Crawfordsville: Methodist, early History
Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 20 Nov 1896 p 13
The first mention of Methodism in Crawfordsville as found in the minutes of the Illinois Conference held at Charlestown, Ind Aug 25, 1825, Bishops Kendree and Roberts present and 44 traveling preachers from various charges. Only 3 presiding elder’s district in the state at the time, Madison, Charlestown and Wabash. Crawfordsville circuit was in the bounds o fhte Charlestown district and the principal preaching pes were Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Ft. Wayne, Logansport, Delphi, Attica, Covington, Portland and back to Crawfordsville, a circuit extending from the Wabash to the Maumee across the entire state and as far north as Ft. Wayne. This was covered by the preacher in charge on horseback, every 8 weeks. The membership of the entire circuit was not over 105. The first sermon preached in Crawfordsville by a regularly appointed itinerant minister was by Rev. Jas Armstrong. In Sept 1825 soon after the session of the Indiana conference at Charlestown, Rev. Armstrong, the presiding elder and Rev. Hackaliah Vredenburg the traveling preacher came to Crawfordsville to organize a Methodist class and provide a regular preaching appointment. There were but five members of the church in the new settlement and they were all women: Mrs. Maria Elston, wife of Major Elston; Mrs. Winters, mother of Mrs. Elston; Mrs. Mary Stitt, wife of Judge Stitt, and mother of Wm. R. and Stitt and Mrs. George Stafford; Mrs. Killian, mother of Dr. Killian, afterwards an army surgeon; and Mrs. Nicholson, mother-in-law of Elder Vancleave. These five “Mothers in Israel” were all the Methodist found by Armstrong and Vredenburg when they came here in 1825. Previous to their coming it had been announced that Armstrong would preach and hold quarterly meeting and arrangements were made for the services to be held in the Baptist Church, a small brick building that stood just north of the old Allen flour mill in the north part of the city. The ground upon which it stood has nearly all washed into Sugar Creek and its location can only be remembered by our oldest citizens. The day for the meeting came and the fame of Armstrong as a preacher, and the desire to hear a “shouting Methodist” brought together all the people of the settlement for miles around. For some reason the Baptist brethren refused at the last to open their doors and application was made for the use of the schoolhouse near by but this was also refused. These refusals fired the Irish pluck of Armstrong and mounting a stump, he cried in a loud voice that “all who desired to hear Armstrong should draw near!” The crowd pressed upon him and from this rude pulpit he delivered a sermon that lingered in their memories to their dying day. It was decided at once to build a suitable house in which to worship. Major Whitlock donated the lot on which the present church stands and Judge Stitt agreed to saw the lumber. Major and Mrs. Elston, Mrs. Winters, Mrs. Nicholson, Mrs. Killan and others aided the enterprise and a frame church was built, 40’ square, facing south on Wabash Avenue. The building was plain but in its day was one of the best in town. In 1843 it was enlarged b the addition of 20’ on the south side. Two large doors opened on Wabash Avenue. Two aisles run through the church and an old fashioned pulpit at the north end looked down upon the hard, straight backed seats. Four windows on each side of the building and one on each side of the pulpit let in the sunlight without let or hindrance save as a cobweb softened the glare. From this small beginning the church gradually grew until in 1853 there were 283 members paying a salary of $375. This year under the pastorage of Rev. George W. Stafford, plans were talked of for a new church and the following year a subscription was started. Major IC Elston agreed to defray ¼ of the expense of the new edifice and prominent among the subscribers were Col. SC Wilson, Hon. Henry S. Lane,
Jas. Heaton, Sr. Joseph Gaskill and Jno. Bishop. Mr Rinsley, father of HR Tinsley was the architect. The church cost when completed about $8,000.
Among the leading members were: Thomas Scott and wife; Benj. Galey; Father Ward; John Carter and wife (she lef $800 at her death to plaster the church); Jas. Heaton and wife; Thomas Barr and wife; Mrs. Winters; Mrs. Hawkins (mother-in-law of Gen. ERS Canby); Father Hill; Jno. Fisher; Jackson Keeney; Andrew Ornbaun and wife; Jas. Wasson and wife; Josiah Harding and wife; Mrs. F. Moore; Mrs. Geo. Miller; Mr. Remley; Mrs. Maddox; Judge and wife Naylor and Miss Lydia Naylor.
In 1856 Jas W. Greene, whose home is now in Crawfordsville was admitted to the conference on trial and form 77-80 was the pastor of the church. In 1872 Hon Henry S. Lane was elected the first lay delegate from the Northwest Indiana conference. Mr. Lane had for many years been a member of the church and by his personal efforts and liberal gifts had materially aided in its educational and benevolent enterprises. He was not only prominent in State and national affairs but he loved the church of which he was for many years an honored member. The year 1885 marked another era in the history of the church. For years the question of a new church building had been agitated and under the intense enthusiasm of the pastor, Rev. Alfred V. Kummer, the difficulties began to melt away and the following February the contract was let to EC Griffith for $17,000 the total cost reaching $23,000. In a pew close to the front on the minister’s left may each Sunday be seen the venerable face and form of Father George Stafford, under whose ministry the plans for the second church building were laid. No description of the present church building is necessary. There are about 700 names upon the church books and 300 in the Sunday school.
Dr. SV Leech in his pastorate of a little over one year has become endeared to his entire congregation as is evidence by the large attendance both morning and evening.
Trinity Church in the west part of town was erected two years ago at a cost of $8,000, Rev. JG Stephens is the pastor in charge. ..Mary K, Gerard
Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 9 Feb 1894
Sunday morning at the conclusion of the services at the ME Church the usual invitation was extended to all who wished to avail themselves of the opportunity to unite with the church. Among those going forward was Gen. MD Manson. Gen. Manson, while he has always been an exemplary citizen and moral man, a friend to the Christian religion, has never been a church member or a regular church goer. He had the matter of united with the church under consideration for several years during which time he was a great Bible student. JB Jennison and Mr. and Mrs. Murphy and son and daughter also united with the church.
Items from the First Commisioners’ Record Which Suggests That Time is a Revolutionizer
Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 27 January 1899
Ambrose Whitlock laid the town of Crawfordsville out and every other lot was given to the county. W. P. Ramey was the county agent and he sold these lots as he could, the commissioners instructing him to part with no lot for less than $10. The county gave the lot now occupied by the municipal light plant to the Baptist Church and the lot where the First M. E. Church now stands to the Methodist Church.