Rev. Timothy Ball, pioneer historian, wrote the following in his 1891 book The Sunday Schools of Lake: "Perfect history has not been written, for written records made at the time the events took place may bear some traces of the imperfection of human observation, and the recollection of past events are liable to be more or less imperfect." Some of the dates for the following story may not be the same as in other historical reports, but will be close.
Ball wrote in his 1891 book that in 1840 there were no church buildings in all of Lake County, with perhaps four Sunday schools in the log schoolhouses, especially in south county. For the Lake County population of 1,468, there was one Baptist Church organization and three Methodist classes. By 1870, with a population of over 12,000, Lake County had 20 church buildings, 10 resident pastors, 40 places for religious meetings, 30 Sunday schools, and 2,500 families.
In 1890 there were 45 Sundays schools, 56 churches, 39 resident ministers, and 60 places for Sabbath meetings, with the Lake County population at 23,886.
In 1890, Eagle Creek Twp. had three "preaching places," according to Rev. Ball, but no church buildings. Services were held at three schoolhouses in the area, with Rev. Ball as pastor of one of them, and Rev. Buchanan presiding at another.
Preaching had been discontinued at the South ast Grove schoolhouse in 1889, but resumed in later years. Historian Ball wrote, "In this township there is much of the richest farming land of the county and many intelligent, cultivated, and Christian families; but for good and sufficient reasons they have, as yet, erected no church building."
In Cedar Creek Twp. there were five church buildings by 1890: The Baptist Church in Lowell, 1856, no pastor (at the northeast corner of Mill and Main Sts., demolished about 1905); the Methodist Episcopal at Lowell, built in 1870 at the corner of Main and Burnham Sts. (torn down a few years ago) with the pastor in 1890 Rev. J.J. Thompson; the Christian Church at Lowell, 1870, with pastor Rev. W.A. Hennegar, on Castle St. at the site of the present bank building on Commercial Ave.; St. Edward Catholic Church, 1869-70, a small frame building at the site of the present Lowell Healthcare Center on Burnham St. in Lowell, with Rev. Charles, A. Ganzer as pastor; and the Creston church, 1876, occupied mainly by the Methodists, the pastor at Lowell. The old frame Gothic church building is still there, near the pioneer cemetery.
About West Creek Township, Rev. Ball wrote, ". . . its only village is a part of Creston." (Schneider, North Hayden and Belshaw were not there in 1890.) He mentioned two church buildings in the township. One was the West Creek Methodist Episcopal of 1890, present building dating 1869, the earlier one to 1843, with the resident pastor of the Lowell church presiding. This building was at the site of the present West Creek Cemetery. The other church was the Lake Prairie Presbyterian, dedicated in 1872 (present building built in 1917), with Rev J.F. Smith the pastor in 1890.
Ball wrote: "The first pastor of this church, Rev. H. Wason, still resides near the church and school house in his beautiful Lake Prairie home."
There were four church buildings in Hanover Township in 1890: the Cedar Lake German Methodist, 1855, pastor Rev. A. Peters, who resided in Crown Point; Zions Church, Reformed, 1859, pastor Rev H.C. Schmidt; the Catholic Church of St. Anthony at the village of Klaasville, 1861, pastor Rev. Charles A. Ganzer, (who also rode his horse to Lowell); and the Catholic Church of St. Martin at Hanover Center (Cedar Lake), 1869, Pastor Rev. M. Zumbuelte. This last is now the congregation of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
The pioneer historian listed some of the 1890 Sunday Schools, many of them in one-room schoolhouses in the countryside: Plum Grove Union, Lowell M.E., Lowell Union, Cedar Lake Union, Robinson Prairie Presbyterian, Bruce Union (corner of Ind. 2 and Parrish), Pine Grove Union (near Sanders Cemetery), Oak Grove Union (north of Schneider), West Creek M.E., Cedar Lake German Methodist, Hanover Center Catholic (Cedar Lake), Klaasville Catholic (south of Brunswick), and the Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School.
The Jones School House, northeast of Lowell at 161st and Holtz Rd., was also used as a Sunday school. First a frame building, it was replaced by the present private brick dwelling. Many Sunday schools and church meetings, were also held in the homes of the pioneers. The Shelby Union School was organized in 1887, was still popular in 1888, but was not listed in 1890.
Rev. Ball wrote in 1890: "As will be seen in the church directory, we have built fifty-six years of Christian occupancy. We now have forty-five Sunday Schools, eight Catholic Schools, and fourteen Lutheran and Reformed Schools, in all sixty-seven schools where religion is taught. Adding to these the forty-five of the past, and we have had, in fifty-six years, one hundred and twelve Sunday Schools."
The Lake County Sunday School Union, a convention held each year, was organized at Crown Point September 1865, and the following officers were elected: Hervey Ball, president; Rev. R.B. Young, vice president; Rev. J.L. Lower, secretary; and Melvin A. Halsted, treasurer. From that time until 1890 (or perhaps later), Sunday schools from all over the county met yearly in convention at the following cities and towns: Lowell, Crown Point, Plum Grove, South East Grove, Cedar Lake, Hammond, Lake Station and Hobart.
In an article written (in that 1891 book) by Ellen Little, the following County Union Sunday School presidents were named: Judge Hervey Ball of Cedar Lake, serving as president from 1865 to 1867; his son, Timothy Ball, pioneer historian, also took a great part in the work; Rev. Hiram Wason of Lake Prairie, who held the office of president from 1867 to 1872, after coming to Lake County in 1857; Rev. R.B. Young, early settler of 1853, a circuit preacher, who served the 1872-73 term; Rev. Dr. S. Fleming, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Crown Point, president 1873-74; Judge David Turner, pioneer, representative, and State Senator, the leader 1874-75; Hugh Boyd, presiding officer from 1875 to 1877, who came to Lake County in 1865 and settled in South East Grove in 1874; John L. Worley, 1839 pioneer of Lowell, who had the honor of serving the longest term, from 1877 to 1886; A.A. Winslow, of the Hammond Methodist Sunday Schools, who was president of the County Sunday School Union from 1886 to 1887; and Cyrus F. Dickinson of Lowell, who held the position of president beginning in 1887, and was also the leader in 1890. Many of these men held other offices in the organization through the years.
Rev. Ball wrote: "The Pioneers laid foundations that are enduring. Among them were men and women of thorough education, of strong force of character: others were uncultivated but strong in religious principles; and in the name of the Lord they set up their banners."
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