Crooked Tree School in Heritage Park
Noble County Rd. 56
Caldwell, OH 43724
Heritage Park is located right at Caldwell’s I-77 Exit 25 on the Noble County Fairgrounds and features a log cabin, church, one-room school, and covered bridge that provides a definite “Kodak Moment” year-round! The park is also the site of the annual Soakum Festival, which is held the last Saturday weekend of September and depicts frontier-life in the 1800’s that takes a page right out of Little House On The Prairie’s Walnut Grove. This special event was recently honored by receiving the Ohio Historical Society’s Education Award. The Crooked Tree schoolhouse that can now be found at Heritage Park on the Noble County Fairgrounds was originally constructed in Jackson Township in Noble County. The little community of Jacksonville (Crooked Tree) was actually laid out by James H. Steadman in May 25, 1854. George Bell made the survey. Asa Lang, William Morris, and William Boyd were all early storekeepers. When the village received a post office in 1860 it was discovered that the name Jacksonville had already been taken. It was decided to name the community after a landmark tree nearby. This is how the quaint name of “Crooked Tree” derived. Unfortunately, the tree was destroyed in a storm in the 1880s. James R.H. Smith was the first postmaster. As in their New England homeland, settlers who came to Ohio in the early part of the nineteenth century were aware that in education there was direction and power. When settlers were in a condition to bear the expense of schools, the settlers exerted themselves to establish a school and provide a teacher for it. There had been at least 120 one-room schools scattered around Noble County. Thanks to the Noble County Historical Society, one of these schools has been preserved and is open to the public in Heritage Park on the Noble County fairgrounds. The first school in Crooked Tree is thought to have been made of logs and the exact location in Crooked Tree has not been determined nor when the first session of school was actually held. Some time later, a small frame building replaced the first log structure, according to a deed that was recorded Feb. 26, 1867. Soon the amount of students “outgrew” the school and the building was sold to Homer Martin, the village blacksmith at Crooked Tree. Martin moved it into town and remodeled it for his home at a spot beneath the old crooked tree. The moving job began on a Saturday with 10 yoke of oxen and four teams of horses pulling the wooden structure across the ridge. The job was not finished by nightfall, so the animals were unhitched and the building left parked on the road until Monday. In those days, the Sabbath was strictly observed. A third and larger building was erected on the original site and was in use for quite a few years. This is the building that is now in Heritage Park. When attendance to the one-room school dwindled and transportation had improved, it was decided that it would be more economical to consolidate and transport pupils to a central location. The school was closed in 1929. The building was used by Way Wickens as a storage depot for oil well equipment for several years. Wickens eventually donated the building to the Noble County Historical Society in August 1980. The task of removing, transporting and reassembling was accomplished through the efforts of the Crock Construction Company, members of the society and other interested citizens. Wickens also donated a generous monetary sum to aid with the moving expenses. The stove in the school is the original source of heat and the blackboards are as they were the day the school was closed. They are covered today for preservation. Enough double seats with desks could not be found and later models have been substituted. Other items from olden school days have been generously been donated by citizens of Noble County.