Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Time for a church - 1853

The families living near Nine Mile are prospering. They are settling on the land, growing crops and families. James and Susannah Smith have added two children to their family, John Francis in 1849 and Susanna M in 1852 while two of the oldest daughter would marry and leave home to begin their own families. In 1851, their daughter Margaret became the 2nd Wife of Benjamin Davis, a family friend who came to Fort Wayne from Darke County with the Smith’s, the Miller’s and the Overly’s. Their 2nd daughter Mary Ann married Jonathan Kimble in 1853. Several of the children of John and Hannah Miller’s children have married and began their families too. Charles married to Sarah Dilley and they have 2 children, George and Hannah Jane. Gabriel had married Anna in Ohio prior to leaving for Indiana and Catherine married John W. Maddux. Growing families need a church to assist them in raising their children.

The following is taken from the historical records from The Nine Mile United Methodist church which has a flourish congregation to this day.

James Smith was one of sixteen founding member of the United Brethren Evangelical Church in Nine Mile, Indiana in 1853. The church is presently known as Nine Mile United Methodist Church. Interesting details emerge about James Smith and other founding members in a historical overview written for the churches 100th anniversary which reads as follows: “THE HISTORY OF THE NINE MILE Evangelical U. B. CHURCH” This church was organized at the home of John Miller by Rev. Casey with 16 charter members. Daniel and Lucy Ann Buskirk, sold one acre of ground for $ 10.00 to the trustees of the United Brethren Church, who were Gabriel Miller, Benjamin C. Davis, James Smith, Thomas Overly and Charles Miller, on January 3, 1853. For a period of five years, the meetings were held at the home of the John and Hannah Miller and at the homes of other church members, but in 1859, they erected a log church on the present grounds in section 7, Pleasant Township.”

Rev. P. Landen was then the pastor and dedicated the church. The membership continued to increase but the little log church was still their place of worship until 1868. In that year a frame building was erected. The new place of worship was called "Liberty Chapel". For a few years the church had been served through the Ossian circuit, but in 1869 it was changed to the Zanesville circuit.

In 1879 the 27th annual session of the Auglaize Conference, of which this church was a member, was held at the Liberty Chapel Church. In 1891 Liberty was again placed in the Ossian Circuit which included Ossian, Bethel, Zanesville, Prairie Grove and Liberty Chapel It remained with Ossian until 1906 when it was changed back to the Zanesville circuit along with Bethel.

As it would turn out, our Smith family would play a large role in the beginning of this church.  All the families listed in the historical doument are related to our Smith's in one way or another.  My husband and I visited it in 2003 on the 150th Anniversary.  I am sure that the congregation must have thought I was nuts because I had tears rolling down my face for most of the service.  I was very moved to be able to sit in a church which had such a rich connection to my family history.  Later the congregation would learn that I was the Great, Great, Great Granddaughter of James Smith one of the 16 founding members of the Nine Mile United Methodist Church.  My Grandfather, Rev. Everett A. Smith, himself a Methodist Minister, would have been proud to have known that his family , our family, played such a large role in this church.

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