Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Early School History - Green Township, Clinton County Ohio

"The township may be proud of the general intelligence of her population.
     –Clinton County History 1882 in section about Green Township.

A recent request for information on one-room schools in Clinton and Highland Counties allows me to pass this information on to you -- obviously there is a lot more that could be learned about these rural schools.  Vivan Rambo Deck, NVHS 1918, grandmother of Susan and Barbara, taught at a one-room school house before she was married.
Public School Buildings, New Vienna, Ohio
This School was built in 1878.  It was torn down in 1917.  
The above picture is from New Vienna High School Memory Book, 1881-1963, page 8
More information about this school building can be found in a previous post: "New Vienna School 1878-1917 postcard"

In March 1977 Homer Williams presented a report at the Clinton County Historical Society meeting which was to be recorded as a part of the Clinton County Retired Teachers' sponsored project on "History of Clinton County School."  In addition to the information below there is also mention of a "one room frame schoolhouse located on the site of the present Church of Christ."  The complete [presumably Wilmington News-Journal article from 1977] is transcribed here.  

A two page history of New Vienna Schools in the NVHS Memory Book is taken from material written by Homer and Josephine Williams, updated in 1998. Here's what it says about the first schools:
  • About 1812, in the early history of our township, the first school house was built on the site of Hazel College, on Derivan Road near the Edgar Eaton farm, now [in 1988] owned by Don and Shirley McKamey.  It was built of logs with seats also made of logs with pegs on the under side for legs.

    The first township schoolhouse within the present limits of New Vienna was in the northern part of town near the Stephen Hussey property owned by Roy Dove in 1977.  Of two teachers employed at this school one was name Peggin and the other Savage. School was also held at some time either in the East Fork Meeting house, a log building constructed by the Friends in 1809, or in a building on the Henry Nordyke farm.

    Later a school building was contracted on the Henry Swingley land and located on what is now Levo Road where the road makes a right angle turn going east from the entrance off of SR-73, one half mile south of the Snow Hill Club.  At a later date this became subdistrict school No. 7.  It is believed to be the first public school in Green Township.  Thomas Swingley's father went to school there and the teacher was George Barrow, who was the Mayor of New Vienna in the 1850s.
Here's a bit more on old schools:
  • Collection of photos and information about Old Ohio Schools – mostly "newer" old schools though.  Highland CountyClinton County

  • A photo collection of 156 pictures of One Room Schools in Ohio - only two from Clinton County and they were from Wilson Township, but still interesting, a few from Highland County also.

  • The 1982 Clinton County History book mentions some of the above info and adds "Before 1860 there was a sub-district school on the lot where the Catholic Church now stands [or previously stood on Nordyke Rd. – that would be the north side of town as mentioned above.]

  • FIRST SCHOOL [in Green Township]  [From History of Clinton County, published by W.H. Beers and Co. 1916]  It is rather uncertain where the first school was located in this township, but popular opinion among the older inhabitants seems to point to the town of New Vienna. This house was built about the year 1812. Robert Peggin was first employed to keep this school, but he was a man of intemperance and lax morals and was soon released. James Savage was the next employee, but, morally, he was very little better, hence he was likewise released.[These teachers are mentioned in the Williams information above also.]

  • [From 1882 History of Clinton County] Now there are nine subdistricts, one special and one village district. At first the schools seldom ran longer than three months in the year; now they average about eight months. The special district is at New Antioch, in the northwest part of the township; the village school in the southern part, at New Vienna. The special district has a good brick house, two stories, and two schools under the charge of Prof. -- Sewell and Miss Ratio Mitchell.
    This district was organized about eight years ago, or in 1874. James Dodd, a graduate of Bethany, W. Va., was the first Principal. Since he left, Profs. Laymon, L. D. Wysong and --- Sewell have taken charge o£ the work. The school has done good service, and is still prospering. The district has furnished many thoughtful men and women, and, several teachers, who have been eminently successful in schoolwork. It may be interesting to note a few facts in reference to some of the sub-districts of the township, showing population, term of schools, wages paid, etc. I shall have to transcribe a few things from the records of the Township Clerk:
    Report of District No. 1: -September 25, 1838. Our school commenced October 20, 1837, and expired April 20, 1838; the term of six months. There was $120 paid by subscription. No school tax. The number of pupils that attended school, fifty-eight. The branches taught-common reading, writing, arithmetic and geography. No building; no repairing We find on a settlement with the Treasurer, that there remains, after paying the Clerk for taking and returning the number of youths for 1837, $1.50, and leaves in his hand $17.86. After proposing to the meeting repairing schoolhouse, proceeded to business. -WILLIAM LUPTON, ABRAHAM FRASER, JOHN B. CLARK, BENJAMIN CLARK, Clerk, School Directors.
    The above is a verbatim copy of the report.

    Report of District No. 2:-September 21, 1838. The number of schools the past year is one for three months; the number of scholars in attendance, boys thirty-three, girls thirty; average attendance, thirty and a half. The branches taught were reading, writing, arithmetic and English grammar. The amount of public funds made use of this year was $15' the balance was raised by subscription. Amount raised by tax, none. We have received no school funds from the County Treasurer since the proportion of 1837. The balance remaining in the hands of the Treasurer is $38.85 1/2.  JOHN HODSON, Clerk.

    Such are mere samples of early reports of the public schools of the township. It will be seen that wages were low, time of schools short, attendance small, and, it may be added, qualifications of teachers very moderate at best. At present there are ninesubdistricts in the township; eight months, average length of schools; attendance, good; wages average $35 per month; teachers' qualifications, fair. The teachers in the subdistricts are generally energetic and worthy of the trust committed to them. Subdistrict schools, or as they are more generally styled, common schools, are doing more in promoting intelligence among the masses and giving permanency to our Republican institutions than are our graded schools. They develop more thought, more intellect, less form, less style than do the graded schools. This tendency of our graded schools to inculcate mere form and style, with little thought, is the bane of these schools, and must, sooner or later, if not abated, prove their disgrace, perhaps their destruction.* The township may be proud of the general intelligence of her population.

  • Sub-district School Number 7 was on the curve on Levo Road; #6 was to the west of Snow Hill, #8 to the north of Snow Hill.  Other sub-district schools were located near The Achor Cemetery in SW Green Township, Bernard Road, Antioch Road and Derivan Road.


  1. Cheryl reports her grandmother, Abigail Curtis Rulon attended Hazel College (the Clinton-Highland Normal School?) and her daughter-in-law grew up in the renovated school house on Bernard Road.

    Nancy comments: The East Fork Meeting House built in 1809 on the Henry Nordyke farm was in the little cemetary above where I grew up. Mother said there was a Quaker Church there and it burned down but I don't know when. I don't know of any other Nordyke's farms around NV except our house, Hoyt Penn's home and Walter Drake's house. Hoyt's was the oldest, then ours and Drakes was built last.

  2. John comments: The description of the location of the school on Levo Road given by the Williams does not correspond with the location of a school lot shown on the abstract of title that Kathy and I have for the farm. The school lot shown on the abstract is over a mile to the east northeast of Snow Hill although it was on land originally owned by the Swingley family. The location given by the Williams would indicate the school being about where SR 73, Leeka Road and Levo Road merge. Although that may have been a good location, I have never heard of or seen evidence of a school building in that vicinity. I also asked Christine Berwanger if she had ever come across any information about a school during her research on the history of their farm and the Snow Hill Tavern and she hadn't.

    The first mention of the school lot I find is the sale of land to Thomas Elliot by John and Rebecca Matthews on December 16, 1869. The transfer states ".....excepting and resering a lot sold and conveyed by said John Matthews and wife to the Directors of School District No. 7, in Green Tp., Clinton Co., Ohio contain one half acre of land".

    However the next mention of the school lot is August 25, 1874 in a Probate Court hearing. It states "....excepting and reserving a lot sold and conveyed by said Thomas G, Elliot and wife to the Directors of School District No. 7, in Green Tp., Clinton Co., Ohio, containing three-fourths (3-4) of an acre of land".

    I find it interesting that sometime between 1869 and 1874 the school lot grew in size by a quarter acre. I also wonder when the school was dissolved and the lot sold or transferred back to our farm.

    The abstract was done for Mary Ingold and appears to go through 1896 or 1897.

  3. Ralph's great-uncle, Ulysses Chase James (1872-1905) was a teacher at a one room school on Wilson Road near New Antioch in the 1890s.

  4. Fascinating stuff. Of course I have passed by the one room schoolhouse on Bernard road a zillion times as I grew up close to there. Interesting to see monetary stuff from back then. This was funny: "Robert Peggin was first employed to keep this school, but he was a man of intemperance and lax morals and was soon released. James Savage was the next employee, but, morally, he was very little better, hence he was likewise released."

    Last time I was in the New Vienna area I did something I had been meaning to do for years. At the end of Leeka Road where it connects to SR 73, in a field nearby, there is an old cemetary (Morgantown??) that is pretty much cut off from modern civilization. A friend and I climbed a fence and went back there and looked around.

    1. Yes, the standards and restrictions (no married women, for instance) for teachers were very strict back then.

      There are several small cemeteries in the vicinity of New Vienna. The one you are referring to is also called the Swingley Farm Cemetery as it was on the Swingley property at one time. Not sure about the ownership now. One source I read said that Morgantown was wiped out by cholera and then abandoned but it was a community prior to the 1850s.

  5. John Levo reports the following info found while he was researching his family's property:

    A township map from around 1900 which shows the locations of the following schools around NV.

    Number 2 was on Bernard Road near where Tilton intersects. There is a residence in the building now.
    Number 4 was on SR 729 beyond Drake Crossroads. I believe it is a residence now.
    Number 6 was on SR 350 west of Snow Hill. The former Ada Purtee residence.
    Number 7 was on the bends of Levo Road.
    Number 8 was on SR 73 beyond Daily Road. There is a residence in the building now.
    Number 9 was on Clark Road close to SR 28. I don't know the status.

    I feel certain some of the missing numbers were those around New Antioch and over the tracks towards Mt. Olive. A school in NV proper is not indicated. There is no indication of a school on the Joe Eaton farm on Derivan Road.

    I found it interesting the map showed a tile works on SR73 near number 8. It shows a church just beyond Snow Hill on what might be Johnson Road now.

  6. This is a test comment to see if those subscribing to the comments part of the blog are receiving the comments. I apologize for the need to moderate comments but the spam and self-promotional comments are not part of New Vienna history on this blog – Facebook has enough of that!