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Article for Indiana Conference Historical Society January 2018

 

A HISTORY OF INDIANA UNITED METHODIST CHURCHES

The Indiana United Methodist Historical Society and M.T. Publishing have joined forces to publish an all new commemorative book featuring a brief history of the UMC in Indiana and the histories of individual United Methodist Churches in Indiana.

United Methodist Churches are invited to submit a 500 word history and a photo to be included for free in this publication. For more information on how to submit information, please visit http://mtpublishing.com/index.php/soon/a-history-of-indiana-united-methodist-churches-689.html#.WlZDsqinGUk. UMC Churches not submitting a history will only be listed by name in the back of the book. The deadline for submitting a church history is January 19, 2018.

Article submitted from FUMC on January 19, 2018
by:  Harold Morgan, Church Historian

Mount Vernon Methodist Church History

     The first Methodist church in Mount Vernon can be traced back to 1815 when Thomas Templeton arrived in Mount Vernon, Rev. Templeton preached services on the public block near the present First UMC facilities. In 1819, townsfolk built a community church and school building across the street from the present First UMC.

     The English-speaking Methodists built a church building at Fourth and Mulberry streets in 1839. The German-speaking Methodists built a church at Fourth and Locust streets in 1848, the two Methodist churches were one block from each other.
  
     In 1821 the English Methodist Church founded the Templeton Cemetery. In 1860 the German Methodist Church founded the Bellefontaine Cemetery as a dedicated place to bury their deceased members. (The Jewish residents formed their cemetery adjoining Bellefontaine.) Bellefontaine grew to be the largest cemetery in Posey County.
  
     The Mount Vernon English and German Methodist churches and the St. Matthew Catholic Church served as cholera hospitals during the 1873 Mount Vernon cholera epidemic, there were at least 74 deaths listed from the cholera. (This is the largest single cholera outbreak and death total in the Tri-state. Hundreds of Wabash and Erie Canal workers died over several years.) In 1884 both Mount Vernon Methodist churches nurtured convicted killers John Anderson and Zack Snyder, both age 18, and their families. Both were legally hung on the Mount Vernon Jail yard on January 25, 1884 for the robbery and murder of 19-year old James Vanweye.

The Southwest Indiana Methodist Conference was held in the Mount Vernon Methodist churches in 1888. The German Methodist church built a new sanctuary at Fourth and Locust streets in Mount Vernon. German speaking churches and societies across America began to decline after WW1, most were merged by 1933.

     Civil War General and Indiana Governor Alvin Hovey died in the governor’s office in Indianapolis in 1891. (The Alvin Hovey family were lifetime Methodist church members.) The “funeral train” stopped at several towns between Indianapolis and Evansville. Large crowds visited the casket in the court house in Evansville and 10,000 attended the funeral in Mount Vernon. (Said to be the largest crowd in Mount Vernon history.) Passenger trains made continuous trips between Evansville and Mount Vernon to transport Hovey funeral participants.

     The English-speaking Methodists built a church on its present site at Sixth and Main streets in 1905, Bishop McCabe preached the first sermon in the new church. First Methodist and St. Paul Methodist churches merged on October 12, 1933. The St. Paul church building became a parish and public meeting house. The two Methodist churches merged with a wedding ceremony of both congregations.
 
     The First Methodist Church built an educational wing in 1951. A new sanctuary replaced the 1905 sanctuary in September 2, 1958, Bishop Raines preached the first sermon. A new educational wing was opened in 1980, Bishop Alton dedicated the new building. The Susanna Wesley school and nursery opened in 1981. The Wesley Hall recreational and gymnasium facility was opened in 2004.

498 words
Mount Vernon First UMC
Harold Morgan
hmorgan@evansville.net
812-838-1959
Shirley Metcalf, Church Secretary
812-838-2640