Churches of Indian-Kentuck Region
By Robert W. Scott © 1999
Hopewell Baptist Church (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co.)
Organized Sept. 1878 at Orem's Grove near Pleasant, Hopewell joined the Long Run Baptist Association in 1879. The church was dropped from the association membership in 1886.
Indian-Kentuck Baptist Church (Shelby Twp., Jefferson Co.)
This church was founded in 1814 and met at first at homes including those of trustee John McCoy (McKoy). There is no evidence for an 1812 founding date, which is claimed by the modern church. The 1814 date is given in 1870 in a history, apparently written by the Rev. Robert Stevenson for Madison Baptist Association. The author is not named, but the prior year Stevenson was charged with writing the history, and the author clearly had access to the church minutes. Church minutes prior to 1817 have not survived. Indian-Kentuck joined the Silver Creek Baptist Association in August 1815, moved to the Coffee Creek Association when that body was formed in August 1827, then the Madison Association, which met for the first time in the fall of 1833.
Stevenson's history gives the founding members as Nicholas Yount, Jacob Short, John Minor, Abraham Lewis and wives. Interestingly, none of these members remained with the church into the 1830s. Yount and Minor moved to Illinois in 1828; Short became a founding member of the Manville Christian Church and Lewis left with the formation of Hebron.
The original proposed site was in the NE1/4 Section 30 Twp. 5 Range 11E. On Nov. 26, 1819, Samuel and Delia Coplen (Copeland) sold three acres here to Joseph Lame and John McKoy, trustees. This is the Toddy's Branch site on which the trustees authorized construction of a building that was proposed but never finished.
The 1870 history said that the church moved in 1820 to a spot 1.5 miles north, donated by John McCoy. This is apparently the one acre that John McKoy and wife, Mary, sold for one dollar to trustees Abraham Lewis, Asa Cox and Isaac Christie, on Aug. 14, 1822 for the erection of a building for the Indian-Kentuck Baptist Church (Jefferson Co. Deed Book C p. 524.) The deed description, which starts "at a popular corner on the base line of the South East Quarter section of land No. 17 Twp. 5N Range 11E. In 1844, the church moved 1.5 miles east of the McCoy site and constructed a stone building 40 by 50 feet which was occupied 21 years. The church then rebuilt on the same ground."
Despite the modern name, historically the church was called Indian Kentucky. This name is used in early church records and throughout the 19th century minutes of the various Baptist associations of which the church was a member. The church minute book (in which earlier minutes were apparently re-entered) has the following inscriptions: "The Book of the Baptist Church of Indian Kentucky." On the same page are these words: "The Book of the Baptist Church of Indian Kentuck" "This the 13th day May 1828." This church is still active. (1999) Minutes exist from 1817 and have been microfilmed.
Jefferson Presbyterian Church (Shelby Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Originally known as the Bethel meeting house, the Jefferson Presbyterian Church was organized in 1818. A history of the church written for the church's 175th anniversary claims the congregation met in 1807 and that its origins were Scottish. That account is extremely hard to believe.
According to an account in a newspaper column called the "October Rambler" and printed in the Nov. 6, 1909 Madison Courier, the church descended from a congregation on Bull Skin Creek. (The column was written by Uncle Henry, the pen name for Minnie Whitham Baxter 1875-1955.) That creek, in Shelby Co., Ky., was home to the so-called Low Dutch colony, including the Rykers, who were instrumental in founding Jefferson Church, also known as the Ryker Meeting House. This third name was shown in a quit claim deed dated Sept. 2, 1841 from Wesley McCoy and wife Isabel to Rachel and Anna Ryker, heirs of Jacob, which reserved land for the "Presbyterian Meeting House known as Ryker's Meeting House." (Jefferson Co. Deed Book T p. 240.) It was probably also the Brick meeting house referred to in various road petitions in the 1820s.
The most credible account of the church's organization was given in diary of the Rev. Orin Fowler, who the Shelby Township history calls "an itinerant minister." Fowler was sent by the Connecticut Missionary Society and must be considered itinerant only in that he traveled from church to church. However, he was not new to Jefferson Co. He was familiar with at least some of the members who formed Jefferson Church as he performed the marriage of Christopher Bergen to Anna Vanarsdale on Sept. 3, 1815 in Jefferson County.
Fowler's account is related as follows: "Preached in Judge Dunn's barn, Oct. 16th 1818. Rode [sic] five miles to Mr. Bergen's and preached to an interesting congregation. After preaching proceeded to form a church." Fowler said the original three elders were Christopher Bergen, Samuel Ryker and Jedithan Dodd. A sermon followed their election and Fowler gave the names of the first fourteen members as Christopher Bergen and wife, Anna, Samuel Ryker and wife, Barbara, Jedithan Dodds, Jonathan McCoskey, Peter Ryker and wife Susannah, John Ryker and wife, Nancy, Theodore VanOsdol, Peter VanCleave, Rachel VanOsdol and Rachel Weatherford. Soon afterwards, and perhaps the same day from Fowler's account, Mary Benefiel and Hannah Hamilton were admitted.
By the next Sabbath, the church had nearly forty communicants. (Fowler's account is quoted by the Shelby Township History, but was printed earlier in Early Presbyterianism in Indiana.) Another account within the same Shelby Twp. history gives the organization date as October 18, and reported that first members included Matthew Hillis, Jacob Ryker, George Benefield, John West and Robert McLelland. Land for the church, 1 acre 3 rods and 38 1/4 poles in Section 9 Twp. 5N Range 11E was deeded by Jacob Ryker to Samuel Ryker, William B. Benefiel and John Weatherford, trustees of the Bethel meeting house, on July 1, 1828 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book E p. 316.)
The Low Dutch families formed a significant part of the original members, including the three Ryker families, the Bergens, VanOsdol and VanCleaves. Among the fourteen founding members, John Ryker and Peter Ryker were children of Samuel Ryker and wife Barbara. Rachel Weatherford was Samuel Ryker's sister and Peter Van Cleave, their nephew. However, many of the Low Dutch families, except for the Rykers, withdrew to form the Pleasant Township Presbyterian Church in 1829 leaving Jefferson a body dominated by Scotch-Irish families such as the Buchanans, McLellands and Means. This church is still active. (1999) Church records were destroyed in?? but exist since then.
Latter Day Saints, Reorganized Church (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
A Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints, was founded on Halls Ridge with the initial meeting taking place on the Shelby Township end. The Reorganized Church split from the Mormons after the death of Joseph Smith in 1844 and was headed by his son, Joseph. This group does not use the name Mormon, but its critics probably did not make the distinction.
The apparent first meeting is referred to in a sarcastic account in the Evening Courier of April 16, 1877. The article contains the subhead "A Disciple of Joe Smith in the Happy Land of Shelby." After mocking the Mormons and Smith, the article reports that this unnamed minister baptized several "on last Saturday." "Nearly, if not quite all, who were united with this church had been baptized previously as members other churches," the account reads. The number attending, the names, the location, other than being listed as Hall's Ridge, are not given. A smaller article, dated April 14, 1877, and also printed in the April 16 issue again reports the location as Hall's Ridge and notes only the minister is "meeting with good success. It has been reported on the streets of Canaan that Brigham Young, from Utah, was to be there to organize the church..."
Denominational records show that a conference of the Southern Indiana District was held March 16, 1878, according to the Saints Herald, a denominational publication. This account does not indicate if there was a local church. It was presided over by William H. Kelley. It is not known of any of the names are local members or whether they were members of the church hierarchy.
Conferences were also held on Hall's Ridge on Nov. 20, 1879, and again on March 5, 1881. The 1879 record reports the organization of a Mt. Pleasant congregation, which may be the Hall's Ridge group. Other branches mentioned include Amanda, Low Gap, and Union Branch. No locations are given. Another local branch was Olive Branch, shown to be in Ripley Co. The next definite report comes in March 1893 when William C. Marshall held baptisms and confirmations for three unnamed people at "Brother Porter's home" on Hall's Ridge. The account stated there were nine members. All of these accounts are from issues of the Saints Herald.
It seems likely that the church drew from the nearby Milton Baptist Church. The organization coincides with the demise of Milton, whose membership fell significantly from 1878 to 1881 and which disappeared by 1883. A James Porter was a member at Milton about 1870 while a Temperance Porter was excluded on the Second Saturday in November 1853 for joining another church "out of order."
William J. and Minerva Wainscott deeded a tract in the W1/2 NE1/4 Section 3 Twp. 4N Range 11E to the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints on March 4, 1894 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 63 p. 312.) This deed identifies no local trustees only Bishop E.L. Kelley at the church headquarters in Lamoni, Decatur Co., Iowa. A 1900 property map of Jefferson County shows a church as being located in Section 3 Twp. 4N Range 11E in roughly the SW1/4 of the NW1/4. This site is on Hall's Ridge less than a mile south from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and is presumably the Saints Church. The church did not last much longer as the property was sold to the Wainscotts by the Reorganized Church on Nov. 28, 1904 for $20 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 77 p. 344.)
The property was sold to Martin and Ida Brown who in turn sold it to Ross Rogers, on Oct. 31, 1913. The church lot had been absorbed into what became a 31-acre tract (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 85 p. 221.) A letter from Ross Rogers' son, Shirley, dated Nov. 18, 1993, states that his father soon tore down the church building for lumber. A 1900 Jefferson Co. property map shows the church as being on property owned by M.J. Wainscott on the West Side of Hall's Ridge Road. However, Shirley Roger's hand-drawn map places the church on the East side of the road. That land was owned by W.S. Winscott in 1900 and in the 1990s by Emerson Lee.
Shirley Rogers recalled that Marshall was a "Mormon" minister, who later became a Baptist. A 1941 history of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church shows William C. Marshall as having been a minister. Lee Rogers of Canaan said (1994) that his aunt, Mabel Green, attended the church as a girl at least intermittently.
Liberty Christian Church (Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co.)
A history prepared in 1941 by Charles E. Heberhart, then director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, says that Liberty Church was founded by John McClung, a New Light Preacher who came to Jefferson County in 1812 and who organized the White River Church south of Kent. McClung founded Liberty in 1817 along the Graham Road. The site was chosen because of both the road and a grove of beech trees.
While Heberhart's history does not state so, the Disciples of Christ did not exist in 1817. Beverly Vawter, the church's principal early minister, was immersed by McClung that year according to the book "Churches of Christ." This same account said that a Baptist minister accused Vawter of being a Campbellite during a series of meetings in Greensburg in 1826, supposedly the first he had heard of the Campbellites, and from that time on Vawter and Liberty Church identified with the Christian denomination. Generally, the Disciples emerged from New Light and Baptist congregations after 1830.
Love W. Jameson and other heirs, deeded land to the trustees on March 9, 1845 in the NE1/4 Section 23 Twp. 5N Range 10E (Jefferson Co. Deed Book W p. 572.) The trustees were James M. Humphreys, John W. Land, Thomas Wise, Ephraim Penn and Thomas Jameson Jr.
Liberty never developed a church cemetery, probably because the nearby Hebron cemetery was at first a community cemetery. Several Liberty members, including the Jamesons, are buried at Hebron. Original timbers of the 1817 building were housed in the more modern building, which was abandoned when the property was incorporated into the Jefferson Proving Ground. The last service in the old building was held March 2, 1941. The congregation's current building is on the East side of U.S. Highway 421, east of the former proving ground.
Long Run Baptist Church (Craig Twp., Switzerland Co.)
The History of Switzerland Co. (p. 1151) reports Long Run was organized in April 1818 by William J. and Catherine Griffith, Nathaniel and Susan Gerard, Thomas and Nancy Wright, William and Nancy Wright, William and Nancy Lock, Joel and Ellen Higgins. The church became a member of the Laughery Association in 1819. William and Catherine Griffith sold one acre to trustees, Nathaniel Gerard, William Lock and Thomas Wright, for two dollars on Aug. 3, 1822 (Switzerland Co. Deed Book C p. 317.) This land was in the northwest corner of Section 6 Twp. 2N Range 3W, the site of the modern cemetery. The church is located opposite on the East side of State Route 129.
In March 1834 or 1835, a large number received letters of dismissal and formed Mt. Pleasant Church in Pleasant Township. Despite this, Long Run became one of the bigger churches in the townships that comprised the Indian-Kentuck basin during the 19th century. It also contributed two of the hardest working ministers in the area, Joshua D. Griffith and John Graham, the latter probably moving to Mt. Pleasant when that body formed. Griffith was a life-long member although he preached at many other churches.
Long Run was one of five founding members of the Long Run Association on Oct. 13, 1849. That year its messengers included minister J.D. Griffith, along with H. Rogers, J. Orr, J. Lock, J. Sigmon, L. Sigmon and W. Crandell. Membership that year was given as 102 on the third Saturday September 1850, the first association meeting. Its membership reached 143 in 1856 and 151 in 1859 according to its reports to the Long Run Baptist Association.
According to the church history printed in the minutes of the Long Run Baptist Association in 1873, the first building, a hewn log house, 24 by 26 feet, was built about 1824 after two years of work. In 1844, a brick church 32 by 45 feet was built on property donated by J.F. Cotton. This church is still active. (1999) Church records are reportedly spotty.
McKendree Methodist Church (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Spellings of this church are given as McKendra and McKendry and other variants but it draws its name from William McKendree, American Methodist Bishop, 1757-1835, who made a missionary tour beyond the Alleghenies in 1801.
Prominent members of this church include a Rogers family, which came from North Carolina, and which appears to have been headed by a Benjamin Rogers who died July 23, 1862, age 80, and is buried in the church cemetery. Samuel and Rebecca Rogers deeded land to the trustees, Samuel Orem, John Rogers, William Malcolm, Benjamin Rogers Jr. and Samuel Rogers on July 21, 1844 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 2 p. 539.) By deed description the church was located in the SW 1/4 Section 8 Twp. 4N Range 12E, which is on modern Greenbriar Road near the Switzerland Co. boundary--the deed mentions a road from Moorefield to Brooks Mill.
Trustees elected at Moorefield on July 25, 1868 were William Malcolm, Charles Danner and John Rogers; elected on Jan. 27, 1872 were Wesley Steel, James Demaree and William Malcolm; William Smith Secretary and J.C. Smith, recording steward. James B. Lawthrop was presiding elder (Miscellaneous Jefferson Co. Records Book 1 p. 156.)
The church disbanded by 1880 with members joining Home Church. A history by Effie Fagg said that members moving included John Brook, John Rogers and the Malcolms. Rogers is probably Elder Rogers who presided at the 1880 dedication of a new Home Church building. Malcolm was a trustee at Home Church on Aug. 8, 1885. Jefferson Co. cemetery transcriptions made by the John Paul Chapter of the DAR incorrectly lists this cemetery as McHenry or McKenzie. Depauw University does not have any official records for this church.
Macedonia Baptist Church (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Located in Milton Township, Macedonia was founded in Shelby Township, according to the History of Shelby Township. This account said the church was organized at the home of David Danner in 1842 by the Rev. Arthur Smith (sic, Rev. Archer Smith) with meetings held first at private homes, then at a schoolhouse a mile and a half east of the present church.
A log house was built in 1846 by Samuel Danner, James Hankins and others and was in use until 1871 when the present building was built coinciding with a deed from Joshua and Nancy Culver, the NE 1/4 Section 18 Twp. 4N Range 12E to trustees Samuel Danner, William Danner and James M. Stewart on Nov. 18, 1871 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 36 p. 13.) This structure was finished in 1877.
The account lists the first members as David Danner and Catherine, his wife, Tugman Malcolm and Mary Malcolm, Joshua Culver and Nancy Culver, Elizabeth Avery, Joseph and Nellie Craig, the only known names of 14 original members. "Later members were Thomas Little, William Kinney, Benjamin Martin, William Eades, John Taylor, Elizabeth Kern, Nellie Martin, William Reed, Elisha Brown. The pastors were Elders John Graham, John Pavy, Philip Harmon, George Maryland, Joseph Hankins, Robert Stevenson, Absolem Pavy, Jeptha Lewis, W.H.H. Gleason, William Dolby, Thomas George and Joshua Griffith, the latter serving 15 years." The Sabbath School was established 1860 with Christopher Whitten as superintendent. Assistant William Danner served as clerk for 18 years "when he moved from this locality."
Records of the Long Run Association show the church had little membership growth in the 1850s and 1860s. It had twenty eight members in 1850 and twenty three in 1860. However, membership grew to 112 by 1894, according to association minutes, probably aided by the disbanding of Milton Baptist Church. This church is still active. (1999) Church records exist from 1878.
Manville Christian Church (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The Manville Christian Church has been known by its name so long, that there are a couple of interesting facts about its name: It could not have been known as the Manville Christian Church during its early history. Known originally as Buena Vista from 1847 on, the location called Manville did not receive its name until 1858 when the Buena Vista post office became the Manville post office. . (George Miller reports that the name Manville had been requested for the original use.) In 1856, when the church elected trustees (Jefferson Co. Mortgage Book 6 p. 525), the organization is identified as "The Christian Church of Milton Twp." Indexes of the Christian newspaper, the Christian Record also refer to Milton Township during the middle of the 19th century. There are no references to Manville.
The second point is that no male named Manville joined the church even though there are eleven marked Manville family graves in the cemetery. The only members with a Manville name on the rolls are Abysinnia Ryker Manville, wife of Josephus, and Victoria Manville. This may mean that the cemetery was originally a Manville family cemetery.
Manville grew out of the first Milton Baptist Church (1829-1836) and has operated continuously since 1834. The church claims a founding of 1830, but no authority has ever been cited for this date. The Madison Public Library has an undated pamphlet titled "Early Churches of Jefferson County" which was compiled by the Current Events Club which lists Manville's founding as 1830, but gives no source for the claim. The first certain date is May 11, 1834 when Benjamin Emberson sold land for the church site to the trustees, Elisha Short, William Yates, and Elias Yates. (Jefferson Co. Deed Book W p. 13.) The earliest date on the church membership roll is 1836, placed next to the 13th member, Mary Short, along with a question mark placed next to that date. The first 56 members appear to have joined simultaneously. Church records for the 19th century consist solely of a list of member names, with dates given occasionally when members joined. In fact, two of the first 56 members were living outside the area before 1834. John and Rachel Buchanan deed land to the trustees of the Bethel Baptist Church on Dec. 8, 1832 in Craig Twp., Switzerland Co. Rachel was a sister to Elisha Short and both were children of Jacob Short.
Jacob Short, who brought Beverly Vawter to preach, had been a founding member of Indian-Kentuck Baptist Church in 1814. The Shorts were a prominent family with Jacob, his wife, Elizabeth, sons, Elisha, Joseph and their wives and daughters, Sarah Lawson and Rachel Buchanan, as early members along with the Lanham, Yates and Sherman families.
The Historical Society account lists early itinerant ministers at Manville as Love H. Jameson, John O'Kane, Newton Short, Asher Ward and John B. New and it lists three men as regular ministers: A.H. Ames, Charles Lanham and J.W. Lanham (James W.) A.H. Ames is probably Aaron H. Ames, the third member listed on the Manville Church records. Dr. Aaron H. Ames, 10 Nov. 1801-23 July 1854, is buried at Manville. Charles Lanham, uncle to James W. Lanham, is buried in an unmarked grave at Salem Christian Church. Charles Lanham must have been active in the 1830s as indicated by the dates of marriage he performed. New was a Baptist minister who became a member of the Disciples of Christ in the 1830s and moved to Indianapolis in 1849.
Official records are limited. While other churches regularly recorded election of trustees in courthouse records, Manville did so only in 1856 when the trustees are given as Charles N. Lanham, John Yates and Joel S. Yates. The history during the middle of the 19th century is dominated by James W. Lanham, who also served a term in the state legislature. He was apparently behind the revivals that produced the waves of new members. A substantial spurt in membership came in April 1894 when fifty members joined (another six members probably joined the same month, but the membership roll is not clear.) A number of these included the Rogers and Buchanan families, who had been members of the Milton Baptist Church. The church is still active. (1999) Besides the membership roll, dating from the church's formation, there are some detailed minutes surviving for a full years after 1914.
Middle Fork of Indian Kentucky (Brown Twp., Ripley Co.)
According to The History of Benham, Indiana, by Mrs. Emma King Benham, this church was built in 1820. The 1860 minutes of the Madison Baptist Association say the Middle Fork of Indian Kentucky Church was founded in 1821 with eight members. It was probably a member of the Laughery Association at that time. James and Mary Benham deeded land in the NE1/4 Section 12 Twp. 6N Range 12E to the deacons, John O'Neal and William Bassett, on 6 May 1826 (Ripley Co. Deed Book A p. 270.) That the building was already present on the site is shown by the deed that refers to "a spring near the meeting house..."
Middle Fork became a member of the Madison Association by 1845, when it first appears in the association minutes. In 1845 the church had fifty members and its messengers were J. Demaree, A. Jackson, J. Roberts and H. Roberts. In 1847 it had fifty-one members. Its messengers were John Roberts, James Demaree, G. Nicholson R. Ellis. In 1848, fifty-nine? members (fuzzy photocopy) with N. Ellis, G. Nicholson and J. Roberts, 1849, fifty members, R. Ellis G. Nicholson, J. Roberts, A Campbell. The only minister listed in the association minutes was a Waters, address given as Holton, in 1859. This is likely the John Waters, listed in 1869 by the Madison Association, as the minister at Union Baptist Church. In 1859, the membership at Middle Fork had dropped to thirty five. Messengers that year were W.W. Ellis and J. Jackson.
In 1863, the church was dismissed by the Madison Association. Messengers were B. Melson (probably Nelson), W.W Ellis and Jas. B. Jackson, Membership was sixty two. The minutes record a request by the church to form a new association to include Sand Creek (not clear if that means the Sand Creek Church or Sand Creek Association.) The Madison association voted the dismissal and its disapproval of the effort. By about 1876, the church had disbanded. This is reflected in a poem written at that time by Mrs. Benham (1857-1942), who was later the wife of U.S. Representative John S. Benham. The poem begins "we went to the old, old church one night, climbed its crumbling altar stair."
Milton Baptist (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The Milton Baptist Church had two different periods of operation under the same name and drawing from the same core membership, particularly the Hankins and Hall families. The first church joined the Coffee Creek Association on Sept. 5, 1829 with thirty-two members. Its maximum known membership was forty four in 1832 and it dissolved in 1837.
With one exception, the only proven members are messengers for years that association minutes exist: 1829-1832 and 1836-37. The members were John Lanham, William Yates, William Hankins, Aaron Hankins, Joseph Hankins, John Pherigo, William Brooks, S. Sylvester and Joseph Runnals. The records of the second Milton Church show the one exception: Eliza Jane Hall was granted a certificate in April 1841 to show her membership in old Milton Church. Yates and Lanham joined the Manville Christian Church. The Hankins family, which joined in force in 1840, probably represented a large proportion of this first church's membership as did the Halls.
In its second life, the Milton Baptist Church was organized the first Saturday in May 1840 at the home of Aaron Hankins. This account comes from the Historical Society's Milton Township history, which lists the original fourteen members as Aaron Hankins, Sarah Hankins, Moses Hankins, Rachel Hankins, Nancy Hankins, Sarah Hall, William Hankins, Elizabeth Hankins, Abraham Crandell, Franky Ray, Amy Moore, Sarah Ann Jackson, Jemima Weathers and Nicholas Lock. Although not stated by the history, Aaron, Moses and William Hankins were sons of Joseph Hankins Sr., the preacher at the original church. Nancy Hankins was his widow. Sarah Hankins was Sarah McKay, wife of Aaron, Rachel Hankins was Rachel Blankenship wife of Moses, Elizabeth Hankins, Elizabeth McCarty, wife of William.
The congregation authorized construction of a building 26 by 30 feet, to be built out "of hune logs shingle ruf sealed above," according to minutes of the first Saturday March 1841. Aaron and Sarah Hankins sold the trustees a tract of land containing 63 rods in the NW1/4 Section 11 Twp. 4N Range 11E. on Oct. 1844. The trustees at the time were Henry Hall, Jonathan D. Hall and Joseph Hankins (Jefferson Co. Deed Book W p. 96.) The church was on the west bank of the East Fork. Aaron and Sarah deeded the Hankins graveyard, .66 acre in the same section, for use as a church cemetery on March 18, 1871 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 36 p. 380.) to trustees.
The church thrived during the mid 1800s. In 1842, it reported sixty-one members and had grown to ninety-one members by 1847 under minister Joseph Hankins (1813-1862 a grandson of the first Joseph Hankins. The younger Joseph moved to Illinois in 1857 and died in Paducah, Ky., during the Civil War. Membership reached a peak of 131 members in 1869, then declined to 110 in 1872 and eighty in 1879 and fifty in 1881, the last year for which a report on the membership is available from Madison Association records. The reason for the collapse is not known, but the establishment of the "Mormon" church on Halls Ridge may have been a factor.
The last messenger to the Madison Association was John Renfro in 1881, at which time the membership was given as fifty. Renfro was later minister at Mt. Pleasant. The last record in Madison Association minutes comes in 1883 when Aaron Hankins, writing as the church clerk, reported the deaths of James Griffin and E.A. Hankins, probably Elizabeth, widow of William above. The church minute book, covering 1840-roughly 1878, has survived and been transcribed.
Monroe Presbyterian (Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The Monroe Presbyterian Church was originally known as the Middle Fork Presbyterian Church, which formed on Sept. 25, 1830 in a meeting at the home of Robert Elliott. The meeting actually began on Sept. 24. The name was changed to Lancaster Presbyterian Church on March 30, 1833. The name originated from the fact that what became Monroe Township was then part of Lancaster Township.
A 1939 church history lists as Robert Elliott Jr., Catherine Ellliott, Anthony L. Elliott, Elizabeth Elliott, John C. Salisbury, Leah H. Salisbury, Miles W. Craig, Elizabeth Craig, Dr. H. Morrison, Anna S. Morrison, William McGee, Margaret McGee, Hezekiah Patton, Anne Patton, Daniel Baxter, Susan Nichols and Martha Nichols. This list is not in agreement with the list dated Sept. 25 that lists only Robert and Martha Elliott, David and Fanny Loring, Miles W. and Elizabeth Craig, Charles M. Culbertson, Rahamah Wilson, and Jane M. Elliot. The 1939 list, compiled by Katherine Bayless, apparently reflects those members remaining with Lancaster/Monroe after the Old Style members withdrew their membership.
According to a history by Anne E. Allen (1998), who transcribed session minutes covering the period from the church's founding until 1850, the church was split between the Old Style Presbyterians and New Style. The groups split over the interpretation of the Westminster Confession with the Old Style members being more sympathetic to Southern Presbyterians and the New Stylers favoring New England abolitionists. On June 22,1839, the Old Style believers wrote a statement of belief in the session book. This statement was excised from the record. This is the date from which Monroe counted its formation. (Monroe Township was formed from part of Lancaster Township, hence the original church name.) Session minutes show that the church was still known as Lancaster Church on March 25, 1844, but had changed its name to Monroe by Oct. 7, 1844.
Land in Section 21 Twp. 5N Range 10E was deeded to Alexander Caldwell, William Elliott and Henry Thorne, trustees of the Lancaster Presbyterian Church by Robert Elliott on May 29, 1840 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book S p. 170.) In another deed dated April 27, 1849, land was deeded by Robert Elliott Jr. Miles W. Craig, Anthony Elliott, J.C. Salisbury and Thurston Wood to John C. Salisbury, Thurston Wood, and Robert Elliott, trustees for Monroe. A stone church was completed in 1844. After the Civil War, the old and new church reconciled, with both bodies meeting in the same building from 1865 to 1870 and finally reuniting in 1870. A stone building was completed in 1935 but the church closed on Feb. 2, 1941 as the church property was taken over as part of the Jefferson Proving Ground. Some of its membership combined with the Smyrna Presbyterian Congregation.
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (Madison Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Although not located in the Indian-Kentuck Valley, Mt. Pleasant drew members from the area and was pivotal in the growth of the Baptist denomination throughout the county. The Elder Jesse Vawter, who preached throughout the county, served as the home pastor for Mt. Pleasant.
Mt. Pleasant grew out of the Crooked Creek Baptist Church. In 1812, the Crooked Creek congregation relocated from east of the Michigan Road on the current site of Fairmount Cemetery to a frame building on the North Madison Hill west of the railroad. The church changed its name to Mt. Pleasant coincident with the move, according to Madison Baptist Association records. Property for the church was deeded to the trustees by John and Polly Vawter on Dec. 24, 1814 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book A p. 79.) No property description is listed in the deed.
The church added forty members in an 1817 revival and twenty three in 1823, but it lost members as new churches formed. For example, three members joined the Hebron when that body formed in 1828. Members also probably left to form Indian-Kentuck in 1814 and Milton Baptist Church in 1829.
An important group left by April 26, 1816 when seven members formed the Vernon Baptist Church. All seven bore letters from Mt. Pleasant and included Jesse Vawter's son, John, and his family. The church probably also suffered with the formation of the Harbert's Creek Baptist Church (modern Wirt) on Feb. 14, 1818. Madison Association minutes for 1871 report that "most, if not all" of the twenty one founding members bore letters from Mt. Pleasant. When the Coffee Creek Association formed in 1827, Mt. Pleasant still had eighty-four members despite the withdrawals.
The church voted to disband in April 1831 in order to promote the formation of a Baptist Church in Madison and most members joined the newly formed Madison Baptist Church. The Rev. Jesse Vawter joined Wirt Baptist, where he is buried. John Vawter sold the church lot to George Stribling for $2 on March 19, 1831 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book G p. 299.) The last meeting was held April 2, 1831 (Madison Baptist Minutes p. 7.)
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (Shelby Twp., Jefferson Co.)
A relative late comer as a country church, Mt. Pleasant on Hall's Ridge drew much of its early membership from former Milton Baptist Church. Once organized, it sprang to life with a membership of 106 when it joined the Long Run Baptist Association in 1897.
One church history, date unknown, says that members first met at the Milton School House, which was about 500 feet from the former Milton Baptist Church with prayer meetings and then services by John Renfro. Renfro attended Madison Baptist Association meeting in 1881, the last year Milton sent a delegate. As Renfro was involved in both the Milton and Mt. Pleasant Church, the lag between Milton's dissolution and Mt. Pleasant's formation is somewhat surprising. However, the fluid religious situation may be explained by the existence of the Reorganized Church of latter Day Saints from about 1877 to 1904 on Halls Ridge.
However, it may be partially explained by the fact that some members, including members of the Hankins and Vernon families joined Macedonia. Efforts of the Long Run Association to establish a Sunday School at Seals Fork probably also had an impact. George W. Rea, a member of Milton about 1870 was superintendent of the Seals Fork Sunday School in 1894 and 1895 and a messenger to the Long Run Association from Mt. Pleasant in 1898.
The group which formed Mt. Pleasant decided to meet in the Halls Ridge School, away from the creek. Coming from Milton church were Joe Rogers, wife, Orpha, daughter Susie, Levi Rogers, wife Anna, son Mark, and John, Sarah and Ina Renfro, and Robert Spleen, according to a church history compiled by a committee of church members and dated Sept. 11, 1941. This account said Renfro and Cal Gray (a Methodist minister) held a revival for several weeks at the Halls Ridge School House and that services continued there for two to three years.
The church was founded Sept. 11, 1897 in a grove on the John Lockridge farm (later owned by Edward Schwartz) according to the 1941 account which said a revival was conducted by the Rev. Ben Tevis and Rev. Cal Gray (Both Methodists) in the school house. However, the church continued to meet at the school house until the building was constructed. The congregation elected trustees at a meeting at the school house Sept. 10, 1898 (Miscellaneous Records Book 3 p. 281.) The trustees elected were Jonathan P. Lee, Levi C. Rogers, George W. Rea, Robert D. Jackson and William Barnes. A.E. Hammel was moderator and Anna Rogers, clerk.
The church was constructed on land donated by Killis and Anna Lee and deeded to trustees Clark Brown, Jonathan P. Lee, Robert D. Jackson, Ebenezer Rodgers, Levi Rodgers and James Stewart. The church was completed after Nov. 22, 1899 and probably dedicated in December, according to the official account. Mt. Pleasant was admitted member of the Long Run Association when that body met Sept. 21, 1898. Early membership was quite strong for a new country church. Madison Association records for 1912 show the church had ninety resident members and 125 total members. The church is still active. (1999) Church records were destroyed in the 1940s.??
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co.)
A sketch of the Long-Run Church in the minutes of the Long Run Association says that Mt. Pleasant existed from March 1834/35 when a number of Long Run members received letters to join the new church, and that it became extinct in 1847. However, Switzerland Co. deeds show that William and Celia Hannis sold land in the SE1/4 Section 19 Twp. 3N Range 3W to William Melton, Joseph Graham and James Stewart, trustees of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on Oct. 4, 1833. The deed description places the tract near Indian Creek (Switzerland Co. Deed Book E p. 353) in the center of the southern half of Pleasant Township.
The Graham family was prominent in its organization and the Rev. John Graham was in all likelihood one of its ministers. Absolem Pavy is also known to have preached there. In 1842, Mt. Pleasant sent Elder J. Grayham, William J. Graham, Frederick Green and Smith Turner as messengers to Macedonia Baptist Church, presumably upon the latter's formation. On Dec. 14, 1844, the church elected Phillip Harmon, Thomas Morris and Henry Gerard as trustees (Switzerland Co. Deed Book L p. 406.)
The church may have lost a number of its members when the Grahams purchased lots in the newly formed town of Bennington in 1847 as the Grahams soon appeared as members of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Mt. Pleasant Trustees, Elijah Graham, Joseph Spears and John Lock, sold the church property in the S1/2 SE1/4 Section 19 Twp. 3N Range 3W to Joseph Graham on Jan. 22, 1848. (Switzerland Co. Deed Book N p. 128) This more complete property description would have placed the church along Indian Creek near Brown Road, an unimproved road. No church records are known to have survived.
Mt. Zion Baptist (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co.)
Mt. Zion Church was organized in 1842 (History of Switzerland Co. p. 1162) with fourteen members. John Graham was the first minister, serving until 1846. Mt. Zion was one of the five founding churches of the Long Run Baptist Association on Oct. 13, 1849. The messengers were John Graham, P. Harmon, T. Morris, Jackson Graham and Elijah Graham. The church reported thirty two members at that time.
The formation is reflected on the 3rd Saturday (20th) in October 1842 when the Brushy Fork church minutes note that church "has granted Liberty for a dore to be opened in the neighborhood of brother Phillips Harmans when brother Smith is with them and sufficient number of our members present and they think it expedient."
The History of Switzerland Co. reports the Mt. Zion drew much of its early membership from Brushy Fork Baptist Church. Brushy Fork Records show that on 21 Oct. 1842 Philip Harman and wife and daughter; Gabriel Johnston; Arthur Twineham; Ann Pavy; Thomas Morris and wife; Elmira Courtney; Henry Garard and Irean Lewis were dismissed to form a church. However, Mt. Zion also drew from the Mt. Pleasant meeting house in Pleasant Township after the Grahams moved to Bennington in 1847. Mt. Zion probably also suffered when much of the Graham family moved to Delaware County, Ind., after 1853. Membership in 1863 was thirty six and the church does not seem to grown as Long Run Association minutes show Mt. Zion was dropped as a member church in 1884.
The church was located on the Versailles and Vevay Road (Bennington Road below State Road 250 and Pleasant Grove Road North of it) near the Indian Boundary as shown by a deed in which Stillwell and Frances Graham sold twenty six acres to Tighlman Graham on May 10, 1850.The church cemetery survives in Section 6 Twp. 3N Range 3W on the border of the Indian Treaty Boundary.
Mt. Zion Methodist (Madison Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The Mt. Zion Methodist Church, located on Ryker's Ridge, operated well into the 20th century. It appears to have formed about the time trustees were noted in Jefferson County miscellaneous records on Aug. 6, 1868 The record gives these men as John B. Cochran, Ephraim P. Warfield, John Scott, Charles Alman (also Almond), William H. Phillips. The land for the Church in the NE1/4 Section 30 Twp. 4N Twp. 11E was sold by Jacob and Mary Grebe to the trustees on Aug. 26, 1868 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 28 p 44.) The church building is now a private dwelling.
Mt. Zion Methodist (Craig Twp., Switzerland Co.)
The History of Switzerland Co. (p. 1151) reports this church was organized about 1836, after having "had a sort of drifting existence from 1816." The Rev. James Jones organized the church assisted by James Watson. Original members were listed as Smith Garner, Narcissa Garner, Samuel and Elizabeth Bellamy, William and Sarah Heath, Benjamin Thrasher Jr., Rebecca Thrasher, later Jesse Bellamy and wife, James G. Bellamy and wife, William and Melinda Wallace. Samuel Bellamy is shown as a Methodist minister in 1850 in Craig Township and probably preached at this church. The first log building was erected in 1838 with a stone building erected in 1878. The church is located in Section 34 Twp. 4N Range 12E.
Olive Branch Methodist Church (Madison Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Olive Branch drew its membership from the hilltop along State Road 62 and from the valley of the West Fork from China to Turkey Branch and up Dry Fork. The church formed by April 4, 1835 when Richard and Martha Hall deed a half acre in the SW 1/4 Section 7 Twp. 4N Range 11E to the trustees. The deed lists the trustees as Barnabus Henderson, John Stiver, James B. Mitchell, William Woodfill and John W. Short (Jefferson Co. Deed Book J p. 156.) Peter Batschellet deeded an additional tract to the trustees on June 8, 1836 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book O p. 347.)
Henry and Susan Monfort sold another 5 acres and 5 poles on Sept. 5, 1840 to the trustees: then John Bowen, Stiver, Woodfill, Walker Hamilton and Henry Monfort for $500.
The trustees sold the five-acre tract on March 29, 1851 to Henry Stucker and wife Mary. The trustees were Stivers, Bowen, George Green, Lewis Mickle and Eli Allen. The church cemetery appears to have grown from a family cemetery. Susannah Mitchell Hamilton, first wife of James Hamilton, was buried there Oct. 17, 1820. However, this is the only marked grave with a date before 1840. The congregation disbanded in 1934. The church building was a private residence for many years until it burned on Oct. 7, 1987.
Otterbein Chapel, United Brethren (Madison Twp., Jefferson Co.)
Otterbein Chapel was not per se in the Indian Kentuck Valley. However, it drew members from the Pleasant Ridge area and was as much oriented towards Manville as Madison. On 3 June 1867, the trustees, Robert Imel, William Imel and Henry Davis Jr., were elected to purchase a lot to construct a building on Bee Camp Creek for use as a church of the United Brethren of Christ (Jefferson Co. Mortgage Book 14 p. 273.) Robert Imel was presiding elder and Isaac Ball was Secretary. A deed involving the purchase has not been found. However, an article in the Madison Courier of Nov. 9, 1869 notes that "Otterbein Chapel located at Bee Camp will be dedicated Sunday."
The book "Descendants of Peter Imel" says that Robert Imel, Dec. 6, 1815-Aug. 28, 1895, was a minister who moved to Bee Camp from Bennington in 1846 and built the United Brethren Stone Church. After 1886, he moved to Kansas where he died. Imel's involvement is confirmed by a mortgage dated 16 Jan. 1872 in which the trustees for the Otterbein Chapel, United Brethren Church at Bee Camp, borrowed $866.99 to pay Imel "for work, labor, money and material in erection of said church building." The exact property description is not given, but refers to a border tract owned by Henry Davis and cites Deed Book 25 p. 420 for a more specific location. This deed from Gabriel Woodfill to Henry Davis, dated 3 Apr. 1865, was for 20 acres in the NE1/4 Section 33 Twp. 4N Range 11E. Bee Camp Creek crosses this quarter section.
On March 15, 1873, Otterbein elected James Bingham, J.W. Connett, J.W. Denning, Joseph Gray and John W. Brandon as trustees (Jefferson Co. Miscellaneous Records Book 1 p. 219.) The election notice also reported that the trustees voted to acquire land "to be erected a house of worship." It is not known why the church abandoned the stone building. Perhaps, they did not pay back the construction loan as there is no listing of the cancellation of the mortgage. Things may also have been complicated by the fact that Robert Imel may have become a Baptist as he was granted the right to preach at Milton Baptist Church on the 3rd Saturday in January 1872, assuming this is the same man. Perhaps the Baptists took over the church building as the Bee Camp Baptist Church made its brief appearance at the Madison Baptist Association in 1872.
The search for a new building does not appear to have been immediately successful. On May 8, 1875, trustees met at the United Brethren Church near the Lewis School House in Ripley Co. and voted to buy the Eagle Hollow School House (Miscellaneous Records Book 1 p. 331.) The trustees were William Kiel, Daniel Grebe, and Nathan Schoolcraft. On Aug. 20, 1875, the church elected Kiel, Grebe and George Patton to get a deed for the property. On Jan. 25, 1879, the church elected trustees in a meeting held at the Eagle Hollow School Schoolhouse (Miscellaneous Records Book 1 p. 530.) Elected were Anderson Melton, Daniel Grebe, Henry Sherlock, Gamaliel Taylor, Hoss Haskell and David Clark, P.C.
The group was finally successful in purchasing the school house, identified as located at the corner of Ferry and High Street. School trustees sold the property to William Kreil, Daniel Grebe, Nathan Schoolcraft, Joseph Gray and George Peters for $300. The church was still in existence on April 5, 1902 when George Davis and J.H. Drennen, were elected trustees. L.L. Schoonover was presiding elder and F.W. Cole was secretary.
Pleasant Grove Methodist Church (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co.)
According to the History of Switzerland Co., the Pleasant Grove Methodist Church began about 1832 and became a part of the Vevay Circuit (p. 1163.) This history gives early members as John Kerr, Dicy Demaree, Mr. Eblon, John and Elizabeth Jackson, Abraham and Lydia Metcalf, Mrs. Skeen, Abbie Van Osdol, Abraham and Rachel Banta, Theodore and Rachel Van Osdol, Luther M. and Sarah Hotchkiss, Nelson and Ann Harris, Hugh Montgomery and wife and James Hukle and wife.
On Jan. 21, 1837, trustees John G. Stout, Abraham Banta and David Eblen agreed to accept a donation of one acre in the SE1/4 Section 9 Twp. 5N Range 12E. (Switzerland Co. Deed Book G p. 286.) The agreement does not cite the donor, but says the men have been elected trustees of a Methodist Episcopal Church and that they "shall build a meeting house." This may be the hewed log church which the Switzerland County history reports was used until 1852 when a frame structure was erected. At the time of this account, membership was sixty five with an attendance of fifty at Sabbath School and Rev. Kinnear was minister. The church is still active. (1999.)
Pleasant Ridge Methodist Episcopal (Milton Twp., Jefferson Co.)
A hand-written history in the back of the church's record book says that home meetings of the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church began in 1839 under circuit rider Monroe Hayes. A building of hewn logs was erected on the farm owned by Charles H. and Edwin G. Lyon in 1843. The church moved to property owned by John and Matilda Gray. The church history said this property was given to the church in 1859. However, the date is clearly Aug. 15, 1849 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 5 p. 280) on the Gray's deed to trustees Isaac Painter, Isaac Moler, James Fagg and John Gray. The property is located in the SE1/4 SW1/4 Section 27 Twp. 4N Range 11E.
According to the handwritten history, Isaac Painter was school superintendent for many years with Mordecai Brooks, Tompkins, Sterns and Ben Abbott as early ministers. Early families were Moler, Davis, Neal, Gray, Painter, Rea, Adams, Brooks, Monroe, Lyon, Abbott and Bear. Miscellaneous Jefferson County records show on Aug 8, 1868, the trustees were, Enoch Adams, James Gray, Joseph F. Gray, Olive B. Gray, John Hitz, Jephtha Mayfield, John Winters. The building was remodeled in 1901 and was dedicated in November of that year. The church burned in 1928 and was reconstructed on the site.
There are two stories about the origins of the name Pleasant Ridge. The handwritten church history says that a steamboat man, courting a church girl, pledged to make a contribution if he were allowed to name the church. Another tradition said it was named after Pleasant Vernon, who is buried in the church cemetery. The church is a mission of the Brooksburg Methodist Church. Although it is still active (1999), there are few members remaining. The membership lists that exists is undated, but don't appear to include members that joined before the 1880s.
Pleasant Township Presbyterian Church (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co,)
According to the History of Switzerland Co. (p. 1159), the first church at the Dutch Settlement at Pleasant was erected in 1823. However, the Pleasant Township Presbyterian Church dates from Oct. 3, 1829 when several members of Jefferson Church petitioned to organize. Wilson's Fork on the Indian-Kentuck was set as the boundary between the Jefferson Church and Pleasant congregations.
Original members were Samuel Gregg, Charles Dawson, Mary Dawson, Richard Carnine, Dennis Carnine, John Bandy, Christopher Bergen, Isaac Vannice, Cornelius R. Voris, Henry P. Banta, Daniel H. Demaree, John Blunk, John D. List, Cornelius A. Voris. Joining the church immediately after the division were Agnes Vannice, Polly Bandy, Nancy List, Mary Carnine, Mary Banta, Tiney Carnine, Mary Voris, Cynthia Demaree, Rachel Blunk and Susan Blunk.
Although the Low Dutch formed the nucleus of the early church, it also drew upon the Scottish settlement which abutted it. While nearby Caledonia Presbyterian Church was formed in 1828, it was not particularly active until 1834 and some Scottish families, such as the Stevensons and Dalgleishes remained members at Pleasant, which was closer to their homes.
Land for the church and cemetery was deeded in two sections. The first came on July 20, 1825 when Daniel and Cynthia Demaree sold an unspecified amount of land in the NW1/4 Section 22 Twp. 5N Range 12E to trustees Alexander Allen, Daniel Demaree, Andrew Morton, Isaac Vannice and Cornelius Voris (Switzerland Co. Deed Book C p. 541.) George and Mary List sold a one-acre tract to the same trustees on June 12, 1828 in the SW1/4 Section 15 (Switzerland Co. Deed Book C p. 512.) A log church was used until 1849 when a frame building was erected. A parsonage was first erected in 1847, according to the Tri-County History. The church disbanded in 1928. The church building was demolished. Its minutes are preserved at the Hanover College library.
Providence Methodist Meeting House (Monroe or Shelby Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The Historical Society's Shelby Township history describes the Providence Methodist Church as follows: "Providence Presbyterian church. Very little is known of this church. By the statement of old residents of Canaan it stood about 3 and ½ miles northwest of that village, but all recollections of it were hazy when a few years since, we made inquires in the Canaan locality. Mr. E.B. Bishop thought it was built by Robert Irvin in the latter thirties. Mrs. M.A. Hillis thought that it was Methodist and not a Presbyterian and that it stood on the Woodfill farm and that Robert Irvin did not found it. Mr. John Warfield said the church was the outcome of a camp meeting held in 1841 by Hayden Hays; that a log church was built about 1842 and at first called, "Concord", and that a frame building succeeded the log one in the sixties. It was also a question as to whether the location was not over the line in Ripley County."
Trustees of the Providence Methodist Meeting House, Henry Cooperider, Elisha Bassett, Benjamin Vanhorn, John Sage and James Blankenship, were elected on Jan. 19, 1830 (Jefferson Co., Deed Book D p. 315) The deed book entry does not give the section in which the property was located. No other official records have been found.
It is likely Warfield confused this church with Concord Wesleyan Church in Brown Township. None of the names of the Providence trustees coincide with families known as members of Concord. Placing this church 3.5 miles northwest of Canaan, per the above description, would put the site near the Camp Meeting Grounds in Section 1 Twp. 5N Range 10E in Monroe Township, north of Bryantsburg. This makes more sense as the Bassett family lived in Bryantsburg.
Ryker's Ridge Baptist Church (Madison Twp., Jefferson Co.)
A history of this body is given in a typewritten history, no author given, which was microfilmed along with the records of the Ryker's Ridge Baptist Church. It states that a community church preceded the formation of the Ryker's Ridge Church.
This account says the first church dated from 1819 with charter members Samuel J. Ryker and wife, John J. Ryker, Jarardus (sic) Ryker, John Lott, two families of Yates, a Carr and probably a Hoagland. This group met first in a blockhouse, and then in a schoolhouse. This church could not join any denomination associations because it included Methodists, Presbyterians and probably some Primitive or Hardshell Baptists according to this account. The growth of the Baptist church here was probably also retarded by the fact that many of the older Rykers were Presbyterian and attended church in Madison while Baptists probably attended the Mt. Pleasant Church in the North Madison area and either the early Milton Baptist Church or Indian-Kentuck Baptist Churches.
Ryker's Ridge was organized in 1841 and joined the Madison Baptist Association the same year when it reported thirteen members. The original twelve members were John Lott, Rhoda Ryker, John Carr, Abner Lott, Catherine Orrill, Mary Jones, Catherine Melton, William A. Jones, Samuel Ryker, Permelia Carr, Rhoda Lott and William Melton. The church quickly grew, reporting sixty three members in 1842, adding twenty one by baptism alone that year. John Lott and wife, Phoebe, deeded the tract for the church to trustees, Samuel Ryker, John Carr and Jared Ryker, on Nov. 12, 1842 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book U p. 185). This land is in the SW1/4 Section 17 Twp. 4N Range 11E. Lott also gave the church the right to use a spring to the west of the property.
Burials in the church cemetery indicate that the church took over a community cemetery. The first burials of the Easton and Hillis families predate the reported 1819 founding of the community church and the Hillis and Ledgerwoods, who are not reported as members of the community church, also have members buried here before the formation of Ryker's Ridge. The oldest stone belongs to Jane Caruthers Hillis who died in 1816. The brick church sanctuary now in use (1999) was built in 1878, according to an inscription on the building. Few church minutes exist for the Nineteenth century.
St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church (Shelby Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The History of St. Anthony's Church at China, Indiana, 1849-1959, by William J. Kremer says that the first Mass was read on St. Anthony's Day, June 13th, 1849, in a brick house the farm home of Hans Weber, occupied in the in the later 1950s and later by Earl and Eva McGee. According to Elma Schafer's history of the China community, the first Mass was celebrated by Father Anthony Carius on July 13. Until 1861, Mass was held once a month on Thursdays by Carius and Father Leonard Brandt of St. Mary's Church. Land for the church was sold by John Weber and wife Ann Marie, to Maurice de St. Pallais, not identified in the deed, but who was Bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, on April 15, 1851 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 7 p. 306.) The land is identified as being 1.5 acres in the SE1/4 Section 31 Twp. 5N Range 11E.
Records of the Diocese of Indianapolis show that a log church was erected in 1861 on the south section of the present building with the "present native sandstone church constructed in 1869". The corner stone was laid on Sunday June 13, 1869 (Daily Courier, June 14, 1869.) The walls were erected by John Spelz, a stone mason, who lived on Turkey Branch.
Services were discontinued at the church when the Parishes in Jefferson County were consolidated as the Prince of Peace Parish.
The church cemetery may have originally been a (non-Catholic) family cemetery. A James Hamilton, who died in 1847, age 54 and is buried there. This is probably James Hamilton whose will was written 8 May 1847 and recorded 12 June 1847 in Jefferson Co., naming his brothers. His relationship, if any, to James Hamilton, who was a China postmaster, is not known. This will was witnessed by John James, whose family operated the China Paper Mill. This James may have been the man who was first married to Susannah Mitchell, buried at Olive Branch. Catholic parish records in Jefferson County were destroyed by fire many years ago.
Salem Christian Church (later Cross Plains Church of Christ) (Brown Twp., Ripley Co.)
Organized before Aug. 11, 1832, when it was received into the Sand Creek Association of Separate Baptists, the church was originally Salem Church, a Separate Baptist Congregation, which had its beginning in homes, according to a history that was in the records of Grace McGee of Cross Plains. This account said there were seventy members at the time and that the church was organized by Elder Alexander Sebastion (Sebastian.) The church had 102 members in 1837 and 185 in 1840.
Perret Dufour's history reports that Sebastian withdrew from the regular Baptists and organized Separate Baptist Churches. Dufour ascribes the organization of a church in Cotton Township and a church in the Cross Plains neighborhood to Sebastian--presumably Salem. One acre for the church was granted to trustees, William Jackson, Nathan Nelson and Zebulon Brinson, by Hugh Bunton and wife Katherine in Aug. 15, 1836 (Ripley Co. Deed Book E p. 415) in the SW1/4 Section 32 Twp. 6N Range 12E. The Baptist Church failed in 1856 and the Salem Church of Christ was formed that same year. The first log church burned about 1843 according to Brown Township Cemetery records (compiled by Violet Toph in the 1930s). The present church building was built in 1858.
William Jackson donated land for the cemetery, which has no stones with death dates from the years the church was a Baptist organization. Jackson, a Baptist minister who evidently preached at the church, lived March 28, 1799-Sept. 4, 1877 is buried there. Buntain (Bunton) died Aug. 10, 1865 or 1866, age 74 years 9 months, 16 days. and is also buried here. The church is still active. There are no known minutes surviving before the late 1870s.
Shelby Christian Church (Shelby Twp., Ripley Co.)
The Shelby Christian Church was organized on May 13, 1855 when the founders met in a school house in Shelby Township. The first elders were James Mavity, James Hawley and John B. Cooper with Deacons William Vawter and William C. Walton. Twenty-four people signed as charter members. The trustees, James Mavity, Samuel F. Hardy and Daniel Kelley, purchased half acre in the SE1/4 Section 9 Twp. 6N Range 11E on March 15, 1856 from James A. and Mary Demaree (Ripley Co. Deed Book Y P. 343.)
The original church was built on land now occupied by the cemetery. Hawley, a minister and carpenter, was instrumental in construction of the first church. The present building (1999) was dedicated in May 1907. Ministers serving the early church included John Corp (sic?), Adam Lockwood, and Manville's James W. Lanham. The church is still active. (1999)
Spring Branch Baptist Church (Craig Twp., Switzerland Co.)
The History of Switzerland Co. (p. 1152) gives the formation date of Spring Branch as 1853 with twenty nine original members. Among these were William Anderson and wife, John and Eliza Brown, John Buchanan and wife, John Anderson and wife. Spring Branch probably grew out of the Bethel congregation. The John Buchanan mentioned here was son of the John Buchanan who sold the land for the Bethel church. This older Buchanan and John Anderson were trustees of the Old Bethel burying ground. On the third Saturday in February 1854, Brushy Fork minutes report that its minister Robert Stevenson "being absent at the constitution of a new church at Bethel...", probably Spring Branch. Spring Branch joined the Long Run Baptist Association in 1854. Its messengers were J. Hall, R. Leclerc, L. Roberts and John Buchanan. The church had thirty members that year.
James G. Buchanan (son of John) and wife, Julia, sold 1/4 acre in the NW1/4 Sec. 21 Twp. 2N Range 3W to the church trustees, John Clendennin, Thomas Anderson and John Buchanan (Switzerland Co. Deed Book S p. 190) "for the purpose of building and maintaining" a church building. Perhaps this was the first site of the church as on Feb. 3, 1858, William Anderson and wife, Mary, sold land in the W1/2 SW1/4 Sec. 20 to trustees, John H. Brown, James G. Buchanan, Amos Gilbert and Archibald Ogle.
Joseph Hankins, (the younger) who preached throughout the area was the first minister. Succeeding ministers were Archie (sic) Smith, W.H.H. Gleason, Robert Stevenson and James Stevenson. Elders John Pavy and J.D. Griffith brought in twenty-five new members in the winter of 1858-59 while Robert Stevenson baptized about sixty from 1876 to 1885 and another thirty came in through Griffith. When the Switzerland County History was written, Griffith was still pastor with the membership at 100. The first church building, erected about 1856, burned in 1858, and was immediately replaced with the structure standing at the writing of that history (1885.) The church is still active. (1999)
Union Baptist Church (Center Twp.? Ripley Co.)
This Union Church appears as a member of the Madison Baptist Association in 1859. Madison Baptist association records show that Union was founded in July 1829. If so, Union was a member of another association before joining Madison. (Probably Laughery.) It was apparently located south of Olean and disbanded by April 4, 1874. At that time, trustees of a Baptist Church sold a half-acre tract to Jesse Benefiel on April 4, 1874 (Ripley Co. Deed Book 45 P. 273.) The property is identified as being in the North West Corner (sic?) of Section 8 Twp. 6N Range 12E and is outside of the Indian-Kentuck basin and would have been the Baptist church furthest from Madison ever to be a member of that association during the 19th century.
The trustees were John Benham, James S. Curran and Willis Leonard. Among this group, Benham and Curran are names found in the old Benham Cemetery. It seems probable that members of Middle Fork of Indian Kentucky Baptist Church were involved in forming Union. In 1859, its messengers were W. Lemon, H. Benham and H. Weatherbee with ninety eight members. The sole messenger in 1869 was George Benefiel, and the minister, John Waters, his post office address given as Holton. Waters was also minister at Middle Fork of Indian Kentuck in 1859. By 1869, membership dropped to thirty five.
The 1883 Atlas of Ripley County shows that Jesse Benefiel owned 80 acres in the NW1/4 of Section 8. No church is indicated within the section. Nevertheless, Cyrus and Elisa Hyatt deeded one acre to the Union trustees for "Christianity" on Aug. 9, 1871. The deed identifies the land as being in the E1/2 NE1/4 Section 20 Twp. 7N Range 11E. (This church may have been associated with the Bethel Cem. south of Versailles or the Twp. may be 6N instead.) (Ripley Co. Deed Book 42 P. 357.)
The church disappears from Madison Association records in 1870, sending no messenger or report, although the same minutes show George Benefiel as an association vice president from this church. Benefiel, who lived 1835-1911, is buried at Benham.
Union Baptist Church (Craig Twp., Switzerland Co.)
Located in Lamb, this church organized in 1841 according to the History of Switzerland Co. (p. 1152.) The original nineteen members included Samuel McKay and wife, Henry Peters and wife, Shadrach Laman (sic Lanham), and wife, John and Sallie Miles, John Stratford, James McKay and wife, Edward Combes and wife, Raleigh McKay and wife. This church drew heavily from the McKay family and allies (Stratford, the Lanhams and Smiths fit this category.) The first meetings were held by Elders Archie Smith and William Wallace, with fifty admitted. Rev. John Graham was chosen as the first pastor and served two years.
The Switzerland Co. History lists the succeeding ministers as Joseph Hawkins (sic Hankins), Thomas Stewart and McDonald (no first name given) and J.D Griffith with 200 people admitted in the first twenty-two years of service. The church was a member of the Madison Association in 1842 with 116 members, according to association minutes. The messengers were J. Miles and H. Peters.
The earliest recorded election of trustees came on April 15, 1843 with the election of John Stratford, Samuel Bray, Thomas Miller, David Cain and Meshack Lanham (Switzerland Co. Deed Book I p. 317.) George Ash deeded land to the church trustees (not listed by name) on June 11, 1844 (Switzerland Co. Deed Book J p. 619.) The church switched to the Long Run Association on the 3rd Saturday Sept. 1852 reporting, eighty five members. The church building standing at the time of the Switzerland County History was built 1845/46 and was once used as a school house. At the time of the history, (1885) membership was 100. The church is still active.
Union Methodist Church (Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co.)
The first record of Union Methodist Church comes on March 3, 1855 when trustees William Turner, David Cope, Jacob Boyd, Joseph Richards and Benjamin Scott were elected in a meeting held at the meeting house on land owned by Turner (Jefferson Co. Mortgage Book 4 p. 566.) This land was described as being on the Michigan Plank Road near the seven-mile post.
Then in April 1855, William Farmer (or is this Turner) sold land to trustees Joseph Richards, Benjamin Scott, David Cope, Jacob Buyer and William Farmer in the NE 1/4 Section 26 Twp. 5N Range 10E. This description places it just southwest of Belleview on property now a part of Jefferson Proving Ground (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 11 p. 620.) Union was part of the Canaan circuit in 1868 and continued until at least Sept. 9, 1895 when it reported the election of trustees: H.H. Yost, Martin E. Sheldon, Charles E. Rousch Jr., William Hoop (sp?) and Thomas Royce (Miscellaneous Records Book 3 p. 27.) Depauw University has no official records of this church.
United Brethren Church (Pleasant Twp., Switzerland Co.)
The History of Switzerland County(p. 1163) lists this church as being in Bennington and as having been organized 1835-1840. About 1855/56, it joined with the Bennington Methodist Church in building a frame building which both congregations used until 1872. A Dr. Cole and Jacob Sholl are cited as members. No other information is provided directly about church history. The biographical sketch of Moses Osborn states he was a member as was his second wife, Elizabeth Pierce.
However, deeds flesh out this history. An election of trustees was in December 1843 for a United Brethren Church states that the church was located in "the northeastern corner of Pleasant Township." Trustees elected were John H. Chittenden, William Richards and Samuel Fallis (Switzerland Co. Deed Book J p. 480.) Two separate entries on July 24, 1847 give more details. (Switzerland Co. Deed Book M p. 207) In one, trustees William Moore, Joseph Byrd and Jacob M. Henry mention they are providing a lot to build a meeting house. In the other, John Chittenden, Jacob Schull and Joseph Cole are listed as a committee to provide a house and lot for a parsonage.
The 1850 census shows Jacob Shull, age 35, occupation United Brethren minister, living adjacent to Joseph Cole, a physician, presumably the same man who donated the church site. Perhaps another early minister was Robert Imel, who lived in Bennington before moving to Bee Camp in 1846 where he was a minister at Otterbein Chapel (Descendants of Peter Imel)
The history also refers to a second United Brethren Church in Pleasant Township, but does not give its location or dates. The 1850 census does show a second United Brethren minister, Jesse Scott, born in Tennessee, who may have lived further east in the township and who could have been associated with this congregation.
Universalists (Jefferson and Switzerland Co.)
There were various Universalist activities in both Jefferson and Switzerland Counties, but no known church within the Indian-Kentuck basin. The Milton Township history contains the following information about Universalist activities. "So far as we know there was no early Universalist church in Milton township, but it is of interest to note that the people of that faith, held a convention there as far back as 1837. On July 15th of that year, we find the following announcement in The Sentinel and Star of the West a Cincinnati and Madisonville, Ky. publication; published every Saturday by S. and W.B. Tizzard.
"Universalist Convention of the State of Indiana; On Friday the 28th of July, there will be a meeting of delegates, at Sheets' Paper Mill, on Big Indian Kentuck, 7 miles northeast of Madison, Jefferson Co., Ia. [Indiana] and continue in session three days. The object of the meeting is to form a state convention of the Universalists of the State of Indiana--Universalists in all parts of the state who feel an interest in the cause will call meetings and appoint delegates to attend said meeting.
The History of Switzerland County (p. 1049) notes the formation of the first Universalist Society of Vevay on Jan. 1, 1852 and mentions preaching by Universalist ministers in Vevay as early as 1826. Brushy Fork minutes have four references to Universalists that imply that there was a Universalist congregation close enough, in those days of slow transportation, to draw members. The first comes on the third Saturday in December 1844 when George W. Vanosdol was excluded "for having joined the Universalians..." On the third Saturday in June 1845, the church excluded Susan Roberts for the same reason and a similar action was taken regarding Ann Vanosdol on the third Saturday in September 1846. The final reference comes on the fifth Saturday in August 1856 when Roberts was readmitted.
There was also a Universalist Church in Jefferson County: the land in Section 15 Twp. 2N Range 9E was deeded to the trustees on Dec. 12, 1848 (Jefferson Co. Deed Book 4 p. 230.) As this land is near Paynesville in Saluda Twp. There was also a Universalist Church located in Madison. The Madison Church elected Henry Hildreth, Isaac Wagner and McClure as trustees on Feb. 5, 1849 with George Chambers as clerk. (Jefferson Co. Mortgage Book 1847-1849, p. 613.)
West Fork Baptist Church (Shelby Twp., Ripley Co.)
West Fork Baptist Church was one of two churches which developed from Indian-Kentuck Baptist Church, the other being Hebron. West Fork drew membership from the Wise area of Shelby Township as well as from Brown and Shelby Township in Ripley County. The church record shows that the original name was the West Fork of Indian Kentucky Baptist Church. West Fork formed on the first Saturday in June 1826 and the church sent three delegates, David Shepherd, D.S. Perkins and James Christie, to the Coffee Creek Association in August 1827. Reported membership appears to have been thirty three (the printed minutes are barely legible.) West Fork became a member of the Madison Baptist Association with its formation in 1832.
The first members were David Shepherd, Elizabeth Shepherd, John Rabourn, Elizabeth Rabourn, Ralph Rabourn, Nancy Rabourn Sr, Nancy Rabourn, Debby Watts, Rosy Roberts, Polly Stevens, Jane Custer, R (or) ______ Roberts (perhaps Polly, whose death is listed in church records), Debby Cox, Asa Cox, Ruthy Cox, Sally Cox, and James Christie. William Blankenship was chosen as moderator on October 3, 1826 and he was probably the first ordained minister to serve. Trustees David Shepherd, John Rabourn and Isaac Perkins, purchased land for the church from James Christie E1/2 SW1/4 Section 31 Twp 6N Range 11E Feb. 6, 1829 (Ripley Co. Deed Book B p. 192.) The church is still active. (1999) Its minutes exist from the beginning of the church and have been microfilmed.