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LEXINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH



From Robert D. Kleopfer

Lexington Presbyterian Church

From "Lexington" by Mary Wilson and Sharon Y. Asher, published sometime after 1975.

LEXINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

At the beginning of the eighteenth century we find the pioneers living along the east coast in America but still seeking adventures, new farming land and freedom of religion.

The earliest Presbyterians of Scott County came chiefly from North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. There were two main routes traveled by the immigrants coming to the West. They either came down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania in flatboats or they came overland through the famed Cumberland Gap and over the Wilderness Road through Kentucky.

In 1817 a group of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian families came down the Ohio River to the sites now called Madison and New London, Indiana. Here they disembarked and made their way into the deep forest wilderness. They settled in groups and built log cabin homes and a building they could use for a school and church.

One of these groups of Scotch-Irish people settled about thirteen miles west of Madison and three miles east of Lexington and named the place Greenbrier.

Missionaries and ministers followed these early pioneers into their new settlements. To the Greenbrier settlement came Rev. Orin Fowler in the summer of 1818. The record shows that he preached on a Saturday to a "large and solemn group of people" and after his sermon they decided to form a Presbyterian Church. Alexander McNutt, William Wilson and Solomon Davis were elected elders. The next day, on the Sabbath, Mr. Fowler preached again to a large congregation and baptized eight children. There were twenty members of the Church:

Alexander McNutt and his wife Margaret Robert Woodburn

William Wilson and his wife Margaret Margaret Patterson

Solomon Davis and his wife Mary Mary Robinson

Jacob Hollenback and his wife Eleanor Fannie Terril

William Boles and his wife Jane Nancy Roe

David Walker and his wife Jane Susannah Arbuckle

Fredrick Sipes Mary Davis

Having organized the church, Rev. Orin Fowler went by horseback through the dense forest trail to Vincennes where he arrived by November 30, 1818.

The church had no regular minister until the next year. On February 27, 1819, the members of the Pisgah Church (at New Washington), with Rev. Samuel Shannon presiding, extended a call to Rev. John M. Dickey to be their pastor. On March 6, 1819, Alex Walker, John Henderson and John Rodgers of Pisgah met with Lexington Greenbrier church officers and out of this meeting came a call to Mr. Dickey to give two-thirds of his time to these two churches and the other third to Graham Fork Church. They promised him a salary of ninety dollars annually.

By August of 1819, the second meeting of Louisville Presbytery was held at Lexington for the purpose of installing Rev. John M. Dickey as pastor of the three churches. The sermon was preached by Dr. Isaac Reed who had been appointed for this service at the Spring meeting of the Presbytery.

Rev. John M. Dickey was the first Presbyterian minister to settle in the State of Indiana, and his installation at Lexington was the first installation of a Presbyterian minister as pastor of an Indiana church.

For several years church services were held in the log school building at Greenbrier settlement. In August of 1838, William Wilson and his wife donated a lot from their farm for a new church building and cemetery. The lot was measured in "poles": S 1/2 yards or 16 1/2 feet. The lot was three quarters of an acre at the northwest corner of the farm: 6 poles north and south, 20 poles east and west. Part of the lot was marked off for a cemetery and ten feet was allowed for Madison road.

Large limestone rocks broken by hand were laid on this lot for the foundation of a church. One man in the community, James Wilson (born on July 15, 1781 in Ohio) died on December 7, 1838, before the church foundation was completed. He was the first and last person buried in the Greenbrier cemetery. No marker was placed on his grave but a wild cherry tree came up at the head of the grave in the 1870's and is still standing.

The foundation of the church was laid but the church was never built on the lot. A split divided the people. One group of the pioneers wanted to use the old Scotch rules for Presbyterian churches. Another wanted to have a free church which followed American rules.

There was also difference of opinion about the location of the church. Several families were living in Lexington or a mile south of the town. Their only way of getting to church was to walk or ride horseback through the trails and over mud roads. This group wanted the church moved from Greenbrier to a more central location in the town of Lexington.

Another group, referred to as "Seceders" in the community, wanted a church building about three-fourths of a mile east of Lexington where the road divided between one branch up a creek (Hardy Hill Road) and the other to Madison. There is no record that a lot was ever secured for a church at this location. In an old session book there is record of one meeting of this group which says that they met on September 28, 1843, at the home of W G. Glendy in the neighborhood of Lexington, with James Henderson who had been appointed by the Indiana Presbytery to preach there.

At that time the congregation was organized with the following members:

Alexander Clegg Sarah Glendy Robert Butt

Hannah Clegg Mary Patterson Nancy Butt

Andrew Robb Elizabeth Langbran James Clegg

Jane Robb James Robb Elizabeth Clegg

Cornelia Wilson Peter Bohart James Langbran

These were admitted to membership on the basis of James Henderson' s knowledge that they had been in regular standing in other congregations (Carmel and Clark) under his charge. Three members: William Wilson, Margaret Clegg and Nancy Clegg, were received on examination and profession of faith.

After the sermon Peter Bohart and William Glendy were elected and ordained as elders. Nothing further is known of this congregation except as individuals are mentioned in the family history handed down in the Glendy and Wilson families. Some of them moved their membership to Mt. Carmel Church in Jefferson County, a few miles southeast of Hanover. A small number came into the Lexington Church, while others moved to the Bethlehem community on the Ohio River.

While these "Seceders" were trying to organize a new church, the elders and the minister, John M. Dickey of the Greenbrier congregation, were planning a new Presbyterian Church in the town of Lexington.

There is some mystery in the early records of the church property. An old deed record in the Courthouse in Scottsburg states that Nehemiah Hunt of Campbell County, Kentucky, on August 23, 1820, sold the northwest half of Lot 90 in Lexington to Alexander McNutt, Robert Woodburn and Mr. Robinson, trustees of the Presbyterian Church. Another record shows that this same lot was sold on February 1, 1845, to Julian Hunt, by James Middleton, Thomas B. Wilson and John Shearer, trustees of the Presbyterian Church. It will remain a mystery why this lot was purchased at such an early date and held for so long without a church being built on it.

In 1838 the trustees of the church, William Wilson, Samuel Hamacher and Matthew Henning, bought three-fourths of an acre on Lot 41 to build a Presbyterian church. This is the lot on which the present building stands.

The large limestone rocks were moved from the lot in the Greenbrier community to the new lot in Lexington and laid the second time for a Presbyterian church. On the day that work started, a log rolling with a basket dinner was held on the church lot. John Hall, Sr., the main carpenter, was injured at the log rolling and died a few weeks later. He did not live to see the building completed.

The church was a frame building with weather boarding on the outside painted white. The belfry was built on the top of a little porch that extended about eight feet in front of the church. The bell was rung from the outside. The interior of the church was plastered and papered. Green blinds hung at the windows. Five large pillar posts from the floor to the ceiling supported the roof. The chimney for the wood stove was built at the west end. Oil lamps were used for lights. Very straight-backed seats were placed in the auditorium for the congregation to sit on. A black settee for the minister was on a small platform back of the pulpit. An organ stood in the front of the auditorium.

The church was completed in 1844. There is no record of a dedication service.

In 1883 Rev. Frank Gilchrist came to the Lexington Church. After a few months work the session sent him to Nabb, Indiana, in Clark County, to establish a preaching point. He held services frequently in the Clark County schoolhouse until George Ernest came on the field the same year and held a series of protracted meetings. At this time several people wanted to unite and organize a church at Nabb. This was done on December 5, 1885.

Mr. William Gray came forward with the first offering--a gift of a lot on which the building stands today. The deed was made August 19, 1885. The church was completed June 18, 1887, with twenty-one charter members. Nabb Church was a branch of the Lexington Church for eighteen years. On October 16, 1905, it became an independent church. 35 members were transferred from the Lexington to the Nabb Church.

The Lexington church building was remodeled in 1902. A large platform with new pulpit chairs and new pews were added. Two circular rooms were built at the back of the church and the porch on the front was torn away and the bell placed on top of the church. The large pillar posts were taken out of the auditorium.

The Dedication of the
Presbyterian Church
May 22, 1902*

l. Hymn "Will You Meet Me?"
2. Prayer, Rev. Alford
3. Quartlette
4. Scripture lesson - Rev. Alford
5. Anthem, the Choir
6. Offertory for the Building Fund
7. Sermon - Pastor
8. History of the Church, Elder Sam Middleton
9. Statement of Repairing Done, Mr. James Hall
10. Acceptance thereof by Church
11. Transference of keys of the Church
12. Dedication
Lord's Prayer in concert
Scripture selections
Dedication, The Church Standing
Dedicatory Prayer
Dixology, long meter
Benediction - Rev. Alford

*Printed in the LEXINGTON ARGUS, Lexington, May 22, 1902

In 1935 four Sunday School rooms, a kitchen and basement were added to the building. At the same time an oil furnace was installed, replacing the stoves.

A Bible School was established in 1922 for the first time in the Lexington Church. In its third year the attendance record was 97.34%. It was a surprise to the church when it was notified by the Synod of Indiana that it would receive two silk flags, Christian and American, from the Synod for having had the highest percentage of attendance in the Synod. In the forty years since then, the Bible School has continued to be a success in the Lexington Church.

In 1952 the children of Mr. and Mrs. O. R. Lowry donated a new outside bulletin board to the church in memory of their parents.

THE MANSE

In 1865 the trustees of the church bought the lots on the corner of Mulberry and Walnut Streets in Lexington from James Middleton and his sister Nancy Henning. No one now is sure whether the brick home on this corner was built before or after the church purchased the lot. The two-story brick building was the manse for over 90 years, until 1952 when it was sold to Frank and Freda Hounschell for a private home.

In 1952 when James Huff was pastor, a new modern manse of seven rooms was built in the vacant lot between the church and the old manse.

MINISTERS OF THE LEXINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

1818 Orin Fowler (Missionary who formed the Lexington Church)
1819 John M. Dickey (first pastor)
1838 James Blythe
1840 James McKee
1849 J. Mitchell
1860 David Reid
1863 J. B. Garritt
1865 - Scott
1866 Thomas Whallon
1872 J. A. Campbell
1883 F. M. Gilchrist
1892 James Broady
1902 D. B. Whimster
1905 W. D. Malcom
1909 J. M. Oldfather
1910 - Cravens
1915 W. O. d'Olive (who went from the Lexington Church to become a missionary in China)
1916 - McKinion
1920 Alonzo Yates
1922 F. C. Gleason
1928 Fred Schunik
1930 - Melville*
1933 David Davies*
1933 Ted Greenhoe*
1937 O. M. Filer
1940 W Stephenson*
1941 Robert Wilson*
1944 Arnold Schaap*
1946 Donald Morse*
1950 Robert Richter*
1952 James Huff*
1953 Richard Ford*
1956 George Barker
1959 Bryan Tanzy*
1961 David Parks*
1962 George Witmer*
*Student Ministers


Pastors of The Lexington Presbyterian Church
This updated list was provided by Cory Walker.

1818-2000

# Name of Pastor (ordained) Began Ended Notes

1. Orin Fowler 1818 Nov., 1818 Formed church

2. John M. Dickey 1819 1st installed pastor

3. James Blythe 1838

4. James McKee 1840

5. J. Mitchell 1849

6. David Reid 1860

7. J.B. Garritt 1863

8. Scott 1865

9. Thomas Whallon 1866

10. J.A. Campell 1872

11. F.M. Gilchrist 1883

12. James Broady 1892

13. D.B. Whimster 1902

14. W.D. Malcom 1905

15. J.M. Oldfather 1909

16. Cravens 1910

17. W.C. d'Olive 1915 became missionary in China

18. McKimon 1916

19. Alonzo Yates 1920

20. F.C. Gleason (9-13-09) 7-30-22 to 3-8-25

21. Fredrick Schumk (10-1-25) to 11-3-28

22. H.A. Melville to 1930 student

23. David Davies 1930 to 1933 student

24. Theodore M. Greenhoe 1934 to 1937 student

25. Charles M. Filer 4-1-37 to 4-1-40

26. William Stephenson 5-12-40 to 4-27-41 student

27. Robert Wilson 6-8-41 to 5-12-44 student

28. Arnold Schaap 1944 student

29. Donald Morse 5-15-46 to 9-1-49 student

30. Robert Richter 9-15-49 to 1950 student

31. James Huff 11-25-51 to 7-19-53 student

32. Charles R. Ford 7-19-53 to 7-20-56 student

33. George Barker 8-10-53 to 7-26-59

34. Bryan Tanzy 8-10-59 to 12-28-60 student

35. David H. Parks 1-15-61 to 6-14-62 student

36. George W. Witmer 9-23-62 to 1963 student

37. Charles H. Moffett (5-10-36) 5-14-64 to 6-29-69

38. William H. Heilman 3-8-70 to 8-15-73 1/4 time here,  at Scottsburg

39. James Legget 6-14-70 to 5-16-71 student

40. Gary Weaver 5-23-71 to 5-3-72 student

41. Tom Harp 5-28-72 to 5-13-73 student

42. David R. Flucke 12-1-73 to 3-31-74 temporary supply

David R. Flucke (3-24-74) 3-31-74 to 7-18-80

43. William V. Hale 6-28-81 to 8-8-83

44. John H. Ballard 11-20-83 to 4-14-84 temporary supply

John H. Ballard (4-14-84) 4-15-84 to 4-30-93 stated supply

45. Richard D. Rife 11-2-93 to 8-27-95 temporary supply

46. Sara M. Hodsden 7-15-96 to 7-1-99 temporary supply

47. Deanna W. Jobst (6-10-93) 7-15-99 to stated supply

 

updated 1-2-2000


 

 

The following letter was published by the Lexington Historical Society, 1998.

Dear Members and Friends of the Society:

Whenever we think of history, we usually think back at least 50 years ago, but an important part of history is that what even happens just recently should be considered history.

An example of recent history is Monday, July 1, 1996. This was the day that the Lexington Presbyterian Church was struck by lightening and burned to the ground at about 1 in the morning. The 152 year old structure that stood as a familiar landmark to the Scott County countryside and a testament to the early Irish settlers of Lexington was destroyed in just minutes. Almost everything inside of it was destroyed.

The evening of the fire, the congregation held a meeting in order to find out what happened. Through a video tape that was filmed by Jackie Nowlin, a neighbor, Lexington Fire Chief Brian Renscheler, who is a member of the church, determined that the church had been struck by lightening on the back chimney, not the steeple as was originally thought.

On August 4, 1996, the congregation elected the re-building committee. There were James Kleopfer, Jr., Chairman; Gary H. Renscheler, Vice-Chairman; Pastor Sara Hodsden, Ex Offico; Pauline Kleopfer, Treasurer; Dwight R. Chamberlin; Lincoln A. Taylor; Dorsie M. Hayes; Bonnie D. Clapp; and myself. This committee held meetings for the next few months to discuss a great deal of issues such as whether or not to rebuild, where to rebuild, how large would the structure be, and if the building would retain the historical value that it once had.

The ground breaking ceremony was held on November 24, 1996 at the original site of the church. Amidst the rubble that still remained and the hole where the basement was, the congregation blessed the site and broke ground with a shovel. Work soon began in late December and from there, the community watched as the church was built. Lincoln Taylor, the trustee of the church, and his crew, were appointed to build the church. From week to week, people would drive by to watch the progress of the building.

One of the biggest moments came on June 24, 1997 when the steeple was placed on top of the nearly finished structure. People from all over came and watched the big event as television crews recorded the event. Members of the congregation breathed a sigh of relief as they got a sign that their work was almost finished; a sign that pointed to the heavens.

Sunday, July 27, 1997 was the day that the first Sunday service was held. Many people attended this service. To many people, it was a surprise to have the building replaced just a year and 26 days after the freak disaster.

The building dedication was held on October 5. Representatives from Presbyterian churches as well as other denominations from all over the state were present at the dedication. The rebuilding committee members considered their work done at the service.

This society moved to the church on July 28 in the James and Opal Middleton Fellowship Hall from the Community Building that is now part of the new firehouse.

The re-building committee, as well as the congregation, are a great example of people who worked to save history. Even though the original building was destroyed, it was replaced on the same site with the same hope as the people who originally built it in 1844 did: that it would stand forever. And as the one year anniversary of the fire is this month, we hope that it will stand as a testament of those of us that would not let the congregation die or merge with another church. We remembered those long 152 years that the church stood and how much hard labor went into it over that period of time and how it would have been a waste if we just decided not to rebuild back like most small churches such as ourself do.

It is hoped that the congregation will continue to grow just as the building did. It was rebuilt with a strong spirit and with the best materials available, only this time, it was built with something even better - lightening rods. Nine of them.

Sincerely,

President Cory D. Walker