Former New Durham Township Schools
La Porte County Indiana School Days - Detailed History

Schools in New Durham Township
Prepared by Patricia Gruse Harris

New Durham 1854 unk NE cor. NE 1/4 S22 T36N R4W Frame replace by
      Benjamin Flood prop. brick 1864
        W C Cole teacher 1888
SCHOOL 1862 after 1892 SE cor. SE 1/4 S5 T36N R4W S of Otis on 421 1/2 m
possible Otis School     Prop. 1862 C Herrold, 1874 J S of RR
      Onesork, 1892 J Kester 1888 J V Cattron, Prin.
        Carrie Garnhardt, Intermediate
SCHOOL 1862 unk SW 1/4 NE 1/4 S 10 T36 R4W S side of 1st road S of
      Medaris prop. RR = 125S
Cattron School 1862 after 1888 NW cor. SW 1/4 SW1/4 S16 T36N 1/2 m S US Hwy 2 on
      4W W. F. Cattron prop. US 421 Mrs. W C Cole
        teacher 1888
County Line School 1862 after 1892 SW cor. NW 1/4 S18 T36N R4W Between 200S & 300S
      Prop. 1862 W F Cattron, 1874 L F Anna Graydon teacher 1888
      Deshler, 1892 Ortman  
Eahart School 1 Jan. 1833 after 1892 Center S 1/2 NW 1/4 S22 T36N On 350S btwn. 880S & 900S
aka Dist. #3     R4W donation of Jos. Eahart Rachel Carter 1st teacher
        Mary Baird teacher 1888
Westville School 1862 unk SW 1/4 NW 1/4 S 29 T36N R4W  
      J M Ray prop.  
Westville High School 1892   North St., Westville  
Burner School 1862 after 1888 NE cor. NE 1/4 NW 1/4 S36 T36N On 500S btwn. 600W &
      R4W A Burner prop. 700W
        Ida Zenner teacher 1888
Beaver Dam School 1862 after 1892 NE cor. NE 1/4 SE 1/4 S23 T36N On Joliet Rd.
      R4W Prop. 1862 A Soverign, 1874 Jennie Shultz teacher 1888
      & 1892 D W Hibbard  
Jessup School 1862 after 1892 SW 1/4 SE 1/4 S 12 T36N R4W On US Hwy 2 btwn. 600W
aka Pinhook     Prop. 1862 J S Jessup, 1892 & 700W Augusta Palm
      James Shannon teacher 1888
Holmesville School 1888 after 1892 SE cor. SE1/4 SE 1/4 S4 T36N Holmesville - Holmesville Rd.
      R4W B Bach prop. 1892 J D Norris teacher 1888
St. Mary's Catholic 1876 1965 SW 1/4 NE 1/4 S5 T36N R4W Snyder Rd., Otis, IN
        Felician sisters teachers
Bryson School 1888 unk NE cor. NE 1/4 S20 T36N R4W SW cor. US 421 & 300S
      Marquis Coulter prop. 1892 Lewis Atwater teacher 1888

** Laird School - In 1862 Westville High School opened under Superintendent J. G. Laird. Laird’s School attracted teachers from all over Indiana, and, with the possible exception of a school in LaPorte and one or two in Valparaiso, it was the only true high school in Northwest Indiana, with an enrollment of nearly 100. In 1876 the Laird School was destroyed by fire and a new frame building was erected where the present school stands. This schoolhouse was destroyed by lightning in 1897, and replaced by a four-room brick building, which formed the old half of the schoolhouse that stood until 1957.

Eight Square  Eight Square school - built on County line road between LaPorte County and Porter County. The building received its name after an octagonal-shaped building erected circa 1852 and used as a church and school until 1914. Eight corner stones were laid to form the shape of this unusually shaped building. Originally built of narrow flat boards that were lapping alternately at the corners. Weather boarding was eventually placed on the school making it strong and sturdy. Some of those responsible for this great structure were Isaac Weston who sawed the lumber for the house. John Frame and Elias Dresden were prominent in building and organizing the school.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Mrs. Maria Brummitt Brown was a teacher there.
Although the school was razed in about 1931, the eight corner stones may be still viewed.
Excerpts Taken From "Aunt" Lolly Briggs Scrapbook about the old eight square school. - originally type June 1, 1967

   The land where the school stood is about 1 ½ miles northwest of Otis on the Laporte-Porter County line. The school was built around the year 1854 (1852 in other articles) by John Frame. It had eight sides each, 12 feet long. And in each one of the eight sides was one window. The boards were laid on top of each other and were not stood up side by side as they now are. Thus, planks there were one inch thick and eight inches wide added only one inch to the height of the side walls. The amount of wood used in the building equalled enough wood to make four ordinary sized houses today. Poplar, white oak and hard maple were used in the walls. Two solid black walnut posts were used to support the roof 12 feet above the floor. The building rested on 8 by 8 timers placed on a stone foundation. H. C. Wolford who tore down the school house said it was so securely built that is was necessary to dynamite one corner of it before his men could begin to hammer it apart.

Ref: Porter County History. The first school house in the New Durham, Laporte Co., & Pines Twp, Porter County was a small log cabin in built in about 1837 and served as a school house until it burned. Then a small wood structure replaced it until in about 1852 when the Eight Square School House was built. Located approximately 1700 N on LaPorte County Line Road.

One article states that George Shaner built the school and Isaac Weston sawed the lumber. John Frame and Elias Dresden assisted in putting up the building and in organizing the school. The land for the school was given by Samuel Hacket. In 1855 there were 135 children of school age in the township. A second school was built in 1854 by Roman Henry, for $160. Pine (Portage Co., ) was to have three more schools built in later decades. School was for six months and teachers received $2.75 a month and a total of $102 was spent by the township for the term.
After 1890 it was no longer used as a school, but church and Sunday school services were held there until 1912 or 1914. Eight square served Pine Township as a Red Cross center in the first world war. The historic structure was torn down in 1930. The cemetery formerly behind it (west) has been extended to the road and thereby takes in the sided of the school. Evert Carver of Pine Township, who attended church in Eight-Square, says the benches along the walls of the Pine Community Hall originally came from the school.

In 1937 W. A. Briggs interviewed Mrs. Alonzo Cotton of Burdick about Eight Square. She gave him the names of several teachers and pupils who had been at the school. Amongst the teachers were Lizzie Goodwin, Miss MacMillan, Effie Herrold, Ed Burns, Frank Gust (Gast), Anna Gradon, Mrs. William King, Jennie Glazier (Mrs. Charles Baird) Mrs. Marria Brumitt Brown. The latter taught there in 1880-1 and 1881-2 and was among the last teachers. Pupils came from the following Pine Township families: Shaner, Hackett, Frame, Stevens, Both, Benton, Storms, Boone, McCarthy, Dysard, Anderson, Selkirk, Graydon, Haddon, Herrold, Zibberel, Kamper, Huddleston, Clark, Bowers, Logman, Warren, Vanslow, Ritenour. Charles To. Allen was the trustee at the times. (1934-1935).

The territory of Pine was originally included in the Township of Lake in 1836. Then Waverly, later Westchester, got it by way of annexation. In 1841 Pine became a township and was called Berry. Then it went back to Westchester. Finally in 1850 Pine became an independent north end township. However, two of its southern sections were allotted to Jackson township after the Lake Shore railroad was built. An old log school across the LaPorte county was frequented by children from the Pine area until it burned down, forcing Pine township to put up its own school building. The school house was erected in the extreme southeast corner of Pine Twp. on the county line, just a few rods north of there the NYC crosses. Just a few years before (1833) the first school in the county had been started at Jesse Morgan's place over in Coffee Creek. When Porter county was formed schools were started in all the townships. - Diary excerpt contributed by: Connie Novreske.

Square School at Otis - A small village sprang up in that region in the west end of town, they had a school house called the Square school, which in later years was used as a dance hall and finally burnt down in early 1900. Another school was built in 1880, was the Catholic school and the Otis school was built in 1911. Gaylord Jessup was trustee at the time. This building is still in use today (from article in 1985) as a modern home.
St. Mary's School (1879 to 1968) - by: Warren Ransom note above research states 1876 to 1965 for school years.
   Hardly six years after the found of St. Mary's church the pioneers of Otis began building a parochial school. On Sept. 15, 1879 the contract for the school was given to Benjamin Johnson of Michigan City. The building was completed April 15, 1880. The construction price was 2,000.00, including benches for the children. Teaching officially began on Sept 1, 1880. The enrollment was 80 children from 12 years and older. There were very few teaching orders of sisters in the United States at that time. The pastor Rev. Louis Machdzicki made a wise choice in selecting Felician Sisters from Wisconsin. The three sisters at Otis were Sister M. Nepomoucene, as Superior, Sister M. Catherine and Sister M. Antoinette. After one year they were replaced by Sister Felix as superior, Sister Theresa and Sister Pauline. It is interesting to hear the stories of the first years of the school with no transportation facilities. The children walked six and seven miles each day to attend classes.
Webmasters note: We have found no evidence of the square school at this point (2010) and the closest reference we can find is Eight Square school, just over the county line in Porter, County. Also church records for St. Mary's notes that the Catholic school was established in 1876, not 1880.

Such names as Fralay, Yagelski, Stachowiak, Witek, Jurawski, Pilarski, Buckowski appears among the first.
   It was from Burdick that most of the children came. The Felician Sisters were given charge of the school and did an excellent job. Another change was made and Sister Apolonia assumed the superior post, Sister M. Florence and Sister M. Atanasia as teaching sisters.

Stoker fired heat replaced the old wood stoves and desks and chairs replaced wood benches. The enrollment in 1948 was 52 students. Because of the low enrollment the children were able to get excellent teaching in all classes., first through eighth. Since 1948 the school had quite a number of ups and downs in enrollment, also a number of changes in the teaching staff. The building was deemed unsafe for this use. In the late 1960's it was taken down.

The tuition in the early days was as hard to raise as it is today. The sisters who were teaching the last years of the school went to a new school which was built in Portage. The were Sister Firmine and Sister Mary Paschasia. The basement was excavated in the 1930's and was used as a refreshment center during the famous chicken dinners and picnics.

Index Page