Schools and churches in Butler Township

Editor’s Note: As Butler Township prepares to celebrate its Bicentennial this fall, this is the third in a series of articles on the township’s history written by Joe Dranschak, President of the Historical Society of Vandalia-Butler.

BUTLER TWP. — In honor of the 200-year anniversary of the Butler Township, we are featuring articles about the township in our 2017 newsletters. Articles already covered the township formation from parts of Randolph and Wayne Townships October 7, 1817, Major-General Richard Butler and the township name, some of the township early pioneers and early community descriptions. This article describes early schools, churches and cemeteries.

The early Stillwater River (western part of the township) and Miami River (eastern part of the township) settlements had many challenges before they could begin providing education for their communities. Basic lessons were at first given in the cabins of the pioneers and, in some instances, abandoned cabins were used as places of holding school.

The first school in Butler Township was the Cress School, established in 1807 in a log cabin, which had been used as a carpenter shop and later as a stable in the northeast quarter of section 12 north of National Rd. west of Dog Leg Rd & south of Old Springfield Rd.

Additional township schools included: Coble School in 1809 at section 13 east of Frederick Pike & ½ mile east of Polk Grove; Quaker School in 1810 at the southeast corner of Little York Rd. & Peters Pike; Brown School in 1811 at Brown School Rd. south of National Rd.; Antioch School in 1812 (earlier called Stone School) at the north side of Antioch School Rd. west of Frederick Pike; York School in 1812 on the east side of Meeker Rd. intersection with Little York Rd. (replaced by Glasgow School in 1889 at southeast corner of Frederick & Little York Rds.); Polk School in 1812 (rebuilt in 1850) at the northeast corner of Frederick Pike & National Rd.; Pine Grove School in 1826 (rebuilt in 1870) at the north side of Old Springfield Rd. east of Dixie Dr.; Election School in 1838 at the southeast corner of Stonequarry Rd. & Peters Pike; Chambersburg School in 1850 on the west side of Dixie Dr. south of Little York Rd.; Vandalia Village School in 1850 at the southwest corner of Kenbrook Drive & Perry St. (in 1869 this school was organized as the Vandalia Village School District; with its first superintendent being Mr. Christian W. Eby);

Frog Pond School in 1870 on the east side of Dog Leg Rd. north of National Rd.; Anderson School in 1870 on the east side of Peters Pike north of National Rd, and Negro School in 1875 on the north side of Little York Road west of Dixie Dr. closed by 1882.

Standardized tests appeared as early as the 1830’s but were not used widely in the rural schools until the 1850’s. Ahead of its time, the Butler Township Board of Education approved a township high school in 1886. After a one-year trial it was abolished in 1887, as was the Negro School. With the exception of the 1886 one-year high school trial period, elementary education was the only offering of Butler schools before 1900.

Religious matters were important to the early pioneers and the formation of places of worship. Randolph Township was formed from Elizabeth Township November 6, 1804 and October 7, 1817, all of Randolph, lying east of Stillwater River, was used in the formation of Butler Township. The early Friends and German Baptists religious groups probably had an influence on the very first Butler Township religious gatherings. But the Butler Township settlers must have had their own religious beliefs.

Prior to 1809 the Friends or Quakers, near the Stillwater River settlement, worshiped on the west side of the river, where two years before, a meeting place known as “Rocky Springs” was organized. The Friends erected a meeting-house of their own in 1809 or 1810 in Butler Township. Probably the next earliest church organization was that of the Lutheran denomination but no records confirm this.

On July 30,1816, a religious society known as the Lower Stillwater Church of Christ was organized. From the roots of this church separate congregations set out to form St. Paul Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of Dog Leg and Little York Roads, Polk Grove United Church of Christ on the Cumberland (National) Road and St John’s Lutheran Church of Vandalia. Sugar Grove Christian Church was organized August 24, 1850 in the township but in 1878 a new building was erected at Frederick Pike, in Miami County.

As in so many early pioneer settlements, the burying-grounds were church and family created. A very resourceful Dayton Metro Library book is “Montgomery County, Ohio Cemetery Inscriptions Volume VII – Butler Township” reference number R977.172 M7871 V.7. Many of these were early pioneer cemeteries and only a few are used today. This information includes the cemetery name, other names for that cemetery and its location. Dayton Memorial Park is not in the above book.

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By Joe Dranschak

Historical Society of


Reach Joe Dranschak at 898-5300.