History of Porter County, 1912County history published by The Lewis Publishing Company . . . .

Source Citation:
The Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Volume I.  Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 357 p.







In the early part of the Seventeenth century Jesuit priests crossed the Atlantic and began the work of establishing missions among the North American Indians. The Jesuit fathers may have been somewhat fanatical in their religious zeal, but they were generally sincere in their devotion to their calling, loyal to their king, and men of unquestioned courage. No wilderness was too dark and uninviting for them to plunge into its depths in their efforts to carry the story of the Cross to the benighted inhabitants. Quite a number of these early missionaries played important parts in the exploration of the vast, unknown interior of North America, and the names of Marquette, Joliet, Hennepin, De la Croix and others are indelibly written in the pages of American History. Long before the first permanent white settlers came to northern Indiana, some of these Catholic missionaries visited the Indian tribes in the Great Lakes


region. As early as 1672 Fathers Allouez and Dablon landed on the south shore of Lake Michigan and passed through what is now Porter county on their way to the Kankakee river, but there is no evidence to show that they endeavored to found a permanent mission in any of the territory they visited.

Daniel E. Kelly, the well known Valparaiso lawyer, has in his possession a relic, supposed to have been lost by some of the early Catholic priests who visited the country about the head of Lake Michigan. It is the lid of a lavorium, or holy water fount, semicircular in form, the straight side, or diameter, being about two inches in length, with traces of the hinged joint plainly visible. On the top is engraved a lamb lying down; above the lamb is a cross surrounded by a halo, and around the design is a sort of saw tooth border. These teeth, which point toward the center are not uniform in size. This relic is of silver, which is completely oxidized from long exposure to the elements. It was found by Frederick Cam on Sunday, May 19, 1912, in the old bed of the Grand Calumet river where it empties into Lake Michigan near Granger Springs, Lake county. The early United States surveys show a trail leading from that point eastward into Porter county. Young Carr gave the relic to Mr. Kelly, who showed it to Rev. Thomas Jensen, of Gary, and from him learned that what is presumably the other part of the lavorium was picked up on the beach some fifty years ago and is in the possession of Father Blackman.

The first Catholic missions in Indiana were established in the southern part of the state, where they developed into churches and educational institutions. The denomination is still much stronger in that part of the state than in the central and nothern portions, the monastery at St. Meinrad, Spencer county, and the convent at Oldenburg, Franklin county, being among the best known Catholic schools in the Middle West.

Closely following the Catholics were the Baptists. A Baptist church was established on Owen's creek, Clark county, as early as 1798. From that time until 1860 Indiana was a missionary field for the Baptists,


Methodists, Presbyterian and Christians, or Campbellites. Methodist circuit riders were at work in the southern part of the state in the early part of the Nineteenth century. Thomas Cleland, a Presbyterian missionary, organized the first church of that faith in the state at Vincennes about 1800, and the second was organized at Charleston, Clark county, in 1807. About three years later the Friends, or Quakers, founded settlements in eastern Indiana, near the present city of Richmond. As the tide of emigration flowed north and west the church followed. Joseph Bailly, the first white settler in Porter county, was a devout Catholic, and soon after he built his cabin and established his trading post on the banks of the Calumet river his place became a rendezvous for "all sorts and conditions of men." Missionaries frequently stopped with him, and the masses said by them were doubtless the first religious services ever held in the county. Many of the early settlers had been identified with some church organization in their old homes. As soon as their cabins were built and their families sheltered, their thoughts turned toward the building up of the church in the wilderness where they had cast their lot.

Missionaries of the Baptist and Methodist churches came into Porter county about the time it was organized, or perhaps a little before, the records in the county clerk's office showing that during the year 1836 marriages were solemnized by at least four ministers. These four were Alpheus French and Asahel Neal, Baptists, and Cyrus Spurlock and Stephen Jones, Methodists. It is said that Rev. Asahel Neal organized a congregation in Morgan township in the latter part of 1835 or early in 1836. If so, that was the first church organization in the county, but the report is not well authenticated. Rev. Alpheus French preached at Blachly's Corners, in Union township, in the spring of 1836. The meeting was held in a grove, about twenty-five persons being present. This is generally credited with being the first meeting held by a Baptist minister within the confines of the county. On June 10, 1837, Mr. French organized the First Baptist Church, with twelve members, among whom were John and Drusilla Bartholomew, Edmond and Charity Bil-


lings, James and Rebecca Witham, John Robinson, Warner and Adelia Pierce. John Robinson and John Bartholomew were the first deacons, and Jacob C. White, the first clerk. On February 8, 1840, the name was changed to the "First Baptist Church of Valparaiso."

For some time the congregation was without a permanent house of worship, the meetings during this period being held in various places. Elder French served as pastor until 1842. He was succeeded by Harlowe S. Orton, who served for about two years. Rev. W. T. Bly was then pastor until 1847, when he was succeeded by Rev. Alexander Nickerson. Under his ministry a church building was erected at a cost of $2,200. It was dedicated on March 13, 1853, and since that time the congregation has had a permanent home, though the old church edifice has been supplanted by a new one which was dedicated on November 13, 1881. It is located at the northwest corner of Lafayette and Chicago streets and was erected at a cost of $6,100. It is a brick building, in the form of a Greek cross, with two entrances and has a seating capacity of about 600. In June, 1912, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the church was celebrated with appropriate services, meetings being held daily from the 9th to the 16th of the month. During the seventy-five years of its history the church has had twenty-two pastors, the present pastor being Rev. J. A. Knowlton, who assumed charge in 1910. The pastors, from 1854, when Mr. Nickerson left, to the coming of Mr. Knowlton, with the year in which each began his service, were: Henry Smith, 1854; G. T. Brayton, 1860; J. D. Cole, D. D., 1861; J. M. Maxwell, 1862; M. T. Lamb, 1864; Otis Saxton, 1867; W. W. Caplinger, 1870; W. A. Clark, D. D., 1873; E. S. Riley, 1875; C. J. Pope, 1886; J. B. Banker, 1889; D. Heagle, D. D., 1892; W. E. Randall, 1896; W. E. Storey, 1897; John L. Beyl, 1899; H. B. Benninghoff, 1905; S. I. Long, 1907.

In 1835, acting under authority of the Indiana conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. Stephen Jones organized the Deep River mission, which embraced the counties of Lake and Porter. Subsequently the field of labor became known as the Kankakee mission, and


still later as the Valparaiso circuit. Rev. Richard Hargrave was presiding elder at the time the mission was first organized, and among the early pastors were Stephen Jones, Jacob Colclasier, Hawley B. Beers, Samuel K. Young, William J. Forbes, Isaac M. Stagg, William F. Wheeler, Wade Posey, Warren Griffith, J. Cozad, Thomas C. Hackney, S. T. Cooper, William Palmer, W. G. Stonix, J. G. D. Pettijohn, L. B. Kent, Franklin Taylor, David Dunham, Abram Carey and Samuel Godfrey. This brings the list down to 1852, when Valparaiso was set off as a separate charge and organized into a station. Prior to that time, however, Lake county had been cut off and formed into a new charge in the fall of 1844, the Valparaiso circuit from that date including only Porter county. When the mission was first organized the places of holding meetings were fixed at Valparaiso, Gosset's Chapel, Twenty-mile Grove, Indian Town (afterward known as Hebron), Melvin's, Lee's, White's and Louis Pennock's. As the population increased new places of worship were added, and at the time Valparaiso was made a separate pastoral charge in 1852, the appointments in the district were fourteen in number, to wit: Valparaiso, Morgan Prairie, Kankakee, Ohio, Hanna's Mill, Jackson Center, City West, Horse Prairie, Hebron, Griffith's Chapel, Union Chapel, Salt Creek, Twenty-mile Grove and Pennock's.

Rev. W. J. Forbes organized the first class in Valparaiso in 1840. The first Methodist church in the city was organized in 1847 in a small frame building, and the following year work was commenced on the first house of worship, under the pastorate of Rev. W.G. Stonix, who left before the building was completed. It was finished in 1849 under Rev. J. G. D. Pettijohn. That same year a parsonage was purchased at the corner of Monroe and Franklin streets, but in 1853 it was sold and a new parsonage erected in the rear of the church, at a cost of $900. The congregation grew rapidly, and after some $5,000 had been expended in enlarging and improving both church and parsonage, the quarters became too small and it was decided to build a new church. The pastors during this period - from 1852 to 1881 - were: David


Crawford, Albion Fellows, W. Hamilton, G. W. Stafford, S. T. Cooper, Aaron Gurney, C. N. Sims, B. W. Smith, C. A. Brooke, T. S. Webb, Nelson Green, G. M. Boyd, L. C. Buckles, Thomas Meredith, W. Graham, N. L. Brakeman, W. B. Stutz, G. M. Boyd and C. A. Brooke. It was under the second pastorate of Mr. Brooke that the present church edifice was erected. It is located at the northwest corner of Jefferson and Franklin streets, is in the form of a cross, 65 by 105 feet, with basement, etc. The main auditorium is 58 by 63 feet; the Sunday school room is 45 by 57 feet; the infant class room is 22 by 24 feet, and there are two class rooms each 15 by 16 feet. Art glass windows give a pleasing and soothing effect and the church is equipped with a fine pipe organ. The total cost of the building was about $23,500. The present pastor is Rev. Thomas J. Bassett, who was formerly at the head of the preparatory department of De Pauw University at Greencastle, Indiana.

For a while after the Deep River mission was organized, the few Methodist in the vicinity of the present town of Hebron met at the homes of Simeon Bryant and Absalom Morris. After the school house was built meetings were held there. A regular society was organized in 1837 by Rev. Jacob Colclasier, who was the first minister to extend his labors into that part of the missionary field. Hawley B. Beers, Wade Pay, L. B. Kent, William F. Wheeler, William J. Forbes and Warren Griffith also preached there during the early days of the congregation In 1840 a protracted meeting lasting nearly two months was held and a large number of members were added to the church. Several of the meetings were held at a school house about four miles east of Hebron. In 1844 a log church was built and Rev. Warren Griffith regularly engaged as pastor. Fifteen years later the log building was replaced by a neat frame structure, at a cost of about $1,000. Since that time the Methodist church of Hebron has prospered. A parsonage was bought in 1877 and has since been enlarged and improved. The pastor in 1912 was Rev. O. P. Paxton.

Among the early settlers of Morgan township were four men by the name of White, who located in the northwestern part. These four men


and a Mr. Cornish, with their wives, organized themselves into a Methodist society and erected a small church on section 12, township 34, range 6, where it is still maintained, though for some years services were not held there regularly.

Two Methodist societies were organized in Portage township about 1837 - one at the Robbins school house and the other on the west side. No church was erected until about 1855, when a small house was built near the present village of Crisman, Mr. McCool being the prime mover in securing its construction. After a time the Methodist organization died out and the house was used for awhile by the German Lutherans.

A few years before the beginning of the Civil war, a Methodist congregation was formed at Jackson Center. The old school house was purchased, an addition built to it, and for many years it was used for church purposes. The church at the present time is located on section 21, township 36, range 5. About the time the Jackson Center church was established a Methodist society was formed at Flint lake and a small church was built at "Kinney's Corners," near the junction of Center, Liberty, Jackson and Washington townships. The writer has been unable to learn the fate of this congregation or its house of worship.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Chesterton was formed about 1860 or 1861. Work was commenced on a church building, but the war broke out and it was allowed to stand in an unfinished condition for two or three years, when it was finished at a cost of about $2,000. Among those who were active on the organization of this congregation and the erection of its spiritual home may be mentioned John Whitman, Gilbert Morgan, D. N. Hopkins, Albert E. Letts, William Barney, Henry Hageman and J. W. Stewart, all of whom gave liberally toward the establishment of the church. The pastor of this church in 1912 was the Rev. C. A. Brown. There is also a Methodist church at Wheeler, Rev. J. P. Cox, pastor, and Methodist meetings have been held in various portions of the county in the school houses, private residences or halls, but the above include all the representative Methodist Episcopal congregations and houses of worship in the county. On January 26, a Swedish


Methodist church was organized at Chesterton, and the next year a church was erected at a cost of some $600. The first pastor was Rev. C. J. Hisson and the number of members at the time of the organization was only twelve. Within three years after the church was built the membership had reached forty-five. The first trustees of the church were John B. Lundberg, August Melin and August Peterson, who continued to serve in that capacity for several years and were active in building up the congregation. From the beginning the church has prospered and it is today one of the substantial religious organizations of Porter county. The present pastor is Rev. A. Reese.

The fundamental idea of Presbyterianism is a church government administered by presbyters or a body of elders. Probably the first church government of this character was that instituted by the Waldenses in the early part of the Sixteenth century, though John Calvin, the organizer of the Reformed church, has been generally credited with being also the founder of the Presbyterian church. The first effort toward the establishment of a separate denomination, by those holding the views advocated by the Waldenses and Calvin, was on December 3, 1557, when a number of the Scottish noblemen met at Edinburgh and signed "The First Covenant." In a few years the Presbyterian church became the established church of Scotland. The doctrines of the church were introduced into America by refugees from European countries in the first half of the Seventeenth century, and as the march of civilization moved slowly but steadily westward, Presbyterianism was extended until today churches of that faith are to be found in almost every hamlet of the Union. About the time that Porter county was organized, the church became divided into the Old and New School Presbyterians, and there have been some subdivisions, such as the Cumberland, the Associate Reformed and the United Presbyterians, but the principal tenets of the parent organization have remained unchanged.

Presbyterian missionaries were early in the field in Indiana. One of the first to visit Porter county was a man named Hannan, who represented that branch known as the Associate Reform Presbyterians. On


July 28, 1838, he organized Bethlehem Church of that faith where the town of .Hebron now stands. The first members of this congregation were Thomas Dinwiddie, Berkley Oliver and Samuel Turner, and their wives, John W. and David T. Dinwiddie, Susanna Dinwiddie, Sr., Susanna Dinwiddie, Jr., Mary McCarnehan, Margaret A. and Margaret J. Dinwiddie, and Susan P. West. Shortly after the church was organized, Mr. Hannan left and Rev. Wilson Blain became pastor. He remained until about 1847, and for the next three years the congregation was without a pastor. In 1851 Rev. J. N. Buchanan became pastor and remained with the church for over thirty years. As the members were not in affluent circumstances, no attempt was made for some time to erect a church. Meetings were held at the residences during the winter seasons, and in warm weather the groves, "God's first temples," were utilized as places of worship. Mr. Blain urged the members to build a church, even though it should be a humble one, and a log house was erected, in which the seats were small logs split in halves with pins for legs to raise the seats to the proper height. In 1852 a frame house was built three-fourths of a mile south of Hebron, at a cost of $1,200, all of which was paid up before the house was occupied. This house was removed to Hebron in 1864 and there used as a church until 1879, when a larger building was erected, costing $2,500. This congregation is now known as the United Presbyterian church, with Rev. C. M. Filer as pastor. On Sunday, April 10, 1902, the United Presbyterians of northern Indiana met at Hebron, every church in the district being represented. G. I. Gordon was at that time installed as pastor of the Hebron church. Reports from the various congregations showed that during the preceding year more money had been raised by the church for foreign missions and benevolent year than ever before. Communion was celebrated at Hebron in the morning and at Leroy, Lake county, in the afternoon.

It is quite probable that some meetings were held by Presbyterians in or about Valparaiso during the first three years after settlements were made there, and that sermons were preached by some of the early Presbyterian ministers who came to the county. No attempt was made


to organize a church, however, until December 4, 1839, when Rev. James C. Brown, a young licentiate, preached a sermon in the old court-house. He remained in the county, was soon after ordained to the ministry, and on July 3, 1840, assisted by Rev. W. K. Marshall, of Laporte, organized the Valparaiso Presbyterian church. The original members of this congregation were James and Isabel Blair, Elizabeth Martin, M. B. Crosby, Henry Battan, Mary E. Brown, Nancy Buel, Abby Salisbury, Bathsheba E. Hamell and Elizabeth Marshall. James Blair and M. B. Crosby were elected elders. Later in the year a Sunday school was organized by Mrs. Brown and Hugh A. Brown, the latter a brother of the pastor. The school was a union school and started off with eighteen pupils, including practically all the children of the neighborhood. Meetings were held in the court-house until the spring of 1841, when a house was rented on the south side of Jefferson street just east of Franklin, where services were held regularly for the next two years. In 1842 the congregation began preparations for the erection of a church. The lot immediately west of the present Methodist church was bought, but when it was learned that the Methodist congregation had purchased the lot on the corner, it was deemed inadvisable to build so close to another church and a house of worship was erected on the lot afterward occupied by Professor Boucher's residence. Here a building 35 by 45 feet in size was put up, at a cost of $750, exclusive of the labor furnished by members of the congregation. It was occupied by the church in 1844, though the pews were not put in until five years later. Two noted revivals were held in this old building - in 1847 and 1854 - and a number of new members thereby added to the church. In 1857 the church building was removed to the lot on the south side of Jefferson street and just west of the alley between Franklin and Washington streets. At the same time an addition of twenty-five feet was added to it, making its length seventy-feet. Other additions in the way of a lecture room and an infant class room were subsequently added.

Mr. Brown continued as pastor of the church until the breaking out of the Civil war, when he entered the army as chaplain of the Forty-


eighth Indiana infantry and died at Paducah, Kentucky, in July, 1862. During his ministry of twenty years he saw the church grow to be one of the most important and influential Presbyterian congregations in northern Indiana. He was succeeded as pastor by Rev. S. C. Logan, who remained during the war, resigning in July, 1865. Robert Beer was then called to the pulpit and remained as pastor until 1884, when he accepted a call to the church at Cedar Grove, Iowa, and Rev. N. S. Willson became pastor at Valparaiso. Toward the close of Mr. Beer's ministry a movement was started to build a new church. The lot on the southwest corner of Franklin and Jefferson streets was purchased and an active canvass for subscriptions to the building fund was inaugurated. Work was commenced on the new building in 1883, and on Sunday, March 1, 1885, it was dedicated. The work of construction was carefully watched by Artillus V. Bartholomew, a member of the church, who devoted his time to that purpose without money and without charge. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. Willis G. Craig, D. D., of the Northwestern Theological Seminary, of Chicago. John D. Wilson, the contractor who built the Porter county court-house, also erected the Presbyterian church, the two buildings going up simultaneously. It is also worthy of note that while the new court-house and church were in process of construction the sessions of the court were held in the old Presbyterian church. The cost of the building was $24,368, all of which was fully provided for at the time the church was dedicated. The present pastor is Rev. J. M. Gelston, and the number of communicants is in the neighborhood of 400. The seating capacity of the house is about 1,000. There is a fine memorial window to commemorate the services of Dr. Brown, the first pastor, and another to Robert Beer, who served the church for nearly twenty years.

In connection with this congregation, it is deemed appropriate to add a few words concerning the character of Rev. James C. Brown, the first pastor, to whose work much of the present prosperity of the church is due. Energy and activity were his distinguishing characteristics, and the church was the object of his constant care and solicitation. When


work was commenced upon the first church building, he shouldered his ax and went with the others out to Bartholomew's woods to assist in felling and hewing the timbers. It is said that he "made a hand" at this work, as in everything else he undertook. He frequently visited the settlements where there were a few Presbyterians and held meetings for their benefit. He organized the Salem church in the western part of Porter township and preached there several times. This congregation at first held meetings in private residences, but after a time a house of worship was erected near the center of section 22, township 34, range 7. Some years later the Presbyterian organization was discontinued and the Methodists have since held meetings in the house.

A Presbyterian church was organized in Portage township early in the '50s, and a house was erected by S. P. Robbins in 1852, at a cost of $800, more than three-fourths of which was the gift of Mr. Robbins himself. Some of the early members of this church were S. P. Robbins, Benjamin Stoddard, Russell Dorr and their wives, Daniel Richardson, Francis James, Emily James, a man named Leters and his sister. Rev. James C. Brown was the first preacher. He was followed by a Mr. Humphrey and later a minister named Ogden served as pastor. Services were then held at irregular intervals for awhile by ministers from various churches, after which the congregation was disbanded, the members joining other churches, and the Methodists acquired possession of the house, which was located on the northwest quarter of section 17, township 36, range 6, about a half mile south of the present village of McCool.

In 1885 a Presbyterian church was organized at Tassinong, near the southern border of Morgan township, and a house of worship costing some $800 was erected the same year. Joseph Bartholomew and George Biggert each gave $150 toward the building of the church, and the citizens assisted in its construction with the understanding that other denominations should have the free use of the house at times when the Presbyterians were not occupying it. Rev. James C. Brown was a liberal contributor to the cause, and for some time acted as pastor, holding services


in the morning at Valparaiso and in the afternoon at Tassinong. Other ministers who preached in this church were S. C. Logan, Robert Williams, S. R. Baker, Henry Cullom and Frank Ferguson, and two men named Kinney and Moore. Death and removals decimated the congregation until the old church at Tassinong was finally abandoned.

On October 29, 1860, an Old School Presbyterian church was organized at Hebron, with the following members: William Mackey, E. Mackey, Gideon and Jane Brecount, A. A. Burwell, Rebecca Burwell, Mary E. Hill, Mary Hill, Clark L. and Nancy Tannehill, Margaret M. Gill, Carrie M. Wilson, Stella McCollom, Jane Aylesworth and T. C. Sweeney. Rev. J. L. Lower was the first pastor, and Amos A. Burwell and William Mackey the first elders. Clark L. Tannehill, T. C. Sweeney and Gideon Brecount were elected the first board of trustees. In June, 1873, the congregation bought the old school-house and fitted it up for church purposes. For a time the congregation was connected with the one at Crown Point and later with the one ,at Tassinong. About 1876 the membership was somewhere near forty, but five years later it had dwindled to twenty-five. The only Presbyterian church in Hebron in 1912 was the United Presbyterian organization, already mentioned.

In June, 1840, a few persons belonging to the Christian church, who had settled in Morgan township, got together and formed a society, the first of that denomination in Porter county. Among the early members were Henry S. Adams, Lewis Comer, George W. Turner and Joseph McConnell, and their wives, Thomas Adams, Elias Cain, Mrs. Baum and Mrs. Elizabeth Stoner. Lewis Comer was the first elder, and H. S. Adams the first deacon. After the congregation was firmly established, a brick church, costing about $2,000, was erected on the southeast quarter of section 18, township 34, range 6, about a mile and a half north of the present village of Malden. Rev. Lemuel Shortridge preached for this church, off and on, for about thirty years. Other ministers who filled the pulpit at times were Rev. Robert Johnson, Rev. M. Goodykoontz, and Rev. W. Lowe. Like most country churches, this one has never made much noise or shown a large membership roll, but the few


who have belonged to it at different times have generally been faithful in the discharge of their Christian duties.

A Christian church was organized at Boone Grove at an early date, where it is still maintained, though it has never boasted a large membership, and several times in its history it has been without a regular pastor for months at a time.

The Christian church in Valparaiso had its beginning in 1847, when a small society was organized by Rev. Peter T. Russell. Some of the charter members were: Mrs. P. T. Russell, Elias Axe, Agnes Axe, James Purely and wife, William W. and Belinda Jones, Caroline Russell and Mary A. Baum. Peter T. Russell was the first pastor. For a time the meetings were held in private residences, rented hall, and on special occasions in the court-house. In 1852 Elias Axe purchased from Mrs. Hamell the old brick school-house on Jefferson street between Washington and Franklin, and it was used as a church until 1869. Then for a period of about five years meetings were held in private houses, the court-house, and the old German Lutheran church on the corner of Washington and Institute streets. In 1874 work was commenced on a brick church on the north side of Chicago street near Franklin. This building, which cost $3,200, was occupied by the congregation until the spring of 1888, when it was torn down and the present building erected upon the site. Some of the pastors during this period were P. T. Russell, Lewis Comer, Charles Blackman, W. W. Jones, Lemuel Shortridge, R. C. Johnston, W. R. Lowe, I H. Edwards and H. B. Davis. William Thomas, an architect of Chicago, drew the plans for the present church edifice, and the building committee was composed of H. B. Brown, D. F. Jones, E. D. Crumpacker, B. F. Perrine, L. M. Pierce and T. M. Shreve.

No delay was encountered in the erection of the building, which was formally dedicated on Sunday, December 16, 1888, the sermon on that occasion being preached by Rev. J. H. O. Smith, the pastor of the church. The building cost about $20,000, and has a seating capacity of 1,000. The pastors who served the church since the present house of worship was erected have been J. H. O. Smith, J. C. Updike, John L. Brant,


Bruce Brown and Claude E. Hill. The last named is the pastor in 1912, having been called to the pulpit in 1910. A new parsonage is now (July, 1912,) under construction, which, when completed will have cost about $3,600. The number of members in 1912 was about 1,450.

About the time this church removed into its new house of worship in 1888 a Christian church was organized at Kouts. Some of the trappings and furniture of the old Christian church at Valparaiso were given to the Kouts church to help the new congregation in equipping its home. On July 20, 1912, the will of Rose Yoder, of Kouts, was filed in the probate court of Porter county. Among other bequests was one of $500, which the will stipulated should be safely deposited in some bank and the interest used to aid in paying the salary of the Christian minister at Kouts. A like sum was to be deposited in bank and the interest allowed to accumulate for fifty years, when the entire sum should be given to the church, to be used as the congregation might elect.

A Christian church was organized at Hebron in January, 1870, with twenty-six members, among whom were Joseph Dye and wife, Sarah Essex, Ellis Ruff and wife, Viola Robinson, Sarah A. Johnson, Isaac Margison, Mrs. Blood, and Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery. Joseph Dye was the first deacon, and Mrs. Mary E. White was the first person to be baptized after the church was organized. Lemuel Shortridge was the ht pastor, serving the congregation for about three years, when he was succeeded by William Wheeler. Other ministers who served as pastor of this church were William R. Lowe, William L. Streeter, I. H. Edwards, John Ellis, H. B. Davis and A. C. Carter. A house of worship was erected in 1878, at a cost of $1,100. This house was practically rebuilt in the spring of 1910, when some $7,000 were expended in enlarging and improving it, the first services in the new building being held on Sunday, May 22, 1910. The pastor in 1912 was Rev. S. W. Brown.

In 1850 a Reformed Mennonite church was organized in Valparaiso. After holding meetings in private residences for about twenty years, they purchased the old brick school-house on Willow street, where the church still has its home. Although the membership is small, and the


congregation is frequently without a regular pastor, meetings are held regularly, all the forms and ceremonies of their peculiar faith being faithfully observed.

A correct and authentic account of the Catholic church in Porter county is somewhat difficult to obtain. There were a few Catholics living in the vicinity of Valparaiso in the decade from 1840 to 1850, and there is a story to the effect that the first mass ever said in that portion of the county was on the northwest quarter of section 15, township 35, range 6, about two miles northwest of the court-house, but the time and name of the priest seem to have been forgotten. Priests from Notre Dame and other places sometimes visited the few Catholics residing about Valparaiso. Among these early missionaries may be mentioned Father Kilroy, Father Curley, Father Cointet and Father Paul Gillen, familiarly known as Father Paul. It was through his efforts that St. Paul's Church was commenced, though he left before it was completed, and for a time no efforts were made to finish the building or to hold regular services. When the state of Indiana was divided and Rt. Rev. J. H. Luers was made bishop of the northern diocese, one of the first official acts was to endeavor to establish a resident priest in Valparaiso. First came Father Clarke, but for some reason he did not remain long. He was succeeded by Rev. George Hamilton, an able man, but he, too, left in a short time. About that time the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad was under construction, and many of the Catholics about Valparaiso belonged to that class that follows work of such character, roving from place to place as public works or railroads were to be built. Such persons, while true to their religious belief in a way, are not deeply interested in the establishment of churches.

A small number of Catholics, however, settled down in the county and purchased lands. In time they became able to support a resident pastor and Rev. John Force came to establish a parish. He was a man of fine ability, possessed good social qualities, and would have succeeded in his mission, but his death occurred soon after coming to Valparaiso. Next came Father Botti, a splendid scholar, but lacking in all those


traits that made his predecessor popular. In a short time he became involved in controversies and law-suits, until he was finally recalled by the bishop.

After Father Botti came Rev. Michael O'Reilly, who succeeded where others had failed, and for nearly twenty-five years remained as the popular and efficient of St. Paul's. Father O'Reilly was born in County Westmeath, Ireland, January 29, 1834, a son of John and Ann (Bennett) O'Reilly. His father died in 1841 and his mother married again. In 1846, although a mere boy, Michael became a member of one of the clubs whose members were denounced as rebels by the British government, and in 1848 he fled to America. He had an uncle living at Utica, New York, and there he found a home. At the age of seventeen he began teaching. Later he attended Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, until his junior year, when he entered the Catholic college of Notre Dame, at South Bend, Indiana. After preparing himself in this institution he attended St. Mary's Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio, where he finished his course and was ordained to the priesthood. Being assigned to the northern Indiana diocese, he was sent by the bishop to Valparaiso, where he served until his death on August 4, 1887, due to a stroke of paralysis.

When Father O'Reilly arrived at Valparaiso, about the beginning of the year 1863, he found the parish some $4,000 in debt, the church closed by an injunction of the court, and sentiment divided among the members of the parish. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, he went to work, and by his energy and personality soon won the confidence of the people. Unable to secure possession of the church building, he rented a hall, improvised an altar, and there held services every Sunday until in April, 1863, when he was permitted to take possession of the church, his first mass there being said on Easter Sunday. His next step was to repair the building, which had been allowed to run to partial decay under Father Botti's pastorate, and when it was in condition opened a small school. Father O'Reilly's greatest concern was for the education of the children of his parish. He therefore erected a school-house before mak-


ing any effort to provide a better house of worship. The school building cost about $8,000. Not until 1880 did he start the movement for a new church building. The corner-stone of the present St. Paul's Church was laid on Sunday, October 7, 1883, by Bishop Dwenger, of Fort Wayne, assisted by priests from Fort Wayne, Notre Dame, Warsaw, Plymouth and other places, some 8,000 or 10,000 people witnessing the ceremonies. On October 17, 1886, the church was dedicated by Bishop Dwenger. The building is 153 feet long, with a transept of 95 feet, a 65 feet nave and a spire nearly 200 feet in height. It is one of the largest Catholic churches in Northern Indiana and cost $40,000. Father O'Reilly lived less than a year after the church was finished, but the building stands as a monument to his labors and he executive ability. The present priest is Rev. W. S. Hogan.

When the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railway was being built through Porter county, a large number of Catholics were employed upon the construction work. Some of them settled in the neighborhood of Chesterton, and a Catholic church was organized there in 1857 by Father Kilroy. For several years the parish was without a church building or a resident priest. Father Kilroy was succeeded by Father Flynn, and the latter by Rev. Paul Gillen. Next Father Lawler, the resident Catholic priest at Laporte, came once a month to the Chesterton parish. Thus matters went on until in 1867, when the people asked Bishop Luers to send them a resident priest. The request was granted and the congregation purchased a house and lot, where the church was afterward erected, and Rev. John Flynn was duly installed as pastor. Two years later his death occurred and Father O'Rourke took charge of the parish. The value of the church property at that time was about $500. A new church was built in 1876, at a cost of about $13,000, and in 1882 a residence was built for the priest at a cost of $3,000. The church was named in honor of Ireland's patron saint, and the parish of St. Patrick, at Chesterton, is one of the prosperous Catholic communities of northern Indiana. Rev. Lawrence Eberle is the present pastor.

In 1857 the Swedish Lutherans living about Bailly Town, in West-


chester township, organized a church under the ministry of Rev. A. Audrain, with about thirty members. Following Mr. Audrain came Revs. Sjoblom, Nyquist and Sodergrim, who served until 1880, when Rev. Andrew Challman became pastor. A church building was erected in 1863, at a cost of $2,000, aid not long afterward a parsonage and schoolhouse were built. Some of the members who had attended at Bailly Town organized the Swedish Lutheran church at Chesterton in 1879, and immediately built a nice brick church, at a cost of $5,000. For some time one pastor served both congregations, but in recent years the two congregations are entirely independent of each other. Fraternal feeling exists, however; and both churches are in a prosperous condition. Rev. J. B. Bennett is pastor of one and Rev. J. E. Nystrom of the other.

Several German families settled at Valparaiso about 1850. Most of them were Lutherans, though no effort was made to organize a church of that denomination until 1862. By that time there were probably forty or fifty German families in the immediate vicinity of the town, and when a Lutheran minister named Jahn came from Holstein in that year they asked him to organize a church and become its pastor, which was done. Not long afterward a division occurred, some of the members going to the Reformed church, but the Lutheran congregation went on, and Rev. J. P. Beyer was engaged as pastor. Under his ministry the church was fully organized, and services were held in rented quarters until 1865. A frame building to be used as both church and school-house, was erected in that year on the corner of Pink and Academy streets, and Rev. C. Meyer was engaged to succeed Mr. Beyer. Under his ministrations the church increased in membership, and the congregation began to look about for more commodious accommodations. At this juncture it was learned that the property belonging to the Unitarian church was to be sold by the sheriff, and in 1880 the Lutherans made an offer for it, which was accepted, and the church passed into their hands. Here their meetings were held until the present building of the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran church was erected on the corner of Washington and Institute streets in 1891. The present pastor is Rev. C. W. Baer.


Some years ago St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized and a small church erected at the corner of Lincoln avenue and Franklin street. For some reason the congregation did not prosper. In 1912 the church was without a resident pastor, and it was rumored that the property was to be sold.

In 1880 the German Lutherans of Kouts built a small frame church, at a cost of $600, with Rev. Philip Smith as pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. Julius Dunsing. At the time this church was erected it was the only church building in Pleasant township. The congregation had been holding meetings in the school house since about 1873. The pastor of the church in 1912 was Rev. Hicks Hicken.

About the time that the Lutheran church of Kouts had its inception, a German Lutheran congregation, known as St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, was organized at Chesterton. A church building was commenced in the fall of 1880, under the ministry of a preacher named Hammon, who was the first pastor, and it was finished in April, 1881. The church numbered but twelve members when it was organized, but by 1880 the membership had reached forty-five. Among the active members were Fred Lindermann, Charles Warnhoff, Henry Dorman, William Slout, Charles Bancke, Fred Lawrentz and a Miss Albright. It was due to the efforts of these members that the little band raised $2,000 to pay for the church. The pastor in 1912 was Rev. George Schoettle.

The Unitarian society of Valparaiso was organized in 1872, and purchased the building of the Reformed church. Revs. Powell, Carson and Parker served as ministers for a few years, but the congregation got into financial difficulties and was forced to sell the church property to the Lutherans as already stated. After a few years the society gave up the ghost.

"Union Mission Church," an organization of a somewhat peculiar character, was formed at Hebron in 1877. A church costing about $2,000 was erected the next year, with Hiram Marsh, William Netherby and B. Blanchard as trustees, and William Fry, James King and L. Temple as


deacons. Dissensions arose and in April, 1882, some forty members of the old congregation took possession of the property and organized a Congregational church. W. M. Watt and William Fry were elected deacons; James King, J. O. Gibson, James Alyea, A. Blanchard and B. F. Gossett, trustees, and Rev. L. A. Smith was called to the pulpit. The records do not show what became of this organization, but it is no longer in existence.

Early in the Nineteenth century the close connection between church and state in Great Britain brought about a spirit of discontent in both England and Ireland. Meetings to give expression to this discontent were held in Dublin, Plymouth and Bristol, at which ministers urged "a spiritual communion based on the teaching of the New Testament." The meeting at Plymouth was the most important, and a new sect was formed, the members of which took the name of Believers, Christians or Brethren, but the fact that the denomination originated at Plymouth led to their generally being called Plymouth Brethren. In 1878 a few of these people organized a community in Valparaiso, and for some time held meetings on the third floor of S. S. Skinner's block on Main street. Conditions here were different from those in England and Ireland, where the sect was first established, and after a short and uncertain career the Valparaiso community was disbanded.

The Episcopal church in America is a direct descendant of the Church of England. In the establishment of English colonies in America it was usually stipulated that the laws passed by such colonies should conform to the "true Christian faith and religion as now professed in the Established Church." In 1784 a number of clergymen assembled at Brunswick, New Jersey, and adopted a resolution to the effect "that the American church should be independent of all foreign authority, ecclesiastical as well as civil." The adoption of this resolution marked the beginning of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States. In form of government, the Episcopal church is modeled after that of the Roman Catholic. Indiana was made a diocese at a comparatively early date, and was for years under the episcopate of Bishop John J. Knickerbacker, of


Indianapolis. In his travels over the state he visited Valparaiso, where he found a few members of the faith and urged the organization of a permanent church. They were few in numbers and not financially strong, and consequently hesitated to take the step advised by the bishop. However, services were held occasionally in halls and private residences, Rev. George Moore, of Momence, Illinois, and other priests visiting the city for that purpose. Upon the death of Bishop Knickerbacker, the state was divided and Rt. Rev. John H. White was made bishop of the northern diocese. He established his see city at Michigan City and began an active campaign in the interests of the church. Upon the occasion of a visit to Valparaiso he enlisted the cooperation of Charles H. Parker, J. S. Wilcox, A. W. Barnhart, M. A. Snider, J. C. Rock and a few others for the establishment of a church. St. Andrew's mission was organized, a hall hired, and Rev. L. W. Applegate was assigned to the parish as resident priest. In the spring of 1902 the lot at the southeast corner of Franklin and Erie streets was purchased and work was commenced upon a frame building 32 by 64 feet, with a tower twelve feet square. The building was completed in due time, and was formally dedicated on July 6, 1902. The present pastor is Rev. Walter B. Williamson.

In addition to the church organizations above mentioned, an atlas of Porter county published in 1906 shows several country churches in different parts of the county. On section 15, township 36, range 7, in Portage township, near the Lake county line, is a small Swedish church. Near Clear Lake, in Jackson township, on section 24, township 36, range 5, is marked a church. There are two churches shown in Union township - one on the northwest quarter of section 24, township 35, range 7, and the other on the southwest quarter of section 29, township 35, range 6. In Washington township there is a church marked on the northwest quarter of section 15, township 35, range 5, about two miles northwest of the old village of Prattville on the Laporte road. This is known as the Pleasant View Church. The records of these churches have not been carefully kept, and to obtain a history of them would be practically impossible. While most of them nominally belong to some particular


denomination, ministers of all faiths and beliefs are usually welcome to occupy their pulpits, as there has never been any serious strife among the several denominations represented in the county. In Valparaiso there is a society of Christian Scientists, numbering about twenty or twenty-five members, which meets every Sunday on the corner of Washington and Monroe streets.

A Young Men's Christian Association and a Young Women's Christian Association have been established in the city or Valparaiso. The former is located at 603 College Place, and the latter at 554 College avenue The organization of these two associations is due in a great measure to the management of the Valparaiso University, in order that the students may have some place to assemble where they will be brought under Christian influences. Taken altogether, there are few counties in the state in which the spirit of true religion prevails to a greater degree than in the county of Porter. Although many of the citizens do not hold membership in any church, the influence of the law-abiding, God-fearing people who compose the church membership is felt by all. As a result of this influence the moral status of the community has been kept upon a high plane, and the court records show very few arrests for serious violations of law or disrespect for the individual rights of the citizen.


CHAPTER I - General Features
CHAPTER II - Aboriginal Inhabitants
CHAPTER III - Settlement and Organization
CHAPTER IV - Internal Improvements 
CHAPTER V - Educational Developments
CHAPTER VI - Military History
CHAPTER VII - Township History
CHAPTER VIII - Township History (continued)
CHAPTER IX - The City of Valparaiso
CHAPTER X - Financial and Industrial
CHAPTER XI - The Professions
CHAPTER XII - Societies and Fraternities
CHAPTER XIII - Religious History
CHAPTER XIV - Miscellaneous History
CHAPTER XV - Statistical Review

Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, November 2011


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