The former First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Jackson and Chauncey streets in Columbia City is now a café. This historic building, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is a beautiful building dating back to when it was built in 1893. It replaced a frame building standing on Chauncey Street which was dedicated in 1859. But growing membership meant a new church was needed with more room. The congregation decided to have a new church built instead of remodeling the current one. A building committee decided to move the old church to the corner of Van Buren and Washington streets. Ground was broken for the new church July 16, 1892. The first brick was laid in August. The dedication service for the new First Presbyterian was held Oct. 22, 1893, and the Rev. Otho Thornberry announced the completed building cost $10,500. That may sound like a small amount today, but I can imagine it was huge in 1893. There was a debt in the amount of $1,000 but passing the hat eliminated the debt as congregation members pitched in to pay it off. I am not really sure when the church closed and when it became a business. But I know it is a historical landmark in Columbia City.
Former First Presbyterian Church in Columbia City.
Old church buildings are often full of history in many ways. There are memories members of the congregation can share. And what about the building itself? Apparently this church building at Fifth and Madison streets near downtown Goshen dates to about 1876. It was originally a German Methodist church but in 1894 there was an exchange of properties with an English Lutheran church who then took over the building. For many years it was known as the First English Lutheran Church. A few years ago a merger took place with Faith Lutheran Church, which is located on Greene Road in Goshen. Both churches still offer services in each building. I can imagine there being multiple generations of families attending church at Fifth and Madison. As a side note, Madison Street was once known as U.S. Highway 33 until 33 was rerouted through Goshen.
English Lutheran Church near downtown Goshen.
Where was this photo taken? Not in a rural area as you might expect. It was taken in the town of Milford. At the intersection of Fourth and James streets sits a house dating to 1858. It was originally a home for a doctor and his wife. At one time it served as a tea house for patrons of the railroad located a block away to the west. Next to the house sits an old barn in the photo. According to the county property records it was built in 1910. I’m guessing it replaced an older barn. The barn was likely a stable for horses and a place to store a buggy or wagon. There are a few of these barns left and they are often next to an alley as this one is.
Old barn located in Milford.
The Elkhart County Surveyor’s Office has an interesting set of historical maps by township. They show the various road alignments tied in by numbers to an index page. Vacated roads are also shown on the maps. One example is this former road alignment off County Road 11 between county roads 36 and 38 in Harrison Township of Elkhart County. According to the maps I referenced above, this road once connected what is now County Road 11 with what was an angling state road that no longer exists. The connection was just west of what is now County Road 9. The vacated road now appears to be a private driveway or lane. An interesting part of local road history.
Vacated road in Harrison Township.
Back in May, a friend and I ventured to an interesting museum in Grass Lake, Michigan. I was doing an internet search and kind of stumbled upon the Lost Railway Museum. This museum is different in that its focus is on electric interurban railways. Some museums may have interurban cars as part of what is displayed, but the Lost Railway Museum features those cars. Shown in the photo is one of the interurban cars that once served Grass Lake. It was known as the Michigan United Railway and stretched from Grass Lake to Jackson, Michigan. The line was abandoned in 1924. This is a fairly new museum and the collection of interurban cars is not yet large but hopefully given some time will grow. The building housing the museum is partially on property where a powerhouse for the interurban line was located. I encourage you to visit the Lost Railway Museum.
Interurban car in Lost Railway Museum in Grass Lake, Michigan.
As a follow-up to last week’s post about the Civil War battlefield site near Perryville, Kentucky, here’s another photo. I’m fairly certain this is not an original fence row, but it would look like one from the Civil War era. There are a few of these on the Perryville battlefield site. Sort of adds a rustic look, doesn’t it? We look at life on a farm in the 1860s and we think of it as so primitive and basic. But in the 1860s they worked with what they had and made the best of it. During the Civil War, the land used for this battlefield was primarily a farm. It is well documented how much the war disrupted the lives of those in the areas of battle sites. In many cases people lost everything they had except what they could carry away in a hurry to flee. It was interesting to walk around the site and look at how things developed during this battle. The Confederate Army lost its chance to control the state of Kentucky. History was made during this battle in the fall of 1862. Now hopefully we can learn something from it.
Perryville, Kentucky, Civil War battlefield site.
I’m going to stray from keeping local this week. During the summer of 2017, a friend and I visited the Perryville, Kentucky, Civil War battlefield site for a couple of days. It is located in Boyle County in the hilly part of southeastern Kentucky. This was the largest battle of the Civil War in Kentucky and was the South’s last attempt to gain control of the state of Kentucky. They essentially failed in that mission. The battle took place in October 1862 in the rural hillsides near Perryville. Much of the battlefield remains as it was in 1862. As much as possible anyway. There is plenty to do and see at the site. Of course you can watch interpretive videos and see displays to find out more details of the battle and get a better understanding of its significance. Then you can either walk or drive on tours designed to take you on a journey to explore the battlefield site. The walking tour is self-guided. You can spend more than a couple days to be honest. We didn’t see nearly everything there is to see. This was a first for me. I had never visited a Civil War battlefield site. I hope to see another one someday, possibly the Shiloh site in Tennessee. I would highly recommend visiting Perryville, Kentucky, to see this site.
Perryville, Kentucky, Civil War battlefield site.
Old church buildings are sometimes simply beautiful to look at. Often the architecture and style are somewhat stunning visually. A church is sometimes considered a community gathering place and has been so for quite a long time. Shown is the First United Methodist Church building in downtown Goshen. It is at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson streets. This was one of the stops on the downtown historical walking tour the Goshen Historical Society hosted in 2015. It was a very interesting tour to be a part of. I learned quite a bit about the history of the city I’ve lived in for 16 years now. Construction began on this church in 1874 and the first service was held in the basement Jan. 31, 1875. In the 1926 the Wesley Hall and gym were built to be used as a social center. There were other additions to the building through the years. In 2000 the Methodist Life Center was built on Plymouth Avenue (State Road 119) on the west side of the city. It is a satellite campus for the Methodist church. It is also interesting to note First UMC donated what is now Oakridge Cemetery in 1859 to the city of Goshen. The church had purchased the land for a burial ground in 1839.
First United Methodist Church in Goshen.
A former church building in South Whitley is now known as the Schultz Ministry Center. It is located on Mulberry Street, just off State Street (State Road 5). This was originally the South Whitley Church of the Brethren. A congregation formed in 1913 and met on the second floor of a nearby building. Then in 1920 the mission board purchased the property for a church building. Work on the new building began in 1922 and it was completed and dedicated in December 1923. Otho Winger preached the dedicatory sermon. For about nine years, the church went without a full-time pastor until the Rev. Mark Cripe was hired in 1932. In 2001 the nearby First Baptist Church of South Whitley purchased the old church building after it no longer served as a church. Now it is a Whitko Youth Center in partnership with the Whitley County Community Foundation and the Whitley County Family YMCA. They also work with the school system. I’m not sure when it ceased being an active church but obviously it was at least 2001, if not earlier. Thanks to the South Whitley Public Library for providing this information.
Former South Whitley Church of the Brethren.
There are a few places where the former route of the Winona Interurban Railway can be found by following the electric poles. Here is one example. Off County Road 300 South, east of State Road 19 and south of Akron just look at the poles and you will see the route the Winona took. Akron was one of several small towns the Winona came through. Between Goshen and Peru, travelers could board the railway powered by electricity in several locations. I’ve posted several remnants of the Winona and find it remarkable they still exist. So many things can alter the landscape through the years. But even after all this time, traces of the Winona can still be found. Another example of following the electric poles is between Warsaw and Mentone. The Winona ran at an angle between the two towns and cut through the countryside. Passenger service ceased on the railway in 1934 and then freight was carried on part of the line until 1952. Although the railway had a relatively short span of life, it still changed the way people traveled. And that’s an important part of our transportation history.
Route of the former Winona Interurban Railway near Akron.