School History

According to Plank (1987), “Like the first church services, the first schools were held in the homes, and since each family had a Bible this was the first textbook. Someone who had the ability to read was selected as the teacher. . . . of all the one-room schoolhouses still standing in the county, the Anderson school, located on U.S. 42 across from the WNCO radio station, is the only one that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This came about in 1976 when the restoration committee . . . . did the necessary research to file the application with the Department of the Interior in Washington D. C., for the designation” (p. 237). 

In 1850, Ashland County adopted the Union School plan. The Union School plan was discussed by Harr Wagner in 1903 in the Western Journal of Education, Volume 8. The central purpose of the plan was to move education outside of the home and centralize it in a location accessible to many rural families within a community. In this manner, taxes would be levied from the local community to pay for the school. According to Ruth Emmons (1996), “Milton Township was set up with seven districts. These were Anderson, Albert, Pifer, Roland, Nelson, Wharton, and Paradise Hill.”

There has been an Anderson Schoolhouse on this property since at least 1859. The Ashland Union newspaper for March 16, 1859 announced a democratic meeting taking place at the School House in Anderson’s District. Below is a map of Milton Township, Ashland, Ohio in 1861 from McDonnell. The Anderson Schoolhouse is outlined in red with the annotation Schl Ho. When the union plan came into effect, townships where sub-divided into several school districts. Anderson’s district was also known as district No. 5.

In a map that resides in the U.S. Library of Congress, representing property ownership for 1861, the schoolhouse is not labeled on the map as it is in the McDonnell map below, but the dot that appears below the label S.R. should be Anderson Schoolhouse.

In the Ashland newspaper, the States and Union, on September 9, 1868, a notice announced that R.M. Campbell addressed the Milton township Democratic Club at Anderson’s schoolhouse. In the 1870 Census for Milton Township five school teachers were listed: Elizabeth Vesper, 16 years old, boarding with the family of Elias J. Grosscup; Elizabeth Zeitler, 26 years old and born in Germany, living at home; John Weddell, 23 years old, living with his mother Margaret Weddell, from Pennsylvania and his brothers George (21 years old) and William (19 years old).  Two siblings who were schoolteachers in Milton Township were Rachel J. Barton (20 years old, born 1850) & Thomas Barton (21 years old, born 1849) who were the children of Mr. Elisha Barton, a local farmer.

In the 1880 U.S. Census for Milton Township, school teachers listed were Catherine Landis, 19 years old, daughter of Tobias and Eleanor Landis, tenant farmers; Jenne Imhoff, 20 years old, daughter of John (a carpenter) and his wife Mary; Christ Imhoff, 20 years old, son of Peter and Anne; Catherine Winters, 24 years old, daughter of Martha Winters (widowed); and Jessie Grosscup, 24 years old.

A new building was completed on November 21, 1889. According to the Ashland Press for this day, “the new schoolhouse in District No. 5 is now completed and it is as fine a structure as any in the county.” “Plans for the modernization of six schools in Milton township were drawn by Stentz and Sheppard. Elias Wyle was the contractor, and O’Brien, Dessenberg, and Harris Tinsley did the brickwork for the school and two privies. Pille and Knoth slated the roof, J.D. Reed furnished the window screening, and Whitemore and Shearer provided the lumber and hauling. The land had been given from the farm of Albert Fike, and the stone was quarried from a nearby farm. The total cost of the new building, privies, exterior grading, placement of desks and interior furnishing was $1,689.85. This was the latest word in rural education. A modern well with a chain pump and a heating stove, which used either coal or wood, depending upon the economical supply, were installed” (Plank, 1987, p. 238). As reported by the Ashland Press (December 26, 1889), “Rev. S. J. White preached at Anderson’s schoolhouse last Sabbath.”

The Library of Congress holds a map for land ownership in 1897 for Ashland County. Anderson Schoolhouse is labelled as SH and seems to be to the left of the division between parcel 26 and parcel 25 from the original 1861 map.

On March 15, 1899, “school closed at Anderson’s last Thursday and Pedagogue [David B.] Whisler and wife [Elsie Anna Boyer] took the evening train for Dayton, where he becomes pupil instead of preceptor. Mr. Whisler re-enters for the purpose of fitting himself for another line of work. Few young men have showed such capacity for school work with so few years experience, and the school at No. 5 [Anderson Schoolhouse] can point to the past term as a high water mark” (Ashland Times, March 15, 1899). According to census records, Mr. Whisler later worked as a stenographer and a patent solicitor before his death on Nov. 20, 1930. On April 5, 1899, the Ashland Press stated “summer school in the Anderson district began Monday morning with Judd Smalley  at the helm.”  On October 27, 1899, the Ashland Gazette noted that “George Weddell has been hired to teach the Anderson School the coming winter. Staman who had previously been hired had to throw up the school on account of ill health. This will be the first school for Mr. Weddell, and we wish him success”. On November 8, 1899, the Ashland Press stated “the winter term of school in district No. 5 began Monday morning with Geo. Weddell at the helm.”

Inset is a picture of George (far left) and William Weddell (both standing). Picture provided by Janee Weddell Hespenheide. On November 22, 1899, the Ashland Press reported that “the schoolhouse in No. 5, Milton Township, known as Anderson’s district, burned down this morning about 3 o’clock. The cause of the fire is attributed to the deficiency of the stove. George Weddell, the teacher, had covered the fire last evening at the close of school and it is thought, that some sparks fell through the broken stove. The schoolhouse was a brick and had been built about ten years. The fire was not discovered in time to save any of the contents.” The Ashland Gazette reported that “it is presumed a new schoolhouse will be erected as soon as possible” (November 24, 1899). The Ashland Press reported November 29, 1899 “the school board has decided to repair F. P. Whitmore’s tenant house for use as a schoolroom until next summer, when a new school house will be built. The scholars will resume their studies next Monday”. Franklin Pierce “Frank” Whitmore was a farmer, became a probate judge in 1919 (U.S. Federal Census 1860, 1880, 1900).  On December 20, 1899, the Ashland Press Reported that “Anderson’s school, No. 5, is in session again. The teacher requests the parents to insist upon more regularity of attendance.”

On January 17, 1900, the Ashland Press reported that “the tearing down of the walls of the Anderson school house is completed. Messers. White, Weddell, and Hoover had the contract and have given good satisfaction. They cleaned about twenty-two thousand bricks.” On January 24, 1900, the Ashland Press reported that “Last Thursday night the voters of the district met at the school house pro tem to decide upon the kind of school house to be built to replace the one burnt. The meeting lasted several hours, during which were stormy discussions about different plans. They finally decided unanimously to have the new school house modelled, with a few exceptions, after that in sub-district No. 3 [Paradise Hill].” On February 23, 1900, the Ashland Gazette reported that “the contract for erecting a new brick school house in the Anderson district south of Ashland on the Mansfield road to take the place of the one which burnt down last December [November], has been awarded to Tinsley and Tobias. The building is to be completed by June.”Harris D. Tinsley and Jas. L. Tobias were local builders, located at 264 W. Main St., Ashland. They built commercial and residential buildings in Ashland including a two story apartment building for Joseph O. Gast at 144 Claremont Ave. and the H. A. Mykrantz vault in the Ashland Cemetery.

The new building was erected sometime in the spring of 1900. This can be deduced by the fact that the inset picture contains George Weddell as the school teacher in front of the current Anderson Schoolhouse building for the class picture.  Picture provided by Janee Weddell Hespenheide. George Weddell is replaced by Anna Harnly in the summer of 1900.

On March 21, 1900, the Ashland Press reported that “the teachers who have been hired to teach the summer schools are as follows District No. 1. Celia Boyd; No. 2. Wm. Wilson; No. 3. Judd Smalley; No. 4. Bessie Ewing; No. 5. Anna Harnly; No. 6. Kate Winters.” According to 1910 Census records, Anna Harnly married William Ludwick (a clerk at a clothing store) and had two daughters, Margaret M. and Florence I. Ludwick.

In the 1900 U.S. Census Joseph E. Gougwer (born in Pennsylvania, 44 years old, born 1855) was listed as a Common School Teacher in Milton Township. Unemployed for 4 months in 1900. Catherine [Kate] Ann Winters, 44 years old (born 1856), continued to be listed as a Common School Teacher in 1900. Her mother was Martha Winter. She was also unemployed for 4 months in 1900. Ella Riddle was listed on the 1900 U.S. Census as a schoolteacher as well as her sister Anna Riddle.

In the 1907-1908 school term, Jessie Ebert was the school teacher at the Anderson Schoolhouse. There are 18 students present for the class photo and it appears to be the winter term by the way the children are dressed. On the far right in the back row is George Weddell’s younger sister, who happens to be a student at this time. Picture provided by Janee Weddell Hespenheide. Jessie Ebert left teaching after this term and began working as a railway postal clerk on the Pennsylvania Railroad system. In 1922 he was elected recorder of Wayne County. In 1929 he was elected mayor of Wooster by a majority of 287 votes. Jesse Ebert biography is located at

Jessie Ebert and class, 1907-1908.

In the 1910 U.S. Census Jennie Owens (born in Ohio, Oct. 5 1872) was listed as a Common School Teacher from Richland Co. She is listed on Ruth Emmon’s list of teachers on payroll for the Anderson Schoolhouse. She was the daughter of Andrew Owens and Mary Snavely. Other teachers residing in Milton Township in 1910 were: Leora May Nelson (aged 20 years), Vernon L. Baum (29 years old – music teacher), Lilian E. Ohl (married to Elmer E. Ohl, 27 years old), Ethel M. Brindle (25 years old – music teacher), and Alonza Byers (24 years old).

According to the Directory of Ashland County Schools, in 1916, Mr. George Hartman was a teacher at the Anderson Schoolhouse. According to grade card records the following teachers were teaching at the Anderson Schoolhouse: Leo Luther Hartman (1917-1918), George C. Hartman (1920-1921), J. N. Pinkerman (1921-1922). Jasper N. Pinkerman’s obituary (Ashland Times Gazette, Oct. 16, 1939) stated that he served as the Ashland County School Superintendent until the fall of 1921. After that time he returned to teaching until 1931.

The Anderson School circa 1912.

In the 1920 U.S. Census Rhea E. Urban (22 years old) was listed as a School Teacher in Milton Township. Other teachers residing in Milton Township in 1920 were: Leo L. Hartman (28 years old – teaches public school), Merrill B. Barr (male, 24 years old), & Aghills Bery (female, 20 years old, born in Ohio, but of Irish parents, boarding with the Bagghly family).

Attendance records indicate that Ethel Woodworth (1922-1923),  Doris Stratton (1923-1924),  Birdie Noel (1924-1928),  and Thelma Messner (1928-1929) were teachers at the Anderson Schoolhouse. The image inset to the left is of the graduating 8th-grade class at the Anderson Schoolhouse in the 1923-1924 school year. The teacher (center) is Doris Stratton, (her left) Alene Leiter, (her right) Thelma Zehner, (front, left to right) Victor Doerrer, Roger Doerrer, & James Boyer (image provided by Elaine Witmer).

Picture of Dorris Stratton and students.

 A small side note on Birdie Noel (1872-1954) who lived her life as a career teacher. On the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Birdie Noel’s occupation is listed as a school teacher. On August 31, 1912 she secured a 5 year teaching certificate (Elementary). In the 1913-1914 school year she appears teaching 6th grade at the Arthur Street School in Montgomery Twp. and her salary per month was $55.50. In December 1916, Birdie appears teaching at the Arthur Street School and was making $62.00 per month. For the 1920-1921 school year, a payroll report indicated that she was receiving $107.50 per month and $1075.00 per year (this denotes a ten month contract). On May 31, 1921 her contract was renewed and she was reported receiving $1100.00 per year for her new contract. On May 23rd 1926 her annual salary became $1350.00 per year. In 1939, with the consolidation of the Ashland County schools, many one-room schools were auctioned off. On February 10, 1940, an auction took place at the Ashland County Courthouse and Miss Noel purchased the Rowsburg Schoolhouse for $200.00.

In the 1930 U.S. Census Francis Barr (21 years old – grade school teacher) was listed as a School Teacher in Milton Township. Other teachers residing in Milton Township in 1930 were Calvin A. Byers (female, married, mother of one child, 40 years old – taught high school), Ethel Hartman (21 years old, sister of Leo Hartman, teacher in 1920), Dorothy Fair (21 years old) and her sister Grace Wonderlich (maiden name Fair, 31 years old, widowed). Both sisters are listed as grade school teachers. Hilda Carpenter, a teacher identified by Ruth Emmons (1976) as the last teacher for the Anderson school, was 36 years old, widowed, mother of three children, and, in 1930, residing in Montgomery Twp. “The schoolhouse was in use until the 1938-1939 school year” (Ruth Emmons, 1976). “The last 3 or 4 years there were 2 buildings (one of them frame) in use. The school board at the time of closing consisted of Harvey Byers, Earl Stoner, Jay Roberts, Ed Braden and Kestner” (Betty Plank, 1987). The last teachers of the school were Mrs. Hilda Carpenter (1930-1939) who taught the lower grades 1, 2, 3, & 4 and Mr. Glenn Messner (1931-1939) who taught grades 5, 6, 7, & 8.

On April 6, 1940, a newspaper notice indicated that the Ashland City School District Board of Education would auction all seven Milton Twp. one-room schoolhouses, including the Anderson Schoolhouse. Only the building itself was for auction since the Board “having no title other than for school purposes” did not hold title to the land upon which the building was situated. On Saturday, September 21, 1940, an auction took place at the south door of the Ashland County Courthouse and the “School building in district No. 5 known as the portable school located adjacent to the Anderson District School House, and situated, on the land of the northeast quarter of Section 26, Twp. 24, Range 17 was sold to Frank Kegal for $165.00.”

In 1941 L. L. Garber, a professor of English at Ashland College, purchased the Anderson Schoolhouse for the sum of $75 from the Ashland School Board (Plank, 1987). “Dr. Garber’s obituary tells us that he was born September 19, 1862 at Ankenytown, Ohio, the son of David Leedy and Susan Garber. He served as principal of the Bellville, Ohio, High School; Superintendent of Ashland County Schools; head of the department of  English in Kent State College, and head of the department of English at Ashland College. His service to the Brethren Church as a professor in Ashland College covered a period of about fifty years.” In 1913, Dr. Garber was part-time Superintendent of Ashland County, Ohio. According to the Ashland University Archivist, David Roepke, professors at Ashland College at that time had to pursue employment outside of the college to sustain themselves and their families. L. L. Garber sold the property September 10, 1946 to the Ashland Community Club of Milton Township for $200.

The idea for the formation of the Anderson Community Club was presented in 1917 by Edward Byers….believing it to be a good thing he began work to form one in his own community. Byers never lived to see his idea become a reality. Wishing to complete his brother’s work, Harvey Byers called together four other families living in the Anderson School district and this was the beginning of the Anderson Community Club. Elsworth LeVaugn Ryland (who worked as a printer for the A. L. Garber Company and later became the Ashland County Auditor) was president of the club in 1946 when it was finally decided to incorporate the club and buy the old schoolhouse so the members could have a permanent meeting place, not only for themselves, but for the 4-H groups which had become a part of the community (Ashland Times Gazette, n.d.), as well as the Anderson Boys Club, and the Anderson “Annies” Girls Club (S. Ryland, 2015). Previous to this the Community Club had met in the Paradise Hill (Burns) school.

A restoration committee was formed by the Anderson Community Club members in 1976 to bring the building back to its original condition. The Restoration Committee was composed of the following individuals: Mrs. Carlton Emmons, chairperson; Mrs. Joe Oberholtzer, secretary; John Rowe, treasurer; and Harry (Bill) Fox, Robert Frey, and Mrs. Robert Thompson (Emmons, 1976).

On September 23, 2014, Dr. C. R. Abreu-Ellis and Dr. J. B. Ellis purchased the Anderson Schoolhouse from Carlton “Red” Emmons and Ruth Emmons with the intent of opening up the school as a schoolhouse once again. The Ashland Times Gazette ran an article covering the history of the school and the plans for the property on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.