Harrison Township’s old District 3 schoolhouse, known as Blackford, sits three miles east of Montpelier on Highway 18. It likely took its name from the county whose students it served which was named for John Blackford, a state speaker of the house and Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. The extant brick structure was built around 1900. In 1905, it sat on the land of S.S. Norton1.
The schoolhouse replaced a log building a mile to the east that served as an early church until 1900, when it, too, was replaced by a larger structure2.
In 1918, Hurley Penrod, the twenty-one-year-old teacher of the Blackford school, was accidentally shot and killed by his adult niece, with whom she was “playing soldier” during a party in the nearby community of Balbec3.
In 1923, the school’s students won the prize for having the best school display in the Harrison Township farmer’s institute4. Unfortunately, the District 3 school closed at the end of that year, along with District 1: Waugh, District 5: Hoover, and District 9: Pleasantdale. It, along with the rest of those schools, was sold by the township in 19245, and was purchased by F.G. Sarber for $1756.
Though the schoolhouse appears to have been used as a dwelling for some time, today the structure is abandoned. Through most of the year, the building is obscured by trees and brush.
1 Hixson, W.W. (1905). Blackford County, Ind. map. Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.
2 Towns, E. (1998, October 20). Empty Blackford County church sad reminder of change. The Muncie Star Press. p. 20.
2 Playing Soldier Has Fatal Ending At Balbec (1918, February 28). The Fort Wayne Sentinel. p. 13.
3 Montpelier Briefs (1923, January 5). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 9.
4 Montpelier (1923, November 15). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 2.
5 Sale of Abandoned Schools Bring $1,575 (1924, July 30). The Muncie Star. p. 9.