CLAY COUNTY THROGUH THE YEARS: Early Poland, Indiana, Area Schools
Early history tells us that the first school in the Poland village area was taught by Harvey Pease in a cabin near the Eel River. Benjamin Payne taught in a rude hut on the Samuel Rizley farm, and Jared Payton, a man of culture and very fine teacher, taught where the village of Poland is now. Mr. Payton went on to become the county’s representative in the State Legislature.
Early education in the Poland area lasted 2-3 months each year and was supported by subscription. The teacher accepted deer skins, corn, and other articles as part of his meager payment. Poland area parents were eager for an education for their children. As soon as they rounded-up enough children, they opened a school.
In the year 1830 Mr. McGuire taught school near Poland, and David Herald taught in the old Baptist Church, which stood on the Chance farm. “The German School” was a mile south of Poland across the road from the German Reform and Lutheran Church. On the farm of Nicholas Cromwell, a log schoolhouse had been built, and the first teacher was Elisha B. Peyton. Later a very strict teacher, Timothy Lucas, taught there.
The township was divided into several different districts in 1843; frame buildings were built, and public money was first drawn that year. Early maps of the county show: The Smith School, The German School, and the Ringo School.
The first schoolhouse of Poland Village was a log building, which stood on the northeast corner of Main and Jackson Streets. It was in use until 1872, when a two-story, two-room school building was built for $1,300 on north Jackson Street.
On June 13, 1916, a special meeting of the Cass Township Advisory Board was held to consider building a new schoolhouse. Officers were: President--William F. Sonnefield, Township Trustee--A.F. Kattman, Secretary--William W. Huber, and member F.W. Huckriede. Bids were accepted. Mayrose-Warner Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, bid on the building for $5, 631, with allowance of $475 for the old building and deduction of $55 for substitution of concrete for brick in foundation walls; hot air heating plant for $325; plumbing system at $694 from Long and Warren of Sullivan, Indiana, and water system for $337. Terre Haute Furnace and Sheet Metal Company bid on the septic tank for $140.
Trustee, Arthur F. Kattman was authorized to sell bonds, and moneys derived from sales were placed in a special school fund for the building of the schoolhouse.
The year that the new schoolhouse was built J. Riley McCullough and Sadie Burns were the teachers, and James Syester delivered the children to the schoolhouse by a horse drawn hack.
On September 7, 1926, a steam heating system for the school was installed for $1,650, and on November 9, 1928, Trustee Ross Kattman requested $350 for a light line to the school.
The Poland Public School provided the students with education until the school year 1966-1967 ended, when it closed for consolidation of schools. The trustee in 1966 was Marion Sendmeyer. In April 1983 the schoolhouse was demolished. In its place a playground was erected for the children in Poland to enjoy.
Sources: Poland School 1985 Reunion booklet, written by Betty Little Herbert; Clay County, Indiana 1984 history book.
Submitted by: Rhonda Tincher, Clay County Genealogy Society