Did you know that Decatur Township had a school as early as
the 1870s? The school building (Valley Mills) was located
southeast of Highway 67 at Valley Mills behind the home of Augie Fuchs and the now vacant Dairy Queen. The town of
Valley Mills was established in 1856, so it was some time
before the school was constructed.
The earliest records of the school start
in the 1890s, some twenty years after the school was built.
The graduating class of 1890 consisted of only eight people.
Records kept through 1932 gives names of graduates, with the
exception of approximately tens years, where information is
Photographs and drawings indicate the
building as constructed of brick and appears to be in two or
three rooms with a bell tower above the entrance.
The building in the photograph is of the school preceding the
brick building that burned to the ground on Halloween night, 1932; rumors
have it that remnants of the foundation still remain amongst
the trees and brush.
That was described in the Grade School
chapter of Elden Mills' Between Thee and Me.
"The school house at the Valley. a mid-nineteenth century
wooden building had three rooms. One of them crammed with the
accumulated detritus of twenty years past, was locked at all
times. Each of the other two rooms housed half the school,
four grades each..
Elden Mills also writes that his father, Thornton Mills,
served two terms of four years each as Decatur Township
Trustee ," hiring all teachers and handling the finances
(indeed all details) of the schools in two communities,"
Between Thee and Me. p23. I believe the two communities were
West Newton and Valley Mills. These were the days when the
township trustee managed the schools. lbm
" In 1907 father, as Trustee, authorized the building of the
new school house at the Valley. It was a two-story brick
building, two classrooms downstairs, one for the first and
second grades and one for the third and fourth. Upstairs was
the big assembly hall divided in the center with movable
partitions , that allowed the back half to be used for
classrooms. ...He produced a good building with space for a
growing population of children, and probable expansion into a
high school that would use the same facilities, which did
occur two years later." Ibid p 54
We talked with Alice Milhous Emmert, who
was a student at that time. Her memory of that year is
amazing. The gym that was located across Thompson Road from
the damaged school building was altered to accommodate the
needs of the student population.
The stage was divided into 4 sections for
the home economics room, eight grade and seventh grade
classes, and the cafeteria. The gym floor was divided into
four sections to accommodate grades three through six. There
were two Quonset hut type buildings erected nearby for grades
one and two. The high school students were relocated to West
Newton and graduated from there. This arrangement continued
for two years. The teachers taught at Valley Mills for part
of the day and then went to West Newton for the other half of
During this time the school on High
School Road (the old high school) was constructed and the
students were then moved into the building. It's memories
like Alice's, and her willingness to share with others, that
help us better understand our township history. It is amazing
what a *glance into the past* will tell us.
At that time, students were transferred
to West Newton. The last graduating class was in 1932 -
this class had 16 graduates.
From the period of record (1890-1932)
several families remain in the area and their descendants
still attend "our school."
Information regarding township schooling
prior to 1870 remains unknown, unless there is someone out
there in this growing community that can offer us a "glance
into the past" of Decatur Township Schools.
If you have any pictures, school papers,
letters, notes in old books, drawings, etc that you could
share with us, please contact the Alumni Association. We are
interested in doing more collection of the Township’s
history. We have the equipment to copy items in my home, so
they will never leave you. I know how valuable this type of
material can be to each individual. Contact Margaret Jane
Tutewiler-Cox, class of 1947 at 317.856.6677.
VALLEY MILLS HIGH SCHOOL
Valley Mills Teachers from the 1920s
Old Valley Mills School - at right in the
middle row is Rhea Strode -
front is Bernice Dorrell. Back row at left is Jim Jay.
Left front is Nettie Horton.
WEST NEWTON HIGH SCHOOL
West Newton High
School Class of 1896.
Seated: Brant Downey (teacher), Ella Henley. Clara
Hodson. Effie Card
Standing: Emma Robinson, Levant Dickerson, Katherine
Mendenhall, Albert Brown (teacher)
The teacher is Mister Card. Helen Strode is in the
Bethel was located along High School Road near the
airport (near current Fed Ex facility).
Sulgrove, History of Indianapolis and
Marion County—Villages of Decatur Township
The most important village in Decatur Township is West Newton,
which was laid out by Christopher Furnas , in April 1851. Its
location is in the south half of the Township, south of the
Vincennes Railroad. It has two churches ( Friends and
Methodist), a fine two-story school house, a graded school,
two physicians, a post office, two general stores, two
blacksmiths, one wagon maker shop, one undertaker shop, one
saw-mill and West Newton Station on the Vincennes line.
Also West Newton Lodge #452 was chartered 27 May 1873.
Valley Mills Village, previously Fremont and Northport , was
laid out as Fremont by Joe Sanders in 1856 and laid out and
platted under the name of Northport 21 March 1839, is located
a little south of the center of the township on the Vincennes
Railroad. It has a Friends Meeting house, one commodious
school house of four rooms, a graded school, post office, one
physician, one general store, one grocery, a wagon makers shop
, a saw mill, and railroad station.
The Village of Spring Valley was laid out on the northwest
quarter of Section 10. townshjp15, range 3 by Stephen Ward in
1848. ( plat recorded January 4th of that year) Quite an
extensive store was opened, with a full stock of goods, a
building was erected for a hotel, a blacksmith shop and a
wagon makers shop were started. Several dwellings were built
and occupied. A physician located there and a post office was
established. The town flourished well for a time, but the
rivalry of Fremont and West Newton caused it to decline.
Finally the place was abandoned by all who had any interest in
its prosperity or existence. The buildings were dismantled and
the material moved to other places. Spring Valley was left
with its name but not enough of the marks of a town to ;lead a
stranger to suspect that one had ever been there. A public
school house is still there, but there has been no Post office
or post master for Spring Valley for several years.
NOTE: Location of the remaining school house which for many
years has been a residence:. Southport Road comes west off the
White River bridge and joins Mann Road going south. The third
house south of this point on the east side of Mann is the old
Spring Valley school building. lbm
Later the area was called Antrim for the Antrim family,
Baptists, who came from Ohio, and lived among the Quakers for
a time and returned to Ohio. They gave the land for the Mt
Pleasant Baptist Church and cemetery on Mills Road. They
brought the Ice cream business to Indianapolis. George and
Wesley were in that first West Newton high school graduating
class in 1990. They were writers. In my work room there is
more about them. Lbm
Camby came a little later.
See below: Don Carlos and Mary Alice Morgan: Founders of
Camby, Indiana, by Mary Ellen Rand Rink
Sulgrove, B.R. History of Indianapolis and Marion County,
Indiana. , Philadelphia, L. H. Everts and.Co. 1884.
Don Carlos and Mary Alice Morgan
Founders of Camby, Indiana
Mary Ellen Rand Rink
My grandparents, Don Carlos and Mary Alice (Maidie) Morgan
came to the southwest corner of Marion County in the 1880’s.
were newlyweds starting to build their lives, and, as it
built a town. They bought land, on which was a log cabin, and
opened a grocery store. Like many merchants of the time, they
in one room while the store was in the other.
When Grandfather Morgan learned that the Pennsylvania
Railroad was planning a line from Indianapolis to Vincennes he
offered to give them the land if they would come across his
He could see that a railroad would mean a lot to the area. The
railroad was built about 1890 and Grandfather Morgan became
Since the spot had no name and West Newton was the nearest
town, it began as West Newton Station. However, in 1895 they
succeeded in getting a post office. The government said they
have a name of their own for the post office. Many people said
should be Morgantown or Carlos after my grandfather. He wanted
a name that would be different from any other town in the
poured over maps for a long time and found the word “Cambi” on
South American map. He liked the sound and found it on no
map—so the town was christened “Camby”. He felt the “Y” made a
better ending than “I”
Maidie Morgan became the postmistress in 1890 and retired in
1940. It was the longest record of service for a postal
Indiana and longest for a woman in the nation.
With the coming of the railroad and post office Camby became
a boom town. The interurban line was put in beside the
and in 1909 Carl Morgan decided his home and railroad station
no longer contain a busy store and post office. He built a
building across the tracks from the station. This building
large grocery, the post office, ticket sales for the
interurban, a large
scale on which the farmers could weigh their wagons of
wheat, and corn, as well as a coal yard where they could buy
weigh coal. It was a busy place. Small freight could be sent
Indianapolis on the interurban, and farmers brought cans of
were taken by interurban to Indianapolis. Grandmother
work as the postmistress and grandfather as station agent. By
time their son, Earl Morgan, was old enough to help run the
John Routon, who owned a large farm here had opened a
second coal yard and a hardware store. There was also a
shop. So, because of the railroad and interurban Camby became
busy center. Passenger trains ran frequently. They contained
mail car on which we received mail twice a day. Also small
was carried in the baggage car. Freight trains carried coal
products as well as delivering any and all things the farmers
area purchased. There were always crowds of people waiting for
the trains. At harvest time wagons would be lined up for
waiting to weigh and load their grain or tomatoes. They
the chance to visit with their neighboring farmers, loaf at
store, and go to the blacksmith shop.
As a result of the ease of transportation and the advent of
electricity to Camby the town began to grow and many new homes
were built. Williams Sanders built a large saw mill. Now, with
highways and trucking Camby has settled back to a residential
suburb of Indianapolis. There are only a few here who remember
SOURCE: from Jean Rink Bane and Steve Rink June 22,
2009 at the Decatur Township office.