Madison County- Richland Township
As of 2021, I count three remaining schoolhouses in Richland Township.
According to Kingman, the first school in Richland Township was taught in a log Methodist Church in Section 15, in the general vicinity of what’s now considered Moonville or Moonsville (Kingman, 1880). Harden offers a different account, though, advising that the first schoolhouse was at cabin on the later site of the Harrison Canady farm, built in 1831 and taught by an Irishman during the spring of 1832 (Harden, 1874). This places the structure in Section 31 at the far-southwestern corner of the township, near where today’s Rainbow Boulevard intersects with Alexandria Pike (Kingman). John Treadway was another early teacher there (Forkner, 1914).
In time, other primitive, round- or hewed-log schoolhouses were likely constucted, but there’s no great record. 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, Harden pegged the value of the township’s schools at $4,500.
Brick schoolhouses, such as the District 4 building known as College Corner built in 1884 (Jackson, 2019), began to appear in Richland Township during the 1880s. By 1897, the township was home to seven schoolhouses- five brick and two frame (Forkner & Dyson, 1897). The District 6: Conner and District 7: Burton schools, both brick, were erected in 1899. In 1912, the township’s seven brick schoolhouses were valued at $20,000 (Forkner).
By that time, the seven schools of Richland Township had taken on their commonly-remembered colloquial names. District 1 was Moonville, named for the town it sat near, and District 2 was Wesley Chapel for the church that sat across the road. District 3 was called Center due to its proximity to the middle of the township, and District 4 was called College Corner, a name it shared with three other schools in the county (Jackson). Districts 5, 6, and 7 were called Thornburg, Conner, and Burton, respectively, after the families who granted the land for their construction.
The first graded school in the county was taught at College Corner by W.M. Croan. In 1914, its first graduation commencement was held (Forkner). The first schoolhouse to close, for reasons unknown, was the District 6: Conner school, which shut down sometime between 1923 and 1930 (Richland, 1930).
Perhaps the Conner schoolhouse closed due to small attendance figures. In 1937, Ruth Gritton taught school at District 7, which was home to 24 pupils (Teaching, 1937). By 1942, though, the school was Madison County’s smallest, with only thirteen students in attendance. Elsewhere in Richland Township, the Moonville school taught 32 pupils, Center school had 35, and College Corner and Thornburg had 41 students each (Rural, 1942).
In 1939, Richland Township began plans to erect a consolidated township school that would consolidate the Center, Thornburg, Wesley Chapel, Moonville, Burton, and College Corner schoolhouses. (Bond, 1939). This didn’t happen until 1950, though, when a new, six-room College Corner school was completed (Work, 1958). In addition to the old District 4 building, this led to the closure of the Center, Thornburg, and Burton schools, which were auctioned off two years later (Notice, 1952). Ultimately, the remainder of Richland Township’s schools closed as well, all consolidating into College Corner.
In 1955, Richland and Union Townships combined in order to erect a new high school. The building, Highland, was built in Union Township in 1955 in order to absorb grades 7 and 8 from the College Corner and grades 7 and 8 from Union Township’s Chesterfield school, which was using a stage, corridor, and nearby house to house pupils. Additionally, eighth grade students from Anderson Township’s Franklin Elementary School were sent to Highland as well after classes were forced to be held in the principal’s office and own the gym floor. Also all freshman and some 10th, 11, and 12 grades from Lindberg school area, and part of the high school clases in Forest Hills (Exercises, 1955) were also sent to Highland, which cost $765,000 as built and contained 28 classrooms along with a gymnasium that sat 2,800 people (New, 1955).
The modern College Corner school received an eight-classroom addition, along with a cafeteria and multipurpose room, in 1958 (Work). Six years later, a third addition consisting of an art room, kindergarten room, and general elementary classroom was completed (Okeh, 1967).
In 1971, the schools of Union and Richland Townships merged into the Anderson Community School Corporation. Four years later, Anderson completed a $1.2 million elementary school, Killbuck, in Richland township southwest of the old Conner schoolhouse in order to alleviate congestion at College Corner and Chesterfield.
The modern College Corner school closed after the 2004-05 school year. Highland High School closed after the 2009-10 school year and is now operated by Anderson Community Schools as Highland Middle School. The Killbuck Elementary School closed in 2011.
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.
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). 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.
Jackson, S. T. (2019, March 1). What’s in a Name: The literal origin of Richland Township . The Herald Bulletin. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from https://www.heraldbulletin.com/community/what-s-in-a-name-the-literal-origin-of-richland-township/article_7a66463c-39d7-11e9-90b6-4f52c6d8b2fa.html.
Forkner, J. & Dyson, B. (1897). Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County, Indiana. book. Anderson, IN.
Richland Township Schools Start Well (1930, September 5). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.
Teaching at Burton. (1937, September 8). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 3.
Rural School Enrollment is Almost 5,000 (1942, October 2). The Alexandria Times-TRibune. p. 1.
Bond Issue for New School was Given Approval (1939, March 11). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.
Work Is Advanced At College Corner (1958, April 23). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. pp. 1, 6.
Notice of Sale of School Property (1952, July 22). The Anderson Herald. p. 14.
New Highland School Open House To Be Held Today (1955, August 28). The Anderson Herald. p. 20.
Six Highland Graduates Started In Old School (1962, April 11). The Anderson Daily Bulletin. p. 4.
Okeh College Corner School $150,000 Expansion Project. (1967, July 15). The Anderson Herald. p. 1.