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 7.


Rev. Stephen Jones of Deep River Mission Is First To Bring Creed Of His Church To New Section

One hundred and one years of progress -- that is the record of the First Methodist Episcopal church in Porter county. The church dates its birth from 1835, when Rev. Stephen Jones, acting under authority of the Methodist Episcopal church, organized the Deep River mission, which embraced the counties of Lake and Porter.

Rev. W. J. Forbes, organized the first class in Valparaiso in 1840. The first Methodist church in Valparaiso 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.

Records indicate that Methodist ministers or circuit riders as they were called invaded Porter county before the formation of the county and performed marriages. Two of the ministers were Cyrus Spurlock and Stephen Jones.

The Deep river mission formed in 1835 subsequently became known as the Kankakee Mission and later as the Valparaiso circuit. In 1844, Lake county was formed into a new circuit and the Valparaiso circuit only included Porter county. The mission held its first meetings at Valparaiso, Gossett's chapel, twenty Mile Grove, Indian Town and at various homes.

Rev. Rihard Hargrave was presiding elder at the time the mission was first organized, and among the early pastors were Stephen Jones, Jacob Colclaster, Hawley B. Baers, 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. E. Kent, Franklin Taylor, David Dunham, Abram Carey and Samuel Godfrey.

Valparaiso was set off as a separated church and organized a separate station in 1852. At this time there were fourteen appointments in the district which included Valparaiso, Morgan Prairie, Kankakee, Ohio, Hannah's mill, Jackson Center, City West, Horse Prairie, Hebron, formerly Indian Town, Griffith's Chapel, Salt Creek, Pennock's and Twenty Mile Grove.

For a while after the Deep River mission was organized, the new Methodists 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 the meetings were held there. A regular society was organized in 1837 by Rev. Jacob Colclaster, who was the first minister to extend his labors into that part of the missionary field. Hawley B. Beers, Wade Posey, 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 $1,000. A parsonage was purchased in 1877 and has since been enlarged and improved.

Seven years ago the church building was rebuilt at a cost of between $15,000 and $18,000, with members of the Bryant family furnishing a large amount of the cost. Rev. Richard Pengilly, now of Culver, was pastor at the time.

Rev. E. W. Evers is the present pastor, succeeding Rev. John Ward, who died suddenly of a heart attack last year.

Pastors since the beginning of the Hebron church were: S. Jones, 1835; Jacob Colclazer, 1836; Hawley B. Beers, 1837; Samuel K. Young, 1838; W. J. Forbes, R. M. Hyde, supply 1839; W. J. Forbes, 1840; Isaac M. Stagg, 1841; Wade Posey, 1842; Warren Griffith, 1843; Jacob Cozard, 1844; Thomas C. Hackney, 1845; W. Palmer, 1846; W. G. Stonex, 1847; J. T. G. Pettijohn, 1848; J. T. G. Pettijohn, L. B. Kent, 1849; Franklin Taylor, 1850; Abraham Carey, Samuel Godfrey, 1851; David Crawford, 1852; Supplied, 1853; William Hancock, 1854; George W. Hamilton, 1855; Caleb B. Mock, 1856-57; Aaron Hayes, John H. Cissel, 1859; William Wiley Jones, John H. Cissel, 1860; W. W. Jones, 1861; Aaron Connery, 1863-64; ---?--- H. Wood, 1964-65; Reuben H. Sanders, 1866-67; Samuel J. Kahler, 1868-69; William P. McKinsey, S. Hopkins, 1870; W. P. McKinsey, 1871; Franklin Mikels, 1873-74; Francis Cox, 1875; G. J. Vaught, 1876; L. S. Buckles, 1877-79; David G. LeSourd, 1880; Conrad S. Burgner, 1881; W. N. Dunham, supply, 1883; Merritt F. Stright, 1883-85; John B. Smith, 1886-90; Joseph B. Sites, 1891-94; W. E. McKenzl, 1895-98; Charles L. Harper, 1899-03; John D. Kruwel, 1903-06; Oliver P. Paxton, 1907-11; W. C. Aye, 1912-13; John C. Martin, 1914-15; Francis J. Beisel, 1916-18; J. Austin Lord, 1919-23; S. A. Bender, 1924-26; Richard S. Pengilly, 1927-1933; John Ward, 1934-35; E. W. Evers, 1938.

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 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 1855, when a small house was built near the present village of Crisman, Mr. McCool being the prime mover and S. P. Robbins furnishing most of the capital outlay. After a time the Methodist organization died out and the house was used for a while by the German Lutherans. Rev. James C. Brown was the first pastor.

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" on State Road 49, near the Junction of Center, Liberty, Jackson and Washington townships.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Chesterton was formed about 1860 or 1861 with Rev. L. A. Grime as pastor. 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 $2,000. In 1915, a new parsonage was erected at a cost of $6,500. In 1928, a new church building was begun at a cost of $75,000 under the direction of Rev. A. E. Bagby. Rev. Henry Brausman is the present pastor.

Pastors of the church since its founding are: James W. Harris, 1870; David G. LeSourd, 1871; William Wiley Jones, supply, 1872; William Wiley Jones, 1873-74; E. A. Andrew, 1875-76; Levi Moore, supply, 1877; J. B. Smith, 1878-80; William Crapp, 1881-82; Zacariah Lambert, 1883-85; William West, supply, 1886; Arthur H. DeLong, supply, 1887; Whitefield Hall, 1886-1890; C. H. Jesse, 1891-1893; Henry C. Weston, 1893-95; John S. Wright, 1896-1897; Albert G. Betch, 1898; Brenton H. Beall, 1899; A. L. Ummpleby, 1900-02; J. T. Stafford, 1903-04; Calvin O. Smock, 1905; Fred H. Clutton, 1906; Glenn Wishard, John A. Ayling, 1907; J. E. Wilson, 1908; Charles A. Brown, 1909-14; Oscar H. Berry, 1915; Frank R. Briggs, 1916-18; Henry V. Deale, 1918-21; Alvah R. Lawrence, 1922-24; A. E. Bagby, 1925-1932; J. Austin Lord, 1932-1934; Henry M. Braun, 1934, present pastor.

Milton B. Wood was the first Methodist Episcopal minister at Wheeler. He was followed by John B. Adell in 1868. Other pastors were: Brenton H. Beall, 1889; John M. Dressler, 1870-71; William Crapp, 1872; John Harrison, 1873-74; Orlando R. Beebe, 1875-77; Andrew J. Clifton, 1878; Granville J. Vaught, 1879-80; J. M. Jackson, 1881; Conrad S. Burgner, 1882-83; James W. Loder, 1884-85; Frank P. Blakemore, 1886-87; Robert C. Wilkinson, 1888-91; Alason M. Virden, 1892-93; Charles L. Leeson, 1896; James H. Worral, 1897-98; A. A. Randall, 1899; Harvey Waite, supply, 1899-01; Otis L. Chivington, 1902-04; George R. Streeter, 1905-06; Charles A. Brooke, 1907-09; J. Paris Cox, 1910-12; Julian J. Rankin, 1913; Arthur Howell, 1914; W. V. Meredith, supply, 8 months; W. V. Meredith, 1915; Harry L. Allen, supply, 1916; H. L. Allen, 3 months, E. M. Garrett, 9 months, 1917; E. N. Garrett, supply, 1918-19; A. P. Jordan, 1916-21; Dewey C. Souder, 1922-23; C. L. Glenn, 1925-26; W. P. Blodgert, 1927; Karl L. Darkey, 1928; Ira Scuder, 1929-30; Gilbert Curry, 1931-32; J. M. Williams, 1933-34; George R. Beally, 1935-36.

The present Wheeler church was built and dedicated on Sept. 30, 1914, by Rev. T. A. Briggs of Valparaiso. Dr. Brummitt, publisher of the Epworth Herald, and Attorney Ralph N. Smith, were speakers. Also participating were Rev. Thomas J. Bassett and Dr. C. A. Brooke, of Valparaiso, the latter pastor of the Wheeler church from 1907 to 1909, and Rev. J. J. Rankin, its pastor. While the church congregation went into debt for the fine building, the women of the church for many years held suppers which were called Harvest Home Festivals. They attracted great crowds and enabled the church to emerge from its debt load. Rev. George Beally is the present pastor.

Construction of the present [Valparaiso] Methodist church edifice was started on July 27, 1886, and the dedication took place Aug. 31, 1887. Rev. C. A. Brooke was pastor at the time the structure was built and dedicated. The cost of the building was $23,500.

During 1926 under the pastorate of Rev. Frank Roy Briggs, extensive repairs were made to the church at a cost of $20,000. The auditorium and Sunday school rooms redecorated, a modern lighting system and new heating plant installed and new furnishings placed in service throughout the church. The basement was further excavated, providing rooms for boy scouts and other social gatherings.

Pastors of the church from its beginning were: With Deep River mission, S. Jones, 1835; Jacob Colclazer, 1836; Hawley B. Beers, 1837; Samuel K. Young, 1838. With Kankakee mission, William J. Forbes, 1839; Valparaiso, William J. Forbest, 1840; Isaac Stagg, 1841; Wade Posey, 1842; Warren Griffith, 1843; Jacob Cozad, 1844; Thomas C. Hackney, 1845; William Palmer, 1846; William G. Stonex, 1847; J. G. D. Pettijohn, 1848; Franklin Taylor, 1850; Abram Cary, Samuel Godfrey, 1851; David Crawford, 1852-53; Albion Fellows, 1854; William Hamilton, 1855; George W. Stafford, 1855-56; Samuel T. Cooper, 1856-59; Aaron Gurney, 1860; B. Wilson Smith, 1861; Charles A. Brooke, 1862; Thomas S. Webb, 1863-65; Nelson Greene, 1866-67; George M. Boyd, 1868-70; Leander C. Buckles, 1871-73; Thomas Meredith, 1874-75; William Graham, 1876-77; Nelson L. Brakeman, 1878-80; George M. Boyd, 1881-83; Charles A. Brooke, 1884-86; William R. Mikels, 1887-88; Richard S. Martin, 1889-90; Allen Lewis, 1891-95; Henry L. Kindig, 1895; Hibbard A. Tucker, 1897-98; Madian H. Appleby, 1899-02; Henry L. Davis, 1903-07; Joseph M. Avann, 1908-09; J. M. Avann, Chalres A. Brooke, 1910; Thomas J. Bassett, 1911-15; Thomas F. Williams, 1916-1918; Guy O. Carpenter, 1918-1922; Edward W. Strecker, 1923-24; Frank Roy Briggs, 1925-1932; J. Emmett Porter, 1933-36; Russell B. Kern, 1936.

In the early days a number of Methodist churches held forth in rural sections of the county. One of these located six miles east of Valparaiso was known as Pleasant View church, established fifty-two years ago, was abandoned in December, 1919, and the building sold to Lane Young. The ground reverted to William Adsit, owner.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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