History of St. John's Episcopal Church

Founded in 1836 by SAMUEL R. JOHNSON who came from New York State as a missionary.  At that time the only Episcopalians in the town were JASPER BRADLEY, ELIJAH BEEMIS, MRS. SARAH BEEMIS, MRS. JOHN D. SMITH and ROBERT JONES,  Sr. and wife.  The church was organized on the evening of March 27, 1837 in the counting room of THOMAS T. BENBRIDGE, with WILLIAM M. JENNERS as chairman.  Those signing the article organizing the "Parish of St. John's Church" were SAMUEL R. JOHNSON, WILLIAM M. JENNERS, ROBERT JONES,  N. H. STOCKWELL, Dr. E. DEMING, L.S. WESTGATE, SAURIN JENNERS, CYRUS BALL, THOMAS B. BROWN, SAMUEL B. JOHNSTON, JOHN D. SMITH, ISAAC V. HARTER and BENJAMIN HENKLE.  Thirty-one other names were signed in the course of a few days, making forty-five persons pledged to the beginning of the church.

 April 10 following, at the Presbyterian church, trustees were elected, as "vestrymen," viz: ROBERT JONES, Senior Warden; Dr. ELIZUR DEMING, Junior Warden; WILLIAM M. JENNERS, Clerk; JASPER BRADLEY, Treasurer; and J.D. SMITH.  The official distinctions were not made until three days afterward, at the house of ROBERT JONES.

By the next year they had completed a frame church, 28 x 45 feet, fronting on what was then Missouri Street.  It is now used for  a Sunday school room and guild house.  The cost was $3,500.  The building was consecrated December 30, 1838, by Rt. REV. JACKSON KEMPER, D.D.  The pulpit was an old-fashioned "stack" structure, with a lower reading desk below, and the communion table below that, all painted glossy white.  The pews were square topped and had doors, which were afterward removed.  The church was lighted by candles.  Music was furnished by EZEKIAL TIMMONS, J.C. BANSEMER, DANIEL RHEIN, DAVID TURPIE, and MISSES MARY TURPIE, MARIA HATCHER and HANNAH WILSTACH, with flute, violin and bass-viol played by the first three mentioned.  DANIEL BROWN, a colored man and a zealous Christian, was the first sexton (janitor).  Pews, at first sold, were soon made free.

"PARSON" JOHNSON, as he was generally called, was greatly beloved by all, as he was affable and benevolent.  he donated the lot upon which the church was built.  Refusing to receive a salary for some years, his parishioners presented him with a handsome $3,000 two-story residence on the church lot.  His benevolence was so great that he was sometimes imposed upon.

 The present church, a large brick edifice, about 40 x 30 feet, on the northeast corner of Sixth and Ferry streets, was built in 1857-58, and was dedicated the last Sunday in July of the latter year, by Bishop GEORGE UPFOLD.  This year, 1887, $3,500 were expended to repairs upon the structure.

Parson JOHNSON closed his rectorship here June 20, 1847, and has since been succeeded by:
Revs. T.B. FAIRCHILD, June to October 1847; J.W. McCULLOUGH, 1847-49
A.M. LOUTREL; GEORGE UPHOLD, 1850-51; John C. BARTON, 1851-56
W. P. RAY 1856-57; ANTHONY TEN BROEK, 1857-59; L.W. RUSS, 1860-70
T. G. CARVER, 1870-74; W. H. ROBERTS, 1874-79; J. E. MARTIN, 1880-82
WILLIAM PETTIS, 1883-present (1888).

The present vestrymen are: WILLIAM GARLAND, Senior Warden and Treasurer; A.G. CARNAHAN, Junior Warden;  E. A. ELLSWORTH, Clerk; J. L. YUNDT, T. A. STUART, Dr. R. B. WETHERELL, G. N. FORESMAN, RALPH THOMPSON and G. T. MARKLE.

Parson JOHNSON was the first to bring a piano to Lafayette, in 1837, and St. John's Church was the first to bring a pipe organ here, in 1859.  GEORGE ULRICH was the first organist.  In 1860 the old church was changed into a parsonage; and in 1884 the old parsonage was remodeled and turned into a Sunday school room and guild house, at a cost of $1,000.

This church has always paid much attention to Sunday school, missionary and benevolent work, and to music.  The "Ladies' Guild" is one of the most efficient instrumentalities.  The St. John's Industrial School, or Children's Guild, was organized February 16, 1884, by MRS. PETTIS.  Her assistant teachers have been MISS ANNA JENNERS and MRS. J. C. HARVEY.  The latter is the authoress of a history of St. John's Parish, published in book form, from which we have compiled the foregoing abstract.

Source: Biographical Record and Portrait Album of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, pp. 269-270
Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1888.

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