Church History of Jackson Township (and Charlottesville), Indiana
From: History of Hancock County, Indiana
Its People, Industries and Institutions
By: George J. Richman, B. L.
Wm. Mitchell Printong Co.
Greenfield, Indiana 1916


There were several churches in the early history of the township that are no longer in existence. Among them was the Missionary Union Baptist church. This church was organized on July 19, 1852, at what was known as Pleasant Hill, which stood probably a half mile east of the range line and one half mile south of Willow Branch. The first house of worship for the Baptist congregation, however, was erected at the southwest corner of section 16, township 16, range 8, or just across the road from where Center school house is now located. This house was erected in 1856 and was used by the congregation until 1878. At that time it was torn down and moved to a point one half mile west of Leamon's Corner. The new church stood at the northwest corner of the northeast quarter of section 24, township 16, range 7.

Among the original members of the church were William Brammer and wife, Samuel E. Wilson and wife, John O. Moore and wife, and James Brammer. Among the later members were Benjamin Clift, A. C. Dudding and S. W. Felt, all of whom took an active interest in the work of the church. Services were conducted by the congregation until at some time in the early nineties, when on account of deaths and removals, the church organization was dissolved and the building sold.

The Baptists also held regular services at the residence of Silas Huntington, in the extreme northwest part of Jackson township for a number of years during the very early history of the township. The New Light Society also had a little log church in the northeast corner of the township, where they worshipped for several years in that very early day.


This church stood about one and one half miles north of Charlottesville. Its location is still indicated by the cemetery at the northwest corner of the northeast quarter of section 26, township 16, range 8. A history of the church is included as a part of the history of the Charlottesville Methodist Episcopal church.


The church building used by this congregation is still standing at the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 24, township 16, range 7. It was erected in 1879 at a cost of probably $500. The first trustees of the church were Joseph O. Binford, Aaron White and John S. Lewis. Among its pastors were Joseph O. Binford, Micajah M. Binford and Winbern Reams. Services were discontinued during the nineties. The church was originally organized in 1878 and services were conducted at the Leamon's Corner school house until the above church was constructed, in 1879.


The Pleasant Hill church was organized at the residence of Moses Braddock, in 1834. At first it belonged to the Knightstown circuit. Among the early ministers who aided in the organization of the church were Benjamin Cooper, Alfred Thomas, F. C. Holliday, John F. Truslow, W. W. Hibben and James Hill. During the ministry of the two latter, in 1837, a class was organized composed of Polly Burris, Margaret Braddock, Nancy Braddock, Barbara Braddock, Benjamin Cooper and wife, Alfred Thomas and wife, John M. Thomas and wife, and David Thomas and wife.

In 1838 the membership contributed their labor and built a little log church which was used for worship as well as for a school. The seats were made of split poles and in one end was a huge fire place about six feet in width. Along the north side of the room was a narrow oiled paper window. Among the early teachers who taught in this church were Isaac Barrett and Frances (Brown) McCray, the latter of whom taught twelve successive terms. In 1839 L. P. Berry preached the first sermon in this house. George Havens, Greeley McLaughlin, D. F. Straight and D. W. Boles were among the early ministers who preached at the log church. In 1841 the church was made a part of the Greenfield circuit. In 1852, under the pastorate of Francis M. Richmond, a new church house was erected, at a cost of about $1,000. Both this building and the former church stood about eighty rods east of the range line and one half mile south of Willow, in the northwest quarter of section 6, township 16, range 8.

The first trustees of the church were John Jones, George Fisk, Elisha Earles, John M. Thomas and David Thomas. A Sunday school was opened in the church in 1839, by David Thomas, and was maintained as long as the church remained in Jackson township. After the Big Four railroad was constructed, which now passes through Willow Branch, the congregation erected a new house, which is the church now standing at the west side of Willow.


Some of the first settlers in the vicinity of Charlottesville were Methodists. In the early pioneer times they held services in a school house one mile north of town on the west bank of Six Mile. Later a small frame church was built at the Six Mile cemetery, two miles north of Charlottesville. This church cost $70 in money; liberal donations were made in work and material and the church was dedicated by John B. Burt in 1838. The first trustees were Benjamin Fort, Raleigh Ramsey, Andrew Jackson, Anthony Fort and William Oldham. Traveling preachers found their way to the church for many years, when it finally became necessary to have services in town. At this time the town school house stood on the east bank of Six Mile and was used until a church was built.

James P. Foley donated a lot in his addition to Charlottesville, which helped greatly in building the large frame church which was dedicated in 1855, by Rev. Cyrus Mutt, a graduate of Asbury University. The pastor then in charge was the Reverend Mendenhall, This church was remodeled and new seats purchased therefor in 1890, through the efforts of Rev. T. D. Tharp, assisted by the Ladies' Aid Society, of which Mrs. George Girty was president.

The storm that swept through the county on June 25, 1902, did great damage to the church. Soon thereafter the pastor, Rev. James A. Ruley, called the trustees together to plan a new church. The people had had their crops destroyed by the storm and were very much discouraged, but the pastor, with an efficient board of trustees, was successful. The work was begun in 1903. Thomas Moxley, of Greenfield, was employed as architect, and Winfield S. Lane, of Charlottesville, took the contract for the construction of the church. The trustees at that time were Robert S. N. Oldham, William McGraw, Winfield S. Lane, James C. Pratt and James Cranfill.

The new church is a frame structure, and part of the timber of the old church, in good preservation, was used in the new building. During the pastorate of Rev. William Anderson the parsonage burned down and was rebuilt. In 1893, under the leadership of the pastor, Rev. J. W. Bowen, the parsonage was papered, painted, and a new veranda built, at a cost of $125. Again in 1902-03 the parsonage underwent needed repairs: was painted, a new dining room built and the veranda extended, costing about $100. This work was done by the efforts of the pastor, Rev. J. A. Ruley.

The corner stone of the hew Methodist Episcopal church was laid with short appropriate ceremonies, September 21, 1903, the pastor, J. A. Ruley, officiating, assisted by Rev. Omer Huf ford, pastor of the Christian church, and Rev. Benjamin Hutchins, pastor of the Friends church. In the corner stone was placed a tin box containing the names of the church membership, a history of the church, a picture of the pastor, a Bible, a hymn book, Sunday School Journal and the Western Christian Advocate.

The new church was dedicated on January 31, 1904, by Dr. William D. Parr, assistant secretary of the Church Expansion Society, assisted by Rev. G. E. Hill, presiding elder, and by Dr. Perry E. Powell, of Greenfield, and J. F. Radcliffe, of Knightstown. A sum of $2,100 was raised to liquidate the indebtedness by one o'clock. In the afternoon Doctor Hill conducted memorial services in the church, assisted by the following ministers: Albeit Cone, of Greenfield; J. F. Radcliffe, of Knightstown; J. T. Scull, of Carthage, and J. A. Ruley, the pastor. Additional money was raised in the evening for the benefit of the church. Among the large pledges was that of $100 by class No. 7, composed of, fifteen young men, taught by Mrs. W. S. Lane. The Ladies' Aid Society subscribed $500 in addition to the previous contribution of $500.

The new church has five rooms, a vestibule, auditorium, lecture room and pastor's study. Between the lecture room and auditorium is a rolling partition. The floors are bowled, elevated and carpeted throughout. Memorial windows were donated by friends of deceased loved ones. The names in the windows are Mrs. Anna Probasco, Mrs. Eunice Allison and daughter, Mrs. Achsah Lemay Wilkinson, Martin Fort and wife, William and Sarah Oldham, Alexander T. Foley and wife, Elias and Maria Roberts, Joseph and Leah Evans, Homer Kemp Ruley, Mrs. Louise Naftzger, Miss Rua B. Lane; also the Epworth and Junior Leagues.


A history of Methodism at Charlottesville would not be complete without mentioning the names of some of the old pioneer members, who have long since passed away, and some of their children and grandchildren are members of the church today. Mrs. Anna Probasco, wife of Peter Probasco, is said to be the mother of Methodism in this vicinity. Mrs. Probasco was the first Sunday school worker here and was superintendent, secretary, treasurer, teacher and chorister, and often swept paths in the snow so the children could get to Sunday school in the school house, before any church was built. She was very active in all church work and would ride on horseback, and sometimes go on foot, to collect money to carry on the work. At one time when the water was high and she could not get across the creek she secured the services of two men and had a large tree felled for a foot log. It is said, by the way, that if that tree were standing today it would be worth fifty dollars, but trees were plentiful in those days.

The home of Peter Probasco was one of the stopping places for traveling preachers, who went on horseback, and who many times arrived with wet clothes, having forded the swollen streams. They found a welcome with Mr. and Mrs. Probasco, who loaned them clothes while their wet clothing was dried. Mrs. Anna Probasco lived to be nearly one hundred years old. On of her children, Mrs. George Kinder, of this place, is still living. Many other homes also welcomed the preachers, and at quarterly meeting at the Six Mile church the people came for many miles and were entertained The meetings were spiritual and were greatly appreciated, and the church was crowded to its utmost.

William and Sarah Oldham and family, and James P. Foley and family took a great part in this work, and also the families of James and Nancy Lemay, Benjamin Fort, Andrew Jackson, Rolla Ramsey, James Lakin, Henry Woods, Anthony and Katurah Fort, Reuben Loudenback, Isaac Hill, Jesse Atkins, Joseph Tygart, Richard and John Probasco, Mrs. Sarah Earl, Mrs. Phebe Bartlow, Mrs. Parkhurst, Mrs. Abigail Goddard, Mrs. Sarah Armston, Mrs. Lafayette Steffy, Mrs. Isaac Leamon, William Johnson, Charles White, and Jackson White, a local preacher; Dr. Daniel Grass and family, Martin Fort, Talbert Fort, Henry Morris, Edward Barrett, David and Mary McClarnon, Reuben Niles, Robert Jewell, Henry Carroll, Joseph and Leah Evans and their families, and Mrs. Eunice Allison, who lived to he more than ninety years old.

Rev. John T. Hatfield, now widely known as the "Hoosier Evangelist," was for many years a class leader and was a great help to the church as a special leader in the doctrine of holiness. Alexander T. Foley was also a class leader and co-worker with John Hatfield. At that time Thomas McClarnon, who was then eighty one years old, was the class leader and was very active and enthusiastic.

The first Epworth League was organized in 1890, by the pastor, Rev. T. D. Tharp, and wife.

The ministers who have served on this circuit cannot all be given in order. Among the first were John B. Burty, Kelley, McDonald, Metts, Stout, Kinnan, Beamer, Armstrong, James Havens, Milton Mahin, Thomas Stabler, Ambrose Stevens, D. F. Straight; J. C. Clayton, 186o; F. A. Sale, 1862; J. W. Lowery, 1863-65; W. E. McCarty, 1866; S. Saulsbury, 1867; J. S. McCarty, 1868; James Pierman, 1869; E. L. Freeman, 1870; William Anderson, 1872-75; W. E. Curtiss, 1875-77; M. Waymann, 1877-79; James Leonard, 1879-81; I. N. Rhodes, 1881-83; Charles Harvey, 1883-86; R. S. Reed, 1886-88; A. M. Patterson, 1888-90; T. D. Tharp, 1890-91; J. H. Slack, 1891-93; J. W. Bowen, 1893-95; E. F. Albertson, 1895-96; Albert Cone, 1896-98; Earl F. Naftzger, 1898-1902. James A. Ruley, who came here in 1902, had been abundant in his labor, as was also his wife, who was superintendent of both the Sunday school and Junior League, and was an ardent worker in the missionary cause.

Pastors who have been in charge of the Methodist Episcopal church since the dedication in 1904, are M. R. Pierce, J. W. Richey, William E. Whitelock, W. H. Gray, Rolla I. Black, J. W. Miller, M. A. Harlan, and E. H. Taylor, present pastor. Several young men and women have gone out from this church to work in other vineyards of the Master. Among the number the Rev. Maurice Barrett, who graduated from Depauw University in 1912, and from the School of Theology, Boston University, in 1915, and who, was recently appointed as a missionary to India by the Bradley Methodist Episcopal church, of Greenfield, should be mentioned. In November, 1915, he conducted a revival, the result of which was one hundred and twenty converts, the largest number in the history of the church. This revival stands alone as the most successful within the memory of any of its now living members.


An Evangelical Lutheran congregation was organized at Charlottesville by Reverend Wells, about 1847, or a little earlier. In that year a frame church was erected on a lot donated by Daniel Bohn at the north edge of town. Among those whose families worshipped here were Daniel Bohn, Daniel Fries, Thomas Dungan, John Blessinger, Michael Shaffer, John Lenox, W. H. Ferris, Zachariah Fries, Michael Fries, Jesse Dawson and John Kinder. Philip J. Bohn and some of the Danners and Schultzes were also probably members of this church. The first pastor to preach in the new church was Rev. S. P. Snider. Others whose names can be recalled were Reverends Friday, Jackson Cromer, John Cromer, and Thompson.

The Lutherans were prosperous for several years, at one time having a membership of about one hundred and fifty. The members scattered, however, and services ceased to be held during the early sixties. In the latter eighties the house was bought and remodeled by the Christian congregation that had just been organized.


The Christian church at Charlottesville was organized in 1888, with thirteen charter members: T. J. Owens and wife, George Herkless and wife, Mrs. Anna Fort, Mrs. Ettie Niles, Mrs. Dorzena Smith, Mrs. Rebecca Rock, Anthony Smith and wife, 'Macklin Jeffries, Henry Waldon and John Bell, Sr. Only four of the charter members are now living: Mrs. Herkless, Mrs. Ettie Niles, Mrs. Dorzena Smith and Mrs. T. J. Owens, now Mrs. James McClarnon.

The little congregation had no place of worship but later it secured an old abandoned Lutheran church building, remodeled it and furnished it so that it was satisfactory for a place of worship until the organization became sufficiently strong to erect a new house of worship. The first church building was erected in the north part of town and continued to be occupied until it was destroyed by the storm on June 25, 1902. A few months later a new building was commenced and by the donation of work and money was rapidly pushed to completion. This building is now standing. It is a substantial frame church with a seating capacity of four hundred. It was dedicated in 1903 by the Rev. Omer Hufford.

The pastors who have served the congregation are Reverends McHargue, Kuhn, Shults, Collins, Gard, Campbell, Willoughby, Burkhart, Hufford, Thompson, and Hosier, the latter being pastor of the church at this time. The church has had a prosperous Sunday school from its earliest organization. Among those who have served as superintendents of the Sunday school are Mrs. Anna Fort, Mrs. John Fry, Mrs. Niles, Hugh Conway, Messrs. Jeffries, Shelby and Davis, Miss Nellie Davis, and Mrs. Nellie White, who is the present superintendent. The church has an auxiliary organization known as the Willing Workers, consisting of thirteen members.


This church was established during the latter sixties. The house of worship is located south of the railroad in Rush county, but a number of the residents of Charlottesville worship there. A Sunday school is conducted in connection with the church.


A little congregation of Methodists was organized in the northwest part of Jackson township about 184o. It seems that at first they worshipped at private residences, but in 185o erected a church just a short distance north of Cleveland. Among the charter members were Wesley Williams and wife, Elisha Earle and wife, John Sample and wife, Joseph Barrett and wife, Andrew Smith and wife, Thomas Hatfield and wife, George Hatfield and Deborah Earls.

The congregation worshipped at the church above described until during the latter sixties, or possibly until 1870, when the church was moved to Cleveland and remodeled. The same building iss till standing, though it was again remodeled in 1913. The congregation Has grown until now there are one hundred and fifty members.

A Sunday school was organized when the church was first built, or soon thereafter, which now has an attendance of eighty five or ninety, and more than one hundred are enrolled. Practically all of the adult members of the church attend the Sunday school. Theodore Miller is the present superintendent.

Among the pastors who have lately served the congregation are the Reverends R. I. Black, Miller, Harlan and Taylor, the latter being pastor at this time. The church now forms a part of the Charlottesville circuit. When the remodeled building was dedicated two years ago Mrs. Vinnie Hatfield and Mrs. Phebe Miller were present, as the only members who had also attended the dedication of the church during the sixites.


Rev. Joseph Williams and others conducted a camp meeting in 1838 and organized a class in the neighborhood of Wesley Williams, on the line between sections 19 and 20, township 16, range 8. A year or two later they built a log church which was used for worship until about 1861. About that time, after a number of the original members had moved away and others had died, a reorganization was effected by the Rev. D. S. Welling, in the school house on the Robert Smith farm, at the northeast corner of section 36, township 16, range 7. William Leamon, James M. Clark and William Williams were elected trustees. Harvey Collins, Thomas Shipp and S. M. Lowden were among the first pastors.

In 1868, during the second pastorate of Thomas Shipp, a new house of worship was erected, at a cost of $1,000, on the corner described above, known as Brown's chapel. Robert Smith, J. M. Clark, C. G. Sample, John M. Leamon and Peter Crider were trustees. The house was built by J. P. Clark and was dedicated in October, 1868, by Rev. George Brown, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The church was named Brown's chapel in his honor. This house was used until 1898, when it was repaired and remodeled. The building then stood until June 25, 1902, when it was destroyed by the cyclone that swept over Hancock county.

A new church was at once erected, which is now standing. It is a neat frame house standing on the site of the former building. A Sunday school is conducted in connection with the church, with an average attendance of probably forty five. Preaching services are held every two weeks and prayer meetings every Thursday night.


This little congregation was organized at Stringtown in February, 1915, by F. E. Harding, present state superintendent of the Nazarene church. It included the following members: John Mitchell and family, Charles Mitchell and family, Nathan Derry and family, Benjamin Lowe and wife, Mrs. Nancy Mitchell, Miss Frankie Crider and Arthur Crider. A sum of $500 was subscribed for a new church on the evening of the organization. Grover Van Duyn and wife donated a plot of ground for the church at the northwest corner made by the crossing of the National road and the east line of section 35, township i6, range 7. The church will stand just across the road from Trees' shop. Some work has been done on the new house which is to he completed in 1916.

The Nazarene church is a comparatively new organization. The first church of this order was organized in 1895. It teaches the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian perfection, but has a Congregational form of church worship.


In the fall of 1907 a great revival was held under a tent at Cleveland, under the leadership of John T. Hatfield and others. As a result of this meeting a number of persons, on September 7, 1907, associated themselves together as a corporate body under the laws of the state. This incorporation adopted the name appearing as the caption hereof. The purpose of the association as stated in its articles, "is the salvation of souls and to promote holiness." Its plan "is to carry on religious services and to promote religious worship."

The original incorporators were John T. Hatfield, Milo Goodpasture, Roscoe Thomas, Thomas Williams, John O. Mitchell, Maurice Barrett, John Williams, John M. Havens, Maud Thomas, John Butler, and Evert Chalfant. The first officers were Milo Goodpasture, president; Roscoe Thomas, vice president; John T. Hatfield, secretary; Thomas Williams, treasurer and general superintendent; John O. Mitchell, John M. Binford, Rev. John Seelig, John Williams, Rev. John Butler, John W. Crawford, John W. Thomas, John Havens, Frank Edwards, William Macy, Rev. Homer Cox, H. H. Mitchell, Rev. Maurice Barrett, Rev. Evert Chalfant and T. B. Leary, trustees.

The association now owns ten acres adjoining Cleveland on the northeast, and has erected a number of buildings thereon, including a large tabernacle, and other buildings for the temporary residence of people who may come to attend the yearly revival services. Trees have been set out, and over the entrance appear in large letters the words "Salvation Park." Two revivals have been held each year since the fall of 1907, each covering a period of several weeks. Great throngs of people gather at these revivals and much religious enthusiasm is evinced. The first meeting is usually conducted in June, the second one in September. The association preaches the doctrine of justification and of immediate, entire, sanctification.


At the northeast corner of section 17, township 16, range 8, stands the house of worship of one of the oldest congregations in the county. For several years prior to any regular church organization there seems to have existed among the settlers a co-operation in spiritual matters, although they differed somewhat in their religious beliefs. They erected a rude log house for worship and named it "The Union Meeting House." It stood a few rods south of the present church. Like many of the early places of worship, it was built of unhewn logs, with clapboard roof, and puncheon floor. The doors were hung on wooden hinges, and the seats, without backs, were made of puncheon with heavy wooden pins for legs. The house was heated in cold weather by burning charcoal in an open space in the puncheon floor at either end of the room. The charcoal was obtained by burning, during the summer or autumn months, large piles of wood covered with a thin layer of earth.

Realizing the need of a permanent church organization, a council of elders was called to "constitute a church in Gospel order." The council met at the house of Daniel Priddy, September 8, 1839. It was presided over by Elders John Walker and Peter Reder, and the following named persons: Aaron Powell, Elizabeth Powell, Sisom Siddle, Elizabeth Siddle, Lemuel. Perrin, and Charlotte Tygart, who, "upon being examined and found in the faith of the Gospel were constituted a legal church of Jesus Christ."

The minutes also show that: "The church in council being regularly organized covenant our faith to be as follows, to wit: we believe the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God and of Divine authority and the only true and infallible rule of faith and practice of all Christians to follow. As such we take the Word of God for our man of council which is able through faith in Jesus Christ to make us wise unto salvation."

Thus was formed a nucleus of men and women with avowed principles of faith and practice which attracted kindred spirits, and in a few years such men as Samuel Smith, Jordan Lacy, Meredith Walker, John Level, John Street, Peter Furman, Hardy Wells, Aaron Powell, John B. Simmons, Elbert Wales, and a number of others with their families united by obedience and letter with the little band already organized.

The records of the church also show with what degree of care the members sought to carry out the injunction, "Let everything be done in decency and good order." The officers, for instance, were chosen not as "lords over God's heritage, but as servants of the church." On February 13, 1841, the members sitting as a council "say that the church at Union Meeting House shall be called the Reformed Baptist Church of Christ." On December 18, 1844 "the Reformed Baptist Church met at Union Meeting House for the purpose of striking off a part of their peculiar name, and the church say that their name that has been known heretofore as the Reformed Baptist Church of Christ, the words, Reformed Baptist shall be struck out from their name, and the church hereafter shall be designated and known only as the Church of Christ." Thus it seems that those pioneers were not only anxious that the church be one of "gospel order," but that its name should honor the Master.

The second house of worship, a substantial frame structure, forty by sixty feet, was erected in 1853. It served its purpose for more than half a century. The present house, a modern rural church home, was dedicated July Jo, 1904.

The congregation is widely known throughout the county for its benevolent and missionary spirit. It has a membership of one hundred and fifty, a Well organized and graded Sunday school, and an auxiliary of the Christian Women's Board of Missions, numbering twenty six members. The church has had as ministers in the past such men as Elders John Walker, Drury Holt, James Conner, Daniel and David Franklin, James, James W., Samuel, and E. S. Conner; Seth Bennett, Robert Edmundson, G. C. Price, Jacob Blount, Omer Huf ford, B. F. Dailey, William Mullendore, W. R. Carter, Joseph Sherritt, Carl Van Winkle, and Frank W. Summer.

The average attendance at church service for the past several years has been about one hundred and fifty. The average attendance at Sunday school has been probably seventy five. Among the superintendents of the Sunday school have been James T. McClarnon, Orange Julian, George Smith and Marshall N. Hittle, the latter having served about sixteen years, since 1897.

[Also see History of Jackson Township (Includes Charlottesville.)]

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