Madison County- Jackson Township
As of 2021, I count two remaining schoolhouses in Jackson Township.
Jackson Township’s first schoolhouse was a log cabin built by a Mr. Dewey (Kingman, 1880) on the Daniel Wise farm (Perkinsville, 1954). A year later, another small schoolhouse was built on the Wise farm in Section 34, southeast of what’s now Perkinsville close to West Eighth Street, or the Anderson-Hamilton Road. After another year or two, another schoolhouse was built on the north side of the White River (Forkner, 1914).
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.
By 1872, there were ten schoolhouses in the township, valued at a total of $5,800 (Harden, 1874).
Over time, these schoolhouses took on common names separately from their district numbers. District 1 was Bell Rattle, perhaps due to it location near a cow pasture. District 2 was called Business Corner, on what was once the main road from Perkinsville to Elwood (Bock, 1969a). District 4 was Perkinsville and District 7 was Hamilton, both due to their locations in those communities. Districts 3, 6, 8, and 9 were called Neese, McClintock, Epperly, and McCord after prominent local families. District 5 was called Dyer or Dyer’s Creek after the nearby body of water (Bock).
The extant District 7: Hamilton schoolhouse -the third one- was finished in 1903 as a two-story, two-room structure that took in the pupils of the Epperly school and the old District 7 structure to the west. By this time, Perkinsville was home to a three-room building with a belfry and basement. Along with Epperly, the Neese school closed in 1903 as well, with some of its pupils attending Business Corner and some going to classes at the Perkinsville building. In 1904, the District 5 and District 9 schools were thought to be the oldest schools in the township (Schools).
By 1912, Jackson Township was home to six school buildings valued at $10,000 and employing nine teachers (Korner, 1914). The Bell Rattle school may have closed after the 1912 term (Bock, 1969b).
Eventually, all of the one-room schools consolidated. Students spent their elementary years at Perkinsville -which lacked interior bathrooms (Perkinsville)- before moving to the Hamilton schoolhouse for middle school. After eighth grade, they went on to the High Schools at Lapel in Stony Creek Township or at Walnut Grove in Hamilton County.
In 1955, the eight-classroom Jackson Township Consolidated School -intended to serve grades 1-8, was completed, shuttering the old schoolhouses at Perkinsville and Hamilton, at the time considered the oldest Madison County schoolhouses still in use (New, 1952). Jackson Township sold the former Perkinsville School in June of 1955 (Public, 1955).
The West-Central School District, combining Jackson, Lafayette, and Stony Creek Townships with part of Pipe Creek Township (Frankton’s Metro District), was established in 1972 (20 Candidates, 1972)
In 1994, the West Central Community School Corporation approved sending the elementary-aged students of the Jackson Township Elementary School, as it was then known, to the Lapel and Leach elementary schools, reformatting the building into an education center ((Jackson, 1994). Four years later, the school district renamed itself as Frankton-Lapel Community Schools.
Jackson Elementary School, as it was known under the new authority, seems to have closed in 1998 and consolidated into a new Frankton Elementary School (Frankton, 1998). Today, the school is used as the Frankton-Lapel administrative offices. Today, there are no Jackson Township schools still in operation, although the old Epperly and Hamilton township schools still stand.
Kingman Brothers. (1880). History of Madison County, Indiana with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Chicago, IL.
Perkinsville School To Be Used For Last Year (1954, September 1). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 19.
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.
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.
Bock, G. (1969, August 23). No Kidding, There Was Once Bell Rattle School. The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.
Schools of Jackson Township Good Ones (1904, February 5). The Elwood Daily Record. p. 1.
Bock, G. (1969, September 1). Mrs. McGurty Recalls Teaching At Bell Rattle. The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.
New Township School Planned (1952, January 22). The Anderson Herald. p. 1.
Public Sale of Real Estate and Personal Property. (1955, May 18). The Anderson Herald. p. 14.
20 Candidates Running for West Central Board. (1972, April 24). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Jackson school to be used as educational center. (1994, April 19). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.
Frankton board approves new name. (1998, March 13). The Elwood Call-Leader. p. 1.