History of South Union Church
This information was written by Mrs. June (Hazel) Trisler in 1994 and 1997. The information was gathered from newspaper articles of August 1938, concerning community churches, in scrapbook clippings preserved by Mrs. Marie Trisler, and a church history written by Sam Anderson and John H. Koontz, who were active members during the year 1920.
One of the earliest churches in Monroe County was South Union Church. It was first organized in 1833 as a New Light Church and afterwards reorganized with Ellettsville Church as Disciples of Christ and Christian Churches in 1920.
The first church was a primitive log structure erected in 1833 and was strictly a house of worship school house for a number of years. The log church stood North and South, with a rough hewn door in the North end and one on the East side. The seats were split logs, smoothed on one side and made with wooden pegs as legs to hold them up. Candle-racks made of two pieces of board nailed together, hung on the walls and candlelight was the lighting system. Heating the church was a simple affair, two cast iron stoves furnished heat on the cold winter days.
This log house stood a little to the Southwest of the present building, built in 1922, and the area was referred to as the old cemetery. In front of the log house and to the west of the present building was then the public highway and still exist as Rockport Rd. and Duvall Rd.
Charter members, as they were called, included - James Shipman, James Wright Sr., John Goodnight, John F. May, Mrs. Mary Hoover, Capt. Wm. May, and Wm. Gray.
The first Elders were, James Shipman and James Wright Sr., Capt. Wm. May. The first preacher in the log house was Capt. Wm. May.
James Shipman, Wm. Gray, Samuel Turner and John P. May helped build the log house.
Among the prominent families who worshiped in the first church were the families of, James Wright, John P. May, Colman Rush, John Berry, Solomon Phillips, John Phillips, John Rushe, G. Campbell, Edd Borland, Isaac Lane, James Riley, Caspar Koontz, Michael Thrasher, Henry Hensley, Seth Goodman, James Davis, George Chaplain and Lewis Shriver. At the close of 1849, South Union had 102 members.
In 1856 the members changed the log building to a frame structure. Thus being considered the second church. Donations of framing lumber were from Capt. John Ketchum, John Koontz Sr., and Dick Huston. John T. Rush and Thomas Rush were of great help with the carpentry. The ministers in 1856 were, John Mathes and James Blankenship. In 1867, one service was held with 50 persons attending the church. Among the ministers was, Henry Floyd, from Greene County, who preached at South Union at different times during 19 years of his 51 years of ministry. He mostly traveled on horseback for the total estimated 92,000 miles and with a total cash earnings for those years of 2,970 dollars.
In 1856, the elders were Isaac Lane and James Shipman. Deacons were George Parham and Archie M. Lane. Later, officers were Alfred Wright, Joseph East and Wm.
In 1876, Allen Philpott, was a regular minister and continued for several years. Other ministers were, Henry Crutsinger, Henry Griffin, Allen Trusty, George Rader and Dr. W.L. Luck.
The frame structure was torn down in 1922 and the present structure (what we now call, the old church) was erected at a cost of 5,300 dollars, plus the donated work by the people of the community. The church was paid for, leaving no debt hanging over the members. Dr. O.M. Morris, H.B. Baker and W.O. Duvall were the principal leaders in erecting of the new church building. The church got a new Delco light system in the 1930s. It was a Delco motor system with 25 batteries, about the size of a big auto battery which was arranged with 12 on a top shelf and 13 on a bottom shelf. The top shelf had a white ball which would go down to the bottom, thus indicating when a charge was needed, at which point the motor should be started. The motor ran on kerosene but needed to be primed on gasoline. It furnished 32 volts of charge and the building was wired for light bulbs.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Mrs. Audris (Jessie) Conder, mother of Joseph and Glenn Conder, from the Stanford area, and Mrs. Thelma (Jones) Tribbey, granddaughter of W.O. Duvall, for whom Duvall Rd. was named for, played the piano regularly for the church services.
Members of the church have paid tribute to Prof. Ernest Linton, of I.U. Faculty. He ministered nine years in succession, always contributing his own salary toward the new building and was the first to purpose the erection of the new building. The news item material was gathered by S. H. Anderson (Sam Anderson). An additional article, supplied by W.F. Ferguson (a member affiliated for 40 years with the church), gave information that four governing officials deserved attention for the support they gave to the South Union Church. They were: Elder Jacob M. Carmichael (1838-1906), Paris Koontz, Mac Rush and John H. Koontz. They were born, married, reared families and were laid to rest near the little country church they loved.
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