David Eckley Hunter (1834 – 1892)
David Eckley Hunter was born in Princeton, Indiana, on January 6, 1834. In the 1850 Census, Hunter was 16 and still living in Princeton, but was not with his family. Instead, he was living with the Boswell family and was working as a teacher, possibly teaching the Boswell’s three young children. In 1855, Hunter began attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He did not graduate, but did become very involved with the school. In 1856 he became the principal of the Indiana University’s Model School, which was a training center for new teachers. That was also the year that he married Elizabeth Rebecca Mitchell, on December 23.
Hunter had a very strong role in the development of Bloomington schools in the late 1850s and 1860s. He was a proponent of dividing classes into separate grades. In 1856 he was the principal of the Indiana University’s Model School which was a training center for new teachers. In 1863 Hunter convinced the citizens of Bloomington to convert to graded schools, and was made principal of the Bloomington graded Schools. He was also an advocate for more land to be allotted in Bloomington for schools. In 1870 he was appointed Secretary of the Indiana Teacher’s Association and remained so for fifteen years. He held the position of superintendent in Washington, Indiana from 1877-1885, was also superintendent in Logansport and Connersville, and was the principal of Ellettsville schools. Hunter authored many books relating to education. In 1931, the D. Eckley Hunter School was completed at 727 West Second Street and named in honor of this notable educator.
Hunter’s career was not without scandal. During his tenure at the Ellettsville schools, Hunter was arrested on January 24, 1856 for whipping two boys in school, and was quickly brought to trial. One of the boys was the Methodist Reverend’s son, and because of this many of the townspeople sided against Hunter, but Hunter’s pupils spoke for Hunter and against the school boys, noting their bad behavior. The counsel for Hunter (Paris C. Dunning) argued that the switch used was quite small, he did not administer too many strokes, and Hunter had the “right to administer proper correction for misconduct.” The jury of twelve men decided in favor of Hunter, and he was vindicated. Hunter kept a diary during his time in Ellettsville, the contents of are available online At War At Home with the diary itself being held at the Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington. Hunter discusses the trial within the diary, although he quit writing in it shortly before the trial began.
Hunter died at the age of 58 on January 18, 1892 after a short illness of neuralgia of the bowels. His funeral service was conducted by the Odd Fellows, a society of which he was a member. At the time of his death, his oldest son was an attorney in El Paso, Texas, his second son held a high position working for the railroad in Galveston, Texas, and his three younger children were attending Indiana University.
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