Franklin Methodist Episcopal Church. Ð It is impossible to fix definitely the date of the organization of the Methodist Church in Franklin, as the records of the original class, if any were kept, are not accessible. It is known that the settlement in the county of a number of Methodist families secured the presence and attention of traveling ministers, and doubtless led to the temporary formation of classes or societies, as they are called, and in that way unquestionably gave the church here a historical existence in a very early day, yet it is not at all certain that the denomination had any permanent footing in Franklin until about the year 1832. From the most reliable information obtainable, the first class appears to have been organized in one of the above years, but memory fails to recall the names of but two of the original members: W. W. Robinson and wife, parents of Rev. R. D. Robinson, D. D., of Indianapolis. For some years after the organization, the class met for worship in the dwellings of the members, and later in neighboring school-houses, but the methods of the church in those early days were such that it is not possible now to give a reliable account of what it accomplished. Among those who were known to have been members in 1842, were the following : William Carson and wife, William Clark and wife, Samuel Hall and wife, James Donovan and wife, James Harvey and wife, McKenney Johnson and wife, Andrew Lewis and wife, Zachariah Kelley and wife, William Robbins and wife, Abram Vestal and wife (colored), J. Hill (colored), Mrs., Mary Williams, John Bowen and wife, George Hunt and wife, C. Springer and wife, J. W. Dawson and wife, O. Fugua and wife, and Mrs. Williams. As already stated the first meetings were held in private residences and school-houses, but about the year 1844, a room in the county seminary was secured for church purposes, and here the congregation worshiped until 1847-48. The increase in membership in the meantime foreshadowed the necessity of a building for the especial use of the church; accordingly, in 1848, a lot on the corner of Jefferson Street between Madison Street and Home Avenue, was procured, and in due time a substantial frame edifice, 50x60 feet in size, was erected thereon. The building was formally dedicated by Rev. E. R. Ames, afterward Bishop Ames, and served the purpose for which it was intended until 1869. Owing to the absence of the early records of the church, it will be impossible to give a list of those who served as pastors prior to 1842. Since that year the society had been ministered to from time to time, by the following pastors: Revs. J. V. R, Miller, Erastus Lathrop, Landy Hewens, James Mitchell, under whose ministrations the first building was commenced, Mr. Shaffer, J. B. Lathrop, E. D. Long, William Montgomery, John V. R. Miller, E. G. Tucker, John A. Brouse, Joseph Cotton, F. S. Potts, M. L. Wells, J. H. Lozier, E. L. Dolph, M. N. Marlatt, J. K. Pye, R. D. Black, James S. Rager, J. W. Duncan, Reuben Andrus, D. D., and the present incumbent, Rev. S. A. Bright. Until 1850, the church was the head of Franklin circuit, which for a number of years included several appointments: Endinburg, Greenwood, Mt. Auburn, Salem, Waverly, Shiloh, Glade, Clarksburg, and others. Franklin was made a charge the above year, with Rev. J. B. Lathrop as the first stationed preacher.
During the pastorate of J. M. Crawford, in 1867, the church took the necessary steps toward the erection of a more commodious house of worship, and secured for the purpose a beautiful lot on the corner of Madison Street and Home Avenue. Work on the new building was pushed forward as radidly [sic] as circumstances would permit, but some time elapsed before the edifice was completed. It was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, September, 1869, Bishop Simpson officiating. The building is a handsome brick structure, 50x80 feet in size, surmounted by a lofty and graceful spire, and represents a capital of $23,000. It is a very useful religious organization in the county, with an active membership of 450. The present pastor, Rev. S. A. Bright, possesses large acquirements and other advantages, eminently fitted for his field of action. A Sunday school was organized shortly after the church was established, and with but little interruption has since continued. At present it is in a flourishing condition, numbering 175.
Banta, D.D.. History of Johnson County, Indiana 1888 . Chicago, IL: Brant & Fuller, 1888. pp 864-865
Transcribed by Lois Johnson