The subscription school was the first type of school in Union County, Indiana. The patrons in the community who wanted their children to receive the schooling offered, paid the bill. The price of that schooling was seventy-five cents per quarter. The school master often took his pay in wheat valued at thirty seven cents per bushel. They also accepted corn valued at eight cents a bushel. The school lasted three months.
The building that housed the school was built like the cabins of that day. They used round logs with puncheon floor and the seats were made from split logs without backs. For heat there was a large fireplace in one end of the room. For the smoke to exit there was a hole in the roof. The time of the first school was about 1804 when the first settlements were started.
The first school house in the county was built in the southern part of Harmony Township in 1807 on the school section 16 near what is known as Sims graveyard. As the record shows the first teacher was Tom Harvey.
There was also a house of learning on section 13 as early as 1810 and 1811 with Jesse Jones as teacher. On the Lewis Hughes farm there was a school taught by Mr. Howard in 1810. In a cabin vacated by Bennet Osborn school was held in 1829. The teacher was John B. Clark and he taught at other schools in the neighborhood.
In 1826 a frame school house was built in the center of the township and was known as Dubois School. Among the teachers were Ambrose Ogden, Thomas Carrick and Joseph Ball.
In Center township the Religious Society of Friends commonly called "Quakers" had settled. The first school was organized in the neighborhood in 1818. Lydia Swain, wife of Thomas Swain taught school in their home. Soon they built a log meeting house on the lot near the Swain home. This building was used as a school and a church. The teachers, in order, were as follows: William Talbert, Obed Macy, Joshua Williams, Kalita B Townley, Charles Starbuck and Jonathan Swain. In the summer of 1826 Swain bought a lot adjoining the meeting house and built a frame building where he taught for four years until 1829. Robert Butler held a summer school in 1829.
Center township also had a school that dates back to about 1820 in what is now the community of Greenwood. It was known as Nigerology school and was located on section 9; township4; range 1 west. It was a log structure with oiled paper windows and the fireplace was made from rock. Edghill Burnsides, father of General Burnsides, was the first teacher in this school. The only textbooks were the New Testament and a spelling book.
Brownsville township’s early school was in section 25. It was dirt floor and the paper was greased paper. It is believed the first class was held in 1810 with John Hughes as teacher followed by James Armstrong. There was another school in section 25 and the teachers were John Riggs and William Bennett.
Harrison township had two schools and began with the first settlement in 1807.
The first was located in section 10 and William Bennett and Steven Hunt were the first teachers. Another school was in the northern part of the township on the Stanley farm.
UNION COUNTY SEMINARIES
One of the first seminaries was the Union County Seminary which was built and laid out about the time Liberty was laid out. It was located on West Seminary Street.
A quote taken from the "Liberty Portfolio" in September 1832 states that H.M. Woodward of Kentucky will commence a school in Liberty where reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar and geography will be taught.
In 1841 a new seminary building was erected on Seminary Street. Mr. Elder was the first teacher. In1843 Dr. A. H. Campbell was the teacher and the school had the first blackboard in the county. The school would accommodate eighty students.
In 1845 Elihu Talbot and Joseph Gardner among others erected the Cedar Grove Seminary. This school was dedicated in teaching higher science, geometry, chemistry, surveying, algebra, natural philosophy and elocution. Students not only came from Union County but surrounding Counties and they were boarded by local families.
Beech Grove Academy was situated one and one-half miles south of Liberty.
The land was donated by Thomas Hollingsworth and Steven Butler. The building was fifty feet long and forty feet wide and was a one story-frame building. The founder of this academy was William Houghton. Mr. Houghton owned a farm near the school. He built a large brick home but then added several bedrooms to accommodate students who were going to school. He was known as "Uncle Billy" to his students. Every Wednesday at 10 o’clock he would take the students to attend the Fourth Day Meeting at the Silver Creek Friends Meeting House which was located nearby. One of his pupils was Ambrose E. Burnside.
The Western Union Seminary was located in the village of Philomath in the northern part of the County. It was organized in 1833 by the Universalist Movement. An ad appeared in the Universalist’s newspaper, "Sentinal And Star Of The West". The subscriber, continuing his instructions in the Western Union Seminary, takes the method to inform the public that he will teach those branches on the following terms: Reading, writing and arithmetic $2.50 per term; astronomy, algebra and elocution $4.00, Latin and Greek language $5.00. Board and room can be obtained in the village for $1.50 per week. Signed: H. Houseworth, Principal.
The Dunlapsville Presbyterian Academy was erected in 1854 but started in 1853 on a plot of ground four acres in size and deeded by Alexander McCann to the trustees of the Academy. The structure was fashioned after the style of the old Roman architecture with battlement roof and towers for observation. For a few years it thrived but then fell into financial difficulties. It was sold to individuals but in 1874 the building was purchased by Liberty Township and became a public school.
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