James Goddard was a prominent farmer in the northeastern corner of Rush County’s Walker Township. Sometime between 1856 and 1867, Goddard donated land to establish the township’s District 1 schoolhouse1. The building sat on the south side of what’s now State Road 44, east of where it intersects with West County Road 150-South2.
The existing schoolhouse was built in 1885 on land still owned by the Goddard family. Along with another one-room structure, the Goddard School was abandoned after the 1915-16 school year, when Walker became the fourth township in Rush County to consolidate its schools. Students of the District 7 schoolhouse were sent to a larger building three miles southwest in Homer3.
After it was abandoned, the schoolhouse was ceded back to the surrounding landowners, who used it to store farm machinery, removed the belfry, and added sliding doors to one side4. In 1972, the Indiana Junior Historical Society announced that the school would be restored. L.F. Miller and Floyd Ellison, both former students at the schoolhouse, served as advisors for the project, and Miller donated $500 to the restoration efforts5.
Work began during the fall of 1972. The building received a new floor and new plaster walls. Ronald Adams gave bricks from the old District 7 schoolhouse to rebuild the wall with the sliding doors, and a pot-bellied stove, maps, and a globe were all sourced. The building’s original bell was even found in a cloakroom under fifty years of accumulated farm implements6!
The Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation in Knightstown, St. Mary School of Rushville, and Kokomo resident Wallace Huffman donated period-correct desks to the project. Meanwhile, L.F. Miller increased his contribution to $1,000, and Indianapolis architects James Associates made a financial contribution as well7.
The restored schoolhouse was rededicated in 1974. Three years later, ten students from Rushville were featured in a video recorded at the old school for a segment of a TV show called “At Home In Indiana8.” Today, the building is still maintained as a living history museum by the Rush County Historical Society.
1 Condit, W. &. H. & Robyn & Co. (1856) Map of the county of Rush Ind. Indianapolis: Condit, Hayden & Wright, . Louisville, Ky: lith. of Robyn & Co. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress April 2, 2023.
2 Warner, A. (1867) Map of Rush & Decatur counties, Indiana. [Philadelphia: C.O. Titus, Publisher, . Philadelphia: Worley & Bracher, engr] [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress April 2, 2023.
3 Days Pickings (1916, September 12). The Rushville Daily Republican. p. 3.
4 Frost, J. (1977, December 30). The Rushville Republican. p. 1.
5 Miller Gives $500 For Restoration (1973, January 4). The Rushville Republican. p. 1.
6 Goddard Museum Saves Hoosier School Memories (1974, June 10). The Rushville Daily Republican. p. 1.
7 (See footnote 5).
8 (See footnote 4).
One thought on “Walker Township’s Goddard Schoolhouse in Rush County”
What a great end to the story!