Church and Family History Research Assistance
for Parke County, Indiana



The first Predestinarian Baptist Church in Parke County was organized at Rockville in 1825. Meetings were held at the homes of members and at the log courthouse until 1834, when a brick house was built on lot 44 of the original plat of the town. This was the only church that this denomination built in a town of Parke County. Early members were Samuel and Matthew Noel, Austin Puett, Mrs. John G. Davis, and Mrs. Patsey (Noel) Puett. The church united with the Eel River Association. The society proceeded quietly with its activities until doctrinal controversies arose causing a division of the membership. The majority held meetings in Washington Township, the minority soon ceased holding services, and the house was torn down. A part of the seceding members continued the organization, and in 1852 John Overman deeded to trustees a lot bounded on the west by the Rockville-Marshall gravel road, near the southeast corner of section 20, Washington Township. Here a substantial frame house was constructed, the name of the church was changed from Rockville to Pleasant Grove, and the organization was transferred to the Danville Association. Some of the members here were the Burfords, Overmans, Elders, and McCords. The average membership during the last fifty years of the church's existence was about twenty-seven. James Burford, Isaac W. Denman, and Joseph Skeeters were among the ministers. The clerks of the church were Lewis Noel from 1825 to 1840, David Elder from 1840 to 1872, Henry Burford from 1872 to 1884, and M. M. Canine, 1884 and thereafter. The society was dissolved on November 18, 1899. The property reverted to the Overman estate; the house was sold at public auction and removed to a farm where it is used as an implement house. The Overman Cemetery is located a half mile east of the church. The Elder Cemetery is a small lot in the northwest corner of section 20. Mr. Overman came from North Carolina in 1832, and died October 13, 1899, aged eighty-nine years. He was clerk of the Danville Association about forty years.


Providence Church was organized on May 3, 1828, with sixteen members. Benjamin Lambert presided as moderator, and Aaron Harlan, clerk. At this meeting it was decided to build a hewed log house at the southeast corner of the east half of the northeast quarter of section 5, Union Township. Meetings were held at the homes of members until the house was completed in 1831. On February 22, 1834 the church was renamed Mount Moriah. A graveyard was started near the house, and about a dozen persons were buried here, but it was soon abandoned. In 1837 it was decided to change the location of the church to a site about a mile northeast of the first location. This was on the Nathan Plunkett farm in section 33, Greene Township. Here a frame house was completed in 1844 at a cost of $500. In 1875 this house was removed and a larger one erected at a cost of $1,700.

James Bristow and Jesse McClain were ordained ministers in 1833. The latter continued his services here almost forty years. He died in 1874. Joseph Skeeters, a regular minister here for a number of years, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, on February 14, 1820, and died May 20, 1906. The membership of this church was composed mainly of the McClains, Collingses, Peytons, and Doggetts. The oldest member was James Straughn who died at the age of ninety-seven years. The church at one time had about sixty members.


The Wabash Church was located about a mile and a half north of Howard. Elder David Shirk donated the lot for church purposes and built the house, a log structure. The date of organization was in 1833 or earlier. Some of the members were Daniel, Lazarus, and Joseph Shirk, and James Marks. Elder David Shirk was their minister for a number of years. Wabash Church was a member of Vermilion Association.


Wolf Creek Church was organized in 1833. In 1835 a log house was erected in the northeast corner of section 1, Sugar Creek Township. This house was served the church until 1917, when a frame house was constructed. A partial list of the early members discloses the names of John Summers, first clerk, J. B. Barker, Isaac Summers, and Elder Swearinger, trustees. The Allen, Myers, Roach, and Thomas families, and others were faithful members. The pioneer ministers, David Shirk and Lee, were succeeded by Jonathan and Mathias Vancleave, of Montgomery County, and Elder Joseph Skeeters and David Dodimeade, of Parke County. Still later, Elder C. L. Airhart served as pastor. The church belonged to the Sugar Creek Association.


Big Raccoon Church, generally known as the Denman Church, was organized by Elder I. W. Denman and a score of members in about 1835. Their first building was a hewed log house located near the northeast corner of the Denman farm in section 32, Raccoon Township. This was abandoned and a frame house was built near it in 1858, at a cost of $500, Mr. Denman paying one-half of the sum. Elder Denman preached for the church almost forty years. He was killed on August 28, 1875, by the cars at Lodi Station in Vigo County. He was buried in the Denman Cemetery, located about one-fourth of a mile southwest of the church house. After his death Elder Silas Moffet was the regular minister for a number of years. Elder Mosteller was the minister when the society disbanded in 1910. A few of the members were William R. and Louisa Irwin, William and Elizabeth Kilburn, W. W. and Elizabeth Modesitt. Jesse Archer, Rachel Cottrell, Anna Miller, and Alice Irwin were the only members living in 1925. The house was converted into a dwelling, and became the property of the owners of the land on which it stood.


Reserve Church was located near the West Union Cemetery in section 7, Reserve Township, about 1836. The log house was used for many years, but finally disappeared. The society continued its meetings for several years at the homes of Walter Harris, Lawson Linton, and James Marks, until a frame building was erected a half-mile south of the first site. Here Elder Joseph Skeeters was the regular minister, and services were conducted until the Indiana Coal Railroad bought the right of way and located a depot here. Then the society procured a house at Montezuma, where it continued its services under the leadership of Minor T. Davis. After his death, the society was dissolved. The membership in 1877 was twenty-five.


On August 4, 1843 Aaron M. Wade deeded his farm, "except six acres off the northeast corner sold for a meeting house," to Dennis Ball. This church lot is in the northeast corner of the southeast quarter of section 17, Greene Township. The lot was conveyed in fee simple to trustees and their successors, who have controlled the property to the present time. The only house built by the society was a frame building. A few of the members were Absalom Doggett and daughters, Ransom and Mary Reddish, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Reddish, Mr. and Mrs. William Ware, and James and Anna Seybold. Some of the regular and visiting ministers were James Burford, Jesse McClain, and J. J. Dalby. This church was a member of the Danville Association, sometimes called "Little Danville" to distinguish it from the organization from which it seceded many years ago. In 1858 the membership was thirty, in 1865 it was eight, and in 1866 the council dissolved the society. It did not survive the political dissensions of its members during the Civil War. In 1875 the house was sold and moved to a farm where it was converted into a barn.


Rocky Fork Church was organized on July 2, 1836, at the home of Brother Branson, with eleven charter members, viz., Joseph Combs, Rachel Combs, George Branson, Lemuel P. Coleman, Rosannah Coleman, Levi Moore, Elizabeth Moore, Richard Moreland, Ailey Moore, Michael Pruett, and Elizabeth Pruett. The presbytery was composed of Aaron Harlan, John Seybold, John T. Crooks (from Little Raccoon Church), William Christy, William Ringo, Zachariah McClure (from Mount Zion Church); Stephen Sale, Squire Thompson, Thomas Johnson, Isaac W. Denman (from Big Raccoon Church); and Evan Harris, Allen Jones, Nathan Jones, Silas Mullinix, and John Reel (from Mt. Pleasant Church).
The society's first and only house was a hewed log structure about twenty by twenty-eight feet, with a clapboard roof, a batten door midway in one side of the house, and a high pulpit opposite the door. It was warmed by a wood-burner stove in the center of the room. Mrs. Mary A. Hunt, aged eighty-six years, says the first church services and first school that she attended were at this house, which was located in section 9, Jackson Township.

Some of their ministers were George Branson, from Virginia, Isaac W. Denman, John Leatherman, and Joseph Skeeters, the last regular pastor, whose service ended in 1863. In 1864 and '65 the church sent no letters and messengers to the Danville Association. The council then dissolved the society, which, like some of the others, did not survive the controversies incident to the Civil War. A cemetery was located on the hill near-by, probably before the house was built. Here are twenty-five graves marked by shapeless pieces of sandstone; very few of them can be identified. This cemetery was abandoned many years ago, but a half mile north of it is the Moore Cemetery. Between these is a private burial lot on the George Hansel farm. Mr. Hansel, a soldier of the War of 1812, is buried here. He was drowned in 1840 while rafting logs.


Branson, Cabbage, Coleman, Coombs, Cox, Deweese, Frank, Hall, Hammock, Hasty, Herrin, Hood, Hunter, Idle, Irwin, Kemp, Kemper, Lewis, Loy, Mains, Moore, Morelan, Moreland, Pruett, Smiley, Stark, Stevens, Tomlison, Watson, Weeks, Winkler, Wright.


Otter Creek Church was organized on December 10, 1853, at the residence of Robert Watson. A membership of twenty-six constituted the organization by subscribing to the articles of faith as presented to them by the committee of the organizers. Elder John Leatherman was the first minister, and John Frank, the first clerk. At the meeting in January, 1854, it was decided to build a log house, located in the central part of section 26, Jackson Township. About 1889 the society decided to build a frame house just across the line in Putnam County. On December 7, 1889 a majority of the membership held its first meeting in the new house. The minority abandoned the old log house, moved to Union, took over the Wolverton house, and named their society Providence. Elder William Skelton continued his services with both branches of the church. He died at his home in Reelsville, Indiana, about March 1, 1920, at the age of seventy-four years. The cemetery nearest to Otter Creek Church was the Vinzant Graveyard.


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