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 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: News-Journal, August 16, 1973, Centennial Section

West Manchester Church of Brethren

Two landmarks go hand in hand with the West Manchester church building. Acme Hall, (or school) a small brick building in the front corner of the church grounds, was one of the early schools in the area. A frame structure was built in 1857 or 1858. The present brick structure was built in 1875 and in 1916 was discontinued as a learning house. In 1923, Geo. Odgen, Pleasant Twp. Trustee transferred this school property to the trustees of the West Manchester Church.

The other landmark attached to the church is that of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. This burial spot originated in 1886, and in 1878, along with the church and community, hosted one of the largest gatherings ever known in the Manchester Community. The National Annual Church Conference was held here in that summer. On the site, a temporary tabernacle 80' x 272' long had been built, and used for preaching services and for a dining hall.

Saturday before the meeting opened on Sunday, 56 railway coaches arrived at North Manchester, filled with delegates from all over the country. It was estimated that between 15 and twenty thousand people attended this meeting on Sunday, and that over 1500 horse drawn vehicles were in the vicinity as a result of this occasion.

Sarah Major, the first woman preacher in the Church of the Brethren attended this conference, and was to preach at the Lutheran church one evening during the week.

The North Manchester Journal of that date says: "The anxiety to hear her was so great that only a small number of the vast crowd that went could get into the church."

In the period of 1880 to 1892 there were several events that was to influence the whole community, as well as the local congregation at the West Manchester site. This period seemed to be one of growth in the church, and seemed wise to build another worship center. In 1881 a church was built in North Manchester. (Twenty six years later in 1907 it was replaced by the now present Church of the Brethren on Walnut Street.)

In 1881 there was division among the Brethren. There seemed to be division in other parts of the country also. It was at this time that many members left the congregation and established the now present Old Order German Baptist Church located a half mile north of 114 on highway 13. At this same period and for two or three years after, others felt the calling in a different way, and this resulted in the founding of the First Brethren Church. A church of this denomination now stands at Sycamore and Fifth Streets.

It was in 1882 that Elder R.H. Miller Sr., father of R.H. Miller of Ninth Street in N. Manchester, was called to serve as Elder of the Manchester Congregation of the Church of the Brethren, which now had two places of worship. He served as Elder for approximately 10 years. He was respected and recognized as a great man, as well as a great churchman locally and nationally. In 1891 the old frame structure at West Manchester seemed inadequate to handle the program of the congregation. It was at this time that the now existing brick church was built. It has since been remodeled in 1926 and 1953.

In 1911 the Church at West Manchester site, officially became the West Manchester Church of the Brethren. The organizational structure calls for an Elder or Moderator of the church, one who is the official head of the congregation and moderates the business of the church which is decided upon and carried out by members within the congregation. Elders who have served the congregation are: Nicholas Frantz, Israel Harter, Jacob Karns, Jacob Funderburg, R.H. Miller Sr., Michael Miller, Isaac Miller, L.T. Holsinger, A.L. Wright. After 1911: Otho Winger, A.C. Young, S.L. Cover, I.B. Book, Edward Kintner, J.H. Wright, A.M. Stine, T.G. Weaver, E.H. Gilbert, Howard Keim, T.W. Reiman, R.V. Bollinger, Ernest Shull, Carroll Petry and Leonard Custer.

Ministers serving the church have been known as Free Ministers or Pastors. In earlier periods ministers or preachers gave of their time and ministry. In more recent years the church hires a pastor to minister and preach. The ministers who have served at the church are: C.F. Eiler, A.R. Bridge, J.P. Dickey, I.B. Book, Aaron Moss, Leslie Cover, Geo. Deardorff, A.C. Young, S.L. Young, Ira Kreider, A.M. Stine, Bertha Stine, T.D. Butterbaugh, John Dickey, T.G. Weaver, David Studebaker, Kenneth Hollinger, Arno Holdereed, Howard Keim, Edward Smith, Lewis Deardorff, John Bunch, Mark Schrock, H.F. Richards, Edward Carl, Walter Stinebaugh, and Peter Michael.

The site, the facilities, the lives of members--past and prest (200 in 1916; 137 in 1973) the friends, the immediate community, all represents the West Manchester Church of the Brethren as a part of the North Manchester community.

Source: News-Journal, April 25, 1940


The state highway department is obtaining additional right of way on road 114 west of North Manchester. When it came to the right of way along the West Manchester Church, there was a question about the status of ownership. While the church has been there for many years, yet the present trustees did not have a deed in their possession, nor did the memory of living man recall how the congregation acquired the land. A search of the records at Wabash revealed the fact that Joseph W. Crill sold 2½ acres of land to the trustees of the German Baptist church. This deed was recorded October 13, 1860, in Deed Record W, page 12, in the recorder's record at Wabash. Since the little log church was built in 1856, it is apparent that the deed was not recorded, nor the transfer of title made, until four years after the church was built. Mr. Crill was paid $100 for the land, and the church trustees at that time were Jacob Butterbaugh, John Heeter and Christian Shively. Later on, probably in two purchases, land for the cemetery was obtained. In 1904, when the Crill estate was settled, mention is made in the property transfer, that 5½ acres was deducted for church and cemetery purposes. The present cemetery contains 5½ acres, so the additional 2 acres was obtained after that date.

The Crill home was on the angling road to Laketon near the little creek that crosses the road. Eli Harter had bought this farm of William Sutherland January 20, 1841, and presumably moved there soon after, for he did not remain long in the milling business with his father, Joseph Harter, Sr., after they came to North Manchester in 1835. Mr. Harter lived on the farm until he sold it to Mr. Crill December 3, 1851. The actual transfer was not recorded until October 23, 1852. The farm included land on both sides of the junction of the Laketon road and Road 114, and since then it has been divided into two or three farms.

Some of the land used for church and cemetery purchases were donated by the landowners. In such cases the deed usually read that should the land no longer be used for that purpose, it would revert to the owners or their heirs. Some of the school house sites were donated under similar conditions, but the land at West Manchester was an outright sale, and something near the current value of land in 1856.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 1985


Otho Winger, president of Manchester College, was asked in 1922 to write the newspaper account of the old West Manchester Church of the Brethren which stood on the site of the present church. The schoolhouse shown in the copy of the 1882 illustration is still standing.

The old meeting house was built in 1858, a large structure whose dimensions were 40 x 80. Both the lumber and work for the house were entirely donated; only $500 in cash was needed.

As you approached the house, the first thing you met was the old-fashioned stile, a wooden platform 10 x 20 and just high enough to allow people to alight easily from a big wagon or from horseback. You passed on into the church beneath a row of thick willow trees.

On the north side of the house (facing Highway 114) were three large doors, the center one of which was seldom used. Men entered by the left door, women by the door in the enclosed porch on the right. From the porch the women stepped into the large kitchen and in winter warmed themselves and their babies by a blazing fireplace. Here also was the wooden cradle in which over the years many infants were rocked.

Many a mother felt that among the usual preparations for Sunday morning was a basket filled with apples, raisins, and cookies to keep the little ones quiet.

Communion Meeting Great Event

The main audience room was not unlike the ordinary meeting house of that day. The backless seats which had first been used were replaced by better ones. The long table in the center of the room served as a “pulpit” where the preachers sat on one side and the deacons on the other. In opening the services the deacons were given the privilege of reading the Scripture lesson. Usually several preachers would speak at a morning meeting, although this custom was not as common after Elder Robert Henry Miller, Sr., came.

There was a large, roomy upstairs which was a place of real interest, especially at communion meetings for which many would bring their bedding and remain there over night.

The communion meeting was the great event of the year to both members and non-members. A 10:00 a.m. Saturday service usually began the service. After dinner another preaching service followed at 2:00 p.m. Somewhere in the community there usually was a grocery stand to which the children and young people flocked during the intermissions.

The evening services extended late into the night. In the morning breakfast was served to all. There was no Sunday school then, but the Sunday morning service was given to “farewell talks” by the “laboring brethren,” as the preachers were familiarly called.

Annual Meeting 1878

At this meeting house was held the Annual Meeting of 1878. To accommodate the crowds, a 80 x 72 tabernacle was erected. One reporter stated that there were 15,000 peo0ple present. Many of the most prominent leaders of the church were present, such as D.P. Sayler, James Quinter, Enoch Eby, R.H. Miller, and S.H. Bashor. Perhaps the most interesting was Sister Sarah Major, the woman preacher. The Manchester Journal  reported that during the meeting she preached to a large audience in the Lutheran Church of North Manchester.

Winger’s article concluded by stating that in the year before Elder Miller came to West Manchester a brick Church of the Brethren was built in North Manchester on Walnut Street and evolved into one of the largest congregations of the Church of the Brethren.

Miller had been president of Ashland College for two years before he came to West Manchester. There were those who distrusted him because “he had had connection with a college,” and he also had all the difficulties with the division in the church. However, Miller served the West Manchester Church with faith and efficiency, and it grew under his direction, even amid those trying times.

Source: NMHS Newsletter Aug 1995

West Manchester Church Records

Wayne and Gwen Miller of Santa Cruz, CA made a happy find when researching family records in this area last October. They discovered a record book of the German Baptist Brethren from 1882 to 1896 which includes those whose letters of membership were received by the West Manchester congregation during that time. Maybe a member of your family is included.

May, 1882 R. H. Miller and wife
" Rebecca Connell
" J. W. Ulery and wife
" Albert Wright
" Simeon Sellers
" S. D. Bowman and wife
" Mary Bowman
" Jacob Root and wife
May 21, 1883 Lina Norris
Aug 7, 1884 M. Feigly
Nov 6, 1884 David Landis and wife
" Adam Smith
" Suzana Garver
" Rachel A. Shriver
Jan l, 1885 Delila Bigler
Jan 25, 1885 David Dillman and wife
Mar l, 1885 Jane Elliot
Mar l, 1885 Libbie Green
Mar 17, 1885 Sarah Bare
Apr 2, 1885 John Colclesser and wife
" Eliza Beigh
Apr 23, 1885 Joseph Chaplin and wife
May 31, 1885 Elizabeth Ulery
" Stephen A Ulery and wife
June 18, 1885 Edward Seibert and wife
" Sarah Ann Myers
" Lyman Beigh
Sept 3, 1885 Joseph Lautzenheizer
Nov 29, 1885 William Wertenberger and wife and
Dec l3, 1885 Hannah Brookens
Dec 17, " Aaron Ulery and wife
" Daniel F. Grow and wife
" Mary A. Shanafelt
" Rachel Wolf
Jan 30, 1886 Daniel Shirk
Oct 17, " Phebe Lehmer
Nov 14, " Frances Brandenburg
May 15, l887 Samuel Grisso
May 21, " Nathaniel Miller and wife
Oct 30, " Catharine Hower
" Catharine Lautzenheiser
Nov 24, " Elizabeth Zunbrum
Dec 11, " Anna Blocher
May 23, 1889 Mary Wotters
June 3, " Jonas Gilbert and wife
" Melinda Grow
June 18, " Daniel Grow and wife
Aug 18, " Catharine Curtis
Oct 31, " Mary Frantz
Dec 5, " David C. Cripe and wife
Dec 8, " Samuel Grisso and wife
Mar 6, 1890 Lilla Rogers returned with her letter
" Canby Dillman

Apr 24, " George Myers & wife and
daughter Nora
" David Metzger and wife
Jun 12, " George Snoke and wife
" Letta Myers
" Harvy Colclesser and wife
" Elizabeth Tridle
" Daniel Mishler and wife
" Samuel S(?) Ulery and wife
22, " Joseph Metzgar and wife
" Rosa Harter
Oct 16, " Robert Metzgar and wife
Nov 9, " Ada Miller
" Elzbie Garber
27, " Levi Snell and wife Mary
Feb 1, " Silas Fisher and wife
Apr 9, " William Wright and wife
" D. D. Wright
" Anna E Myers
May 10, " Abraham Burkhart and wife
May 31, " Peter Wright and wife
" Susan Ulery
Jun 14, " Samuel S. Blocher
Sept l8, " Mary Boblet
" Elizabeth Wright
Oct 25, " B. F. Emly and wife (deacon)
29 " Jeremiah Frantz and wife
Dec 10, " David Working and wife
Jan 22, 1892 John Eubank and wife
Mar 3, " Christena Bear
" Minnie Swank
Apr 10, " Florence Cripe
21 " John Miller and wife
May 21, " Enos Heeter
" John Buckingham & wife
" Martha Drudge
June 5, " Laurie Circle
12 " Del Yates
16 " Charles Isenberger
" Ada Miller
Jul 17, " S. S. Blocher
Sept 25, " Anna Blocher
Dec 8, " Jerry Crill and wife
27 " Had gone progressive and
came back to the church again
Jonathan Grossnickle & wife
Jan 22, 1893 Jonas Warvel and wife (deacon)
Feb 12, " Bell Leckrone
Mar 2, " Sarah Kinzie
" S. J. Stoneburner
" Elizabeth Heeter
" Sarah Dennie
Apr 20, " Dora Keim
May 7, " Joseph Miller and wife
" Waity Isenberger
20 " Joseph Studabaker & wife
Jun 25, 1893 Bertha Miller
" Alice King
" Fannie Brookens
Aug 6, " Ervin E. Horning
Oct 22, " Loren Ohmart & wife
" Junius Vern Ohmart
29 " Tobias Auker
Nov 5, " William Bixler
9 " Daniel Snyder
19 " Ella Myrtle Fosnough
" Jane Fosnough
Jan 14, 1894 Aaron Grisso and wife
28 " Martha Heckathorn

Source: NMHS Newsletter Nov 1995

West Manchester Church Records

Wayne and Gwen Miller of Santa Cruz, CA made a happy find when researching family records in this area last October. They discovered a record book of the German Baptist Brethren from 1882 to 1896 which includes those whose letters of membership were received by the West Manchester congregation during that time. Some of the names were printed in the August Newsletter. Maybe a member of your family is included among these additional names.

Feb 4, 1894 Martin Hoover and wife
25 " John E. Miller and wife
Jun 7, " Hettie Stuart
Jul 22 " Etta Fosnough
Aug 2 " Polly Landis
14 " Henry Jacobs (reclaimed)
Sept 6 " Emma Horning
" Susie Miller
" L.D. Wright
Mar 7 1895 Samuel Fager and wife
" Marvin Rank and wife
Mar 28 " Frances Brandeburg
" Levi Witters
Jun 13 " Katharine Butterbaugh
" Alice King
" Etta Butterbaugh
Aug l 1895 Emma Timberlin
" Maggie Bixler
" Maggie Vail
Sept 28 " Clara A. Cripe
" Milo F. Hale
" William H. Fisher
" Hettie Staufer
" Melvin Swartz
" S. S. Young and wife
" Ellen Metzgar
" Gladie Swatz (sic)
" Reuben Hollinger
" Elma Burket
" J. E. Joseph and wife (minister 2nd degree)
" E. M. Cobb and wife (minister lst
" Melvin N. Rensberger (minister lst
" Jacob W. Rarick & wife (elder)
Dec 5 1895 Owen Ramond and Ralph Bottrell
" Elmer Miller
" Nannie G. Mida and Lucy Bink
" Merton & Mollie Hollinger
" L. H. Eby and wife and daughter
Ethel (min - 2nd degree
" D. W. Ulery
" Harvey Misener and wife
" John C. Yoder
" Stephen Haines & wife
" Ella Raffensbarger
Dec 5 1895 Henry Buck & wife (deacon)
" Ira Eisenhour
" Abe Miller & wife Grace
" Levi Buckingham
" Andrew Blickenstaff
" David Hollinger and wife (minister
2nd degree)
" Ivy Martin
" Emma Beechly
" Iva Cridler
" Eli Cottrell & wife (deacon)
" Anna Shull
" Dora Zeigler
" J. R. Hollinger
Mar 5 1896 J. L. Blickenstaff
" Rebecca Hollinger
" L. T. Holsinger and wife Ada and
Harley & Franklin Holsinger are all
members (Eld. L. T.
Holsinger in the full ministry)
Apr 4 " Curt Hollinger & wife
" Atlis Opperman
" Effie Opperman
" Owen Opperman
" Edson Ulery
" Lucinda Bowser
" Jennie Culler