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May 26, 2020

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The Bluffton Story - part 5

Written by Bluffton 6th graders in 1953-54

Note: Bluffton sixth graders in the 1953-54 school year (graduating class of 1960) created a booklet titled "The Bluffton Story." The following article is part of that booklet, which is now in the history collection at the Bluffton Public Library. This series continues each week on the Icon.
By James Luginbuhl and Richard Basinger
Bluffton's first school was located far out in the country from the downtown area of Riley Street. The first school was located on the corner of College Road and Grove Street.

It must have seemed a long trek to the student of the early school; the walk [was] almost a mile through the country. One wonders if they ever thought it possible for the hamlet of Shannon to grow and push the countryside back.

The first school was a one-roomed log school and the seats were split logs with pegs fitted into the rounded side. The first teacher was Benjamin F. Smith.

The next school was a frame building located on the corner of Riley and Lawn Ave. The next was a frame building that is now a business place on North Main Street. It was moved to make way for the brick building erected in 1875. This building was constructed under the leadership of J. B. Murray, President of the school board from 1875 to 1891. Mr. Murray had a fight to get the townspeople to consent to a bond issue of $10,000 which paid for the front half of the building of eight rooms.

Shortly before the turn of the century, while Mr. B. F. Biery was superintendent, the voters approved another bond issue of $6,000 for the Lawn Ave. addition of six rooms to the present structure.

It should be of interest to the reader to note here that the first school on Jackson Street was fenced in with a high board fence. This fence was not to keep the pupils in, but was used to keep the cows out. The entrance was made by steps over the fence.

The present high school was completed in 1933 under the leadership of Mr. A J. B. Longsdorf, then superintendent of schools.

The Bluffton School System today boasts of a faculty of 24. Twelve of these teachers hold their Master's Degrees and 12 hold a Bachelor's Degree. Nine of these teachers are graduates of the Bluffton School system along with the Superintendent A. B. Murray.