The Early Years

1828-1978

The early decades of the 19th century were marked by a growing optimism of the American People about the future of the nation.  With new lands to be settled, and new challenges for the missionaries, we now begin our journey through 150 years of Presbyterian history in Delphi, Indiana.
 

In 1828, the area that is now Delphi, Indiana, had been settled for just a few years, and after the rigors of building  cabins and clearing land, the people turned more and more to the idea of having permanent churches in this area.  The Methodists in 1826 started a church, and in 1828 a group became interested in a Presbyterian Church.  Two ministers, Rev. James Crawford and Rev. James Thompson, were appointed to establish a church in Delphi.  Their efforts were successful, for on the 23rd day of May, 1828 the first organization of a Presbyterian Church on the upper Wabash was consummated.  It was called, "The Presbyterian Church of Deer Creek," which title it retained until the 22nd day of January, 1833, when, by unanimous consent of the membership, it was changed to the name, "First Presbyterian Church of Delphi, Indiana," the name it has today.
 

Before church buildings were built, some congregations would meet in the woods, using stumps and blocks of wood for seats. Sometimes they met in two cabins close together with the front doors open, and the preacher would stand out in the street out in the street and preach to people in both cabins. 

Sixteen people 

 

In 1838 the congregation erected a frame building at about 215 South Market Street, in back of the Reinhart Building.  The Congregation then had a house of worship that was used until 1859

The early decades of the 19th century were marked by a growing optimism of the American People about the future of the nation.  With new lands to be settled, and new challenges for the missionaries, we now begin our journey through 150 years of Presbyterian history in Delphi, Indiana.
 

In 1828, the area that is now Delphi, Indiana, had been settled for just a few years, and after the rigors of building  cabins and clearing land, the people turned more and more to the idea of having permanent churches in this area.  The Methodists in 1826 started a church, and in 1828 a group became interested in a Presbyterian Church.  Two ministers, Rev. James Crawford and Rev. James Thompson, were appointed to establish a church in Delphi.  Their efforts were successful, for on the 23rd day of May, 1828 the first organization of a Presbyterian Church on the upper Wabash was consummated.  It was called, "The Presbyterian Church of Deer Creek," which title it retained until the 22nd day of January, 1833, when, by unanimous consent of the membership, it was changed to the name, "First Presbyterian Church of Delphi, Indiana," the name it has today.
 

Before church buildings were built, some congregations would meet in the woods, using stumps and blocks of wood for seats. Sometimes they met in two cabins close together with the front doors open, and the preacher would stand out in the street out in the street and preach to people in both cabins. 

Sixteen people 

 

In 1838 the congregation erected a frame building at about 215 South Market Street, in back of the Reinhart Building.  The Congregation then had a house of worship that was used until 1859

The Early Years

1828-1978

The early decades of the 19th century were marked by a growing optimism of the American People about the future of the nation.  With new lands to be settled, and new challenges for the missionaries, we now begin our journey through 150 years of Presbyterian history in Delphi, Indiana.
 

In 1828, the area that is now Delphi, Indiana, had been settled for just a few years, and after the rigors of building  cabins and clearing land, the people turned more and more to the idea of having permanent churches in this area.  The Methodists in 1826 started a church, and in 1828 a group became interested in a Presbyterian Church.  Two ministers, Rev. James Crawford and Rev. James Thompson, were appointed to establish a church in Delphi.  Their efforts were successful, for on the 23rd day of May, 1828 the first organization of a Presbyterian Church on the upper Wabash was consummated.  It was called, "The Presbyterian Church of Deer Creek," which title it retained until the 22nd day of January, 1833, when, by unanimous consent of the membership, it was changed to the name, "First Presbyterian Church of Delphi, Indiana," the name it has today.

Church Established at Delphi

Before church buildings were built, some congregations would meet in the woods, using stumps and blocks of wood for seats. Sometimes they met in two cabins close together with the front doors open, and the preacher would stand out in the street out in the street and preach to people in both cabins. 

Sixteen people who had their names listed at the first meeting on May 23, 1828 were: Henry Robinson & his wife Elizabeth and daughter Sarah; Abner Robinson and his wife Sarah; William McCord and his wife Rebecca; John Ewing; Jane Waugh; Aaron Dewey and his wife Charlotte; William Wilson and his wife Ann; Sophorina Robinson; Lydia Ann Robinson and Hugh Manary.
The dwelling house of Henry Robinson was used to hold church services for about the first seven months.  Then the meetings were held in the log school house on the Northeast corner of Monroe and Union Streets, for about ten years while they debated where to build a structure. 
In April 1834, a new Presbyterian church was organized on the hill South of Delphi, with a membership from some of he original members of the Delphi Church.  This church was called the church of Lebanon.  It's not easy to say why a church was organized when there was already on in place, but upon reading of some of the minutes of the Session, it is implied that some of the members held some rather bitter feelings toward the other members.  This issue had to be resolved by the Presbytery, and it is no doubt that it was a contributing factor to the establishment of this church.
On the second day of May, 1835, fifteen members of the Delphi Church were organized into a church at the Odell School, called Deer Creek Church, and 1839 they again divided and formed tho other churches, one at Bachelors Run and another on Rock Creek.

Chickens and Church

In April of 1837,  an amusing incident occurred. Delphi was host for the meeting of the Logansport Presbytery.  At the time this was still a primitive settlement, void of all modern convinces.  The meeting was held at the unfinished house of James Witherow, and Elder of the Delphi Church.  The room in which the meeting was held had no ceiling and the upper joists served as a peaceful resting place for a flock of chickens.  At the appointed hour, the meeting was started and as Rev. Hummer of Lafayette was in the midst of delivering a sermon, the chickens were awakened by a combination of flickering lights and the sound of the ministers voice.  Immediately they issued a protest against the interference of their sleep.  A member of the Presbytery considered such a protest in an unknown tongue a violation of Presbyterian order and with better intentions than judgement, attempted to dislodge the chickens with a long pole.  Down came the chickens, chicken feathers, and so forth, over the heads of the audience, and for awhile utter confusion reigned (along with chicken feathers.)  The solemnity of the religious service was routed.  One historian suggests that if the feathered friends had not been meddled with, they would have been quiet much sooner. The moral being --"Rash methods are not very successful in either the Church or the Presbytery."

New Church Building 1838

After the chicken event it was obvious that they needed a good meeting place.  In 1838 the congregation erected a frame building at about 215 South Market Street, in back of the Reinhart Building.  The Congregation then had a house of worship that was used until 1859. It was later moved to 425 W. Franklin Street, and used as private dwelling. 

Presbyterian Parsonage at 215 East Main Street.

Used by 10 pastors from 1895 to 1962

The Church Divided 1839-1870

Throughout Presbyterian history, the pluralistic nature of the church has been both a jewel in it's crown and a cross which it has been forced to bear.  Occasionally, the healthy discussion in the variety of theological viewpoints would give way to debate and lead to a schism, one such period occurring during the years between 1837 to 1870.   In Delphi, at the beginning of this period of history the Presbyterians were trying to remain neutral, as was common in this part of the century.  Despite their desire not to do so, the delphi church did divide and remained divided until 1870.

The Church of Lebanon was dissolved and the membership attached themselves to the "Old School" branch.  

Even though divided, the "Old School" and the "New School"  continued to both use the frame building on Market Street, using it on alternate Sundays. In 1845-46, the "Old School" branch used the Octagon Seminary Building, a two story brick building with 8 sides. In 1846 the "Old School" moved to their new building on East Main Street, (now the location of the Christian Church).  

Old Frame Presbyterian Church building at 315 East Main St. used from ~1846 to 1875.

They continued in this building until the church reunited in 1870, then alternately until 1875. The "New School" branch continued in the frame building on Market Street until 1859, when they occupied the basement of the new building they had erected at 115 North Union Street.  After about seven years, the upper story was finished and dedicated to the service of God on the 22nd day of December, 1866.

After a generation of separation, the two branches realized their differences could and should be resolved.  The two branches blended into one church, merging on the 3rd day of April, 1870.

Presbyterian Church building at 115 N. Union St. Built in 1859 and used until 1909

The Reunited Church

The merger, both nationally and locally presented all types of questions that required careful thinking by everyone.  Forgiveness, a highly conciliatory spirit, strength, a sympathetic heart and a spirit of peace and utility were a necessity. 
Many questions locally were asked.  Where shall we worship? Who shall be Deacons or who shall be Elders or Trustee's?  No doubt these questions caused some disagreement at first, but the harmony that had led to the reunited church also led the answers.

On the question as to where to worship, it was resolved that the services be held part time in the frame building on East Main Street.  Finally in 1875, the frame building was vacated and in 1881-82 it was sold to the Christian denomination.  In 1875 the reunited church was starting in a very positive way to progress. 

Our Current Church Building 

Since 1875 the congregation had been using the brick church on Union Street for the worship services, but as the years went on, remodeling and restoration was needed more and more.  The lack of space and a growing congregation raised the question of building a new church building. A great deal of excitement, interest and debate surrounded the issue.  Talk, discussion, argument and ideas were all free, but the time finally came when action was the only answer. With the desire for, and the confidence to complete the task, the congregation voted to build a new building.  During this period of our history the finances of the church were apparently in a flourishing condition, as a report for the year 1908 shows $2,900 expended for Home Missions; $2,574 for Foreign Missions, and a total budget of $8,770.  The lot for the new building, at the Southeast corner of Main and Indiana Streets, was graciously donated by Mrs. Catherine Bowen. 

Mrs. Catherine Jane Bowen

To accomplish the task, a competent building committee consisting of Rev. Baech, as Pastor; E.W. Bowen, Chairman; W.A. Timberman; A.L. Burkholder; T.J. Ryan; Frank Blythe; G.A. Shaffer, Secretary; and Ralph Hill, Treasurer was formed and directed the construction of the building.In 1909 a cornerstone laying ceremony had been planned, with speaker, service and so forth.  

Rev. Edward Baech
June 15, 1904 to May 4, 1912

It had been scheduled for May 5th, but due to an unavoidable delay in construction it had to be postponed.  Our pastor, Rev. Baech had to attend a meeting of the General assembly and could not be present after the 5th.  Therefore, the Session concluded that the Contractor and the Clerk of the Session would lay the cornerstone. The box in the cornerstone contains some very interesting items. It contains a History of the Church, two Presbyterian church papers, the Herald, and a very appropriate hymn composed by the pastor Rev. Baech. On May 22nd, 1910 the building was dedicated to the service of God, in a very impressive ceremony.  Many dignitaries from the Presbytery attended, as did local people and local pastors.  The pastor, the contractor, and the committee were congratulated on the splendid job that they had performed. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First Presbyterian Church of Delphi

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213 S. Indiana St.

Delphi, IN 46923

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