He is at present the popular and much esteemed minister of the Presbyterian Church at Goshen. Mr. Vannuys is a native Kentuckian, born November 3, 1829, in Shelby county, and is a son of Tunis and Kate (Demaree) Vannuys, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Pennsylvania, and or Holland and Huguenot extraction, respectively. Tunis Vannuys was born in 1775, and at an early day removed with his father’s family to Harrodsburg, Ky. He was but a small boy at that time, and was there during the Indian troubles. He grew to manhood there, and after his marriage to Miss Demaree, removed to Shelby county, Ky. Mrs. Vannuys was the daughter of Samuel Demaree, and a woman of remarkable strength of character and the most exemplary piety. Tunis Vannuys followed the occupation of a farmer all his life and was very successful in this pursuit. In 1836 the family removed to Franklin, Ind., where Mr. Vannuys died March 3, 1846, his wife having passed away in 1844. They were the parents of the following children: Samuel, Mary, Christine, Susan, Isaac, Charity, John, Cornelius, Catherine, Emeline and Hervey, all of whom grew to mature years. Mr. Vannuys was very decided in his anti-slavery views, and owing to the reason left Kentucky for Indiana. He provided generously for his children, only four of whom are now living: John, Cornelius, Catherine and Hervey L. The latter passed his boyhood and youth on his father’s farm in Kentucky, and came to Indiana with the family in 1836. His early education was received from private instructors, being fitted for college in that way, and he entered the freshman year at Hanover College, Indiana, in September, 1844, graduating in June, 1848. In September of that year he entered the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J., attended for two years, and then spent a year in private reading and travel. Afterward he returned to that institution for another year and graduated in May, 1852. The following summer he passed in rest and a visit to Washington, D. C., and in October, 1852, he came to Goshen, where he began preaching as a home missionary. In March, 1853, he organized the First Presbyterian Church of Goshen, with fifteen members, and here he has continued to labor for forty years, over eight hundred having been admitted to membership during his pastorate. Dr. Hutchison, of New Albany, and Dr. Vannuys, are the oldest pastors of the Presbyterian Church in Indiana. The first church building erected of the Presbyterian denomination is at present used by the German Lutheran society. The building now occupied was dedicated in 1863, and is a large, handsome brick structure, the finest church building in northern Indiana at the time of its erection. Mr. Vannuys was married on June 28, 1868, to Miss Rebecca H Williams, daughter of Samuel P. and Catherine (Hume) Williams, natives of Hartford, Conn. Mrs. Vannuys was a graduate of the Ladies’ Seminary at Pittsfield, Mass. One child was born to this union, but died in infancy. Mrs. Vannuys died may 16, 1869, and Mr. Vannuys selected his second wife in the person of Miss Lillie W. Loring, their nuptials being celebrated on January 22, 1872. Miss Loring was born in Springfield, Mass. and is a daughter of William and Phoebe (Smith) Loring; both are now deceased. The mother was a descendant of John Alden, of the “Mayflower,” and a native of the Old Bay State. One child, now deceased, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Vannuys. Mr. Vannuys has been a commissioner to the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church many times, and was moderator of the Synod of Northern Indiana in 1862, and of the Synod of Indiana North in 1879. In early days he did much missionary work throughout this section of the State when churches were struggling for existence and footing, and for years has been engaged in the discharge of the duties of his sacred calling. In 1881 he received the honorary degree of doctor of divinity from Wabash College, an honor most worthily bestowed. Mr. Vannuys’ ancestors have always been identified with the Presbyterian faith, and his father was a most exemplary Christian, having been an elder for over forty years. The latter was a man of high standing in the community and quite wealthy for those days. Dr. Vannuys is a man of strong will, clear conceptions, generous impulses, and scrupulously tender of the rights of others. His life has been singularly pure, and all his acts are strongly characteristic of good, sound sense. His sermons are terse in style, firm in diction, logical in thought and yet free from all ostentatious display, being filled with Biblical citations, historic references, poetic gems, and earnest, religious pathos. He is a diligent student and ripe scholar. Thus it is seen that Dr. Vannuys is the senior pastor of this synod, having spent forty years at Goshen where he has performed an arduous, succesful [sic] work. He was elected clerk of the Synod of Indiana North, and held the office for seventeen years, until the consolidation of the synods of the State in 1870. No man in the synod is more beloved or hold a more honorable place than Dr. Vannuys, who is now the adaptable, faithful, and much-loved pastor of the church he organized so many years ago; esteemed alike by the members of the church, the congregation and the community in which he resides. The following notice, which appeared in a recent issue of the Daily Times, explains itself: The Presbyterian people planted the fortieth mile-stone of Dr. Vannuys’ pastorate last evening, and many friends cam in to extend congratulation and bid a hearty God-speed for the rest of the journey. The people began to assemble “at early candle light,” and the “small hours were not too far away when the convocation broke up. Dr. and Mrs. Vannuys, assisted by Dr. Logan and the elders and deacons and their wives received the happy throng which for more than an hour passed in. At about 8 o’clock the ladies’ committee received in the parlors, and a collation was served amid surroundings that pleased as the “old corn of the land” that ancient troop of wayfarers. Mrs. Dr. Ellis, Mrs. Peck, Mrs. C. C. Rutler and Mrs. James Finney presided at the coffee urns, and a host of young ladies served the guests. Dr. Vannuys and visiting pastors, with the session and deacons and their wives, occupied a table at which Mrs. Vannuys presided. After the collation the congregation assembled in the auditorium and a solo was rendered by Miss Zella Wilson, an organ interlude by Mrs. Roach, and a solo by Prof. Morrice. prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Townsend, of Elkhart, after which Hon. H. D. Wilson mad an address and in behalf of the church and friends, presented to Dr. Vannuys the offering expressive of appreciation and good will. The amount was $800. Dr. Vannuys responded in his happy way, giving something of the providential leading that brought him to Goshen, and of the early experiences connected with the settlement. Miss Zella Wilson again responded with a solo, and Dr. Logan made a short address, after which the greetings of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Goshen and the Presbyterian Church of Elkhart, were presented by their respective pastors, Rev. W. H. Daniel and Mr. Townsend, after which Rev. Townsend pronounced the benediction. This record will have to remain incomplete. The abundant labors of the many busy hands and willing minds displayed in the decorations and service of the evening, was the spontaneous work of the whole congregation, rather than of special committees, and it seemed a pleasant feature that there was not the stiffness of formality, but each one was allowed to take such a course as the occasion prompted.
Transcribed by Lois Johnson
Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana, together with Biographies of Many Prominent Men of Northern Indiana and of the whole State, both Living and Dead.
Goodspeed Brothers (Chicago, 1893)