Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Rev. Joseph S. Large

The Rev. Joseph S. Large was Trinity's second and sixth rector. He was born on 20 February 1811 in Buckingham Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Matthews) Large. His father was a prosperous landowner and country gentleman in an area where fox hunting was a pastime. In his early life he became a teacher  at Tyro Hall, a local boys' academy, but left his teaching position in 1840 to pursue ordination. He attended General Theological Seminary in New York City, where he became favorably disposed to many of the innovations of the Oxford Movement. He was ordained a deacon in 1841 and a priest soon afterward. He seems to have spent time in Rochester, New York, and eventually moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he met and married Caroline H. Cuming, the daughter of the Rev. Francis H. Cuming, rector of St. Mark's, Grand Rapids.

Large was married little more than a year and serving a mission at Marne when he received a letter dated October 12 from Peter Bailey, the senior warden of Trinity Fort Wayne. "Our parish is small," wrote Bailey, "but we have the hopes of a Respectable Sized Congregation when we shall be favored with one to administer to us in Holy things. We have a small church finished and paid for. We have just placed inthe church a fine toned Organ with 4 stops, which is also paid for. We have no embarrassments, being out of debt ... We are without services and are most anxious to  have the vacancy filled before the close of Navigation [on the canal], may we ask for an immediate reply, or will you at once upon receipt of this come up and see us for a few Sundays before deciding?"

The missionary packed his bags and was in Fort Wayne with his wife and daughter by mid-November. His only complaint was his salary of $200, which was hardly enough to support a family, and he suggested that the parish rent its pews or slips, a time-honored practice in the East, to raise additional revenue. The new policy allowed his salary to be doubled at $400. Large also focused on the little chapel, located on the southeast corner of Berry and Harrison. He fenced the lot and then began to draw up plans for enlarging the structure into the shape of a cross, complete with two transepts, in order to add more pews. The ladies of the church hosted a public supper in 1849, raising $150 for the project. Rockwell Lyon, a vestry member, went East to New York to raise funds, and in November 1849, he and others raised enough in the treasury to proceed. Bailey, Large, and another parishioner, Wilfred Smith, each pledged the cost of a stained glass window.

The improvements added momentum to the growing congregation. By 1850, Large was conducting two services on Sunday as well as weekly services during Passion Week. His salary increased to $500 by the end of the year, and he made a purchase from his own money for a sterling silver communion set. When the new bishop, George Upfold, visited in May 1850, he noted, "I was highly gratified in observing the flourishing condition of this parish under the faithful, acceptable, and efficient ministrations of its respected pastor."

In 1851, the parish turned its attention toward building a rectory for Large, since it was difficult for him to pay rent out of his small salary. It would not be completed, however, until 1852. He also hoped for a small school to be built on a corner of the church lot, from which he could teach classes as a way of supplementing his income.The church had begun to show some apathy by this year, and Joseph Edgerton, who would later join the church, noted in his diary that Large "does not seem to stir up people to a sense of religious duty. His stated congregation seems very indifferent on religious subjects and declines to attend church but when it is convenient." By 1854, he was ready to move on, confiding in a letter a few years before to his brother-in-law, "I am better adapted to building up a new parish than to occupy one already built up."

In 1854, Large resigned his position in Fort Wayne and took a position in a Gold Rush mission in Stockton, California. He remained in contact with friends in Fort Wayne during his years away, and his wife Caroline would write Mary Randall that the family had cut down an evergreen tree and decorated it for Christmas in their new home. Not finding California as rewarding as he had hoped, he returned to Fort Wayne in 1857 to take over summer services in the church and then took a call to St. John's Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In September 1863, when the vestry was developing plans for a new stone church at the corner of Berry and Fulton, they decided to call Large back as rector because of his knowledge in building churches.

Upon arrival Large and the vestry formed a committee to investigate the feasibility of purchasing two lots for $3,000 from S. C. Taber, which they acquired partially on credit. The parish hired Charles Crosby Miller, an architect in Toledo, Ohio, to design a Gothic Revival edifice of stone at a fee of $600. The church was estimated to cost $20,000. As the plans were being studied, Large proposed that the nave be widened to accommodate more seating.

As construction got underway, the builder, David J. Silver, faced continuing cost overruns due to the inflation brought about by the Civil War. The cost of supplies and labor was constantly rising, and at one time the contractor placed a mechanic's lien on the property, threatening to seize and sell the property if he was not paid. The Ladies Sewing Society, a precursor of the Altar Guild, agreed to lend the vestry the necessary money out of its parsonage fund at 20 percent interest. At length the building was completed in September 1866 at a cost that was nearly a third higher than anticipated. An organ built by John Marklove was installed in 1867, and the new building was consecrated by Bishop Joseph Talbot in November 1868.

Large's wife Caroline died the following year, and by the early 1870s, despite many accomplishments, some in the parish came to believe that Large was no longer an effective leader. He had spoken out against women's suffrage in a local club, and that did not win him friends among some members of the congregation. In February 1872, the vestry forced his resignation.

After leaving Fort Wayne, Large moved briefly to St. Paul's, Indianapolis, and also spent time in Michigan, serving parishes in Traverse City and a summer supply at Harbor Springs. He returned to Fort Wayne to supply the parish during the summer of 1888. He died in Galveston, Texas, on 18 April 1890 at the home of his son, Herbert, and his body was returned to Fort Wayne for burial in Lindenwood beside that of his wife. His funeral was held at Trinity, and the vestry as a body met his coffin when it arrived at the railroad station. His children would later donate a brass missal stand, candlesticks, and a reredos with a painting of Jesus as the Good Shepherd as memorials for their parents.


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