Reading, writing and ’rithmetics

Troy Hayner exhibition commemorates historical city schools

By Katie Fender

Historically Speaking: Troy City Schools displays artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the start of the school district in the 1800s. Curators Judy Deeter, Jill Hartman, Julie McMiller and Meredith Parris all have a passion for and a background in the history and the education of Troy and its schools. The curators went in depth on the research for the academia, the historical people and teachers of the schools, historic buildings and historic art.

Deeter, the president of the Troy Historical Society, took an active role in researching the history of the schools. She provided early history information about the schools starting with the 1808-1809 period. However, the first official class of Troy City Schools was not until 1852.

“There were two early school teachers. One was named Andrew Wallace and he was a surveyor and he came to Troy probably before 1810,” Deeter says. “He and his wife had 10 or 11 kids and one of their sons, David who went to school here, became the governor of Indiana and his brother, William became the governor of Idaho and the Washington territory.

“The second teacher was Mr. Kyle, and he was a minister and his son was killed in the battle of Shiloh,” Deeter continues. “His grandson was a US Congressman who had a wonderful voice and sang at the White House in a congressional quartet. His great-grandson was one of the great generals of WWII and his great-great-grandson was a well-known colonel in the Vietnam War.”

Deeter explains that the most interesting thing the curators found was a photo of a young girl walking into a Troy school building. This picture was on the cover of the brochure they had to promote the exhibit and what they later found out about the photo was truly amazing.

“We had a woman contact us when she saw the picture we used on the outside of our brochure,” Deeter says. “Her name is Julia Routson, and when she got the invitation in the mail, it turned out the photo on the front was a picture of her sister. … She had the photo in her family album and she didn’t know there was another copy of the photo.”

The picture was taken in 1938 on her sister Nancy Kauffman’s first day of school. Her father, Photographer Harry Kauffman, took the picture. Julia Routson came to the opening night and showed people pictures of the album.

“All these things kind of tie back to these early schools. It’s all linked, what happened in the past affected our generation today,” Deeter says.

Parris has been involved in three other Hayner exhibitions. Parris researched noble names of historic Troy schools and attended Troy schools K-12. She is currently in her fourth year teaching eighth grade language arts at Troy Junior High. Her mother, McMiller, is also a curator and previously taught at Troy schools for 35 years.

“I just think it’s really neat to see how far we’ve come with Troy City Schools,” Parris says. “The first graduating class in the 1800s had only four students.”

McMiller collected some artifacts from the Museum of Troy History and the Troy History Library.

“I got items from an old time school house,” she says. “I got a dunce cap, an old slate, some diplomas that are really old and an inkwell and ink pen. A late 1800s diploma was probably my favorite thing.”

Hartman served as the connection between Hayner and the school district who collected artifacts and catalogues. She currently teaches art at Troy and also graduated from Troy High School. Emphasizing the close knit community of Troy, Hartman explains that McMiller was her former teacher and Parris was a little girl she used to babysit. Her favorite thing she found were planks of wood from an old gym floor at the Troy High School.

“At the high school we got a new gym about 11 years ago so the old gym is a practice gym,” Hartman says. “They removed the old wood floor because part of it has been damaged and a friend of mine who is the all-time leading girls basketball scorer happened to have remnants of the old gym floor. The nostalgia is a big deal to me, I attended two proms on that gym floor.”

Leona Sargent, the event coordinator for the exhibition, made a six-foot-long timeline that goes all the way back to the 1800s. As the first Troy City Schools exhibition at Hayner, Sargent comments on why this is so meaningful to the city.

“It’s pretty phenomenal the amount of pride there is in Troy City Schools and the number of folks that have lived in troy all their lives, maybe left for college, but then came back.”

Historically Speaking: Troy City Schools is on display now through April 3 at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main St. in Troy. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit or call 937.601.2769.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Fender at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Fender at

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