By Tim Ashley
NORTH WEBSTER — He won’t be a cast member for the former PBS-TV “History Detectives” show, but Mike Kissinger still made an interesting discovery of part of the foundation for a former one-room schoolhouse about one quarter of a mile southeast of his home near North Webster in Tippecanoe Township.
Kissinger, the Kosciusko County Surveyor, recalled his grandmother telling him his great grandmother had attended a school near his home along East Epworth Forest Road. Being interested in local history, he decided to follow up and investigate.
A 1914 plat map showed District No. 1 school located in section 12 of Tippecanoe Township on the C.W. Weimer farm. An earlier plat map showed the school in a slightly different location, but still on the Weimer farm.
Kissinger then referenced a book published a few years ago by the Kosciusko County Historical Society about schools in the county. He found the school was named Oak Grove School, also known as Spunkey Hill, and along with the information about the school there are three photos.
“I saw a number of relatives of mine in those photos,” he said.
Next in the research was a trip down the hall from his surveyor’s office to look at the property transfer books in the county courthouse. He found a deed transferring 1 acre of property in 1879 from Weimer to the township trustee for a school.
He was then able to find a detailed legal description of the 1 acre which stated the point of beginning to a distance south. Kissinger used his surveying skills to transfer that description from 1879 to the present.
Further confirmation was obtained when looking at an aerial map dated 1938 of the area. “It showed a clump of trees in the middle of a farm field, which is unusual,” he said.
He then used his surveying equipment and found remnants of the foundation of Oak Grove School in the form of several stones showing a pattern. He noticed the foundation was apparently not a perfect square or rectangle but instead “jutted out.” A closer look at one of the photos in the book about schools showed the building did have a corner.
Kissinger also found pieces of a few bricks from the building and parts of the legs of school desks. He noticed the stamping on the legs showed they were made by a company located in Toledo, Ohio.
Getting to the actual site of the school was not quite so simple. Since the school was closed nearly 100 years ago at the end of the 1924-25 school year, the area is now thick with trees and other growth. Kissinger had to sort of “blaze a path” to get to the site, including going up a slope that can be slippery if wet or muddy.
He also found parts of a big cooking pot of some type nearby.
Oak Grove Cemetery is located nearly one-half mile to the southeast and at one time there was a church directly across Epworth Forest Road from the cemetery, which was torn down and a residence is now located there.