The early history of Harrison Township’s District 9 school is confusing: in the 1860s, two churches with the word “Olive” in their names held services at a pair of township schools. The first was Olive Chapel United Brethren Church, which used the District 2 McCreery schoolhouse before constructing a purpose-built sanctuary at the northwest corner of present-day Indiana State Route 28 and North County Road 450-W1. Several miles southeast, the Mt. Olive Methodist Protestant Church worshipped in a succession of schoolhouses before building a new church across Nebo Road in 18982.
The first Mt. Olive school was a frame structure built in 1867 on land donated by Charles Mansfield3. The structure was replaced by a brick schoolhouse in 18734, and the following year it was referred to as the District 7 school5. This designation changed by 1881, though, as the Mt. Olive was listed as District 9 when E.E. Grimes was the teacher6.
At some point, perhaps after the church moved out, people began referring to the District 9 building as the Jaybird schoolhouse7, but it closed after the 1923-24 term, when Harrison Township’s remaining one-room schools were taken into the new Harrison Township consolidated school four miles northwest. Eugene Gibson of Muncie was the last teacher at District 98.
Forty-two years after its closure, the schoolhouse was described as a “brick ruin9.” Retired Muncie doctor Phil Ball later purchased the property in 1971 and was able to preserve the western wall of the structure along with the school’s old well10.
1 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.
2 Mt. Olive Community Church. (n.d.). The History and Heritage of Mt Olive Church. Mt Olive Community Church. Web. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
3 Delaware County, Indiana. (1867, July 9). Deed Book 41. p. 476.
4 Harris, B. (1995, July 23). A celebration of faith. The Muncie Star. p. B1.
5 Kingman, A.L. (1874). Map of Delaware County, Indiana : from recent & original surveys, made expressly for this map, drawn, compiled and published by A.L. Kingman and assistants. map, Chicago, IL; A.L. Kingman.
6 (See footnote 1).
7 (See footnote 4).
8 Delaware County Public Schools. (1923). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1923-1924. Muncie, IN.
9 Harris, B. (1966, October 1). Mount Olive Church Near Goal for African Building. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 5.
10 Album of yesteryear. (1997, June, 22). The Muncie Star Press. p. 3B.