FIRST STEPS IN ORGANIZING
WELLS COUNTY--HOW BLUFFTON
THE COUNTY SEAT--REPORT OF THE LOCATING COMMISSIONERS--
FIRST COUNTY BOARD--ITS FIRST MEETING--MODERATE TAXES--
ELECTION DISTRICTS AND TOWNSHIPS--OFFICIAL BOWEN HALE--
SURVEYOR CASEBEER AND THE FIRST PUBLIC ROADS--VARIOUS
OFFICIAL APPOINTMENTS--BLUFFTON SURVEYED AND PLATTED--
FIRST TREASURY REPORT--THE FIRST COURT HOUSE AND JAIL--
THE SECOND (BRICK) COURT HOUSE--PRESENT JAIL AND
SHERIFF'S RESIDENCE--THE COURT HOUSE OF THE PRESENT--
COUNTY INFIRMARY AND ORPHANS' ASYLUM--ROSTER OF COUNTY
OFFICIALS 1837-1917--SOME OLD-TIME OFFICE HOLDERS--EARLY
SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS OF THE COUNTY--TENDENCY OF LATE
YEARS--HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYSTEM--THE HIGH
SCHOOLS OF THE COUNTY--UNIFORM HIGH SCHOOL COURSE--
AGRICULTURE AND DOMESTIC SCIENCE INTRODUCED--MOST MODERN
SCHOOL BUILDINGS--TEACHERS' INSTITUTES--PROFESSOR
ALLEN'S SKETCH OF THE COUNTY SCHOOLS--INCREASED VALUE OF
SCHOOL PROPERTY IN THIRTY YEARS--[ENROLLMENT OF PUPILS AND
TEACHERS EMPLOYED]--[SCHOOLS OF NOTTINGHAM TOWNSHIP]
Historically, the first form of American government which had
jurisdiction over the country now included in Wells County was that
extended by the General Government through the Northwest Territory, by
the Ordinance of 1787. The first county government which embraced it
was organized in 1796. In that year, Wayne County was created and its
civil jurisdiction extended over an empire--twenty-six counties in the
present Northwestern Ohio, the southern peninsula of Michigan and
Northern Indiana. How that domain was divided and subdivided within the
following sixty years has already been described, and the civil
historical record, as it affects Northeastern Indiana and Wells County,
has been brought down to the general act of February 7, 1835, by which
the Indiana Assembly, through its committee on new counties, created
thirteen counties, including Wells, from the former Indian country
embraced in old Wayne County.
An act was passed, and approved February 2, 1837, to organize
Wells County May 1st following, appointing David Bennett, sheriff, to
notify the electors to meet at the house of Robert C. Bennett, to elect
three commissioners, and also appointing five commissioners, non-
residents, to locate the county seat. As these five commissioners
PRESENT WELLS COUNTY COURT HOUSE
for some cause failed to meet, a special act of the Legislature was
passed, and approved January 20, 1838, appointing Zachariah Smith, of
Adams County, Christopher Hanna, of Jay County, Champion Helvy, of
Huntington County, William Kizer, of Randolph County, and John Rogers,
of Grant County, commissioners to locate the permanent seat of justice
for Wells County. Having been duly notified by Isaac Covert, by this
time elected sheriff, of their appointment, four of them came, the
absent member being Zachariah Smith.
The contestants for the county seat of government were Bluffton
and Murray, and at first the four commissioners were evenly divided
between the two points. Their first vote was taken about dusk in the
evening. Mr. Abraham Studabaker, whose land lay at Bluffton, conferred
with Daniel Miller, of Adams County, who also owned property near
Bluffton, and was present at the county seat contest. The result of the
deliberation was that Miller should immediately post off on horseback
to Adams County, and fetch in Smith, the absentee, in time for the
final vote in the morning.
It was a very cold March morning; ten inches of snow was on the
ground; not a single road had been cut; and there were only traces
through the timber. Mr. Miller followed the Wabash fourteen miles, to
the residence of Peter Studabaker, where he obtained a fresh horse, and
on he pushed twenty miles more to the St. Mary's River, near the state
line, here he found his man, at 3 o'clock in the morning. Returning
with him, they again obtained fresh horses at Peter Studabaker's, and
reached Bluffton before the commissioners met in the morning, after the
messenger had traveled nearly seventy miles, mostly during the night,
through a deep, unbroken snow and severe cold. The vote thus procured
cast the die in favor of Bluffton. One historian says that the victory
was won for Bluffton by the $270 cash which Messrs. Bennett and
The report of the commissioners reads thus: "We met at the
house of Robert C. Bennett, in said county of Wells, on the first
Monday of March, 1838, and have selected the west half of the northeast
quarter of Section 4, Township 26, Range 12, for the site for the seat
of justice of Wells County, which land was donated by Abram Studabaker
with a reserve of two choice lots. He also donated 31.90 acres off the
east end of the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 33, Town
27, Range 12 east. Robert C. Bennett donates the southeast fraction of
the northeast corner. Studabaker and Bennett also donated $270 in cash.
"Signed, March 9, 1838, Christopher Hanna, John Rogers, William
Kizer, Zachariah Smith, Locating Commissioners."
But county government did not wait for the locating commissioners to
do their duty. Long before the county seat was located the citizens,
in June 1837, proceeded to elect their County Board of three
commissioners, namely, Solomon Johnson, James Scott and R.C. Bennett,
Sr., for three, two and one years, in the order named. At this election
six or seven non-resident land-holders living in Ohio were permitted to
vote, especially as they intended soon to move into the county, among
them being Dr. George T. Riddile, Adam Hatfield and John Greer.
The first acts of these commissioners, as condensed from their
journal, were as follows:
The Board met Friday, July 21, 1837, at the house of R. C.
Bennett, in accordance with the above recited act, and produced the
certificates of the sheriff that they had been duly elected and
qualified. David Bennett produced his commission appointing him sheriff
(signed by Governor Noble) until the next annual election. Bowen Hale
also produced a similar document appointing him clerk of Wells County.
Both were certified to as having taken the oath as required by law.
This being done, the Board was organized, with Solomon Johnson as
1. Ordered that W. H Parmalee be appointed agent of the three
per cent fund donated to the county by the state for roads
and bridges. He accepted and gave bond.
2. That Adnah Hall be appointed treasurer of Wells County. He
also accepted and gave bond, in the sum of $3,000.
3. That David Whitman be appointed assessor and collector of
revenues for the county. His bond was fixed at $800.
4. That for county purposes there be levied 18 cents on each
$100 valuation, and 50 cents on each poll.
For several years taxes were often settled for by a promissory
note, endorsed by two good men. Adnah Hall, treasurer, had a little
book of blank notes printed and bound for the purpose, with his name as
payee. For the first three years after the organization of the county
it is said that the treasurer kept his office in his jacket pocket, but
was never corrupted or approached with a bribe while discharging his
trust. The fees of the office for a while necessarily exceeded the
funds in the treasury.
As at that time the Government lands were exempt from taxation
five years after entry, there were but three tracts of land in the
county subject to taxation. The first tax duplicate was made out on a
single sheet of paper.
The fifth order made by the board next day was that Wells
County be divided into two election districts, by a line commencing on
the southern boundary of the county and running north between what is
now Chester and Nottingham townships, and Harrison and Liberty
townships; thence east two miles between Harrison and Lancaster
townships; thence north to the county line. The territory on the east
of this line was designated as Harrison Township, and that on the west
as Rock Creek Township.
Since then the townships have been set off as follows: Jackson,
September 4, 1837; Jefferson, March 3, 1840; Nottingham, January 4,
1841; Chester and Lancaster, March 1, 1841; Liberty, June 8, 1841, and
Union, June 7, 1847--immediately after the land there came into market,
subsequent to the extinguishment of the Indian title. Jackson has been
called the "lost township" because the counties around it happened to
be so formed that it could not be attached to any one of them without
forming a geographical projection.
At the above session of the board, Bowen Hale was granted a
license for one year, for the sum of $5, to retail merchandise and
foreign groceries "not a product of the State or of the United States."
On September 4, 1837, the board met, and "on motion took their
seats." Bowen Hale was allowed $56 for books for the use of the office,
and other stationery, namely, ink stands, ink powder, etc.
John Casebeer was appointed the first surveyor, and the first
road established in the county was that part of the state road leading
from Greenville, Ohio, to Marion, Indiana. The expense of location
through Wells County was $56.62 ½. The next located in the county was
the Fort Recovery and Huntington Road, at the November session, 1837.
For the opening of this road the board appropriated $1,000 of the three
per cent fund.
David Bennett was paid $32.50 in full for his services as
sheriff; Solomon Johnson, $8 for his services as commissioner; David
Whitman, $6.56 for his services as "assessor of the revenue" of Wells
County for 1837. John Casebeer was appointed assessor for 1838, and
Thomas T. Smith school commissioner--the first in the county.
In August, 1837, an election was held, when Isaac Covert was
chosen sheriff, and James R. Greer associate judge.
March 9, 1838, Mr. Greer was appointed county agent, and gave
bond in the sum of $5,000.
John Casebeer was allowed $38, May 7th following, for surveying
and platting the site of Bluffton. The recorded plat bears the date
March 23, 1838.
In January, 1839, the commissioners offered a premium of $1 for
each wolf killed, the evidence of killing being the presentation of a
fresh scalp. Adam Hatfield presented the first one the following May.
At the close of this year Adnah Hall, treasurer, made his
report, covering a period from November 6, 1838, to November 6, 1839,
which showed that there had been received into the treasury from all
sources the sum of $1,419.40. His commission was $19.43; notes $301.
Total assets of the county $1,701.41. This was principally derived from
fines and sales of lots.
At the November session, 1839, Bowen Hale, clerk, reported that
he had procured for the county a metallic seal, and the following
description of the design was ordered to be placed on the minutes: "A
sheaf of wheat is the main design; a plane, a rake, a pitchfork;
surrounded by the following words: "Commissioners of Wells County.'"
Prior to this date a scrawl seal had been used in official business.
Thus the government life of Wells County has been brought into
its third year. Its officials, not yet seriously pressed by their
duties, had provided themselves with headquarters, the appointments of
which were measured by the very limited capacities of the county
treasury. The first court house was situated on the west side of Main
Street, between Market and Wabash streets. It was built of square hewn
logs, was two stories high, the first floor being occupied for courts
and all sorts of meetings, and the upper by one or two county offices
that were in existence at that time.
On June 18, 1838, the commissioners ordered that John R. Greer,
county agent, should advertise for the letting and building of a court
INTERIOR OF OLD COURT HOUSE
house in Bluffton, on the first day of August next. Specifications: The
house to be built of hewn logs, 18x24 feet, two stories high, and
covered with 3-foot boards, nailed on; floor to be oak or ash; with six
12-light windows, four below and two above, and stairs to upper room.
Also one jail, of hewn timber one foot square, 18x20 feet, two stories
These structures were accordingly built, and were therefore
very similar in appearance. They were erected by David Whitman, an old
farmer residing in the country a few miles from Bluffton. The
jail was situated some twenty rods to the south, on the southwest
corner of the lot, where the present court house now stands. Both these
buildings were destroyed by fire many years ago.
On April 24, 1843, the board of commissioners contracted with
Almon Case for the construction of the second court house at $5,000. He
sold the contract to George W. Webster, of Marion, Indiana, who
completed the structure in 1845; it was accepted by the board October
4, that year, and at the time it was one of the finest court houses in
Northern Indiana; but the times have now far outgrown it. It was built
of brick manufactured near by, fronted the east, with four large, tall
columns forming the main portico, two stories high, the lower for court
and the upper for county offices; but the upper story was partly
abandoned. The county offices were accommodated in smaller brick
buildings adjoining or on the premises.
About the years 1855-56, a brick jail was built a little south
of the court house, but subsequently it was temporarily occupied by
some of the county offices.
The third and present jail and sheriff's residence was built in
1880, at a cost of $21,400. Its dimensions were 44x80 feet, and 75 feet
from the ground to the top of the spire; two stories high, mansard
roof, of slate, cellar throughout, walls of brick, and the exterior of
the French renaissance style. It is situated one square southwest of
the court house. Jonathan P. Smith, of Bluffton was the contractor, and
E. I. Hodgson, of Indianapolis, architect.
By the late '80s the court house had become so dilapidated,
not to say unsafe, that the project of providing a new one, and a
building more suitable to the standing of Wells County, was made a
legal issue. The result was that, in 1888, at the February term of the
Circuit Court, Judge Henry Y. Saylor, issued an order from the bench
condemning the old court house, and the Board of County Commissioners
were, in a way, forced to erect a new one. The cornerstone of the
structure now occupied was laid August 29, 1889, and it was dedicated
by the bench and bar of the county on the 2d of
March, 1891. The total cost of the new court house, including erection
and furnishings, was $140,000. Commissioners W. H. Rupright, Charles
Scotten and Nathaniel McIntire awarded the contract, and accepted it
complete in behalf of the county. The bills were O.K.'d by Charles M.
Miller as county auditor. A general description of the court house of
1891 gives its dimensions as 87 by 135 feet; its chief constructive
material sandstone; height of tower, 130 feet; interior finish,
quarter-sawed oak; style of exterior architecture, Romanesque. Since
the court house was completed more than twenty-five years ago, numerous
improvements have been made in its heating, lighting and sanitary
conveniences. Among the late additions to its utilities as a public
building are the pleasant rest room provided for women and girls and
the G. A. R. headquarters furnished the few remaining veterans of the
The County Infirmary and Orphans' Asylum is located a few miles
southeast of Bluffton, on the southwest quarter of section 23, Harrison
Township. The original farm of 156 acres was purchased in 1864, and the
main building of the Infirmary, a substantial brick structure, was
completed in 1875 at a cost of about $16,000. Various improvements have
been made, including the installation of a modern steam heating plant,
electric light plant, individual baths, and toilet accommodations
within doors. In 1900 the large barn was destroyed by fire and a new
building erected soon after at a cost of $6,000. The County Infirmary
has accommodations for about sixty inmates. For the past forty years
the superintendents of the Wells County Infirmary have been as follows:
Amos Warner, two years; Joseph Cobbin, two years; Amos Rowe, nine
years; David Gottschalk, nine years; John Ditsler, twelve years; Adam
Hesher, three years, and James Hesher (present incumbent), four years.
The two superintendents last mentioned are father and son. It may be
added to the account bearing on the present status of the Infirmary
that the raising of live stock has been carried on with marked success
for a number of years past. Last year Mr. Hesher sold 140 head of
cattle from the Farm, for which the county realized over $6,000.
The auditors, treasurers, clerks, recorders, surveyors and sheriffs
of Wells County commenced to serve in 1837, and have continued in
unbroken lines for the past eighty years. The county clerk has always
been rather a dual official, as he has performed the duties attaching
to strictly county matters and, in addition, those connected with the
Circuit Court of Wells County. The first county clerk also acted as
auditor, and for at least four years was the most important official
connected with the county government.
Auditors--Bowen Hale, 1837-41; Lewis S. Grove, 1841-50; James
Dailey, 1850-59; John McFadden, 1859-63; Theodore Horton, 1863-67;
Samuel M. Dailey, 1867-71; Michael C. Blue, 1871-75; George E.
Gardiner, 1875-79; Elmore Y. Sturgis, 1879-83; Naaman T. Miller, 1883-
87; Charles M. Miller, 1887-91; William H. Ernest, 1891-95; George W.
Studabaker, 1895-99; William A. Marsh, 1899-1903; Clement S. Brineman,
January 1, 1904-08; Orin D. Garrett, 1908-12; L. A. Williamson, 1912-
14; Clement T. Kain, appointed December, 1914, for unexpired term,
ending December 31, 1915, and elected for term 1916-20.
Clerks--Bowen Hale, 1837-55; George McDowell, 1855-59; Thomas
L. Wisner, 1859-67; James R. McCleery, 1867, died in office, April,
1874; William J. Craig, 1874-82; John H. Ormsby, 1882-90; Albert
Oppenheim, 1890-94; Robert F. Cummins, 1894-98; James C. Hatfield,
1898-1902; Hugh D. Studabaker, 1903-07; Augustus N. Plessinger, 1907-
11; Adalgo Waudel, 1911-15; Herman F. Lesh, 1915-___.
Treasurers--Adnah Hall, 1837-48; Henry Courtney, 1848-50;
William H. Deam, 1850-55; John Wandle, 1855-59; Peter Studabaker, 1859-
62; Elijah A. Horton, 1862-64; Jacob V. Geary, 1864-66; William H.
Deam, 1866-70; John Ogden, 1870-74; Lemuel Bachelor, 1874-78; Lawson
Popejoy, 1878-82; James P. Deam, 1882-86; John E. Sturgis, 1886-90;
William Cover, 1890-94; Benjamin F. Kain, 1894-98; Eli C. Bierie, 1898-
1900; Amos G. King, January 1, 1901-05; Edward Saurer, 1905-09; William
J. Dustman, 1909-13; James A. McBride, 1913-17; Ervin Leah, 1917-___.
Recorders--Bowen Hale, 1837-51; Wilson M. Bulger, 1851-59;
Samuel M. Dailey, 1859-63; Wilson M. Bulger, 1863-71; James R. Bennett,
1871-79; David E. Bulger, 1879-82; E. B. McDowell, 1882-87; John C.
Baumgartner, 1887-91; William F. Guyones, 1891-95; John F. Stine, 1895-
99; John Miller, 1899-1903; John H. Crum, January 1, 1904-08; Josiah
Feeser, 1908-12; John B. Kreigh, 1912-16; Daniel T. Brinneman, 1916-
Surveyors--John Casebeer, 1837; Sylvanus Church, ____-_____;
Samuel G. Upton, 1853; George P. Mann, 1853-57; Elijah A. Horton, 1857-
62; James A. Gavin, 1862-67; Michael C. Blue, 1867-71; Finley H.
Rhodes, 1871-73; James P. Hale, 1873-77; John E. Beil, 1877-83;
T. W. Barton, 1883-87; Gabriel T. Markley, 1887-90; William A.
Kunkel, 1890-94; John H. Trontel, 1894-98; B. A. Batson, 1898-1902;
Daniel O. North, January, 1903-07; H. B. Sark, 1907-11; Charles W.
Decker, 1911-15; Thomas C. Guldin, 1915-___.
Under a general state law, passed in 1881, the public ditches
of the county were placed under the direct control of drainage
commissioners, appointed by the Circuit Court, through which body
said ditches are authorized to be established. Theretofore the
ditches were constructed by petition in the Commissioners' Court,
and were under the general supervision of the county surveyor.
These matters are taken up more in detail by County Surveyor Guldin
in his article on the "Artificial Drainage of the County."
Sheriffs--David Bennett, 1837; Isaac Covert, 1837-41; Lewis
Linn, 1841-43; Isaac Covert, 1843-45; Lewis Linn, 1845-47; Isaac
Covert, 1847-49 Amza White, 1849-53; Michael Miller, 1853-57; Evan
H. Phillips, 1857-59; Michael Miller, 1859-61; Nathaniel DeHaven,
1861-65; Manuel Chalfant, 1865-67; Isaiah J. Covault, 1867-69;
Manuel Chalfant, 1869-71; Isaiah J. Covault, 1871-72; William W.
Wisell, 1873-77; James B. Plessinger, 1877-81; M. M. Justus, 1881-
85; Henry Kirkwood, 1885-89; James T. Dailey, 1889-93; George W.
Huffman, 1893-97; William Higgins, 1897-1901; James R. Johnston,
January 1, 1902-06; William A. Lipkey, 1906-10; Freeman Carlisle,
1910-14; John A. Johnston, 1914-18.
Besides the many old settlers noticed in the previous chapter,
many will query what has become of the old-time office holders.
Amza White, elected sheriff in 1848, died many years ago. His
widow and children long resided in Bluffton.
Joshua R. Randall, candidate for representative in 1848, lived
on a farm six miles northeast of Bluffton, forty years thereafter.
James Bell, county commissioner, 1849-51, was a station agent
at Keystone in the late '80s.
James L. Warden, prosecuting attorney in 1851, afterward
circuit and supreme judge, was an able and honorable juriat. He
died at Fort Wayne, when he was judge of the Superior Court of
Thomas L. Wisner, who was in office much of his life, lived in
Bluffton as late as the '90s.
Ellison Covert and Joseph Gorrell resided at Ossian
Nun McIntyre and Joseph A. Williams are not living.
James Fulton died in the early '80s.
William A. Deam lost a great deal of property in Wells County,
but did well in Wichita, Kansas.
William Kirkwood, father of Henry Kirkwood (formerly sheriff),
lived south of Bluffton, ten or twelve miles.
George P. Mann (surveyor), John Wandle, Sylvanus Church and
Samuel Decker have been dead many years.
Lewis Prillaman moved to his farm three miles above Bluffton,
where he resided many years.
Wilson M. Bulger, David Peppard, Nelson Kellogg and Michael
Miller resided in Bluffton, retired from the activities of a
David Truesdale lived five miles north of Bluffton.
James Dailey, father of Hon. Joseph S. Dailey, had a home
northeast of Bluffton.
John R. Coffroth became a prominent lawyer in Lafayette,
The first school in Wells County was taught by Jesse B. McGrew,
in 1837, on the farm of Adam Miller, above Bluffton, on Six Mile
Creek, in the south part of section 11, Harrison Township. Another
school, one of the earliest, if not the second, was taught on a
place adjoining the above, where David Powell's tannery afterward
stood for so many years.
In 1841 a schoolhouse was built on the land of William
Studabaker, north of Bluffton. Wonderful to relate, it had a real
stove! The first teacher to grace this school was Charles Grimes,
at from thirty to thirty-eight dollars per term of seventy-eight
days, with board 'round. His near successors were Lewis Prillaman
and Abraham Studabaker.
In 1843 a schoolhouse was erected on the land of Thomas W. Van
Horn, about four miles above Bluffton, in which the teachers were
Henry Prillaman, John H. Moore and Ellison Covert.
Of course, all those and other early schools were supported by
private subscriptions, and their standard was largely determined by
the intelligence and generosity of neighborhood citizens. Besides
those mentioned, Charles P. Cruickshank, Abselom Brewster, Ann
Coho, George C. Fellows, James Turner, W. P. Mann, Henry Atchison,
James Ferguson and Ann Maria Fields wielded the birch and ruler,
with milder forms of oral discipline. The last named taught a
school in the rear of T. L. Wisner's residence at Bluffton and put
her own case by saying that she occasionally "had to use Birch Tea
in order to preserve the peace."
The first school commissioner, Judge W. H. Parmalee, was an
energetic, efficient officer. He received $238.79 for school
purposes, but how the money was obtained the records do not show.
Of late years the county systems of schools, as well as the
metropolitan boards of education, have made special and progressive
efforts to give the pupils under their jurisdiction a practical
training in those subjects upon which, in all probability, they
should be best informed, in order to develop into useful members of
the home communities. How the county superintendent of schools and
his teachers cooperate with the county agent, representing the
Federal Department of Agriculture, has already been described in
How the broad historic development of the county system has
progressed since it was placed under a responsible superintendent,
more than forty years ago, is thus set forth by Superintendent
Huyette in his last report to the State Superintendent of Public
Instruction, which was transmitted to the Indiana General Assembly
in January, 1917: "A school, which is claimed by some to be the
first in the county, was taught by Jesse McGrew, in 1837, east of
Bluffton, in a schoolhouse which stood on the Adam Miller farm, in
Harrison Township. It was a log building, eleven by eighteen feet
in size, with a clapboard roof, held on with weight poles. The
seats were arranged in semi-circular form about the fireplace; the
writing desks were of hewn slabs, pinned to the walls, and a row of
backless benches in front of them for use of the more advanced
pupils; this was the typical schoolhouse of the period.
"In the early days, the teachers were licensed by an officer
called the school examiner, and there was no uniformity; sometimes
a few questions, more or less remotely connected with schoolwork,
were asked and the applicant granted a license; some examiners
maintained a high standard of scholarship for the times, yet it was
frequently the case that very crude scholarship passed all right
before the examiners.
"In 1873 the law was changed, the office of county school super-
intendent was created and this officer took the place of the
examiner. Since this law was passed, the following persons have held
the office of county school superintendent: J.S. McCleery, John H.
[317 - photos of school buildings]
Ormsby, Smith Goodin, S. S. Roth, elected in 1877; W. H.
Ernst, elected in 1878; W. A. Luce, elected in 1887; S. A.
Shoemaker, elected in February, 1891; W. H. Eichhorn, in June,
1891; R. W. Stine, in August, 1893; and the present incumbent,
Arthur R. Huyette, elected in June, 1903.
"The old-fashioned round log schoolhouses were later replaced
by hewn log or frame buildings; sometime later, the one-room
buildings were built of brick; some oblong in shape, while others
were of the L-shape, known as the 'Baker Plan' one-room
schoolhouse, which afforded cloakrooms. At the present time, all
schoolhouses in the county are built of brick, with the exception
of one, which is of cement blocks.
"The first high school in the county, outside of Bluffton, was
established in Ossian; for a long time Bluffton and Ossian were the
only places in the county offering high school work. About the year
1896, there was a revival of interest in high school work
throughout the county; during this year graded high school
buildings were built at Keystone and Liberty Center; in 1899, Murry
and Petroleum erected high school buildings; in 1903, Craigsville
remodeled a two-room building into a graded high school building;
in 1904, a graded high school building was erected at Union Center,
Union Township, to accommodate the pupils of her township seeking
high school work. Tocsin, in Jefferson Township, erected a high
school building in 1908; in 1911, the Petroleum building, in
Nottingham Township, was remodeled, and several rooms added to its
"All of the above schools are under the direction of the town-
ship trustee, Bluffton having the only school board in the county.
At first one, two, and three years of high school work was offered,
as pupils were ready for the work; there was no uniformity in course
of study or text books, and the terms of the high schools were six,
six and one-half and seven months in length. In 1906, the county
superintendent. A. R. Huyette, outlined a uniform high school course
of study for the high schools of the county, and selected, with the
aid of the high school principals, uniform texts to be used in the high
schools throughout the county; this plan continued until the state
adopted uniform texts and established a uniform course of study
for the high schools of the State.
"The County Board of Education took another advanced stand for
education when they unanimously decided that the term in the high
schools of the county should not be less than eight months.
Bluffton City, Ossian, Petroleum, Liberty Center and Tocsin are
now commissioned schools; Keystone is a certificated school; Union
Center will add another teacher in the high school next year,
increase her library, and apply to the State Board of Education for
"Agriculture and Domestic Science were introduced into the
schools in 1911, before the law was passed requiring those subjects
to be taught in the public schools of Indiana.
"There is no compete consolidation of schools in the county,
although several schools have been abandoned and the pupils
transported to graded high schools.
"The first County Common School Commencement was held in the
Grand Opera House, Bluffton, in 1907; this proved to be the
greatest school event of the year, and has been continued; the one
held May 26, 1916, was the tenth annual commencement, and the class
numbered 232, the largest one ever graduating.
"The most modern one-room district building in the county is
No. 1, Jackson Township; it has a basement under the entire
building, furnace, air pressure water system, flush toilet system,
and flowing drinking fountains on the first floor. Three modern
one-room buildings are now in the process of construction, to
replace those that were completely wrecked by the windstorm during
the early spring of 1916.
"The most modern graded high school building is at Liberty
Center; this building was constructed in 1913-14; Manual Training
and Domestic Science rooms are fitted up in the basement. The
building is lighted with electricity and fourteen electric hot
plates are installed in the Domestic Science room. An air pressure
tank furnishes water for the entire building; flowing drinking
fountains are installed on each floor; a flowing drinking fountain
is also installed in front of the building near the sidewalk for
the use of the public. A direct indirect steam heating plant is
used to heat the building.
"The school spirit in Wells County is excellent and the
citizens generally take great pride in the growth of the public
Teachers' Institutes have been held annually, or oftener, since
about the year 1852, and since 1875 normals of six to ten weeks'
duration have been held during the summer at Bluffton, conducted by
the county superintendent.
To Mr. Huyette's historical sketch may be added details
contributed to the description of pioneer schools and teachers of
the county outside of Bluffton, by Prof. P. A. Allen, a beloved
veteran of education, identified with its progress throughout Wells
County for many years. No one is better qualified to write or speak
on such topics. He need not have apologized in the following
strain; "The beginnings in the rural districts of the county are
full of interest, but we are sorry to say that data for that part
of the sketch is very meager. A comparatively few names were
obtainable from the available sources of information, and we regret
we are not able to enrich this chapter with a profusion of the
incident and happenings which must have belonged to that time.
"The first school in Lancaster Township, and probably the first
in the county, was the one taught by A. B. Waugh, father of
Representative A. A. Waugh. The building was made of round logs,
and greased paper served for windows. It had in it the old-
fashioned school furniture of that period, and must have been very
primitive indeed. Some of those who attended school at that time
were O. F. Sutton, Jacob Harvey, William Harvey, Tom Logan, Campbell
Scott, William Metts, afterward a minister in the Methodist Episcopal
Church; Dr. J. I. Metts, and Mary Ellen Metts (now Mrs. T. A. Dean).
It was a subscription school. One of the incidents of that first
school was a lawsuit, which grew out of a whipping which was admini-
stered by Mr. Waugh to one of the big boys. It was inflicted by the
use of a rule. The suit resulted in Mr. Waugh's favor, the court de-
ciding that not only was the punishment deserved, but reasonable.
Another incident of the first school, which illustrates the progress
which has been made in temperance occurred at the close of the term.
It was known to be the custom to treat the scholars on such occasions,
and Mr. Waugh, in complying with this unwritten
custom, provided a washtub full of eggnog, and all present were in-
vited to help themselves freely to the beverage. A natural result
of the free use of this kind of refreshment was that several of the
larger boys became too drunk to get home without assistance. The fact
that this incident met with only a slight protest from a very few of
the stricter ones shows how ideas have changed.
"The second schoolhouse in Lancaster Township was built about
ten years later, four miles each of Murray, on Allen Clark's land,
not far from Souder's farm. A man from Ohio was employed to teach,
but he encountered the conditions described in The 'Hoosier School-
master,' and not having the grit and tact of Ralph Hartsock, was
driven off by the larger boys before the school had progressed very
322 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
far. The plan of these boys was to combine whenever the teacher attempted to
punish one of their number. After the Ohio man had been driven from the
field, David Clark was employed, but he shared the same fate as his
predecessor. His father, Allen Clark, was then employed, and he fared no
better than his son. As a fourth effort in that term, Sutton Metts was
engaged to teach the school out with the understanding that he must succeed
or he would not get any money for his services. The third day it became
necessary for him to punish one of the disturbers. At this juncture some of
the other boys attempted to carry out the tactics which had proven so
successful with the other teachers. But they met with a surprising and very
effective defeat. Mr. Metts, determined to profit by the experience of his
predecessors, had provided himself with a lot of short clubs, which he had
hidden until needed. When the boys began to concentrate their forces, Mr.
Metts had recourse to his supply of clubs, which he need with such rapidity
and skill over the heads of his assai1ants that they were effectually knocked
out in the first round and the rumpus settled in short order. Mr. Metts
taught the term out, and it is said there was never any more trouble in that
"The first school in Jefferson Township was taught by Isaac Hatfield, two
miles northeast of Ossian. The second was in the Ogden neighborhood,
southeast of Ossian. There were established a few years before the opening of
any school at Ossian. The history of the schools of Jefferson Township is
closely identified with the official career of Dr. J. I. Metts, who served as
trustee in all nearly twenty years. He was elected in 1859 and served until
1878. A class of four members was graduated from the Ossian high school in
the spring of 1881, which was the first class to be graduated in the county.
"One of the early schools in Jackson Township was called the Colbert
school, and was in the north part of the township. In 1851 the teacher, who
had been selected for the place, gave up the job, and James R. Bennett was
chosen, but declined to take the position, modestly contending that he was
too young for the place. He was then asked if he would assist, in case W. H.
Parmelee, living near Bluffton, should be chosen to take charge of the
school. Mr. Bennett's duties are to solve all difficult problems, write all
the copies and take full charge in the absence of Mr. Parmelee. A year later
the school at Dillman was built of logs, and it was regarded as the finest
schoolhouse in the county at that time. J. R. Bennett and R. L. McFadden were
among the number who helped to raise the building. Robert Alexander was the
first teacher to have charge in this building.
ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES 323
Among the scholars in that first Dillman School were R. L. McFadden, Martha
McFadden, D. K. Elkins, Sarah Elkins and the families of William Duckwell and
Jacob Banter. Among the prominent teachers in the earlier days of the
township, were Eli Arnold, B. M. Elkins, Fanny Ricketts and Mr. Lockwood. It
is remarked by one identified with the early days in Jackson Township that
the prevailing idea was 'no lickin', no larnin',' and for that reason, the
gad was held in high esteem by the teacher's, and regarded with great fear by
the scholars. This was, no doubt, true of every township in the county. The
same authority states that the people of the township prided themselves on
their good spelling, and it was the highest ambition of larger scholars to be
able to master the old Webster's Elementary Spelling Book.
"An old resident of Nottingham Township states that Stanton Scott, father
of Thomas E. Scott, was actively identified with the school interests at the
beginning of that township. Beginning with 1849, he was trustee and treasurer
until the close of 1853. Jason R. Blackledge was a trustee and clerk during
that period. An old record shows that the first election for school officers
of the township was held in 1849. The enumeration of school children taken
in September of that year shows that there were 149 children of school age in
the township, which was divided into nine school districts. The clerk
received twenty-five cents for taking this first enumeration. The names of
Gabriel Burgess, E. Harlan Phillips, James S. Williams, and others, appear as
having been trustees. Martha Marmon was paid $1.25 for half an acre of
ground, on which to built a schoolhouse at District No. 9, known as the Scott
"The first school in Union Township was erected in 1848 or 1849, and was
built of round logs, puncheon floor, stick and mud chimney, roof of
clapboards, held in place by weight poles. The seats were of linden or
basswood from trees eight to ten inches in diameter, split in halves, with
pegs in each end for supports. Such were the materials and furnishings of
Zion's schoolhouse, or Old Zion, as it was called, that stood one mile south
of Zanesville. Abraham Beaber, who lived three-fourths of a mile south,
taught there during the winter of 1850. Nothing now remains to show where
this once great institution of learning stood. Ormsby's School near the old
Ormsby farm, was of the same class, as was Center School and College
Corner. At the latter place the first school was during the winter of 1851-52,
and was taught by a Mr. Hixon, a brother of John Hixon, the grandfather
of Frank Hixon of this city (Bluffton). The schoolhouse in the south part
of the township was built in the woods somewhere near
324 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
the present location of Jeremiah Roe's farm buildings. The late John
Kain was largely instrumental in having it erected. He had a large
family of boys and girls of school age, among them Rev. D. F. Kain
and Frank Kain, of Bluffton. James Jennings, who went west during
the Pike's Peak gold excitement, was the first teacher. He was a
brother of Peter Jennings, still a resident of Union Township. E. J.
Felts, who died in this city a few years ago, taught the second term
at Kain's schoolhouse. Stephen D. Cartwright, who wielded the birch
in the old log schoolhouse at Uniontown, is yet an honored resident
of the township.
"The furniture of all the schools taught was usually about the
same. The teacher occupied a split-bottomed chair at the point in the
room opposite the door. In his left hand he held a book, pen or
slate, as might he required, while in his right hand he held the em-
blem of his power--a water beech gad, from four to six feet long.
First he called the little boys and girls, who came individually and
stood by his knee while they said the a, b, c's. One book served all
the boys, and one the girls, if there were two; if not, one served
for all. Then came the first spelling class, second spelling class;
first, second, third and fourth reading classes, in the order given.
Scholars, while reciting, stood in line close to the wall opposite
the teacher's seat. One or two books answered for half a dozen
pupils. The teacher looked over the shoulders of one of the pupils,
or, if he had a book of his own, he looked on and assisted in
pronouncing the hard words. If some boy or girl came across a sum
that he could not 'work,' the teacher was called upon at any time to
'do the sum,' and woe to him if he refused for any reason to comply.
What was he paid the enormous salary of one dollar per day for, if
not to do sums for the scholars ?
Before dismissing school, all the scholars stood in a row and
spelled a prepared lesson. The teacher pronounced the words, and the
scholar at one end of the row, called the head of the class, named the
letters in their proper order and pronounced each syllable. If this one
failed, then the next one attempted the task, and so on until the word
was correctly spelled and pronounced. The successful speller went
above the first one to miss, and if he got to the head of the class, and
maintained that position until the end of the day's session, he was
credited with a 'head mark,' and very up-to-date teachers gave prizes
at the end of the term to the scholars who secured the most of these
marks. There was often lively competition at the beginning of the term
among a number of pupils, but later it narrowed down to two or three
contestants, who actually competed for the prize, while the
ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES 325
other pupils arrayed themselves as friends of the one or the other of
the leaders and aided or opposed them by means not always fair.
"The spelling school was the great social feature of the school.
Log-rollings, raisings, corn-huskings and wood-choppings, were the
social gatherings of the county, attended by young men and women and
older persons, but it was at the spelling school that the small boy
and girl were allowed to have sport, and felt themselves a real part
of the procession. Every week the pupils clamored for a 'spellin'.
When the teacher after roll call in the evening announced that if
candles could be furnished a spelling school would be held on a
certain night during the week, there was immediate excitement.
'We'll furnish one,' called out some representative of a family; and
there was a whispering between brothers and sisters, and it usually
took all the resources of the district in that line to furnish the
three or four candles necessary to dimly light the room and the
teacher had to hold one in hand to 'give out' by. The spelling
school of those days is well described in 'The Hoosier Schoolmaster.'
Pupils did their best to have the announcement made through their own
and adjoining districts. 'The more the merrier' was their motto,
while the teacher who had to manage the crowd in the little twenty by
twenty-four school-room took an opposite view. Aside from the fun to
be derived from the spelling school, there was little benefit. The
rivalry between the different schools and the desire to be chosen
among the first caused many a boy and girl to spend hours in their
efforts to master all the words in the old Elementary Spelling Book.
"Another social and intellectual feature of many of the schools
was the debating societies. These were participated in by the boys
and young men, and often the patrons of the district. Embryo
statements with all the fervor of actual combat in congressional
halls debated such questions as these: 'Resolved, that the dog is
of more use to man than the gun,' 'Resolved, that cattle are of
greater use to mankind than the horse,' 'War is a greater evil than
intemperance,' 'The Negro has greater reason to complain than the
"About the year 1854 township libraries were established, which
were kept at the homes of the trustees. As there were three
trustees in each township, when the books were divided among them
they were so distributed that every boy who wished to debate could
have access to them, and every volume was carefully searched for
material with which to down the other fellows in the great debates.
"There were few church buildings in the country and religious
meetings of all kinds were held in the schoolhouses. The protracted,
or 'big meetings,' always conducted in the Winter, were often
326 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
continued for a period of six consecutive weeks, evening meetings only
being held on Sundays. Thus they largely took the place of the spelling
school and the debating society. Young people and old attended and,
even if not interested in their spiritual welfare, they met their
friends and enjoyed a social hour together.
"Up to the time of the Civil War few or no lady teachers were
employed. It was often thought that 'school marms' could not govern
the big boys. What led to the introduction of lady teachers at this
time was the fact that the big boys had mostly gone to the army, and
consequently were not in attendance as pupils and could not be employed
as teachers. Teachers were a necessity, and this necessity was the
school ma'am's opportunity. She was employed then, and has ever since
held her position. One of the first to take command at College Corners
was Miss Smith. The boys 'reckoned they could run her out afore three
weeks.' They did not, however. The larger number of the scholars liked
her, and obeyed her for that reason. Those that did not, found that she
could lick with a stick just like a 'master.' She taught two or three
terms at the same place and fully demonstrated that a school 'marm'
could keep winter school.
"The Teachers' Institute was a very potent means of advancing both
teachers and patrons. Many of those who taught in the township had
attended the Academy at Roanoke, at which Professor Reefy, who later
had charge of the Bluffton schools, was the head. He attended the
early institutes, and his teaching and talks reached every home and had
much to do with placing the schools of the township in the very front
rank of Wells County's schools. Among the old-time teachers were the
following named persons: Frank Hamilton, W. J. Beatty, John A. Walker,
Daniel K. Shoup, William Shoup, J. K. Rinehart, John Ormsby, James C.
Kain, Elijah Sink, Henry Mygrants and John L. Thomas. We must not
fail to mention Noah Walker, who taught successfully in the early
Chester Township took a great stride in its educational interests
in 1896, when its fine high school building was erected. A. R.
Huyette, the present county superintendent, was principal for a number
of years. In the same year, while W. C. Arnold was school trustee,
Liberty Township built the imposing high school at the Center. The
handsome Lancaster Township High School building at Murray was erected
in 1899, under the direction of Trustee N. E. Stafford. Nottingham
Township through the energy and good management of Samuel Gehrett,
trustee, went and did likewise during that year, the building being
erected near Petroleum.
ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES 327
The marked increase in the valuation of school property during the
past thirty years is a noteworthy illustration of the progress of the
county system of education in providing improved buildings and
apparatus for the benefit of the pupils under its control. The figures
which are available for the year 1886 include Bluffton in their scope.
In the year mentioned, within the limits of Wells County, were fifty--
one brick and fifty-seven frame schoolhouses, which, with furniture,
apparatus and grounds, were valued at $105,185.
In 1917, not including the Bluffton school property, the valuation
and number of schools (virtually all brick) for the various townships
were as follows: Chester, $26,000, and 10 houses; Harrison, $12,350, 11
schools; Jackson, $30,000, 10 schools; Jefferson, $30,000, 11 schools;
Lancaster, $27,000, 12 schools; Liberty, $39,000, 8 schools; Notting-
ham, $50,000, 12 schools; Rock Creek, $12,000, 9 schools; Union,
$20,000, 8 schools. Total valuation of school property in the present
county system, $246,350; number of schoolhouses, 91.
The number of teachers employed and the enrollment in the elementary,
or first eight grades, are as follows:
Chester 16 309
Harrison 11 282
Jackson 10 277
Jefferson 24 422
Lancaster 16 305
Liberty 20 321
Nottingham 19 360
Rock Creek 10 224
Union 15 300
Total 141 2,800
The high school enrollment in 1917 was as follows: Ossian, 94;
Liberty Center, 82; Petroleum, 60; Union Center, 55; Tocsin, 29;
Keystone, 28; Murray, 16; Craigville, 13. Total, 377.
The total enrollment in the grades and high schools is thus dis-
tributed: In the commissioned high schools at Keystone, Ossian,
328 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
Tocsin, Union Center, Liberty Center and Petroleum, 62 seniors; 279
eighth-grade pupils, of whom 128 are enrolled in the graded high
schools and 151 in the one-room buildings; 280 seventh and eighth grade
boys study agriculture and 304 girls in the same grades are in the
By Thomas E. Scott
The first school in Wells County was taught, as the earliest
records show, by Jesse McGrew in the year 1837, in Harrison Township.
It was like all the schools throughout the different townships up to
1849-50, a private or subscription school.
There is no record to show there was any school taught in Notting-
ham Township until the public schools were established in the first
The first settler in the township was Joseph Blacklege, in 1837.
John Dawson, Isaac and Edward Haines, Wm. Nutter and some others came
The township was organized January 4, 1841, and an election held about
that time, showing fifteen voters, but for what purpose, there is no
available record to show.
The movement to establish the public schools was in 1849, and the
first schools were commenced in the spring of 1850.
The first election for school purposes was held in September, 1849,
and some school officers elected, and in the same month an enumeration
was taken showing the township was divided into districts pretty much
as they are at the present time and that there were then nine
districts, containing children of school age and were distributed as
follows. District No.1, 25; No.2, 19; No.3, 7; No.4, 5; No.5, 16; No.6,
5; No.7, 21; No.8, 31 and No.9, 20, making 149 to the town-ship. This
last district is now known as No.12, and has always been popularly
known as the "Scott School."
At the election last mentioned Stanton Scott was elected trustee-
treasurer; Jason B. Blackledge, trustee-clerk; and they were continued
till the fall of 1853, so that they conducted and did the larger part
of the school business up to that time. However, in each of the
school districts having a sufficient number of scholars to justify a
school there was a district trustee elected, who was later known as
district school-director. Some of the others that were actively connected
with the school interests up to 1853, were Gabriel Burgess,
ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES 329
E. Harlin Philips, Samuel Hurt, James S. Williams, Samuel Watts, John
Dawson, Henry King, John K. Reiff, Alonzo Lockwood, Abram Stahl,
Stephen Proudy, James Green and others.
Not all the districts seemed to have schools the first year because
of lack of sufficient funds to hire teachers, as the amounts were
allotted somewhat according to the number of pupils enrolled.
It will be quite difficult to give the names of all the teachers,
at first and their location, at which certain persons taught, but it
can be stated that Ann Lupton taught No.8, known as Nottingham, in
1850-51, and that Lydia C. Watts taught at No.2 in 1850, and at the
same place in 1852; and a Miss Wood taught at No.2 in 1851. The
surprise will be at the small pay the teachers received the first few
years, ranging about fifty cents a day and "boarded" by the patrons, or
as it was termed "boarded around." Some as low as one dollar a week and
board. Some of the teachers, from the first up to 1853, besides those
mentioned, were Elizabeth Hulbert, Holyfurnas Wood, Mary Watts, Dr.
Sawyer, Samuel Hurst, Wm. Gray, Roland Sparks, and others. It can be
stated that Mary Watts taught four summer terms in the township up to
1854. These were at the Harper School, and one at the Scott School in
1853. For these first schools her wages were first $20.00 and board,
and the last $30.00 per term and board herself. This before she was 19
years of age. Altogether she taught 18 terms in Nottingham Township,
besides other places.
Brief mention may be made of a few more incidents relative to the
township affairs, and then the No.9, or "Scott School" may be taken up
and referred to more minutely, which will illustrate clearly in a
general way what might be stated of most all the schools for the first
There were no funds at first with which to build schoolhouses, and
it was necessary for the patrons to volunteer and contribute their
labor, which they did with few or no exceptions, going into the woods
which surrounded the site on which the proposed building was to be
erected, and cut the timber, haul in the logs, and erect the "old log
schoolhouse." The few things that will he referred to as relating to
the whole township, are as was stated previously the first enumeration
showed 149 pupils, and three years later 168. That for taking of the
enumeration the clerk was paid 25 cents, 37 1/2 cents and 50 cents
respectively. That the first tuition fund received in 1850 was $41.42
on January 1st, and on May 1st $37.04 making a total of $78.46 an
average of $8.71 5-9 to the district, but stated before, all the school
districts did not have a sufficient number of pupils to justify having
330 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
One might be led to think there would be no indifference or lack of
interest in school affairs, after the "public" took up the educational
interests of the commonwealth, but an incident or two will indicate
differently. In 1851 an election was held the 30th day of August--
Samuel Watts as inspector, Stanton Scott and John Dawson, judges and
Jason R. Blackledge, clerk. That the electors present were Gabriel
Burgess, Alonzo Lockwood, Judson Blackledge, John Dawson, Samuel Watts
and Stanton Scott, and that of the six votes cast one candidate got
three votes, another two, and another one vote.
The round log house at the "Scott School" was as indicated, built
of timber in the manner referred to. The building was about 20x22 feet,
cabled off, and roofed with clapboards held in place by "weight poles."
The chimney was made of sticks and "mud," the floors of puncheons split
from the timber, which, if it had been sawed and dressed, would have
made elegant finishing for the best schoolhouse or residence of today.
The seats were made of linden, or bass wood saplings, eight to ten
inches in diameter, split in halves and dressed with an ax and drawing
knife, with wooden pegs in each end for supports. The building was
erected on a half acre of ground at the northwest corner of section 32,
in said township, bought of one Martha Marmon, of Logan County, Ohio,
who was paid $1.25 for the plot, she making this price to "encourage
the educational enterprise of the locality." It stood with the ends to
the north and south, the door being in the south, and in the north end
was a large open fire place which would take in about four foot wood.
The back wall and jambs were built of clay, pounded in behind wooden
supports, in moist condition, well saturated with salt to help form a
glazing over the surface and give it durability. About three feet from
the floor on each side a couple of logs were cut and removed almost the
full length of the house, and in the spaces, two sashes to each opening
were fitted for the glass, so they would slide past each other, to let
in air, and these were the windows. The cracks between the logs were
"chinked" and plastered over with clay mortar. For a writing desk for
this house a black walnut "slab" or board about 3½ or 4 inches thick,
three feet wide and about twelve feet long, that had been used formerly
by one of the patrons of the new school for a "bench" to dress leather
on, as he had been a tanner by trade. This bench was laid on two
trestle benches, one under each end; can you realize what a superb
writing desk this made as it was thus placed a little to one side of
the center of the house, and that it was always a treat, a fair delight
to be privileged to sit by it to study the lessons and write?
ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTY 331
The first schools were all summer schools up to about 1856 or 57,
when the terms were changed to winter terms. The teachers at this
particular place were, in their rotation: Catherine Hunter, 1850;
Lydia C Watts, 1851; Susan Karker, 1852; Mary Watts 1853; and probably
again in 1854; Mary Cole taught in 1855; but on account of sickness,
did not finish her school. In 1856 Meriam Griest taught. Then the
Schools were changed to winter terms, and Jacob Mann taught in the
winter of 1857-58. S. J. S. Davis, l858-59; Hiram Tewksbury in 1859-
60; Mary Watts again in 1860-61, and Benj. Shinn in 1861-62. Elizabeth
Scott taught next, or soon after.
About this time the need of a new and better house was being felt
and agitating the patrons of the "Scott School," and owing to fact
that a house had been built a while before one mile east of this one,
there was a disposition to move the location farther west, and after
considerable of wrangling it was decided to build the new house on the
southwest corner of the Scott farm, one-fourth of a mile west in
section 30, and in 1868 or '69, a new frame house was erected under the
trusteeship of Thos. Aker, and schools were taught here by Joshua
Scott, Amanda E. C. Scott, two terms, Wm. Lee, L.L. Howard, Estella
Doster, and perhaps others, till about 1889 or '90 when the location
was again changed back to the lot first secured of Mrs. Morman, and the
present substantial and commodious brick building was erected under the
supervision of Trustee Wm Higgings. Before leaving the "Scott School,"
which was No. 12., it will seem fair to state that four of Stanton
Scott's children, two sons and two daughters began and finished the
common school course here, after further completing their equipment for
the task; taught several terms, each, in the township, and one of them
in Chester Township.
332 ADAMS AND WELLS COUNTIES
They were Nathan M., Elizabeth, Elma Jane and Joshua. The late
Dr. H. Doster, of Poneto, also began and completed the common school
course here before attending college, and taking his medical course at
Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Some of the "characteristics" of these schools were: First, that
they were surrounded by dense forests, through which the pupils of
the incoming and rising generation beat their way, and made their
own paths and roads, as they chose, or as best they could, as up to
about this time no regular roads had been laid out and opened up.
Besides the dense brush and undergrowth in many places, the chief
difficulties they had to encounter were logs and swamps, and often
they were glad of the logs to help them across the swamps. For though
the forests were practically full of beasts, birds and vermine, the chil-
dren were often quite as interesting to them as they were to the children,
and each enjoyed the exchange of glances and community of interest,
one about as much as the other. And this was one of the "wheres,"
and will illustrate nearly all the others, that the children and youths
of fifty and sixty years ago were taught their "A, B, C's.," and to
spell out of the same old elementary spelling books--(Webster's); to
write, and to read from that series of school readers--(McGuffey's),
than which there never has probably been a better in the country in its
helpful illustrations of emphasis and tone, and in the superior excel-
lence of its literary character, up to the present time; and to solve their
mathematical problems from old Ray's series of helps, which were
plain and common-sense in its examples and rules as illustrative of the
science, and the principles involved; and grammar, from Pine's series,
where things were made plain with graduating rise from start to
With these surroundings, natural parks, which were full of life
and energy of all kinds, those youths, who were measurably and neces-
sarily free from care, inspired by nature's growing, blooming flowers
of plant, grass, shrubs and trees, and by songs of birds, bees and in-
sects, singing their own joyous, rollicking songs of childhood and
youth, while they lived a life of joy and hopeful expectation; may it
not well be asked: Are those of the present generation making better
use of their time, energies, opportunities and privileges than did those
of earlier times? If this can be answered in the affirmative, we may
well quote the old axiom and almost trite saying: "The only value of
bringing forward the past lies in its helping us to a better future."
And so applied to these notes and sketches of earlier times may inspire
to press hopefully forward and upward, and will close with the other
axiom: "Whatever in the past will help to make us stronger, more
loving, more humble and tender, that let us learn and remember."