Probably the first services held by members of this denomination in Miami county were those conducted by Rev.
George Pope at the house of George Neece, in Allen township, in 1838. No society was formed at that time, but in
December, 1839, a few persons who believed in the doctrines of the Baptist church met at the cabin of William Cool,
and took the preliminary steps toward the organization of a church society. Meetings were held at the homes of
the members until the following March, when the Weesau Creek Baptist church was formed with the following members:
William, Christopher and Juda Cool, Sallie Hall, Charles Cole, Mary Boss, Ezra Griffith and wife, Leonard and Powell
Cool. In July, 1841, the congregation joined with others of the same faith in forming the Huntington association.
The first house of worship was built early in the year 1851, on land donated by William Cool. In 1853 this church
became the head of the Weesau Creek association and in May, 1856, the first Sunday school was organized. Two of
the original members of this church - William and Leonard Cool - were ordained to the ministry in May, 1855. In
January, 1876, a handsome and commodius brick church was dedicated for the use of this church, Rev. J. Whiteside
preaching the sermon on that occasion. This is the oldest Baptist church in the county.
In the early '40s Rev. John Davis, a Baptist minister, visited Erie township and held services at the house of
Salathiel Cole. A small society was organized, but no house of worship was ever erected, services having been held
for several years in the homes of the members or at the California school house. After the death of some of the
older members the survivors united with Baptist churches at other points and the meetings were discontinued.
The first church edifice in the town of Bunker Hill was erected by the Baptists in 1860, on a lot donated by James
Myers and John Duckwall. The congregation had been organized nearly twenty years before. Among the early members
were Daniel Striker, William and James McCrary, B. H. Hann and wife, Joseph Frazee, William Piatt and wife, John
Murphy and James Mays and their wives, a Mr. Lawrence and perhaps a few others. Rev. Samuel Dewese was one of the
first preachers and the services were held at his house until the spring of 1848, when a log church was erected
about a mile west of Bunker Hill. The present building is one of the largest in the town, having a seating capacity
of about 500.
In the western part of Deer Creek township, on the creek of that name and not far from the Cass county line, was
once a little Baptist church that was organized about 1849 by Elder Walters, who was the first pastor. At first
there were but five members, but thirty years later the membership had increased to about 100. At that time it
was one of the strongest church societies in the county, outside of the city of Peru. Then a decline began and
in 1893 the congregation disbanded, the members taking letters and uniting with the churches at Bunker Hill, Galveston
The Chili Baptist church had its beginning about 1856, though services had been held in the vicinity by Baptist
ministers for several years previous to that time. When the society was first organized the membership was small
and it was deemed advisable not to undertake the erection of house of worship. Meetings were therefore held in
the school house at Chili and another near that town until 1877, when the congregation had grown to such an extent
as to render a church building of some kind a necessity. Consequently a lot was purchased and a handsome frame
building 36 by 60 feet was dedicated early in 1878. This building, which cost about $2,000, stands in the western
part of the town and is still used by the congregation.
A few Baptists who were among the early settlers of Perry township began holding meetings at their homes about
1850 and in 1858 a substantial frame house of worship was erected on Section 15, near the old village of Niconza.
This was known as the Niconza Baptist church. It enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity for several years, but with
the death of the older members and the removal of others the congregation became so weakened that it lost much
of its former prestige and power. Stephens' History of Miami county (page 260) says a Baptist church was built
at Gilead in 1858, but this statement probably refers to the Niconza church and it may be that the location of
the church was changed to Gilead at a later date. The published accounts of this society are confusing.
The Mexico Baptist church was organized at the house of George Hutchinson, near the village, June 5, 1861, most
of the members having formerly been affiliated with the Weesau Creek congregation. A list of the first members
shows the names of John, Elizabeth and Louis A. Shadinger, Jacob Wilkinson, Rebecca and Lucy L. Strayer, George
and Elizabeth Ulch, David and Catherine Sloppy, William and Eliza Cunningham, George and Nancy E. Hutchinson, Mary
Wilkinson, Fanny Sloppy, Nancy Burnett, Jesse and Mary Copeland, A. W. Hedges and Sophia House. Meetings were held
in the Methodist church for about two years, when a comfortable frame house of worship was erected in the northwest
part of the town. Revs J. M. Maxwell, J. B. Allen and J. Barrett were among the early pastors.
On July 18, 1866, a number of Baptists met together in Peru for the purpose of organizing a church. Those present
at the meeting were E. H. Shirk, H. J. Shirk, W. H. Waters, F. M. Bacon, Moses Mercer, George Geves and David DeLawter
and their wives. Rev. A. Virgil, who was also at the meeting, was chosen pastor. At another meeting on September
11, 1866, the organization was perfected and on October 3d a number of pastors of churches in northern Indiana
met in council and formally recognized the First Baptist Church of Peru as an established church. In April, 1868,
H. J. Shirk, F. Hackley and George A. Crowell were appointed a building committee to take charge of the erection
of a house of worship. The lot at the southeast corner of Main and Wabash streets was secured and a brick building
was commenced. By the close of the year the lecture room was practically finished, and it was occupied for the
first time by the congregation on New Year's day, 1869. At that time Rev. John Trenneman was pastor. He was succeeded
in July, 1869, by Rev. F. D. Bland, under whose charge the building was finished and dedicated on January 2, 1870.
Rev. George E. Leonard was pastor from 1871 to 1882 and under his ministrations the congregation and Sunday school
both grew in membership and attendance. The increase continued under the leadership of Rev. B. F. Cavins, who became
pastor in March 1882, and in a few years it became evident that the old church would have to be enlarged or a new
one erected to accommodate the growing membership. A new building was the decision of the members and in 1894 the
old church that had served for more than a quarter of a century was torn down. The foundation of the new building
was laid in the Fall of that year and the cornerstone placed in position with appropriate ceremonies. In 1895 the
building, a handsome stone structure with red tile roof, was completed, the dedication taking place on Sunday,
November 24th. It is one of the finest church edifices in northern Indiana and cost about $40,000. Since the erection
of the new church the pastors have been H. P. Klyver, H. C. HeRings and Ambrose M. Bailey.
The Oakdale branch of the First Baptist church was established in July, 1905. A neat, commodious building was erected
in the summer of 1906 at the southwest corner of Chili and Adams avenues An active Sunday school has been maintained
continuously since, having many bright and energetic young people among its efficient workers. In October, 1913,
it was organized as a branch of the First church and for the first time arrangements were made for regular services,
Rev. Lee Fisher assuming the active duties of the field.
The Denver Baptist church was organized in April, 1886, by Rev. E. C. Robbins, who was the first pastor. Sixteen
charter members were enrolled at the time of the organization and nine more soon afterward united with the church.
This faithful twenty five immediately took the necessary steps toward the erection of a church building and in
1887 a neat frame house of worship, located upon the rising ground in the northern part of the town was dedicated.
It is thirty six by sixty feet in size and cost about $2,500.
On the map of Miami county in the old atlas already referred to, there is a Missionary Baptist church shown on
the southern part of Section 7, in Union township, about three and a half miles northwest of Denver and just west
of Weesau creek, but no one has been found who can give any account of its organization.
GERMAN BAPTISTS OR DUNKARDS
There are several branches of the German Baptist denomination and no especial effort has been made herein to
differentiate very closely in classifying them, accepting for the most part of classification in Stephens' History
of Miami County. The name "Dunkard" never was an official name of this denomination. It is only a nickname
and is said to allude to an abundance of water, it being a corruption of the German word "dunker," for
dipper. Of the three branches one calls itself the German Baptists, one the Church of the Brethren, and the other
the Progressive Brethren. The church in Peru is of the second above named branch, and so are the two churches in
Mexico. Rev. Mr Fisher, the pastor of the church in Peru, claims that the Church of the Brethren is the direct
descendant of the old German Baptists, while the present German Baptists and Progressive Brethren are branches
of the parent stock. However, as above stated, the historian is not sufficiently familiar with the church history
to attempt a definite classification.
Several societies of this denomination have been organized in Miami county. Doubtless the first was that organized
at Mexico about 1837. Elder Jacob Brower, a Dunkard preacher, held services at the house of Peter Fisher before
that date, and for several years after the formal organization of a church meetings were held at the homes of the
members or in the school houses. In the summer season they worshiped in the groves-" God's first temples."
In 1861 a brick church, forty four by fifty feet, with a seating capacity of about five hundred was built a short
distance north of Mexico. Here the Browers, Fishers, Fetrows, Metzkers, Barnharts and other pioneer families of
Jefferson township, who were adherents of the German Baptist faith, met regularly for years and built up a strong
congregation. An offshoot of this church established another society and built a house of worship on Section 27,
about half a mile north of the station of Courter and just east of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad. Another
Dunkard congregation, known as the "old order," founded a church in Jefferson township at an early date.
A Dunkard church was established in the northwest corner of Richland township many years ago, but nothing of its
history can be ascertained, further than that the members built a house of worship on Section 3, a short distance
east of the old village of Wooleytown. What is known as the "Enterprise" Dunkard church in Perry township,
on the road leading east from Birmingham, has been in existence for many years. The members of this denomination
living in the vicinity of Santa Fe held services in the school house there some years before the beginning of the
Civil war. About 1866 a German Baptist church was organized in the southern part of Washington township. The early
meetings were held in barns, residences or school houses, but after a year or so a frame house of worship forty
five by seventy feet was erected on the plat or ground donated by William Biggs on Section 34, not far from Pipe
creek. The membership of this congregation is made up of substantial farmers and their families.
In the northern part of Clay township a society of Progressive Dunkards was organized a few years after the church
in Washington township and a comfortable frame house of worship was erected a little later on the farm of Oliver
This denomination was first founded in Switzerland in 1525, but took its name from Menno Simons, a leader in
Holland. Since its origin it has become divided into twelve branches, the principal ones of which are the Mennonites,
the Amish (so-called from Jacob Amen), the Old Amish, the Apostolic Mennonites and the Mennonite Brethren. The
church was introduced in America in 1683, when William Penn induced some Mennonites to settle in Pennsylvania.
Near Cary, in the southeastern part of Harrison township, an Amish church was organized about 1849. Members of
this denomination settled in that locality at an early day, most of them coming from Ohio. About 1855 a division
occurred, not so much on questions of doctrine as a difference of opinion regarding modern practices. The "old
order" established a new church near the Howard county line, near the line between Clay and Harrison townships.
This is now known as the Mennonite church. The Amish have no house of worship, but hold meetings at the homes of
the members. All the various branches of the Mennonites are noted for their strict discipline, industry and plain
manner of living.
CHRISTIANS OR DISCIPLES
The Christian church at Miami, the first to be established in the county, was the outgrowth of meetings held
at the house of Austin Herrell and in the school houses, Revs. George Smith, Daniel Flinn and a minister named
Hansberry having been among the first preachers of this faith to hold services in that part of the county. The
society was organized about 1848 and a few years later a substantial house of worship was erected in the village
In 1856 a Christian church was erected in the village of Peoria, the first house of worship in the place. The organization
was never very strong and about 1868 or 1869 the members abandoned the church at Peoria, united with others of
the same belief and built a new frame church in the southeastern part of Butler township. This congregation has
never prospered and meetings are held only at irregular intervals.
Elder Wayman came into Pipe Creek township in 1865 and held meetings in a school house near Pipe creek, about three
miles northwest of Bunker Hill. The result of his labors was the organization of Pleasant Hill Christian church,
with about fifteen members, among whom were the Brandts, the Markens, the Mendenhalls, N. D. and M. E. Nichols,
Jane Reed and Harriet Hopper. Peter Rife and Granville Mendenhall were the first deacons. In 1875 a neat frame
church was built on land donated by Jacob Brant, on Section 14. Although the congregation has never been large,
harmony has prevailed among them and the church is one of the established institutions of the county.
The Converse Christian church was organized in 1868 by Rev. Henry Olinger. For a time meetings were held in the
school house or at private dwellings, but in 1872 a lot in the eastern part of the town was purchased and a frame
church was erected thereon. The pastor at that time was Rev. W. V. Trowbridge. In 1877 the frame church was burned
and a new brick building, thirty six by fifty feet was erected upon the site, at a cost of about $4,000. This building
was the home of the congregation for a little more than thirty years, when it was replaced by the present stately
structure, which cost about $13,000. In connection with the church is a strong Sunday school and it is no disparagement
to other religious societies to say that the Christian church of Converse is one of the most prosperous in the
The Christian church at Macy was organized about 1868 by Rev. Aaron Walker. Grimes Horton, Lyman Hatch and Peter
Carvey were the first elders. The first meetings were held in a school house that was afterward converted into
a residence. In 1873 a brick chapel was erected and it is still owned by the congregation. The cornerstone of a
new building was laid in November, 1913, but the edifice was not completed at the close of that year. The cost
of this building, including the furnishings, will be in excess of $12,000. It is a handsome brick structure, centrally
located, and will seat about 800 people.
In January, 1893, Elder T. J. Legg, state Sunday school evangelist of the Christian church, organized a Sunday
school in Peru. The first meeting was held in the basement of the Odd Fellows' building on East Main street on
January 15th. Later in the year the state missionary board sent Rev. Charles M. Fillmore to assist in the organization
of a church. After holding revival services for about five weeks, Mr. Fillmore succeeded in organizing a congregation,
including a number of Peru's representative people. Not long afterward the old Congregational church at the southwest
corner of Main and Miami streets was purchased and refitted as a house of worship. This building was dedicated
on October 15, 1894, as a Christian church, Rev. L. L. Carpenter, of Wabash, conducting the services. It was a
great satisfaction to the members to know that the new church started upon its career out of debt. Since the organization
services have been regularly held and the congregation is in a reasonably prosperous condition. The building occupied
by this society has had a varied history. It was built and used by the Old School Presbyterians for a time, after
which it was used successively by the Baptists, the St. Paul Methodists and the Congregationalists. When the last
named denomination abandoned the building it stood idle for a number of years before it was bought and remodeled
by the Disciples.
THE NEW LIGHTS
The New Lights, or New Light Christians, were represented in Erie township at a very early date, but no regular
organization was ever effected. Meetings were held at the homes of some of the early settlers and several ineffectual
efforts were made to arouse sufficient interest to justify the establishment of a church. Failing in this, the
meetings were finally discontinued.
The first regular New Light church established in the county is known as Eel River chapel. A history of this
congregation published in the Peru Republican of July 15, 1910, gives the names of the charter members as Elijah
Cox, Jane Gallahan, Thomas and Milly Skinner, Margaret Reed, Fannie Branaman, Elizabeth Taylor Payne and Rebecca
Stroud. On February 21, 1841, the little congregation adopted the name of "Christian Salem Church." In
the fall of 1843 a frame house of worship was built on the farm of Elijah Cox, near the Eel river, at a cost of
$600, and the congregation afterward became known as the Eel River church. At a meeting held on February 21, 1881,
exactly forty years after the church was first organized, steps were taken to build a brick chapel "to be
controlled by the Christian denomination." The building was completed and dedicated early the following year.
The Mount Zion New Light church, about two miles west of Bennett's Switch, was organized in the late '60s and George
Wininger presented the congregation with a house of worship. This church is still in existence and though not strong
numerically is in a fairly prosperous condition.
THE UNITED BRETHREN
The first church of the United Brethren in Miami county, of which there is any authentic record, was formed
in Erie township, at the house of Samuel Philabaum, in 1849. Among the early members were Samuel Philabaum and
wife, Michael Dice and wife, David Repp and wife, David Zimmerman and wife and a Mrs. Barnett. In 1850 a hewed
log house of worship was erected on the farm of Mr. Philabaum and subsequently a nice frame house was built upon
the same site, at a cost of about $1,700. A Sunday school is conducted in connection with the church.
In 1856 Rev. Cyrus Smith visited Xenia (Converse) and organized a United Brethren class, consisting of Seth and
Mary Summers, Zachariah Clevinger and wife, Thomas and Hannah Darby, Charles Branam and Mary A. Clevinger. Meetings
were at first held at the house of Mr. Summers and later in the Wesleyan Methodist church. In 1859 a frame church
was erected at a cost of about $800 and was used jointly by the two denominations until the Wesleyan Methodists
disbanded, when the United Brethren came into full possession. In 1872 the building was enlarged and remodeled,
since which time it has been known as the United Brethren church of Converse.
A frame church for the use of the United Brethren was built in Washington township in 1869, though meetings had
been held at private dwellings twenty years before that time. It cost about $900, is located on the north side
of Section 24, near Little Pipe creek, and is known as Crider chapel.
The United Brethren church at North Grove, erected in 1870, is said to have been the first house of worship built
in Harrison township. It is the outgrowth of meetings previously held by Rev. John Leach at the homes of James
Graham and John Wilson, as early as 1848.
Mount Zion church of the United Brethren, located about two miles east of Bennett's Switch, was organized about
1854. After a reasonable successful career for several years the congregation became so weakened by deaths and
removals that it disbanded. The building was purchased by B. F. Zehring and removed by him and A. E. Zehring, William
K. Green and James Coucher to Bennett's Switch, where it is now used by the Methodists, to whom it was sold at
cost by the men who removed it to the village.
A church of the United Brethren was established at Waupecong some time in the '80s with a small membership, but
its history cannot be learned. The church at Macy was established in 1892 and soon afterward erected a neat frame
building in the northern part of the town. This congregation is in a reasonably prosperous condition, although
not strong in numbers.
A young, and probably the strongest, society of United Brethren in the county is the one at Peru. It was organized
about the beginning of the present century. A lot at the corner of Main and Clay street was soon afterward purchased
and on June 2, 1901, the cornerstone of the building was laid by Rev. W. M. Weekley, of Dayton, Ohio, chairman
of the church erection section of the denominational work. The box deposited in the cornerstone contained copies
of the Peru newspapers, religious publications, etc. When completed the cost of the building was about $10,000.
Some five or six years ago a few United Brethren began holding meetings at their homes at Denver. As their numbers
increased they met in one of the school rooms or in a public hall for a few months, when a congregation was regularly
organized and steps taken to erect a church. The lot at the corner of Pyson street and Washington avenue was purchased
and in the summer of 1910 a neat frame church was erected thereon, where regular services have since been held.
THE FRIENDS OR QUAKERS
Just before the great land sale in 1847 a few Quaker families settled in the southeastern part of the county
and not long after their coming they organized what is now the Amboy Friends' church. Among the original members
were John Pearson, Nathan Arnold, William and Eli Overman and their families, Joshua Canaday, Hiram Pearson, Mordecai
Painter, Michael and Parker Hollingsworth, David Reynolds and Calvin' Edgerton. The first house of worship was
a deserted dwelling, but in a short time a log church was erected just north of the present town of Amboy. Meetings
were held in it until 1865, when a large frame house was built in its place. Rev Zimri Hockett was one of the first
Another society of Friends was organized in the extreme southeastern corner of Jackson township and their house
of worship was built about half a mile north of where Converse now stands. There was also a Friends church established
in the southeastern part of Harrison township at a comparatively early date. This denomination has never spread
over the county like some of the others. At the beginning of the present century there were three Friends churches
in the county, with a total membership of over 500, all located in Jackson township, which is sometimes called
the "Quaker neighborhood."
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
There is but one society of the Protestant Episcopal church in Miami county and that is located in the city
of Peru. On May 2, 1843, a few persons who believed in the doctrines and form of worship of the Episcopal church
met for the purpose of organizing a parish. Among these were M. W. Seely, Albert Cole, James M. DeFrees, John S.
Twells. James Douglas, George L. Dart, E. P. Loveland, H. M. and John W. Stone, D. B. Tyler, H. J. Reese, Jonathan
W. Smith and O. M. Clark, with respective families. Under the sanction of the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, at that
time bishop of the Northwest, and with the assistance of Rev. H. L. Laird, an Episcopal minister of Logansport,
the parish was organized and designated as St. James. Bishop Kemper visited Peru the following July and held services,
at which time three additional members were confirmed.
At a meeting held at the office of M. W. Seely, in Peru. April 8, 1844, Henry J. Rees and D. W. Tyler were elected
wardens, James M. DeFrees, Merritt W. Seely and John W. Stone, vestrymen. Messrs. Seely and Rees were appointed
a committee to draft a code of by laws for the government of the parish. They made their report to a parish meeting
on June 20, 1844, when the by laws were adopted. In the early spring of 1846, Rev. Fortune C Brown, of New York,
was called as rector and remained in charge of the parish for about eighteen months. After his departure Henry
J. Rees conducted services as lay reader for about two years, when he left Peru and the services were discontinued,
except when the parish was occasionally visited by Bishop Upfold. In the winter of 1869 regular services were held
for a short time by Rev. Thomas Taylor, of Delphi, and the following spring Rev. E. J. Purdy, of Logansport held
services a few times and awakened anew the energies of the members.
On the evening of May 26, 1870, a meeting was held in the second story of a building at the northwest corner of
Main and Broadway streets, at which time the parish was reorganized and the name of Trinity Episcopal church was
adopted. A. C. Fiske and Milon F. Smith were elected wardens and C. E. Rutherford, vestryman. Rev. W. N. Dunham
was called as rector on July 1, 1870, and meetings were held regularly in a room over Shirk & Miller's store,
where the First National bank is now located. Before the close of the year a lot at the northeast corner of Main
and Miami streets was purchased and on September 19, 1871, the cornerstone of the first Episcopal church in Miami
county was laid under the direction of Bishop Talbott, Rev. Mr. Roberts, of Indianapolis, delivering the sermon.
The church erected then served as the home of the congregation for more than forty years. On June 3, 1913. the
cornerstone of the new church was laid according to the Episcopal ritual, Bishop John Hazen White, of South Bend,
officiating. An incident that occurred in connection with this ceremony was something out of the ordinary. When
Bishop White visited Gary, some time before, for the purpose of laying the cornerstone of an Episcopal church,
the stone masons objected to his using the trowel because he was not a member of their union The bishop begged
to be permitted to proceed, saying that he would make it all right for the next time. Consequently, he joined the
stone masons' union and when he came to Peru he carried his membership card, but no objection was offered to his
officiating or using the trowel. The contract cost of the new building was $20,000. It was not completed at the
beginning of the year 1914. The walls are of oriental velour brick, laid with black cement, and when completed
the church will be an ornament to the city.
During the pastorate of Rev. Edward W. Averill, the guild hall was erected in the rear of the church. It is a substantial
brick structure and is still standing.
Rev. C. Stuerken, a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran church, came to Peru in 1849 and held services in a
little frame school house on West Second street. The only members of the denomination in the town at that time
were Paul Kleemann, Thomas Hetzner, L. Kolk, Charles Koederer, John Bazner and Adam Waltz, and a few members of
their families. Owing to the fact that the congregation was small, Mr. Steurken visited it only at irregular intervals
and after a time the meetings were discontinued entirely for about a year. He then began his visits again and a
church was regularly organized in 1858, with Rev. H. Horst as pastor. He remained but a short time, when Mr. Steurken
returned to the congregation and in a little while a small brick building was erected on West Second street, near
Hood. In 1861 a number of members were added to the congregation and during the next decade the growth of the church
was steady, though somewhat slow. Early in the '70s a movement was started for a new house of worship. The lots
at the southeast corner of Main and Fremont streets was purchased. the cornerstone of the new building was laid
on May 22, 1875, and the church was formally dedicated on April 2, 1876. It is a brick structure, 40 by 75 feet,
with a tall spire, and still serves the congregation as a home. Where the old church stood on West Second street
a handsome two story brick school house was erected in 1905.
In the year 1855 two ministers named Geisel and Uphouse, members of the Fulton circuit of the Indiana conference
of the Evangelical Lutheran church, began holding services in the vicinity of Bunker Hill Four years later Mr.
Geisel conducted a series of revival meetings that resulted in the organization of a class or society, of which
Peter Walters was the leader. From 1861 to 1863 Rev. R. J. Trometer had charge of the work in that part of the
county. During the next two years Rev. H. Fisher was the pastor of the little flock. Then came Rev. J. Kaufman,
who in turn was succeeded by Mr. Uphouse in 1867. For a time meetings were held in the homes of the members; then
the school house west of the town was secured and services were held there until 1874. In that year a brick house
of worship was erected on Elm street, in the south part of the town, where the congregation still has its home.
A society of the German Evangelical Association was formed in Perry township, a short distance east of Gilead,
and in 1858 a frame house of worship was erected near the village, at a cost of $700. Among the early members were
the Ault, Smith and Barnheisel families, Cornelius Barnheisel donating the land for the church site.
At the Buffalo school house, in the northern part of Perry township, a society of the Reformed Lutheran church
was organized in 1880, by Rev. E. Hershey. About a year later a small frame house of worship was erected on land
donated by Samuel King. Prior to that time a Lutheran society had been organized at the Greenland school house
and held meetings there for some time. It was finally disbanded and most of the members united with the Buffalo
The Evangelical church at the corner of Fifth and Water streets, in the city of Peru, was dedicated on January
19, 1902, Bishop Thomas Bowman officiating. At that meeting $1,500 were contributed and the new building was cleared
of debt. This society was organized on November 26, 1898, at the home of George Vanblaricum, with seven members.
In December, the little society secured the hall over the express office on East Third street. On April 14, 1899,
Rev. Edward Oliver took charge as pastor and from that time the society grew until it was strong enough to erect
its own sanctuary at the corner of Fifth and Water streets, as above stated.
So far as can be learned there has never been but one society of this faith in Miami county. In April, 1876, Rev.
J. B. Parmelee, then pastor of the Presbyterian church in Peru, resigned his position and procured a letter of
dismission from the presbytery. At the same time some of the members of the Presbyterian church withdrew and, under
the leadership of Mr. Parmelee, organized a Congregational church. The old church edifice that had been used by
one of the Methodist societies, located at southwest corner of Main and Miami streets, was secured by the new denomination
and for a time the Congregationalists were fairly prosperous. Then some of the members returned to the Presbyterian
church, and after the departure of Mr. Parmelee for other fields of labor Rev. Mr. Cooper took charge, but the
society soon went down. The Christian church afterward purchased the church building.
THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS
A society of this denomination was organized at Bunker Hill in 1879, by Rev. S. G. Lane. Among the first members
were Allen James, H. G. Curtis, Alexander Baxter, Granville Hedrick, John Turner and their wives, Mary Crowder
and Mary Clouse. Services were held at the homes of the members until 1882, when a frame house of worship was built
in Duckwall's addition, on Elm street. The congregation was never very strong in numbers and some time in the early
'90s meetings were discontinued. The Dunkards then obtained the privilege of using the building and hold services
there about once a month.
In 1883 a Seventh Day Adventist church was organized at Denver by two ministers named Reese and Covert. The original
membership was about twenty. For about two years services were held in the old college building, but in 1885 a
frame church was built in the southeastern part of town at a cost of $800. A Sunday school was soon afterward organized
with Jesse Woods as superintendent. Services were held for several years, when both church and Sunday school passed
out of existence, though there are still a few people of that faith living at Denver and in the immediate vicinity.
The only society of Seventh Day Adventists now in Miami county is in the city of Peru. It numbers but a few members
and has been in existence for the past ten or twelve years. Recently meetings have been held at the dwelling of
Thomas McCarty at the extreme end of West Third street.
THE CHURCH OF GOD
A short distance south of the village of Peoria was once a congregation of this faith, which has a peculiar
history. One of the early settlers in Butler township - a Mr. Hahn - had saved $500, with which he intended to
purchase land in Iowa. Just as he was about to start for that state became converted by a minister of the Church
of God and his conversion was so sincere that the $500 went toward building a church on his farm. The house was
finished about 1856 and for some years Mr. Hahn had camp meetings on his farm near the church. He even went to
the expense of erecting sheds for the horses of the visitors and every year provided food for a large number of
those who attended the meetings. About 1860 the church began to decline and finally the old house was abandoned.
Hahn's farm was sold to E. H. Shirk, who sold it to a man named Crull. When Mr. Crull announced his intention of
tearing down the old church the people of the neighborhood raised a. fund and bought it and a small tract of land.
Here the Methodists and Christians have since held meetings, but the Church of God that once worshiped there is
only a memory.
There was another Church of God in the county at one time and the old church edifice is still standing in Perry
township, a mile or two in a southeasterly direction from the Enterprise Dunkard church. Almost directly across
the road from it once stood a Methodist church, which, after it was abandoned, became known as the "old shell."
It disappeared probably fifty years ago.
Salem Universalist church, four miles south of Peru in Washington township, had its beginning as early as 1858,
when Rev. J. Brooks visited that part of the county and held a few meetings at the residence of some of the settlers
who believed in the doctrine of the "Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man and the final destruction
of all sin and wrong." Eben Mosely and his wife, A. B. Edwards and wife, and a family by the name of Clymer
were the original members of Salem church. During the thirty five years following the first visit of Mr. Brooks,
no formal organization of a society was attempted, though several Universalist ministers came into the neighborhood
and held meetings, either at the home of some believer or in the school house. In February, 1893, the church was
organized and the same year a frame church building 32 by 48 feet was erected. Rev. M. L. Pope was installed as
pastor and under his ministrations a number of new members were added to the congregation. The church property
is valued at $2.000.
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS
A society of this faith was organized in Peru in 1902, with Miss Sadie Nordyke as first reader and Mrs. C. W.
Fultz as second reader. The society holds its meetings in a brick building on the north side of East Fifth street,
between Court and Wabash streets. At the close of the year 1913 Mrs. Laura V. Harter held the position of first
reader and A. E. Fisher that of second reader.