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 3 of 27)
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labors of Rev. Thomas Hellams and Rev. Selah Payne.
What classes, if any, were organized by them in Indi-
ana, and at what points, is not now known. The cir-
cuit, as organized a few years later, included Brookville,
Brownsville, Liberty, Connersville, and all of the settled
parts of the Whitewater country, from the mouth of
Whitewater to as far north as what is now Randolph

In 1808, Indiana District was organized as follows:

Illinois — Jesse Walker.
Missouri — Abraham Amos.
Merrimack — Joseph Oglesby.
Coldwater — John Crane.

Whitewater — Hector Sanford and Moses Grume.
Silver-creek — Josiah Crawford.

Here was a district extending from the western
border of the state of Ohio to Mexico. There is some-
thing sublime in the heroism that planned such fields of
labor — a single presiding elder's district embracing what
is now the three great states of Indiana, Illinois, and Mis-
souri. The mode of travel was on horseback. The
streams were unbridged, and could often be crossed only
by swimming. The roads were mostly bridle-paths,
"blazed," as the backwoodsmen called it, by hatchet-
marks on the trees. The country was full of Indians,
some of them friendly, but many of them exasperated
by the encroachments of the white men. Salaries were
scarcely thought of; they lived among the people, sharing
their scanty, but cheerful hospitality, encountering perils
in the wilderness, from floods and swamps and savage
men, often compelled to sleep in the woods. Their meet-
ing-houses were the rude cabins of the pioneers, where
one room served as kitchen, bed-room, and chapel.
These were lion-hearted menj they "endured as seeing


Him who is invisible ;" tliey saw that these fertile valleys
were to be seats of empire, that populous cities would
rise on the margin of these mighty rivers, that commerce
would burden these navigable streams, knowing that they
were laying the foundations of Christian civilization
that should bless uncounted millions in after years.
Grand as were their conceptions, the facts have out-run
them, and the reality is already grander than their most
sanguine imaginings. Giving them credit for great fore-
sight, they, nevertheless, built wiser than they knew.
In 1809, Indiana District stood as follows :


Illinois — Abraham Amos.

Missouri — John Crane.

Merrimack — David Young and Thomas Wright.

Coldwater — Isaac Lindsey.

Cape Girardeau — Jesse Walker.

Vincennes — William Winans.

Yincennes appears for the first time on the list of
appointments. Catholic priests had previously officiated
there, for Post St. Vincent was an early French trading-
post, but it was now an American settlement. General
William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory,
had established his head-quarters there; and William
Winans was the first Protestant preacher to visit the
place. One of his first services was a night appointment
for preaching in the fort. The Government officers, a few
English and French settlers, and two or three Indians,
make up the audience. A few tallow candles furnish
all their light for the occasion. One of these is kindly
held by Governor Harrison for the young preacher, while
he reads his text and hymn. And in that dingy room
young Winans delivers his Gospel message in such a
manner as commends both the preacher and his message
to the hearts of his hearers. Winans was a young man




of fine personal appearance ; not handsome, but com-
manding in his appearance; a little above the medium
height, with an open countenance, a clear, strong voice, an
easy, rather negligent manner, that showed perfect self-
possession and self-reliance, qualities of great value to
the frontier missionary, who has no treasury to depend
on, and whose audiences are, for the most part, composed
of strangers. Winans did not disappoint the expectations
of his friends. He rose to eminence, and was for many
years a recognized leader of the forces of Methodism in
the state of Mississippi, into the bounds of which Con-
ference he fell by the division of territory.

In 1810, Indiana District is continued as follows :


Illinois — Daniel Fraley.
Missouri — Thomas Wright.
Merrimack — John M'Farland.
Coldicater — George A. Colbert.
Cape Girardeau — Jesse Walker.

Why it should have been called Indiana District, as thus
constituted, is not apparent at the present day. The
charges in Indiana were as follows : St. Vincent's, as it
was then written in the Minutes, with Thojnas Stilwell as
the preacher, and included in the Cumberland District,
Learner Blackman as presiding elder; Silver-creek, in-
cluded in Green-river District, with Isaac Lindsey for the
preacher, and William. Burke as presiding elder; White-
water, in Miami District, with Moses Crume for the
preacher, and Solomon Langdon for presiding elder. The
numbers returned for this year were as folloAvs : Silver-
creek, 397; Vincennes, 125; Whitewater, 638. In 1811,
Lawrenceburg Circuit, on the eastern border of the state,
and Patoka, on the south-western part of the state, were
added to the organized work in Indiana. Walter Griffith


traveled the former, and Benjamin Edge the latter.
Down to this time, the Church within the bounds of the
Western Conference had accumulated but little property
in the way of churches, parsonages, or school-houses. In
the Winter the log-cabins of the early settlers were the
preaching-places, and in the Summer they w^orshiped
in the grand old woods. The early settlements were
along the rivers and creeks, as these were the natural
highways of the country,* and hence the early circuits
derived their names from some river or creek upon which
they were located, or to which they were contiguous;
and not as is the present custom, from city, town, or
post-office, for the very good reason that there were no
cities, and very few towns and post-offices, after which
they could have named them. The old Western Con-
ference included in its ranks a large proportion of strong
men — men of intellectual vigor, and mighty in the Scrip-
tures. William M'Kendree, the enterprising and efficient
presiding elder and prince of preachers, was elected
bishop in 1808. He was a true champion and a recog-
nized leader in the old Western Conference. Charles
Holliday, than whom few men were ever more familiar
with the Scriptures. He was, a number of years. Book
Agent at Cincinnati. At the close of his Book Agency
he was transferred to the Hlinois Conference, where he
continued to labor until the Fall of 1846, when he took
a superannuated relation, and in 1849 was called from
labor to reward. The sweet-spirited, saintly, and suc-
cessful John Collins, who Avon thousands as jewels for
his Master^ Learner Blackman, John Sale, James
Quinn, and Solomon Langdon were eminently fitted to
lead on the Church from "conquering to conquest."
William Burke was a man of decided ability and impress-
ive manners, and for many years stood in the front rank


of Methodist preachers. In an evil hour he withdrew
from the Church, but hved long enough to repent the
rash deed. He now rests, with the co-laborers of his
early manhood, in the better land. James B. Finley,
known as the Old Chief, survived most of his early asso-
ciates, and, through a long life, declaimed against vice,
and proclaimed the Gospel message, wdth a power and
success equaled by few. The thrilling eloquence of
John Strange, and the sturdy sense and occasional eccen-
tricity of James Axley, are still themes of conversation
among those who still remember them. The last session
of the old Western Conference was held in Cincinnati,
October, 1811. Bishops Asbury and M'Kendree were
both present at this Conference. At the General Con-
ference of 1812, the Western Conference was divided
into two conferences, called Ohio and Tennessee. The
Ohio Conference embraced the Ohio, Muskingum, Scioto,
Miami,^ and Kentucky Districts. At the General Con-
ference held in the city of Baltimore, in May, 1816, the
Missouri Annual Conference was constituted, embracing
Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. There were at that time,
in Indiana, Lawrenceburg and White-river Circuits, on
the eastern border of the state, included in Miami Dis-
trict, Ohio Conference ; and Patoka, Yincennes, Harrison,
Blue-river, and Silver-creek Circuits, embraced in Illi-
nois District, Missouri Conference ; Missouri Conference
being bounded on the east by a line running due north
from the city of Madison.

Methodism was introduced into Decatur County as
follow^s : John Robins came to Decatur County, March
28, 1822, and settled on Sand Creek, three and a half
miles south of where Greensburg now stands. The
town was laid out that same Spring. There were but
few persons then in the county. The only family then


in the limits of what is now Greensburg, was Colonel
Hendricks, an honored citizen and a liberal-minded Pres-
byterian. At this time there was no Church organization
in the county. The first Methodist society, which was
the first religious organization in the county, began
on this wise : The few scattered Methodists, feeling
their need of spiritual aid and the fellowship of the
Church, resolved to see what could be done. John Rob-
ins began to hunt for a preacher that could take them
into his circuit, and supply them with preaching. Mean-
while he appointed prayer-meeting at his own house.
At that first prayer-meeting there were present John
Robins, Ruth Robins, John H. Kirkpatrick and wife,
and Nathaniel Robins; and shortly after, John Steward
joined them.

Late in the Summer of 1822, James Murray, who was
then traveling Connersville Circuit, which was included
in the Ohio Conference, sent an appointment to Greens-
burg, to the cabin of Colonel Hendricks, to preach. He
came ; and here he was met by John Robins, who so-
licited him to make an appointment at his house. Mr.
Murray made a conditional promise. He would come
if he could. In a short time after this, Mr. Robins
received a class-paper, made out in due form by Mr.
Murray, and forwarded to him, not by mail — for such a
luxury was then unknown by the early settlers — but
conveyed by friends from one neighborhood to another.
With that paper was the request that he would open the
doors of the Church, and receive such as were willing
to join in with them to form a class. Mr. Robins pro-
posed, if enough joined to justify it, that he would
report the society to the next session of the Missouri
Conference. When Mr. Robins presented the question
of the organization of a class, seven persons gave their


names, to wit : Abram L. Anderson, Nancy Anderson,
Jacob Stewart, Elizabeth Garrison, Nathaniel Robins,
John Robins, and Ruth Robins. These formed the first
Methodist class and the first religions organization in
Decatur County. Mr. Robins reported the organization
of the class to Mr. Murray, and the class was reported in
due time to the Missouri Conference. In the Fall of
1823, Aaron Wood was appointed to Connersville Circuit,
and, as he was surveying his new field of labor, he met
with Mr. Robins, and an arrangement was effected for a
regular appointment at his house; but Wood had hardly
got possession of this new society, when Jesse Haile, of
Indianapolis Circuit, Missouri Conference, appeared, with
John Robins's house on the plan of his circuit. The
east line of the Missouri Conference being a line due
north from the city of Madison, Greensburg was found
to be in the Missouri Conference, and Mr. Wood had to
vacate. From Mr. Wood's first sermon at Mr. Robins's
house, it became a regular preaching-place, and, although
nearly half a century has passed by, the results are yet
visible : "The handful of corn on the top of the mount-
ain shakes like Lebanon." A good Church and a flourish-
ing Sabbath-school still mark that country appointment,
while two flourishing Churches exist in the town of
Greensburg. Rev. George Horn was the colleague of
Mr. Haile, and they received for their support during
the year the sum of $27.

In the year 1822, there moved into Mr. Robins's
neighborhood a man by the name of Garrison, an old
local preacher in the United Brethren Church; and, being
zealous for his own denomination, the contest would at
times wax warm between him and his Methodist neigh-
bors. Elizabeth Garrison, one of the old man's daugh-
ters, joined the Methodists, and was one of the original



seven of whom the first class was composed; and, not
long after, a married daughter of the old gentleman
joined, and, a short time after that, his wife also joined.
That put an end to the old man's opposition to Meth-
odism; and, in a short time, he himself united with the
society. Soon after his union with the Church, the old
man applied for license as a local preacher; but Mr.
Haile, who was in charge of the circuit, learning that the
old gentleman was not entirely sound on "Doctrine and
Discipline," arranged to have an interview with him on
his next round; and, accordingly, at his next appoint-
ment, after dinner, he entered into conversation with
him. Finding him unsound on many points, as he
judged, he labored with him until late in the afternoon ;
but failing in his efforts to convince him of his errors,
Mr. Garrison was not licensed. The interview ended,
Mr. Haile started for his next appointment, which was
twelve miles distant, and his way lay through a dense
wood, with only a few marks on the trees to guide him.
He missed his wa}^, and paid for his devotion to Meth-
odist " Doctrine and Discipline " by spending a night in
the dense and chilly forest.

In 1803, Haile and Horn established regular preach-
ing in Greensburg, in the house of Colonel Hendricks,
which then stood on the south-east corner of the public
square, where the "Moss House" now stands. In the
Fall of that year, Haile and Horn were followed by
Thomas Rice, under whose labors the work greatly

Mr. Rice was somewhat eccentric, and, like many
of the early preachers, had marked individuality of char-
acter. "While on the Sangamon Circuit, as his custom
was, he directed his heaviest artillery against slavery,
whisky, tobacco, and worldly fashions. While holding



a meeting at one of his appointments, a brother got very
happy, and began to shout, and, in his evolutions, Mr.
Rice spied a plug of tobacco in the happy brother's
pocket, and he called out immediately, "Don't shout
any more, brother, until you get that tobacco out of your
pocket." The rebuke was a damper on the services for
that hour. Rice came from the Holston Conference.
At the conference in Charleston, in 1825, when Mr.
Rice's case was under consideration, John Strange, who
was his presiding elder, made some allusion to his eccen-
tricities, which Bishop Roberts feared might damage
him before the conference, and he arose to make some
remarks in Rice's favor. He said : " True, brother Rice
is an eccentric man. While we were passing through
Tennessee, in company, when at family worship, brother
Rice would pray, * Lord ! bless this household ; bless
the parents and the children, and the poor negroes too.
Help this master and mistress to be good and kind to
their slaves, not to whip, beat, or starve them. Help
them, that they may see the great sin of slavery, and
that they may let the oppressed go free.' " At the con-
clusion of the bishop's remarks, William Cravens, who
had been listening intently, and who hated human
slavery as but few men could, cried: "I'll vote for him,
my honeys ! He prays at them ; he prays at them."
Of course Rice's case passed the conference all right.
Rice was followed by Stephen R. Beggs, and he by
James Havens. The work was then divided, and Greens-
burg was placed in Rushville Circuit. Havens was fol-
lowed by Joseph Tarkington and William Evans. The
circuit then embraced thirty-four appointments, which
had to be filled every twenty-eight days. Tarkington
and Evans received each, for their year's labor, the sum
of $63. But the preachers were relatively as well


supported then as now, and it required more effort for
the people- to raise the pittance then paid than it does
the salaries of the present day.

Take the following as an illustration : A brother of
small means, now residing in Greensburg, pays annually,
for the support of the Gospel, the sum of $20. In an
early day, he had a small tract of land near the town,
with four acres cleared. His quarterage was one dollar

a year. The conference year rolled on, and brother

had no money. A good brother in town proposed to
take corn-meal and sell it, and give the preacher the

benefit of it. But brother had no corn to spare, not

more than enough to do him until he could raise a crop.
But the preacher was in need ; so he resolved to divide.
He shelled two bushels of corn, took it to mill, and had
it ground, took the meal to Greensburg, turned it over
to Silas Stewart for twenty-five cents a bushel, and got
credit for half his quarterage. Those were the days of
moral heroism and self-denial, both on the part of
preachers and people.

Tarkington and Evans were followed by Amos
Sparks and John C. Smith.

The first school of any kind held in the territory of
Indiana was taught one-and-a-half miles south of Charles-
town, the present county-seat of Clark County, in 1803.
Rev. George K. Hester, who was p, pupil in this school
in 1804, says : " Our first books were generally very far
from facilitating an education, or affording materials for
the mental culture of youth. My first two reading-
books were ' Gulliver's Travels,' and a ' Dream Book.'
We had to commence the first rudiments of language
in 'Dilworth's Spelling-Book.' The rigid discipline ex-
ercised, the cruelty practiced on delinquent scholars,
as well as the Ions: confinement of children to their


books, from soon after sunrise to sunset, with only
vacation at noon, was detrimental to their advancement
in learning."

Rev. George K. Hester, who is undoubtedly the best
living authority on the subject, says : " The first intro-
duction of Methodist preaching into the Grant — as Clark
County was then called — from the most reliable sources,
was by Rev. Samuel Parker, and Edward Talbott, in the
Spring of 1801. They attended a two-days' meeting,
in a village called Spring ville, which had just been laid
out, and was situated about one-and-a-half miles west
of the present town of Charlestown. Parker and Tal-
bott were then both of them local preachers. Benjamin
Lakin and Ralph Lotspeich were the first traveling
preachers that were sent into the Grant. They came
in 1803. Lakin first visited Gazaway's neighborhood,
five miles east of Charlestown, and preached in the
woods, as early in the Spring as the weather would
permit. He then proposed to take them and Father
Robertson's, which was five miles north of Charlestown,
into his regular work. To these, at first, he devoted
but one day in each round, preaching alternately at
each place. These appointments Avere included in Salt-
river Circuit, Kentucky. It is believed that the first
society formed in the state was organized at Father
Robertson's. It has been supposed that the first society
was formed at Gazaway's, but Hezekiah Robertson dis-
tinctly recollects that the first society was organized at
his father's. And old sister Gazaway has often been
heard to say to persons, when excusing themselves for
their neglect in attending class-meetings, on account of
the distance, that she had uniformly gone to Nathan
Robertson's to class-meeting every two weeks, a dis-
tance of four miles, which makes it evident that the


first class was organized there. This must have been
in the Spring of 1803. Then came M'Guire and Sul-
livan. In 1805, Peter Cartwright preached in the Grant,
and, in the Fall of 1805, Asa Shinn and Moses Ash-
worth preached there. In 1806, Joseph Oglesby and
Frederick Hood also preached in the Grant. And in
1807, the work on this side of the river was organized
into Silver-creek Circuit, with Moses Ashworth for their
preacher. Moses Ashworth closed his year with a
camp-meeting, which was held in the neighborhood of
Father Robertson's. Rev. William Burke was the pre-
siding elder. This was a novel affair in our new country,
and called together a vast multitude of human beings."
No special revivals of religion are noted until 1810,
when many were converted and brought into the
Church, and preaching was established in the town of
Charlestown. These infant societies were not free from
trouble. Most of the population came from Kentucky.
Arianism, as taught by Marshall and Stone, and as held
by the New-lights, as they were called, was advocated
strenuously. Their chief attacks, so far as Methodism
was concerned, were against the Divinity of Christ and
the Discipline of the Church. They opposed all articles
of faith and rules for Church government. The New-
light meetings attracted a good deal of attention, because
of the prevalence of a peculiar exercise, which attended
many of their meetings, known as " the jerks."

In 1819, a memorable revival of religion prevailed
in this part of the country. It began at a camp-meeting
held on what was known as Jacob's camp-ground. The
good work continued long after the close of the camp-
meeting, and extended to every neighborhood within the
bounds of the old Silver-creek Circuit.

Bishop M'Kendree and Bishop Roberts both attended


the session of the Illinois Conference at Charlestown,

Indiana, in 1825. Bishop M'Kendree arrived at the
seat of the Conference a few days before the opening of
the session, and visited a few of the adjoining neigh-
borhoods, and preached to the people. He preached
twice during the session of the Conference, much to the
edification and delight of both preachers and people.
Bishop Roberts also preached twice during the session
of the Conference. He preached on Saturday, at 11
A. M., and on Sabbath afternoon. Dr. Martin Ruter
preached on Sabbath morning. Bishop Roberts's ser-
mon on Sabbath afternoon was one of remarkable power,
founded on the text, "Yea, doubtless, and I count all
things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus my Lord."



Allen Wiley and C. W. Ruter admitted on Trial in the Ohio Confer-
ence — Friendship of Wiley and Bigelow — Incidents — First Camp-
meeting held in Indiana — Incidents of the Meeting — First Camp-
meeting held near Madison — Allen Wiley preaches — Results of the
Meeting — Camp-meeting near Cochran — Impressive Closing Serv-
ices — Remarks on Camp-meetings — Charges in Indiana in 1818 —
John Schrader's account of his early Labors — Appointed to Silver-
creek Circuit — Administers the Sacrament for the first time in New
Albany — Appointed to Spring-river Circuit, Arkansas Territory —
Preaching under Difficulties — Appointed to Corydon Circuit, Indi-
ana — Organization of the Missouri Conference — Appointed to Mis-
souri Circuit — First Camp-meeting at Boone's Lick — Heroism of the
Early Preachers — Early Jesuit Missionaries — Romanism and Prot-
estantism contrasted — Number of Methodists in Indiana in 1810 —
Number in 1820 — Charges in Indiana — Memoir of Samuel Parker —
James Havens admitted on Trial — William Cravens received in the
Missouri Conference — His hatred of Slaverj- — An Incident — Re-
marks on the Labors of Havens and Cravens — Appointments in
Indiana in 1821 — Cravens appointed to Indianapolis — Connersville
Circuit organized — Extract from the Journal of the Quarterly Con-
ference for Connersville Circuit in 1822 — Appointments in Indi-
ana in 1823 — Dr. A. Wood's account of his Journey to his new
Circuit — Account of his Year's Work — Division of the Missouri
Conference — Appointments in Indiana in 1824 — Appointments on
Madison Circuit.

AT the session of the Ohio Conference, in Zanesville,
September, 1817, Rev. Allen Wiley and Rev. C. W.
Ruter were received on trial in the traveling connection.
Ruter was appointed as junior preacher on Steubenville
Circuit, under James B. Finley as presiding elder, and

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 3 of 27)