According to Binford’s book entitled History of Hancock County Indiana, the first schools in Vernon Township were subscription, or pay schools, taught by traveling schoolmasters. These schoolmasters usually taught by the term, or quarter, and took up room and board with one of the local residents. Sometimes the schools were taught by a local resident.
The first schoolhouses were merely pole cabins. There were only three: one on “Robbs’s farm”, which was half a mile south of McCordsville; one was two miles east of McCordsville; and the other was located in Fortville. No special school tax was in place at that time, and there was only a small interest income from the congressional township school fund. This meant that the school houses had to be built by the residents of the area. The residents also needed to provide the wood to heat the school. When a vote was called for on a “free school system” (a state-wide system that would make tuition free and open to all) in 1849, those of Vernon Township voted ‘no’ because they liked the old system.
In 1859, a trustee was appointed named Perry J. Brinegar. Levi Thomas was elected in 1861 and 1865. G. W. Stanley was elected in 1863. Andrew Hagen was appointed in 1866, Stokes Jackson in 1876, and Samuel Arnett in 1880.
By 1882, nine public schoolhouses were in the township. Seven were framed buildings and two were brick. The names of the schools and instructors in 1882 were as follows:
School Number – Name -Instructors
Dist. No. 1 – McCordsville -J.W. Smith, Jessie S. Jackson, Frank O. Forts, Ella Thompson
Dist. No. 2 – (no name) -Worth Trittipo
Dist. No. 3 – Jackson Union -Ed Crumbaugh
Dist. No. 4 – Denney’s -Frank Smith
Dist. No. 5 – Cook’s -Lawrence Durack
Dist. No. 6 – Duzan’s -Quitman Jackson
Dist. No. 7 – Cushman’s -C. Vanlaningham
Dist. No. 8 – Woodbury -J.W. McCord
Fortville -M. Caraway, A. E. Cummins, Anna Chittenden, Alice Cory
By 1916, according to George Richman in his History of Hancock County, all of the one-room schoolhouses had been abandoned except for Cook’s and Denney’s. All of the other students went to either the McCordsville or Fortville schools.
+ History of Hancock County, Indiana. J.H. Binford. King & Binford, Publishers, Greenfield: IN, 1882.
+ History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions. George J. Richman. B. L.., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis: IN, 1916.