HISTORY OF CROY’S CREEK CHURCH
Records show that all the land adjacent to the church was purchased from the Government by the year 1840. This was part of the territory ceded to the Government in 1809 by the Indiana, bounded on the north by the Ten O’clock line, which is about three miles north of the present church building.
It is uncertain when or who held the first services of this church, but tradition informs that services were held in neighboring homes by circuit riders or able laymen. It is a matter of history that in 1825 there were three Baptists, one Methodist, and one Newlight in the surrounding community. The latter of these proved to be the Croy’s Creek Christian Church, which in the early days was known exclusively as the Newlight Church.
Not too much is known of the progress of this organization because no records were kept. But one William KEYS, a resident of the community who was later ordained as a minister of the conference, was an able leader. David HAYES, another of the early ministers, worked with Reverend KEYS. They were assisted by able laymen; to one of these, William BELK must be given special credit. Some of the early settlers of the community were VICKERS, MURPHY, FINLEY, GOOD, MYERS, BELK, JOHNSON, LAWSON, BOLING, DEVORE, LUCAS, and KINGERY.
The construction of the first church for worship alone was about 1844. The membership having increased, a large structure was undertaken measuring about forty by sixty feet. As the majority of the members and interested people resided on the north and east side of Croy’s Creek stream, it was decided to erect the building in Putnam County, about seventy-five yards southwest of the present church site, in the Northwest corner of the Southwest Quarter of Section Six (6), Township Twelve (12), Range Five (5). This land was purchased from the Government in 1828 by William BELK, father of William BELK mentioned elsewhere in the history, one of the early organizers of the church. This was the earliest purchase of the four sections surrounding the present church site. An abstract quotes that one acre and eight rods near the northwest corner off and out of said southwest half of the southwest fractional quarter of said section, township, and range, was deeded to the trustees of the Union Meeting House by William L. GOOD on March 1, 1860.
(Due to the limited amount of pages available, several paragraphs will be omitted that do not have family names in them. The remainder of the article can be found at the library in the file cabinet containing information about towns, schools, and churches.)
Reverend A. L. CARNEY served the church during the Civil War period. He had a son who served the church later; the only father and son to ever serve the church…..Reverend A. L. CARNEY was a strong abolitionist and worked in the organization of the Home Guards. He created quite a bit of interest in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. That there was quite a difference of opinion concerning the Civil War issues was evidenced by the fact that Reverend CARNEY used the precaution of carrying a revolver, which was placed before him when he arose to preach. The church was used as a meeting place for miles around for those who favored the abolition of slavery. It is said that firearms were kept in the church at all times for emergency use by the Home Guards. Reverend CARNEY was known as Captain CARNEY of The Home Guards. An old stable northwest of the church was use as a meeting place for the Knights of the Golden Circle. (See February 2005 Researcher, pages 2-4 for more information concerning this organization.) Some members of the church who served in the army were William EALY, M. CLARK, J.T. RISSLER, William BELK, F.F. BELK, W. H. LAWSON, John JOHNSON, Pleasant LUCAS, and James SINER.
During the period from 1865 to 1875, singing schools were organized and industrial activities increased. Four mills on Croy’s Creek were in operation and about one and one fourth miles south of the church site was located a large kiln in which drain tile and building bricks were burned. Also about two miles north of the church iron ore was being mined and hauled by wagons to a furnace near Harmony.
In 1876 the first report of business of the church was recorded by R. M. JOHNSON as clerk. In 1879 the first Children’s Day Program was held on the third Sunday in June; this program contributed money to both foreign and home missions. About this time the Sunday School was organized with R. M. JOHNSON as superintendent. The eastern half-acre of the present cemetery was donated to the church by James A. FINLEY during the period from 1870 to 1880. The ordinance of foot washing was suspended during this period.
During the winter of 1882 and 1883 a great revival was held. It is unofficially stated that sixty new members were added to the church. In January of 1883 the members met to discuss plans for the erection of a new church building. According to the minutes of that meeting, it was promptly voted to erect an edifice just north and east of the site at that time, on an acre of ground donated by R. M. JOHNSON. A soliciting committee was appointed and five hundred and fifty dollars was pledged. A few days later the committee reported a total of eight hundred and fifty dollars pledged. A building committee consisting of J. C. PLUMMER, J. T. RISSLER, B. F. BELK, and James SINER was appointed and directed to examine plans and let the contract…The building was dedicated on Sunday, November 15, 1883. One of the older ministers gave the invocation, scripture reading by R. M. JOHNSON, and the dedicatory sermon by Reverend J. T. PHILLIPS, a former pastor of the church.
At a business meeting May 17, 1884, the trustees were instructed to sell the old building and its furniture. Peter DARTING bought the fence for $1.25; for the seats, $10.00 from B. F. BELK; for the house, $21.00 from B. F. BELK; for the stand, 50 cents from J. R. FINLEY; for the lamps, 50 cents from William BELK. This was all applied on the new building.
In 1871 when Reverend A.L. CARNEY was president of the organization (Western Indiana Christian Conference)…..By 1920 the membership saw the need of a basement for Sunday School classes, youth groups, and other social activities. At this time an energetic and money making Ladies Aid was doing a great work. The building was raised some two feet and moved north half the width of itself…..The church officials placed the box and the cement block was sealed in. John FINLEY from Brazil gave a reminiscent talk, which closed the service. A dedicatory service was held the first Sunday in September (1928) with Reverend R. E. LUCAS, pastor of the church preaching the sermon.
During the remodeling period, a door was cut in the east end of the church…..A new floor was laid in the auditorium, the money donated by Lillis BELK….
Then at a business meeting in 1930, John LOGAN was appointed to write the history of the church…In 1962 new pews were purchased, replacing the old ones which were the ones installed in 1883 when the church was built…. Then recently a stained glass window was installed in memory of Everett LOGAN, an elder of the church.
After the merger, the church became a member of the National Congregational Christian Churches. Since the Western Indiana Conference is non-existent, the church has had ministers from Butler University. Names of some were Larry SCOTT, James MACKEY, and James COLE. The church is now served by Reverend John J. JAMES of Brazil.
This was prepared for the Sesquicentennial of the State of Indiana in 1966.