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 6.


Boone Grove's Christian Church Was Built Bank In 1858; First Pastor Was Old Circuit Rider

The founding of the Boone Grove Christian church was preceded by religious meetings in the homes of the community, according to tradition. Lewis Comer, who afterward became the first pastor, rode horseback from Morgan Prairie to preach. It is said that he and some of his successors received no money for their services, but tilled the soil for their livelihood. It appears that the gospel was regarded with genuine interest by the people of those days. Too, Wm. M. Dye and David Merriman were the leaders in organizing the church on about April 4, 1852, with probably seven charter members: Wm. Dye, David Merriman, Adolphus House, Rufus P. Wells, Sophia House, Nancy Dye, Mary Anne Merriman.

Meetings were held for a short while in Wm. Dye's barn, and then in a log school house. The growth of the church was such that on Sept. 25, 1852, at a meeting in the school house, R. P. Wells, Adolph House, and David Jones were elected trustees of the church. The elders then were David Merriman and R. P. Wells.

The first church was built sometime in the years between 1852 and 1856, in a grove about forty rods east of the Merriman cemetery, about two and half miles northeast of Boone Grove. The framing timber for the structure was prepared by Adolphus House, William Quinn, William Dye, David and Elias Merriman, and other of the community, and the sawed lumber was yellow poplar hauled from Michigan City. The church was dedicated during the ministry of Rev. Griffey. The list of ministers of the church during the time this building was used includes: Griffey, Charles Blackman, Napoleon Rose, Lemuel Shortridge, Robert Johnson, William Wheeler, A. B. Maston, -------- Goodykoontz, -------- Linkletter, Henry Davis, Adolphus Carter, Benjamin Franklin, and W. A. Hennager. Dr. Roberts had preceded Rev. Griffey. Until about 1900 additions to the church were baptized in Wolf Creek. There altogether over 250 members during this time, although a note dated February 29, 1880, states that about 94 members attend church.

Evidently people took religion seriously in those days. It is recorded that certain members had "gone to the world," and of others that he or she "stands back."

In 1888, during the ministry of W. A. Hennager, a new church house was erected in the village of Boone Grove under the general superintendency of Merritt Cornell. It was dedicated in February of 1880, by L. L. Carpenter. For about a year thereafter services were held alternately in the two building, and then were discontinued in the first. The list of ministers of this period of the church's life includes W. A. Hennager, Ellis Cross, J. F. Finley, Luke Finley, J. P. Finley, Grant G. Pike, Charles S. Early, F. O. Norton, Lewis R. Hoeling, George B. Stewart, L. W. Spayd, Elmer L. Lincoln, H. C. Brown, R. E. Mangus, Ernest Fitch, Chester A. Jacobs, Ora E. Oxley and C. E. Burns. The church passed through brief golden ages and depressions during this period.

After services were discontinued at the first church house, it stood idle for a while, then was moved to Boone Grove to a site east of the blacksmith shop to serve as a Ladies Aid hall, and finally was moved over beside the church building and remodelled to become a community hall. On the night of April 14, 1927, both structures burned to the ground.

The Modern Woodmen of America offered the use of their hall to the church, and services were held there regularly while plans for a new building were begun under the leadership of C. E. Burns. With the assistance of non-members of community spirit and of citizens of Valparaiso and elsewhere, a new combine church and community hall were built, and dedicated on June 10, 1928, practically without any remaining debt. The ministers of this church have been J. Luther Stone, John Van Orman, M. G. Long, and Wm. J. Moore.

The church believes that it has services that are needed, and is trying to organize itself to perform them more effectively.

The trustees of the church at present are Lewis W. Stevens, Chas. L. Quinn, and America F. Merriman. The elders are Will J. Moore, Chas. L. Quinn, Hubert McConkey, Clayton Phillips, Freemont Sawyer, Charles Starrett, Everett Smith, Robert Quinn, and Maurice Ludington. Among the deacons are Hubert Thatcher, Robert Irwin, Amos Thatcher, Vernon E. Shurr, Glen Thatcher, Lewis Stevens, Ervin Baird, Ralph Graeber, Emery Baker, Earl Roseberry, Earl Alyea, Edgar Weddle, Robert Gustafson, John Henderson, Al Baird, Harvey Shurr, America Merriman, and Charles Quinn, Sr.

The information given in this sketch was in part handed down to A. F. Merriman from his father and mother, in part taken from the original but rather brief record of the church, and contributed by Mrs. Elpina House, Corneil.

America F. Merriman,
Aug. 11, 1936               Robert Quinn.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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