Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Thomas-Santo Tomas Episcopal Church, Plymouth

In October 1856, the Rev. Almon Gregory, rector of St. Paul's, La Porte, arrived in Plymouth and began conducting "house services" as an Episcopal missionary. He led the first service on 19 December 1856, when fourteen people gathered in the Presbyterian Church for a sermon. He promised to return once a fortnight, holding later services at the home of Joseph Westervelt. This first congregation was still not formally organized and had no lay leadership. Bishop George Upfold visited the town in 1858, 1860, and 1861, confirming several persons and encouraging Gregory's efforts. On 23 March 1861, the congregation finally organized officially as St. Thomas Episcopal Church with the election of Gilson L. Cleveland and A. O. Packard as wardens, and Charles Palmer, Thomas McDonald, and John G. Osborne as vestrymen. Other early leaders included Mrs. Sarah Westervelt and John C. Cushman.

During these formative years the congregation gained the support of Henry C. Carter of New York City, who donated a lot on Center Street for the building of a chapel in May 1860. The vestry raised funds to build the small frame church at a cost of $10,000. The first Eucharist was celebrated on 27 June 1860 in the Presbyterian Church; the second was held in November 1860 and the third, the first in the new chapel, was celebrated by Gregory on 3 April 1861. The Rev. Louis Tschiffely arrived in October 1861 and became the parish's first resident priest. Through his efforts, he secured from Henry Carter a donation of the church's first communion set. By 1865, 73 families attended.

The parish struggled to find permanence in the years following the Civil War. Both Episcopal clergy and adequate funding were in short supply. Between 1865 and 1870, the Rev. William Lusk, a Presbyterian minister, supplied the parish and performed baptisms and marriages, but he was not able to celebrate the Eucharist. After his departure the parish called several priests who stayed only for a few years. In 1877 the Rev. John Jacob Faude arrived in Plymouth, and under his able leadership the parish built a rectory at a cost of $3,500 in 1881. For several years Faude conducted services at both Michigan City and Plymouth before resigning the Plymouth charge and moving to Michigan City to become its rector, remaining there until 1890 and returning to Plymouth for a brief stint between 1889 and 1890.

Services continued in the chapel until 1905, when the congregation outgrew it. During the tenure of the Rev. Walter S. Howard (formerly dean of the cathedral at Michigan City), the parish built a new edifice of Indiana limestone designed by local architect Jacob Ness and located on the southern part of the lot at the corner of Adams and Center streets. Bishop White consecrated it on St. Thomas Day, 21 December 1909. A few years later the old church was moved and remodeled into a parish hall. Among the priests who served during these years was the Rev. Benjamin F. P. Ivins, who later became Bishop of Milwaukee.

After World War II, the congregation suffered financially, and the building fell into poor repair. The Rev. William Cordick, who had become rector in 1916, retired in 1940 after a 24-year rectorate. After several pastors served short tenures, Bishop Reginald Mallett ordered the Rev. William Sheridan, then at St. Paul's Gas City, to become rector in 1947. It marked the beginning of a 25-year pastorate, during which the parish grew and gained distinction. The building was extensively restored under his leadership. Sheridan also became chaplain of nearby Culver Military Academy. He remained rector until he was elected bishop in 1972, the first bishop chosen among the priests of the diocese. After his retirement, he returned to Plymouth and became a member of the congregation. In the 1990s under the leadership of the Rev. John Schramm, St. Thomas developed a strong ministry with the local Hispanic community and began offering Spanish-language services. Schramm also led several mission trips to Honduras in the 1990s to build churches and do community work. Later, under the rectorship of the Rev. Thomas Haynes, the parish became known under the dual name of St. Thomas-Santo Tomas to better reflect the diversity of the congregation.

Almon Gregory, 1856-1861
Louis Phillippe Tschiffely, 1861-1865
Richard Leo Ganter, 1865
William Lusk, 1865-1870 (Presbyterian supply)
John Portmess, 1870-1871
Samuel Johnson Yundt, 1872-1873
James N. Hume, 1874-1875
Andrew Mackie, 1876-1877
John Jacob Faude, 1877-1886
Thomas Byron Kemp, 1886-1889
John Jacob Faude, 1889-1890
William Wirt Raymond, 1891-1902
Walter Simon Howard, 1902-1910
Benjamin Franklin Price Ivins, 1910-1913
Samuel Winfield Day, 1913-1916
William John Cordick, 1916-1936
Charles Delano Maddox, 1936-1939
Edward Lemuel Roland - 1939-1941
George G. Shilling, 1941-1943
J. Bradford Pengelly (supply), 1944-1945
James Savoy, 1946-1947
William Cockburn Russell Sheridan, 1947-1972
James Gossett Greer, 1972-1976
Gregory Brian Sims, 1976-1981
John Schramm, 1982-2013
Thomas Erskine Haynes, 2013-2019
Bernadette Hartsough, 2020-


Marshall County Historical Society, History of Marshall County, Indiana (Plymouth: Marshall County Historical Society, 1986), p. 27.

Parish Registers:

First Book, 1857-1871: Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, Confirmations, Visitations, History, Sponsors

Book 2, 1872-1890, History, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials

Book 3, 1892-1910, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials

Book 4, 1909-1956, Communicants, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials

Book 5 [marked as Book 1], 1956-1977, Communicants, Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, Confirmations, Index

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