Randolph County- Greensfork Township
As of 2022, I count three remaining schoolhouses in White River Township.
District 6: White Hall
District 8: Hart’s Glory
District 13: Union Literary Institute
The first schoolhouse in Greensfork Township was at Arba, in a meetinghouse that was completed as early as 1815 and stood on a hill in what’s now the Arba Cemetery (Bloom, 1878). The school had no fireplace or chimney, and was heated by moving hot coals from a fire built outside to the center of the floor. After a few years, a hewed-log meetinghouse and school was built that was used until 1854 (Pitts, 1997).
Elsewhere in Greensfork Township, another early school was conducted in a log building in what later became Spartanburg around 1832, while abolitionist Quakers along with free blacks founded the Union Literary Institute two miles east of Spartanburg in 1846 (Moore, 2010). The following year, a site for what was first called District 2 but later became District 8 was first purchased, while in the southeastern corner of the township, a series of log buildings were used to Serve District 1 as early as 1851 (Hinshaw, 2008).
Early schools such as these were often basic structures, simply built and 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). Generally, these revenues were insufficient to finance a township’s schools for more than two or three months at a time. Sometimes, classes were taught months in advance leaving teachers waiting for their wages.
The era of subscription schoolhouses ended in theory 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 finally available, officials began converting the existing log schools into frame ones, simultaneously improving courses of study, hiring teachers that were more qualified, and erecting new buildings when possible.
By 1865, Greensfork Township was home to 13 schools, most of which became known by common names in addition to their district numbers. District 1 was called Pin Hook, while District 2 took the name of Arba, the community it served. District 3 was called Clark, and District 5 was known variously as Hill, Peelle’s, Small, and Witter. District 6 was called White Hall, and District 7 -another early school in existence prior to 1856 (Hinshaw)- was called Jordan or Bowen. Very little is known about the District 4 school other than that it was located south of Spartanburg (Hinshaw).
The District 8 school was known as Hart’s Glory, while District 9 was called Spartanburg after its location in that town. The District 10 schoolhouse was called Pleasant Grove, and District 11 was called Austin, Brown, or Dick Brown. The District 12 schoolhouse took the unusual name of Pocket after its location within a panhandle or “pocket” of the township *Black, 2002), and District 13 was called Edgewood or the Union Literary Institute.
In 1865, a new District 5 school -a brick structure- was erected, and the site for a District 12 school had been purchased. Three years later, a two-room school was built for District 2 north of Arba on the east side of Arba Pike. A brick schoolhouse for District 1 was built in 1872, and the township began funding the Union Literary Institute around two years later. In 1875 a two-story, three-room school south of Spartanburg on Arba Pike was completed at a cost of $7,000 (Knight, 1964).
Around this time, the Patrons of Husbandry -a social organization centered around agriculture and otherwise known as the Grangers- built a new meeting hall on the northwest corner of Arba Pike and what’s now East County Road 500-South. The frame Pleasant Grove schoolhouse was discarded and classes were held in the bottom story of the structure, leading the school to become colloquially known as the Granger Hall School (Hinshaw).
The Jordan or Bowen school was discontinued in either 1878 or 1879 (Hinshaw), but by 1882 the schoolhouses at Pin Hook, Arba, Spartanburg, and Edgewood -the Union Literary Institute- were all graded. That year, nine of the township’s thirteen structures were brick (Tucker, 1882).
At some point, a brick building replaced the old District 6: White Hall schoolhouse, and the District 11 school closed in 1884 and was replaced by another school on a different site. The Granger Hall school was discontinued in 1891 when a replacement, called Northeastern (Hinshaw), was built on a different site. In 1900, a frame replacement for the brick District 1: Pinhook school was completed. The following year, the brick District 5: Witter school was demolished and replaced with a two-room structure (Hinshaw).
The Hart’s Glory school burned to the ground in 1905, two years before the Pinhook School met the same fate, though both were replaced (Black). In 1906, the District 6: White Hall school was next to close, doing so in order for its students to attend classes at Spartanburg (Hinshaw).
An enormous, three-story school at the site of District 9 just south of Spartanburg was completed in 1908. The school- brick, with a peaked roof and cupola, immediately absorbed the students of the Districts 9, 10, and 11 schoolhouses (Knight). The rest of Greensfork Township’s schoolhouses consolidated over time:
The Union Literary Institute closed in 1911, while District 12: Pocket school shut down the following year. The two-room, graded District 1: Pin Hook and the District 8: Hart’s Glory schools were shuttered in 1919, the year that a tornado heavily damaged the schoolhouse at Arba, which was repaired in 1920 absent one of its classrooms (To Remodel, 1920).
The District 5: Witter school, which had been enlarged in 1915 to serve as a consolidated school for grades 1-8, closed in 1921 and was followed by the District 3: Clark school in 1922 (Hinshaw). The final schoolhouse to close in Greensfork Township was at Arba, which shut down in 1929.
In 1939 the Spartanburg School received a WPA grant for a $18,000 addition of a gymnasium/auditorium that significantly expanded the rear of the building through the construction of a 52×68 foot playing floor, a new room for a stage, and the removal of the previous stage which forced spectators to watch athletic events from a balcony nearly twenty-five feet above the playing surface (Gymnasium, 1939).
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 Greensfork, Washington, and Union planned to consolidate into a new district called Randolph Southern in May, 1962 (Four, 1961). The process failed, as did another attempt the following November. In 1964, Greensfork and Washington Townships were finally successful in forming a new district called Randolph Southern School Corporation (Hinshaw), the last in Randolph County to form.
The creation of the new school district saw the upper four grades of the Greensfork Township school at Spartanburg transfer to Lynn at the start of the 1964-65 school year. In exchange, seventh- and eighth-graders at Lynn transferred to Spartanburg (Spartanburg, 1964). Fifteen students were members of Spartanburg’s last graduating class (Knight).
Construction of a new, $3.8 million Randolph Southern Junior-Senior High School in Lynn began in April, 1974. When it opened midway through the 1975-76 school year, it took over housing grades 7-12 from its predecessor in Lynn, and the school at Spartanburg was closed after sixty-eight years (Peters, 1975).
In 1976, the Spartanburg School was sold at auction to the Williams Manufacturing Company, which made farm gates and Hay feeders, for $21,000 (Spartanburg, 1976). Successive ownership led to the building’s essential abandonment until it was mostly destroyed in a major fire in 2012 that involved sixteen local fire departments from as far are Roseburg and Arcanum, Ohio (Engle, 2012a). The state determined that the fire had been intentionally lit (Engle, 2012b), and as of 2022 the burned Spartanburg School sits in a ghostly state of wreckage.
Today, no schools operate in Greensfork Township, and students attend classes conducted by the Randolph Southern School Corporation campus in nearby Lynn, in Washington Township.
Most of the old schoolhouses of Greensfork Township have been demolished over the years; the fates of some can be charted with certainty: After its closure, the last District 1: Pin Hook school was moved about three-quarters of a mile north of its original location at the southwestern corner of IN-227 and East County Road 1000-South and added to the rear of a barn. It appears to have fallen down or been demolished at some point during 2006 (Google, 2006). The District 5: Witter school was torn down between July of 2007 and October of 2008 (Google, 2008a). Finally, it appears as though the District 12: Pocket school -moved a quarter of a mile west from its original location to the Hendrickson Farm (Black)- appears to have collapsed as an outbuilding by 2008 (Google, 2008b).
Today, the District 6: White Hall, District 8: Hart’s Glory -now attached to the rear of a house-and District 13: Union Literary Institute still stand, along with the remains of the 1908 Spartanburg High School.
Bloom, L. (1978, July 22). Highest elevation in state not Arba’s only high point. The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 3.
Pitts, E. (1997, July 14). Arba has had some high points during its history. The Muncie Star Press. p. 7.
Moore, W.L. (2010). Union Literary Institute Recording Secretary’s book, 1845-1890. Manuscripts and Visual Collections Department, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society.
Hinshaw, G. (2008). A History of Education in Randolph County, Indiana. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
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.
Black, L. (2002). Early Schools Of Greensfork Twp. Randolph Co. Indiana. Historic Preservation Randolph Southern Junior High Junior Historians.
Knight, M. (1964, May 5). Final Commencement May 22 At Spartanburg High School. The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 7.
Tucker, E. (1882). History of Randolph County, Indiana. book. Chicago, IL; A.L. Kingman.
To Remodel School (1920, May 21). The Richmond Item. p. 3.
Gymnasium-Auditorium Is Dedicated at Spartanburg High School (1939, December 21). The Richmond Palladium-Item and Sun-Telegram. p. 9.
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.
Four-Unit Setup OK’d for Randolph (1961, October 6). The Muncie Star. p. 26.
Spartanburg, Lynn Pupils To Pick Nickname, Colors (1964, March 12). The Richmond Palladium Item and Sun-Telegram. p. 22.
Peters, K. (1975, December 12). Only Finishing Touches Remain For New Randolph South School. The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 33.
Spartanburg School Sells For $21,000 (1976, April 25). The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 35.
Engle, B. (2012, March 13). Fire damages old Spartanburg School. The Muncie Star Press. p. 4.
Engle, B. (2012, April 14). Arson caused Spartanburg School fire. The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 3.
Google (2006, June 16). [Google Earth Pro historical satellite image of Pin Hook schoolhouse site]. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Google Earth Pro.
Google (2008, June 18). [Google Earth Pro historical satellite image of Witter schoolhouse site]. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Google Earth Pro.
Google (2008, June 18). [Google Earth Pro historical satellite image of Pocket schoolhouse site]. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from Google Earth Pro.