Licking Township’s Carney schoolhouse in Blackford County

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.

Photo taken May 4, 2021.

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.

Sources Cited
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).

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