Madison County- Boone Township
As of 2021, I count one remaining schoolhouse in Boone Township.
District 8: College Corner
Boone Township’s first schoolhouse was a log building near the site of the later District 7 school, Tomlinson. Taught by James Smith, the schoolhouse was primitive, featuring a clapboard roof and foot, a dirt floor, and a large fireplace. It lacked windows (Forkner, 1914). In 1852, a handful of log schoolhouses formally opened around the township (Kingman, 1880).
Similarly to their predecessor, these early schools were simply built, generally 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, 1908).
Early schools were so simple largely due to a lack of money. As first established, 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 (Helm, 1881).
The era of subscription schoolhouses ended in 1851, when 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).” Once funds were disbursed, officials around Richland Township began converting the existing log schools into frame ones in 1854 (Kingman), simultaneously improving courses of study, hiring teachers that were more qualified, and erecting new buildings when money was available.
In response to the new law, the first frame school in Boone Township opened in the northeast part of Section 35. Later evolving into the Enterprise/Dead Dog/Union school, it was taught by Enoch McMahon and was the first public school in the township. A few months later, a similar school was built on the land of John W. Forest (Kingman).
By 1874, Boone Township was home to eight schoolhouses valued at $3,150 (Harden, 1874). In 1880, there were eight, valued at $4,500 (Kingman). Over time they became known by their colloquial names. District 1 -one of the township’s earliest schools after its establishment in 1866- was called the Portable schoolhouse after it was moved east from its original location (Summitville, 1934). District 2 may have been known as Vincent after a nearby landowner. District 3 was certainly known as the Townsend school after the family who granted its land, and District 4 -south of Townsend- was called Red Oak. There is no extant community in Boone Township, so the District 5 school was known as Center and gained some prominence due to its location, as what was called the Cartwright Road was paved to it from Summitville in 1929 (Plans, 1929).
East of the Center school was District 6, called Brunt after local landowners. South of that was the District 7 school known alternately as Enterprise, Union, and Dead Dog. The Union name came from the extant church located across the street from the structure, but, according to legend, the bizarre Dead Dog moniker came after a dead dog was thrown through a window of the church once a “hex social” was being held (Bock, 1968).
District 8 was called College Corner, a schoolhouse name also found in Duck Creek and Richland Townships. District 9 took up the conflicting name of Mount Valley..
Over time, consolidation occurred. The Portable school was in use until 1942 (Reunion, 1942) as was the Mt. Valley school, while in 1945 only the District 3: Townsend, District 5: Center, and District 7: Union schools were still in operation (Graduates, 1945). In 1949, Duck Creek and Boone Townships combined to build a $150,000 grade school with six classrooms, a gymnasium/auditorium, and cafeteria that replaced those schoolhouses, along with the Reeder, Leisure, and College Corner schools in Duck Creek Township (New, 1949).
The Duck Creek-Boone Township Grade School opened in 1951. After students graduated, they went to Summitville to complete their high school courses. In 1960, a stage was added to the gymnasium along with a cafeteria, offices, and two classrooms.
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 (Delaware, 1959). As a result, Van Buren, Boone, and most of Duck Creek Townships in Madison County combined with Fairmount, Liberty, and Green Townships to form the Metropolitan School District of Madison-Grant Counties, today known as Madison-Grant United School Corporation.
By 1991, the school enrolled only 76 students in grades 1-6 (Hoffman, 1991). It closed that year, and its students were sent to Summitville.
The Townsend school burned down in 1998 under the ownership of Willard Horine, a previous student there (Ferris, 1998). Today, the District 8: College Corner school -along with the 1951 Duck Creek-Boone Township School- are abandoned.
Forkner, J. (1914). History of Madison County Indiana. A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests, Volume 1. book, The Lewis Publishing Company. Chicago, IL.
Kingman Brothers. (1880). History of Madison County, Indiana with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. 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.
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.
Indiana Constitution. (1851), art. 8, sec. 1.
Harden, S. (1874). History of Madison County, Indiana, from 1820 to 1874. book. Markleville, IN.
Summitville Notes (1934, July 17). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 2.
Plans ordered for paved road at Summitville (1929, July 25). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 6.
Bock, G. (1968, April 25). Man About Town. The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.
Reunion of Portable School next Sunday (1942, July 14). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 2.
Graduates Get Their Diplomas. (1945, April 24). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 2.
New School For Duck Creek And Boone Townships. (1949, September 7). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
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.
Hoffman, F. (1991, May 1)> Little school on the prairie closes doors for last time. The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Ferris, L. (1998, August 5)> Fires plague Boone Township. The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.