In 1874, Washington Township’s District 9 schoolhouse was listed at the southeast corner of Wheeling Pike and the Shideler Free Pike1 in Delaware County, just west of what was later the community of Stockport2. As late as 1973, an old frame store later converted into a dwelling3 stood on the same site.
In 1881, local historian Thomas B. Helm identified that building as the Hard-Scrabble schoolhouse, with Ira Compton as its teacher4. The phrase “hardscrabble” refers to something that involves a lot of work but doesn’t pay off enough to have made the work worth it.
Washington Township was a swamp for much of its early existence. The whole place was hard-scrabble! An early name of the town of Gaston just two miles west was “Snagtown,” after a man was said to have caught his pants on a tree cut knee-high to build a road across the muck5. Helm’s history indicates that an early version of today’s US-35 -originally a crude government highway- was little more than “a guide to the proper course than a road” during the wet season6. Perhaps these conditions led to the naming of the school.
In 1885, Calvin Moomaw granted a portion of his land adjacent to Joseph Hinton’s farm to the Washington school Township for use as a schoolhouse7. Its proximity to a family cemetery probably provided the school’s newer common name8. The extant schoolhouse was built in 1887, and many of the trees that surround it still today were planted that year during an Arbor Day celebration9.
Along with the District 8: Thompson/Shady Grove and District 11: Maynard schoolhouses, the District 9 Hard-Scrabble/Hinton schoolhouse closed after the 1905-06 school year to consolidate into a larger structure built in Gaston10. Carl Hedgeland was the final teacher11. Today, it appears that the schoolhouse is abandoned.
1 Kingman Brothers. (1874). Map of Delaware County, Indiana. Chicago, IL.
2 Stodghill, D. (1990, May 23). In the Press of things. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 2.
3 Greene, D. (1973, May 23). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4.
4 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 (pp. 268–269). book, Kingman Brothers.
5 Slabaugh, S. (1997, November 17)> Trail might help struggling Delaware County town. The Muncie Star Press. p. 7.
6 (See footnote 4).
7 Delaware County, Indiana. (1885 July 22). Deed Book 55. p. 381.
8 Delaware County Office of Information & GIS Services. (2021). Parcel ID: 0236301001000. Delaware County, Indiana Assessor. map, Muncie, IN.
9 Greene, D. (1947, June 17). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4.
10 Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, p. 252). book, Lewis Publishing Company.
11 Delaware County Public Schools. (1905). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1905-1906. Muncie, IN.