Old Friends Churches in Van Wert County

Last week I wrote about the Friends (Quaker) churches in northern Mercer County, as described by Gregory P. Hinshaw in his Brief History of the Churches of Van Wert Quarterly Meeting of Friends (Quakers).

Today, again using Hinshaw’s history, the Friends churches in neighboring Van Wert County.

This past week we took a little road trip to photograph some of those Van Wert County Friends churches but we did not have much success finding many of them. I had much better luck in Mercer County, probably because I know more about Mercer County and have more Mercer County resources here at home. However, I do not think there are as many old Friends’ meetinghouses that remain in Van Wert County as there are in Mercer County.

We found three Friends Churches in Van Wert County and one of those was not even on my list. We found it when we saw a sign in Van Wert directing us to it, otherwise we would not have known about it.

Van Wert, Ohio. (2021 photo by Karen)

Van Wert County’s Old Friends Churches of the Van Wert Quarterly Meeting:

Antioch Chapel Friends Church, Pleasant Township, Van Wert County. (2021 photo by Karen)

Antioch Chapel Friends Church was organized in about 1881, a year after some Methodists tried to transfer their building and memberships to the Society of Friends but were blocked by their M.E. pastor. The next year [1881] they organized as Pott’s Corners Regular Meeting under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting. Services were first held in the Pott’s Corner Schoolhouse, one mile west of the present site at the corner of Van Wert-Willshire and Richey Roads, 5 miles southwest of Van Wert (Pleasant Township). Services were moved to a Methodist church 3 or 4 years later. The current meetinghouse was dedicated in December 1891 and they changed their name to Antioch Chapel. Antioch Chapel Monthly Meeting was set up in 1923. The meetinghouse was remodeled in 1912, 1952-53, 1968-69, 1970-72, 1876, 1981, and 1984. [The sign on this church currently says Hope Chapel Friends of Hope.]    

Bethel Friends Church was organized before 1885 and an attempt was made to revive the meeting in 1905. A meetinghouse was completed in 1885, located near Black’s Crossing at the northwest corner of Section 12 (Union Township), 1 mile south and ½ mile west of Scott. [We drove around Section 12 and on Grove Church Road but did not see a church.] 

Black Creek Friends Church was established in May 1889 under Friends Chapel Monthly Meeting. A meetinghouse was completed that same year and was located near Murfreesburgh, Ohio. [I have not heard of Murfreesburgh and have no information about it.]

Delphos Friends Church was organized in 1879-80 as a Sunday School at Delphos. Van Wert Monthly Meeting granted a preparative meeting in 1880 when a meeting place was located, but it is not clear if this ever happened.

Friendstown Friends Church was established by 1897 and met in a schoolhouse. It was probably located in Van Wert County, likely under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting.

Middle Point Friends Church was set up in 1878 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting and a meetinghouse was completed in Middle Point in 1878. In 1880 their membership was 183. Middle Point Monthly Meeting was set up in 1881 and was laid down in 1891. Middle Point Preparative Meeting was again attached to the Van Wert Monthly Meeting but was laid down in 1909 and the meetinghouse was sold.

Mount Pleasant Friends Church was set up under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting in 1880, with a membership of 50. Services were first held in a schoolhouse eight miles west of Van Wert and two miles northeast of Convoy and later northwest of Convoy, probably in Section 9 (Tully Township). A meetinghouse was built in 1883, located northeast of Convoy in Section 25. By 1903 the congregation moved to what is now the intersection of U.S. 30 and Payne Road in Section 14. The congregation was laid down in 1937 and the meetinghouse was razed during the construction of U.S. 30.

Prairie Creek Friends Church was established in 1892 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting and was located nine miles north of Van Wert and three miles west of Scott (Union Township). The congregation was laid down in 1897. [We drove all around Section 10 but did not see a church.]  

Prodigal Home Friends Church was set up before 1880 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting, named Prodigal Home at the request of a 70-year-old member. In 1880 their membership was 57. A meetinghouse that would seat 300 people was completed about 1879-80 and was located 6 miles southeast of Van Wert, in the southwest quarter of Section 32 on McCleery Road (Ridge Township). Their meetinghouse was destroyed by a storm in 1920 and the congregation was laid down. A cemetery was associated with the meeting but it is not clear where it was located.

Prospect Friends Church was established before 1884 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting and was probably located in Van Wert County. A preparative meeting was established in 1888 but nothing more is known about this church.  

Trinity Friends Church, Van Wert. (2021 photo by Karen)

Trinity Friends Church, Van Wert. (2021 photo by Karen)

Trinity Friends Church was established in 1916 when several members withdrew from the First Friends Church in Van Wert and formed the Central Friends Mission, now called Trinity Friends Church. [This church is not detailed in Hinshaw’s history and is the church we found by accident. It is associated with the Ohio Yearly Meeting.]

Van Wert First Friends Church. (2021 photo by Karen)

Cornerstone, Van Wert First Friends Church. (2021 photo by Karen)

Van Wert First Friends Church was organized by 32 people in 1873 under the Union Monthly Meeting of Friends, Miami County Ohio. A preparative meeting was established in 1874 and the Van Wert Monthly Meeting was set up in 1875, with a membership of 594 in 1880. This was the first Friends congregation in this area of Ohio. In 1873-74 a frame meetinghouse was constructed near the corner of Central Avenue and South Franklin Streets in Van Wert and was dedicated in 1874 by David Douglas. The meetinghouse was enlarged in 1878 and repaired in 1903. The present meetinghouse was built in 1908-09, was dedicated in 1910, and the original meetinghouse converted into a parsonage. A couple year later the yearly meeting laid down the Van Wert Monthly Meeting, attached the membership to the Rockford Monthly Meeting and took over the meetinghouse, but reestablished the Van Wert Monthly Meeting in 1918. First Friends church divided in 1916 when several members withdrew to form the Central Friends Mission, now Trinity Friends Church. [There is a white frame home south of the church, right of the church in the above photo, but I do not know if that is their parsonage or if it is the old meetinghouse.]

Van Wert, Ohio. (2021 photo by Karen)

Waltz Friends Church was set up in 1891 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting. Members met in Waltz Schoolhouse, located in the northwest corner of Section 10 (Union Township). Nothing else is known about this congregation although it may have been the predecessor of the Prairie Creek Meeting, which was organized in the same neighborhood the next year.

West Van Wert Friends Church was organized about 1888 when a preparative meeting was set up under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting. A meetinghouse was built in 1888 in the northwest part of Van Wert, 1½ miles west of First Friends Church. The congregation was laid down in 1897.     

Zion Friends Church was established in 1879 under the Van Wert Monthly Meeting, with 57 members in 1880. The congregation took over a building that was originally constructed by the New Light Christian Church, located 4 miles northwest of Van Wert and 1 mile north of the railroad, on Liberty-Union Road, in the southeast corner of Section 33 (Union Township). The congregation was laid down in 1897. [We drove around Section 33 and on Liberty-Union Road but did not see an old church.] 

Main source of information: “A Brief History of the Churches of Van Wert Quarterly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)” by Gregory P. Hinshaw, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005.

 

2 comments

    • Michel Lorquet on May 8, 2021 at 1:52 am
    • Reply

    It’s fine to read and discover all this history…

    But, the most surprise is the name Van Wert… It’s a typical European and even Belgian name. Here, in our vllage we have a big Van Wart family…

    World is really small…

    Friendly.

    Michel.

    1. That is very interesting. The county of Van Wert was named in honor of Isaac Van Wart, a Revolutionary War hero. The name Wart was misspelled and incorrectly recorded in a 1780 Congressional resolution. So the name was originally Van Wart, as you know it. Thanks for writing!

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