History of Greene Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana
From: History of St. Joseph County, Indiana
Hon. John V. Hadley, Editor in Chief.
Chas. C. Chapman & Co.,
Chiago 1880


This township consists of various kinds of soil, the marsh, prairie, barrens, and the thick woodland soil. The eastern part is somewhat broken and hilly. The soil here is a sand and clay mixed, and is very productive for any of the cereals. In the southern part the surface is about the same as in the eastern. As the Kankakee river forms the western and northern boundaries of the tp., that part of it for about two miles of the margin is known as marsh land. It consists of a black loam or peat, which has been formed by the decaying of the rich and luxuriant vegetation of the marsh for ages in the past. The land, it is said, is becoming more dry and solid every year, and there is no doubt that in the future this almost worthless tract of land will become one of the richest in the county. At present it is worth nothing, but for the pasture, hay and huckleberries which it produces. South of this and in the central part of the township is Sumption's Prairie. This is a beautiful rolling prairie, several miles in extent, and around it is the land which is known as the barrens. The soil here appears to be a black sand, mixed with gravel. In this part of the township is located some of the best farms in the county, or, we might say without boasting, in the State.


The first settler in this township was George Sumption, after whom the prairie took its name. He lived here for many years. The family have all left now, but some are still living in the county. Mr. Sumption came here in April, 1830, and settled on section 32. The second to come into the township was John Rupel, who came from Pennsylvania to Elkhart county in 1830, and while living there he bought his present farm in sections 30 and 31 of this township, at the land office, then located in Fort Wayne, paying $1.25 per acre. In March, 1831, Mr. Rupel brought his family and all his property to this point. There was no house on the place, but he soon procured some clapboards and constructed what he called a little shanty. Rude as it may have been, it served as a shelter from the spring storms, and made a home for him and his family. His property consisted of two yoke of oxen, four cows, some young cattle, one horse, a few hogs, a few chickens, two dogs and about $2 in money. This, together with a large and strong body, plenty of muscle, a firm and resolute will to conquer and put aside all obstacles, which he had acquired in the mountain air of Pennsylvania, was the capital he had. A week or two after he came, it began to snow, and continued for a week. The snow lay a week and was about sixteen inches deep. The only food he had for his stock at this time was the timber that he cut for them to browse upon. At night the numerous wolves would venture up to the door. His two dogs would chase them off a little way, when they in turn would turn and chase the dogs. Thus many a night would be spent and nothing to be heard but the howlings of the wolves and the barking of the dogs.

The same year that Mr. Rupel came (1831), John Birt settled on section 31, William Antrim on section 14, Abraham Whitmer on section 36, George Hoiway on section 1, and Stacy Garwood on section 7.

In 1832 came Jacob Rupe, the father of Henry, Samuel, Martin, Daniel and Jacob, and settled on section 7, Jonathan Wharton and Mr. Barton on section 8, and George Baker on section 5. In 1833, Mr. E. Hammond settled on section 6, John McCullough on section 6, George Fender on section 6, Samuel Pearson on section 8, and David Barrett on section 31. From this time on settlers came in fast. The country soon began to change for the better as the farms were improved.


We often judge of the character of the people of a city or country by its churches, schools and other public institutions. If we are allowed this rule to judge the people of Greene township, we can but speak highly of their moral and social character. In talking with the people we discover in every family an inherent love for their church and schools; and but little wonder when we think that it was almost the first thought that came to the minds of their fathers, when they first began the settlement of the township, after they had erected their log shanty and put a crop into the ground for their future subsistence. The first Church organization was effected in 1832, by the Episcopal Methodists, under the superintendence of Rev. N. B. Griffith, of the Indiana conference. There were 15 members of this first class, of whom Geo. Baker was appointed class leader; he served until 1838, and from that time to 1879 - over 40 years! - John Rudduck served as class leader. The society held their meetings in a log school house and in cabins until 1841, when a church building was dedicated by the presiding elder of South Bend district. That building served until 15 years ago, when the present one was erected. Very few are now living who remember the labors of Revs. James Armstrong, R. T. Robinson, G. M. Beswick, Richard Hargrave, Warren Griffith and several others. For the last 30 years the preachers have been: Elias Cook, 1852-'3; Mr. Moore and E. Cook, 1853-'4; J. S. Donelson, 1854-'6; Hiram Ball, 1856-'7; Thomas Hackney, 1857-'8; Albion Fellows, 1858-'9; P. H. Bradley, 1859-'60; John Mahon, 1860-'1; George Gnion, 1861-'2; A. Byers, 1862-'3; A. Hayes, 1863-'4; Jesse Hill 1864-'5; J. H. Clypool, 1865-'7; John E. Newhouse, 1867-'9; E. W. Lowhouse, 1867-'71; J. J. Hines, 18'71-'3; J. Robertson and E. Cook, 1873-'4; B. H. Bradberry, 1874-'5; Reuben Saunders, 1875- '8; Francis Cox, 1878-'9; and O. H. Beebe, 1879-'81.

In 1865 the society felt the need of a new church building. By the urgent solicitation of their presiding elder, S. G. Cooper, a subscription was taken up to the amount of $2,500, and they decided to build a church 36 by 55 feet, with a basement, the upper story for an audience room. The basement is in three departments, one for the Sabbath school, one for a class room and the third for the minister's study. The church when finished cost about $4,000. Mr. Hoiway had the general superintendency of the building, and the paying out of all money. The society at present is in a flourishing condition.

The second religious organization was effected by the Presbyterians in 1836, Rev. Alfred Bryant, of South Bend, being the minister. They had seven members, viz.: John McCullough, his wife and three daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Hammond. They net in an old school house, on the site now occupied by their church, on the farm of Mr. McCullough. Soon after they organized, Nathan Green and Mr. Hammond were made elders. Their church was built in 1838 or '39. Mr. Bryant, the minister, did a great deal of the carpenter work himself. He would walk out from the Bend where he lived, and work on the building for a week at a time. The highest membership the church has ever attained has been about 65. It now has but about 12. Among the ministers who have officiated here were Revs. Tombley and Reeves. Mr. Brown was here when the war broke out, and left for a chaplaincy in the army.

The Baptist Church was first organized on the prairie in a schoolhouse about a mile from where their church now stands, on the 22d day of February, 1846, under Elders Samuel Miller and Peter Hummer, with 10 members. They were Peter and Sarah Hummer, Obadiah and Susan Reeves, William and Sarah White, William and Elizabeth Ogle, Mary Hildreth and Rhoda Crannise. Their elders have been Hummer, McDonald, Hasting, Hitchcock, Miller and Craft. Mr. Vaughn was ordained here in November, 1865. March 4, 1873, H. J. Finch was ordained minister of the Sumption's Prairie Church, J. P. Ash acting as moderator. April 24, 1852, three trustees were appointed to hold a meeting relative to building a church. They were P. Hummer, S. Huggard and C. Curtis. The church was completed in 1855. The society at one time numbered 60 members. It now has about 17.

On section 19, the Dunkards or the German Baptists built a church at an early day, which is generally known as the Oak Grove church. Mr. Whitmer was one of the first ministers.

The next Church organization in the township was the Adventist, under the Rev. James Ferris, about the year 1868. They built their church about the same time. It is a beautiful brick structure, costing about $1,800. The society at that time consisted of about 30. It is now in quite a flourishing condition.

The next church built in the township was the Maple Grove Church. The society here was first organized a mile or two north and west of where the church stands at the Hummer school house. After a course of years it grew small and the society was removed to Olive Branch, in Union township. In the spring of 1878 they built their church. It cost about $1,200, and for neatness, taste and design is excelled by none. The society is in a flourishing condition, and sustains a splendid Sunday school. The same minister officiates at this society as at the M. E. Church on Sumption's Prairie.

The Evangelical Church has a society also in the township, making in all seven societies and six church buildings.

These hardy pioneers, although in a new country and compelled to toil from morning till night for a subsistence, never thought of giving up their educational privileges. As early as 1832 or 1833, we find them joining together and erecting a school house on the prairie, near where the Advent church now stands. These settlers met bringing with them their axes and other implements needed for such work which they possessed; and with an ardor that meant business went to work building a house for school purposes. We can but look with admiration on the zeal which they displayed in this way when we consider that there was as yet no saw mills in the country. Mr. Repel says that those of them that had a spare board took it along. Thus we can easily imagine where the lumber came from to build the first school house in Greene township. The floor was what is known as a puncheon floor, and the roof was of clapboards. About the time that this structure was done, the grass on the prairie being dry, as it was in the fall of the year, caught fire; as there were many chips and shavings lying around and under the building they also caught, and the new structure was soon in ashes.

But these men had met with too many misfortunes in a new country to be daunted at this. We soon see them erecting another at the crossing of the roads on the site now occupied by the Presbyterian church. Here were held the first schools in the township. At this time there was no public money for a school fund. After they had built their school house they had nothing but a subscription school for many years. Soon after this another building was erected in sec. 11, near where Mr. Knott resides. There are still many persons living in the township who well remember the wooden benches, puncheon floor, the creaking door with its wooden hinges, and string latch, and the board supported by pins that extended along the wall around the room. When they had a couple of books, a goose quill and a few sheets of paper, they thought that they were well equipped for school. Mrs. Hammond speaks of an old log house near where her son Seth's barn now stands, which was used for a school house for a number of years after they came to the country.

Among the pioneer teachers of the township were W. J. Holway, Matthias Rohn, Miss Green and Mr. Dwindle. At present, instead of log buildings we find beautiful brick structures, with all the modern improvements, while the teachers are among the best in the State.

The first saw mill in the township was on Potato creek, built by John Green, Jr. The first birth was Andrew Bird, June 24, 1832. The first death was that of Isaac Radduck, Jan. 13, 1833. He was the first buried in Sumption's Prairie graveyard. The first couples married were John Rudduck and Elizabeth Rupee, and Abijah Sumption and Rachel Rupe.

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