4: Center
District 6: Johnson/Nixon

Historic Overview

The earliest known schoolhouse in Union Township was established in 1836 when Susan Hanley taught students in a cabin on Junius McMillen’s farm (Helm, 1881) in the area of Walnut Street and Eaton-Wheeling Pike. The second was built in 1837 on the farm of Aaron Mote at the far-northwestern corner of the township and was taught by William Campbell. That year, Union Township’s third school took form in a cabin on Havilla Green’s farm in the area of Ginn Woods (Kingman, 1874), which was named the Green schoolhouse and taught by Robert Wharton (Kemper, 1908). 

Early schoolhouses such as these tended to feature simple designs, often measuring no larger than twenty by twenty feet. Walls of notched logs slathered with mud or clay rose above simple, puncheon floors to an eight foot, peaked roof covered in shake shingles. A wide fireplace that terminated in a chimney made of mud held together by a simple framework of sticks was frequently located across the wall opposite the school’s entryway, while narrow “windows” made by cutting out a length of log five or six feet up each flanking wall provided natural illumination to the interior of the structure (Kemper). 

Early schools were so simple largely due to a lack of money.Prior to 1840, each schoolhouse was funded predominantly by subscription, a sort of tuition paid to the school’s proprietor that also covered a salary for the teacher. That year, proceeds from real estate transactions began to partially fund the subscription, but once the money dried up for the year each schoolhouse reverted back to the subscription model (Helm).

In 1851, the state of Indiana ratified a new constitution that provided for the basics of a township-based, common educational system (Natali, 2007). The School Law of 1852 expanded upon the new constitution, authorizing a schoolhouse fund and an official statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as a “general and uniform system of common schools, wherein tuition shall be with out charge, and equally open to all (Indiana, 1851).” Union Township implemented these changes several years afterwards and began to replace the old log structures with newer frame or brick buildings. In 1858, for example, T.C. Poor deeded a portion of his land for the construction of a new District 2 schoolhouse in the uppermost corner of the township (Delaware, 1858). 

By 1874, Union Township was home to twelve school districts. Another brick schoolhouse at Shideler -straddling the Hamilton and Union township line- was erected in 1880 to serve students from both areas (A view, 1880) but its unclear if this was ever districted as a Union Township school. In 1881, Helm reported the twelve schools as follows: District 1- Eaton. District 2- Poor. District 3- Walter’s. District 4- Center. District 5- Craw. District 6- Johnson. District 7- Love. District 8- Keplinger. District 9- Yount’s. District 10- Rocky Branch. District 11- Babb. District 12- Maple Grove.

The first Eaton schoolhouse seems to have been located at the northwest corner of E. Washington Street and N. Hartford Street on a site that later held a Methodist Episcopal parsonage (Griffing, 1887). A larger, two-room building was built at the northeast corner of S. Elm Street and Indiana Avenue in 1885 (Album, 1989). 

In 1897, Delaware County Superintendent of Schools Charles Van Matre ventured thirty-five miles south to see Webster’s newly-consolidated school, which combined three buildings into one and “answered every purpose of the three (Kemper)”. Though Kemper indicates that Union Township had already shuttered the District 8 school in 1899, a wave of consolidation efforts swept the county in the ensuing years. The District 6 school closed and combined with District 7 in 1902. Sometime prior to 1904, the District 10 and 12 schools shut down as well (Delaware, 1904). Though the 1904-05 school directory shows District 9 -Yount’s or Younce- still in session, the 1905-06 directory shows District 8 in its place (Delaware, 1905). It’s possible that the two combined.

The Eaton school was condemned that year after a study indicated that students and teachers there were sicker than in other schools (School, 1905). Significant problems with regards to lighting and ventilation were still apparent two years later, but funds were not available to erect a new building until 1906, when public sentiment turned towards constructing one via a bond issue. As construction began at the northeast corner of E. Harris and S. Meridian streets, the cramped and unsanitary old schoolhouse was torn down during the spring of 1908.  The finished school opened the following November and included six grade school rooms, two high school rooms, an assembly hall, an auditorium, and manual training and domestic science facilities (Eaton’s, 1908). 

For obvious reasons, school consolidation in Union Township beyond several early closures of didn’t really occur until after the new building at Eaton was completed. In 1909, the District 3 Sniff school shut down. Six years later, the District 5 Crow school was closed and the following year Districts 7 and 9 -Love/Pike Creek and Yount’s- followed suit. The final two holdouts -Districts 2 and 11, Poor and Maple Grove/Dogtown shut down prior to the 1918 season (Delaware, 1918). 

1926 saw the completion of a major addition to the Eaton school that consisted of an assembly room, five classrooms, a library, and gymnasium in similar arrangement to what other consolidated schools had erected around the same time (New, 1926.).

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 Yorktown (Delaware, 1959). As a result, Desoto High School in Delaware Township, Royerton High School in Hamilton Township, and Eaton combined to form the Delaware Metropolitan School District in 1967. The following year, the school-city of Albany joined the district.

In response to a report by the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office (Love, 1971), a new, open-concept Eaton Elementary School in the French Provincial style was opened in 1971 to replace the 1908 building, which had reverted to a grade school after the district consolidation (Loy, 1971). The Fire Marshall’s report proved prescient: Five years after the new elementary was finished, a trash fire ignited the roof of the old high school, destroying the building though it was already in the process of being demolished to make room for a community center and park (Yencer, 1976).

Aerial photos indicate that the District 12: Dogtown/Maple Grove schoolhouse was no longer standing by some point between 1998 and 2003 (Google, 2003). In 2000, the Johnson/Nixon schoolhouse was largely destroyed in a fire (Wilham, 2000). Today, the Delaware Metropolitan School District -known now as Delaware Community School District- operates Eaton Elementary as the only school in Union Township.


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.

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.

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.

Indiana Constitution. (1851), art. 8, sec. 1.

Delaware County, Indiana. (1858, August 13). Deed Book 20. p. 506.

A view of the schools. (1880, March 30). The Muncie Daily Times. p. 2.

Griffing, B. N. (1887). Mt. Pleasant Township. An atlas of Delaware County, Indiana . map, Philadelphia, PA; Griffing, Gordon, & Company.

Album of Yesteryear (1989, November 10). The Muncie Star. p. C10.

Delaware County Public Schools. (1904). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1904-1905. Muncie, IN. 

Delaware County Public Schools. (1905). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1905-1906. Muncie, IN. 

School Condemned by Health Officers. (1905, July 9). The Muncie Sunday Star. p. 3.

Better Light and Ventilation. (1905, July 28). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 4.

Eaton’s new school thrown open today. (1908, November 16). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 10.

Delaware County Public Schools. (1918). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1918-1919. Muncie, IN. 

New school at Eaton nearing completion. (1926, February 3). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 16.

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.

Love, N. (1971, February 21). Three Metro School Projects Getting Priority.

Loy, B. (1971, October 15). School Dedications Sunday. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 1.

Yencer, R. (1976, May 26). Fire Razes Abandoned Eaton High School. The Muncie Star. p. 1.

Google. (2003, July 12). [Google Map of Dogtown, Delaware County]. 40.321132, -85.369407. Google Earth.

Wilham, T. (2000, October 13). Police determine who struck, killed Hartford City woman. The Muncie Star Press. p. 3B.