The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 21.



There is something of an epic splendor about the growth to rugged manhood and womanhood of a great people in an incredibly short time. Porter county and Valparaiso has always been open to religious groups of all types. From a century it has heard from the pulpits the essential thing -- the doing of God's will on earth as it is done in heaven. One hundred years have passed since the rugged pioneers knelt in their primitive cabin and offered a prayer of thanksgiving and yet if any one of them could join in today's prayer of gratitude, they doubtless would declare that the century seemed like a few days.

Porter county has witnessed a religious growth unspoiled by a great amount of sin and perdition -- a natural, normal growth -- strong, courageous. The pioneers viewed with suspicion the slightest diversion from their pastoral life. They wished the mental and moral development of the community to proceed without a single break. They scorned sin, corruption and depravity. Visible signs of one turning away from strict church rules and trying the venturesome paths of first-hand experience were regarded almost as an expression of lawlessness.

The bible begins with a man and woman in a garden. They sinned. Even among the pioneers was found the naïve optimism of youth. The pessimism of old age. There were those who had no though of the Holy City. There were some incapable of religion -- others who rejected the views of the church. There were those who sought to whitewash their sins with an outward appearance of piety. But on the whole it was a great Christian community. However, the churches feared lawlessness. They regarded as common and unclean, still close to the clay from which the body had emerged, the man or woman who sinned. They were firm in their disapproval of any appearance of evil.

Members of most of the churches had to pledge total abstinence from the use of all intoxicating drinks as a beverage. If it were even rumored that a church member took a single drink he was brought before the church board for an explanation or denial. No slave holder, or advocate of slave holding, could be received at the communion. The countenancing of vain amusements, such as balls, theatres and even circuses, was considered by the church a "disciplinable offense." Women were rebuked and suspended from membership for wearing conspicuous jewelry, such as ear rings, pins and bracelets. Any appearance of vanity or folly in dress subjected them to the same treatment. The use of face powder was absolutely forbidden.

Social were barred from the church parlor. No supper, no refreshments or any sort, could be served in the parlors or the church building. However, refreshments were permitted at church gatherings held in private homes. No social could be held at which money was collected for church use.

The churches made wise provision for the religious training of childhood. They forced them to attend both church and Sunday school. Very unwise was the child who sought evasion from church attendance. Punishment was so severe that there usually was no second attempt. Such was the strictness of religious belief in the early days.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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