John Bergdoll was an early settler in Jay County, one of three people to arrive in Knox Township in 18411. At some point, probably in the 1850s or 1860s, he deeded the trustee of Knox Township about an acre of land to establish a schoolhouse on. Eventually, the institution evolved into Knox Township’s District 7 schoolhouse, known commonly as Beaver Hill2.
In 1887, the property around the schoolhouse was owned by John’s son, Edmund3. By that point, the schoolhouse had been given its official designation as Knox Township’s District 74. It seems to have taken its common name from the name of the farm the institution sat on, or vice-versa5.
The extant Beaver Hill school was a T-shaped design with an entryway flanked by cloakrooms that led into the building’s classroom. It was built by Marion Creek, a contractor from Blackford County who built the majority of Knox Township’s schoolhouses prior to 19156.
As was the case with many one-room schoolhouses, Beaver Hill served as a community hub: a box social was held on Tuesday, November 25 in 19197. Much later, the Knox Township 4-H club met at the schoolhouse to elect new officers on May 30, 19338.
In 1917, the schoolhouse was fumigated after a student developed scarlet fever9. Fifteen years later, teacher Margaret Whetsell was cut during a storm that blew in one of the building’s windows10.
Several of Knox Township’s schoolhouses closed in the early years of the twentieth century. By 1937, Beaver Hill was one of only four rural schoolhouses still in use in the township along with Zion, Goodwill, and Oak Grove11. A lawsuit brought before Jay County Circuit Court Judge R.D. Wheat shuttered the four rural schoolhouse after the 1939-40 school year12. Students were sent to consolidated schools in Dunkirk, Redkey, and Pennville13.
After it closed, the old schoolhouse again became the property of the Bergdoll family, who used it as a hog barn14. The building still stands in partial ruins on the family’s farm.
1 Biographical and Historical Record of Jay and Blackford Counties, Indiana (1887). The Lewis Publishing Company [Chicago]. Book.
2 Shepherd, S. (1970, May 31). The Muncie Star. p. 29.
3 Historical hand-atlas, illustrated (1881). H.H. Hardesty. Chicago. Atlas.
4 Atlas of Jay County, Indiana (1887). Griffing, Gordon & Company [Philadelphia]. Map.
5 James Hollis Bergdoll, Sr. (2018, November 14). The Muncie Star Press. p. A5.
6 (See footnote 2).
7 Dunkirk (1919, November 25). The Muncie Star. p. 10.
8 Dunkirk (1933, May 31). The Muncie Star. p. 5.
9 Dunkirk (1917, October 13). The Muncie Star. p. 13.p
10 Fights Holdup Men at Dunkirk (1932, February 14)> The Muncie Star. p. 2.
11 Teachers For Jay County Named (1937, September 4). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 5.
12 (See footnote 2).
13 Continue Fight to Keep School Open (1939, August 3). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 12.
14 (See footnote 2).
One thought on “Knox Township’s Beaver Hill schoolhouse in Jay County”
I have only one word for the current state of the Beaver Hill schoolhouse: dam. (Sorry. 😁 )