The founder of the family in America was Archibald McVicker, who was born in Scotland, and so far as information is available on that point emigrated to America about one hundred and twenty-five years ago. He subsequently became one of the pioneers of Gurnsey county, Ohio, married there, established a family, and thus gave origin to the different generations that have succeeded him. He was a farmer, a man of fine physical constitution and oftentimes took the lead in community affairs. He and his wife both died in Gurnsey county.
Next in line of descent comes Aaron McVicker, who was born on the old homestead farm in Gurnesy county, Ohio, in 1811. In 1832, having reached manhood and ambitious to establish himself in a new country, he walked all the distance from Ohio to Blackford county, and entered a tract of government land in Section 10 of Licking township, six miles from the courthouse in Hartford City. He was alone, and for some days swung his axe in the native forest, felled the trees and with the aid of some friendly neighbors put up a rough log cabin. That work completed, he returned on foot to Gurnsey county and, and soon afterwards celebrated his marriage to Elizabeth Bruner. She was born probably in Ohio and of Irish stock, and was reared by foster parents in Gurnsey county. In the spring of 1833 this young couple set out with wagon and team and made the long journey overland until they arrived in Blackford county, and took up their abode in the cabin which the husband had built the preceding year. From the wild
tract of one hundred and sixty acres of land their untied labors eventually created a good farm, and prosperity smiled upon them. When they journeyed from Ohio they had as companions two brothers of Aaron McVicker, Joseph who entered land in Delaware county and David, who establish a home in Grant county, besides their sister, Mrs. Anna Lyons, who also went to Grant county. All these reared families, and their descendents are still found in the three counties named.
As the years passed the old log cabin was supplanted by one of hewed logs, and that in turn by a good frame dwelling house, in which Aaron and his wife spent their last years. He died in 1861 and his wife in November 1876, she being then past sixty years of age. All their years had been passed as hard workers, and both were devoted to the religion of the old-school Baptist church, while in politics he was a democrat. The children of Aaron and Elizabeth (Bruner) McVicker were: Mary A.,
who married James A. Gadbury, and died leaving family of two sons and two daughters, one daughter having preceded her in death; David Cyrus, who died about six years ago, had one son and two daughters, and his second wife, who was a Mrs. Stevens, and whose maiden name was Harrington, is still living.; Eliza married Randolph Boney, lives in Grant county and is the mother of three children; the next in the family was James A. McVicker; Harriet is the wife of Adison Atkinson, a farmer in Licking township and their children are Grant, Corey, George, Joseph, Keturah, Alonzo, Joseph, and Harvey; Nancy died unmarried when past fifty years of age; Alice died after her marriage to George Powers who is also deceased, and their children were Mark, Anna, Pearl and Fred; Eli is a farmer and miner in Colorado, and by his marriage to Malinda Gassup Collins has a daughter Maud; Joanna married Eli Hamilton, both now being deceased and they left children, Frank, Claud and Pearl.
James A. McVicker of the third generation of this family in America was born in Blackford county on the old homestead above mentioned on September 27, 1840. He is still living, in his seventy-fourth year, one of the oldest native sons of this county. As a boy he attended the primitive country schools, but in the discipline of hard work in the clearing and improvement of a pioneer farm. He still owns the old homestead on which he was reared, and has long been known as one of the most substantial farmers in that part of the county. The house he occupies is the one built by his father many years ago, though many improvements have since been made. James A. McVicker is a prohibitionist and applies to his personal practice the principles which he would have govern in community and state. His activities have never extended outside of his farm and family, though in community esteem he stands very high.
James A. McVicker was married in his native township and county to Sarah C,
Cunningham, was born within a mile of her present home on August 13, 1844. She belongs to the old Cunningham family that was likewise among the early settlers of Licking township, and full details concerning them will be found elsewhere in this publication. Mr. and Mrs. James A. McVicker are both members of the German Baptist church, and he is treasurer of his local society. Their children were: Aaron L.; Mary Lavina, who is the wife of John R. Carman, a Blackford county farmer, and their children are Carl, Alma, Esther and James; Julia A. died at the age of twenty-one years, six months after her marriage to Riley R. Reasoner; Uretta J. died at the age of eleven years; the next child in infancy; George M., who is a farmer in Licking township and married Cora Watts, and his children Leroy, Cecil, Otto and Catherine; Ella M. is the wife of Joseph Merrett, a carpenter of Hartford City, and their children are Crystal, Erlin and Lucile; Alice died unmarried at
the age of twenty-seven years; Nettie is the wife of O. M. McAdams of Bridgeport, Illinois, and they have a son Bernard; Ida is unmarried and lives at home.
Aaron L. McVicker, whose name appears at the head of this article was born on the old farm established more than eighty years ago by his grandfather, still occupied by his father, on March 10, 1864. His early youth was spent in the country where his family had so long been known, and he found the source of his education in the local schools. His early years until twenty-nine were spent on the old farm, then moved to Hartford City, and for the past nineteen years has been identified with the Sneath Glass Company, working in the different departments and still holding a position with that important industry. Mr. McVicker is a prohibitionist in politics, and affiliated with the Knights of Maccabees.
On March 9, 1890, he married Sarah E. Hollingshead, a relationship which brings another pioneer Blackford
county family into this sketch. She was born in Delaware county near Granville July 17, 1868, was educated in her native county, and lived a few years in Blackford county before her marriage. Mrs. McVicker is devoted to the work of her home, and is the mother of one daughter, Esther Grace, who was born August 16, 1891. She graduated from the Hartford City high school in 1909, studied music in school and later under private instruction, and is now the wife of James A. Lewis, who was born in Kentucky and is a machinist and electrician with the Sneath Glass Company. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis live at 542 W. Kickapoo street. They have two children; Harold Paul Lewis, born March 8, 1911; and Mary Louise, born October 12, 1913. Mr. McVicker and his family are all active in the Methodist Episcopal church, and he is serving on the board of stewards.
BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES, INDIANA; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of Benjamin G. Shinn; Vols. 1 & 2; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY, 118 ADAMS STREET, CHICAGO, 1914 Pages 145-147)
Submitted by Peggy Karol
We shall only be able to sketch briefly and imperfectly the churches and church organizations of Blackford county. A large number of religious denominations are represented by organizations or by members and professed adherents in Blackford county. The following churches are comprised in the list: Old School or Predestination Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Christian (Disciple), Christian (New Light), Church of God (Soul Sleeper), German Baptist (or Dunkard), Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Methodist Wesleyan, Orthodox Friend or Quaker, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Reformed Dunkard, Seventh Day Adventist, United Brethren (Liberal), United Brethren (Radical), Universalist, and it may be two or three others. The Christian Scientists and Spiritualists also have organizations.
As early as the time of the organization of the county the two Baptist and the
Methodist Episcopal churches were here with ministers and organized membership. The early ministers of the Old School or Predestination Baptist church were Abraham Buckles and John Buckles, of Delaware county, both of whom preached at Hartford City, the latter for several years. Among the leading members at this place were Jacob Stahl and wife, Mrs. Abraham Stahl, Asher Van Cleve and wife, Adam Hart, Jacob Hart, Aaron McVicker, Jacob Covault, Abraham Hess, Abner Hess, Stillwell Truax and their wives and the brother and sisters of Mrs. Truax, named Karney. A church was also formed northwest of Hartford City, the membership being in both Blackford and Grant counties, the society being known as the "Walnut Creek Anti-Mission Baptist Church." Among its active supports were James Gillespie and Daniel Watson, both ministers, and Peter Bonham. James Baldridge and others from a distance also preached in this county, and William N. Buckles, a son of
John, who resides near Mill Grove, has for a great many years exercised the functions of a minister in this denomination.
The first ministers of the Mission Baptist church were Franklin G. Baldwin, one of the Vermont colonists that settled at Montpelier, and Rev. William Tisdale, an aged veteran who lived in Virginia or Kentucky and who traveled through the wilds of northeastern Indiana as a missionary. One of his stopping places was the home of John Wells, north of the Salamonie, where he preached the gospel to the few early settlers in this neighborhood. Among the original communicates of the church at Montpelier were the families of Elder Baldwin, John Wells, William Ellsworth, Newton Putnam, John C. and Francis G. Spaulding and some others of the Spaulding family.
At Hartford City the early adherents of this church were David Johnson, Ira and John Casterline and their families and Mrs. Dr. Clouser. David Johnson was probably the
leading spirit, and through his untiring efforts in season and out of season a frame church building was erected on East Washington street, about the year 1844, which was also used in later years as a school house. Rev. William Chaffee, an able and scholarly minister of the denomination, located in Hartford City about 1850, and during the following fifteen years preached at several places in the surrounding country.
Among other ministers who preached in this county about the same time were Nathan C. Rice, Clayton B. Kendall, who married a daughter of Elder Baldwin, and John C. Skinner, who resided near Bloomfield in Jay county. There are now two organizations in this county, one near Montpelier and one near Pleasantdale school house in the south part of Harrison township.
It is probably not now known when or by whom the first Methodist sermon was preached in the territory comprised in Blackford county. But it is known that the
Methodist itinerant, "the man on horseback", was always on the frontier line of civilization, ready to erect the standard of the cross in the rude cabin of the earliest settler.
Among the earliest pioneers in Licking township were John Ervin and Elijah Sims, both local preachers in the Methodist Episcopal church, and just across the line in Jay county, near where the city of Dunkirk now flourishes, was Isaac Sutton, also a local preacher. Hartford City and Licking township were at first in the territory of the Marion mission. The preachers in charge from the fall of 1837 to 1841, each serving one year, were George W. Bowers, John H. Bruce, Daniel F. Stright and John H. Hull. In 1841 two men were appointed on the charge, viz: Hezekiah Smith and Brenton Webster. In 1842 John S. Donaldson and William Anderson were the appointees. The first regular preaching was at the house of William Payton and prayer-meetings were held at the house of
John M. Marlay. The first members of the church here were the families of Ervin, Sims, Payton and Marlay, already named, and those of James E. B. Rose, Sylvester R. Shelton, Francis H. Graham, Abraham Cassel and a few others. Soon after there were added the families of Simeon T. Marlay, Philip Smell and Silas Maddox. The first church building in Hartford City was erected by the Methodists in 1843, a hewed-log house on lot No. 2 in block No. 4. It was occupied for about five years and was superseded by a brick building on the west side of the public square, 35x 40 feet in size. The bricks were made and the walls erected in 1847, and the house was finished and dedicated in the summer of 1848. At the conference session of 1843 Hartford circuit was formed and Francis M. Richmond was appointed to the work, who remained for two years. In 1873 Hartford City became a station with M. S. Metts as pastor. In June, 1879, the present church building
was dedicated by Rev. Abijah Marine, with E. M. Baker as pastor. In 1896, under the pastorate of L. A. Beeks, the building was remodeled and enlarged and again dedicated by David H. Moore, D.D., now one of the bishops of the church. The present parsonage was built in 1886, during the pastoral term of H. J. Norris.
The early preachers at Montpelier and near there were G. W, Bowers, Seth Smith, Henry H. and Arthur Badley and George Guild. Among those who constituted the original membership were the families of Thomas Hulett. Josephus Streeter, Josiah Twibell, Michael Maddox and Lyman Simpson. A frame house of worship was built two or three years prior to 1860. The present commodious church was erected in 1895. Methodism now has in this county four societies in Licking township, three in Jackson, two in Harrisaon and one in Washington. In membership and number and value of church buildings it is the leading denominations in the county.
In 1843, there were several persons in and around Hartford City of the Presbyterian faith and they desired to enjoy the forms of worship and pulpit ministrations provided by the church. Accordingly a society was organized of the New School branch December 18, 1843, with Rev. Samuel Steel as pastor. The following persons became members: George Atkinson, Abigail Marlay, Jacob Brugh, Lydia Brugh, Elijah Spangler, Nancy Ann Spangler, William Taughinbaugh, Lydia Taughinbaugh, James Parker, Elenor Parker, Jacob Emshwiller, Sarah Dildine and George Folkenroth. To this number was added, in the following March and April, Mrs. Jane Moore, Mary Ann Emshwiller, William Rousseau and Miss Elizabeth Atkinson. In 1845 Thomas Spencer became the pastor and in 1848 he was succeeded by Asa Martin. Both of these gentlemen taught school here while serving the church. In March, 1852 Alfred Hawes was employed for four months, to spend one Sabbath in each month with
this church. On May 2 of this year Philander Anderson was invited to become a stated supply for one year. On September 24, 1853, the name of the local church changed to Blackford Presbyterian church. About this time the society seems to have experienced a season of depression and discouragement. On October 7, 1854, a petition was presented to the Muncie presbytery (Old School) asking for the organization of an Old School church here, as the New School minister (Anderson) had gone away and they were destitute of preaching. Revs. C. A. Manor and J. F. Boyd were appointed to visit and investigate the condition of affairs here. At a meeting held April 3, 1855, it was resolved to seek admission to the Old School presbytery. The petition was signed by John Kirkpatrick, Jacob Brugh, Ralph Dildine, George Atkinson and John Templin. The ministerial services of Rev. J. F. Boyd were requested. The request was granted and the church received and enrolled as the Presbyterian church
of Hartford. The following ministers have since served as pastors, the year being given in which their term of service began.. 1857, R. McCullough: 1861, John A. Campbell: 1869, William Armstrong: 1873, William H. Honnell: 1877, W. W. Eastman: 1878, D. B. Rogers: 1883, P. S. Cook: 1884, John Q. McKeehan: 1890, A. J. Arrick: 1892, J. W. Fulton: 1897, Edwin Craven. About 1844 the first house of worship for this church was built here on a fractional lot on the east side of Mulberry street, midway between Washington and Water streets. Henry Ward Beecher once preached in this church. It was during his pastorate at Indianapolis and when he was on his way to attend the session of the presbytery or synod at Fort Wayne. He stopped over the Sabbath at Hartford City. Several persons still living here remember the occasion and heard the sermon. About 1868 a larger and better furnished frame church with a cupola and bell was erected on the southeast corner
of High and Franklin streets, which was occupied for twenty -four years and then removed, in 1892, to make room for the present brick building, which was completed and dedicated in 1893. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Charles H. Payne, D.D., secretary of the board of education of the Methodist Episcopal church.
There has been a Presbyterian society in Montpelier for several years and a comfortable frame church was recently built there. Fred W. Willman was pastor for a short time after the church was built.
As early as 1847 had German Lutherans in and around Hartford City had pastors to visit them. Rev. Kleinegies stationed at Greenville, Ohio, frequently walked the seventy miles from there to attend to the spiritual wants of the people of this neighborhood. He confirmed a class about the year 1850. Rev. P. T. Hoffman confirmed several young people in the old court house. The services were usually held at the Gochnauer and Wadle
school houses and sometimes in the groves. Pastors Hursch, Sandhaus and Dechant served the people before the organization of the congregation. The latter confirmed a class in 1858 at the Gochnauer school house, and Rev. Hursch confirmed seventeen persons in the old Baptist church. In the winter of 1866 Rev. J. D. Nunemacher was recommended to the people by the president of the English district. He was called to organize and serve congregations at Hartford City, Warren and Montpelier. On March 30th and 31st he organized in the Wadle school house the Evangelical Lutheran Zions' congregation of Hartford City. Although all the fifty-one members were German, they decided also to have English services. Rev. G. Baughman installed Rev. Nunemacher at Hartford City, July 10, 1866. The services were held in the Methodist church. Steps were at once taken for the erection of a church. The corner stone was laid March 29, 1867, and the church was dedicated in
October by Pastor Nunemacher and Revs. Hinkel and Hursch. In 1868 the congregation united with the joint synod of Ohio. Rev. Nunemacher continued until 1869 when he left and S. C. Weisman was called and preached a few times. Student B. F. Schillinger, of Columbus, Ohio, served the congregation from September, 1870 till the spring of 1873. J. B. Schumann, student of Columbus, Ohio, served for two years. September 3, 1876, student Charles Mayer, of Columbus, Ohio, was called. He continued as pastor till July, 1880. During his pastorate an English Sunday school and parochial school were organized. Rev. W. J. Schroyer was installed December 12, 1880. He served seven years. February 6, 1888, Rev. Samuel Baechler was called from Goshen, Indiana. In him were united the energy of youth and the experience and wisdom of old age and he was much beloved by the people. He was suddenly called to his eternal rest, August 4, 1890, having become deathly sick
while in the pulpit. William Lehman was then pastor from November, 1890, till the spring of 1893. In November, 1893, Rev. C. A. Schaefer accepted a call and has since been the efficient pastor of this church. In 1899 the present beautiful church was built and dedicated. The congregation has about fifty voting members and nearly two hundred confirmed members.
The Catholic church has had organizations and a considerable membership at Hartford City and Montpelier for many years. For a long time religious instruction and pastoral oversight was supplied by priests from Fort Wayne, Union City, Marion and other places. More than thirty years ago a frame church was built in Montpelier on the west side of Jefferson and the south side of Windsor streets. Several years later a frame church was built in Hartford City on the southwest corner of Water and Spring streets, which met the wants of the congregation for a few years. With the advent of manufacturing
establishments consequent on the discovery and utilization of natural gas the Catholic population was largely increased and this building became too small to accommodate the augmented membership. In 1897 the frame house was removed and the present beautiful and artistic edifice erected in its place. About the same time a new brick church was erected in Montpelier in the western part of the city. Rev. Charles Dhe, a resident of Hartford City, has the charge and pastoral care of both these churches.
The Christian church, sometimes called New Light, to distinguish it from the Christain or Disciples church, was among the first to begin work in Blackford county. Fifty years ago or more there was a society which had its meeting place at the house of Roderick Craig, about a half mile east of the village of Dundee. Mr. Craig and James McConkey were among the active supporters of the cause here. Among the ministers who served this church were Phineas
Roberds, Moses McDaniel and Samuel C. Minnick. Some forty years ago there was an active society two miles south of Montpelier of which John Chandler and Seth S. Simonton and others were leading members. Revs. Thomas Aker, David Greer, James M. Gunkel and Seth S. Simonton were some of the preachers who ministered here. This body of Christians now has organizations and comfortable houses of worship at Montpelier and in the western part of Jackson township and a society in Washington township.
The Methodist Protestant church has had organizations in this county more than fifty years. Rev. Lair Runyon, who was for many years a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church, was among the first to join the Protestant branch in the vicinity of Hartford City. For many years societies were maintained at the Waugh school house, two miles west of Montpelier, at the Slater school house, in the south part of Hartford City and the Lillibridge school house
in the south part of Washington township.
At the present time there are societies at Trenton and three and one-half miles west of Hartford City.
The Wesleyan Methodists have had a society in Hartford City for several years past and a creditable house of worship at the crossing of Cherry and Franklin streets. Revs. Spohn, Moon, Blake and Hopkins are among these who have preached for this church.
The United Brethren in Christ have been represented among the churches in Blackford county from an early date. The branch of the church known as Liberals have had flourishing societies for years at Bethel church on the west side and Pleasantdale church on the south side of Harrison township, at Millgrove, Hartford City and near the center of Washington township. Among the pastors of these churches have been William Gossett, A. C. Wilmore, G. L. Maddox, J. W. Utsler, M. Groenendyke, F. S. Minshall and M. F. Dawson.
The Radical branch of this
church has a flourishing society at Fairview church, four miles north of Hartford City. The session of the annual conference was held there in 1899 with Bishops Halleck Floyd and Milton Wright both in attendance.
The ministers of the Christain or Disciples church preached in the northern part of Blackford county as early as fifty years ago, among the first being Rev. G. McDuffie and Rev. Thompson, who preached at Matamoras over forty years ago. There has been for years past an organized society at Montpelier, with the frame church building on the northwest corner of Jefferson and Green streets. From fifteen to twenty-five years ago there were a number of residents of Hartford City who had been members of this church, and as there was no organization here they found homes temporarily in other churches. In 1887 Rev. B. F. Aspy held a series of meetings here and formed a society. For some time services were held in Van Cleve opera house
and the Briscoe Hall. In 1894-5 a commodious and well arranged brick church edifice was erected on the north-east corner of High and Grant streets. It was dedicated in the spring of 1895 by Rev. L. L. Carpenter, of Wabash, Indiana. The pastors since Rev. Aspy have been J. L. Weaver, E. C. Wells, C. M. Keene and A. F. Ayres.
The German Baptists or Dunkards have at least three societies in this county, one in Hartford City, with a church building on West Franklin street, one two miles west of Hartford City and one in the northeastern part of Washington township. The ministers resident in the county are I. J. Howard, Levi Winklebleck, Gabriel Kitterman and John Groves. Prior to 1860, Rev. George W. Studebaker preached frequently at the residence of John Blount, immediately north of Matamoras, and at the residence of Eli McConkey, three miles west of Montpelier, where he organized a church.
The Orthodox Friends have had a church organization
for many years in the southeastern corner of Harrison township, with a good frame country church, and more recently they have formed a society and built a substantial church in Jackson township, about five miles southeasterly of Hartford City.
The Episcopal church has yet no resident pastor in the county, but religious worship is conducted occasionally in Hartford City and Montpelier by ministers from neighboring cities and these points are sometimes visited by the bishop of the diocese.
The Church of God, popularly known as Soul Sleepers, has a society and a good church building at Dundee. Some twenty-five years ago Rev. W. H. Hornaday, a minister of this order, located in Hartford City and he and other ministers preached here and at the Bailey school house and probably other points in the county.
In August, 1883, Revs. Henderson and Godsmark, elders of the Seventh Day Adventist church, held a series of meetings in a tent on North Monroe
street and lectured on Bible subjects, including The Prophecies, The Laws of God, The Nature of Man, The Destiny of the Wicked, The Home of the Saved, etc. The result was the formation of a church with over twenty members, They believe the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, to be the scriptural Sabbath and observe it accordingly. Shortly afterward a house of worship was built immediately south of the Wesleyan Methodist church on Cherry street. They have had no resident minister.
For more that half a century there has been occasional preaching in different pasts of the county by Universalist ministers and it is probable that a society was formed at one time in Hartford City. While there are several persons of the faith scattered over the county there is no organized society at present so far as the writer knows.
For the past two years the Christain Scientists have held regular services in Hartford City. The Spiritualists have had an organization
in Hartford City for a number of years.
BIOGRAPHICAL MEMIORS OF BLACKFORD COUNTY, IND.; EDITED BY BENJAMIN G. SHINN; THE BOWEN PUBLISHING COMPANY. CHICAGO, 1900. Pages 252 - 258
Submitted by Peggy Karol