Randolph  County,  Indiana  Family  History
White  River  Township


Mount  Zion 

Union City Times-Gazette
Monday, April 15, 1940
Mount Zion-Little Church of Early Randolph County History.
by Philip Kabel
          Preaching began in the vicinity of Mt. Zion at a very early date, when only paths and trails wended their way among the forest trees.  Mr. William Kennedy was an ardent Methodist, and the itinerant preachers soon learned of his hospitality, and his cabin was the circuit-rider's home for many years, and many services were held in his home before there was a church in the neighborhood.
          About the year 1836 a log church was built, which served the community until 1868, at which time a frame building was erected, this being remodeled into the present church in 1912.
          After the building of the new church in 1868 the old log church was removed to the southeast corner of Mr. Kennedy's farm, where for some years it was occupied as a dwelling, and then served as one of the farm buildings until it was recently torn down.
          The second church was erected in 1867 and 1868 during the pastorate of Rev. George Jenkins, who was not only a minister but also an architect and carpenter.  He, with members of his congregation, who donated their services, erected the building, the heavy frame timber being cut from trees on the ground where the cemetery was laid out.  Rev. Jenkins also made the first seats used in the church.  Mrs. William Kennedy and Mrs. Nathan Butts boarded the hands who built the church, each taking her turn in cooking and furnishing the provisions, all without charge.
          Nathan Butts and his good wife, Louisa Macy Butts, had moved to this neighborhood soon after the Civil war in 1865, and he and William Kennedy paid the indebtedness on the church before Mr. Kennedy's death in 1871.  The parsonage at that time was located at Bartonia.
          The first frame building, erected in 1868, was the central part of the present church, the addition to the north and the entrance to the south being added when it was remodeled in 1912.
          Instead of the one chimney now located at the west end of the building there were two near the east end, one on either side, and instead of the two windows at the east end there were two doors, the men usually entering at the north one and the women at the south.  Two old box-stoves located near the east end of the room furnished the heat.
          The pulpit was located at the west end in the center of the room on either side of it being the amen corners where the older members usually sat.  In the center of the room were long benches, and in the corners at the east end were short benches where the young folk usually sat, sometimes the boys and girls sitting together so that they might hold hands, or the boys would enter at the north door and their sweethearts at the south, but always close enough that they might smile at each other or make eyes.
          What a wonderful inspiration this must have been, a real incentive to attend church.
          It is not strange that the old settlers of this neighborhood in selecting a church site and a resting place for their departed ones should choose this beautiful hilltop beneath the giant forest trees near the rippling waters of White River, where the songs of the wild birds and the many-colored flowers of the forest and valley broke the solitude.
[abridged - snipped here - end of history description]
Note - The above newspaper account provided a list of the early burials in Mount Zion Cemetery a list copied from Tucker's History.  All agree with what is on the web page with the following stated exception -- The first burial there was Ursula Wheeler, who died May 4, 1841, aged 35 Yrs. 7 M & 16 d.
[See page 154, Tucker's History and Biography of Randolph County.]
[Mr. Kabel visited the cemetery and copied many of the inscriptions from the oldest stones which are given in this lengthy article.]
Contributed by Billy J. Baker

A History Of The Mt. Zion United Methodist Church

1868 - 1968,  Nova O. Butts
1968 - 2002,  Patsy Stephen

A History Of The Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 1868 - 1968

          Hope....Belief....Courage..... Hope for a better way of life, belief in the help of God and the value of hard work, and courage to leave family and friends brought William and Nancy Kennedy from Carolina to Randolph County, Indiana.
          William Kennedy was born in 1797 and married Nancy Tharp in 1814. They had no children of their own, but helped raise fourteen. They came to Wayne County in 1816 and on into Randolph County in 1817, staying nine years, returned to Carolina in 1826, and soon return to Randolph County. They rode horseback to Reitenour's Meeting House on the Mississinewa west of Deerfield to attend circuit preaching and classes. (This church stood in the new part of what is now the Reitenour Cemetery). Mr. Kennedy broke his hip in his old age and died from the effects in 1876 at the age of 79. Mrs. Kennedy died in the spring of 1881, and both are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery.
          Mr. Kennedy entered 160 acres of land on which a part was given by him and his wife for the Mt. Zion church and cemetery. Mrs. Kennedy relates this story in Tuckers History of 1882: “My husband had gone to Cincinnati to enter our land, 160 acres, and I stayed alone here in the woods miles and miles from any white people and only 17 years old. My husband was an orphan boy, but God kept His promise. The Indians were very thick in this vicinity. They were constantly passing by. The principal trail was 3/4 mile south of here. I was afraid as they were always painted up like fury. They were kind, however, and we were kind to them. We would give bread and meat and they would be satisfied. One evening several braves stopped and asked for bread. I gave them some as I had just baked that day. Nights were long and I didn't sleep much for a couple of nights. One evening about dusk they returned and left a haunch of venison. They were a hunting party and had gone into Ohio and been successful in finding game. One group asked my husband, “What name?” When told, "Kennedy," they said, “No Indian kill Kennedy--Kennedy good to Indians.”
          As families settled in this locality, the Kennedy family saw the need for a religious center; so they gave one and one-half acres of their farm for a church and cemetery for the sum of $1.00. The deed was recorded on March 16, 1843. Tuckers History of 1882 records that Thomas Butt, my husband's great grandfather, was buried there on August 8, 1848, aged 70 years, and A. W. Fitzgerald, Revolutionary War soldier, was buried on Feb. 15, 1851, aged 105 years. Mr. Fitzgerald’s death was caused from falling from a load of oats he had loaded himself.
          About 1836 a log church was built on the corner where the Ernest Fudge home stands. This church was primitive--just planks overhead and logs about 12 to 14 inches, split lengthwise with legs in the rounded side for seats, no backs, rough planks for the floor. The tools for use in the cemetery were kept under the front seat. Rev. George Clark was the first pastor to serve this church. Louisa Macy Butts, my husband's grandmother, attended this first church and told the following story: "One Sunday morning as services were being held, I saw the pastor’s wife (at that time Mrs. George Jenkins) reaching under the seat, bringing out a spade, and leaning on it. She did this all through the sermon, which was rather lengthy this particular morning. When the services were concluded it was discovered she had been holding the spade on the head of a large blue racer snake. About 2 or 3 weeks later another snake of the same species crawled down from the loft overhead and out a hole in the logs where the chinking was gone. It was assumed the two were mates.”
          In 1868 William Kennedy, Rev. George Jenkins and Rev. Nathan T. Butts were chosen to build the present church. Rev. Jenkins was a carpenter and helped design the church. Following are minutes from the secretary’s report at that time:
1. "Text by Rev. G.E. Jenkins for Monday night, January 13, 1868: 'If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do though ye believe not me, believe the works that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him.'
"After meeting the house was called to order by Chairman of Committee to transact business to further advance the building of a church. The Chairman stated that he intended to move away and therefore would have to resign his position. Rev. G.E. Jenkins was elected to Chairman of the committee. Marion Harter was elected to fill the place occasioned by the removal of Rev. Jenkins. Samuel Miller received the job of building the house at $210.00 with a subscription of $25.00. It was decided that the cupola be left off for the present. The work of getting logs to the mill reported favorable. Adjourned to meet Monday night, two weeks. N. T. Butts, Sec."
2. "Text by Rev. G.E. Jenkins for Monday night, Feb.29, 1868: 'For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead.’
“After meeting the house was called to order by the Chairman of Committee. It was decided by committee that three dollars per day be allowed for hauling and one dollar and a half be allowed per day for each hand without a team. Adjourned to meet Monday night, two weeks. N. T. Butts, Sec."
The minutes also record: "Two subscriptions and how paid:
          Ruben Shockney $3.00 Paid in Timber
          Laban Shockney $3.00 Paid in Timber
          The heavy timbers for the frame were cut from the cemetery. There were 2 doors facing the east, one at either end, and there was a chimney near the door. The pulpit was on the west end with short seats on either side. One side was the "A-men" corner where the elderly people sat, while the young people occupied the other side. There were 5 windows on a side, and Rev. Jenkins made the first seats. The first Trustees were Charles Wheeler, William Benge, David North, Pierce and William Hollingsworth.
          Lucille Fudge told me that one day as she was talking to Mrs. Zimri Hinshaw, they were recalling early ministers, and as Mrs. Hinshaw named them, Lucille wrote them down. After Mrs. Hinshaw's death, Lucille kept on with the list, and at Lucille's death the list was given to me.
          We know Rev. Geo. Clark was the first pastor. Other early ministers to occupy this pulpit were Geo. Jenkins, J. W. Bowen, D. M. Brown, A. B. Fry, C. W. Roan, Revs. Stout, Cooper, Newman, Thomas, Cain, Ewell, Lacy, Godwin, Jones, Naftzer, another Rev. Jenkins, and Rev. Perry Powell. Rev. N. T. Butts was a supply minister serving many times from 1861 to 1895, when he moved from the community. In 1893 our Conference assessment was $33.75 a year; in 1898 to 1899 it was $36.50.
          In 1910 the church was remodeled. The doors to the east were made into windows, and a new section was added to the north to serve as the pulpit. The vestibule was added with the door opening on the south. A small basement was dug, a furnace installed, and natural gas was used to heat and light the church. The stained glass windows and present seats were installed at this time. The piano was purchased by the young people’s class, whose teacher was Scott Whistler. Ministers serving this church have been Taylor, Duryea, Van Y, Franklin, Roahrig, Powers, Mitchell, Scotten, Sharkey, Thorn, Burgoner, Blodgett, Kegerreis, Stephenson, Hollingsworth, Bogue, Noland, Applegate, McMahan, Turner, Abel, and Drs. G. H. Myers and Burl Bechdolt.
          In 1956 the asbestos shingles were put on. After standing 95 years it is understandable that parts of the building were badly in need of repair. The foundation was crumbling and it was found the sills were weai~ned by dry rot. A committee composed of Gerald Stephen, Russell Baldwin, and Delbert Farmer was appointed to hire contractors to do some more remodeling. In December, 1962, two new classrooms were built on both sides of the pulpit, making the main part of the building square. The building was raised and excavation was begun for the basement, which has been very useful. The Willing Workers Class replastered the main sanctuary and vestibule. Through donations designated especially for this purpose the sanctuary was carpeted. The whole congregation worked at refinishing the chairs, lectern, pews and register board. As they were all natural oak, they were left that way.
          God has been good to us, and He must want us to continue, for when money was needed suddenly it was there. Ministers serving this church as a single charge were Rev. Gail Price and Rev. Earl Abel. As it has become increasingly difficult to get a minister for a small church with limited income, it was decided to try something new this year of 1968. Four small, though active and working churches in the south-east corner of Randolph County joined together as the Wesley United Methodist Parish with Rev. David Schramm and Rev. Philip Gerber as the pastors. These churches are Bartonia, Spartanburg, Lynn, and Mt. Zion. These small country churches can present to the Conference a wonderful example of Christian peoples working together and saving the rural church for posterity.
          Surely God wants us to continue and prosper and not to lose our identity, for He has again pointed the way. Our doors are always open, our people always friendly, our worship service simple but sincere. Won't those of you that are seeking a spiritual home join us and help us celebrate another 25 years?
Nova O. Butts

Mt. Zion Church to June 1, 1992
          In December 1962 when the remodeling was done two rest rooms were installed in the basement (first indoor facilities). In 1969 Union Chapel was added to the four Church Parish making five Churches in the Parish. In 1970 Rev. Carl Sweet and Rev. Tom True were serving the Parish until June 1973 when the Parish was dissolved. Mt. Zion joined the Saratoga United Methodist Church in sharing Rev. Ron VerLee as the minister of both churches until June 1976. From June 1976 until June 1978 our minister was Rev. Merrill Hartman. In 1978 we put ceiling tile on the fellowship room in the basement. From June 1978 until March 1979 we were served by Rev. David Amor. He was replaced by Rev. Robert Mayo who served until June 1981. From June 1981 to June 1983 Rev. Joseph Baunoch was the pastor. We added 3 new ceiling fans in the sanctuary in 1983. Still sharing with Saratoga, Rev. Harold (Bud) Green, came from Pennsylvania and served until September 1985 when Saratoga decided to stop sharing a minister with Mt. Zion and go on their own, keeping Rev. Green as their minister. Rev. Phil Duecker of Muncie served as interterm pastor from October 1985 until January 1986. Rev. Steve Smith a student at Earlham College came to minister only to Mt. Zion from January 1986 to June 1988.
          In June 1988 we began a program of sharing a minister with Bartonia Methodist Church which is located about five miles east of Mt. Zion. We then had our first female minister, Miss Sherrie Renner, of Muncie Indiana. She was with us until June 1989 when we were sent our second lady minister, Linda Futrell Brackney whose husband was serving the Spartanburg United Methodist Church which is located about five miles south of the Bartonia Church. They are both students at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. We have a small but very active and sharing congregation. We make extra money by serving lunches at Auction Sales. We have a monthly birthday dinner on the second Sunday of the month with a carry-in meal after Church and Sunday School. We have in the past few years done some painting, carpeted the basement, put in a new furnace (1987) and added new storm windows. On January 31,1990 Rev. Brackney resigned and the District Supt. sent us Rev. Ray Wells from Middletown, Indiana and he served until May 26,1991. While waiting to be assigned a minister to fi1l our pulpit we were served by the following Lay speakers: Joe Lewis from Portland, Ind. Audra Piner and Howard Pearson from Muncie, Ind. and Susan Shuter from Frankton. On July 7,1991 Norman Need1er, a Lay Leader from DeSota Methodist Church came to serve us. He, his wife Judy and their son Philip brought many inspiring messages, songs, and scripture to our congregation. He left us on May 24, 1992 and we are now waiting our new appointment. We have installed a new front door this year using money left to Mt. Zion from Vivian Mullen in a memorial.

Mt. Zion Church History Continuation
From June 1, 1992 to December 1999
          Our new appointment for a minister came October 11, 1992. His name is Phil Lake, a student minister and is a local Randolph County man. He served Mt. Zion and Bartonia United Methodist churches. We had the first funeral held at the church for many years on September 11,1993. It was for Jeff Warvel, son of Bob and Carol Warvel. On August 14, 1993 Phil Lake and Debbie Davis of Winchester were married.
          On October 28, 1994 Phil and Debbie had a baby girl, Kathleen (Katie) and she was Christened on Sunday November 27,1994, at Mt. Zion with Bartonia congregation attending also. Rev. Doug Anderson our District Superintendent performed the services.
          On February 5,1995 the furnace blew up at the church, there was no fire but everything was covered with black soot. A professional cleaning firm was hired to clean up the church. We had church several Sundays with things being disarranged. We had to tear out the carpet in Sanctuary and vestibule. On April 6th we put up new lights in Sanctuary and put the pews back in place. On Sunday April 9th we had church with everything back in place and looking nice with the new carpet and new paint etc. The Lake family had a new baby boy born in 1996. Robbie was baptized on September 22,1996 with District Superintendent Rev. Doug Anderson doing the honors.
          Rev. Phil Lake was reappointed to another church in May, 1997. On May 16 a church committee met with District Supt. Anderson and Rev. Esther Kershaw who is going to be our new minister. On May 18 Mt. Zion and Bartonia had a farewell dinner for the Lake family at Mt. Zion and his last Sunday to serve us was May 25.
          On June 1,1997 we received our new minister, Rev. Esther Kershaw from Jay County. On June 29 we had a combined (Mt. Zion and Bartonia) carry in dinner at Bartonia to welcome Rev. Kershaw and her family.
          In November 1997 we had a new sound system installed in the Sanctuary. The cost was $1533.00 and we had a gracious lady, Helen Reeves, give a nice donation of $1000.00 for this system and it was greatly appreciated.
          In October 1998 Olan Mills Studio took pictures of: all the families attending Mt. Zion and Bartonia and a new directory was made.
          August 1999 we put new carpet in the basement with vinyl covering for the kitchen area and the rest rooms. Total cost of $1985.45 of which nearly $1000.00 was donated by the Stephen family and memorials for Delbert Farmer who passed away this year. Also in August we put new guttering around the church with down spouts to run the water away from the church foundation. The cost was $426.00.
          We have served several lunches at public auctions with some nice proceeds. This is our fund raising project. We also received a donation of $2000.00 from the Emerson Butts family as a memorial for him as he passed away this year. Also a memorial of $400.00 from the Blanche Weimer Family.

Mt. Zion Church History 2000-2002
          On January 13, 2000 we had an elevator representive talk to several members of the Church about putting in an elevator for our accessibility for our handicapped persons. The elevator and a ramp outside were discussed but nothing decided on. Those present for the presentation and elevator estimates were Myron and Louis Davis, Merrill and Pat Evans, Helen Reeves, Bud and Norma Harris, Ardonna Ozbun, George Flanagan, Garnet Farmer, Gerald and Patsy Stephen. Later on it was decided that an elevator was much to costly for us to do.
          In March of 2001 a new handicap ramp was built on the west side of the church with a door installed where the west window was in little room. It was built by Steve and Connie Stump at a cost of $2680.00 for which we had some donations given.
          In September of 2001 we had the church and roofs painted for $1600. Also the leak in the Sanctuary ceiling was repaired. We took in several new members this year and our attendance has been better with an average of 30-35 each Sunday.
          As of September 2002 we have not done any major projects this year. Rev. Esther Kershaw was appointed to serve us for another year. Keith Newbauer fills the pulpit in the absence of Rev. Kershaw on vacations and other times she needs to be gone.
Patsy Stephen


Contributed by Nina Thomas

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