(Re: History of DeKalb County, Indiana; B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, 1914, pages 259 to 277)

Submitted by: Arlene Goodwin, aagoodwin46706@yahoo.com


Pages 259 & 260

The following is from the manuscript of J. E. Rose, being part of an address delivered before the Old Settlers’ Association on June 15, 1882:

"The first schoolhouse built in the county was, I think, in the Handy settlement, three miles south of the place where the town of Butler now is. It would be a curiosity now. Permit me to describe it today as it stood more than forty years ago. It was built of round logs, that is of unhewn logs, and sixteen feet wide and twenty-four long, with a puncheon floor and a sled-runner chimney; a fireplace extending across one end of the building, and a door near the corner in the side. The chimney was made of mud and sticks, and was so large at the top that much of the light that illuminated the literary path of the students during the weeks, or the spiritual path of the churchgoers on Sunday, came down the chimney through the smoke. At the end of the room opposite the fireplace, was the window which consisted of a row of ‘seven by nine’ glass, occupying the place of a log that had been left out when the building was raised. The window was nine inches high and sixteen feet long, when a snowball passing through the air without the aid of human agency (for no boy ever threw a snowball that hit a window), and a pane of glass was broken, its place was supplied by a piece of oiled paper.

"These were usually supplanted with glass a the commencement of the term; the number of accidents of that mysterious nature than transpired during the term could be determined by the number of greased papers in the window, and as these unprovided panes of glass became numerous in the window and were not exceedingly translucent during cold, cloudy days, when the door must be kept shut, the whole school literally groped in darkness. The writing desk was a hewn puncheon placed against the wall, at an angle of forty-four degrees, in front of the window, and a seat at the writing desk was a post of honor enjoyed only by the large scholars, and those who occupied it were envied as bitterly by the balance of the school as the senior class in college is by the freshman. The cracks between the logs were chinked with pieces of wood and daubed with mud outside and in. The ceiling was made of round poles extending from one side of the room to the other, the ends resting in cracks made large for that purpose on each side.

"Over the poles mud was spread in copious profusion, which, when dried, formed a ceiling that bid defiance alike to piercing winds of winter and the scorching heat of the summer sun. The roof was made of clapboards held to their place by logs laid on top on them, called weight-poles. The seats were made of sassafras poles about six inches in diameter, split in two, the heart side up. and wooden pins or legs in the bottom, or oval sides. These were made to suit the comfort of full grown men, and hence were so high from the floor that the aid of the teacher was necessary to place the small scholars on their seats; and when there no little care was required on their part of avoid falling off.


Pages 260 & 261

"Text books used were the Western spelling book, the New Testament, and for advanced scholars, the old English reader. The scholars who ciphered used such arithmetics as they could procure, but Dabold’s predominated; and when an industrious and studious scholar had reached the ‘rule of three,’ the teacher, to avoid an exposition of his ignorance of the mysteries beyond, prudently required a review, and the mathematical ardor of the ambitious youth was cooled by being turned back to notation and compelled to memorize the fine print and foot notes. As there was not a uniformity of books, there were no classes except spelling and reading classes, and each student studied arithmetic, ‘on his own hook.’ The advent of such a man as my friend Houser or Keeran into the neighborhood at that time, with their sample desks and ink wells, slate blackboards and crayon pencils, terrestial and celestial globes, Spencerian copy books, and a trunk full of eclectic spellers. Readers, mental and practical arithmetics, grammars, geographies, histories, steel pens and pointers, would have attracted more attention and created more excitement among the pioneers that did the Rev. Lewis Hickman, lecturing on Millerism, with his illustrated map, as large as a bed blanket, on which were pictures of the great dragon that John the revelator saw, with its crowned heads and ten horns; with its glowing mouth and red hot fangs through which blue, sickening and sulphurous flames seethingly issued; with its serpentine caudal appendage drawing its train one-third of the stars of heaven.

"None of the modern improvements and discoveries to aid in the cause of a practical education was then known in this county. No graded reading books or spellers, no blackboards, steel pens or mathematical frames, no globes or varnished pointers. Then, we had pointers, fresh hickories cut from the adjacent thicket with the jackknife of the teacher. They were applied to the backs of the wayward youth to demonstrate the propriety of searching for the most direct route to obedience."


Pages 261 & 262

In Franklin township the first school house was built on section twelve, the present site of section one, and was known in 1840 as the Houlton school house. The first teacher was Lucy Orton, of Angola, Steuben.

The first school in Jackson township was taught in a log cabin on section twenty-three by James P. Plummer in 1845.

The first school house in Newville township was built of round basswood logs, about sixteen by twenty feet, with a "shake" roof held in place by weight poles. The house otherwise was similar to the other log houses, and was built in the spring of 1839, and the following fall the school was taught by Marietta E. Robinson for a dollar and a half a week. A new frame school house was built about 1843, afterward the site of the United Brethren parsonage, and in 1850 a church and school building was erected under the lead of a R. Faurot. In 1852 a select school was opened by Faurot, which was maintained until 1861. After Faurot, the principals were: J. E. Hendrix, A. Hartness, L. Barr and others. In 1861 it became a township school. The first school in the township, however, and also the first in DeKalb county, was taught in 1837, by Eunice Strong. The house was a frame, sided up with shaved clapboards, or whip shingles. It was the first frame house built in the county. It stood on section seven.

In Richland township the first school house was erected at Green’s Corners prior to 1841. In 1849 a frame was put up by Charles Knapp on the old site. A year or two later L. D. Britton was a teacher in this building. In 1842 a log school house was built a half mile northeast of Calkin’s Corners; Loretta Dawson was the teacher, and she had fifteen pupils. Harvey Smith was the first male teacher.

In Smithfield township Isaac B. Smith and Reuben J. Daniels put up a log school house on the corner of the farm of the latter during the year 1839. Miss Murray was the first teacher, and Laura Phelps the second. The better financial condition of the farmers in later years was apparent in the erection of several frame schoolhouses at nearly the same date. Albert Blake, George Duncan and Peter Colgrove were a few of the early teachers.

The first schoolhouse in Stafford township stood in the Wanamaker settlement.

In Wilmington township the primitive log school house was supplanted by a frame structure in 1855, among the teachers in this being Hamlin Fay, Mrs. Wood, Miss Story, Mrs. Butler and J. A. Campbell. A three-story brick building was erected in 1867, at a cost of twelve thousand dollars. The first teacher in it was Deck Thomas. The first regular school was opened by Rev. G. W. Bowersox, William H. McIntosh, L.L. Hamlin, James Burrier, Leavitt, J. P. Rouse, D. D. Luke, C. A. Fyke, O. Z. Hubbell and T. J. Sanders were the other principals of this school.

The Husselman school in Union township, in what is now Grant township, was originated in 1844 and 1845, and Mary Maxwell was the teacher. Of the thirteen pupils, six of them belonged to the Husselman family. The school house of that day was a little log house built in the woods. Jacob McEntarfer was the builder. It had two windows, one door, mud in the walls, clapboard roof, with weights to hold it on, no nails being used. Hunches were used, being six feet long, with hewed slabs and legs without backs, to sit on. Boards were placed in pins in the walls to write on. Goose quill pens were used, and the ink was made by boiling maple bark in copperas. The blackboard was two by three feet. A fireplace supplied the heat. The study course was English readers, Cobb’s speller, arithmetic, writing, and school was taught by saying "books." Sessions were from eight until half-past four, with three quarters of an hour for noon, and no other recess. The school house burned to the ground after being used for about four years, and other houses have been erected since, the present one being the fifth. The school term was three months in duration, and the teacher received fifty cents per day, with privilege of boarding around. Pupils wore home-made clothes, and were guided through the woods on their way to school by blazed trees. From the school house, remains of Indian camps could be seen; deer would come up to the school, wild turkeys were in the woods, black, red and gray squirrels were plentiful. The latter were so numerous that the lads would chase a drove of eight or ten up a tree at one time. In the swamp lands surrounding, many snakes, birds, cranes, foxes, wolves and bears were seen. Venison, turkey corncake, etc., were the supplies carried to school by the children.


Page 263

In 1840, Mr. Sherlock, trustee, realized a necessity of teaching the children, so he went in search of a teacher, and found Miss Jane Bailey, who was engaged to teach a subscription school for the summer term. The school was held in a deserted, partly unfinished building, which was also used for meetings.

In 1849, William Clark and Joel Hendricks are remembered as teachers in Auburn. Clark, famed for his instruction of elocution, taught in a humble frame school house that stood on a lot afterward owned and occupied by Mrs. Regina Weaver. Mr. Hendricks, a famous mathematician, opened and continued a school through the winter of 1849 and 1850, his school room being the northeast room of the second story of the then court house. The district schools in the winter of 1849 were kept by Paul A. McMynn, Michael and Cyrus Seiler, and Calvin P. Houser. Another teacher of the ’49 period was William Reynolds, who died near the end of the year of typhoid fever. In the spring of 1849 a short term of school was taught by Sophia Merrill, In the autumn of 1850, John B. Clark came from Lagrange county and opened a select school. He was one of the most severe teachers ever in the county, although he was kindly. He followed strict rules of discipline, and consequently his pupils learned their lessons will. At one time he suddenly asked of his pupils. "If I call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs has a sheep?" "Five. " responded the eager pupils, After a moment, Clark added, "Does calling a sheep’s tail a leg make it one?" This was a lesson direct.


Pages 263 to 265

The inauguration of the general and uniform system of schools in Auburn and DeKalb county was under the provision of the act passed June 14, 1852. The school law was in force in August of that year, at which date its provisions were circulated in pamphlet form in the different counties of the state by authority, but it did not become practically operative until the first Monday in April, 1853, when township trustees for school purposes were elected in the township of the counties. The first duties of the trustees were to establish and locate a sufficient number of schools for the education of all the children within respective limits.

Before this time, shabby rooms had been employed for school purposes. Mr. Hendricks once used a room in the court house. Here and there in DeKalb county, the people had erected houses. On June 14, 1853, there was formed in Butler township, at the farm house of Orrin C. Clark, and organization known as the Union School House Educational Society. Three trustees were elected, namely: Henry Clark, Harris and Jacob Dahman.

In some townships and counties in the state in 1853, there was not a single school house of any kind to be found. In other localities, the log houses, dilapidated and poorly equipped, were worse than nothing. It was thought that fully thirty-five hundred schools should be built in the state.

By Provisions of the new constitution, each township was made a municipal corporation of which every voter was a member. The state had provided a system of public instruction and now intrusted its execution to its cities, towns and townships. No authority had been given to levy a special school tax without the consent of the voters. To be given at a general or special meeting. This restricted the development, for, in some places, no meetings were held, and, in others, the vote was adverse.

Auburn citizens ordered the clerk to post notices of an election for school trustees and for a vote on tax or no tax for school purposes in Auburn. On May 14, 1853, the polls were opened, but only twenty-five men voted, twenty two of whom were for the tax.

There were in 1853, thirty-one schools in DeKalb county; nine of these mostly built of logs, were in Concord township. As late as 1876, but few of the old log houses were standing and none was in use. Prof. Barnes, in a centennial article on education, published in the Waterloo Press, illustrates progress in school architecture as follows: "In one district in Butler township, may be seen within a few rods of one another, the three representative school houses of the county. On the east side of the Fort Wayne wagon road, is the old log school house, on the west side of the road is the old frame house that succeeded it, and a few feet west of the latter stands the new brick school house erected in 1875."

In Auburn, the log cabin of O. C. Houghton was rented for three months for two dollars, and was fitted up for school use. At a special meeting held November 29, 1853, it was decided to have two free schools in Auburn. Teachers were very scarce, as the wages were too small. The average was eighteen dollars per month to male, and ten dollars to female. The organization of every town and township into school districts greatly increased the demand for teachers. Few applicants for license could pass and examination. W. C. Larrabee, state superintendent of public instruction, found here a difficulty. The law required him to appoint deputies in each county to examine applicants for license, but no standard of qualification was made. The legislature of 1853, amended this law and transferred the authority to appoint examiners to the county commissioners and at the same time made a standard of qualification. The board of examiners for DeKalb county for 1853 was composed of E. W. Fosdick, S. W. Dickinson, and L. D. Britton. The number of persons licensed to teach in 1853 was sixty-nine.

There were no normal schools. However, teachers’ institutes had been organized in some counties. In 1867, an institute was held in what was the Presbyterian church at Auburn, with an attendance of fifty, and Prof. Patch as the principal instructor. John Dancer and Abigail Wolsey was employed to teach in the two schools of Auburn, the former to receive sixty dollars for three months, and the latter forty-eight, and to pay own expenses. Schools were ordered to open on Wednesday, December 7, 1853.

The books then used in the schools were: McGuffy’s readers, Ray’s arithmetic, Bullion’s grammar, Mitchell’s geography, Davis’ geometry and algebra, Olmstead’s philosophy and Webster’s elementary spelling book.


Page 265

In March, 1859, Andrew Larimore mad application to teach in the old academy, and was successful, and on August 8th, was employed as principal in what was known as Auburn Union School. In 1860, school began to be more patronized. Students were in high school departments, and a new era seemed to be forthcoming.

In 1858 the academy was built, and opened August 22, 1858, inaugurating the graded free school system in Auburn. The academy was of three stories. One outer door gave access to all of the rooms. Winding stairs led to the upper floors. The furniture on the interior was old-fashioned, very cumbersome and unsuited for use. On the first floor were the primary and intermediate rooms, on the second floor the grammar and high school departments, and on the third floor was the rhetorical room, with a platform at one end, on which students might try their lung capacity in recitation and declamation. By the year 1869 the academy was crowded with students. In this year education was progressing very rapidly all over the county. Butler had erected good schools, as also had many other places in the county.


Pages 265 & 266

Matters in the educational line were not confined to the schools, for in the spring of 1875 a spelling epidemic broke out and became the rage throughout the county. Auburn citizens took a lively interest in the spontaneous, but short-lived revival of the old-fashioned spelling school. Matchers were held in which prominent citizens and their families participated. However, interest soon declined and the custom gradually fell into disuse.

On July 5, 1875, the school board bought of J. H. Ford for six hundred and seventy-five dollars, lots number seventy-nine and eighty in west Auburn, upon which to build a ward school house some time during the summer. Bonds to the amount of three thousand dollars were authorized by the town trustees to provide the means. The contract for the proposed building was awarded during July to Messrs. Lewis Griffith and George S. McCord, of Fort Wayne, for two thousand one hundred and fifty-seven dollars and fifty-six cents. The work was to be finished by August 20. The house was built of brick, and two stories. School was taught therein for a time, when the building stood vacant, the outlay seemed ill placed and premature, and the unattractive structure, surrounded by rank vegetation in the summer, suggested the unfinished university on a Kansas prairie. The necessities of cramped accommodations finally brought about the use of the building for a primary school.

Meanwhile the school board added very much to the appearance of the new school grounds in the central western part of the town, by planting shrubbery, making walks, and surrounding them with a fence. S. B. Duncan furnished one hundred and fifty evergreens at a cost of one hundred and twelve dollars and fifty cents, and eight chestnuts for six dollars, and Albert Wells received thirty-five and a half dollars for one hundred and fifty young forest trees.


Page 266 & 267

The school opened auspiciously, and the usual routine was being conducted on the line of study and discipline, when the schools were dismissed for the day, and, as it proved, to assemble no more in the old academy. In the early evening of October 16, 1875, an alarm of fire was given and soon the tidings spread that the school house was burning. Men were promptly on the spot, but they had no ladders nor other appliances to reach and attack the fire, which originated in the west end of the building. The population of the town crowded to the scene and looked on helplessly while the building in a short time enveloped in flames, slowly burned. Prudent forethought had placed three thousand dollars insurance on the building and five hundred on the furniture. This was a great help in the subsequent building. The demand for a new school house was imperative, and in this emergency the school board issued ten thousand dollars’ worth of eight per cent bonds, the last payable nineteen years from date. These bonds were taken by New York parties and the proceeds of sale were turned over to the school board to be applied in erecting a school house.


Page 267

Work was begun upon the first Auburn high school building in the spring of 1876, under the general management of the school board. The site was well chosen, the structure was of brick two stories high, in dimensions sixty-one by seventy-five feet, and the highest point was sixty feet above the ground. The foundation walls were of free stone, and supplied a roomy basement.

The contract was let to James W. Case, who it will be remembered, was one of the builders of the academy. The job was awarded to him at nine thousand, six hundred and seventy dollars; he was one of thirteen bidders.

The building was erected in accordance with plans and specifications prepared by Messrs. Moser & Gibbs, of Toledo, Ohio. This school house was substantially built at a personal loss to the contractor, who erred in making his bid to low. The furniture consisted of modern and comfortable seats and desks, and was furnished by C. P. Houser for eight hundred dollars.

Heat was effected by means of two Boynton patent hot air furnaces, which cost four hundred dollars. The entire cost of the first building was twelve thousand three hundred and thirty-two dollars. Michael Seiler of Fairfield township was the first superintendent in this school at a salary of one thousand fifty dollars a year.

This building was destroyed by fire on the evening of Tuesday, November 30, 1880. The fire was first seen near the heating apparatus in the basement, where it undoubtedly originated. It was a very small proportions when first seen, and with proper facilities could have been extinguished. However, the building was a total loss.

Undaunted, the citizens and authorities at once took measures for the construction of a new building.


Pages 267 to 274

The Auburn Courier of January 22, 1891, published a very comprehensive and entertaining article on the progress of education in DeKalb county between the years 1866 and 1891, written by William H. McIntosh, one of the pioneer teachers of the county. The article in full is as follows:

"That progress has been made and is still making in the system and appliances for common school education, not alone, though conspicuous, in our county, but in general throughout the state, is planing to the most casual experienced observer.

"Not until thoughtful attention has been directed to this all-important subject, however, do the striking changes for the better and along the lines of genuine and permanent advancement in all that pertains to schools and school teaching, become evident.

"It becomes an unexpected pleasure to have found ample grounds for encouragement for trustees, parents and teachers in a partial presentation of testimony that the great cause of popular education is being advanced in grand movement towards approximate perfection. There is no need to unjustly disparage the past to honor the present. Indiana’s complete school system is the combined and adequate effect of long and tireless effort. Good Schools in village and district, there were a quarter century ago. Earnest, efficient and successful educators unexcelled since in all the essentials of pedagogy were not wanting, and they were recompensed measurably according to deserts by intelligent patrons whose wise forethought secured their services.

"In the face of difficulties now unknown, those intrepid, enthusiastic leaders in teaching inspired pupils with love of learning, pride in their schools and noble ambition to excel; they enlisted the ready sympathy and co-operation of parents, and filled the community at large with confidence and desire to increase school facilities an to augment the number of such educators.

"Inscribed upon the roll as the first to avail themselves of the State Normal school at Terre Haute, and to pioneer the way to better things and educative methods in DeKalb county, stand the honored names of C. P. Houser, the brother Cyrus and Michael Seiler. Since their day even our state institutions have been pleased to secure as teachers in advanced branches the services of young men from this county whose ambition was incited and fostered by those and such like progressive instructors.

"But while these few in the van upheld and aroused school interest, the general mass of teachers were woefully deficient in theory and practice of teaching, the people in contentment of ignorance of the character of their school never or rarely inspected them and the standard of education remained apparently stationary at the close of the term after term.

"But agencies were at work, destined to revolutionize these conditions, and the normal schools conducted by school examiners, the powerful influence of the county institute, the selection for township trustee of live men and leading local schoolmasters, awakened a sentiment whose fruition is manifest in various progressive measures to which attention is briefly directed in a retrospection commencing with the school site and closing with the teacher at work.

"We have, then first, better school sites as to area and location. The time is recent when trustees with good sense and no small degree of courage, imperiled their popularity by geographical locations of school sites, and when the apology for a school house built upon the very field corner had but the ground it occupied, itself the focus whence fences diverged as from and angle. The public highway was the only playground and there was absolutely no provisions for privacy.

"Gradually, these injurious and shameful conditions have been changed till the worst features have been eliminated, but gross evils easily remedied yet exit.

"The proper area for a school site—and acre for ground—has in many districts been purchased, arrangement has been made for separate playgrounds, conveniences in the interest of health and morality have been supplied, and permanence reached in central, healthful and ample sites.

"In all communities there exist those progressive and those obstinately opposed to progress, and the traveler sees in the size and location of school grounds indisputable indications of the predominant district influence.

"Secondly, the number of districts has been reduced. Instead of twelve illy located school, there are but nine in the full congressional township, and each district theoretically complete comprises four sections. This hard-won improvement has reduced the cost to the township of its schools, increased the number attending each and enabled trustees to pay higher salaries and to extend the terms.

"No live teacher but feels encouraged with the consolidation of two weak schools has given him the stimulus of full classes, in one strong one. A notable illustration of this fact appeared in the union of numbers five and six, Wilmington township, under the able management of J. J. Eakright, veteran district teacher of the school at Moores Station, successfully contesting the honors of leadership in interest, attendance and scholarship, not only in the district but in the town schools.

"Third, there has been great improvement in the style and material of school buildings. Twenty-five years ago, the age of log houses had been succeeded by that of frame structures, and in these later years they in their turn have been superseded by spacious, convenient, and attractive brick edifices of handsome exterior and interior. Most have been fully supplied with slate blackboards, modern seats and desks, boxes for firewood, some apparatus and heating stoves, designed with falling window sashes to secure even temperature and proper ventilation.

"What caricatures of houses those old, weather-beaten, dilapidated frame buildings were! Outside rough, heavy shutters, swayed by winter winds, swung creaking back and fourth, slamming against sash and clapboard. Within, a red-hot stove was encircled by a favored few, while others at their seats, suffered with the cold.

"The air was unwholesome and heated in some, and the recess or nooning-time brought in pure atmosphere like a breath of Paradise.

"What seats! Inconvenient, immovable, ink-splashed, knife-notched. What lack of blackboard and seats for recitation!

"That good work was done under great disadvantages heightens claim to honorable recognition of the faithful labors of the teachers of that time, and emphasizes a silent, but conscious, demand that present progress shall be proportionate to the ratio of modern advantages.

"Popular interest has been awakened and interested in school architecture and the election to the office of trustee of competent progressive men. Often leading teachers in their townships have made the schoolroom pleasant and healthful as the home.

"Fourth, progress and change mark the method of raising the money wherein to recompense teacher.

"In 1854, the income derived from school funds was but $159,501.17, from loans at seven per cent interest. Two and a half per cent of this was paid the county auditor and the treasurer for their services, leaving but $143, 551.06 for distribution. This gave thirty-five cents per child enumerated, between the ages of five and twenty-one years. The state levy was ten cents on each one hundred dollars valuation, and fifty cents on each poll.

"In 1866, the rate school was obsolete, and salary was a compound of board and wages. Teacher boarded in families such times as the number of children in the family bore to the number of days in the term. Local tuition taxes were unknown, and from the state was derived the common school fund based upon the annual enumeration of children of school age.

"After successive changes, always in the line of economy, school taxation has varied until it falls heavily and directly upon the land owners in respective townships of the county, and declares plainly the cost of free schools. Last year the state sold upward of four million dollars’ worth of three per cent bonds to eastern capitalists, and applied the proceeds to payment of its indebtedness to the school fund. Till then the state and other borrowers had paid interest at eight, then seven per cent; late, when these vast sums had been distributed to the counties, the rate was still further reduced to six percent, always payable in advance.

" Present sources of revenue are school fund interest, state tax, township tuition tax, surplus dog fund, and moneys for liquor licenses. The people are content when satisfied that for each dollar paid a dollar’s worth is received. The state school fund disbursed in DeKalb in 1889 was eighteen thousand dollars. The tuition home levy was twelve thousand dollars and the special, sixteen thousand dollars.

"Fifth, there has been progress in the increased number of branches required taught, the uniformity of text books, cheapened in cost, the gradation of instruction and the system of honorable graduation.

"Physiology and history, formerly exceptional, are now regular studies. Where it was common to find in one school, among those of the same ability, classes in Kidd’s or Putnam’s elocution and fifth and sixth readers, Pinneo’s and Clark’s grammar, McNally‘s and Mitchell’s geography, White’s, Ray’s and Robinson’s arithmetics, now is seen one strong class in each branch of study, resulting in time saved, more time to recitation, and the greater interest in greater numbers.

"Formerly there was no sequence to instruction of a previous term. Teachers, by trial, found where to commence pupils, or left it to them to begin in what and where in they pleased. Winter schools absorbed most interest and money and the cheap summer school was a parody on teaching. Now the terms are equalized and connected by hiring one person for both, records are kept and successive teachers continue each grade where their predecessors left off, and the course of studies, systematically arranged, provides for graduation on its completion. This again simplifies the teacher’s labors, and stimulates the school to better attendance and effort to reach the goal of their aspiration.

"Sixth, there is improvement in the supervision and payment of teachers. Formerly no provision was made for inspection of schools and it is on record that Spencer Dills and myself, while serving as county school examiners, and in the performance of that all important duty, at a compensation of three dollars a day, were officially notified by county commissioners who were then acting within the law, to cease from such school visitation, as no allowance would be made therefor. Their act voiced popular opinion that school supervision was an unnecessary expense. The young teacher had no experienced superintendent to set him right, the disheartened had no one to cheer him, and the incompetent time server met with no one to show his unfitness.

"Teachers met only on occasion of the county institute, at which the best effort possible was put forth in their aid. They rarely, if at all, held meetings among themselves, and later it was difficult to get them out to township institutes. Now superintendent and trustee are required by law to visit schools, to encourage, to suggest beneficial changes, to create and foster feelings of responsibility, local ambition and professional pride, to make so far as practicable the poor schools equal to the best.

"Formerly teachers at county institute were entertained by the people gratis and enjoyed a very good diet in boarding around, now they are salaried, pay their board, are paid janitor’s fees, allowed for day’s attendance at township institutes, and these changes contribute to self-respect, independence and personal health, comfort and time for improvement.

"Seventh, all these forgoing evidences of progress are subsidiary to the one great and all important condition that teachers of good moral character and fairly qualified be obtained in sufficient numbers to conduct the schools.

"It has ever been the intent of school legislation to eliminate from the profession all that class who owed their employment to misdirected sympathy, and to lax examination of qualifications. Ignorant pretenders and failures elsewhere no longer caricature keeping school, and gradually the standard of proficiency and ability has been elevated in favor of higher grade of teachers. To whatever extent this object has been realized, proportionate progress in education has been made, for it is not to be questioned that the character of schools for morality, discipline and study is based upon the possession and practice of those virtues by those who influence, govern and teach in them.

"In the primitive condition of pioneer settlement, each locality necessarily build its own house and provided and paid its own schoolmaster. Young men and women attended in winter, and such scenes were witnessed and enjoyed as have been recently enacted in Huntington county, where the count superintendent, on his visitation, after finding several teachers locked out for a Christmas treat, at length entered the school house to find the schoolmaster bound fast to this desk and his insurrectionary pupils performing, to the clatter of ash bucket and dinner pail, a parody of the Sioux ghost dance. From 1855 to 1875 it was legal and customary for householders of any school district, at their annual meeting, to designate by vote their choice of a teacher, and the trustee was obligated to hire such person, providing the obtained a license to teach.

"It not infrequently happened that person so chosen proved utterly unqualified, and knowing this the people petitioned the examiner to exempt them for examination in more or less of the branches, notably physiology and history, on the ground that theirs were backward schools, and these studies would not be taught in them.

"The climax was reached in my own experience, when a girl whose average of seventeen was the lowest of all, brought me a paper signed by every householder in the district, petitioning for the issue of a license, accompanied by a statement that she was good enough for them.

"Abrogation of this popular privilege and the placing of this duty solely with the trustee has enabled that officer to locate his teachers to advantage, and rendered them less dependent upon their patrons. Enforcement of legal requirement in granting license created a scarcity of teachers and enabled those qualified to demand an advance in wages, and forced those desirous of teaching to measures for self-improvement.

"The examination fee of one dollar had been abolished, and the examination made free, while the widely varying estimates of examiners has been made uniform by state supply of questions to superintendents. A great change has transpired in teachers past and present. It was the rule to employ men in winter, women in summer, and such as reversed this condition were regarded as out of their proper place.

"The winter teachers were energetic and capable young men, residents of the township preferably, and these living at their homes secured higher wages than are now saved. Those teachers were experienced, ambitious and of excellent character and cannot be surpassed, present or future, whatever changes otherwise occur.

"They are remembered with pride and affectionate regard and recognized as having been strong and hearty co-workers with patrons and officials in the noble work of promoting the great cause of education. The change cased by hiring one teacher for the school year threw out these teachers and caused an irreparable loss, viewed from the standpoint of a winter term, but to gain to summer schools, and the encouragement offered to become professional teachers doubtless largely compensated, by continuous and intelligent work for the year, for the apparent loss. Hiring for the year did away with discrimination in wages, left the field largely to young women and equalized the importance and compensation of the two periods of the year.

"I have faith and vigilance in the courage of Indiana teachers As her volunteer soldiers reckoned not of limb or life in the fight for national integrity, so her great army of teachers will not prove recreant to the cause of education, and the schools of DeKalb will continue under her teachers to improve and progress in the line with the foremost and the best."



(By J. R. Skilling)

Pages 274 & 275

In the spring of 1876 the town board appointed the first school trustees for the town of Garrett as follows: Dr. S. M. Sherman, Dr. A. S. Parker and N. W. Lancaster. As soon as these gentlemen were qualified and organized they at once commenced preparing for the construction of a school house. Two architects at Toledo, Ohio, were employed to draw plans and specifications of the proposed building. These were promptly executed and furnished for a building to cost sixteen thousand dollars.

Objections were raised by the town trustees and many of the citizens, who protested against involving the young town with such an enormous and unnecessary bonded debt, claiming that a six thousand dollar school house would be sufficient. Public meetings were called, and many objections express against this move, as this was in the time of the panic of 1873, and tidal wave of the boom of the new town was about to recede to low ebb, as many of the citizens were in debt for their homes. So, after much parleying and contention, the school trustees let the contract to build the school as per plans and specifications to J. W. Harvey, a Chicago contractor who had just finished the Baltimore & Ohio shops. The construction of the school house was commenced in the latter part to f 1876, and, it being in a heavy wood, the first work was to cut down the large oak trees.

During the time of the construction of the new building there were two schools opened. The first was a select school, which was opened about the first of September, 1876, in the new Catholic church, with Josephine Bisset as teacher. Mr. Frank Moody was trustee of Butler township and he had furnished new seats and desks for a district school, so he turned the old seats and desks over to Garrett school trustees. They put them in the News printing office on the corner north of the Baptist church. About the time that the district schools were opening in the fall of 1876 for the winter term, there was a school opened in this building with Mrs. A. S. Parker as teacher. Work was rushed on the new building so that the first public school was opened in January, 1877, to fill out the unexpired term of that years. There were one hundred and twenty pupils enrolled in September, 1876. In September, 1880, there were two hundred and twenty-eight pupils enrolled, and in 1882 two hundred and fifty-four.

The first graduating class of the Garrett public school was composed of Charles Sembower, William Ward, Lulu Milbourne and Maud Tarney. The graduating exercises were held at the Methodist Episcopal church on Friday evening, May 27, 1885.

Since 1885 Garrett has taken the lead in this county in the progress and development of education. There was a new school house built on the north side n 1900 at a cost of five thousand dollars, and in 1906 our promoters of education and public improvements had a magnificent and modern high school building constructed at a cost of twenty thousand dollars.


Page 275

At the present there is a total enrollment of two thousand and twenty seven pupils in the schools of DeKalb county. There are one hundred and three school houses in the county. The average daily attendance for the last year has been one thousand two hundred and seventeen. There had been a total of one hundred and forty-three thousand three hundred eighty-nine dollars and sixty-four cents spent in the last year for the support of the schools.


Page 275 to 277

The following list comprises all of the teachers and officers of DeKalb county in 1912 and 1913: County superintendent, Dr. Lida Leasure, of Auburn; township trustees, Butler, G. W. Burtzner; Concord, Samuel Mumaw; Fairfield, Clark Hemstreet; Franklin, Oliver Oberlin; Grant, Harry Reed; Jackson, S. H. Nugen; Keyser, S. H. Downend; Newville, John Whitehusrt; Richland, George Shaffer; Smithfield, J. W. Mortorff; Stafford, C. W. Webster; Spencer, W. G. Erick; Troy, Daniel Burkhart; Union, Frank Pyles; Wilmington F. W. Nimmons; truant officer, Ed Van Fleit, of Garrett.

The city and town school boards are as follows: Auburn, M. Boland, president; J. A. McIntyre, secretary; Fred Knott, treasurer. Butler, Sam G. Stone, president; George W. Geddes, L.C. Bewhrer. Garrett, J. F. Thompson, D. B. Van Fleit, Warren NcNabb. Altona, F. L. Rodenbaugh, G. W. Fretz, Theo. Houser. Ashley, I. N. Cox, Daniel Rhinesmith, A. W. Gonser. Corunna, O. C. Smith, Eugene Treesh, W. A. Kennedy. Waterloo, D. L. Leas, J. E. Showalter, Harry Beidler.

The city and town teachers are as follows: Auburn, J. A. Lanston, superintendent; high school, P. W. Kiser, C. E. York, Mary E. Mulvey, Maud S. Armstrong, Lulu M. Bateman, Blanche E. O’Brien, Agnes U. Jeffrey; Harrison building, Clarence Wyant, principal, Myrtle Clark, Roy C. Nugen, Pearl Mason, Myrtle Hornberger, Belle Cooper, Nelle Wilderson, Bonnie Seiler, Bertha Maegerlein; DeSota building, I. M. Cosper, principal, Martha Rupley, Grace Hines, Gertrude Renner; Riley building, Lydia Teeters, principal, Della Maginnis, Sadie Houston, Josephine Bryant. In Garrett, F. M. Merica is superintendent; James H. Green is principal of the high school and the teachers are Geraldine Sembower, Maude Camp , Vera Van Auken, Bessie Berry. South Side building, Will Franks, O. V. Franks, Gladys Halter, Benjamin Miller, Lottie Miles, Marie Warren, Martha Dick, Pauline McFann, Georgia Sembower, Jessie Brown, Beatrice Bowers, Pauline Kingsbury and Ada Chew. North Side building, John Reinoehl and Maybelle Snyder. In Butler, H. E. Coe is superintendent; Geneva Kimmel is principal of the high school, and the teachers are Carrie B. Lipe, B. L. Baily, Hazel Harrison and Ethel Weick; other teachers in grades are Nellie Cary, Coral Schoville, Muriel Baker, Myra Scott, Grace Maginnis, P. D. Hamman, B. L. Bailey. A. L. Moudy is superintendent at Waterloo, G. E. Roop is principal. Teachers are Edith Masters, Mary Chapman, Blanch Betz, Etta Wittmer, Cora Stanley, Scott H. Rhoads, Bess Showalter, Anna Snader. Ashley had A. N. Faulkerson as superintendent, and Marie Thrush as principal. The teachers are as follows: Alma Husselman, Dora Baird, Charles Parsell, Clara DeCamp. In Spencerville, J. F. Slaybaugh is superintendent, Sylvia Yager is principal. Teachers are Zona Horn, Melvin Howey and Jennie Steward. St. Joe is represented by L. A. Thatcher, superintendent, Frank Baltz, Roy Maxwell and Ethel Leighty. M. T. Markley and Cordice Hallett are teachers at Corunna. Robert Ulm and Myrtle Griffin serve at Altona.

The following are the district teachers, preceded by number of their school: Butler, one, Anna Bevier; two, Lulu Hietz; three, Lovina Pfaff; Five Carl Shull; six, Claude Miller. Concord, two, Glen Freeborn; four, Ida Widney; five, Ralph Sechler; seven, Mary Scholes. Fairfield, three, Grace Widdicombe; four Louise Kuckuck; six, Lena Stomm; seven , William McIntyre; nine , Isaiah Wert; ten, Grace Seery. Franklin, one, L. C. Wyncoop; two, Letha Enzor; three, Orla Fee; four, Elva Albright; five Grace Waterman; six, Lena Cameron; seven, Blanche Smith; eight, Grace Whetsel; nine Blanche Whetsel. Grant, one, Mae McIntosh; four Ethelyn Rowe; five, J. A. Husselman; six Ethel Hallett. Jackson, one, Florence Berry; two, Ida Reed; three, A. C. Maurer; four, John Nugen; five, Elsie Farver; six, Jesse Provines; eight, Mable Lochner; nine, Nellie Berry. Keyser, one , Naomi Brady; two Jennie Lasch; three, Jay Olinger; four, Grace Zerkle; five, Cora Miller; six, Ruth Smurr; seven Bess Quinsy; eight, Lulu Quinsy. Newville, five, Ray Davis; seven, Clyde Hart, Merritt Maxwell, Grace Kain. Richland, F. M. Wiltrout; three Alma Leins; five, Carl Becker; seven Alida Walter; eight, Perry Foote; nine, Mabel Brecbill;. Smithville, Ward Parsell, one, Clyde Betz; four, Ada Bair; five, Austin Benjamin; six, Helen Shull, seven Harriett Seery; eight, Gladys Kain; nine , Edna Bickel; ten, Perth Crays. Spencer, Clara Shull. Stafford, one, Hilda Whitman; two, Clara Apt; five, Ross Abel. Troy, one, Bernice Clark; two, Hazel Gunsenhouser; three, Leeta Eddy; five, Garnet Brink. Union, five, Zora Martin; six, George Wilson; seven, Lida Pfaff. Wilmington, two, Pearl Brink; three, Sura Shumaker; four, Grace Murch; five, George Beams; six, Maude Kennedy; seven, Walter Carper; eight, Winnie Smurr; nine, C. O. Krise.