THE FIRST SCHOOL
The first school was taught by ELIZA PARKER, in 1835, a log cabin, on Section 6. The tuition fund was contributed by residents of the township, whose children attended the school, and it was the place where some of the best farmers of the township received their education. It was greatly in advance of the subscription schools of that period; its teacher was a lady who had acquired a good education in the East, and its scholars were led beyond the ordinary routine of reading, writing, and elementary arithmetic. Among its surviving pupils are DANFORD, OMRI, and SUEL PARKER, LUCINDA DUNTEN and MELINDA HUNTER. LUCINDA DUNTEN subsequently became a teacher, and in this capacity was identified with the schools of the township for a number of years.
In 1850 Indiana’s population had reached nearly one million. As in other states, technological advances opened the door for future changes. In particular, the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1840 and in 1847 the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad line opened. The most important leap forward for Hoosiers begins as communication and transportation systems enhance educational opportunities and awareness!
Private and subscription schools were being replaced by public schools in the East as early as the 1830’s. The Michigan Legis-lature passed a law in 1837, written by John Pierce, that served as a model for other states in the region. It authorized the creation of school districts throughout states, permitting settlers to build schoolhouses and allowing them to tax themselves for their upkeep. Education reformers argued that only an educated electorate could make reasonable choices at the ballot box, but the concept of “taxing one man’s property to educate another man’s child” created opposition. During the 1840’s CALEB MILLS and ROBERT OWEN began laying the foundation for a public school system in Indiana, yet their efforts were not productive until the 1850’s. The first public Normal school was opened in 1839 in Massachusetts.
PERRY CENTER SEMINARY
In 1836, NATHANIEL FITCH, JACOB KELL, and GEORGE GLOYD incorporated the seminary known by this name. They were moved by a laudable desire to establish in this township, a first class institution of learning, and, with that end in view, erected near the center of the township a large frame building, and in the winter of that year, secured the services of PROF. T. W. TILDEN as teacher. In 1860, it was divided into three departments of grades. Its pupils came from Noble, DeKalb, Allen, La Grange, and other counties in this State. The course was academic, including languages, higher mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, etc. It was a prosperous institution until 1862 or 1863. Then a number of its pupils enlisted in the army, and its Principal, PROF. TILDEN, resigned his position. It never rallied or regained its reputation and the building is now a ruin. Many of its pupils now occupy prominent mercantile and professional positions in Allen and other counties. Among this number may be mentioned JOHN STAHL, attorney at law (now de-ceased); JOSIAH HILLEGASS, attorney at law (also deceased). Both occupied high posi-tions at the bar of this County; JERRY HILLEGASS, Superintendent of Schools of Allen County; DR. S. C. METCALF, a prominent physician of Fort Wayne, and Demonstrator of Anatomy in the Fort Wayne College of Medicine; DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, JR., now practicing medicine at Leo, Indiana, was elected Professor of Materia Medica in the Fort Wayne College, in which capacity he now acts; JOHN DEAL, now a resident of Iowa, has served one of the counties of that State in the capacity of County Clerk; CHARLES FITCH, a resident of the same State, is a Deputy Sheriff; JEROME D. GLOYD, now Trustee of Perry Township; WILLIAM and ALBERT GLOYD, now merchants at Effingham, Illinois; WILLIAM MC QUISTON, merchant at Auburn, Indiana; WILSON MC QUISTON, now editor of the Fort Wayne Enterprise, GEORGE W. HUGH, Superintendent of Public Schools in one of the counties of California; DR. DILLS, now a practicing physician in the city of Fort Wayne; HIRAM MYERS, now Superintendent of Schools in one of the Eastern States; and MISS JENNIE FITCH, Professor of Latin and Greek at Logansport, Indiana.
From the History of Allen County, Perry Township by L. H. Newton , page 168