Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History
Miami County Ohio
The Log Schoolhouse Early Teachers -
First Text Books-
Methods of Discipline -
Advent of the Salaried Teacher -
Coming of the Graded School -
Latter Day Improvements -
Schools of Troy and Piqua -
Educational History of the Townships -
Parochial Schools -
Teacher's Examinations -
In the present chapter I shall endeavor to describe the educational
progress made in the county from the earliest times. The present splendid
free school system is the outgrowth of the rude beginnings that followed
the advent of the pioneers. The genesis of the magnificent educational
structures of today was the log schoolhouses of the backwoods which lined
both banks of the Miami. The professors of the present-day schools are
the successor of the quaint old teachers who "taught the young idea
how to shoot" and who believed almost religiously that to spare the
rod was to spoil the child and the rod was seldom "spared."
It >was not long after the coming of the first settlers that the schoolhouse
arose in the forest. It as not the "little red one" used today
in song and story, but an affair far less ornate, and in keeping with the
times. The primitive "house of learning " has passed away, but
excellent descriptions of it remain. As the pioneers built their cabins
in close proximity, they began to look after the education, of their children
and for this purpose selected some central point in the woods for a school
site, near a branch, for the convenience of having water near at hand for
the use of the scholars.
"This being done the pioneers settled on a day agreed upon, turned
out with their axes, broadaxes, plow and auger and met early in the morning
at the selected site, others cutting logs near by in the woods, some felling
a large oak for clapboards and still others cutting a sightly blue ash
for puncheons, benches and writing desks. The building of the schoolhouse
proceeded as rapidly as possible. The foundation was soon laid and four
men were selected as corner men, who took their respective stations and
saddled and notched down the corners as the logs were delivered to them
on skids. When the structure was eight feet high the joists were laid,
then the logs were shortened for the gable ends, sloping the ends and inserting
the rib pole at the top. The upper log of the basement projected about
eight inches to receive the butting or eve-log, against which the slanting
roof rested. As the building was going up the cross-cut saw was heard in
the woods, the mall and wedge severing the cuts, and the butts were removed
to some fork of a tree near by where they were rived into boards four-foot
"Logs were next removed from three sides of the house and window
styles prepared, which were adjusted in their places about sixteen inches
apart, to which newspapers were pasted and oiled with 'coon grease' to
render them transparent. The cracks being chinked and daubed, the floor
laid, the puncheon door hung on hinges of wood, the writing desks were
attached to the wall, resting on standers slightly inclining toward the
scholars, who sat on benches and learned to write in front of the large
paper windows. In this way the primitive school-house was reared and usually
completed in a day without a nail or a window glass connected with the
In temples of learning like the one just described some of the greatest
minds of the country were shaped. Lincoln studied in a schoolhouse like
the first that arose within the borders of this county. In the early days
there were no contractors, no boards of education, to superintend the erection
of the schoolhouse. The day of the graded school and the academy was far
in the future. It was undreamed of by the men of the backwoods. The first
schoolhouses of the county were few and far apart. In 1817 there were no
schools north of Piqua and pupils were sent there from Fort Wayne, Defiance,
Wapakoneta and other distant places. The children of the pioneers having
some distance to travel took their dinners to school, which consisted of
corn pone or Johnny cake, fat meat and some milk. They ate in the schoolhouse
or on the sward that surrounded it.
What of the teachers who presided over the first schools of the county?
What of the books used as compared to those of the present day? The teacher
of the backwoods school that rose in the region of the Miami, the Stillwater,
and in fact in every town ship of the county was a character. Very seldom
was he American born. He was generally an Englishman, Irishman or Scotchman,
seldom if ever Dutch or French. He was from the first the authority of
the school room. His word was law and the rule which he exercised was seldom
tempered with mercy. It has well been said of him that "he entered
the primitive schoolhouse with an air of authority and woe betide the urchin
who crossed his imperious sense of propriety. With gads and rods stored
away in the sight of the school he was a terror to the school. For trivial
offenses or small irregularities he inflicted corporal punishment and the
hickory or beech rod were never spared." In some cases pupils were
tied up by the thumbs and whipped, and the writer's first preceptor was
an Irishman who had the pleasing habit of dragging scholars from their
seats by the collar and beating obedience into them with a four-foot gad.
These old teachers "boarded round" among the families of the
neighborhood. They were looked upon as prodigies of knowledge. Many of
them were superstitious. They believed in witches and ghosts and more than
one weird tale they communicated to the assembled school. Spelling and
arithmetic were the chief elements of their education and they instituted
the spelling school, which of late years has gone out of date. On Christmas
and New Year's eve the old-time teacher was "barred out" by the
scholars. This was not kindly received by the master and when admission
was refused he sometimes came down the wide chimney or landed in the school-room
by breaking the greased paper in the window. Then he would be seized by
the scholars, bound hand and foot and threatened with a ducking unless
he treated the whole school to apple cider and ginger bread, which be generally
did, after which the school proceeded as usual. Today
The master sleeps upon the hill
All coated o'er with snow,"
but his method of training the youthful mind has not been forgotten.
The schoolbooks used at the dawn of education in the county have long since
passed out of style. Dilworth's spellers, readers and arithmetic were among
the first textbooks, also the American Precepior, Webster's Speller, Pike's
Arithmetic, Murray's Grammar and the Testament. Dear old Lindley Murray!
The old inhabitants of the county still recall this first of grammars,
which they pored over years ago. There is a story told of one of the early
scholars in one of our backwoods schools who being somewhat dull could
not master the jaw-breaking names of the three Hebrew children who were
cast into the fiery furnace. When it came his turn to read aloud his Bible
verse he discovered to his dismay that it contained those dreaded names.
The boy hesitated. The Irish schoolmaster stood over him with the threatening
gad in his hand. "Read on!" sounded in the boy's ears like the
crack of the hazel. "Why don't ye read on, ye spalpeen?" With
the expectation of the whip the trembling pupil, unable to recollect, or
repeat anything, burst into tears and sobs and made an effort to explain
his inability. " Well, " moaned he, " Here are these three
fellows again and I don't know them." The old master, not without
some kindness in his heart noticed the simplicity and honest effort in
the, boy, so making an effort to relieve the child's distress, said, "Why,
boy, cannot y mind them? They are Mister Shaderack., Meshack and Abed-ye-go.
Now ye mought go' on with your lesson and don't ye miss 'em again."
It is safe to say that the pupil never did. The foregoing incident recalls
the story told by Lincoln of his early school days of a fellow scholar
who was always stumped" by the same, to him unpronounceable names.
Seeing them in his verse the poor lad turned to Lincoln and whispered,
"Abe, here comes those confounded Hebrews again."
The early pedagogues who presided over the primal schools of the county
were considered aufait if they were able to teach the three R's, and with
this slender educational outfit many a boy went out from these "forest
academies" to make a name for himself in the world. In one of our
first schools was an Irish teacher whose Milesian face was adorned with
a toadlike nose. At this face a little boy of ten burst into a laugh and
was promptly called into the frowning presence of the master. "What
are you laughing at?" thundered the irate teacher. Tremblingly replied
the boy, " You will whip me if I tell you. " "And, you little
fiend, I'll whip you if you don't," was the rejoinder, reaching for
his well-trimmed hickory. With sincerity and a little heart filled with
fear the boy answered, "Well, master, I was laughing to think ho much
your nose looks like a frog." It was just after recess and the boy
had to stand by the master and at intervals received a dozen lashes laid
on with all his brawny Irish strength until dismissed wit h the school
at night. Such, in part, were the schools and pedagogues of the early days.
In such schools and under such masters the children of the pioneers were
trained. That training, simple as it was, and conducted under adverse circumstances,
pre pared the pupils for the active life that lay around them and transformed
them into useful and prominent men and women. When one looks back upon
the little log schoolhouses which dotted the hills and valleys of the county
he is apt to regard them with feelings akin to reverence, though they long
ago gave way to the more pretentious schools which stand in our midst today.
The early schoolmaster was contemporaneous with the circuit rider, who
will be described later on. Notwithstanding his surroundings, he did a
great work and he is not accepted at his real value today. He labored under
disadvantages, which would have discouraged less purposeful people. The
present school system is such a trendous improvement on the primitive one
that comparison is not necessary. In early times singing was taught in
the schools and the old notes were used. Singing classes were formed and
nearly every old-time teacher was considered capable of training the voice.
Spelling and singing schools were held in every district in the county.
Paid schools were also in vogue during the educational growth of the county.
This came about for the reason that there was neither school board nor
public fund. Teachers were paid by subscription, which they solicited and
collected for themselves, and their patrons were found good pay. Pupils
selected studies to suit them and paid per term of thirteen weeks as follows:
For reading and spelling, $1.00.
For reading, spelling, and writing, $2.00.
For reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic $3.00.
A number of years elapsed before the salaried teacher came into existence.
Even then the old teachers surrendered their ground with reluctance, for
"boarding round" suited them and they looked upon the new regime
with disfavor. Later still came the day of the school with its improvements
we have today. The graded schools and the high schools found now in every
part of the county seem to have reached perfection and owe their existence
and success to the free school system that prevails everywhere.
We will now look at the growth of the school in various parts of the
county. In 1804 there were but three families in what is now Concord Township,
including the city of Troy. The town was not laid out until some years
later and in 1813 Samuel Kyle opened the first school. This old preceptor
was the grandfather of T. B. Kyle, Troy's present mayor. He taught in a
log house without floor or windows, on the corner of market and Water Streets.
Not more than fifteen pupils filled his classes. In 1816 John G. Clark
taught in the lower part of the town near the old railroad depot. Clark
had queer ideas of punishment, as he corrected his pupils by splitting
a quill and flipping it against the nose. It was before the day of steel
pens and quills were universally used for writing. It is said that Clark's
methods disgusted the citizens of Troy and funds were raised to build a
small brick schoolhouse where the splendid Edward's building now stands.
This house of learning went by the dignified name of "The Academy."
Later on, or in 1826, Rev. Micajah Fairfield taught for a year or two and
gave way to Thomas Barrett, afterwards elected a county Judge, who was
succeeded by John Petit in 1831. Mr. Petit afterward went to Indiana, where
he became United States Senator. When George D. Burgess taught school in
Troy, in 1839-41, his salary was $100 per quarter, which was considered
very good in those days. Mr. Burgess taught algebra, geometry and Latin
in addition to the common branches. The graded system entered the Troy
schools in 1849, when Irving Gates was at the head of them. Gates had opposition
in his work from a Mr. Bennett, who taught day school in the Wesleyan Church.
These two schools were the outgrowth of contending factions in Troy and
Bennet's scholars called the pupils of the other school Gate's Hinges."
These early schools of Troy have almost passed from memory and scant
records are all that remain of them. They brought about the formation of
a board of education, which consisted of Charles Morris, Rev. Daniel Rice,
George D. Burgess, William B. Johnston, Benjamin Powers, Zachariah Riley
and Henry S. Mayo. The election of this board was the signal for better
schools. Six thousand dollars were voted for a more commodious school building
and William N. Edwards was chosen superintendent at $800 per annum. Mr.
Edwards was highly esteemed as an educator and many of the prominent citizens
of Troy at the present time graduated under his instruction. From 1856
to I867 there were few graduates from the schools of Troy. The members
of the first graduating class were Walter S. Thomas, John W. Morris, Diana
Meeks, and Augusta Brandriff, of whom three are still living - Walter S.
Thomas and John W. Morris, residing in Troy, and Miss Augusta Brandriff,
who is living in Washington, D.C. As the needs of educational Troy increased,
new school buildings were erected, until now all are commodious and beautiful
edifices dedicated to learning. Some of the later superintendents of the
Troy public schools are Prof. H.A. Thompson, H.P. Ufford, John W. Dowd,
L.V. Ferris, J.F. McCaskey, C.L. Van Cleave, and Ralph Brown. Prof. C.W.
Cookson is now at the head of the Troy schools.
The first school taught in Piqua was under the instruction of Isaac
Hendershot in 1808. From that time until 1817 the Piqua schools had quarters
in a house that stood on Main Street near the site of the present city
hall. It was a log affair chinked with clay to keep out the cold and greased
foolscap supplied the place of window glass. This first house of learning
had a large fire-place for the back-log, the floor was laid with slabs,
and its roof was made of rough, unshaved clapboards, stayed by poles. The
furniture consisted of one row of writing benches, poorly suited to the
sizes of the pupils, arranged on the sides and one end of the room. They
were made of slabs, and hewn-out pins entered into the slabs by a two-inch
The famous "Academy" was completed in 1818 and in it the youth
of the Border City thought themselves comfortably housed. John P. Finley
taught the first school held in the Academy and among those who followed
him was Daniel Mitchell, a brother of General O.M. Mitchell, a noted Union
officer during the Civil War. In 1813 an incendiary, probably an opponent
of education, burned the Academy, and a log church on Water Street housed
some of the pupils for a number of years. In 1845 three district school
buildings arose in Piqua and about this time select schools were taught
in different parts of the town. These private schools were termed high
schools to distinguish them from the common schools provided by law. In
them the higher studies were pursued, such as Latin, Greek, higher mathematics,
natural sciences and the mental and moral sciences.
The year 1856 saw the completion of the high school building. Prof.
A.G. Chambers was the first superintendent. In 1860 Rev. C.W. Fitch, rector
of the Episcopal church, succeeded him and Jonathan Fairbanks held the
position in I862. William Richardson, alumnus of Dartmouth College, followed
Mr. Fairbanks, and he in his turn was succeeded by William Carter. Prof.
C.W. Bennett, alumnus of the Ohio Wesleyan University, was elected superintendent
in 1874 and held the place for thirty-two years. The present superintendent
of the Piqua schools is J.R. Beachler. From early times the system of education
adopted by the public schools of Piqua has been fortunate in the choice
of instructors and the schools have reached a merited degree of perfection.
A well known writer in summing up the educational growth of Piqua has worthily
said: "The people of Piqua deserve commendation for their loyalty
to the public schools and for the judicious selections of school boards
whose members have labored with unselfish energy for the good of the schools.
Supervision and systematic gradation many years ago ceased to be an experiment
in this city and the common school system has webbed itself into the affections
of the people. If the progress of the system is sustained with equal zeal
and precaution in years to come we may look to the future for still greater
and nobler possibilities."
This prophecy has been fulfilled in every particular and today no city
of the state can boast of better schools or more competent instructors
than those found in the Border City of Miami County.
In Monroe Township, which includes Tippecanoe City, the first school
was taught in Hyattsville. It was in a log schoolhouse. This school was
followed by another taught on what is known as the "Island,"
which was a small plot of ground separated from the mainland by a bayou.
Beyond the fact that the first teacher here was a young man of the name
of Gilbert, but little is known of the first schools in this particular
locality. In March, 1853, the first board of education in Tippecanoe City
was elected. It was composed of John McPherson, L.N. Booher, and D.H. Brinkerhoff.
This board secured land on First Street and a commodious school building
was erected. N.L. Perry was the first teacher in the town. This building
was used till 1868, when it gave way to another, which in turn was succeeded
by the present handsome high school building that houses the pupils of
the thriving little city. The grading of the Tippecanoe school is the best
that can be devised and the instruction which is ever kept up and maintained
by competent instructors gives entire satisfaction to all. The Tippecanoe
high school annually turns out a set of graduates well fitted for the emergencies
For twenty-four years, or from 1808 to 1832, the schools of Union Township
were taught in the old Friends' meeting house. They were conducted after
the established manners of primitive schools. John Howe, an Englishman,
taught here in 1808 and there remains to this day the recollection that
he was a classical scholar and an adept at penmanship. It was customary
for the early teachers to fashion quills into pens for the pupils, and
as Mr. Howe had nimble fingers he was often called upon to, perform this
duty. In 1818 Charles Mills came to the fore as an instructor and a year
later Daniel H. Jones followed him. Davis W. Thayer and David Mote came
next with the unspared rod and Thomas Adams brought the early schools of
West Milton to a perfection which they for a long time enjoyed. Adams was
a man with an excellent education and drew many scholars from a distance,
but it is said that he was deficient in school government and in course
of time his school went to pieces and he disappeared. Following Adams came
Charles Mills, Jacob Angle and Daniel Mote again. The latter had more than
one faculty, which he tended with assiduous care. He could build a house,
survey land and write poetry. Some of his poetical effusions were long
treasured by his pupils and may still be relies of old times in that locality.
Gardner Mendenhall succeeded to the rod in 1827, and while he wielded it
the authorities came along and hauled off his corn crop to satisfy a muster
fine, whereupon he probably flogged a few pupils as a balm to his wounded
feelings. During 1828-29 Alexander Wilson presided over the Union Schools
and in 1830 James H. Hanks kept the fearsome birch. The last winter school
was held at West Branch, where W.B. Jones, who came from South Carolina,
inaugurated tickets of reward, an innovation which long ago disappeared
from the schools of this county. Since then the schools of Union Township
have risen to effectiveness and promise and today, kept in excellent buildings
and with a graded system which seems to have reached perfection, they are
well known everywhere.
The schools of Newton Township find their beginning in the cabin of
Joseph Furnas and he was the first teacher. This was in 1808. Mr. Furnas
could almost have organized a school from his own family, as he had seven
children, and these, in addition to those of his neighbors, ate up a fair
school for that early day. It was not until 1811 that a real schoolhouse
arose in the woods, of Newton Township. Richard Clegg taught there in 1813
and Amos Perry and John Pearson succeeded him. In 1866 Sub-district No.
7, which includes the town of Pleasant Hill, was organized into a special
school district, since when a large schoolhouse has been built in which
the graded schools are today conducted in able manner.
The early history of education in Newberry Township is somewhat obscure,
so far as is known, the first schoolhouse was erected about 1815 and it
was a rude log affair with the poorest of accommodations. The first schoolhouse
stood near the north end of High Street in Covington. The second one was
erected on the St. Mary's road. Andrew Ballard was one of the teachers
in the latter structure. This house of learning was burned down. About
1818 John Barbour became the instructor of the young idea in the Trotter's
Creek locality, and afterward one Benjamin Dunham taught in a deserted
cabin in the same township. These old schoolhouses disappeared with the
advancing years, giving way for more commodious ones. Among the other pioneers
in the art of learning who held forth in Newberry were Moses Mitchell and
William Dowler. James Perry was the first teacher to open school in the
town of Covington and he was followed by Amos Perry and James Hanks. Since
the very first Newberry Township has been noted for its good schools until
today it is well supplied in that particular. Covington has a fine high
school erected in recent years, and the high standard set by its educators
years ago is still maintained. A comprehensive sketch of the schools of
Bradford, including some early history of the town, will be found at the
close of this chapter.
East of the river, where there are no large towns, the country schoolhouses
followed rapidly the strokes of the settler's axe. Brown Township built
its first log schoolhouse in 1811 and its presiding genius was a maiden
lady known as Aunt Sallie Tucker. She was probably the first female teacher
in the county and her successor was "Aunt" Patty McQuillan, who
is said to have wielded the rod with the vim and hand of an expert. Amos
Denman and George Layman followed her and Joseph Rollins was the first
teacher in the second schoolhouse erected within the limits of the township.
In I874 the village of Fletcher was organized into a special school district
and a well graded school has been taught there ever since.
The year 1815 witnessed the beginning of the school in Springcreek Township.
The first school held in the township was kept by one of the old time teachers
named James Laird, who received $5 per month and "boarded round"
among his patrons. Laird was an Irishman. Salivation had caused a deformity
in his joints, which rendered locomotion painful and he took to teaching.
Added to this trouble he was a devotee of the "little brown jug"
and the way he laid the birch on the backs of his pupils is still remembered
in the township. Between 1815-25 some of the teachers of Spring Creek were
James Sims, George Lemons, James Cregan, Thomas J. Lash and Patrick Murphy.
The rural schoolhouses in this township today are well built brick structures
and the schools conducted therein are the equals of any now kept in the
One of the earliest instructors of the youth in Lost Creek was Gen.
John Webb. He was a man of considerable learning and became a man of prominence
in county affairs. The early schools of Lost Creek were not of a very high
order of merit if one is to judge from an item in the annual report of
Thomas Long, "superintendent and visitor," of the common schools
of Lost Creek, submitted many years ago he remarks that "The order
in the school is not good, too much confusion, but little government exercised
by the teacher, very little exercise of moral influence, and but very little
time is spent to convince the scholars of the propriety of such measures
as would be conducive to their good."
Since the filing of this somewhat scathing report the schools of Lost
Creek have improved until now they are among the most promising in the
county. The Casstown school, now a high school, presided over by F.G. Main,
has had a long list of teachers, among whom I find the names of Henry Jackson,
Mate Scourse, Professor Patterson, Horace Maynard, Martin French, Alfred
Knight, Washington Frizell, James Rogers, T.J. Webb, O.C. Gorman, Russell
Allen, Kate Knight, Sarah Hamman, J.L. Wright and Warren Anderson.
When the pioneers of Elizabeth Township felt the needs of education
they erected a log schoolhouse on the Christian Knoop farm near the Staunton
line. Here John Enyeart presided and when not teaching he acted as justice
of the peace and adjusted neighborhood quarrels. In 1812 John Schell taught
on the Lost Creek crossing, when he was sober enough to do so. The schoolbooks
used in Elizabeth Township were Webster's Speller, Dilworth's Arithmetic,
the Bible, and other books not so well known. In these rural schools elocution
was always taught and as Friday was the day set apart for this exercise
the scholars vied with one another in declamation. With the introduction
of the famous McGuffey series of readers the pupils found "pieces
to speak" more to their liking, and "Bingen on the Rhine,"
"Casablanca," "Rienzi's Address to the Romans," became
standard favorites. Prizes were often given to the best declaimers and
considerable rivalry prevailed among the rural "orators."
Bethel Township has always set a high mark in the conduct of her schools.
As early as 1802, years before the county was organized, a little schoolhouse
arose on the Rudy farm and two years later a man named Kehan taught in
the township. These first schools were carried on by subscription after
the manner of the times, but in 1830 Bethel was divided into six school
districts and the system of education became more pronounced. Later on
the number of districts were increased. Township superintendence becoming
necessary N.H. Albaugh was appointed superintendent in 1866, and in 1874,
Hiram Brown was chosen to assist him. Mr. Brown was made superintendent
two years later and under his supervision the schools of Betliel advanced
to the foremost rank. Since that time they have become an educational power
in the county.
There is no record at hand giving a history of the early schools of
Staunton Township. It is safe to say that they were conducted in the line
of adjacent schools, having the same complement of old time teachers who
looked after-the growing mind on m eager salaries and under many difficulties
that beset the early. highways of learning. When the first schools were
established in Troy a number of the youth of Staunton attended, but later
on the little schoolhouse came into existence east of the Miami River and
Staunton Township educated her youth in schoolhouses of her own. Today
each district is well governed in educational matters and the township
can point with pride to efficient schools.
Within the last few years township supervision has been tried with good
success. The supervisors are hired by the boards of education in the several
townships and they visit and grade the county schools. Since the introduction
of this system a marked improvement has been noticed in the schools. The
supervisors or superintendents, as they are sometimes called, receive on
an average $45 a month. Some of them will superintend the schools of several
townships. Singing is also taught in the schools in some special districts.
Teachers of rural schools average $50 per month.
In addition to the common and high schools of the county, there are
two progressive parochial schools. These are in Troy and Piqua.
St. Patrick's Parochial school of Troy, under the supervision of Rev.
Anthony J. Mentink, the resident pastor. It was founded in l886, by Rev.
F.H. Bene. The addition of the present auditorium, with extra class room,
was made in 1906 and fills all requirements. Today there are three Sisters
of the Precious Blood in charge of fifty pupils. This school is noted for
its efficiency and is ably conducted by those in charge.
The parochial school connected with St. Boniface Church, of Piqua, is
under the charge of Rev. George P. Steinlage, pastor. Its attendance is
good and it has been brought to a high state of excellence. It is one of
the recognized institutions of the city. The pastor is unremitting in his
care of the school and the progress of the pupils is deserving of great
praise. The St. Boniface Parochial School is one of the best of its kind
in the state.
The teacher's examinations of Miami County are conducted by a board
of examiners appointed by the probate judge. Two examinations are held
each month, and certificates are granted. This system has prevailed for
years and has been found efficient and popular. The examiners are chosen
from the ranks of the foremost educators of the county. The present ones
are C.L. Bennett, Covington; Charles H. Teach, Lena, and George Routzahn,
of Staunton. Examinations are also held under the Boxwell law, which permits
graduates from the country graded schools to enter the Troy and Piqua high
schools, the expenses to be met by the several townships. On the whole,
during the first century of their existence the public schools of Miami
County have progressed to an amazing extent. Instituted in the backwoods,
while yet the fear of Indian invasion hung like the pall of doom over the
sparse settlements they labored under difficulties that would have discouraged
less worthy enterprises. From these pioneer schools came men and women
who have proven the best citizens the county has produced, and to their
lasting credit, it's said that they left to their children the educational
facilities, which are enjoyed today. The county has taken no backward steps
in the education of its youth. Its motto has ever been "Forward!"
and with its large number of school children well housed and well taught,
its future is not doubtful. Thousands of dollars are annually appropriated
for education, and new school buildings are being constantly erected for
the accommodation of the pupils. Corporal punishment has practically disappeared
from the schools. This relic of the old days has fallen into disrepute
and Byron's stanzas are forgotten:
"Oh, ye! who teach the youth of Nations,
Holland, France, England, Germany or Spain,
I pray ye flog them upon all occasions,
It mends their morals, never mind the pain."
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE SCHOOLS OF BRADFORD,
AND EARLY HISTORY
(Prepared by Nate Iddings; read at dedication of the new building, Saturday,
Dec. 12, 1908)
In 1861, about the time the Rebellion broke out, the C.C.& I.C. Railway
Company saw the necessity of making a connection between the first and
second divisions of their road at Richmond, Indiana. Engineers were sent
out to look up the best route, and they finally settled upon leaving the
main track just east of Covington, called the Summit, being the highest
point between Piqua and Covington. This line passed Covington south, and
on through Franklin Township, Darke County, to Arcanum, and then on to
Richmond. John Sowers, of Covington, then a contractor, having built a
part of the old road, and having considerable influence with the railroad
men, took the surveyors in his carriage and brought them west to the Darke
County line, and suggested that it would be a good place to leave the main
line and go to Richmond by way of Greenville, and it is said that he parted
with a gold watch, and that Bradford was then and there established. The
survey was made and the road built.
From that time on until 1867, there was nothing here but a wooding station.
Trains stopped here in the woods for fuel. William Stump, with a tread
horsepower, did the sawing, trains would stop and a half hour was used
by all the train men in filling up the tender with wood, and if any tramp
or wayfarer desired to get a free ride, he only had to throw wood for a
In 1868 the bargain previously made was consummated. John Sowers purchased
the Hoover farm for the company, and the Round House was built; a box car
was set off on the north side of the track and was used as a depot. John
S. Moore was an early comer, with a grocery store, quickly followed by
Nate Iddings, with a general store. Solomon Routsong purchased a farm and
laid out his plat, Moses Wise followed with his addition, and Bradford
was then placed on the map. The name was suggested by Charles W. Wrapp,
and he in the village and S.B. Christian in the country, canvassed and
had established a post office, and Wrapp was the first postmaster. He carried
the mail around in his hat and delivered to patrons, this being the first
free delivery of mail matter, perhaps, in the county.
The children then attended school in Miami County, in a little brick
house located on L.A. Dye's farm east of town, and in Darke County at a
log school house, on the same site as is now occupied by the brick, No.
2. These schools were taught by country teachers, who had muscle, with
plenty of beech limbs growing nearby. Bradford began to clamor for a school
of her own. Perry Marlin, a farmer, was the director for this district
in Newberry Township, and he wanted the town to get along with one room.
Bradford wanted four, and they finally compromised on two rooms, which
was the best that could be done at the time. The two rooms were built the
next summer. They are still standing and were converted into a dwelling
house by Henry Klinger. The very first year they were found to be inadequate,
and the old skating rink at the north end of town was rented, and two grades
met in that building.
The Rev. Mr. Best was the first principal teacher. He was a very excellent
gentleman, but lacked government. Before the holidays his pupils became
so unruly that it was necessary for the Board to interfere. A new set of
rules were established, and school opened there the next week with no better
success. Some of the larger boys walked into school with their skates on,
and while he was trying to maintain order, one of the larger boys struck
Mr. Best over the head with a skate and left the frame hanging around his
neck. This was too much for Mr. Best and he resigned his position.
Dr. Renner and his wife, both well educated teachers, were hired to
finish the term. They were from Brookville, Montgomery County, and came
well recommended. The second day after he was installed three boys came
into school with their skates on their feet. Mr. Renner. looked daggers
at them, but they paid no attention to him. When they were called to recite
they walked out on the floor with their skates still on. The doctor did
not say a word, but went to his desk, drew out a keen switch, and gave
them each a complete thrashing, without any explanation, and sent them
to their seats. The skates were quietly removed and business went on. Inside
of two weeks all was harmony. About all he had to do was to pull down his
eyebrows - and he had plenty of them - look the boy in the face, and he
would wilt in a moment. He was rehired and held his position as long as
he desired, leaving it to take up the practice of medicine.
At that time the voting was done at Covington and Gettysburg. Nate Iddings
and Frank Gulich organized the voting precincts, and against a good deal
of opposition from the two towns - Covington and Gettysburg - had the village
incorporated, and established the special school district of Bradford,
Miami and Darke Counties, Nate Iddings making several trips to Columbus
for that purpose. At the first election in the special district for members
of the board, Dr. William Commons, Thomas Marlin, John O'Connors, Peter
Smith, L. Van Trump, and Nate Iddings were elected.
At their first meeting they submitted a proposition to, be voted upon
to appropriate $25,000 for the purpose of building a new school house,
which proposition was carried almost unanimously, and $25,000 in bonds
were issued in denominations of $500 each and to bear 8 per cent interest.
The first $15,000 were handled through the Stillwater Valley Bank, of Covington,
Ohio, at a cost of $500. Iddings took the $10,000 at face value. It seemed
to be an easy matter to get the, money, but we could not build a house
without a location. The little politicians had gotten up a strife between
the north and south sides of town. All the churches had been located on
the south side and they wanted to put the schoolhouse on a square below
James Street, on what we call Oklahoma, near where Dan Evans resides. The
Board was divided, three and three. After a long worry one of our men went
over to the other side. Peter Smith moved out of town, and that left another
vacancy. A meeting was called to fill it, and Commons and Marlin left town
to break a quorum. We watched Mr. Marlin's house until eleven o'clock at
night, when he slipped in and went to bed. We waited outside until we were
sure lie had retired, when we knocked at the door and his wife let us in.
We organized a meeting and elected a man to suit us to fill the vacancy.
The next day Dr. Commons returned and Marlin told him what had happened.
He went to Troy that morning and enjoined us from building the house on
the north side of the first division railroad tracks. At this time my companions
deserted me and took the other side, with Dr. Commons as leader. I alone
favored the present site. The injunction had not been dissolved, and there
were grave doubts as to whether it would be sustained, and I had an equal
opportunity to resort to the same line of tactics. I proposed to leave
it to a vote of the people, This seemed to them fair, as they had the majority
of the voters on the south side. The election was advertised, and held
on a Saturday afternoon between two and six o'clock, in July 1875. There
we're thirteen saloons in the village and they were all seen (?) the day
before. We had carriages to haul our side to the polls. H.W. Smith cast
his first vote that day, and the hustle that he put on has made him a winner
ever since. Two hundred and thirty-eight votes were cast 137 for-the present
site and 101 against it, leaving a majority of 36 votes.
I tried to buy the whole park - about eight acres but was cut down to
about three acres by the balance of the board, they thinking we ought not
to buy more ground than we actually needed. The house was built in 1876.
George W. Mannix and Dennis Dwyer, of Greenville, were the contractors
We bought the ground of Moses Wise. And his son Samuel afterwards laid
out the balance of the park in town lots. At that time the walk to the
school lot was only six feet wide. The corporation owned the lot upon which
the Drs. Minton now own and reside. I tried to get the council to keep
it for corporation purposes, but it refused and built its council house
on a little patch of ground on Church Street, back of Mrs. Shearer's lot.
Dr. Minton contracted with the council for his lot, and I paid him $100
for ten feet on the south side, so as to make the walk sixteen feet wide.
A new board afterwards returned to me the $100. The two rows of trees were
planted by Daniel Seiders at my expense, and Dr. Minton had a vast amount
of trouble in keeping the boys from swinging on them, for it seemed, even
at that day, some of our citizens were opposed to having shade trees. They
would not be there if he had not watched and protected them.
We prepared the plans and specifications for the building, and had a
provision that no extra should be charged without an agreement in writing
with the board and signed by both parties. This precaution saved the district
$2,500, which the contractors tried to collect. I had the honor of leading
the honorable board to the spot and throwing out the first shovelful of
dirt. Mr. O'Connors having moved in from the country, thought the first
thing that had to be done was to clear the ground. His father, an old man,
was living with him, and he sent him down for that purpose, and before
I knew it, he had chopped down three of the finest trees on the lot.
You may travel Darke County over and on will invariably find that every
school lot is denuded of its trees. The house was built the summer of 1876
and D.S. Meyers was installed as the superintendent, with a corps of five
or six other teachers, principally ladies. Mr. Meyers served as principal
for several years; during the last one considerable opposition developed
against him. The board was unable to hire and it was left to the commissioners
of Darke County.
They, after postponing the hiring all summer, selected Mr. Myers. The
opposition was so strong and determined that the people refused to send
their children to him, and they hired a special teacher and opened a school
in an upstairs room in the Arnold Block. Mr. Myers graduated three pupils
in the first class and had eleven in the junior class. The three first
graduates were A.F. Little, Alice Stone Teeter, and Frank Sowers. A.F.
Little began the printing business in the garret at his father's residence
on a press that cost one dollar and fifty cents. He married one of the
graduates of the second class, and they have had three children to graduate,
and he is now the honored mayor of the village. Alice Stone Teeter married
and lived in the village many years, and died, leaving a husband and two
bright children, who are following the example set by her. Frank Sowers
married and removed to Winnemack, Indiana, where, after on honorable life
of a few short years, he died, leaving a wife and three children.
D.W.K. Martin, now editor of the Versailles Policy, succeeded Myers
as superintendent, and graduated eleven, this being the junior class under
Myers - six ladies and one gentleman. Martin was succeeded by Prof. Faul,
who remained one year and was succeeded by Prof. P.E. Cromer, who had charge
of the school for three years, and left to go into the practice of medicine.
Cromer was succeeded by Prof. Henry L. Yount, who made an excellent superintendent,
having good control of the school, more on the military plan than the others;
he left the school after four years of work, for politics. He was deputy
clerk of Darke County, school examiner, prosecuting attorney of the county
for six years, and elected as the Democratic senator of the twelfth district
of Ohio by a large majority, when the district had been represented by
Republicans for several terms preceding.
Yount was followed by Professor Maier, an excellent gentleman, who governed
the school by love for the pupils. He left to take the presidency of Bryn
Mawr school for girls in Maryland. His course there was brilliant but was
cut short by his untimely death. Maier was succeeded by Prof. Morris, who
handled the school successfully for several years, and left to take a better
paying position with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Morris was succeeded by Prof. Chrowel, who needs no eulogy from me.
His many kind acts and deeds are indelibly engraved upon the minds and
hearts of our people never to be effaced. Chrowel left to become cashier
of the new National bank. He was succeeded by Raiburn, who now has charge,
All of these professors had graduating classes, to the number of more than
two hundred members, who are scattered all over the country, doing well
in their different pursuits of life. I have not the time to speak of them
It was said in arguments during the recent campaign against the liquor
traffic, that one boy out of every five, and one girl out of every eight,
went to the bad. I am glad to say that rule does not apply to the graduates
of the Bradford school. In all my searches I have not found a single one
but what has an honorable occupation, making an honest living, and a credit
to the school.
Of the members of the Board of Education at that time, Peter H. Smith
removed to his farm north of Clayton, where he died a few years later.
L. Van Trump was a physician, and practiced his profession until his decease
in 1901. John O'Connors removed to Greenville, where he went into the business
of carriage making and now resides in Chicago. Thomas Martin is now a resident
of Covington. Dr. Commons is a retired physician living in Union City,
Ind. He was very active in building and especially in opposing the location
of the school house on its present site. When I was appointed to write
this sketch I tried to shift the matter on him, and received the following
letter from him.
Union City, Ind.,
Dec. 7, 1908.
Mr. Nate Iddags,
Dear Iddags -
Your letter of the 6th inviting me to the dedication of your new school
house, and offering me one-half of your time, besides care, is thankfully
received. I regret this very much, both from good will to you and because
I believe that I could give your people some inside school house history,
which would be new and interesting. Owing to injury received in battle,
I have become so disabled as to need the care of another person. This makes
going from home, and especially into miscellaneous company, inconvenient
and unpleasant. My disability is altogether in my hands and arms, otherwise
I am in excellent health. Thanking again for your invitation, and with
best wishes to yourself and your people, I am respectfully, Wm. Connons.
The house that we built is a thing of the past. It answered its purpose
well. The two hundred graduates that we sent out well pays for the efforts
that we put forth in that direction.
I want to congratulate you all upon the beautiful structure that we
now dedicate. It would be a credit to any city. The architect, Mr. Jackson
certainly deserves our praise for the plans, and Mr. Ray Zimmerman for
the construction and workmanship; the board of education for the agreeable
manner in which they have worked, all with perfect harmony. The vast crowd
here assembled shows the spirit of our people and the interest taken in
the education of our children. The only part of my work left is the site
for grounds. At the final round-up for the location, I was alone at the
election; I had thirty-six majority. I was somewhat abused for the course
I took, and I now want to leave it to a vote of this vast audience, whether
I shall be sustained or not. All of you who are in favor of leaving it
stand on the present site which I fought so hard for, please remain in
your seats and look pleasant. Now, if there is anyone who wishes to vote
to the contrary, he will please stand on his head. The proposition is sustained
--- end of chapter 12 ---
1909 History of Miami County Ohio
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