Madison County- Pipe Creek Township
As of 2021, I count three remaining schoolhouses in Pipe Creek Township, along with the remains of a fourth.
A Dr. Perry taught Pipe Creek Township’s first schoolhouse, which was erected in 1836 on land owned by Jacob Sigler. Joseph Sigler, later a county auditor, was one of the first teachers in the county, as were Hezekiah Denny, Tighlman Armfield, and John Ring (Forkner, 1914).
Early schoolhouses like Sigler’s 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).
Those primitive 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 Pipe Creek Township began converting the existing log schools into frame ones in 1854 (Kingman, 1880), simultaneously improving courses of study, hiring teachers that were more qualified, and erecting new buildings when money was available.
By 1873, Pipe Creek Township was home to eleven schoolhouses (Harden, 1874) with names like District 1: Jobe, District 2: Brannock, District 3: Cannady, District 5: Hawkins, District 6: Monticello, District 7: Dixon, District 8: King, District 9: Pruitt, District 10: Coon Valley, District 11: Cale, District 12: Union Corner/Frog Pond, and District 15: Dundee (Dead Dog, 1967. Another school -one of the township’s largest- sat at the Frankton suburb of Quick City. The names of some other districts have been lost to time.
Over time, consolidation occurred. In 1905, a two-room school called Red Corner opened two miles east of Elwood, displacing the old Douglas school (People, 2006). It appears as though the District 5: Hawkins school closed around a year later, and the Quick City schoolhouse disappeared around 1910 and was auctioned four years later after the glass plants left the area (School, 1914).
Most of the rest of the schoolhouses were consolidated around 1920 after a new Pipe Creek Township School in Frankton was completed at the southwest corner of East Sigler and 4th Street- it absorbed the township’s 350 students (Grant, 1989). The Pruitt school was sold in 1919 (School, 1919), and the Dundee schoolhouse -evidently closed sometime prior to 1920- was auctioned off a year later (Dundee, 1920). The buildings of districts 4, 5, and 8 were all sold by the township trustee in 1921 (Notice, 1921). Five years later, a gymnasium was added to Frankton school (Gym, 1926).
Though the city of Elwood had its own school district, a suburb -South Elwood- erected a four-room school under the purview of Pipe Creek Township in 1932 (Edwards, 1932), an event that led to the closure of the District 11: Cale schoolhouse south of the city. The Brannock schoolhouse, which had earlier taken in the students of Dundee, closed 1941 as the last of the township’s one-room buildings to operate (Pipecreek, 1941).
By 1950, Pipe Creek Township operated three schools. Frankton had 558 students from grades 1-12, Red Corner had 87 in grades first through sixth, and South Elwood -enrolling grades 1-8- had 142 students (Enrollment, 1950). Two years later, the Red Corner school received an addition of two classrooms, along with a 40×60-foot basement underneath them. A new heating plant and restrooms were installed as well, along with a remodeled cafeteria (Work, 1952).
Nevertheless, the township’s small structures were at their limit, so a new Pipe Creek Township School at Frankton was built at the start of the 1959-60 school year. At a cost of $940,000, the structure held 550 senior high school students in 132 rooms including regular classrooms and home economics, vocational agricultural, industrial arts, art, and music rooms (Dedication, 1959). A new gymnasium with a 2,650-person capacity was larger than its contemporaries in Alexandria and Elwood (New, 1956).
That year, 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).
It took five years, but by 1964, a new school district was proposed, comprising Stony Creek Township, Jackson Township, most of Lafayette Township, and the majority of Pipe Creek Township aside from Elwood (West, 1964). A year later, the South Elwood school was closed and auctioned after its students were sent to attend elementary classes at the 1920 Frankton High School (Elwood, 1965). Apparently, the South Elwood School reopened for a while, sending its students to Frankton (Grant), but upon the official formation of the West Central Community School Corporation in 1972, it’d been reacquired by Elwood Community Schools and remodeled for use as a special education and kindergarten building (School, 1981).
Upon reorganization, Red Corner fed into the 1920 Frankton High School, which was repurposed as a middle school. A modern wing to its east was built in the 1970’s after the closure of Red Corner in 1971.
A complicated, $16 million, building project that saw similar, extensive, renovations and expansions of the corporations’ two high schools in Frankton and Lapel (Hoffman, 1987) was completed in 1988, enabling the modern Frankton High School to take junior high students from the 1920 building (Grant). In 1999, the West Central Community School Corporation was renamed Frankton-Lapel Community Schools (Lapel, n.d.), and the old Frankton High School was demolished in 2001. Ultimately, the abandoned Red Corner school was demolished three years later (People, 2006).
Today, Madison County’s Frankton-Lapel Community Schools operates a modern elementary in Frankton; the Lapel Elementary and Middle School in the former 1950s/1988-era Stony Creek Township High School, a Junior/Senior High School at the 1959/1987 Pipe Creek Township School, and a modern high school on Indiana Highway 32 northeast of town. The 1955 Jackson Township Consolidated School serves as Frankton-Lapel’s administrative offices.
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.
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.
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.
Kingman Brothers. (1880). History of Madison County, Indiana with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Chicago, IL.
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.
School House to Sell At Auction (1914, October 7). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.
“People speak” (2006, October 11). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 5.
Grant, D. “Remember when?” (1989, September 14). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 6.
Edwards Ends Long Service In School Room (1932, January 29). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.
Gym Ready Mid-January (1926, November 6). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 5.
Notice of Sale of School Property (1921, July 2). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 7.
Reunion Of Two School Will Be Held On Sunday (1937, September 8). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 2.
School House a Bargain (1919, July 1). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 7.
Dundee School House to Sell (1920, June 2). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 6.
Pipecreek Schools Re-Open Today (1941, September 8). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 6.
Enrollment Of Pipe Creek Schools Announced (1950, September 16). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Work Nearly Finished On Red Corner School (1952, August 23). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Dedication Of New Frankton School Is Set (1959, October 28). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 1.
New Frankton High School Gym To Seat 2,650 (1956, October 11). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.
West Central Community Corporation (1964, October 23). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 14.
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.
Elwood School Up For Sale (1965, November 21). The Anderson Herald. p. 36.
School board receives facilities study report (1981, September 11). The Elwood Call-Leader. pp. 1-3.
Hoffman, F. (1987, April 17). “W-C hears update on $16 million plan.” The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
LHS History (n.d.). Lapel High School. Frankston-Lapel Community Schools. Retrieved December 23, 2021 from https://flcs.k12.in.us/schools/lapel_high_school/student_life/lhs_history.
“People speak” (2006, October 11). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 5.