PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
This tale goes back 7 years. I had spent an August day cleaning out my father’s cellar in preparation for his Estate Sale.
Only half of the big, old house had a basement, and it was filled with 65 years of stuff that needed recycled, tossed, or placed in the garage for the auction house.
I was nearly finished, only an old trunk remained in one corner. I picked it up and it literally fell apart spilling its contents all across the empty concrete floor.
The odor of stale paper, musty clothes, and rotting wood filled the air, as I began to sort out the mess and arrange it on the only other thing remaining in the basement – a table.
It was a pile of this ‘n that until I came upon a pile of “Bloomfield Miniature” school newspapers, from my father’s high school.
This is not the former name for our Bloomingdale; it is the name of a hamlet 80 miles south of here in Washington County.
I had gotten most of the things arranged on the table when my brother appeared in the cellar way, and looking at the papers said, “I don’t suppose you are going to throw those out?”
He knows the librarian well, and I had already gotten a new box and was filling it with the papers and things that seemed to go with them, and said, “No, I am taking them back home and look at them more carefully.”
Allow five years to pass, and the only remaining box from Dad’s Estate was still tucked in a corner of our Steubenville house awaiting a decision.
The school newspapers were a peek into Ohio schools spanning 1927-1937, with a few papers up until 1962 when Bloomfield High School closed and merged into the Frontier School District.
I checked online for possible historical information about the school to see if anyone had already “done” anything with such papers, to no avail. You wouldn’t have known it even existed.
There is no reason to keep you in suspense; you can guess what the librarian did. I put them in order, cleaned up the musty smell, and started editing and indexing the school newspapers.
Over the next year, I sat in the family room slowly reading and recording names and events, and learning the history of the Ludlow Township School District.
It actually has a connection to this area. Ludlow Township in Washington County, Ohio is located within the 7th Range of the Seven Ranges survey, based out of our own Fort Steuben.
Col. Israel Ludlow was the surveyor for the 7th Range, and the north boundary of the township was called “The Ludlow Line” which extended clear across what would become Ohio. The township was also named for the surveyor.
Typical of most areas of Ohio, one-room schoolhouses appeared in Ludlow Twp. as settlers populated the area. By the 1890s, an estimated 6 schools had appeared in the township.
The Bing Act of 1921 brought major changes to Ohio schools. It stated that schools had to offer education for children between the ages of 6 and 18, unless employed as a farmer at age 16.
Many rural schools ended education with the 8th grade, and you had to “go into town” to attend further education.
Ludlow Twp. was no different than much of Ohio, so in 1925 a Superintendent of the newly formed Ludlow Consolidated Schools was hired and the Grade Schools were brought under one administration.
A high school was formed and began operation in the basement of the Methodist Church, with the first graduating class being 1927. At the same time, a Bond Issue was approved by township voters for the construction of a new brick high school in the center of the township.
That building opened in 1929 on a large site, and gradually the one-room grade schools were physically moved to the same lot, creating an early “campus plan” of schools.
In 1934, WPA funds allowed the final two grade school buildings to be demolished, and the lumber reused to construct an Industrial Arts Building at the high school. (Is that recycling?)
Next week I will conclude with how this project turned out.