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St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church, Bristol, Indiana
St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church was founded in 1843 and originally called "St. John's." Its name was changed in the 1960s because there was another St. John's in Elkhart County, and Bishop Klein felt that the two similar names were confusing. St. John's is the only parish in the diocese founded almost entirely through the efforts of a lay woman, Ann Jennette (Burnham) Judson. Such a role for a woman was an unusual occurrence in the 1840s.
Ann Jennette Burnham was born in Auburn, New York, on 29 April 1807, the daughter of Captain John Burnham and wife Barbara (McCarty). Her father had been an officer in the Continental Army who was imprisoned by the British during the war and later became a sea captain. Jennette married Samuel Parsons Judson, a widower, in Batavia on 28 July 1833. Samuel Judson became interested in purchasing land in the West, and in 1834 settled with his wife in Elkhart County, where he laid out the town of Bristol. The couple was active on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape to Michigan. In 1847, a group of slave catchers from Kentucky broke down the front door of their home and seized a fugitive named Thomas Harris. When the Judsons confronted them, they were threatened with guns. The Judsons brought charges, and the men were imprisoned while Harris was freed and made a successful escape. In 1849, Samuel formed the Bristol California Mining and Trading Association and launched an expedition to the gold fields of California, dying en route near Fort Laramie of cholera.
During these years Mrs. Judson was determined to establish an Episcopal Church in Bristol, the first of its kind of any denomination in the town. The congregation was organized on 25 April 1843, and land was purchased under the names of her husband, along with Thomas Wheeler, Henry H. Fowler, and Edward A. Lansing as trustees. Plans were drawn up for a church, and Bishop Jackson Kemper arrived to lay the cornerstone on 29 December 1843. The Rev. Richard S. Adams, missionary at Mishawaka, conducted services every third Sunday beginning in July 1843, but he left in April 1846 and was succeeded by another missionary, the Rev. Benjamin Halsted, formerly of Fort Wayne.
Between 1845 and 1851, members of the congregation constructed the small wood-frame church slowly at what is now 601 East Vistula Street. Construction funds were surprisingly tight, and it took great effort to complete it. Mrs. Judson began reaching out for support and enlisted Bishop Kemper for help. After informing him of the planned organization of the parish in 1843, Kemper replied, "I rejoice at your perseverance and pray that it never flag. The divine Head of the Church, in His own good time, will help those efforts which are put forth to the glory of His Holy name."
Kemper wrote a letter of introduction for the fund raising effort in December 1843, and Albert Royce, a vestryman, managed to raise just $12.25. Undeterred, Mrs. Judson made a personal visit East the following year to meet with friends and solicit additional funds, but the building was still not finished in May 1848, when Kemper managed to conduct a service within its open frame. Mrs. Judson embarked on a second trip, and the bishop wrote her another letter of introduction: "The zeal of this lady for the House of God, and her anxiety to receive for her children and neighbors the sacred privileges of the Sanctuary, deserves the approbation and encouragement of all the well wishers of our beloved Zion." Bishop Samuel McCoskry of Michigan also wrote a letter, saying: "I know of no place in which the Church has greater claims upon Churchmen than at Bristol. There is no place of worship of any kind in it, and the possibility is that if Mrs. Judson is successful in her mission, the larger part of the population will be brought into the Church."
Mrs. Judson wrote later that she visited Buffalo and New York City, as well as other intermediate cities and towns. An unidentified priest, writing in the parish register, noted of Mrs. Judson's efforts: "It was new work to her experience, but, as results will show, not beyond her large and generous capacities. It was a work, too, brought with many disappointments and annoyances and must prove especially so to one of her refined sensibilities; all these things she was willing to endure for His sake, for whose honor and glory she was chiefly anxious to have a temple erected." In 1850, after a third trip east, she brought back $2,222, enough to finish the building and purchase a bell for $180.
Bishop George Upfold consecrated the building on 8 May 1851. The wood-frame building resembled a New England church, with painted wood sides and a simple steeple. St. John's first permanent rector, the Rev. Homer Wheeler, had arrived two years earlier in 1849, and since he had a family, he had insisted that the vestry provide him a parsonage near the church, where a cemetery (or "churchyard") was also located. Land was purchased and eventually a Greek Revival house was erected. Mrs. Judson left town about 1855 and lived for many years in New York. She returned in 1875 to see the church one last time and died a decade later in Chicago in the home of her daughter.
After the vestry bought and sold two different lots for the rectory, they constructed a more permanent building about 1875 during the rectorate of the Rev. Wellington Forgus. A series of rectors, all of relatively short duration, served the parish in the ensuing years until the arrival of the Rev. Henry Streeter and his family in 1907. He had formerly served at Gas City but left because of his growing deafness. He remained at his post as a resident priest for 10 years, and his hearing problems did not hamper his ministry. His family would remain members of the parish. During the 1950s, the Rev. Bruce Mosier served as a part-time priest, moving back and forth between St. James Goshen (where he served as its full-time rector) and Bristol. Mosier was a native of Bristol and had grown up as a member of St. John's.
The Rev. Donald D. Dunn arrived in 1966 and remained five years. An English professor, he taught at Ball State University during the week and conducted services on Sundays. During his successful rectorate, the parish expanded its classroom buildings, the money for which was given as a memorial to the Rev. Henry Streeter. The addition allowed room for a Sunday school that attracted many new families, including some from the Elkhart area. In 1980, during the rectorate of the Rev. John Henry Morgan, a resident priest, the parish was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and received a visit from Bishop Tinsley of Bristol, England.
In 1994, during the rectorate of the Rev. Shelby Scott, the church was renovated and enlarged, changing it in some respects from its original appearance but making it more accommodating for modern liturgy. Scott also led the parish on a mission trip to Honduras, prior to the renovation, where they built a church for a local congregation. In more recent times the parish has been served by two women, the Rev. Carol Fleming and the Rev. Jennifer Coe Fulton.
Richard Samuel Adams, 1843-1846
Benjamin Halsted, 1846-1848
Homer Wheeler, 1849-1853
Albert Bingham, 1855
Almon Gregory, 1858
William Henry Stoy, 1858-1859
Henry M. Thompson, 1859-1862
Joseph Adderly, 1863-1866
Henry M. Thompson, 1867-1871
Wellington Forgus, 1871-1876
Moses Clement Stanley, 1877-1881
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1881-1885
Joseph Gorton Miller, 1885-1888
Franklin White Adams, 1889
Charles Turner, 1889-1892
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1892
Walter Scott, 1894-1900
Addison Alvord Ewing, 1900-1901
Clarence Estelle Brandt, 1901-1907
Henry Stephen Streeter, 1907-1917
Elton Hoyt (deacon), 1919-1920
Edwin Ellsworth Smith, 1920-1921
Walter Jay Lockton, 1921-1933
Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, 1935-1937
Virgil Pierce Stewart, 1937-1939
Harvey Livermore Woolverton, 1939-1941
Dom Leo Kenneth Douglas Patterson, 1941-1945
John Peterson, 1945
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1945-1948
Charles Ray Boswell, 1950-1951
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1953-1965
Donald Duane Dunn, 1966-1971
Robert Manning Maxwell, 1971-1973
Hugh Steiner Hostetler (assistant) 1972-1973
Paul Menzies Ross, 1973-1976
William Evans Martin, 1976-1978
Richard Joseph Brown, 1978-1979
John Henry Morgan, 1979-1990
Shelby Hudson Scott, 1990-1996
Timothy Merle Ljunggren, 1997-2004
Richard Wineland, 2005-2010
Carol Fleming, 2011-2014
Jennifer Coe Fulton, 2014-
Ron Kaser, St. John's, Bristol: A Parish History. Bristol, Indiana: Bristol Banner Books, 1989.
Papers and Letters Concerning the Founding of St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church (formerly St. John's Episcopal Church), Bristol, Indiana, 1842-1855, Consisting Chiefly of the Papers of Mrs. Ann Jennette (Burnham) Judson (1807-1885). Fort Wayne: Allen County Public Library, undated.
Parish Register (History Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials), 1843-1966
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St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Howe (formerly Lima), and Howe Military School
The Episcopal Church in LaGrange County can trace its origin to 1834, when Bishop Philander Chase, formerly of Ohio and later Bishop of Illinois, visited Lima from his home in Gilead, Michigan. He held services for nine local Episcopalians and preached. Between that time and 1851, no attempt was made to establish a parish, though itinerant Episcopal priests, including the Rev. Henry W. Whitesides, would visit occasionally due to its proximity to the Michigan state line.
A church called St. Mark's was organized formally in the spring of 1851, forming a vestry and inviting the Rev. John O. Barton of Wisconsin to become the first rector. Barton, a Nashotah graduate, held services on the second floor above the Williams store in Lima. In July 1852, the congregation laid the foundation for a simple church edifice using a plan designed by W. R. West, architect of Cincinnati. John Badlam Howe and James Blake Howe, local residents and sons of an English-born Anglican priest in Boston, gave most of the funds for its construction. The new church, a small rectangular wood-framed chapel nicknamed "the little brown church," was located on the south side of Defiance Street. Its length stood parallel to the street and had a steeple with a bell on its east end. The yard surrounding the church was enclosed by a fence, and inside was a crystal chandelier providing light. It included a small organ which James B, Howe played.
After Barton resigned and moved to Lafayette, the Rev. Albert Bingham arrived in May 1853, and two months later the church was consecrated by Bishop Upfold on 28 July 1853, with Barton returning for the service. Bingham left in 1855, and the Rev. Henry C. Stowell arrived for a few months in the spring before returning to New York. Bingham then returned to Lima but died four years later after the church had experienced considerable growth.
Several rectors of short duration followed. The Rev. Wellington Forgus of New Jersey assumed the rectorship in 1868 but moved to St. John's, Bristol, in 1874. His daughter Sally is said to have improved the church's choir during this period. Bishop Talbot ordained two priests, the Rev. F. R. Cummings, a former Presbyterian, and the Rev. Abraham Gorrell, a former Methodist, in 1870. In 1876, the Irish-born Rev. Samuel C. M. Orpen arrived, beginning a period of active ministry. Under his leadership the parish established St. John's Mission in LaGrange, which became a separate parish two years later but eventually folded. One writer recalled that Orpen was "a splendid worker among the young people of the village and made the church with its religious and social activities the very center of the lives of those who were privileged to have a part in it." Orpen built a large Sunday school class, baptized 35 and sponsored 39 confirmations during his rectorate.
In 1883, John Badlam Howe died, leaving $18,000 for a new church in Lima dedicated as a memorial to his family. Orpen led the congregation in raising additional funds and broke ground for a new building in July 1884 on land formerly owned by the Presbyterian Church. The new building was larger and constructed of wood and brick in a cruciform shape. It was consecrated by Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker on 21 May 1885. The LaGrange Standard called it "a substantial brick building, artistic in design and graceful and harmonious in proportions."
Howe had also left money for a church school, leaving thirteen acres and $10,000 toward a school for boys to study for the ministry. The money was left in trust to the Bishop of Indiana until $50,000 could be raised. After Bishop Knickerbacker deliberated, a new school, the Howe Grammar School, opened in September 1884.
Under the Rev. Dr. Charles Nelson Spalding, Orpen's successor, the former brown church on Defiance Street was moved to the campus to serve as a chapel for the boys, while Bishop Knickerbacker acquired additional 30 acres two miles west of the school. Beginning in 1890, the grammar school became Howe Military School, offering drilling, officer training, and military instruction for the boys who attended. By 1894, a former graduate, Warren William Holliday, was made Commandant of Cadets.
On 28 November 1902, school leaders laid the cornerstone of St. James Chapel, designed by architect John Sutcliffe and given in memory of James Blake Howe, John B. Howe's half-brother. It was modeled after the chapel at Magdalene College, Oxford, with ornately carved pews that faced the main aisle. An unsubstantiated tradition holds that a student did much of the carving work in exchange for tuition at the school. The chapel was completed in four stages and included a crypt below for members of the Howe family and future bishops of the diocese. A transept was added in 1909, the Mother Chapel in 1914, and bells in 1915. Stained glass windows with the images of bishops look down at the scene. At the time, most of these figures had blank faces, which were to be painted in when new bishops were elected.
Under the leadership of the Rev. John Heyward McKenzie, who became rector of St. Mark's in 1895, the school grew substantially with an influx of students and the construction of more classroom buildings. McKenzie attempted to hold worship services both at the chapel and at the parish in Lima, but by 1908, the task of maintaining both churches proved impossible. The older church was decommissioned, and all services at St. Mark's were moved to the St. James Chapel on the Howe campus. Indeed, the town of Lima would change its name to Howe in 1910 at the insistence of a railroad line because of confusion with Lima, Ohio. McKenzie died in office in 1920 and was praised as a far-sighted leader.
Howe School continued to grow under McKenzie's successors. The Rev. Charles Herbert Young headed the school from 1920 to 1933. The Rev. Robert J. Murphy arrived in 1934 and held many leadership positions in the diocese. During his tenure in 1955, the chapel was resurfaced with Indiana limestone to bring it into harmony with other campus buildings. In 1960, All Saints Chapel, a separate facility, was constructed on the Howe campus for use by its cadets. Murphy retired in 1968, and several priests followed, including Theodore Sirotko, Richard Curtis, George Minnix, and Philip Morgan.
Howe Military School flourished for more than a century. The bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana served on its board of directors, and the two entities enjoyed a close relationship. However, by the twenty-first century, declining enrollments forced the school to curtail many of its operations. The relationship between the school and the diocese became strained and ended in 2016. Three years later in 2019, the school officially closed its doors. St. Mark's continued to hold services at St. James Chapel on the Howe School campus until 2016. Afterward, the parish moved to a building the parish owned at 709 Third Street in Howe. Built in the 1940s, it had been used formerly as its parish hall. It was remodeled to include both worship and hall space. In its sanctuary, the parish uses the original altar of St. Mark's that had formerly been stored in the crypt of St. James.
Anne Wade Haglind, A History of St. Mark's Parish, Howe, Indiana (undated typescript).
Raymond R. Kelly, Here's Howe: The First 100 years. (Indianapolis: Raymond R. Kelly, 1984).
Karen Yoder, Historic Howe: The Philomaths of Howe, Indiana (Kearney, Nebraska: Morris Publishing, 2014).
St. Mark's, Howe, Marriages, 1896-1912, typescript
John Oliver Barton, 1851-1853
Albert Bingham, 1853-1854
Henry Cook Stowell, 1855
Albert Bingham, 1856-1858
William Henry Stoy, 1858-1859
Henry M. Thompson, 1859-1867
Wellington Forgus, 1868-1874
Samuel Campbell Montgomery Orpen, 1876-1885
Charles Nelson Spalding, 1885-1895
John Heyward McKenzie, 1895-1920
Charles Herbert Young, 1920-1933
Kenneth Owen Crosby, 1933-1934
Robert James Murphy, 1934-1968
Theodore Francis Sirotko, 1968-1970
Richard Arthur Curtis, 1971-1974
George Myers Minnix, 1974-1986
Philip Morgan, 1986-2000
David Yaw, 2000-2010
Michael Thomas Fulk, 2010-2015
Rachel N. Evans, 2016
Beverly Collinsworth, 2017-2018
Paul Wheatley, 2019-
St. John's Episcopal Church, LaGrange
St. John's Mission was founded by Bishop Joseph Talbot of Indiana in 1872. Little information exists about its formation, and none of its records have survived. The Rev. Wellington Forgus, a missionary who held the pulpits of St. Mark's, Howe, and St. John 's, Bristol, may have been the organizer. The mission continued to be served by priests at St. Mark's. In 1882, when the Rev. Samuel C. M. Orpen was in charge, the mission had just twelve families with only four communicants. Although it was still listed as a mission when the diocese was founded in 1899, it had ceased to operate years before that.
Rev. Wellington Forgus
The Rev. Wellington Forgus was born in 1818 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. He married Anna Evans in Chatham, New Jersey, on 14 May 1842. He was ordained to the priesthood in Burlington on 6 June 1858. He settled in Howe, Indiana (then called Lima) in 1868, and became rector of St. Mark's Church. He remained there until 1874, but in 1871 served concurrently at St. John's Bristol, where he remained until his death on 18 October 1876 in Lima, where he was buried.