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The History of Hardin Northern

The following article was printed in the Kenton Times, May 27, 2003, and was written by Dunkirk resident, Anna Lee Mayhorn:

A look at the history of Dunkirk schools
Times correspondent

Dunkirk School, Dunkirk, Ohio


School of Dunkirk, Ohio

DUNKIRK—In the early 1800s, the pioneers all agreed, though no records existed, that their children needed proper schooling. Moses Louthan taught the first school in Dunkirk which was built in 1854 where the Trinity Methodist Church (corner of Main and South streets) now stands.
In 1866, a village district school was organized and in 1867 a brick four-room schoolhouse was built. M. Friedly was the first superintendent. This building proved inadequate and three frame buildings were added.

In 1883, a larger school building was a necessity. Built was a building 76×86 feet; three stories high with a full basement. The first and second floors each contained four rooms. On the first floor, the first grade was on the northwest, third grade on the northeast; second grade on the southeast and fourth grade on the southwest.

On the third floor was the fifth grade on the southwest and the sixth on the northwest. The other half of the third floor was a literary hall, the latter 36×86 feet and 16 feet high. This was later divided with the northeast being the music room, the southeast was the typing room, Latin room, etc.

The second floor had a big central hall with the office to the east. The chemistry and biology lab to the southeast, the library and study hall to the southwest. The seventh and eighth grades and high school students were distributed among these rooms for their homerooms.
The building was heated by hot air and was built at a cost of $21,670. 

In 1935, an addition as built, consisting of a gymnasium and auditorium, home economics to the sough, agriculture and farm shop to the north with a modern furnace and hallways leading to the newly remodeled basement turned into a cafeteria in the southwest corner.

In the mid 1950s, Dunkirk and Dola schools went together, building the Hardin Northern School one mile west of Dunkirk.

The old school was torn down and a home built there. The new addition was changed into a Laundromat to the south where the home economics room was and the gym was turned into storeroom for Oldakers Mfg. Co. It is now falling down.

The following was taken from the “Dunkirk Centennial Souvenir Program 1852-1952”:

Recognizing the importance of education, Dunkirk has ever sought the advancement of her schools until they have attained the highest standard of excellence. The beginning here was similar to all early settlements and within the log cabin, among slab desks, the pioneer “master” often found force of more practical utility than culture or scholarly learning. It is impossible at this late date to give any definite facts about the first school taught in Dunkirk. No records exist to throw light upon the subject. The pioneers all agree, however, that Moses Louthan taught the first school in Dunkirk.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1854 where the M.E. [Trinity United Methodist] Church now stands. In 1866 a village district school was organized in Dunkirk and in 1867 a fine four-room brick schoolhouse was built. Mr. M. Friedly was the first superintendent. This school building soon proved to be inadequate and three frame buildings were added. In 1883 a larger school building was seen to be a necessity. Plans were prepared and submitted to the people. The building was 76X86 feet; three stories high with basement; the first and second floors each contained four rooms; the third floor, two rooms and a literary hall, the latter 36×86 feet and 16 feet high. The whole building is heated by hot air. The original cost was to be $21,670. The building was one of the finest in Hardin County.

In 1935 an addition was erected, including a gymnasium and auditorium, home economics room, agriculture and farm shop. Modern furnaces were installed, the basement was equipped with a modern kitchen and cafeteria. 

DOLA—It is believed that the first school ever taught in Washington Township was by Wilmot Munson in 1838. In 1841, William Simpson taught in a cabin on land then owned by Renatus Gum. Then there was a log schoolhouse built on Andrew Kridler’s place. Other schools were established in all parts of the township and in 1883 the township was divided into eleven sub districts with good schoolhouses in which ere employed eleven teachers. In 1912 the school building was built in Dola and now consists of a centralized high school and grades for the Dola school district, now a part of the Hardin Northern School District.

Washington Township (Dola) High School, 1909-1952 (By Viola Willeke)
More than any other one person, Russell S. Wade was responsible for the establishment of a high school at Dola, Ohio, in 1909. With the encouragement of the township Board of Education, Mr. Wade went to Columbus during the summer of 1909 to make arrangements for a two-year high school to open at Dola in September. During the previous year Mr. Wade had taught the upper grades at Dola.

May 5, 1911 the first Commencement Exercises were held at the Presbyterian Church, with six in the class. The graduating class gave a play under the direction of Mr. Wade and Miss Alta M. Weber of Ohio Northern. The University Orchestra provided music. Baccalaureate Services were held April 30 at the Methodist Church, Rev. J.S. Dapp, pastor.

The second annual Commencement was held April 25, 1912. Again there were six in the class. Each year an account of the program and a picture of the class appeared in the Kenton newspapers. The Honorable Aaron S. Watkins, “formerly candidate for Governor of Ohio and for Vice President of the United States on the Prohibition ticket,” delivered the address. Baccalaureate Services were held April 21 at the Lutheran Church, Rev. Paul Dornbirer, pastor.

In the spring o f1913 a first grade four-year high school charter was secured, and the six members of the Class of 1912 were able to graduate in 1914, with two others added to their number. This class was the first to graduate in the new building, which was first used in September, 1913. Bricks from the old schoolhouse were used to erect the homes now occupied by the John M. Harris and W.G. Kahler families.

in 1921, an addition (classrooms and a gymnasium-auditorium) was built to accommodate all the school children of the township. The Class of 1922 held its graduation exercises in the new auditorium, and the following fall classes were conducted in the new parts of the building, as well as the old. A.R. Filsen, Bellefontaine, was the architect and builder. Before the addition was completed it was necessary to provide more classrooms for the growing enrollment by moving a rural schoolhouse to the Dola school grounds, to house primary children, and by making partitions in the basement auditorium.

Consolidation took place in 1936, and school was then called Washington-Cessna Rural. In 1952 the district united with the Dunkirk district to from the Hardin Northern district.

Looking back over the school’s more than 50-year span brings nostalgic memories to former students. Their loyalty to D.H.S. is now expressed in their whole-hearted support of the old school’s successor, Hardin Northern. In less than a decade the new school has made outstanding records in scholarship, music, athletics, and a variety of activities.

The following account of a young teacher’s experiences in Hardin County in the early 1900s was written by Russell S. Wade:


Woods School – 1890

My career as a public schoolteacher began in Hardin County, April 11, 1904. I had become 16 years of age the previous November 14 and had received a certificate to teach, March 1. I taught a two months’ sprint term at the Woods School, about two miles Northeast of Dunkirk, at $35.00 per month. I boarded with the Ed Crooks family, where I met Bessie J. Crooks. We were married December 27, 1908.

The winter of 1904-05 I taught a rural school near Larue, and the next year a school near Patterson. I received $40.00 per month both years.

Each summer as soon as school closed I went to Ada to attend Ohio Northern University. In July, 1906, someone brought me an invitation to see Harmon Kahler, president of the Washington Township Board of Education. I was hired to teach Eagle School, 1906-07, at $45.00 per month.

I walked to school, about 6 miles, from my parents’ home near Scott’s Crossing, until November, when I began boarding with Simon Kahler and family at $2.00 per week. They furnished the best food and a very pleasant place to stay. Charley and Blanche Kahler were pupils at Eagle. I enjoyed this term of school very much because the pupils were eager to learn, and the parents gave loyal support. When I offered to stay after school two nights each week to help the older boys and girls prepare for the Patterson-Boxwell examinations, everyone in the eighth grade stayed and did their chores later.

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