History Series: Village of Lockbourne Has Early Impact On District
by Linda Dillman
Hamilton Township Alumni Association
The village of Lockbourne played an important part in the early history of the Hamilton Township school system.
A log cabin at the north end of Lockbourne served as the village’s first schoolhouse, although its exact location is undocumented. However, according to district records, it became overcrowded in the 1860s and a room was rented in the local Masonic Lodge (located at the time on Commerce Street near the canal) from 1864 to 1868 by the school board.
In 1868, there were 119 pupils in the Lockbourne district.
The local board passed a $3,000 tax levy in April 1868 to construct a new school building. An additional $800 appropriation was made a month later to purchase land. Unlike the tax levies of today, the issues did not need voter approval.
Expenses for the new building included: $12 for bricks for a wall, $13.75 paid to A.J. Carder for a well, $217 for seats and desks, and $9 for a bell. It was located at Vause and Mechanic Streets, opposite the Methodist church, and served Lockbourne students until 1896, when a larger school was built at the same location.
(Note: Caldwell’s 1872 map of Lockbourne indicates a second school building located on Mechanic Street.)
An 1894 petition drive by 28 taxpayers resulted in the appropriation of $3,000 to build a new brick schoolhouse and the board approved a 7-mill levy. The board also requested that the Board of Health ask nearby residents and businesses to clean up their pig sties and feed lots.
Board members signed notes securing a $4,000 loan for the four-room school, equipped with heating and a lower-level coal cellar. Despite opposition to locating the structure on the same site as the 1868 building, construction began and the school opened in 1896 as Hamilton Township High School.
It consisted of a four-grade primary department, a four-grade grammar school, and the first four-year high school in the district, although its first class graduated after three years.
Freshmen classes consisted of arithmetic, grammar, physical geography, US history, composition, and declaiming. Seniors studied geometry, Latin, Caesar, general history, English literature, and orations. At the discretion of the school board, electives included botany, bookkeeping, Greek, German, astronomy, political economy, or psychology.
In 1897, taxpayers petitioned the district to hire another teacher and create another room. In 1898, there were 25 students throughout the township attending high school in Lockbourne. They provided their own transportation—usually horseback.
The first class to graduate after four years of high school—Charles Dill, Vause Blake, Herbert Kocher, and Allyn Rathmell— held their commencement ceremonies in 1898 across the street from the school in the Methodist church.
It became necessary to construct a dedicated high school building (Miner), which opened in 1918 near the intersection of Rohr and Bixby Roads. Elementary classes continued in the Lockbourne building until 1953, when pupils were transported to Central Elementary on Rathmell Road (now the site of the new high school).
In 1954, the Lockbourne Masonic Lodge purchased the two-story school building, bringing the organization’s association with the school district full circle after nearly 100 years. It continues to occupy the building at the present time.