Knox Township’s Goodwill schoolhouse in Jay County

In 1881, a schoolhouse sat on land owned by the Sawyer family between Mud Creek and an angling pike that no longer exists in Knox Township1. By 1887, the building was designated as the township’s District 42. Eventually, it became colloquially known as the “Goodwill” schoolhouse3.

The Goodwill schoolhouse as it appeared on November 26, 2021.

The extant schoolhouse dates to 1915 and sits a fifth of a mile east of its predecessor at the corner of West County Road 200-North and Indiana State Road 1, known then as the Redkey and Camden Pike. The building’s construction resulted from some subterfuge by township officials: a road contractor from Blackford County named Marion Creek was responsible for erecting the majority of Knox Township’s schoolhouses, but he cut corners as he built them4. Tired of his act, township officials met early on the day they let the bids for the Goodwill school. By the time Creek showed up at the appointed hour, the meeting had already adjourned with the contract assigned to another builder5.

The Goodwill schoolhouse features an arched entryway underneath what I gather was once a bell tower. I haven’t been inside the building, but the entry vestibule probably leads to a short hall that accesses the classroom area. The schoolhouse appears to sit on a partially-raised basement and overall, its layout is similar to the District 6: Oak Grove schoolhouse that sits about two miles south of it and was built two years earlier.

The Goodwill schoolhouse as seen on the morning of July 27, 2021.

Several of Knox Township’s schoolhouses closed in the early years of the twentieth century6. By 1937, Goodwill was one of only four rural schoolhouses still in use in the township along with Zion, Beaver Hill, and Oak Grove7. A lawsuit brought before Jay County Circuit Court Judge R.D. Wheat compelled the area’s remaining rural schoolhouse to close after the 1939-40 school year8.

In 1970, the schoolhouse was used as a migrant housing camp9. Today, the building is a home. 

Sources Cited
1 Historical hand-atlas, illustrated (1881). H.H. Hardesty. Chicago. Atlas.
2 Atlas of Jay County, Indiana (1887). Griffing, Gordon & Company [Philadelphia]. Map.
3 Hillman, R. (1992, July 31). Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4.
4 Lucky Auto Accident (1913, October 14). The Muncie Star. p. 7.|
6 Continue Fight To Keep School Open (1939, August 3). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 12.
5 Shepherd, S. (1970, May 31). Bells No Longer Summon Children to Rural Schools. The Muncie Star. p. 29.
7 Teachers For Jay County Named (1937, September 4). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 5.
8 (See footnote 5).
9 (See footnote 5).

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