COFFEE CREEK SCHOOL
I want to thank Frances (Davis) Maupin for this picture.
HISTORY OF COFFEE CREEK SCHOOL
By - J. Paul Barnett, Grandson of Ulysses M. McGuire
For the benefit of the younger generation, before beginning upon the school life of the vicinity of Coffee Creek, it may well
to give the outline of the general appearance and situation of the country and the character of the pioneer settlers.
Those who have studied history will remember that the territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi was claimed by
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Virginia. To promote the union of states, this territory, known as the Northwest Territory, was added
to the general government. In 1786, though Governor Henry of Virginia, a bargain was confirmed granting to George Rodgers Clark 149,000 acres
of land in compensation for the military service rendered in the campaigns of 1778-79. This grant was located in what was then Illinois County
now Clark and was the first point settled in sourthern Indiana.
While the Constitutional Convention was in session in Philadelphia, the congress of Confederation was in New York City. On
the 30 of July 1787, this Congress passed the memorable "Ordinance of 1787" provicing for the organization of govenment in the Northwest Territory.
There were four provisions in this ordinance and the second read as follows: "Religion, Morality, and knowledge being necessary for the wellfare
of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
The whole Northwest Territory, embracing more than on hundred million acres of fertile land was in the undisputed possession of
the Indians who tried in every possible way to prevent the encroachment of the whites.
However, it is not the purpose of this article to give a history of the Northwest Territory but to briefly sketch the settlement
and development of the small portion of it embraced in the vicinity of Coffee Creek with particular reference to the progress of school life of
From 1790 to 1793 a few settlements were made along the Northwest bank of the Ohio River above Clarksville. They gradually
increased from year to year, but it was not until about the time of the organization of a separate territorial government for Indiana that s
considerable number of theses extended to the interior. By this act immigration was greatly stimulated, and several of the states particularly
North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia soon furnished a study class of people most of them with worthy ambitions and intelligence, to come over
and occupy the land. In 1809 a few families from North Carolina and Kentucky settled about ten miles north from the Ohio River, and about the
same distance west from where the city of Madison now stands.
In 1810 a single family, that of Soloman Deputy, from West Virginia, located on Coffee Creek in the Southern part of what
became Jennings county. About the same time, a small settlement was made on Lewis Creek in Jefferson county, near where the town of Deputy
now stands by another branch of the Deputy family. Joshua Deputy brother to Soloman Deputy who settled on Coffee Creek. A little later a
company from Kentucky, attracted by the fertile valley of the Muscatatuck, where Vernon now stands made a settlement there.(John Vawter).
Other families came in from time to time selecting lands. Thus settlements were made through the wilderness, generally from three to five often
from ten to twelve miles apart.
The ratio increased from year to year and after the power of Proctor and Tecumseh was broken at the Battle of the River
Thames, the increase was so rapid that in 1816 Indiana was admitted into the Union as a state.
The early settlers were thrifty, hardy and corageous. Usually gentle without culture or polish; crude of speech and rough in
appearance, with little or no education. Surrounded by dense forests in which bears, and other animals were in abundance, and through which
the more dreaded red men often passed; without stores, without postal service without schools or churches, with neighbors three or four miles
apart, these noble men and women were laying the foundation for our great Hoosier State.
With these pioneers, schools, at first were wholly private. The school room was the cabin home; the hours from supper till
bedtime, with perhaps a period on Sunday, the toil worn Father and Mother, which ever was supposed to know more was the teacher.
One of the earliest of these schools in the vicinity of Coffee Creek, was held in the cabin known as Shade Barnes place. A
Miss Belinda Beard was one of the early teachers. An incident which is almost pathetic is recalled in connection with this place and illustrates
the educational status at the time. One day two young men who were brothers by the name of Ame and Sid Murphy, having walked some miles with ax
in hand, passed by the home of grandfather Deputy on their way to fit up the cabin for school purposes. In language more forceful than elegant
they appealed to him in these words, For God's Sake Andy come and help us, I don't know a letter of my name".
Among the pioneer families from Kentucky heretofore mentioned, was the family of Reverend Thomas Hill Sr. Under his labors
the Coffee Creek Baptist Church was organized and the first church building, a hewed log structure, was erected in 1822 west of the old cemetery,
on land donated for the purpose by Thomas Hill. For a number of years this building served both as church and school house. Of the teachers
who taught there the following names have been recalled: Benjamin Gaddy, James Graham, John Compton, Jonathan Carpenter, Horace Bacon, Dan Roberts,
Robert Cashaw, and J.W. Hill late of Vernon.
In the year 1864 the brick church on the hill was built, but the old building continued in use. For a few terms school was held
vacant cabins in different localities. One of these schools was held for a time in the Fowler Cabin on "Uncle Sil" (Silvester) Deputy's farm
(later owned by (Ananias V. Hudson). Later it was held in the Epperson House, Benjamin Gaddy and Miss Polly Long, familiarly called "Aunt Polly"
are recalled as teachers.
Near the beginning of the Mexican War, the "goodmen" of the neighborhood shouldered his ax and announced to the delighted
family that he was to help get out logs for the new school house. As yet the erection of buildings was not provided by law. There was a meager
tuition fund provided for by the state but it was appropriated by a sort of local option.
It was recalled that it was Aunt Pollie Long who kept a supply of herbs on hand from which medicines were made and given to the
children at any indication of sickness.
The log building a marvel of its day, was finally completed and J.W. Hill was probably the first teacher. Following him came
James Read of Vernon, Evan Seburn, Hamilton Lowry, Silas Hudson, Chole Ann Winterstein, Martha Robinson, Patrick Dixon, Harvey Hill, and Allen Lett.
The present frame structure was erected near the old log house in the year 1858. According to our best information the teachers
in this building had been Boyd Hudson, Sarah Hoyt, Riley Deputy, Harvey Hill, Emily Deputy, Lois Hoyt, Kate Trousdale, Miss Whitsett, Freeman
Bovard, Alice Spears, Amanda Carlock, James Reed, of Jefferson County, Oliver Sheperd, Ulysses M. McGuire, Melville Wells, Morris Hudson, Josie
Flood, Pearl Hudson, Carl McGannon, A.S. Deputy, Etta Deputy, Ada Edor, Aloise Tab, and Cora Taulman. It was during Miss Taulmans term that the
school was transferred to Paris Crossing. Several of the teachers in the above list taught a number of terms.
It may be of interest to know that 65 per cent of the pupils who were enrolled in the winter of 1881 and 1882 and the last term
taught by J.D. Hudson, afterward became teachers.
We must not overlook the High School organization. With an inborn love of knowledge these pioneer boys and girls longed for
something better than they had known and out of this desire was evolved arrangement for more advanced work in the fundamental and in the secondary
A secondary building for that purpose was erected on the opposite side of the road from the other school building in 1851, by
contributions of labor and means. For a number of years a flourishing effective school was maintained. James Deputy of Jefferson County, who had
already opened a select school in the Baptist church was the first teacher, following were L.N. Todd, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Hanna, Amos Newton and
David M. Judson. The buiding was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1876-1877. In the summer of 1881, Uncle Soloman Deputy, individually erected
a building for this purpose near his residence, and Professor A. W. Blinn whose memory is still sacred to us conducted a number of successful
Many things would have been interesting to know in the connection witht he school life of the community it is now impossible
to ascertain especially in the short time given to prepare this history. Not only has the immediate community felt the reflex influence of the
school been over the state and the nation. A number of former teachers and pupils have taken high rank in the learned professions. It was
proposed at first to make special mention of these. Then the jumble ranks of honest toilers filed through my mind and words came.
"It matters not what you do,
Make a nation or a shoe,
For he who does the honest thing
In God's pure sight is ranked a king.
Perhaps it is sufficient reason for grateful pride that, so far as is known, no representative in Jeffersonville or Michigan
City (prisons) had ever gone from Old Coffee Creek.
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