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 4, Page 19.


Christian Church Has Been Active In All Sections of Porter County Since 1840

Through energetic efforts of the early pioneers of Morgan township, who got together and formed a society in June, 1840, the Christian church had its inception in Porter county.

Among the early members of the church 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 about a mile and a half north of the present village of Malden. Rev. Lemuel Shortridge preached at 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.

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 and Belinda Jones, Caroline Russell, C. W. Turner, and Mary A. Baum. Peter Russell was the first pastor. For a time the meetings were held in private residences, rented halls and on special occasions in the court house.

In 1853 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 homes, 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: Ellis Cross, G. P. Slade, A. B. Matson, A. Elmore, Carbly Martin, John O. Cain, George Campbell, Benjamin Perky, Lewis Comer, Charles Blackman, W. W. Jones, Lemuel Shortridge, W. S. Selmser, Elijah Goodwin, N. B. Rose, William Wilson, A. Linkletter, R. B. Roberts, E. Lisiter, Ira J. Chase, Charles Robertson, Simon Rohrer, William R. Jewell, L. Berry Smith, H. C. Crewell.

William Thomas, an architect of Chicago, drew the plans for the present church building, and the building committee was composed of H. B. Brown, D. f. Jones, E. D. Crumpacker, B. F. Perrine, L. M. Pierce and Thomas M. Shreve.

No delay was encountered in the erection of the building which was formerly dedicated on Sunday, Dece,ber 16, 1888, the sermon on that occasion being preached by Rev. J. H. O. Smith, the pastor of the church. The building cost $20,000, and has a seating capacity of 1,000. The pastors who served since the present church was erected have been J. H. O. Smith, J. C. Updyke, John L, Brandt, Bruce Brown, Philip Y. Pendleton, H. A. Denton, C. E. Burns, E. Richard Edwards and C. M. Smail, present pastor.

A new parsonage was constructed in 1912 on the northeast end of the church property, costing $3,600.

Rev. William H. Furness in 1869 organized a Society of Disciples of Christians at Furnessville, but the organization died out after a number of years.

A Christian church was organized at Hebron in January, 1870, with 26 members, among whom were Joseph Dye and wife, Sarah Essex, Ellis Huff 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 F. White was the first person to be baptized after the church was organized. Lemuel Shortridge was the first pastor, serving the congregation for about three years, when he was succeeded by William Wheeler. Other ministers who served the church were William H. Lowe, William L. Streeter, L. 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. The house was practically rebuilt in the spring of 1910 when some $7,000 was expended in enlarging and improving it, the first services in the new building being held on Sunday, May 22, 1910.

The present pastor is Rev. Grant Blackwood.

In 1888 a Christian church was organized in Kouts. Some of the trappings and furniture of the old Christian church at Valparaiso, which built a new church, 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 for probate in Porter circuit court. Among other bequests was one for $500, which the will stipulated should be safely deposited in some bank and the interest used in paying the salary of the Christian minister at Kouts. A like sum was to be deposited in the 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.

The Boone Grove Christian church was founded in the year 1852. Services were held first in the homes of the early settlers of the community. W. M. Dye and David Merriman were given credit by Lemuel Shortridge, one of the early pastors, for founding of the church.

Rev. Lewis Comer, better known as Father Comer, was the first organizer and pastor. He lived at Morgan Prairie and rode horseback to his regular appointments.

In a short time the congregation grew to such an extent that it came necessary to hold services in a barn to accommodate the large crowds who came to the services for miles around the community. Soon a log school house was erected and the people met in it for regular worship while preparations were made and the first church erected.

The first church building stood in the grove about forty rods east of the Merriman cemetery and about two and a half miles northeast of Boone Grove on the road to Valparaiso. This new house of worship served the needs of the congregation for a time, until shortly prior to the year 1888, when a new building was erected in a more central location in Boone Grove, where the present building now stands. It was dedicated by L. L. Carpenter during the ministry of W. A. Henager in February 1889. The old church which stood in the grove vacant for a time, was later moved to Boone Grove and used for a ladies' hall. It was afterward moved to the lot beside the new church, remodeled and converted into a community hall. The church and community hall standing side by side served the religious, social and community needs until the night of April 14, 1927, when both buildings were leveled by a fire.

Thus the people were without a place of worship. The destroyed structure had served them for a period of 38 years. The spirit of the people was manifested by the manner in which they went about securing another place of worship. The Modern Woodman hall was leased and not a single church service was missed.

Soon after the fire the officers of the church, headed by J. Luther Stone and members of the building committee, comprising L. W. Stevens, Dick Ludington, C. L. Phillips, Charles L. Quinn, Jr., Glen Thatcher, emery dye and Mrs. W. M. Resh, started a drive to raise funds for a new building. Nat L. Smith, of Crown Point, was employed as architect to draw plans for a church and community hall. The contract was awarded Moran Brothers, of Hebron, and a new set of buildings erected. The present pastor is William J. Moore.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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