Sunday, October 10, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Mt. Zion Church has served Noble area since 1852

The following is an article that appeared in the Portland, Indiana Commercial Review on March 19, 1977, page 19.  Mt. Zion church was the spiritual home of my HALEY and allied families for many years. I've added my comments in red.


The Mt. Zion Church in Noble Township was organized in 1852, just a few years before the beginning of the Civil War.
This was about the same time Muncie celebrated the completion of the Bellefountain and Indianapolis railroad to Muncie and the same year of the first state fair held at Indianapolis.
A. Nicolai and Frederick Schumerman of St. Mary’s, Ohio circuit conducted the organizational meeting the Mt. Zion (Evangelical Association) at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian Haley.[maternal 3rd-great granduncle, brother of George J.]  The Haleys were married Feb. 25, 1846 and came to Jay County in 1850 from Ohio, where he purchased 120 acres of land.
Charter members of the church were: Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian Haley, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Houdeschell, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Wentz, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Ferner, and Catherine Young.
Daniel Ferner started a tile factory and pottery, in 1861, one of the first industries in the township.  They came to Jay County from Fairfield County, Ohio, and located on a 92-acre farm.  They lived in an old log cabin for two years, then built a hewed log house for a pottery and brought clay from Ohio to make the pottery.  This didn’t prove to be successful, so he made tile from local clay.  In 1879, he moved into a better home.  He and his wife had 11 children.
These charter members worshipped in homes and barns from about 1852 to 1855 when they built a log church.  The 20 or 25 feet square structure seated about 100.  The land was donated by C. Young.  The pews were homemade.
In 1881, the log church was replaced with a brick building 30 by 50 feet at a cost of $2,000.  Most of the labor was donated.
The bricks for the new building were made and burned by Fred Haley [son of Sebastian] in Noble township.  Henry Miller donated the sand and the lime was purchased from the Wagner Lime Kiln, near Fort Recovery, Ohio.  The church was dedicated Dec. 11, 1881 by William Yost from Cleveland, Ohio.
In the early days of the church, people often walked two or three miles to meetings.  At night, they carried lanterns.  Years later, a light plant furnished lights, and when electricity was available, the church was wired for electric lights.
In 1887, the Mt. Zion Church of the Evangelical Association had a membership of 88.  Class leaders were George W. Haley [2nd-great grandfather] and A.[August] Geggenheimer [2nd-great granduncle - husband of Sarah C. Haley] ; exhorters were William Haley [son of Sebastian] and Albert Graves.  Pastor was Rev. H.E. Meyers of Fort Recovery.
Among the preceding pastors were: L.S. Fisher, G.W. Holderman, B.F. Dill, J.D. Pontius.
Sunday school attendance during the 1880’s averaged 60. Adams Metzner [2nd-great grandfather John Adam Metzner] was superintendent.
The church later changed to part of the Portland Circuit.  J.E. Young served from 1910 to 1911 and W.I. Weyant of the Pittsburgh Conference filled the vacancy for two years.
In 1933, the church was re-roofed at a cost of $180.  Mt. Zion became an Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946, following a merger of the two denominations.
This church was then assigned to the Albright Circuit in 1951.
On Sept. 7, 1952, a centennial celebration was held.  Guest speakers were Rev. Reuben H. Mueller, Rev. C.W. Walmer, a former pastor, and Rev. Hugh Cobb.
In 1958, the church was remodeled by digging a basement, bracing the walls with cement pillars, and raising the floor of the sanctuary three feet.  Cost of the project was $4,000 besides the donated labor.
Later a furnace, well, water system, restrooms, and a kitchen were installed.  A tile ceiling was installed in 1960.  Since then, new carpeting and wallpaper have been added.
The church is now a two-point charge with Westchester United Methodist Church.  Rev. Larry Werbil is pastor and Earl Brumm is superintendent.
Mt. Zion church photographed by author in 2009
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