Randolph County- Jackson Township
As of 2022, I count one remaining schoolhouse in Jackson Township.
The earliest community in Jackson Township seems to have been Mount Holly, which was recorded on May 23, 1840. Though it grew no larger than an outpost with a single blacksmith shop, the settlement -which was situated around the intersection of East County Road 500-North and North County Road 700-East- was at least also home to a schoolhouse (Tucker, 1882). Another early schoolhouse, constructed from logs (Hinshaw, 2008), was located at the 1851 community of New Middletown which was settled around the intersection of East County Road 550-North and North County Road 500-East just north of what’s now Indiana State Road 28, formerly the Greenville and Deerfield State Road (Tucker).
The first schools in Jackson Township were 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, Jackson Township was home to nine schoolhouses (Warner, 1865). Eventually, the districts were renumbered, and many acquired colloquial names based on their locations or the names of the farmers who deeded their land to the township. Districts 1, 2, and 4 appear to have been known only by number, but District 3 was known as Jessup, District 5 was called Warren or Gettinger, and District 6 acquired the name of Mangas. Districts 7, 8, and 9 were known as New Lisbon, Mount Holly, and New Middletown after the communities they served, and the tenth schoolhouse -New Pittsburg- was established in that community near where the Jessup school had originally been located (Hinshaw) before it was moved.
The years surrounding the turn of the century brought substantial upgrades to the schoolhouses of Jackson Township. A frame school at New Middletown was erected in 1885, followed by a replacement building at New Pittsburgh two years later (Hinshaw). New schoolhouses for districts 6 and 7 were built in 1890, followed by a replacement for the District 4 school in 1892. A new schoolhouse for District 2 that was evidently built sometime around 1895 (Hinshaw). The year 1900 saw the construction of a new District 1 schoolhouse, followed by a new structure for District 2 two years later. Meanwhile, the township continued to use older buildings for district 4, 5, and 8 (Hinshaw).
A two-story consolidated school with a raised basement and modern features like acetyl lighting and a gas-powered water system (Arson, 1989) was completed for Jackson Township in 1910 on the site of the District 5 schoolhouse, which was retained for possible use as a janitor’s residence, as was somewhat common practice. The construction of the new school resulted in the immediate closure of the schoolhouses at District 1 and 5 the same year, followed by the gradual closure of the remaining township schoolhouses: Districts 4 and 6 were shuttered in 1911, Districts 1 and 2 closed in 1912, and District 3 was emptied in 1914. District 8 closed in 1915, followed by District 9 in 1916 and Districts 7 and 10 in 1917.
The old District 7 schoolhouse at New Lisbon was converted into a parsonage for the New Lisbon Christian Church in 1950 (Hinshaw). Other buildings were repurposed or demolished.
By 1957, the 1-12 grade Jackson Township school was home to 160 pupils (School, 1958). An attempt that year to consolidate the building with larger schools at Franklin and Ward townships under the name of the Tri-School Corporation of Randolph County failed (Ridgeville, 1957). Later that year, Ward and Jackson townships were successful in consolidating into a separate district of their own. That year, the high school students of Jackson Township were transferred to Ward Township school at Saratoga.
The Ward-Jackson school district was split up in 1962 when, under a new petition, Jackson was combined with the Wayne Township school at Union City to form a new school corporation called Randolph Eastern (Four, 1961). That year, the fifty-two year old Jackson Township school was closed, having only held elementary classes since 1957 (Jackson, 1962).
Today, Jackson Township remains without an operating school, as its students attend the K-12 campus of North Side Elementary and Union City Junior-Senior High School in that community. Only one old schoolhouse -District 7 at New Lisbon- remains standing, and while most of the structures were subjected to unknown fates, the seventy-nine year old former Jackson Township High School, used to house migrant workers in its later days, was destroyed in a 1989 fire that was believed to have been set intentionally (Arson, 1989).
In addition, the District 8: Mount Holly school appears to have fallen down in 2005 before its plot was cleared sometime prior to July of the following year (Google, 2006).
Finally, though the old District 5: Warren schoolhouse that sat on the site of the consolidated school managed to outlast its larger successor, it was demolished at some point between 2010 and September of 2013 (Google, 2013) and is no longer extant.
Tucker, E. (1882). History of Randolph County, Indiana. book. Chicago, IL; A.L. Kingman.
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.
Warner, C.S (1865). 1865 Wall-Map of Randolph County. C.A.O. McClellan & C.S. Warner. Waterloo, Indiana. map.
Arson Believed to Be Cause of School Fire (1989, October 31). The Muncie Star. p. 3.
School Consolidation Issue in Election At Ridgeville (1958, January 27). The Muncie Star. p. 12.
Ridgeville Votes Against Consolidation of Schools (1957, April 11). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 7.
Four-Unit Setup OK’d for Randolph (1961, October 6). The Muncie Star. p. 26.
Jackson School Of Randolph County To Be Abandoned (1961, July 11). The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 11.
Google (2006, July 26). [Google Earth Pro historical satellite image of Mount Holly schoolhouse site]. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from Google Earth Pro.
Google (2013, September 25). [Google Earth Pro historical satellite image of Warren schoolhouse site]. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from Google Earth Pro.