1882 COUNTIES OF
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL
Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
Town of LaGrange
By John Paul Jones
Town of LaGrange-(Part 1) First Plat-Early Residents-The County
Seat Question-Appearance Of
The Village Thirty-Eight Years Ago-(Part 2) Former Mercantile
and Developement-Industrial Enterprises-(Part 3) Secret Societies-Present
(Part 4) Outline Sketch of Religious and Educational Interests-Cemetery.
In LaGrange, as in all communities, the
spiritual welfare of the people was among the first things to be looked
after and cared for. The inhabitants of the little hamlet, in its earliest
days, were blessed by the presence of the preacher, who held meetings at
any convenient place until provision was made for a regular house of worship.
The Rev. Thomas B. Connelly, who was a resident of the township,
probably preached the first sermon in the town. Revs. James Latty,
Rowe, Charles J. Fox and James Roy were also among the
early local preachers who labored efficiently among the pioneers of
the place. The Methodist Episcopal was the first church society formed
in LaGrange. It was organized, in 1843, by Rev. William J. Forbes,who
was the preacher in charge of
the LaGrange Circuit. It consisted of the following members: James
Packer and Esther, his wife, both of whom are living about two
miles east of town; Amasa Durand and his wife Hannah, now
the wife of Robert McClaskey and residing in LaGrange. Mr. Durand
died in 1849. He was the owner of and resided at the time
of his death on the farm adjoining the original village plat, a part
of which is embraced in the Ryason Addition.
Though a strong man, both mentally and physically, the labor of clearing
this farm was the cause of his early demise. Isaac P. Grannis and
his wife Rhoda were members. The latter is living in Johnson Township.
in 1863. George Hopkins and Sarah, his wife, were also
members. He died in 1850. Mr. Hopkins usually led
in the singing in those early days and in fine old Methodist style.
His widow, who married Mr. Sanderson, is still living. Mr. Packer
was the first class leader. The ministers sent to the place have been as
follows: William J. Forbes and J. C. Medsker in 1843, E.
Doud, William G. Stonex, Elijah S. Blue, Elihu Anthony,
Sparks, Elijah Lilliston, L. W. Monson, John H. Bruce,
Ezra Maynard, John R. Davis, Emanuel Hall,
Ketcham, Samuel Lamb, James Beswick, Abijah Marine,
John Maffit, John Hill, Reuben Tobey,
T. Simpson, D. P. Hartman, James Johnson, J. M. Mann,
E. S. Preston, J. H. Hutchinson, J. W. Welch,
Holdstock, Almon Greenman, Y. B. Merdith, C. E. Disbro,
and the present Pastor, B. A. Kemp. This charge was connected with
the circuit until 1862, when it became a station under one pastor in charge.
presiding Elders officiating here have been: George M. Boyd,
1844; Samuel Brenton, 1848; S. C. Cooper, 1849; Jacob
M. Stallard, 1850; H. B. Beers, 1851; Jacob Colclazier,
1853; L. W. Monson, 1857; W. S. Burch, 1861; Thomas Stabler,
1865; H. J. Meck, 1869; O. V. Lemmon, 1873; A. Greenman,
1877; and M. H. Mendenhall, appointed in 1881. Samuel Brenton,
while serving on this district as Presiding Elder, was
stricken with paralysis, which compelled him to retire from the active
work of the ministry. He was subsequently
appointed by President Taylor Register of the Land Office at Fort Wayne,
and was elected three terms to
Congress from the old Tenth District, and died in Fort Wayne in 1856.
S. Blue was accidentally killed in December, 1845, on his way from
an appointment at Wolcottville to his home at Ontario. Having dismounted,
and while leading his horse with the halter strap fastened around his wrist,
the animal became frightened and ran,
dragging the preacher after him, striking his head against a wagon
in the road, then against the fence. He was
instantly killed. The church edifice erected by this denomination was
completed in 1856, at a cost of about $3,000.
It has since been improved and a parsonage added, increasing the value
of the whole property to about $5,000.
It is a substantial frame building, with a basement used for prayer
and class meetings and as a lecture room. The
seating capacity is about five hundred. The Sabbath school was organized
in 1853. It now numbers twenty-nine officers and teachers and 175 scholars,
with an average attendance of 150. The school is in a prosperous condition,
under the superintendency of George C. Morgan. There has recently
been organized a Sabbath school normal class, under competent instructors,
for the purpose of giving particular attention to Biblical study. The membership
of the church is now about three hundred.
The Presbyterian Church was organized in the
winter of 1843-44, by the Rev. Benjamin Ogden, of Three Rivers,
Mich., and Rev. Bouton, who were appointed as a committee for that
purpose by the Presbytery of LaGrange. The original members were Francis
M. Price and his wife, Sarah, William S. Boyd, and Sarah,
his wife, Robert Cummings, and Harmon B. McCoy. The first
Elders were Messrs. Price and Boyd. Of this little communion,
Boyd is the only survivor, and is residing in the town. The
Mr. Ogden served the
church for a short time, during which Mr.Phillip Toll and his
wife, who resided at Fawn River, Mich., a distance
of about ten miles, united with the church. In June, 1845, the services
of Rev. A. D. Whit, who came from the
State of New York, were secured for one-half of his time-he preaching
here and at Fawn River alternately once in two weeks. In October, of the
same year, at the request of the church, the Synod of Northern Indiana
transferred its connection from the Presbytery of LaGrange to the Presbytery
of Fort Wayne. Rev. Mr. White continued his labors until April,
1848. During his time, fifty-nine members were added to the church, nine
by profession of faith, and the others by letters from other churches,
they having immigrated to the county and settled here. In June, 1848,
Rev. A. H. Kerr came as stated supply, and continued his labors
until 1852. Up to this time this organization had no church building of
own, but held service, in common with the other denominations represented
here, in the court house or school house. Rev. William Cathcart
received a call from the Presbytery, and was ordained and installed as
pastor in 1854. He was the first regularly installed pastor of this church.
On account of failing health, Mr. Cathcart resigned his charge
in the spring of 1864, and was succeeded by Rev. A. D. F. Randolph,
who continued until 1869. At the time of Mr. Cathcart's retirement,
the membership was seventy-one. He died at Lima, January 1, 1870. Rev.
Thomas E. Hughes, then pastor of the church at Constantine, Mich.,
received a call and became the settled pastor of this church, and remains
as such at the present time. The membership is now 115.
The present Elders are Matthew McCoy, Ira Barrows, Dr.
E. G. White, J. F. Clugston and E. G. Machan. The Sabbath
school, under the superintendency of E. T. Casper, numbers
115 scholars and twenty-one officers and teachers. The present house of
worship was erected about 1853, at a cost of about $2,000. Having become
too small for the increasing congregation, it has been sold, and an
eligible site has been purchased on Michigan Street, a short distance northwest
of the courthouse, and arrangements have been perfected for the erection
fine brick church building early in the spring of 1882.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mount
Zion congregation, was organized October 12, 1854, by Rev. George
Walker, a member of the Wittenburg Synod, and was constituted with
the following membership:
Michael Hoff and his wife, Eliza; Rueben Trexler
and his wife; William Sigler and his wife, and Benjamin F. Hills.
and Mrs. Hoff have since died. Mr. Hills soon entered
the ministry of the Lutheran Church, and preached for several years at
Spencerville, and subsequently removed to Iowa. Mr.Walker was
succeeded by the Rev. John G. Biddle, and during his pastorate
the house of worship now occupied by this society was erected. It is a
neat frame structure 32x46 feet, with a seating capacity of about 400.
It cost $1,000,
and is situated in Ellison's addition, in the south part of town. Much
of the labor performed in its construction was
by Rev. Biddle, to whose zeal and untiring efforts is due mainly
the success of the enterprise. The members of the church and the citizens
generally, contributed liberally toward this object. Mr. Biddle
was the first regular pastor
of this church. He died in Elkhart, Ind., while in charge, and the
A. J. Cromer took his place. Rev. Jabez Shaffer came to the
charge in 1875, as pastor, and Rev. A. R. Smith in 1878, who continued
one year. Rev. L. S. Keyser was chosen pastor, and commenced his
labors in September, 1879. He resigned in 1881, for the purpose of completing
his theological course at Wittenburg College, Springfield, Ohio. Though
twenty-three years of age, he is a fluent speaker, and bids fair to
become an eminent divine. The present pastor,
the Rev. Levi Rice, entered upon his duties, preaching his first
sermon on the Sabbath, October 2, 1881. The membership is 200. The Sabbath
school connected with this church, under the superintendency of Elmer
Steele, numbers 104, and is doing a good work.
The St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church
Society was organized on Easter Monday in the year 1872. The
first vestry was composed of the following-named persons: Rev. Wellington
Forgus, ex officio Chairman;
Messrs. B. B. Harris, Senior Warden; Adrian D. Brown,
Junior Warden; Samuel K. Ruick, Treasurer;
Charles F. Parry, Clerk. St. John's Chapel was erected in 1873-74,
from plans furnished by Rev. Forgus, and under his supervision,
and was first opened for service on the 28th day of April, 1874, the Right
Rev. Bishop Talbott, of the Diocese of Indiana, assisted by Rev.Wellington
Forgus, officiating. Mr. Forgus was the first rector. The parish
is now in charge of the Rev. S. C. M. Orpen, with sixteen communicants.
The Sabbath school
is in charge of the pastor, and numbers twenty-five scholars. Ministers
of other denominations have from time to
time preached here, but have not succeeded in effecting permanent organizations.
The first burial place for the
town of LaGrange was on about two acres of ground, including the site
of the present school building and
extending west, which served for that purpose up to about 1863, when
removals were made to the present cemetery, which was laid out in 1863,
and is a picturesque spot, situated about three-fourths of a mile south
of the courthouse, on the road leading to Wolcottville, comprising five
acres of ground inclosed by a substantial board
fence, and covered with a natural growth of fine shade trees, and admirably
selected for the purposes to which it is devoted. It is the property of
the town corporation, and is controlled by the Town Council, who regulate
of lots, the proceeds of which are devoted to the purposes of beautifying
and keeping the grounds and
improvements in order.
Volunteer transcription by Pati Blowers May. Material for transcription
gathered by Barbara Henderson.
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