Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the Barber School

Part 1 of a 2 part series on Polk Township District No. 2 school house, also known as the Barber School. The Barber School has been on Wythougan's Top 20 Heritage Sites List since its inception in 2000.

The Barber Family, the name associated with the school, came to Polk Township in 1847, just two years after its incorporation. Joshua T. Barber was born March 26, 1810 in Washington County, New York where later he married Mary O’Dell. They moved with their first four children to Marshall County via the Erie Canal, then overland through Ohio. He filed his land claim in Section 33 of Polk Township in 1848. The name is also spelled Barbour and Barbur in some records. The four children who accompanied them on the move were Charles (Leonora Strom), John (Emily Myers), Ann Eliza (Izaak Sheeks), and Albert (Sarah Reynolds). Three additional children were born to Joshua and Mary in Marshall County; they were Julia Catherine (Davis), and twins Delia (Carder), and Daniel (Mary Martin). The Barber homestead was located on Sage Road, south of present U.S. 6.

The area they settled became known as the “Barber Neighborhood” and a family cemetery and a Brethren church were established on 2A Road, just south of the original Barber School location and just east of the current District No. 2 Schoolhouse. The condition of the Barber Neighborhood in 1858 was described as almost a wilderness, with no drainage, and no established roads or railroads, and the settlers had to raise their crops among stumps. The Barber Cemetery was established in 1870 for the use of farming families; the first interment was Macelia Ramsbey, a child who died in 1867. The church was known as the Barber Evangelical United Brethren Church; it was constructed in 1878 and was closed in 1923. The church is no longer existing, but the Barber Cemetery remains an active burial ground. Joshua Barber died in 1874 and Mary died in 1878; both are buried at the family cemetery. Over a dozen members of the Barber family are buried in the cemetery spanning several generations including several of Joshua’s children.

Besides the Barber School only one other district school remains in Polk Township. It is the District No. 8 School that was constructed in 1895 on West 1st Road, approximately one mile northeast of the District No. 2 School. It is a brick building that is nearly identical to the District No. 2 School in terms of its T-plan configuration. It is plausible both schools were constructed by the same contractor given their similarities, proximity, and frequent occurrence of this practice in townships. The two larger schools in Polk Township into which the District Schools were consolidated were the Tyner and Teegarden Schools. The Tyner School was constructed in about 1900 and was enlarged in 1912 and in 1928 to accommodate consolidation. The Teegarden School was constructed in 1925 also to accommodate consolidation. Both consolidated schools have been razed.

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