Blackford county history

Blackford county currently consists 5 schools, housing all grades. Southside elementary with grades kindergarten through third grade. Northside elementary with fourth grade to sixth. Montpelier elementary holding kindergarten through sixth grade. Blackford junior high with grades seventh and eight, and lastly blackford high school with grades nine through twelve. That’s all fine and dandy but not many, if anyone, knows how this town came to be.

Blackford county was named after Judge Blackford, one of the pioneer judges of Indiana in the very early days. He also was the first speaker of the Indiana General Assembly. He was long-time chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court as well.The surface of blackford county differs but only slightly from that of Adams county. It is quite level, and the soil is good and well adapted to the cultivation of wheat, rye, corn, and other produce. The exports consist of wheat, cattle, homes, and, hogs. These were the means of life for the early settlers.

The Miami and the Delaware Indians actually occupied the land that is now Blackford County until they were forced to move west by white settlements. You know how our ancestors were pillage and take over. Anyways,the first pioneers were typically farmers who settled on land near rivers. Originally, the county was mostly swampland due to the rivers, but more land became available for farming as the marshes were cleared and drained. During the next 30 years, small communities developed throughout and around the county when the county’s rail lines were constructed in the 1860s and 1870s.

Among the first settlers was a man named Benjamin Reasoner, who came in 1831. Blackford County was created by an act of the Indiana Legislature on Feb. 15, 1838, although the local government didn’t officially work until May of 1839. Blackford county consisted of roughly 13 square miles had previously been a part of Jay County, a neighboring county. .

The first newspaper, which was called “The Hartford City Times”, was printed in 1852 by a Dr. John E. Moler. Blackford county was caught up in the explosive growth of the gas boom in the late 19th century, that boom drew in swarms of drillers to the area after natural gas was discovered here in 1885. This increased the population of the county.

In 1886, drillers near Trenton in southeastern Blackford County hit one of the peak producing wells along the underground Trenton Dome, which produced strikes from Gas City to Portland and Montpelier to Redkey. That 30-year rough-and-tumble boom era brought rapid industrialization as companies moved close to the cheap and abundant fuel supply. That said boom brought people in with the promise of a good life and in 1900 population increased at 17,213. The gas ran out and the county has not seen such dramatic change since. The county has made good progress in agricultural pursuits, in commerce, and education. The schools are excellent. ( That can be discussed if you were to talk about the current state of blackford but anyways ) Land was cheap and productive, and there were many inducements for new settlers to locate in Blackford county.     

Hartford had a private school established by missionaries around 1838. The schools in the surrounding Blackford  are began to be organized around 1840. Like every other building at this time, the school buildings were log cabins. The teachers were paid by the local community not by the government like today. Frame buildings were  being used throughout the county by the 1860s. Education in the classroom was originally only on “the three Rs”: reading, writing, and arithmetic( yes I am aware that arithmetic doesn’t start with an “R”). We still to this day incorporate these into our classes.

Hartford City first organized a public school in 1853, before the community was made up. The school was administered by the township trustee until Hartford City officially became a town in 1857. Unlike the school mentioned before this building was made of brick and had two rooms. By 1886 hartford had 47 school houses and 56 employed teachers.

In the 1890s, only a few of the town’s students graduated from high school. Like in 1896, Hartford City High School’s 15th graduating class consisted of a total of seven students: five girls and two boys. An extremely small group to the classes following. Hartford City High school courses in the 1900’s were Latin, mathematics, science, history, and English. That’s a transition into more modern high school class schedule.

In 1906, the town added to its high school curriculum  to improve the quality of education for the students, but it was also an effort to attract and retain older students. The also added new classes like cooking, drafting, sewing, typewriting, and woodworking. ( These were life skill classes like my mom said )The upgrade was very popular with parents and students, as high school enrollment increased 50 percent in two years.

In 1922,a larger gym was added to the high school. The larger gym helped Hartford City to host sectional basketball tournaments, and the original gym became a room for the band. Hartford City High School was replaced by Blackford High School in 1969. This new high school also had students from Montpelier.