Baptisms at the Reformed Presbyterian Church: 1838-1859

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, has a number of items relevant to the history of Monroe County.  Among those items is Session Book 2 for the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation at Bloomington.  This book covers the period from 1838 to 1860 and includes a list of baptisms from January 1, 1838.  A digital image of the book is available online at http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15078coll29/id/1549/rec/3.

presbyterian
Bloomington’s Reformed Presbyterian Church, c. 1900,  at Walnut and S. Third.  Courtesy photo IU Archives.

Like other church records, the session book is valuable because it shows church business, church membership, when people joined the church and how; resolution of disputes and actions taken against church members who did not follow church policy.  Some deaths were noted, for example, Dorrance B. Woodburn reportedly departed his life on October 23, 1856, at the age of 70 years, two months and seven days.

As of September 26, 1858, according to information from Session Book 2, the whole number in the congregation was 100.  Baptisms at the church, which were written as a single list in Session Book 2, are noted below and shown in in order of appearance:

  • June 10, 1838—Margaret Small, infant
  • July 8, 1838—Sarah M(illegible) Tate
  • October 1, 1838—Margaret Keeny, infant
  • June 16, 1839—James Hervey Keeny, infant
  • August 25, 1839—Jane Small, infant
  • May 11, 1840—Elizabeth Louise Matilda Wylie, infant
  • May 11, 1840—Joseph Small, infant
  • May 11, 1840—William John Dinsmore, infant
  • May 11, 1840, Thomas Craig Woodburn, infant
  • September 27, 1840—William Wallace Tate, infant
  • May 31, 1841—Elizabeth Jane McQuiston, infant
  • May 31, 1841—Andrew McKinley
  • November 14, 1841—Jane Small, infant
  • February 6, 1842—Sarah Ann Keeny, infant
  • May 2, 1842—Richard Dennis Wylie
  • May 2, 1842—Andrew Dinsmore
  • October 16, 1842—Alexander Cathcart Small
  • February 25, 1844—Amelia Elizabeth Galletly
  • June 23, 1844—Jane Dinsmore
  • September 30, 1844—Martha Jane Blair
  • September 30, 1844—Margaret Wylie
  • September 30, 1844—James Thomas Campbell McKinley
  • May 3, 1846—Euphemia Blair
  • May 3, 1846—Martha Jane Keeny
  • July 19, 1846—Susan Emma Wylie
  • August 30, 1846—Margaret Jane Blair
  • November 8, 1846—Matilda Ann Galletly
  • April 4, 1847—Theophilus Wylie Densmore
  • May 23, 1847—Laura Adelaide Woodburn
  • February 27, 1848—Joseph Stewart Alexander
  • February 27, 1848—Rebecca Wylie Alexander
  • February 27, 1848—Rachel Almira Alexander
  • June 18, 1848—Nancy Jane Small
  • June 18, 1848—Theophilus Morrow Glenn
  • June 18, 1848—Edward Graham Glenn
  • August 20, 1848—Mary Margaret McQuiston
  • August 20, 1848—James Francis Blair
  • May 6, 1849—Walter Emmet Woodburn
  • May 13, 1849—Helen Rosana Stormont
  • August 21, 1849—Samuel Brown Wylie
  • May 12, 1850—Matilda Hannah Dinsmore
  • May 12, 1850—James Niel Blair (Emma Blair’s name is written in a different color ink to the side of James)
  • March 16, 1851—Sarah Adeline Glenn
  • June 15, 1851—William Hill Blair
  • December (no date given), 1851—Elizabeth Amelia Stormont
  • October 11, 1852—Theophilus Andrew Wylie; (No date given, written below Theophilus Wylie)—John Robert Blair
  • April 16, 1855—William Riddel Small
  • April 16, 1855—Ida Lizzie Woodburn
  • April 16, 1855—Franklin Stormont (No date given, written below Franklin Stormont)—Hannah Elizabeth Blair
  • June 15, 1856—William Theodore Blair
  • November 30, 1856—Zenas Leander Stormont
  • June 28, 1857—James Albert Woodburn
  • August 7, 1859—Louisa Margaret Stormont

For more information about Monroe County churches, check out the church files at the Monroe County History Center.

Bloomington Hitchrack Survives a Century of Controversy

Blog post by Randi Richardson

hitch rack
The hitching rack is shown in the foreground of the old courthouse; fencing is noted in the background but in front of the steps.

There’s no doubt about it.  The hitchrack surrounding the court house square was controversial.

Oh, not at first, when Bloomington was yet a village, the streets were dirt and the merchants few.  Folks came to town on a horse or in a buggy, occasionally a team of oxen, tied up to the hitchrack and were pleased with the convenience.  Never mind that the streets were fouled with animal droppings.

But then the population grew, as did the number of merchants and those people who came to town to visit the merchants.  The amount animal droppings increased accordingly creating a great accumulation of filth and a terrible infestation of flies around the square and the old rack.  This prompted the Women’s Federation Club of Bloomington to take action on behalf of the community.  They put together a petition signed by over 100 leading citizens in which it was stated that the hitchrack was not only a nuisance but a serious threat to good health.  The petition was presented to the State Board of Health and an order came to the county in September 1897 that the rack had to be removed.

It was the farmers who were most agitated by the order, and the commissioners were in sympathy with them.  The merchants needed the business.  So did the town.  An order ultimately was issued by the commissioners that the rack was not to be removed until the matter could be heard in court.  And when the matter was eventually heard, the commissioners were the favored party.  The racks did not come down, but some improvements were made.  It was paved with bricks and a man employed to help keep the area around the hitchrack clean.  And for a while the controversy died down.

In September 1907, in the months previous to the completion of a new court house, the hitchrack was again a matter of controversy and addressed with renewed vigor.  The commissioners wisely, or perhaps not, indicated the controversy would be decided by a vote in the upcoming general election.

For a relatively brief time the hitchrack was removed.  When the old court house was razed in 1907 to make room for the new one, a large part of the hitchrack was taken down to enable the contractor to do the work.  The rack consisted of more than 1000 feet of chain passed through iron posts anchored to blocks of stone set deeply in the ground.   Again the local Council of Women took action.  They encouraged the City Council to make other provisions for the farmers so as to prevent the rack from being restored.

hitch rack 2
The new courthouse with a new hitchrack.

When the voters went into the polling booths in November 1908, they were handed a ballot for the hitchrack.  A big majority voted to retain the hitchrack around the new courthouse.  Mostly it was the farmers, not too surprisingly, in favor of the rack while the city people seemed to ignore the matter.

The County Council opposed the rack and hoped they could prevent the commissioners from restoring it.  In defiance, the Monroe County commissioners went to Martinsville to consider the purchase of a new rack.  When word of that got out on the streets, the anti-hitchrack people started making arrangements to get an injunction against the rack as soon as a single man with a spade and post was sighted going in the direction of the courthouse.

Indignant that the hitchrack had not yet been replaced, farmers threatened to vote the county “wet” at the upcoming local option election in 1909.   Additionally, they promised to take their business to Bedford or Martinsville if there was no rack.  In response to that threat, the County Council said if the rack went back up they would enforce an old ordinance forbidding wagons to stand in the public square for more than an hour.

In the months to come, those on either side of the controversy ended up in court—City Council vs. County Commissioners.  Judge Wilson rendered a decision for the latter and, in an act of retaliation against the City Council for having brought the suit, the commissioners ordered the city to vacate their leased offices in the court house.

Indeed, the rack went back up.  Of course by then, automobiles had been introduced.  Not many, but just a few.  In 1917 it was arranged that livestock would be judged on the ever present hitchrack as part of the county’s agricultural fair.   By then the streets on all sides of the square were paved with brick, and buggies and horses shared the streets with Chevys and Fords.  Slowly but surely the need for the hitch rack diminished until, eventually, it was not needed at all.  And yet it remained as a reminder of the past.

In late 1936 a decision was made to provide bus stops on the square with restricted parking zones.

Once the zones were established, patrons of the buses would be required to stoop under the unused hitch rack to reach the walk around the courthouse square.   So everyone finally agreed that the hitchrack must go.  And it did.

Sources:

  • “Old Hitchrack Stood 27 Years as Monument to the Temperance Cause,” Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, January 13, 1937, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, March 3, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, May 7, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bedford (IN) Daily Mail, June 9, 1909, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Evening World, January 20, 1917, p. 1.
  • Bloomington (IN) Daily Telephone, December 7, 1936, p. 8.

 

AIRPORT SKATING RINK DESTOYED BY FIRE

Blog post by Randi Richardson

airportfireOn the afternoon of September 27, 1951, the Airport Roller Skating Rink and a small residential home utilized by the rink for storage were completely destroyed by fire fanned by a brisk wind.  The rink, which measured about 110×60 feet, was located two miles west of Bloomington.  It was owned by Ernest Baldwin who previously owned and operated the airport and later converted it into a skating rink.

Baldwin had been working at the roller rink an hour or two before the fire broke out but gone to the Veterans Airport building.  From there he sighted smoke billowing from the rink structure.  He immediately returned to the rink and was able to save some skates but little else due to the intense heat.  Four dogs were in the building when the fire started; three perished in the blaze.

Although it was determined that the fire started in the furnace room, the exact cause of the fire was not known.   Estimates to replace the building are put at $20,000, significantly more than the $5,000 of existing insurance coverage.

Later that same day the Bloomington Daily Herald Telephone reported the story on page one.  The article was accompanied by two pictures. A clipping of the article is available in the vertical files at the Indiana Room, Monroe County Public Library and on microfilm.

 

 

CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS: CO. 542, MONROE COUNTY, INDIANA

Blog post by Randi Richardson

CCC
Members of CCC Camp 7 in Castella, California, engaged in an extracurricular activity.

By the time the Civilian Conservation Corps program ended in 1942, some three million men, including more than 63,000 Hoosiers had worked in more than 2,000 camps throughout the 48 states and the U. S. possessions of Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.   There were 56 CCC companies in the State of Indiana.   Workers constructed the camps they lived in.   Each camp had approximately 200 male workers in racially segregated accommodations.  Eight of those 256 camps were for African Americans.

Indiana’s first CCC camp was established in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest in northwest Monroe County about 1933.   It was identified as Co. 542 and consisted of young men of color.  Despite the fact that racial discrimination in the CCC was initially prohibited, by 1935 people of color lived and worked in segregated camps managed by white leaders.  Because space in CCC programs for people of color was limited to ten present of those recruited, those accepted considered themselves especially fortunate.   Of the 3,000,000 men enrolled in CCC camps, only about a quarter of a million were African-American.

Members were paid $1/day and sent $25 per month home to support their families.  They worked in forests around Bloomington, likely in both the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood, reducing fire hazards (most likely clearing brush) on 775 acres, clearing 100 miles of roadsides, fighting forest fires, improving forest stands, building truck trails, erecting dwellings and other structures and clearing a 10-acre campground.

Men in the CCC worked from eight to five, Monday through Friday and were granted six days of leave between enrollment periods.  They enrolled for a period of six months and could then choose whether or not to reenlist for another six months eventually serving up to two years.   On the weekends, buses took members to Bloomington or Columbus since the nearby village of Nashville did not welcome blacks.

It wasn’t all work for members of the CCC, however.  Young men also learned valuable trade skills and attended classes on a variety of topics including mechanical drawing, typing, foreign languages and art.   It is estimated that some 57,000 illiterate men learned to read and write in CCC camps.

On June 19, 1935, the Indianapolis (IN) Recorder published news of a baccalaureate service held for members of Company 542 who received certificates for meriting satisfactory grades in academic courses.  The event was said to be well attended by visitors.  That same article noted that a dance “in the form of a class prom” was held in the camp recreation hall, the company baseball team played its first game with a French Lick independent team, and the “minstrel show and jug band” of Company 542 entertained in Martinsville where they were “heartily received.”  On September 28, 1935, the Recorder indicated that Bennie Mason, a middleweight fighter of Co. 542, fought six rounds with “Tiger” Williams of Bloomington, Indiana.

Some 25 or 30 members of Company 542 visited the Silver Slipper Night Club in Terre Haute late on Friday, July 26, 1935.  Felton Lyles, Bob Jones, Paul Webb and James Bolton, the only four known members of Company 542, were among the party goers.  They arrived on a “great big cattle truck,” “hot, dry and thirsty” to join a big crowd gathered at the nightclub to see female impersonators.”

It seems likely that Company 542 either disbanded or relocated sometime in late summer or early fall 1935.  The Ellettsville (IN) Farm on September 19, 1935, reported that unofficial news had been received indicating that the “negro CCC camp north of Dolan” may be moved by October 1, although camp members were heavily engaged in soil erosion work and many farmers had applied for soil erosion aid from the government to be done by CCC members.   Online efforts to locate the Company 542 after 1935 have not been successful.

As noted earlier, information about particular CCC companies, including the one in Monroe County, is quite sketchy.  Little is available at the Monroe County History Center or the Monroe County Public Library.  Much of the information about Company 542 is from The Life and Times of Felrath Hines:  From Dark to Light written by Rachel Berenson Perry, former curator of the Indiana State Museum.   Hines, a native of Indianapolis and a professional artist, was the first African American man to become a professional conservator for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C.  Berenson’s book details the life of the artist and his work.  Soon after his graduation, Hines was enrolled in Company 542.

For more information about the CCC specific to Indiana, view the library holdings of the Wells Library at IU—Bloomington, the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Historical Society.

Sources:

  • Rachel Berenson Perry, The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Dark to Light (Bloomington IN:  IU Press, 2019) pp. 41-45.
  • James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss, Hoosiers and the American Story (Indianapolis IN: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014), p. 242 caption.
  • Indianapolis (IN) Recorder, July 27, 1935, p. 13.

In Search of Gold: Isaac Owen in the Land of Gold and Opportunity

Blog post by Randi Richardson

gold
Isaac Owen’s obituary was published in the Ft. Wayne (IN) Daily Ledger on February 12, 1866.

Rev. Isaac Owen, missionary of the Methodist Church, arrived in California in September 1849. After passing through Sacramento without stopping, they continued west toward San Francisco.  On September 23 they camped in Grass Valley.  It was there that Isaac stuck his cane in the soft ground, hung his hat on it and used it as his pulpit for his first sermon in his adopted state.

From Grass Valley the wagons carried the Owen family to Benicia on San Pablo Bay.  They were eight in all, Isaac with his wife, five children and a colleague, Rev. James Corwin.  It was upon his arrival in Benicia that Isaac learned he had been appointed to Sacramento.  The journey that seemed never ending would require him to backtrack over the path he had recently traveled.

Owing to the exhausted condition of his faithful oxen, Isaac decided to ship most of the wagons’ contents up the river to Sacramento by schooner.  With much lighter wagons, he could make good time to Sacramento and be on hand to receive the cargo upon the schooner’s arrival.  Unfortunately, however, he had no need to hurry.

schooner
Old time schooner from the files at Library of Congress

The boatman in charge of the schooner became inebriated during the course of his journey and in a drunken state ran the vessel on a shoal causing it to capsize.  All of the schooner’s contents were lost in the river including those of the Owen family, all the possessions they had hauled safely across 2,000 miles of wilderness.  Upon arrival in Sacramento as strangers in a strange land, the family had only the clothes upon their back.  They had no home and no money excepting $150.

Isaac found housing in the land of gold and opportunity at a premium.  An unfinished room at Sutter’s Fort rented for $100 per month.  The Owen family took shelter there but one week.  Rather than seeking financial support from the Methodist church conference in order to continue their stay, Mrs. Owen, true to the missionary cause, suggested the family live in a tent until a house could be built.  So Isaac went to work and constructed a tent out of the remains of the family’s old wagon covers and a few bed quilts.  When completed, the tent measured eight by ten.  There the eight resided for about four or five weeks until Isaac could build a church and one-room parsonage from lumber sent from Baltimore.  During this time Mrs. Owen supported the family mostly by the proceeds of the milk of two cows brought from Indiana.

On January 11, 1850, in Owen’s first official communication from California, he noted the cost of a few staples:  flour, $30-40 per barrel; salt pork, $30-40 per barrel; potatoes, 25-40 cents per pound; butter $1.25-1.50 per pound; milk, $1 per quart.  That same quart of milk in today’s dollars would cost $30.49.

By that time of that communication he was living with his family in the parsonage, according to information published in the Danville (IN) Weekly Advertiser on April l6, 1850.  Isaac noted that first sermon in Sacramento was preached on October 27, 1849, under an oak tree and 40 people were convinced to join the new church.

horse
Circuit riding ministers of an early day were often called “saddlebag preachers.”

A month later Isaac’s youngest child, a two-year-old daughter who was yet a babe in arms when the family left Indiana, became sick and died.  Mrs. Owen, worn down by hardship and toil, was so shattered by the death that she never really recovered from the effects of the bereavement.  She was a quiet, pious, sensible woman but from the time of her arrival in California was but a wreck physically of what she had been in the days of her sunshine and hope.

Elizabeth Owen died August 19, 1864, and was buried in the Mission City Memorial Park Cemetery.  Isaac, missionary of the Methodist Church, died on February 9, 1866, and was buried by the side of his wife and near several of his children.  In the years prior to his death, during his sojourn in California, he built a parsonage and a church, established the first church in Stockton, California, was a founding member of the University of the Pacific, was the first “presiding elder” of the California Methodists, was superintendent of Methodist churches and traveled into practically all settled portions of California along trails of coast and mountains.  What an illustrious career for a man of simple means with roots in Monroe County, Indiana!

 

Sources:

William Taylor, Story of My Life:  An Account of What I have Thought and Said and Done in My Ministry of More than 53 years in Christian Lands and Among the Heathen (NY:  Hunt & Eaton) 1895, various pages.  Viewed online at https://archive.org/details/02281208.emory.edu/page/n3 in 2019.

 

 

IN SEARCH OF GOLD: ISAAC OWEN’S JOURNEY WEST

Blog post by Randi Richardson

wagon
Wagons from an unidentified wagon train making camp.

After agreeing to accept a commission from the Central Board of the Methodist Church to serve as a missionary in California during 1849, Isaac Owen of Monroe County, Indiana, began placing ads in various newspapers soliciting individuals who might want to travel West with him as part of a wagon company.  The following ad was published in the Spencer (IN) Republican, January 27, 1849, p. 8:  “The Bloomington, Indiana, company bound for California will leave Bloomington February 20, 1849, spend Sabbath the 25th of February at Terre Haute, Indiana, and rendezvous at St. Joseph, Mo., April 23, at which time and place all persons wishing to join the company will please report themselves to the undersigned with the necessary outfit.  The outfit will consist of one strong, two-horse wagon and three yoke of oxen, or an equal team of mules, to four persons, suitable camp utensils and a suitable supply of provisions.  Each adult male must have one good rifle gun and a good supply of ammunition, a suitable supply of clothing for the journey and a suitable supply of medicines.  After the company leaves St. Joseph, Mo., mutual aid will be given to each other.  Good moral character will be required of all applying for admission into the company with satisfactory assurances that the Sabbath will be observed when practicable.  –Isaac Owen”

On February 20, the day of the departure, arrived, Rev. Isaac Owen and his party of emigrants took their leave from the Bloomington Methodist Church.  The wagons, all laden and ready for starting, assembled at 10 AM and spent an hour in religious exercises.  Each emigrant was presented with a bible by the Monroe County Bible Society, and the company took up the line of march for the Land of Promise.  About 2,000 people gathered to say farewell to their departing friends.

Unfortunately, there is no list of names of the emigrants who made up Isaac’s wagon company.  However, a few names have been discovered among various sources.  Numbered among them were:  Craven P. Hester who was a member of the Bloomington Methodist Church; Dr. B. A. Allison, William E. Taylor, E. Patrick, J. W. Archer and H. Coffey, all of Owen County; James Corwin, a close friend of Isaac’s; Noah Palmer, age 29, of Orange County; and Jonathan M. Nichols, a native of Tennessee who lived for lived for a time in Monroe County but was living in Rockville, Parke County, Indiana, at the time he left on the wagon train.

After a long and tedious journal of 500 miles, the wagon train reached St. Joseph, Missouri, on April 18.  A few more members were added to the train at that place which brought the total number to 134 beside women and children.  According to Isaac’s open letter published in the Brookville (IN) American on June 15, 1849, the group included a goodly number of church members, four Methodist preachers and one Cumberland Presbyterian.  He also reported that some members of the company made no “very great pretentions to morality.”  Consequently, certain bylaws were passed prohibiting Sabbath-breaking, card playing, gambling, swearing and drunkenness.

Isaac indicated that the train crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph on May 8 and 9 with some difficulty due to the “great press of the ferry.”  On the 12th, they were delayed because a wagon from St. Louis was stuck in a small creek where everyone needed to cross.  Twelve yoke of oxen from Isaac’s train were hitched to the wagon but human assistance was still required to free the vehicle.

Isaac penned his letter on May 14, 1849, a rainy Sabbath.  That was the same day he reportedly saw the first Indian huts on the road West.  He noted that the Indians of the region were Iowas, Sioux and Foxes and described them as poor and filthy.  Brother Corwin is said to have preached to the camp at 3 PM. Unfortunately, the rain prohibited Isaac from writing more, and his letter was hastily mailed.

If Isaac later sent more letters for publication in Indiana newspapers, none have been found.  In fact, no more was heard from Isaac until his arrival in California.

Watch for a continuation of this story in next week’s blog:  In Search of Gold:  Isaac Owen in the Land of Gold and Opportunity

Sources:

  1. Indianapolis (IN) Sentinel, March 3, 1849, p. 3.
  1. Indianapolis (IN) Journal, December 25, 1848, p. 2.
  1. Blanchard, History, 480.
  1. Owen County (IN) Republican, March 31, 1849.
  1. “1851:  Isaac Owen to Elizabeth S. (Hardin) Owen,” January 22, 1851, Spared & Shared 3:  Rescuing Family History One Letter at a Time, viewed online at https://sparedshared3.wordpress.com/letters/1851-rev-isaac-owen-to-elizabeth-s-hardin-owen/ in January 2019.
  1. Phil Brigandi, “The Palmer-Hilligass Family,” Old Orange County Courthouse:  A Centennial History (San Antonio TX:  Historical Publishing Network, 2001), p. 92.

   12. Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery, Parke and Fountain   Counties:  Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens Together with Biographies and Portraits of

IN SEARCH OF GOLD: ISAAC OWEN’S SOJOURN IN BLOOMINGTON

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, one of the most important events to shape America’s history during the first half of the 19th century.  As news of the discovery spread, thousands of fortune hunters from the United States and abroad traveled to California by land and by water.  They were known as the 49ers.  Many were men without women for the most part.  To finance their journey they borrowed money, mortgaged their property and spent their life savings.  In pursuit of the kind of wealth only dreamed of, they left their families and hometowns.  Isaac Owen was among the men who made that arduous journey, albeit with a different purpose.

isaac
Isaac Owen as pictured in the Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, May 1901.

Isaac Owen, born May 8, 1809, in Vermont, came to Indiana with his family in 1811 when Indiana was still a territory.  Initially, the Owen family settled in Knox County where, it is believed, the father died in 1824.  Afterward the widowed mother prayed that her children would be led to God.  It wasn’t long until her prayers on Isaac’s behalf were answered.

 

Isaac accepted God as his Savior at the age of 16 and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  After a time he was licensed to preach, two years later he was ordained a deacon, at the end of four years was graduated to elder’s orders and then labored as a Methodist circuit rider for a number of years.   Eventually he was called upon to raise an endowment fund for Indiana Asbury University, a Methodist university in Greencastle now known as DePauw.  He served in that capacity for four years and succeeded in raising about $63,000, an amount said to be more than that of any other man.

Sometime in the 1840s Isaac settled with his family in Monroe County.  He was there serving as pastor in about 1846 when the Methodists built a brand new church for the Bloomington congregation.  It was an early custom of the church to have a door keeper rather than a bell to call worshipers to services.  On Sunday mornings the door keeper would blow on a great tin horn to alert parishioners that it was time for church.

In 1846 and 1847, Isaac purchased property in Monroe County, eight Bloomington inlots and one Seminary outlot.  However, his sojourn in Monroe County was not destined to be for long.  After the discovery of gold in California in 1848 with its attendant heavy migration, the Central Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New York called upon him to serve as a missionary in California.

Isaac accepted the mission with gladness in his heart.  But there was no easy way to California, which was not admitted to the union until 1850.  The 49ers faced hardship and often death on the way, a distance of more than 3,000 miles.   One could go either by water or overland.  Isaac opted for the latter.  He was determined to take his wife, Elizabeth S. (Hardin) Owen, children, and other like-minded individuals as part of a wagon company led by a wagon master.  In order to organize the type of wagon company he envisioned, he began placing ads in various newspapers in the Bloomington vicinity.

Watch for a continuation of this story in next week’s blog:  In Search of Gold:  Isaac Owen’s Journey West.

Sources:

  1. William C. Smith, Indiana Miscellany: Consisting of Sketches of Indian Life, the Early Settlement, Customs and Hardships of the People, and the Introduction of the Gospel and of Schools Together with Biographical Notices of the Pioneer Methodist Preachers of the State (Cincinnati:  Poe & Hitchcock) 1867, p. 286-290.

 

  1. Rockwell D. Hunt, “Golden Jubilee of the University of the Pacific,” Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, XXXVII, No., 5, May 1901, p. 1036.

 

  1. Charles Blanchard, ed., History of Morgan, Monroe & Brown Counties (Chicago: A. Battery & Co., Publishers) 1884, p. 480.

 

  1. Monroe County (IN) Deed Book K, pp. 123, 445 and 522, Research Library, Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.

 

  1. “1851:  Isaac Owen to Elizabeth S. (Hardin) Owen,” January 22, 1851, Spared & Shared 3:  Rescuing Family History One Letter at a Time, viewed online at https://sparedshared3.wordpress.com/letters/1851-rev-isaac-owen-to-elizabeth-s-hardin-owen/ in January 2019.