A look at early Napoleon schools

Published: Northwest Signal, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Editor’s note: This year marks the 180th anniversary of Napoleon. To mark the occasion, the Henry County Historicla Society is providing monthly looks at the city’s history.

(Reprinted with permission of the Northwest Signal)

Once again we’d like to share the next chapter in our look at Napoleon’s history.

Old SchoolSchool will be out soon for many students, and there’s a lot of conversation about schools with all the new construction, so we thought it would be fun to look back at some of Napoleon’s school history.


The first classrooms were in a log building until the school house was built near the present day Courthouse. School was in the log building as early as 1837 with Miss Mary Whipple serving as instructor.

Old SchoolSome years later, the board of education (consisting of T.S.C. Morrison, James Haly, J.A. Stout, John Powell, Wm. Dodd, and Justin Tyler) placed a ballot before the voters to create the Union School District. It passed 43-3. Land was purchased for $4,000 on the present West Main Street, and in 1871 the Union School was built at a cost of $40,000. Four years later, Union School graduated its first class: two boys and nine girls. One other note of interest, the superintendent was paid $120 per month.


South SchoolMeanwhile, there was also a school built across the river. The South School was a simple two-story brick building, complete with an outhouse on the grounds. It was built in 1884 for a mere $2,540. If you go looking for this building, you won’t find it. It was situated where the current Swearingen Park is located.

(Information courtesy of Russ Patterson and the Henry County Historical Society.)