Churches of Deer Creek Township, Cass County, Indiana
From: History of Cass County, Indiana
Edited by: Dr. Jehu Z. Powell
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1913

CHURCHES

The first religious meeting in the township was held by a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, Rev. John Hay, at the cabin of Noah Fouts in the year 1840. The following year the Baptists conducted services at private houses, but neither of the above named churches perfected organizations, at least not for many years, and the Methodists were the first to form a society.

SALEM M. E. CHURCH

This is the oldest religious society in the township, and was organized in 1845 at the cabin of John Elmore. Some of the charter members were: Dr. John Reeder and wife, Henry Doran and wife, John Elmore and wife, David Reeder and wife, Jonathan Reeder and wife, Elijah Bunnell and wife, George Campbell and wife. The beginnings of this church had its origin in the efforts of Sisters Anna, Elmore and Phebe A. Reed, who held prayer meetings at different cabins in the neighborhood, awakened an interest that soon culminated in the organization of a class. Meetings were held at private residences for several years, conducted by these earnest women, and an occasional itinerant preacher, that wandered out into the wilderness, until about 1851 or 1852, when a log church was erected in the center of Section 10, on land donated by George Campbell. A burial ground was started here, and Ada M., wife of Daniel Dale, was buried December 7, 1851. This old Salem log church, the first church built in Deer Creek township, was occupied for many years, but finally abandoned and torn down about 1875, and the ground reverted to the adjoining farm, according to the provisions of the deed. The society held meetings in the Babb school house, northwest corner of Section 11, for a short time, when in 1876 a new frame church edifice was erected on the southwest corner of Section 4, a mile to the northwest of the old log church. The new church is a commodious building, constructed at a cost of $1,600.

In 1910 this frame structure was replaced by the present modern brick house of worship, with an outlay of $9,000. The church is heated by a furnace, has a basement fitted up with kitchen, etc.

Present trustees - W. S. Munson, E. R. Munson, O. A. Ward, T. M. Elkins, Marian Babb, A. O. De Haven.

Some of the early pastors were Reverends Skillman, Crotham, Newton, Finnimore, Reed, Black, Waymire, Thos. J. Elkins, A. J. Carey, Win. Peek, O. D. Watkins, A. M. Patterson, J. S. McElwee.

UPPER DEER CREEK CHRISTIAN CHURCH

This congregation was organized at the residence of Mr. Turley in November, 1848, by Elders Shoemaker and Hubbard. Some of the early members were: James Roach and wife, Mr. Bowman and wife. Meetings were held in the cabins of the members and later in the school house, until about 1852 or 1853, when a reorganization was had, and a hewed log church was built in Section 34, Deer Creek township, on land donated by Alex Murphy. The following names appear on the charter roll, and the date of reorganization, as reported, was July 5, 1855; Isaac and Ellen Goldsberry, Enos and Lucinda Scott, S. B. and Anna Morrow, Margaret Simmons, Elizabeth Turley, Louisa, Evaline and Drusilla Harness, Margaret and Rebecca Quinn, Geo. W. Harness, Andrew J. and Susan Forgy, Benjamin and Rachel Crites.

The congregation occupied the log church until 1863, when it was abandoned, and a new frame house of worship was built on the southwest corner of Section 35, just across the road from the Howard county line This building was replaced in 1890 by the present handsome brick edifice, at an expenditure of $2,000. A Sunday school was organized in 1867, and has been successfully maintained ever since. The church is prosperous and has an active membership of over eighty. The following preachers have sustained pastoral relations with the church from time to time: Elders Shoemaker, Isaac Johnson, ____ Cook, Geo. Hubbard, Thomas Hubbard, Jonathan Dipboye, S. T. Van Ness, John. R. Kob, D. S. Boswell, John L. Puckett, B. Anderson, 1886, and Mrs. Anderson, W. G. Parker, Elder Simmons, Wm. Heflin, Bruce Monnecy, R. H. Gott, Silas Mostetler, W. P. Newhouse, Joseph W Dipboye, D. A. Cook.

HONEY CREEK CHURCH (QUAKERS OR FRIENDS)

About 1848 or 1849 a society of Friends or Quakers was organized in the neighborhood of Young America, with the following charter members: Robert Coat and family, Henry Jones and family, John Jones and family, David Pemberton and family, Smead Thomas, Enos George and Jonathan Hayworth. On July 5, 1851, Isaac Pemberton deeds to Smead Thomas, Enos George, and Jonathan Hayworth, trustees of Honey Creek Church of Friends, 14x17 rods in the southwest corner of the south half of the southeast quarter of section 20, a half mile north of Young America The same year a log church was erected on this lot. Prior to the building of this house of worship "Quaker meetings" were held in private residences. The first and only expounder of the gospel was John Jones. This organization was maintained for a number of years, but death and removals thinned their ranks and the church was finally disbanded. A few of the remaining members joined a society at Poplar Grove, Howard county, where an organization was kept up a few years longer, but finally disbanded, since which time there has been no Quaker society in Cass county.

UPPER DEER CREEK CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN, GERMAN BAPTISTS OR DUNKARDS

This church was organized September 1, 1854, by David Wise and Henry Metzger, in the barn of Jacob Smith, in Deer Creek township, with the following charter members: Jacob Smith and Lydia, his wife; John Mummert and Mary, his wife; Isaac Cripe and Sarah, his wife; Samuel Cripe and wife; Geo. Countreyman, John Studebaker and wife. Services were held in private residences, barns and school houses until 1870, when the congregation erected a frame church 40x60 feet on the southeast quarter section 21, Deer Creek township, and at that time the largest public building in the township. Prior to 1854 the members of this church belonged to the Lower Deer Creek church, in Carroll county. In the year 1892 the old church edifice was replaced by the present commodious temple of worship, at a cost of over $1,400. The building is a frame structure of modern design.

A Sunday school and aid society have been maintained since 1876. This is the largest and most prosperous church of this denomination in the county, with a membership of over eighty.

Prior to 1908 this denomination was known by the name of "German Baptist Brethren." At the national conference at Des Moines, Iowa, in 1908, the name was changed to "Church of the Brethren." The appellation of "Dunkard" that is often applied to this denomination is only a nickname.

Ministers who have served this congregation are: John S. Studebaker, 1854; Isaac Cripe, 1855-8; Abram Rinehart, 1859-70; Daniel Cripe, 1870-2; David Cripe, 1872; Jacob Cripe, 1872; W. S. Tony, 1875, died 1911; Boyd Bechtelheimer, 1906-9; Jacob Cripe, elder in charge, 1911. This congregation now controls the Hoover cemetery, on the north bank of Deer creek.

PLEASANT VALLEY UNIVERSALIST CHURCH

Through the efforts of Rev. W. S. Pope, Pleasant Valley church was organized in school house No. 3, Deer Creek township, in the year 1891, with the following charter members: A. A. Seagraves and wife, Samuel Downham and wife, A. F. Bird, Alice Bird, Daniel, Polly and Mary Lybrook. Meetings were held in the school house until 1893, when the present brick church was erected on the southwest quarter, Section 6, with an expenditure of over $2,500. Daniel Lybrook donated the ground on which the church was built, conveying the same to the trustees of the church August 10, 1893. A Sunday school was instituted at the time of the church organization, and has been successfully conducted ever since. There was, however, a union Sunday school in open ation, in the school house, some years before the organization of the Universalist Sunday school, and it was merged into the latter.

The Ladies' Aid Society is also maintained by the women of the church.

The following ministers have had pastoral charge of the church: Rev. M. L. Pope, 1891-4; Rev. D. A. Patrick, 1894-9; Rev. ____ Batlard, 1899-1901; Rev. Thomas Guthrie, 1901-2; Rev. George Crum, 1902-3; Rev. D. A. Patrick, 1903-5; Rev. H. C. Becket, 1905-13, the present pastor, resides at Galveston, and has charge of the church at that place. The present membership is about fifty.

YOUNG AMERICA CHRISTIAN (DISCIPLE) CHURCH

This is the oldest religious organization in Young America, and was organized September 15, 1863, by the Rev. Wm. S. Winfield, in a school house on Little Deer creek, with the following seventeen charter members: David Brown and wife, Wm. Butcher and wife, Washington Ewing and wife, Rebecca Custer, Fred Fouts, John Hampshire and wife, Rosanna McManama, John and Martha Roush, Joseph and Martha Tucker, Mary Thatcher.

Irregular meetings were held in the school house for a year or more, but in 1864 a commodious frame house of worship, 30x40 feet, was erected in the town of Young America, representing an outlay of $1,400. In 1893 this building was replaced with a handsome brick veneered church, completed in 1894. Over $2,500 was expended in its construction. The society is doing a good work in the Master's cause, and has an active membership of 48. The pastors of the church at different times have been: Elders W. S. Winfield, 1886-93; Wm. Giggsby, ____ Wickard, David Hudson, Wm. Ireland, ____ Britton, Simon Rohrer, L. C. Warren, W. R. Lowe, E. R. Edmonson, O. P. McCracken, the present pastor, 1912.

YOUNG AMERICA CHRISTIAN (NEW LIGHT) CHURCH

This church was organized in Young America, December, 1870, through the efforts of Elders George Hubbard, Jonathan Dipboye and A. C. Williams, with the following charter members: Hannah Dunkin, Lucinda Laid, Mary Ewing, Mary Fisher, Elizabeth Roach, Ezra Kahl, Rebecca Lewis, Mary A. Johnson, Clarissa Johnson, Nathaniel Y. Buck, Elizabeth Buck, Andrew J. Forgy, Susan Forgy, Julia Wilson, Sarah C. Wilson, Krilla Wilson, Julia Harness, Margaret Harrison, Alonzo McGriff, Phebe MeGriff.

The congregation held their meetings in the Disciples church until 1886, when they erected a house of worship of their own. This is a brick structure, 36x54 feet, and represents a capital of $2,800.

A union Sunday school with other denominations was maintained from 1870 to 1886; when the congregation built their church, they organized an independent Sunday school, occupying their new church edifice, and it has been in active operation since that time. A Ladies' Aid and Christian Endeavor Societies are also maintained and greatly advance the influence of the church. The active membership of the church is 103.

The following is a list of the pastors: Elders A. C. Williams, 18704; Jonathan Dipboye, 1871-5; George Abbott, 1876; George H. Hubbard, 1876-7; John L. Pucket, 1877-8; Wm. Heflin, 1879-81; D. W. Fowler, 1881-2; W. G. Parker, 1882-4; W. H. McClurg, 1884-6; John Puckett, 1886-8; Kendall West, 1888-93; Samuel McNeely, 1893-7; Geo. E. Hicks, 1899-1900; C. V. Strickland, 1900-02; M. M. Wiles, 1902-03; Silas Mosteller, 1903-05; I. J. Bicknell, 1905-06; C. B. Kershner, 1906-10; John T. Agama, 1910-13.

MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH OF YOUNG AMERICA

A society of Missionary Baptists was organized at Young America, February 18, 1882, by the Rev. H. R. Todd, with the following charter members: Daniel C. and Susanna Rife; Michael and Elsie Beekner, Mary A. and Sarah E. Beekner, John E., Elizabeth and Ada H. Hopkins, Sarah E. McCrackin, Harriet Biggs, Mary E. Henry, Rebecca Hillman, Delilah Kerr, Luella Gilman, Hettie E. Marshall, Nancy Poundstone, Virginia Barnett. This society was an offshoot of the Sharon church in Carroll county. The society occupied the schoolhouse and occasionally the Disciple church for several years. In 1887 steps were taken to build a church, and on May 18 of that year Wm. Hollingworth deeded lot No. 15 in. the town of Young America to the trustees, and early in the following year a handsome brick church was completed. This building was enlarged and rebuilt in 1904, of the same material, at an expenditure of $5,500.

A Sunday school was organized October 6, 1888, and has been continuously in operation since that date, also a Ladies' Aid Society and B. Y. P. Union.

The church is in a flourishing condition and has a membership of 152. Preachers who have administered to the congregation, with dates of service, are: Rev. H. R. Todd, 1883; Rev. B. R. Ward, 1884-1890; Rev. ____ Carson, 1891-93; Rev. J. B. Morgan, 1893-1905; Rev. ____ Rake, 1906; Rev. W. P. Tedford, 1906-09; Rev. ____ Reese, 1909-10; Rev. J. H. Mitchell, 1910-13.

UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH

Center United. Brethren church was organized in Center school house, Deer Creek township, August 23, 1885, by the Rev. T. J. Keesey, and the following names appear on the charter roll: Wm. Hubler, Geo. Butts and wife, C. F. Butts and wife, J. G. Gish and wife, Asberry Ridenouse and wife, G. E. Beck and wife, John Burrows and wife, Sarah Henry, Richard Wills and wife, Mary (Blue) McClosky, Josie (Plank) Hess, Percilla Cripe, Newton Ridenour, Chas. Logan, Amos Studebaker and wife, Perry Bern and wife, Nancy Plank Chas. Butts and wife, Geo. Beck and wife, Griffith Gish and wife, Ellen Bowman, Florence Hyatt.

The same year a commodious frame church edifice, 33x47 feet in dimensions, was erected on the northeast corner of the southwest quarter, section 19, Deer Creek township, representing a capital of $2,000. The ground was donated by Mr. Fouts and Lewis Hyman.

A Sunday school was organized in 1888, which with the Ladies' Aid Society and Young People's Christian Union, are maintained and have proven great aids to the prosperity of the church, which has a member. ship of 140. The following pastors have administered to the spiritual wants of the congregation: Rev. T. J. Keesey, 1885-7; Rev. H. Clark, 1887-91; Rev. H. Butler, 1891-3; Rev. M. V. Hibbs, 1893-4; Rev. F. P. Overmeyer, 1894-8; Rev. I. W. Kimbrough, 1898-1900; Rev. H. W. Brown, 1900-01; Rev. O. F. Landis, 1901-05; Rev. W. H. Fetro, 1905- 06; Rev. C. A. Sickafoose, 1906-10; Rev. S. O. Goodrich, 1910-12; Rev. D. W. Gartman, 1912-13.

BETHEL M. E. CHURCH

Bethel M. E. class, an offshoot of Salem church, was organized at the Thomas school house, Deer Creek township, in 1880, with a charter roll of twelve members. Geo. Shelly was class leader and Rev. J. S. McElwee pastor for some years.

Meetings continued to be held in the school house at regular intervals until in the 'nineties, when a new school house was erected a quarter of a mile to the north, and the congregation bought the old school house, remodeled it, and converted it into a house of worship.

Bethel congregation was never large, but were a determined band of earnest Christian workers. Bethel belonged to the Walton charge, composed of Walton, Lincoln and Salem, and the same minister supplied the several pulpits. The congregation prospered for a season, but deaths, removals and other causes thinned their ranks, and they finally disbanded about 1909, and E. R. Munson was appointed to dispose of the church property and the members scattered, going to the surrounding churches.

MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

A society of Missionary Baptists was organized in the Thomas school about 1879, and assumed the name of "Antioch Church." It was a branch of the Judson church in Howard county, and had a charter membership of about fifteen. Prior to the organization of this congregation there had been a union Sunday school successfully managed under the superintendency of Geo. W. Shelly, and Antioch church affiliated with Bethel in the same school house in Sunday school work. Rev. Price Odell was the pastor of the faithful little flock for many years, and until it finally disbanded some years ago, and the members associated with the Young America church.

Rev. Price Odell was an upright citizen, a devout Christian and a faithful minister of the gospel of Christ. He was born in Carroll county, Indiana, 1822, moved to Deer Creek township in 1847, settling in the midst of the forest, and was largely instrumental in developing both the material and spiritual growth of the township where he resided until his death in 1913, at the advanced age of ninety one, fifty four years of which was spent in the ministry. He believed in works as well as faith, and with his own hands, aided in getting out the timber and constructing the Old Deer Creek Baptist church in 1852, and first became a member of that church.

Reverend Odell was united in marriage to Eliza Cline of Carroll county, in 1847, and was blessed with six children.

[Also see History of Deer Creek Township.]


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