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Title: Education in Warren County
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Not until the Constitution of 1850 made provision, did the state of Indiana have a free school system. When Warren county was organized, the state laws provided for certain sales of lands in each county, to be used in the maintenance of common schools, but aside from that means children were mainly educated at the expense of their parents, by the old "subscription school" plan, so long in existence in the country. However, no sooner had this county been fairly organized than it took advantage of the school lands contained in the sixteenth section in each township, known as the "school section," and as early as 1828 the county school commissioner was notified to advertise the sale of such sections near Williamsport, Independence, Lebanon, Gopher Hill and elsewhere. The proceeds of such sales went toward paying teachers, erecting buildings and keeping up the log cabin school houses first used. The first schools in this county were taught in 1828, the expense of which was paid by private subscriptions. Then, of course, the heaviest expense fell on the families having the largest number of children of school age, hence many grew up in ignorance. The early school houses were rude cabins, usually an old building that had been left by some squatter and had been virtually forsaken. The first reading book was the New Testament. The ability to read and write and "cipher" constituted the full requirements of a teacher in those days in Warren county. The sale of the school lands was really a blessing to the rising young of those pioneer days.

In 1829 several schools were taught in the county. One was at Williamsport, one at Gopher Hill, one near West Lebanon, one at Independence and one in the vicinity of Green Hill, one near West Lebanon, one at Independence and one in the vicinity of Green Hill, all being on the subscription plan. The rule of having poorly trained teachers had its honorable exceptions, of course, for it will be found that Colonel Lucas, Perrin Kent and others who became prominent citizens were counted among the pioneer teachers. Colonel Lucas taught many terms near his home in the southwest part of this county. He, as most of the teachers, was very severe with his pupils, owing to the size and roughness of the young men who attended, and more than one man in that part of the county can recall the "licking" he received at the hands of the good Colonel!

After the pioneer cabins above referred to had passed to decay, came the renowned pioneer log school houses, with their huge chimneys, their windows of greased paper, and their seats and desks made of clapboards or rough, unplaned plank. Quite early in the thirties other school funds were provided. In 1834 the profits arising from the management of the State Bank were reserved as a school fund, known as the bank school fund. The fund from the sale of lands (sixteenth section) was known as the congressional school fund. In February, 1837, an act of the Legislature provided for the distribution to the various counties of the surplus revenue fund donated to the several states by the United States, by virtue of an act of Congress approved June 23, 1836. This fund was to be loaned out to citizens of each county, and the annual interest was to be distributed to the various townships for the support of the common schools. It will be observed that, as yet, no taxation for the support of common schools had been levied upon the property, and that the support of such schools, aside from the special funds named, fell upon the families having children, and not upon those having money or property and no children. Such taxation at that day was regarded as unjust. Many men without children and with large wealth voted against the proposed free school system. Besides the school funds above mentioned, there were also special funds, such as the county seminary, university fund, saline fund, and the bank tax fund (not the state bank fund), all of which were provided to support special school institutions in Indiana. The congressional school fund and the surplus revenue fund were of lasting benefit to the people of Warren county in maintaining her schools. These funds were directed to be loaned on good securities and to draw not less than seven per cent. interest, annually, payable in advance, and not to be loaned for a period longer than five years. In 1844 the surplus fund at interest amounted to $6,303, which, at seven per cent., furnished about $440, to be distributed to the townships. As the congressional fund on interest amounted to $8,649, the total annually distributed to the townships at that date amounted to $1,100. Under the old constitution of 1816, in this state, no system of free schools could be supported by public taxation.

It was in 1848 that this county was called upon to vote on the much agitated question of free schools, and at that election there were nine hundred and fifty-six votes for and one hundred and fifty-seven against free schools. The vote bore about this ratio all over Indians, and in 1850 the new constitution incorporated the system into its make-up, since which time the state has been free in educational matters.

In 1853 there were twenty-three school houses in Warren county, in 1878 there were eighty-three, and in 1910 there were eighty-two. Of the present buildings, ten are built of brick and seventy-two of frame.

[Page 265-266.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton, Editor
Record ID: 00001297
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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