Friday, March 6, 2015

Nimrod Kerrick, pioneer teacher

Along the way, digging through the dates and places, a few unique characters will emerge from time to time. Farmers, businessmen, preachers ... all fairly easy to recognize. Occasionally, somebody a little less noticeable becomes, well ... noticeable.

In digging through the archives for the "Cliff's Notes" version of Blooming Grove history, I stumbled across a man whose name evoked a chuckle.

Nimrod Kerrick.

I tried to envision this pioneer teacher, and I could see this tall, strapping man in a black cape and black hat, a Bible and a book in his hands. Stern disciplinarian, sturdy, highly moral, strong as an ox, perhaps lacking a sense of humor. Maybe inclined to take a nip when nobody was looking. The accompanying photo is disappointingly bland.

All around great guy.

August Reifel's 1915 history describes Kerrick:

"One of the most prominent and at the same time one of the most successful of the early teachers in the northern part of the county was Nimrod Kerrick.

"Kerrick was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, in 1808, and came to Franklin County in 1824. He settled with his parents on a farm three miles east of Fairfield. His father, Thomas Kerrick, had been a teacher in Virginia and after coming to Indiana, taught for a number of years in Decatur County.

"Nimrod Kerrick received part of his education in Virginia and continued his studies under the instruction of a Quaker teacher in Dunlapsville." (One could assume that elder Kerrick was either Quaker or was sympathetic to their point of view.)

Kerrick began teaching in Fairfield, and later in Blooming Grove. His ability as an instructor so impressed the people of Blooming Grove Township that a number of men co-operated in building a brick building for him a quarter of a mile east of town, and in this building he taught subscription schools for 10 years.

While teaching in Franklin County, he was ordained as a local minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Blooming Grove. His later teaching, by 1848, was in Clarksburg, in Decatur County.

As a preacher, he held services in Rush and Union counties before he moved to Illinois. He was 90 when he died in 1897."

A document from Kerrick's daughter, Mrs. W. H. Bracken, shared the contents of a contract that Kerrick signed in 1837, spelling out his duties.

Nimrod Kerrick proposes to teach (for five months beginning in November, 1837) in the town of Fairfield, School District No. 3, Township No. 10 of Range 2 West, for the term of five months. Branches to be taught: Orthography, Reading, Writing, Arithmetick, English, Grammar and Geography. Price of tuition, $3.33 1/3 per scholar per session of five months. Proper hours and strick attention will be observed by said Kerrick.

 And we, the undersigned in consideration of the above named performance by the said N. Kerrick do agree to pay unto him at the expiration of the term $1.66 2/3 for each scholar according to the number annexed to our several names.

School sessions beginning in November were the norm since children were required to help with the fall harvest. Come April, it was time to prepare the land for the spring planting, so the 5-month session was just about right.

Public schools did not actually exist in the 1830s and would not until 1849. Students essentially paid tuition to be taught and teacher pay was linked to the number of paid subscriptions.

Some recognizable pioneer family names who studied under Kerrick (46 families and 51 pupils in all) included Cory, Osborn, Logan, Sims and Cunningham.

Nimrod Kerrick was comparatively successful financially.



  1. Wouldn't 3 miles east of Fairfield be almost to Bath rather than Blooming Grove?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The 3 miles east part is apparently correct, the Blooming Grove part is not. I fixed that. Anyway, thanks.