Martin County

Following is a history of Waggoner's Chapel Church and Cemetery written by Virgil Davisson in 1946, transcribed from the orginal hand written text by his daughter Thelma Tedrow,  and made available here through the courtesy of his grandson, Paul Davisson. This remains the property of the Davisson family and may not be reproduced in any media without written permission.

Waggoner's Chapel Methodist Church
by Virgil Davisson

Waggoner Chapel Methodist Church is located in Lost River Township near Windom, Indiana, on Lost River, seven miles south of Shoals. The early pioneers of this section of Martin County consisted not only of English descent from the south but also several settlers from the state of Ohio and the immigrants became rather numerous during the decade of 1850 to 1860, and the community was quickly populated in this period. Roads were few and at times almost impassible with the only conveyances available horses or teams hitched to wagons of one type or the other.

             The settlers desired a place of worship according to their dictates of right and wrong and steps were taken to provide a church that would accommodate them. One of the leaders for the place of worship was George Waggoner, and he desired not only to build a church but also to provide for a cemetery. It is coincidental that the first person to be buried in the cemetery was the small child of Mr. & Mrs. Waggoner in 1861. 

The construction of Waggoner Chapel, named for Mr. Waggoner, was started in 1862 with native timber donated by Mr. Waggoner. He also provided the sawing at his sawmill which was situated upon the banks of Lost River near where the present Windom bridge now stands.


The weather boarding, joists and rafters were sawn mostly from yellow poplar and some white oak. The sills and sleepers were hand hewn and entirely from heavy white oak. The rocks to be used for the foundation were quarried from the hillside near the old water mill by Lias Hamer and Marian McKittrick. The house was completed in 1862, except for the ceiling and in 1863, Mr. Waggoner sawed the boards for the ceiling from yellow poplar.  David Watson, another staunch supporter, completed carpenter work and the building was finished. The seats for the church were made from heavy one inch planks of white poplar and black walnut and were fastened with large old fashioned 8-D cut nails. These nails were of square iron and will probably be serviceable for another 100 years. The first church was built with two flues, one of stone and the other brick. It was heated with two wood stoves and lighted with kerosene lamps.


When the church was finished, through the cooperation of loyal members and friends, it was dedicated to the Methodist Conference. The conference supplied the members with a circuit rider, as ministers were called in earlier days, who conducted the services for many years.. The congregation was thrifty, enthusiastic and respectful of its obligation to the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth and composed chiefly of 150 active persons who attended regularly. Some of these families, who were regular in attendance, were Abels, Bateman, Bell, Blackgrove, Clarks, Connell, Davidson, Davisson, Evans, Erwin, Fox, Grubber, Green, Haga, Jones, Kail, Lee, LeMasters, McNanny, Martin, McDonald, Murray,  McGrady. McKittrick, Carroll, Sherfick, Tedrow, Tredway, Waggoner, Wininger and Walters. All the families who attended and worked in the church lived in the community and looked forward to the time of the annual revival services. These meetings were always well attended and would last from three to six weeks. The services were the high light points of the winter months and, although mud and snow was usually plentiful, never the less, the members did not permit these difficulties to interfere with church attendance.


The usual depletion and depreciation of the building took place over the years and necessary repairs were made, when possible, by the members. In 1905. a bell was obtained and on the 4th of July of that year, an ice cream supper was held and the entire cost of the bell was raised. As soon as available funds were obtained, an organ was purchased and became an important part of the church activities.


The circuit riders would fill their appointments about once every three weeks. The circuit was rather large in those days and consisted of the churches at Mount Lebanon and Moore's Ridge, Orange County. Knoxville, Dubois County as well as Waggoner's Chapel, Martin County. It is said these early circuit riders had a hard time of it. There were no roads except blazed bridle paths through much of the country. The streams were un-bridged and those early dispensers of the gospel often traveled the country with their guns on their shoulders to defend themselves from beasts and men.


The elements of nature finally caught up with the church building and eventually it became almost beyond repair and needed complete replacement. Although built well in its day, the 70 year old building started to lean to the southward and a strong cable was used to support itRegardless of the protection provided by the cable, the building was considered dangerous, especially when the wind was blowing. One day, during the funeral of Brother Alfred Tredway, the wind was blowing so hard that the funeral had to be conducted outside of the building in the church yard. Everyone seemed interested in the poor condition of the church and the urgency of constructing a new building, and in Aug., 1933 the writer announced a meeting for someone who was interested in the church and cemetery.


The majority of the persons present at the meeting decided to rebuild the church and to use as much of the old material in the building as possible. The new building was to be smaller and it was made two feet less in widths and lengths and the ceiling was dropped two feet. The date of Sept 17, 1933 was set for raising the money at an all day meeting. The following date of Sept. 18, 1933, different persons started to tear down the old building and to salvage the lumber and other material. There were several doubting Thomases and one person wanted to know bow much it was in the rough the cost of replacing the building would be. When told that it would cost around $300.00 with all labor and most of the materials donated, the critic told the group that it would be impossible to raise $30.00 let alone $300.00. However, since the faith of the members was in God's hands, it was well founded and they followed their conscience and feared no evil. Some staunch supporters arrived every day to work upon the church and when the building was completed, the names of the following persons could be enumerated as among the many loyal workers: Charlie Johnson,  Albert Kail,  Harrison Abel, Ed Evans, W. H. Lee, Curt Radcliff and Virgil Davisson. On Nov. 5, 1933, the first morning services were held in the church and in the afternoon the first funeral that of Mrs. Walters, a former resident of the community was conducted.

The congregation is small in 1946 but Sunday School is held every Sabbath day and preaching services arc available every two weeks with Rev. Dale Courtright as the pastor. The other officers of the church and Sunday Schools are Trustees Virgil Davisson, Harrison Abel and William Lee. Sunday School Superintendent Durethia Abels. Secretary Opal Lee. The writer also serves as treasurer of the church and as assistant superintendent of the Sunday Schools.



Copyright Charlie Tredway, Virgil Davisson and Martin County INGenWeb