Fernandez C. Holliday.

Indiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s online

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Online LibraryFernandez C. HollidayIndiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s → online text (page 17 of 27)
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tion of officers. This school had, however, previously
met for a few months in the kitchen of John Brownfield,
without any formal organization.

The first Board of Church Trustees was elected Feb-
ruary 6, 1835, and consisted of Samuel Martin, Johnson
Howill, John Rush, E. W. Sweet, and John Brownfield.
At a meeting of the trustees, March 5th, they resolved
to build a frame church, thirty-five by forty-five feet,
with a fourteen feet ceiling. In June, a lot was pur-
chased, and on the 6 th of July the contract for building
and plastering was let. But in February following it was
discovered that the church was built on the wrong lot,
which caused considerable trouble ; but finally an ex-
change was effected, and the building permitted to stand ;
and early in the Fall of 1836 it was finished and occu-
pied. In 1835-36, J. Wolf was appointed to the circuit,
but remained only a part of the year. In 1836-37,
South Bend and Mishawaka were united, and R. S. Rob-
inson was the preacher, and was reappointed the next


year. He was succeeded by James S. Harrison. Owing
to an extraordinary emigration to Wisconsin, the mem-
bership was reduced this year to 145, but came up dur-
ing the year to 195. In 1839, South Bend was made a
station, under the pastoral charge of David Stiver, who
reported, at the end of the year, 276 members. In
1850-51, a brick church, forty-eight by seventy-two feet,
was built on the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets,
and was dedicated by Rev. Dr. Berry and John L. Smith,
on the 17th day of August, 1851, the basement having
been previously occupied for several months.

When the state was divided into four conferences,
in 1852, South Bend was included in the North-west
Indiana Conference.

In 1853-54, the trustees of the Church in South
Bend built Portage Chapel, or, the Church at Zeigler's,
as the record has it. In 1868-69, the second charge in
South Bend was organized. It is due to the ladies of
South Bend to say, that, as early as 1846, when the
Church was weak, and greatly embarrassed by unpaid
debts, the " Methodist Ladies' Sewing Society" came to
the relief of the Church trustees, by proposing to donate
to them all the funds of their Society, provided the breth-
ren would add thirty-three per cent to the amount of
their donation ; and the surplus, after the payment of
their debts, should go toward the purchase of a parson-
age. This generous act wiped out all the debts against
the Church, and secured a parsonage.

Since that time, the " Ladies' Mite Society" has paid
several hundred dollars for furnishing the parsonage ;
several hundred dollars toward building the present par-
sonage ; three hundred dollars toward the church-organ ;
and five hundred dollars toward the new church edifice ;
besides assuming several hundred dollars more toward


furnishing the church. In addition to this, the " College
Aid Society," composed of Ladies of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church, paid six hundred dollars for furnishing
" Heck Hall" as a Centenary offering. The enterprise of
the Methodist ladies of South Bend is worthy of all
praise. In 1868, the present church edifice was enlarged,
remodeled, and modernized. The lecture-room Avas fin-
ished and occupied December 25, 1869, and the upper
room finished in the Summer of 1871. The Avorshipers
are called together by an excellent bell, which cost the
congregation $2,500, and the church, independent of the
lot on which it stands, is worth $25,000.



The Church in this place was small in its beginnings,
and, like the town itself, had a long period of struggle
before it reached any permanent prosperity. It has no
early history to relate. For many years it was a feeble
appointment upon a large circuit. With the settlement
of the country, and growth of the Church, the circuits
were narrowed down by repeated divisions, until in 1857,
the town of Anderson was made a station. About that
time, a career of growth and prosperity came upon the
town, which has steadily continued, till it has become the
largest and most flourishing place within the same range
of the state capital. With this, the Church has kept an
even pace in numbers and aggressive vigor. The good
men, few in number, that fought through the early strug-
gle, have passed to their reward ; and now a strong and
devoted body of working Christian men are at the labor-
ing oar.

At an early day, a rude structure for worship was put
up on the outskirts of the village, as was the wont of


that day, but never finished, the old court-house being
the standing resort. In 1851, a comfortable frame church
was erected, which has been occupied till this date
(1871). An elegant and commodious church edifice is
now approaching completion, inferior to none in the
North Indiana Conference, and to few in the state.
There is a comfortable parsonage, with ample grounds ;
all the Church property is eligibly situated, the ministry
is well sustained, the social influences are good, and the
entire aspect is inviting. The numerical relation of our
Church membership to the present population is about
one to twelve. The increased accommodations offered by
the new and spacious church may be expected greatly to
enlarge the influence and the membership.


Methodism was introduced into Peru about 1830, by
Ancil Beach and Amasa Johnson. The first society was
organized by Miles Huffjiker, in 1834. Among the mem-
bers of the first class are the names of Colonel William
Reyburn and wife, George S. Fennimore and wife, Mrs.
M'Gregor, and Mrs. M'Gwin. The first church was built
in 1835. There are now (1871) two charges in Peru.
Main-street Church is a two-story brick building, and Avas
erected in 1850. The Church was divided, in 1854, on
the pew and organ question. The second charge, the old
Third-street — now called St. Paul's — have just erected
themselves a neat Gothic house of worship. The pop-
ulation of Peru is a little over 3,700, of whom 350 are
Methodists, being one in every ten and one-half of the


The first mention of Terre Haute in the Minutes of
the Conference, is in connection with the appointments


made at the session of the Illinois Conference, at Vin-
cennes, in the Fall of 1830. Terre Haute is mentioned
in the Wabash District, of which George Locke was pre-
siding elder, and Edwin Ray is appointed to Terre Haute
as a supernumerary. In 1831, Terre Haute is coupled
with Carlisle, and Enoch G. Wood and William Taylor
were the preachers. In 1832, Terre Haute Circuit had
Anthony F. Thompson and John Richey. In the Fall
of 1833, Richard Hargrave and William Watson Avere
appointed to the circuit ; and in 1834, J. White and
David Stiver were appointed to the circuit. At the ses-
sion of the Indiana Conference, in October, 1835, held in
Lafayette, Terre Haute was made a station, and S. L.
Robinson was appointed in charge of it. It was then in
Vincennes District, of which Aaron Wood was the pre-
siding elder. Down to 1833, the district was called Wa-
bash, and for the years 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831,
George Locke — father of Rev. John W. Locke, D. D., —
was the presiding elder, and during a portion of that time
his family resided in Terre Haute. Mrs. Locke taught
school and supported the family, while her husband trav-
eled that large frontier district. Mrs. Locke conducted
ii boarding-school for young ladies, in Terre Haute, the
first of the kind that was ever taught in that town, and
probably the first in the state. Terre Haute was favored
with a certain sort of cultured society from the begin-
ning. Its proximity to Fort Harrison, a military post of
considerable importance ia that day, favored it with the
society of the officers of the regular army, who were ed-
ucated men. The religious element in the community
was not strong, and their social amusements, as might be
expected, partook of a gay and worldly type. A ball
had been determined on, but in order to get the requisite
number of young ladies, it was thought best by the


managers to ticket those attending Mrs. Locke's boarding-
school. Accordingly, one of their number was deputized
to visit the school, inform Mrs. Locke of their purposes,
and present the young ladies with tickets. Mr. Jones —
for such we will call him — in pursuance of his mission,
called on Mrs. Locke one tifternoon, informed her of his
errand, and requested to see the young ladies. Mrs.
Locke thanked him for his kindness, and told him she
would invite the young ladies into the parlor presently,
when he could lay his message before them. Meanwhile,
she engaged him in conversation so entertainingly, that
the time ran rapidly by, and when she invited the young
ladies into the parlor she informed Mr. Jones that tea
was ready ; and urged him so kindly and persistently to
accompany the young ladies to the tea-table, that, al-
though reluctant to do so, he could not decline. When
seated at the table, Mrs. Locke said, " Mr. Jones, will
you please ask a blessing?" Mr. Jones very politely, but
with considerable embarrassment, begged to be excused.
Mrs. Locke, as her custom was, then attended to that
duty, and then entered into immediate conversation with
Mr. Jones, endeavoring to make him feel as much at ease
as was possible under the circumstances. She then said,
" Mr. Jones, if I am not mistaken, you were once a pro-
fessor of religion, and a member of the Methodist
Church." He admitted that such was the fact. Said
Mrs. Locke, " I would be glad if you would state, for the
information of the young ladies, whether or not, when
you were a member of the Church, attending to your
Church duties, and in the enjoyment of religion, you
were not a happier man than you are now, while depend-
ing on the pleasures of the Avorld for enjoyment." He
responded : " I have often thought that I was not only
happier when in the enjoyment of religion than I am


now, but that I was happier even as a penitent seeking
salvation, than I am now ; and I assure you there is no
comparison between the enjoyment I had as a Christian,
and what I now experience as a man of the world. My
heart is now often sad and desolate, even amid scenes
of gayety and mirth." She kindly exhorted him to come
back to Christ, and regain his first love. Repairing to
the parlor, at the close of supper, Mrs. Locke said, "It is
our custom to have prayers immediately after tea," and
handing Mr. Jones a Bible, requested him to read a chap-
ter, and lead them in prayer, which he declined; Avhen
Mrs. Locke read a lesson, and engaged fervently in
prayer, not forgetting to pray for Mr. Jones, that he
might be reclaimed from his backslidings, and also for
the young ladies, that they might not be led into tempta-
tion. When Mr. Jones withdrew, Mrs. Locke kindly in-
vited him to call on them again; but he never found it
convenient to accept the invitation. And he said to the
managers, if any of them thought there was any fun in
ticketing Mrs. Locke's young ladies to a ball, they Avere
welcome to tr}^ it; as for himself, he should not under-
take that task again.

The following sketch of Methodism in Terre Haute,
from 1836 to 1848, is from the pen of Colonel Thomas
Dowling :


"On the 29th day of February, 1836, John Jack-
son, Sylvester S. Sibley, Thos. Dowling, and James B.
M'Call were severally elected trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church of the town of Terre Haute, and were
regularly, according to law, qualified as such. Their
first meeting was held March 1, 1836. John Jackson
was chosen President, James B. M'Call, Secretary, and


S. S. Sibley, Treasurer. The first business considered
was the propriety of erecting a house of worship, as
none then existed.

" On motion of Mr. Dowling,

" Eesolved, That this Board, relying upon the liberality and good feel-
ings of the people of Vigo County, will proceed to raise, by subscription,
funds for the purpose of building a place of public worship for the use
of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Terre Haute.

" On motion of Jas. B. M'Call, Thos. Bowling was
appointed to draft rules for the government of this Board.

" This Board of Trustees at once proceeded to raise a
fund to pay for the proposed church edifice, and the little
brick on the corner of the present site of Asbury went
up during the year.

'" Terre Haute station was organized in 1836. The
Rev. Aaron Wood was the first presiding elder, and Rev.
Smith L. Robinson stationed minister. In 1837, John
Miller Avas elder, and John A. Brouse preacher-in-charge.
The elder continued in charge of the district till 1839,
when Rev. E. R. Ames (now bishop) was appointed,
with Ebenezer Patrick in the station, and continued till
1841. This year the Rev. John S. Bayless was sent to
the Terre Haute Station.

" It will occur to the reader that the station started
off in good time, with Aaron Wood, John Miller, and
Edward R. Ames as its first three presiding elders.
Perhaps the Indiana Conference did not hold three min-
isters of equal ability in those days. Two of them yet
survive, as beacon-lights of Methodism, we hope not
soon to go out forever. John A. Brouse, who was uni-
versally popular with the Church and people, yet lives.
Brothers Robinson, Patrick, and Bayless have gone to
their reward.

" The Methodist Church in Terre Haute had a feeble-



footing in this small place till about the year 1841.
The little brick church, which stood facing the south,
on the present site of Asbury, was of small dimensions,
and would not accommodate more than one hundred and
fifty persons. In the year above named, this little edi-
fice gave way to the present fine building, which was
completed and occupied the following Winter. The Rev.
John S. Bayless was the pastor in charge of the station
while the building was in the course of erection, and I
well remember how he complained about the tardiness
with which the promised subscriptions were paid. As
it was the first church building erected of any kind —
the small church on the corner excepted — there did
not seem to be a very feeling sense of obligation on the
part of those who signed the paper pledging pecuniary
aid. The principal business men came forward promptly
and placed their dollars in the hands of the Building
Committee ; but another class, whose generosity far ex-
ceeded their ability, fell lamentably in the rear. Brother
Bayless was, however, a first-class collector, full of
energy and force, and did a wonderful amount of hard
begging. This greatly helped to keep the treasury of
the Building Committee from becoming entirely empty,
and prevented a collapse of the enterprise for the year.
The church was finally finished, with a debt of between
three and four thousand dollars hanging over it, which
was subsequently paid by the exertions of a few active
members of the Church. Jabez S. Carter, who is yet
living, was one of the most prominent in this act of
justice to the creditors of Asbury. I think the debt
was finally discharged in 1844-45, during the pastor-
ate of the Rev. S. T. Gillett, who felt, as all Christian
ministers should feel, that a Church debt is neither
a moral nor a temporal blessing. Besides not looking


well, it is a positive evil, which good men should not

" There are tides in the affairs of men and Churches,
which, taken at the flood-tide, lead on to fortune and
success. The erection of a new edifice, or the advent
of a particular minister, very often gives a new and
healthy impetus to the growth of a religious sentiment
in community. From the location of a town two miles
south of Fort Harrison, on the Wabash River (now
Terre Haute, or Land High), in 1818, up to the year
1835, there was no church edifice of any kind within its
borders. If there were any Church members, the fact
has escaped my recollection. No doubt there were some
in the neighborhood and in the county, and perhaps
many such among the settlers in their old home in the
states from whence they emigrated ; but having no re-
ligious ' organizations ' here, they drifted along as non-
conformists, without any of the restraints of Church
government. This was then a frontier town, older than
Indianapolis, or Lafayette, or Springfield, Illinois, Above
the site of the town, on the Wabash River, stood a mili-
tary post (Fort Harrison), located as early as 1809,
where one or more companies of United States troops
were kept to protect the emigrants that sought homes
in the West. When Terre Haute was located, in 1818,
Indiana had just been admitted into the Union, and the
country between this place and Vincennes was an almost
unbroken wilderness. A 'settlement,' here and there,
was the only evidence of civilization, and they were but
few and far between. When Terre Haute was laid out,
and lots sold, it attracted considerable attention, and
emigrants sought it as an abiding-place. The beauty of
its location was the theme of many a tongue and pen,
and has so continued to the present day. Perhaps no


town in Indiana presents a more beautiful and in^n'ting
landscape, or enjoys a higher reputation for unquestioned
natural comforts. Such a place would necessarily invite
and secure a good class of settlers. And hither they
came from every portion and section of the country.
New England, the Middle States, Pennsylvania, New
York, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and
even England, Canada, and Ireland, sent out their quotas
to settle this modern El Dorado. The soldiers at the
fort, and their accomplished officers of the regular
army, were in the neighborhood for many years before
the town was laid off. The new emigrants, principally
young and unmarried, with these officers, formed at once
a little society of their own, which it was difficult to
excel in any of the older towns of the West. They
were, as a general thing, young men of education and
refinement, who had brought from their old homes those
ideas of propriety which forbid the indulgence of the
grosser vices. If it were proper in such a paper as this,
I could mention names which, in the subsequent history
of Indiana, were connected with high official and social
positions. We have, to-day, many of the descendants
of these early settlers living in Terre Haute, scores of
them the prosperous business men of our young city.

"This was the primitive population among whom the
itinerant ministry of the Methodist Church had to inau-
gurate and build up its religious influence, as a branch of
the Church of God. It was far from being hostile to the
growth of good morals, or the spread of religion itself.
While this can be truly said, there was a sentiment of
quiet soberness about all manifestations of a religious na-
ture, which many ministers mistook for a- careless or hos-
tile character. Nothing could be more unjust to the
original inhabitants of Terre Haute, as subsequent events


have abundantly proved. The facility with which
Churches were organized and temples erected, when the
proper agencies were employed, proved, beyond all doubt,
that the right sentiment always existed, and only re-
quired an incentive to effort and action. When proper
and rightful organization was effected; when a Church
sanctuary was proposed and provided, the people flocked
by hundreds to worship Almighty God, and Terre Haute
became one of the favored locations for plain, practical

" The greatest occasion for the manifestation of this
interest in Church affairs was after the completion of
^AsBURY.' That was the Hide' on which success was se-
cured. The membership manifested their zeal and ear-
nestness in the cause of religion, by securing a house ded-
icated to the worship of God, and all our people aided in
the work. When the membership of a Church are ear-
nest and practical workers, there is sure to be an outside
influence which tells happily on all their surroundings.
This was pre-eminently the case in Terre Haute. We
had, in those days, say from 1841 onward, many excellent
stiitioned ministers, aided by presiding elders of acknowl-
edged ability. The venerable Allen Wiley had charge
of the district in 1841. All the old membership remem-
ber this devoted man, and how earnestly he labored in
the cause of his Master. In 1842-43, the district was
favored by the appointment of George M. Beswick as
presiding elder, Avith the Rev. Joseph Marsee as
preacher-in-charge. Both these brethren were what is
rightfully called workers. Brother Marsee was an espe-
cImI ftivorite with all classes of our citizens. In 1844,
Mr. Beswick was again the presiding elder, and the Rev.
Samuel T. Gillet the preacher-in-charge. This last ap-
pointed was received with great favor by the congrega-


tion, and more especially by those who yet stood outside
of the Church organization. The new minister was a
gentleman of most agreeable and winning manners, and
pronounced ' the right man in the right place.' There
was no question of his entire acceptability from the start;
and he grew in favor with our citizens, in and out of the
Church. His public discourses were of that order which
stamped him as a scholar, and all awarded him the char-
acter of a true Christian minister. He was continued for
two years, to the satisfaction of the Church and its con-
gregation, and all regretted the rule which forbade his
service for a longer period.

" At the Conference, in 1845, that body sent to us the
Rev. W. H. Goode as presiding elder, and the Rev.
Amasa Johnson as stationed minister. The Church and
people had long known Mr. Goode, by reputation, and his
transfer to the district was a matter of general rejoicing.
Perhaps, in the whole range of the Conference members,
no man could have been more heartily indorsed ; and
their judgment of the man, in advance, was entirely jus-
tified by his services to the district. He left his minis-
terial work, after four years of faithful service, greatly
beloved by all. The Rev. A. Johnson was a new man,
about and of whom the citizens in the Church and out of
it knew nothing. He entered on his work, it may be
truly said, without any prejudices for or against him.
But he was not long here before the sterling qualities of
his character became known. He was a very remarkable
person. To the plainest of manners he united the
quaintest of speech and expression. He Avas never un-
dignified or frivolous, but always pointed and entertain-
ing. As a preacher, but few could have been more suc-
cessful. There was a directness in all that he uttered
which went home to the heart and the understanding.


In the private circle he never forgot that he was a minis-
ter, and yet no man was more popular with our people.
Brother Johnson remained in the station two years, and
carried with him the love and affection of the Church
over which he watched.

" The Conference of 1847 sent to the Terre Haute
Station the Rev. John L. Smith, one of the oldest and
best-known ministers in that body. Every one had a
knowledge of him, either personally or by repute. To
receive him kindly, and without dissent, was accepted as
a matter of course. He was among the strongest and
ablest in the long list of veterans which graced the
Church a quarter of a century ago. Unlike his prede-
cessor, every one knew and recognized John L. Smith as
the peer of any individual in the Conference ; and, by
common consent, the appointment was considered one
eminently 'fit to be made.' His ability as a preacher
and his popularity as a citizen were the gifts which gave
him a passport to any circle in Terre Haute. In looking
back over the quarter of a century which has elapsed
since brother Smith's advent to the principal Church
here, the writer has not known one who so completely
filled the character of an early Methodist minister.
Strong in argument, forcible in manner and language, and
often eloquent, his congregations and people increased to
a noticeable degree. He will not soon be forgotten by
our older citizens, among whom he labored for two years.

" The above narrative carries the history of Meth-
odism in Terre Haute up to the Summer of 1848, and
the further history must find another pen. The writer
has aimed only to give a review of the elders and

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Online LibraryFernandez C. HollidayIndiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s → online text (page 17 of 27)