The village of Smithfield sprung up near a mill that David Stout erected on the White River around 18281. First platted in 1830 by David Stout and William Duncan as “Smith Field2,” the town thrived until the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway came3. The arrival of the railroad diverted commerce a mile and a half north to Selma, and Smithfield withered to the residential community it remains as today.
A schoolhouse -taught by Anderson R. East in an old cabin- was established somewhere near Smithfield during the winter of 1932-334, but the extant Liberty Township District 8 school was erected in 1864, two years after the township’s first brick schoolhouse, Knoxville, was completed5. It’s said that the school in Smithfield was built by Civil War veterans returning home from conflict, who were paid a nickel an hour for their work6.
According to Helm, Oliver Carmichael was the teacher at the Smithfield school during the 1881 term. Twenty years later, Liberty Township began to consolidate its schools and in 1906 the Smithfield building closed along with the District 6 schoolhouse7. Their students began attending classes at Selma.
Benjamin Bush, a Civil War veteran, purchased the old school building upon its closure and his daughter Effie ran a grocery store and gas station there until 19648.
In 1982, a new owner added a patio and walkway using brick from the demolished Emerson Elementary School in Muncie9. As of 2001, the old schoolhouse retained its slate blackboards and inscriptions on its brickwork from former students10.
As of 2021, the former schoolhouse, grocery store, and gas station was a home.
1 Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, pp. 237–237). book, Lewis Publishing Company.
2 Stout, D., and Duncan, W. (1830). Smith Field. map, Muncie, IN; Delaware County.
3 Helm, T. B. (1881). Mount Pleasant Township. In History of Delaware County, Indiana: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. book, Kingman Brothers.
4 (See footnote 1).
5 Spath, C. (2007, August 11). Early township residents established schools. The Muncie Star Press. p. 4D.
6 Grieves, C. (1976, August 21). 23 area homes, sites to be featured on DAR driving tour. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 3.
7 (See footnote 1).
8 Spath, C. (2007, March 31). Smithfield’s Effie Bush spent most of a century living in the town. The Muncie Star Press. p. 5A.
9 Maschino, B. (1982, October 9). Living on the edge of time. The Muncie Evening Press, p. 11.
10 Kirby, K. (2001, November 5). Schoolhouse icon of community. The Muncie Star Press. pp. 1B-2B.