Before Highland County was founded in 1805, settlers were moving to the area and schools were started in log cabins. One of the first towns noted to start a school was Greenfield, which was founded in 1799.
James Moody started the first school in 1803 in a log cabin. The first school was built in Greenfield in 1810. It was located on the northeast corner of Washington and North streets. The second school was built in 1815 on the west bank of Paint Creek. The founder of this land had set it aside for a school building, meeting house and burial ground. During the early years of Greenfield, there were were also tuition schools, or what today would be called private schools, that were taught by private teachers.
In 1912, Edward Lee McClain, an inventor and local industrialist, gifted the land to the community where McClain School stands today. Construction of the school began in 1914, and the first class was held in 1916. The school was dedicated as Greenfield Union Schools on Sept. 1-4 of 1915.
The school was almost torn down due to the cost of renovations and lack of funding a years year ago, but the community and through historical efforts, the school was saved. Today, the McClain school is an Ohio Historical Landmark.
Leesburg, was founded in 1802. A school was started in a log cabin there also. One of the first teachers was Catharine Borum, whom was connected to the Highland County educational system for approximately 50 years. During the early years of Leesburg, there were other small schools in various locations.
Leesburg became an independent school district when the General School Law was adopted. Leesburg was divided into two sections, with Fairfield Street serving as the dividing line. A “white schoolhouse” was erected on the south side and a brick school house was erected on the north side.
Around 1876, a new school building was built. It was a large two-story brick building. The building was known as Leesburg Union Schools till the turn of the century.
Hillsboro was mapped out in 1807. The first school was in a log cabin on South High Street.
Another school was the Walnut Street School in a log cabin. Robert Elliot served as a teacher in 1814. On May 15, 1815, a lot was purchased to build a bigger school since enrollment had gone from 40 to 65 students.
The Lincoln School was erected in 1870. In 1875, 727 black and white students reported for classes there. Later, only black students attended he Lincoln School, while white students attended Webster School. In 1954, Lincoln School was burnt down to protest segregation. The Lincoln school was rebuilt, but in 1956, the Hillsboro schools were desegregated and black and white students begin going to school together.
In 1924, there were 98 students enrolled in the Hillsboro schools and by 1936 there were 136 students. A room was rented in a Methodist church to hold the overflow of students. Hillsboro continued to grow and by 1932 there were 516 students at Webster School, which had been built in 1857, and 66 students going to Lincoln School. The Washington school building was erected in 1896. It served as the high school for several years with 455 students attending at one time.
In 1931, Hillsboro had the largest enrollment of students in grades 6-12 and it was decided to build a new school. In 1932, a site next to the historic Scott House on West Main Street was decided on and purchased for the junior and senior high schools. It wasn’t till March 24, 1934 that the federal government approved the site for construction. The cornerstone was laid on Feb. 14, 1935, and the first classes were held on Jan. 13, 1936. In 1954, the school got the approval to add a farm shop and music room to the school. In 1962, another building with 18 rooms was added.
The town of Lynchburg was mapped out in 1830. The first school house was made of logs on the John Morrow property, but exactly when that school opened appears to be unknown.
In 1833, a frame building was constructed on Main Street. Then in 1856, a two-room school house was erected on the corner of Pearl and Sycamore streets. This building was made of brick.
The last known entry of early schools erected in Lynchburg was in 1890. The school was brick and had six rooms.
Morwystown was laid out in 1829, but no school is mentioned until 1838.
Information for this article came from Elise Johnson Ayres’ book “Hills of Highland,” copyright 1971.
Jackie Wolgamott is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.