Looking Back: One-room schoolhouses used to dot the county

Brown County Archives volunteers need help identifying the players in this 1930 Nashville basketball team photo, above. Paul Voland is in the back far left. Call 812-988-2899 to share more names.

By Grover G. Brown, 1963

In 1904, there were 77 one-room schools open in Brown County. Every school in the entire county was a one-room building.

Today there are only 28 of these left. It now seems likely that only 25 will be going next term, and possibly only 24. There are 21 counties in Indiana that do not have a single one-room school.

In 1904, Hamblen Township had 16 one-room schools. Today, it has five one-room and a two-room. Instead of employing 16 teachers, only seven are in use. The following schools have been closed: Beatty, Lily Ridge, Knob, Sherman, Watson, Goshen, Cravens, Gold Point and Milnes.

In 1904, Jackson Township had 17 one-room buildings. Now it has only five, while five grade teachers are in the Helmsburg building. Thirteen one-room buildings have been closed. High Knob, Greasy Creek, Owl Creek, Lanam Ridge, Howard Ridge, Cook, Ritter, Brock, Dolsberry, Long, Carmel Ridge and Bear Creek have gone.

Johnson Township formerly had eight. Only four are left. Two of these have an enrollment of only 16 each. Little Blue, Gravel Creek, Dewar Ridge and the Deckard no longer operate.

While Van Buren used to have 16 one-room schools, only five are open this year. There are also two grade teachers in the high school building. In years past, 10 have vanished. These are Number One, Poplar Grove, Valley, Kelp, Oak Ridge, Cross Roads, Wett, South Salem, Grandview and Mt. Zion.

Washington Township, including Nashville, used to have 20 one-room buildings. There are nine left. Belmont has a two-room building, while three grade teachers are employed in the Nashville system. The three one-room buildings in Nashville were closed when the present high school was built.

The Stull and Red Brush were closed several years ago. Since then, the Hamblen, Deadfall, Tull, Upper Schooner and Jackson Creek schools have vanished. It now seems that two more will go this year, in Washington, since the Huber and Brown have an enrollment of 12 or less. This means that at least 46 one-room schools have been closed in Brown County.

The first school built in Jackson Township was built at Georgetown (now Bean Blossom) about 1838, two years after Brown County was organized. The school was given No. 6. The school was built of logs and also served as a church and community meeting house. In 1945, after 107 years, the Georgetown school’s name was changed to “Bean Blossom.”

At one point, there were as many as 90-some schools in Brown County. Every neighborhood had a school, so no child had to walk to far from where they lived to the schoolhouse.

Today, we have four schools in Brown County, Helmsburg, Nashville, Sprunica and Van Buren.

We are seeking information about the old school buildings, what happened to them after they no longer used them for schools. We know some were moved, some were turned into dwellings and some were torn down.

If you have information about any of the schools, please give us a call here at the Archives, 812-988-2899. We would love to hear from you.

— Brown County Historical Society