Our History

Following the Civil War years there were several one room schools in Berne Township. There was no transportation provided so students, as well as teachers, were obliged to walk. The schools were:

College Hill – land was granted in 1838 in the Northeast corner of township, known as Number One school

Prairie – East Main Street, Lancaster (east of Children’s Home)

Stump Hollow – transferred land in 1889 to Berne Township School District – still standing at the base of a steep hill on Stump Hollow Road.

Union – Located at the foot of Schwilk Hill and Duffy Road

Myers or Stone – Erected about 1820 Lutheran Lane (Across from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church)

Pleasant – Chicken Coop Hill

(name unknown) – near junction of Bauman and Sugar Grove Roads

Eckert – was a school at the junction of Eckert and Sugar Grove Roads, moved near Sugar Grove where it is now the home of William Chesser

Tarkiln – built in 1839

Blue Valley – (pictured above) entrance to Geneva Hills land given to district in 1859

Hansley – known as Number 10 – school district was given the land in 1877. Formerly stood at the corner of Alten and Horns Mill Road but later moved a short distance on Horns Mill Road.

Saum – Also known as Pin Bridge. Stood east of Hansley Road.

Germany (Burnt Cabin Road school) – on old Stage Coach Road 1844

Chestnut Ridge – located in Madison Township 1855 (Madison Township School District found school too distant to service properly, so turned over to Berne Township)

Brushy Fork – (pictured above) land granted in 1852

With the formation of the Berne Union School District in the fall of 1930, the last of the one-room schools was abandoned in 1934.

Crawfis Institute – John Crawfis was born in Berne Township and moved to Putnam county in 1834. There he made a considerable fortune. Crawfis’ will stated that upon the death of his wife, his holdings will be divided into two equal parts–one as a gift to the boys and girls of Berne Township and the other as a gift to the boys and girls of Blanchard Township in Putnam County, Ohio.

In 1889 a building was built. For the first two years it housed the township high school. In 1891, to the terms of the will, the school was opened as an institution of higher learning. Soon dormitories were built and Hocking Valley Railroad made the school a regular stop on its line. A training school, or Normal School, as they were called, prepared many future teachers for their profession.

The institute continued until 1931 when economic difficulties forced it to close. The buildings became part of the Berne Union School System. In the 1940’s, the local grange rented the buildings for their programs.

Sugar Grove Schools

First school house in Sugar Grove was located at what is now 400 North Main Street, the northeast corner of the present Main Street, where the David Shiltz family has lived since 1965. The school directors of School District Number 7, Berne Township, purchased December 30, 1844 from Joseph and Mary Stukey for $55.95. Note, this was a township school, not a village school. In the 1860’s the school in Sugar Grove moved to another location.

The second school located now known as 300 East Street was purchased for $45 from Daniel Hawkins to the board of education on June 14, 1854. In 1877, the board sold the property. The growing community needed a bigger school building.

The third school building (pictured below) still stands at the southwest corner of East Street and Fifth Street. The Board of Education of the Special School District of Sugar Grove purchased the property on October 18, 1871. The board sold the property October 1, 1917. Three rooms were used for school which included eight years of grade school and three years of high school. The remaining rooms were used for lodge meetings.


In 1915 the first part of the present building was constructed. A great improvement over the old building, it boasted inside plumbing, central heating by means of a coal furnace, an auditorium, a gymnasium and classrooms for both grade and high school. Until this time, it was necessary for students to go Lancaster or Crawfis to earn a graduation certificate.

Sugar Grove High School graduated its first class in the spring of 1917. Three young men and three young women were members of this class. It is interesting to note that in the spring of 1925 an epidemic of smallpox came to Sugar Grove making it necessary to postpone graduation exercises until later in the summer. As the years went by, there was much discussion of Crawfis High School and Sugar Grove School combining. Of course, patrons of both schools wished to keep their own school and when voters went to the polls, each defeated the other.

After much effort, the voters decided that the school should be in Sugar Grove. Thus, the two schools combined and it was decided to name the district Berne Union. The school colors became maroon and gold. Sugar Grove colors had been purple and gold and Crawfis, blue and gold.

The Fairfield County Board of Education passed a resolution Saturday, June 7, 1930, creating the Berne Union School District. On June 16, 1930, the board with three members from Sugar Grove and two from Crawfis met for organization.

It was decided that board meetings should alternate between Crawfis and Sugar Grove as some high school students would be finishing their education at Crawfis and elementary classes would continue to be held there.

Mr. R. B. Duke became the first superintendent of the new district and the board ratified teacher contracts made by both boards with the privilege of transferring high school teachers.

The total of the first budget of the new budget submitted to the county auditor for fiscal year 1931 was $42,000. Mr. Harry Sharp was employed as janitor August 1, 1930. Later board minutes show that he remained in that position until his retirement in May 1959.

Bus routes were established to provide transportation for students to the Sugar Grove and Crawfis schools. The board minutes indicate that the prospective drivers bid for the bus routes and sometimes furnished their own bus. Mr. Wesley Wilson served as bus driver for twenty-five years. There is much written in the board minutes concerning the specifications for coal to be delivered to all schools – Sugar Grove, Crawfis and the one room schools.

The next few years seemed to be filled with frustration for patrons and board of the newly created school district. Citizens were asked to pass a bond issue in order that the school at Sugar Grove could be enlarged to accommodate the students from the one room schools which had been ordered closed by the Department of Education.

A representative from the State Department of Education was asked to give recommendations for solutions to the problem facing the board. The recommendation was to place all high school students above the eighth grade at Sugar Grove, fill Crawfis with pupils from the one room schools and again ask for the passage of a bond issue to build at Sugar Grove for all children of the Berne Union District.

Early in 1933, as a result of the failure of the bond issue and overcrowding in the Sugar Grove school, citizens of the Sugar Grove area signed and presented a petition to the board demanding that action be taken to relieve the crowded conditions at Sugar Grove and suggested that the newly created district be divided into a northern section and southern section. The board passed a resolution to make the division.

During this unsettled period with lack of funds and the building in need of repair, teacher contracts were on a month to month basis. On May 5, 1933, the school was closed for the year with only 8 1/2 months completed.

In July 1933 the board voted to request a grant from the Federal Public Works Recovery Program to build at Sugar Grove and repair the Crawfis building. The grant was approved. In November 1933 a bond issue was passed, the voters being asked for a smaller amount due to the government grant. The voters approved $63,000 and the district received $27,000 from the grant.

Land was purchased to the south of the original building on which stood a hotel and some property belonging to the Rudolph family. Total price $1,975.00.

Laborers from the Fairfield County Civil Works Administration were contracted for part of this construction project. The south wing was completed and dedicated May 12, 1935. The new addition provided the much needed space and the remaining one room schools were closed. Students who were attending Crawfis School were permitted to finish their high school years at Crawfis until 1935. Crawfis remained an elementary school until 1941 when it was closed and for the first time all Berne Union students were attending school at Sugar Grove.

In 1938, with a roster of less than 12 players, the baseball team won the Class B State Baseball Championship. An article in the “Fairfielder” states that the Berne Union Band Boosters was organized in 1940.

The next few years were World War II years and war had a tremendous impact on the lives of students and faculty. Scrap drives, savings stamps, war bond sales and other projects were held to help the war effort. Gasoline was rationed which made transportation for interscholastic sports difficult. However, the girls won the Fairifield County Volleyball Tournament three consecutive years; 1943, 44, and 45.

January 1952 a constitution was adopted and Berne Union Athletic Association was formed because Coach Carroll VanSchoyck had a dream of starting an interscholastic football program at Berne Union. Fund raising projects were held including the planting of 30 acres of corn. All games had to be played at other schools during the first season but by the following season, the new field and bleachers were ready.

A new addition to the Berne Union School was dedicated October 10, 1954. This new addition, which cost $290,000 contained five elementary classrooms, a new cafeteria and kitchen, a shop and drafting room and a music room. There were 686 students enrolled in grades one through twelve. Twenty-five teachers were employed.

A teacher was employed, and the first class for special education began during the 1958-59 school year.

Rockbridge High School, Hocking County, lost its charter in 1959. By vote of the West Hocking School Board, grades 9 through 12 were assigned to Berne Union. The Berne Union Board of Education agreed to accept the students on a tuition basis with West


Hocking Board to pay $7.50 per pupil per month. This arrangement continued until 1968 when the Hocking citizens voted to become part of the Logan City School District.

Another addition to the school was dedicated January 12, 1959. The total enrollment at the time was 770 and the faculty included 30 teachers and administrators. This unit was built at a cost of $185,000 and included seven elementary classrooms, one high school classroom, a high school library and an extension to the cafeteria which was also used for kindergarten, the first ever at Berne Union.

Shortly before 10:50 a.m., March 29, 1963, fire ripped through the school auditorium causing about $30,000 damage to that area of the building. The school evacuated and closed for the remainder of the day as well as the following day. No one was injured but two students fainted. The cause of the blaze was undetermined.

Ground was broken in the spring of 1964 for the new high school. This building was connected to the existing building by the gymnasium which was remodeled enlarged. The 21,000 square foot addition included thirteen classrooms, high school administrative offices, locker and shower facilities for boys and girls, a study hall and a faculty lounge. This unit was completed and students transferred to their new classrooms in March 1965.


Because of the additions to the original building, little space was available for playgrounds. The board decided to attempt to purchase the 11.31 acres to the north and east of the building. Terms could not be reached with the owner and the board began the necessary steps to appropriate the property. However, a settlement was reached and court proceedings were stopped. The property was purchased for $25,000. The house and some of the buildings were sold at public auction.


In the 90s, two building phases to renovate the existing buildings and construct additional space were completed. Phase 1 in 1994 consisted of the high school media center and computer lab; four high school classrooms; a new gymnasium; locker rooms; shop; kitchen and commons. Four new elementary classrooms; five high school classrooms; an elementary office; district offices; community room; instrumental music room; janitorial, weight, equipment and trainers rooms were all completed in 1997. New windows, heating and cooling systems, wiring for technology, carpeting and basic remodeling of classrooms and offices were also a part of both phases of the existing building.


Current front view of Berne Union Local Schools.