John Carney deeded the land for Licking Township’s District 4 school sometime prior to 1865. The first school, a frame building, sat half a mile south of the extant schoolhouse on the western side of Gadbury Road and was later moved to the southeast corner of Gadbury and West County Road 100-South in order to be used as a rental house1. A brick building replaced the frame dwelling and was used until 1904, when the present school was built.
The Carney schoolhouse actually has some sentimental value to me, even if I never attended classes there and don’t know anyone who did. This schoolhouse was the first that I remember stumbling across in Blackford County about twelve or thirteen years ago.
Some of East Central Indiana’s old schoolhouses had illustrious alumni and the Carney school was no different: M. Clifford Townsend, Indiana’s 35th governor, taught at the Carney schoolhouse as a young man2. Today, Townsend’s buried in Hartford City’s Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Though it only consisted of one room, the District 4 school was was one of the largest school buildings in the township upon its construction. In 1936, it took in the students from the District 5 schoolhouse, which itself had earlier taken the students of the shuttered Corn Cob School and was gutted by fire3. Two years later, the schoolhouse also received students from the District 1: Bailey school, which was also destroyed in a conflagration4. In order to accommodate all of the new students, a partition was erected to turn the District 4 building into a two-room school. The District 11: Guseman school received the same treatment at the time in order to take in more students.
The Carney schoolhouse was doubly damaged in a flash flood and electrical storm in June, 19475. Two years later, the building was inspected after residents circulated a petition that alleged that its facilities were inadequate. The state inspector found otherwise, however, and the schoolhouse was approved for continued use by its typical twenty-two pupils in grades 1-46. Prior to the start of the school year, parents of four students transferred their students to Matthews, seven-and-a-half miles away in Grant County7.
In 1956, work began on a $150,000, six-room Licking Township Elementary School8. That school’s opening the following year led to the closure of the Carney, Slater, Ervin, and Guseman schools.
Shortly after it was discontinued as a public school, James Cole purchased the abandoned building and converted into a three-room house9. Today, it’s still a home.
1 Hillman, R. (1991, September 23). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 6.
2 Spurgeon, W. (1991, September 19). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4.
3 School Building Is Damaged By Fire (1936, December 19). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 10.
4 Bus Contracts Are Deferred (1939, July 20). The Muncie Star Press. p. 2.
5 Plan July 4th Program at Hartford City (1947, July 1). The Muncie Star. p. 5.
6 Blackford Grade School Is Approved (1949, September 8). The Muncie Star. p. 20.
7 School Is Ruled As Adequate (1949, September 8). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 14.
8 School Construction Halted (1956, April 13). The Muncie Star. p. 21.
9 (See footnote 1).