Harrison Township’s Mount Olive schoolhouse in Delaware County

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

Photo taken April 6, 2021.

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

Sources Cited
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.

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