NOTE: An earlier version of this article misstated the coordinating organization for the carnival and vendor booths. A corrected version appears below. We regret the error.
DELPHI — In the mid-1880s, there were upwards of 100 schoolhouses dotting the Carroll County landscape.
Today about 20 of the one-room variety remain in various states of repair. They’ll be the focus of a special presentation tonight during the county’s 158th Old Settlers Festival, the oldest of its kind in the state.
Bonnie Maxwell, president of Heartland Heritage Inc. and local historian, said some of the 20-something one-room schoolhouses left are private residences, but a couple have been restored and allow a peek into the world of children’s education from about 1870 to 1890.
“Carroll County has an unusual number of these buildings,” said Maxwell, who’ll cover the buildings’ history at a 7 p.m. presentation today expected to last about 40 minutes.
In the rural areas, one-room schools were built near enough to farm residences so children could walk to school. In the county’s towns, some schools had two to six rooms with multiple grades in each room.
“I’ve been doing research on the schools for a number of years,” Maxwell said. “Most of it was spurred by interest instilled in me by my grandmother when I was a little kid.” Her grandmother, explained Maxwell, taught in a one-room schoolhouse, and before Maxwell started attending one of the consolidated schools in the area, she learned from her grandmother using a slate and a piece of chalk.
The presentation will take place in the former Delphi United Methodist Church building half a block from the Carroll County Courthouse in downtown Delphi.
The festival will include a carnival and several vendors as usual, coordinated by the Delphi Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday afternoon, the hour-long Old Settlers Meeting will recognize the Fouts family for its contributions to developing soybean agriculture in the area.