Madison County- Adams Township

As of 2021, I count five remaining schoolhouses in Adams Township.


District 1: Lost Woods/Possum’s Glory
District 3: Old Columbus/Dunkard/Dead Dog
District 4: New Columbus/Ovid
District 6: Walnut Grove/Emporia
District 10: Buttonwood/Poly Walk

Historic Overview

The first schoolhouse in Adams Township was built in Section 19 in 1824, between today’s US-36 and US-38, west of South County Road 100-East (Forkner & Dyson, 1897). Shortly after, a round-log schoolhouse at the eastern side of what’s now the unincorporated community of Ovid/New Columbus (Kingman, 1880) became the township’s second, while the first schoolhouse in Markleville was built around 1831 (McTurnan, 1900). Early teachers at these schoolhouses were a Mr. Hudson, Reuen Wyatt, John Roberts, Hiram Burch, George Kearney, and others (Forkner & Dyson).

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, Adams Township officials 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.

Adams Township’s first brick schoolhouses appeared in 1873 when one was erected at Markleville and another was built at New Columbus/Ovid (Forkner, 1914). The buildings were identical, measuring 23×38 feet and costing $1,100. Two additional brick schools -at District 3 “Fesler” and District 8 “Collier”- were built in 1877, also copies of one another (Kingman). 1878 saw the completion of a District 6: Surber school near the site of the first log schoolhouse, and a District 7 school measuring 24×42 feet was built shortly afterwards for a cost of $775. In 1880, Adams Township was home to four left-over frame schoolhouses, along with the six built during the 1870s (Kingman).

In 1883 a two-story brick schoolhouse was built at District 6 in what later became the town of Emporia (Fox, n.d.). A brick replacement for the District 1 schoolhouse was built three years later (Madison, 2021). A new school for District 10, also brick, was erected in 1889.

By 1900, the schoolhouse at Markleville was two stories (Bock, 1969). 1912, Adams Township operated ten schools, most commonly known in order of district number by the colloquial names of Lost Woods, Bethel, Dead Dog, Ovid, Wildwood, Emporia, White Chapel, Collier, Markleville, and Buttonwood (Bock, 1970).

The Markleville school. The original portion is the hipped-roof segment at right. Photo taken August 10, 2021. From the author’s collection.

In 1911 a new schoolhouse was constructed at Markleville, which was rapidly emerging as the township’s center of population despite not being centrally-located. It was enlarged in 1913 to accommodate grades 1-12 in the future, though it only originally taught students up to the ninth grade (Bock, 1969). Prior to all twelve grades being offered at Markleville, some students graduated from the high school at Pendleton, about seven miles northwest on what was then the Pendleton and New Castle Pike, now IN-38.

Movements toward school consolidation did not sweep Madison County with the same velocity that they did its neighbor Delaware. In Adams Township, Districts 1-6 were condemned by the state board of health in 1922, necessitating their improvement or replacement. That year, a two-year project to expand and renovate the school at Markleville was begun (Bock, 1969). It appears as though the Districts 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10 schoolhouses were absorbed into Markleville when the project was completed (Plat, n.d.).

A new consolidated elementary school known as Fall Creek Heights was finished in 1928 after the plat map was published (School, 1928). It likely absorbed the remaining Districts 1, 2, 3, and 5 schoolhouses. In 1939, the school at Markleville underwent a major remodeling project when its original facilities were remodeled and a new gymnasium was built along with more classrooms.

The Fall Creek Heights school. . Photo taken August 10, 2021. From the author’s collection.

In 1958, 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, and the high school at Markleville was converted to a middle school.

Both of Adams Township’s remaining schools -Markleville and Fall Creek Heights- closed in 1979 along with the Ingalls Elementary School in Green Township after the construction of the $2.9 million East Elementary School in 1979, which included four classes per grade in addition to kindergarten rooms (Douglas, 1977).

Today, the South Madison Community School district continues to operate East Elementary in Adams Township. After years as a residence, the former Fall Creek Heights school is now home to American Elevator, Incorporated. The Markleville school was purchased by Steven Painter to become the headquarters of his company, Reflectix, Incorporated, which it remains as today. The balance of Adams Township’s old one-room schools have all been converted to homes.

References

Forkner, J. & Dyson, B. (1897). Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County, Indiana. book. Anderson, IN.

Kingman Brothers. (1880). History of Madison County, Indiana with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Chicago, IL.McTurnan, L. (1900). Handbook For The Teachers of Madison County. Madison County, Indiana. 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.

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.

Fox, J. (n.d.). Adams Township Had 10 Schools. Madison County Historical Society. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from http://www.andersonmchs.com/adams-township-schools.php.

Madison County Office of Information & GIS Services. (2021). Parcel ID: 48-13-02-400-001.000-001

Bock, G. (1970, October 29). Adams Township Had Ten School Districts. Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.

Bock, G. (1969, June 3). This is Year of Last Good Bye for Markleville H.S.. Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.

Condemns Six Adams Township School Buildings (1922, April 14). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.

Plat Book of Madison County Indiana (n.d.) W. W. Hixson & Co. Rockford, IL. map. Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

School Terms to Close Next Week (1928, April 14). 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. 

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.