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Ophelia H. Roddick - A Commitment to Education

Ophelia H. Roddick (1842-1923) was the daughter of Seth Roddick (1799-1841) and Nancy (Leggett) Roddick (1809-1895). She lived her entire life at 2 E. Walnut Street in Washington, Indiana in the house where she was born. Ophelia never married. She was committed to educating children.

Ophelia H. Roddick (1842-1923) Primary or Seminary School built between 1839-41

Ophelia was an elementary teacher in Washington for fifty-one consecutive years. She began teaching in 1858 when she was 16 years old and retired at the end of the 1911-1912 school year.

She taught in three different school buildings—just a few blocks from her home—at the corner of Walnut and East 7th Street. The first was the Primary or Seminary School, a two-story, four room brick building constructed between 1839 and 1841.

Graded School built in 1876 and destroyed by fire in 1897

The Primary/Seminary School was replaced in 1876—on the same site—with the Graded School, a four-story brick building with twelve rooms. When the Graded School was destroyed by fire in 1897, the Walnut Street School or Central School was constructed at the same location in 1898.

Walnut Street or Central School built in 1898. It was replaced on the same site in 1967 with the current Washington High School.

Ophelia Roddick (middle of the back row) with her third-grade students at the Walnut Street School (ca. 1900-1910). None of the students are identified.

Her commitment to education included religious instruction. Ophelia was superintendent for 62 years for the children’s Sunday school at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington. She served in that position from age 20 until she passed away in 1923. The church was two blocks from her life-long home.

At a dinner celebrating her fifty-year anniversary as a teacher, Ophelia told the guests, “If I had my life to live over, I would again choose the teaching profession.”

This article was written by Bruce Smith, a member of the Daviess County Historian Team.

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