Madison County- Green Township
As of 2021, I count two remaining schoolhouses in Green Township.
Aside from Ingalls and what was once the briefly-booming town of Alfont, there is no appreciable settlement in Green Township for which schools to naturally congregate around and consolidate into. Despite this, the township was home to one of Madison County’s first schoolhouses, funded by private subscription and built on a farm belonging to James Jones in 1829. John Wilson taught a three-month term during that winter, and the schoolhouse -built of poles- was used for eight years when a hewed-log building was built near the present-day Maple Ridge Elementary School in Section 25 (Forkner & Dyson, 1897).
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, Green Township officials presumably 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.
As of 1874, the township had three churches, two post offices, two saw mills, one store, a doctor, and six schoolhouses valued at $2,550 (Harden, 1874). This number had grown to seven by 1897 (Forkner & Dyson).
Most of the schoolhouses were given common names based on their location -like District 6: Alfont, District 7: Ingalls, District 3: Hardscrabble, and District 1: Gravel Lawn after an adjacent cemetery- and others took the names of the farmers who donated the land they sat on, like District 2: Jones, and District 4: Bollinger. District 5 was known as Beech Grove for obvious reasons (Dead Dog, 1967).
The town of Ingalls was a latecomer to Green Township, as it was established in in 1893 once the Big Four railroad was extended that far (Forkner & Dyson). The community initially grew quickly, however, and a graded schoolhouse was established there the following year as officials set their sights on building a larger, more permanent structure (Record, 1894). That structure -two stories with a prominent, cylindrical belfry- was finished the following year at the northeast corner of Meridian and East Washington streets.
A third Ingalls school with four rooms was completed at a cost of $13,450 in 1913, although the contractors who erected it were sued by the Green Township Trustee for colluding with the previous trustee to bill the township for more work than had actually been done on the school, which the suit referred to as “wholly incomplete (Contractors, 1915).”
Though details are sparse, it’s likely that Districts 5 and 6, at least, consolidated into the 1913 Ingalls schoolhouse, which was large enough to take additional students. Closer to the western edge of the township, schoolhouses evidently consolidated into District 3 and District 1, which in turn combined to create Green Township’s Center School, a two-room building housing grades 1-8 at the southeastern corner of Indiana State Road 13 and West County Road 800-South, in 1930 (Crowe, 2015). In 1947, enrollment at Center School was reduced to grades 1-6 (Crowe).
In 1956, a $126,000 addition to the Ingalls School measuring 72×150 feet was completed which added two classrooms and a gymnasium with seating for 500 people (New, 1956). Two years later, 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, the school townships of Green, Fall Creek, and Adams merged to create South Madison Community Schools in 1965 (Wynant & Marsh, 1969). A new school, Pendleton Heights, was completed in 1969 at the junction of Indiana State Roads 38 and 67, though the Center and Ingalls schools in Green Township were retained as elementary buildings.
The Center School closed in 1971, followed by Ingalls and Adams Township’s Markleville and Fall Creek Heights schools eight years later a after the construction of the $2.9 million East Elementary School in Adams Township (Douglas, 1977). By that point Ingalls served students in grades 1-5, who were sent to school at Pendleton after its closure.
Today, the Green Township’s District 1 and District 6 schoolhouses still stand as private dwelling. The 1913 Ingalls School still stands as well under the auspices of the Ingalls Church of God. Unfortunately, Green Township’s Center School was demolished in 2021.
Forkner, J. & Dyson, B. (1897). Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County, Indiana. book. Anderson, 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.
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.
Dead Dog, Frog Pond? They’re School Names (1967, September 9). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.
“Record of the Year” (1894). The Ingalls Land Company. Retrieved December 25, 2021 from https://814a6058-5e7c-4aec-a261-d1a7a084c903.filesusr.com/ugd/947ed5_a6a27f513f03444ab4ffb5c693e1c5cd.pdf.
Contractors are Sued (1915, April 10). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Crowe, R. (2015, April 16). One teacher looms large in Center School history. The Greenfield Daily Reporter. p. 20.
New Ingalls School Center To Be Opened (1956, March 31). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. 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.
Wyant, M. & Marsh, J. (1969 August 8). A Teacher’s Dream Turns Into Reality. The Anderson Daily bulletin. p. 8.
Douglas, D. (1977, September 30). SMCS building plan to cost $3.2 million. The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 1.