From the book Our Past, Their Present: Historical Essays on Putnam County, Indiana by John J. Baughman, used by permission of the author.
The story of public secondary education in Greencastle is rather complex. First, the term "high school" was not really used until the middle of the nineteenth century. Only at that time did government assert any responsibility for education. To complicate further, not until the twentieth century did high schools become really important, since most people completed their formal education with the elementary schools. Only in recent history has the Greencastle High School played an important role in our public education; emphasis seemed always on the elementary schools.
Education for youth in early Greencastle history consisted primarily of small private schools where people paid a tuition for the expenses of a teacher and received only the "basics." In Greencastle since the college (Indiana Asbury, later DePauw University) maintained a preparatory department called the Academy for those youngsters not prepared as yet for college level work, most residents of any means enrolled their children in this private school for one or more years. Only a few continued on to enroll in the college. The first Eli Lilly attended only the Indiana Asbury Academy.
By mid-nineteenth century support for free public education grew. The new Indiana Constitution of 1851 called for a common school fund and instructed the Indiana General Assembly to provide for a system of public schools. Greencastle's own Alexander Stevenson represented us in this Constitutional Convention and served on the Education Committee. Only then did local city government take on the responsibility of organizing public schools.
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