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 6 of 27)
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ments : Carlisle, Johnson's, Robbins's, Wall's, and Wear's,
in Sullivan County ; Jackson's, Jr., Jackson's, Sr., Ray's,
and Barnes's, in Vigo County; and Wilkens's, Merom
Bond's, and Graham's, in the county of Sullivan. Paoli
Circuit, in 1826, embraced the following appointments :
In Orange County : Paoli, Vawter's, Little Orleans, and
De Pew's ; in the county of Lawrence : Irving's, Fingir's,
and Sewell's Meeting-house ; in the county of Martin :
Bruner's, the Widow Shelmyer's, M'Gaw's, Nellam's, Fa-
ther Hall's, and at Hall's, Jr. ; Brider's and Springer's, in
Perry County ; and in the county of Crawford : Leaton's,
Fredonia, Leavenworth, M'Grew's, Sherwood's, and Ri-
ley's. The roads were merely bridle-paths, the streams
were unbridged and without ferries, meetings were mostly
in private houses. School-houses and churches were
few and far between.

The third session of the Illinois Conference was held
at Mt. Carmel, Illinois, September 20, 1827. At this
Conference, the appointments for the work in Indiana
were as follows :

Madison Station — Edwin Ray.

Madison Circuit — James Garner and Abner H. Cheever.
Lawrencehurg Circuit — Allen Wiley and D. Newton.
Lawrenceburg Station — James L. Thompson.


Whitewater arcuit— Thomas S. Hitt and James Scott.

jYayne—S. R. Beggs and William Evans.

Connersville — Robert Burns.

Rushville — James Havens.

Columhus—Q. B. Jones. ."'''

Indianapolis—^. B. Griffith.

Vernon — Henry Buell.

Charlestown Circuit — G. Locke, C. W. Ruter, Supernum., and E. G. Wood.
Corydon—J. W. M'Reynolds and S. Low, Supernumerary.
Paoli— William Moore and James M'Kean.
Eel-river — William H. Smith and Benjamin Stevenson.
Crawfordsville — Eli P. Farmer.
Bloomington — Daniel Anderson and S. M. Otwell.
Salem — William Shanks and John Hardy.
Washington — Thomas Davis.


Vermilion — John Fox.

Vincennes — J. Miller and Asahel Risley.
Patoki — Charles Slocum.
Booneville-^^Yi\\iam Mavity.
Mount Vernon — Thomas Files.

Edwin Ray found the Church in Madison greatly ex-
cited over what was known as the Radical Controversy.
Ray did what he could to reclaim the disaffected brethren,
and to disabuse the public mind by publicly vindicating
the economy of the Church ; but his efforts apparently
hastened the crisis. During the year quite a number
withdrew, and organized a separate Church. They built
a respectable house of worship on Third Street, and
flourished for some years ; and their Church, at one time,
numbered some three hundred ; but they soon began to
decline, and the greater part returned to the old Church
again, and appeared satisfied that, while there might be
a difference of opinion as to the rights and powers of
bishops and presiding elders, that difference of opinion
did not justify schism in the Church. In 1828, the Illi-
nois Conference met in Madison, Indiana, Bishop Roberts
presiding. The members reported in that part of the


work lying in Indiana were : Madison District, 5419 ;
Chaiiestown District, 6700 ; and in that part of Wabash
District lying in Indiana, 3974. Madison District began
at Madison, on the Ohio Hiver, and extended north of
Kandolph County, and thence west to White River, and
down White River, including Andersontown, Noblesville,
Indianapolis, and Martinsville ; from thence south-east
to the east fork of White River, called Driftwood, some
distance below Columbus, in Bartholomew County, and
from thence to Madison, embracing all of the interme-
diate country, except a narrow strip of country extending
from Paris to Versailles, called Vernon Circuit, which
was included in Charlestown District. Extensive revi-
vals prevailed throughout most t)f the Conference. Law-
renceburg Circuit, under the labors of N. B. Griffith and
E. G. Wood, was in a blaze of revival. A number of
young men were received into the Church, in the bounds
of this circuit, during the year, whose names have been
since identified with the history of the Church. Of these
we mention J. V. Watson, subsequently of the Michigan
Conference, sometime editor of the North-tvestern Chris-
tian Advocate, and author of several good books ; a re-
markably gifted preacher, and although a great sufferer
from asthma, and for several years a confirmed invalid,
yet such was his strength of will that he accomplished
more than most robust men would have thought possible
for them to have done ; he was a man of brilliant im-
agination, had a remarkable command of language, and
while he was naturally a true genius, he depended on
the genius of hard work for success, — Edward Oldham,
who labored for some years as a faithful and effi-
cient minister in the Indiana Conference, and F. C. Hal-
liday. Indianapolis appears on the list of appointments,
for the first time, as a station, and James Armstrong was


pastor. Wisely and well did he lay the foundations of
Methodism in the capital of the state. Fall-creek ap-
pears for the first time on the list of appointments, with
Charles Bonner as the preacher. During the year there
was a glorious camp-meeting held in the vicinity of Pen-
dleton, within the bounds of Bonner's circuit, at which
fifty souls were converted to God and added to the
Church. The following incident, in connection with this
meeting, is from the pen of Wiley : " A part of the ses-
sion, at the middle of the day, on Sabbath, was devoted
to the subject of Baptism, and at the close of the service
some forty or fifty adults and children were baptized.
After the public baptism was over, the elder was informed
that there was a poor, afflicted man in a wagon, whose
body was, to a considerable extent, decayed by some kind
of abscess or ulceration; but there was yet body enough
left to hold the soul, which could not stay much longer on
the earth, as disease was rapidly encroaching on the vital
parts of the system. This poor Lazarus, with all his
stench of disease, heard the sermon, and felt its force,
and was desirous to be baptized before he died; and his
wish was met in the wagon. His meek, penitent, weep-
ing countenance is still fresh in my memory. If baptism
were confined to immersion alone, this poor man must
have died unbaptized ; for I suppose the most zealous im-
mersionist in the world would not have attempted to put
the fragments of his decaying body under the water. To
my mind this fact is a most powerful argument against
the absolute necessity of immersion to constitute valid
baptism ; for if that be the case, this penitent believer,
must have died unsealed with God's sign of the Christian
covenant ; but if pouring or sprinkling be valid baptism,
while the head and heart are alive, and reason and feel-
ing continue, the penitent may be baptized. This poor


man felt that it was valid, and in a few days left the
remains, of a loathsome carcass, and went to rest."

In September, 1829, Illinois Conference met in Ed-
wardsville, Madison County, Illinois ; Bishop Soule pre-
siding. The following charges appear for the first time
in the list of appointments : Washington, in Wabash
District; Franklin and Vernon, in Madison District; and
Logansport Mission, which was included in Charlestown
District; Stephen R. Beggs, missionary, and John
Strange, Presiding Elder.

How a man could make four rounds in a year, on a
district extending from Charlestown, on the Ohio River,
to Logansport, on horseback, without improved roads,
with few ferries, and no bridges across the streams, is
marvelous. But Strange was a man of one work, and,
although of a delicate constitution, he was lion-hearted.
He had threaded his way through the forests in Eastern
Indiana, from one settlement to another, and from one
block-house to another, carrying a trusty rifle to protect
himself from the Indians, that he might preach the
Gospel, and carry the consolations of religion to the first
pioneers of civilization. Such heroism greatly endeared
him to the people, and his visits to the block-houses and
forts were hailed with delight. He had a remarkable
trust in Divine providence. When on a visit to some
of his old friends in Lawrenceburg, in 1816, he had a
severe attack of fever. Toward the close of his sick-
ness, the horses which he and Mrs. Strange rode got out
of the stable and strayed off. The family with whom
he stayed, and other friends, having made an unsuccess-
ful search for the horses, seemed quite uneasy about
them. Strange said to them, in a mild', chiding way:
"Why are you so uneasy about the horses? All the
horses in the world belong to the Lord, and he will give


me just as many as I need." At another time his horse
strayed away from him at Cincinnati; but he- seemed
perfectly unconcerned, and borrowed another to go to
his appointments. Some one said to him, "Brother
Strange, are you going without your horse?" He re-
plied, "There are hundreds of persons here who can
hunt a horse as well as I can, who can not preach one
word, and I shall go to my work." But the toil and
exposure necessarily connected with traveling a district
extending from the Ohio River to Logansport, told
rapidly on his constitution. Allen Wiley was presiding
elder on Madison District, and George Locke on Wabash

In September, 1830, Illinois Conference met in Vin-
cennes. Bishop Roberts was to have presided ; but he
was detained at St. Louis by sickness, and Samuel H.
Thompson was chosen to preside. Bishop Roberts did
not reach the seat of the Conference until after its
adjournment. Members reported at this Conference,
15,205. At this Conference, Indianapolis District was
organized, with James Armstrong presiding elder. The
district embraced Indianapolis, Franklin, Fall-creek,
White-lick, Greencastle, Rockville, Crawfordsville, and
Logansport. Seventeen young men were admitted on
trial J one of whom was E. R. Ames, now one of the
honored bishops of the Church. This year Fort Wayne
Mission was organized, and N. B. Griffith was the mis-
sionary. Fort Wayne Mission was in Madison District,
of which A. Wiley was presiding elder.

The next session of the Conference was held in
Indianapolis, October 4, 1831. At this Conference,
Crawfordsville District was organized, and James Arm-
strong was the presiding elder. The work in Indiana
was included in the Madison, Charlestown, Indianapolis,


Crawfordsville, and Wabash Districts. The Church had
extended northward as far as St. Joseph County. In
1830, Erastus Felton, who had been sent by the Ohio
Conference to St. Joseph Mission, had formed some
societies in the north part of Indiana. In 1831, N. B.
Griffith was sent to South Bend Mission. He organized
a society in South Bend, of which Samuel Martin was
the leader. But the only charges lying in the north
part of the state were Greencastle, Crawfordsville, La-
fayette, Pine-creek, Rockville, Logansport, South Bend,
and Fort Wayne.

In 1832, Illinois Conference was divided, and In-
diana constituted. Indiana Conference embraced the
whole of the state of Indiana, except a small strip in-
cluded in Illinois Conference ; the Wabash River being-
its western boundary, from its mouth .as far up as Pine
Creek, in Warren County.

The first session of the Indiana Conference was held
in New Albany. There were reported at this Confer-
ence 19,853 white members, and 182 colored. At this
Conference sixty preachers were appointed to charges,
and four charges were left to be supplied. There were
five presiding elders' districts, as follows : Madison,
James Havens, Presiding Elder; Charlestown, William
Shanks, Presiding Elder; Indianapolis, Allen Wiley, Pre-
siding Elder; Vincennes, James L. Thompson, Presiding
Elder. Missionary District, James Armstrong, Super-
intendent. The Mission District included the following
charges and ministers :


Upper Wabash Mission — Samuel C. Cooper.

St. Joseph a/nd South Bend Mission — R. S. Robinson and G. M. Beswick.

Kalamazoo Mission — James T. Robe.

Fort Wayne Mission — Boyd Phelps.

Laporie Mission — James Armstrong.


Ill 1831, Fort Wayne was included in Madison Dis-
trict. There was a large wilderness, uninhabited save
by savage Indians and wild beasts, lying between the
settlements on the Upper Whitewater and Fort Wayne,
requiring the presiding elder each round to lie out one
night in the woods. Wiley would take off his saddle,
and construct a bed out of his saddle and saddle-blanket,
tie his horse's bridle around his waist, and get what rest
he could with the wolves howling around him. During
one of his visits to Fort Wayne, this year, he was
accompanied by R. S. Robinson, and during their stay
they held a series of meetings in Masonic Hall, which
exerted a salutary and powerful influence on the minds
of the people. Wiley preached in the morning and
Robinson at night, for several days in succession; and
it was Wiley's opinion, if the meetings had continued
a few days longer, that nearly the whole community
would have professed religion ; but the preachers had to
leave to attend a camp-meeting in Wayne County.
Wiley often remarked that he never thought of their
leaving Fort Wayne when they did without feelings
of regret.



Retrospective View — First Settlers — First Preachers — Settlement of
Clarke Count)' — Quaker Settlements — Vincennes District in 1811 —
Rangers of 1812 — New Harmony Colony — First Methodist Preach-
ing in Vigo County — Incident — Introduction of Methodism in Harri-
son County — Early Men of Note — Dennis Pennington — " Uncle
Walter Pennington" — •" Uncle Billy Saffer" — Edward Pennington —
Early Methodists in New Albany — Peter Stoy, Aaron Daniels, and
Others — First Society in JeiTersonville — Societies in Charlestown
and Madison — Methodist Preaching in Rising Sun — First Class
formed — Lawrenceburg Circuit organized — Mr. Bartholomew — Isaac
Dunn — Rev. Elijah Sparks — Mrs. Amos Lane — Isaac Mills — Jacob
Blasdell — Rev. Daniel Plummer — Rev. A. J. Cotton — Samuel Good-
win — Rev. Augustus Jocelyn — Hugh Cull — Whitewater Circuit
formed — Israel Abrams — Camp-meeting near Saulsbury — Method-
ism established at Moore's Hill — Adam Moore and Others — John C.
Moore — Moore's Hill — Influence of Local Preachers — Names of
Noted Local Preachers — '-Sketch of Early Society in Indiana," by
Rev. A. Wood — The Missionary District in 1832 — First Camp-
meeting in Laporte County — Introduction of Methodism in Elk-
hart County — Local Preachers in Connersville and Whitewater Cir-
cuits — James Conwell and Others — An old-fashioned Quarterly-
meeting — Dr. Benjamin Adams — John Strange — Account of his
Labors — Letter of John Schrader — Facts in the Early History of the
Church in Indiana — Preaching in Bar-rooms — Incident — " Charac-
teristics of the Early Indiana Settlers," by Rev. A. Wood.

HAVING traced the expansion of the Church from the
first introduction of Methodism into the state until
the organization of the Indiana Conference, it is proper to
take a retrospective survey of the field, the condition of
society, and notice some of the local agencies and less
prominent instrumentalities by which the Church had
achieved success hitherto. The seat of the Territorial
Government, first at Vincennes, and then at Corydon, at-
tracted settlers, at an early day, to the south-western


part of the state. Knox County was organized in 1802.
Vincennes was the seat of the Territorial Government, as
well as for the county. The original settlers were French;
but, in addition to these, at a very early day there were
a number of families from Maryland, Virginia, and Penn-
svlvania. The French society ranged all the way from
the half-savage up to the polished deist and the learned
priest. The Virginia element ranged from the fugitive
cut-throat up to the chivalrous governor, always including
a large adventurous element, composed of young men
who, as yet, were sowing their wild oats. Religious serv-
ices Avere conducted, from the beginning of the settle-
ment, by the Romish priests. Joseph Oglesby and Jesse
Walker, as missionaries from the Illinois Conference,
preached the Gospel in the settled portions of Knox
County, in an early day. A Presbyterian preacher from
Kentucky, by the name of James M'Cready, settled in
the county, and preached with efficiency. Clarke County
was organized in 1801, and its first settlers were families
from Virginia, who were of Scotch or German origin.
The spirit of independence was carried into their relig-
ious views, and whether they were Baptists, Presbyteri-
ans, or Methodists, they were very nearly congregational
or independent in their notions of Church government.
Prelacy and apostolic succession had no place among
them. That portion known as Clarke's Grant was settled
by soldiers, irrespective of religious profession. The
first Methodist preachers came over from Kentucky ; oc-
casional preaching was had, as early as 1802, in what was
known as the Robertson and Prather Settlements, and in
1807, Silver-creek Circuit was organized. The Virgin-
ians who settled in Clarke County were not as well edu-
cated as some from the same state who settled in Knox,
but they were more homogeneous, and more opposed to


slavery. There were a few Quaker settlements in the
south-west part of the state, at an early day, and they
dissemmated a strong anti-slavery sentiment ; and where
there were isolated Quaker families, they welcomed
Methodist preachers and Methodist preaching. There
were no settlements formed by Methodists, as a body of
emigrants, but occasionally a few Methodist families
would be found contiguous to each other. Emigrants
from England settled in a body in the counties of Dear-
born and Franklin. Scotch Covenanters settled in a
body in Gibson County. The Friend Quakers settled in
a body in Wayne, Washington, and Orange Counties. In
1811, Vincennes Circuit embraced the country from the
Ohio River on the south, to the farthest point of white
population on the east side of the Wabash, north. There
were settlements in the forks of White Kiver, now Da-
vies's County; at Patoka, now Gibson County; and on
Honey Creek, in what is now Sullivan and Vigo Counties.
The settlements were visited by Methodist preachers, at
that early day, and there were, in all these early settle-
ments, persons who had been converted in the great revi-
vals in Kentucky and Tennessee, and who hailed with
pleasure the appearance of evangelical ministers among
them. At the commencement of the AVar of 1812, the
moral and religious condition of the settlers on the Wa-
bash was, perhaps, as good as that of any other new
country; but there was sent into those frontier settle-
ments a class of soldiers called "Rangers," who were sup-
ported by Government, and lived iti idleness and dissipa-
tion. And while they afforded protection to the settlers
from the Indians, they exposed them to many tempta-
tions, and not unfrequently corrupted their morals. The
leisure and the opportunities afforded by the officers of
the army, and of the new Territorial Government, for


dissipation, exerted a pernicious influence upon the gen-
eral population.

From 1814 to 1820, the south-western part of the
state settled rapidly. Frederick Rappe settled his col-
ony at New Harmony. The emigration was chiefly from
the 86uthern States — South Carolina, Tennessee, and
Kentucky, and a few from Southern Ohio. Among these
emigrants were some Methodists. These, of course,
formed the nucleus of societies when the itinerants came
among them, and they were never far behind the front
wave of emigration. The first Methodist preacher that
visited the county of Vigo, was Jacob Turman, who
preached at the cabin of John Dickson, neaiTTlbgers's
Spring, and organized a class, consisting of Dickson and
wife, J. Lambert and wife, and William Winters; the last-
named being the class-leader. At one time a company
of hostile Indians came near the house, with the inten-
tion of murdering the congregation; but as they drew
near the house, the congregation was engaged in singing,
and such was the influence of the music on them that
they quietly retired. They reported to the interpreter,
at the treaty, not long afterward, that they retired out
of veneration for the Great Spirit.

Methodism was early introduced into Harrison
County. Silver-creek Circuit, which was the first regu-
lar charge in Indiana, included the settlements in Clark,
Floyd, Harrison, and Washington Counties. Harrison
County was subsequently in Indian-creek, and, at a later
period, in Corydon Circuit. Methodism, in Harrison
County, had some noted representatives in early times.
Among these was Dennis Pennington, who was a mem-
ber of the first Convention that formed the Constitution
for the State, — he was several times elected a member
of the State Legislature, and exerted a good influence,


both in public and private life, — Uncle Walter Penning-
ton, a famous, though illiterate local preacher, who was
extensively known, and "Uncle Billy Saffer," a local
preacher of remarkable eccentricity, and without doubt
the greatest wag in all the land. A number of his
speeches found their way into the newspapers of the
day on such themes as, " How I got my Education ;"
" My Second Courtship," etc. Edward Pennington was
also a prominent and active steward in the Church in
that county in an early day. Among the early Meth-
odists in New Albany, Floyd County, are the names
of Peter Stoy, a ship-joiner, whose influence was good,
and. who is worthily represented by a pious posterity;
Aaron Daniels, father of Rev. Wm. Daniels, now an old
and highly respected minister in Indiana Conference, and
Rev, John Daniels^ of California Conference ; Matthew
Robinson, John Evans, and Daniel ^eybrook; Thomas
Sinex, father of Rev. Thomas H. Sinex, an educated
and able minister of the Gospel; Edward Brown, Isaac
Brooks, Benjamin Blackstone, and Obadiah Childs. The
first organized society in JefFersonville was in 1810,
under the ministry of Rev. Selah Payne, who traveled
Silver-creek Circuit that year. The first society was
composed of: Mr. Beman and wife, Stephen Beman,
Lyman Beman, and Amanda Beman, and children; Mary
Toville, afterward Mary Taylor; Davis Floyd, Mary
Floyd, Richard Mosley, Samuel Lampton, Charlotte
Lampton, and Mrs. Leatherman. Societies had been
previously formed in the neighborhood of Charlestown,
in the Robinson and Prather Settlements. Madison had
preaching at an early day, and was included in the old
Whitewater Circuit.

Methodist preaching was introduced into Rising Sun
by John Strange, in 1814 or 1815. The services of Mr..


Strange were procured in the following manner : Mrs.
^ElizaMth De_Coiirsej, learning that he had an appoint-
ment two miles below the town, at the house of Mr.
Goodin, in company with another lady, walked to the
place of preaching, heard the sermon, and solicited an
appointment for Rising Sun. The preacher consented,
and left an appointment, to be filled on his next round.
At the appointed time a small congregation assembled
in the woods, where the foot of Main Street now is,
seating themselves on logs and the limbs of trees that
had been felled by the new settlers. The preacher was
on time. He stood on the trunk of a fallen tree, and
sounded the Gospel trumpet into the listening ears of
his attentive and delighted hearers, and left another
appointment. Mr. Strange preached three or four times.
A Mr. Craft, who had opened a house of public enter-
tainment, offered his bar-room for preaching, which was
accepted. Rev. Joseph Oglesby succeeded John Strange,
and, during a brief stay, gathered up some six names,
preparatory to the organization of a class. Rev. Daniel
Sliarp succeeded Oglesby. Sharp organized the first
class in the town, and put it on the plan of the circuit.
The class consisted of nine persons, namely : Elizabeth
Craft, John Gordon, Nancy Gordon, Henrj^ Hayman,
Elizabeth Howlit, Jane Fulton, Azariah Oldham, Rachel
_01dham, and Elizabeth De Coursey. The class was

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 6 of 27)