Monroe Township District 3:


Photo taken December 5, 2021. From the author’s collection.

Monroe Township’s District 3 schoolhouse, commonly known as Tennessee, was visible on an 1880 plat map as situated in the southwestern corner of an S. Lamar’s 78 acres one mile west of Gilman, or two miles south and four miles east of Alexandria (Kingman, 1880).  The town of Gilman had no schoolhouse of its own, and the Tennessee schoolhouse mostly served its residents.

Aside from the typical events and milestones of a one-room schoolhouse, the history of Tennessee school is marred by fires. In 1922, teacher Erma Wright noticed an enormous plume of smoke rising from the rear of the building as she approached it for the day. A fire -caused by an overheated stove- was determined to be the cause as the fire penetrated the attic. Thankfully, a bucket brigade was formed and the school building was saved (Tennessee, 1922).

Around 1930, the District 4: Hall Corner school was closed due to declining enrollment. The students were sent to the Tennessee schoolhouse, accounting for its largest enrollment -35 pupils- in 1931. Students from District 4 were conveyed to District 3 by means of a bus driven by a man named Sanford Hicks (Has, 1931). 

The Tennessee schoolhouse was destroyed by a second fire two and a half months before the 1932-33 school term was scheduled to end. Officials contemplated disbursing Tennessee’s forty-one students to the nearby Manring, Spiceland, and Vermillion schools before deciding instead to reopen the Hall Corner building (Advisory, 1933). At the end of the day, thirty pupils wound up being conveyed back to Hall Corner, while eleven left to attend to Vermillion schoolhouse, District 15, a mile west and a mile south. Desks and other furniture lost in the fire were donated by other local schools (City, 1933).

The youngest of the final attendees of Tennessee school graduated from eighth grade from the consolidated Cunningham School, which opened in 1938 two miles north and two miles west of Tennessee and absorbed students from eleven township schools in the eastern portion of Monroe Township (Holtsclaw, 2006). Although the Hall Corner schoolhouse has long since been razed, the Vermillion school still stands as a house.

Today, only a stairway and foundation remain of the District 3: Tennessee school. 


Kingman Brothers. (1880). History of Madison County, Indiana with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Chicago, IL.

Tennessee School Has Narrow Escape From Destruction By Fire (1922, February 16). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1

Has Large Enrollment (1931, September 11). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.

Advisory Board Meets to Make School Plans (1933, February 10). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.

City Schools Donate Seats and Furniture (1933, February 13). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.

Holtsclaw, S. (2006, May 17). After 68 years, Cunningham Elementary School says goodbye to Alexandria. The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 1.