Columns of Will Ball
Martin M. Post was born in Cornwall,
Vermont in 1805. He was a graduate of
Andover Theological Seminary in 1823 and in December, 1829 he arrived in
Logansport. He remained here until his
death in October of 1876, aged 71. He
was the earliest example in northern Indiana of the “circuit rider.”
The writer has finished reading an
interesting book, “The Riverton Man” by Rev. Martin Post of Atlanta,
Georgia. The book is a piece of
historical fiction. The author was the son
of Rev. Martin M. Post, the founder of the first Presbyterian Church in
A cause of irritation is that the book’s
locale is on the banks of the Wabash and Eel and the characters are supposed to
be the pioneers of Logansport, but the names used are all fictitious and no
clue is given as to the identity of the characters. Who, for instance, is the person the young
preacher John Goldwin (actually Rev. Post) stopped with that bleak Christmas
evening in 1829? The author calls him
Col. Grandee and portrays him as a self-important individual. Was it actually Alexander Chamberlain, Gillis
McBean or Cy Virgus, who had taken over Washington Hall? John Tipton appears as “General Tupper”. He is the only one the writer is able to identify.
But this is not intended as a review of
a 54 year old book but as a sketch of the missionary who came to Logansport on
Christmas day in 1829, making it his home for the rest of his life.
After his ordination, he came west,
partly overland, partly by water. He
arrived at Madison on the Ohio River, coming from that place to Logansport. He found here an unchurched community. A Methodist circuit rider had visited the
place a time or two but so far as the records show, he had made no effort to
organize a “class” as the first small groups of the members of that
denomination were called.
He found two residents of the town who
were Presbyterians—Mrs. Mary Wilson and her daughter Joanna Smith, the latter
later becoming the mother of a young woman who captured a rising attorney,
Pratt Baldwin, nephew of Senator D.D. Pratt.
He had come to Logansport to practice law with his famous uncle.
So after getting his bearings, he
arranged for a prayer meeting in the seminary, the only brick building in the
county, on the northeast corner of 4th and Market and the meeting of
the sort was held in the little school house on Thursday evening, January 30,
1829. In May of 1830, a Sunday school
was started. In 1836, his Sunday school
boasted 125 attendees.
He started his church on Jan. 22, 1831
with 21 members However, he never
confined himself to the territory between the two rivers. Far and wide he rode, over to Miamisport
(Peru), to Marion, to Michigan City and many points between; he rode on
horseback through the woods.
We neglected to mention who gave us the
book the “Riverton Minister”. It is the
property of Glenn Linneman, 1400 Smead, enthusiastic collector of items related
to Logansport’s past. We mentioned to
him that we lamented that it gave so few clues as to the identity of the
characters who lived in the village. We
mentioned our wonder especially as to the identity of the innkeeper who first
gave Rev. Post shelter. We guessed three
of the men who, to our knowledge, were innkeepers then but we guessed wrong.
Miss Mary Shultz, another ardent
collector of things of local historical interest, has a paper written by Mrs.
Mary Post Ely, oldest daughter of Father Post.
Mrs. Ely says that the innkeeper was General Nicholas D. Grover; one of
Logansport’s pioneers and a man of much ability. We did not know that he was ever an innkeeper. He had a sadlery shop on the south side of
Market Street, west of the alley between Second and Third Streets. His brick residence adjoined his frame store
on the east. This old building stood
until just a few weeks ago. It was
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Drompp for some time before it was torn down.
Dr. Post spent the rest of the winter
boarding at the tavern. The next he
spent in a one room cabin with a family of eleven. In the woods at the top of the hill where Dr.
Post built a two story frame house, this served as his family’s home for nearly
fifty years. It was on the south side of
Broadway just west of Seventh where the parking lot is now.
The home of Nathan Aldrich, one of the
pillars of Dr. Post’s early church, occupied all of the half block at the
southwest intersection of 8th and Broadway, except for the small lot
covered by the little two story, brick residence at 719 which was torn down a
year or two ago.
True, the Broadway frontage was all
taken up by the two homes. But we overlooked
the livery stable that faced 8th Street on the back end of the
lot. It was a frame building. In a rather dilapidated condition when we
knew it, and it was operated by Emanuel Clem, one of Logansport’s pioneers,
who, like the building, was then showing the ravages of time.
It is probable that this stable was
simply a building instituted for the neighbors who maintained their horses and
buggies but who did not care to be bothered with the job of acting as
hostler. Such men as Moses Frazee who
lived on the northeast corner of 8th and Market; Harry Frank across
the street further up Market; and Dr. B.C. Stevens, his next door neighbor.
Frazee was one of the early dry goods
merchants of Logansport. His store was
at 418 Broadway, according to Ebel’s Directory of 1883 but we believe had been
located across the street, at or near 417.
Still earlier he was senior partner in the firm of Frazee and Williams,
located on Market between 4th and Bridge, according to Talbott’s
Directory in 1859, which listed the establishment as a general store.
Harry Frank, another old timer, had a
clothing store at 309 Fourth St. The old
time directory gave his name as Herman.
He had a son, Harry, another named Sam and two daughters, Isabelle and
Ten years of earnest effort on the part
of Dr. Post had established not only the town congregation but several country
churches as well. About the middle of
the 1830’s, a doctrinal squabble developed in the Presbyterian denomination
that threatened to wreck it and caused divisions in congregations all over the
land. It struck Logansport and the
congregation divided. Father Post chose
to follow the liberal or New School group and, with his supporters, managed to
hold on to the church property. That
was, most probably, the original frame building at about 517 Broadway.
Mrs. Ely describes the old church: “The old church on Broadway below 6th
was a white frame building with a modest cupola in front and stood back 100
feet or more from the sidewalk. An
avenue of locusts led up to the wide wooden steps and platform before the
door. At your right as you entered was a
big iron stove which would take in cordwood, on your left were the raised seats
for the choir. The office of sexton was
hereditary in the preacher’s family. My
five brothers held it in succession—when one went to college the next in line
stepped in and so added something towards the expenses of his education.”
“In winter it was necessary to get up
early and start the fire before breakfast if the church was to be warm. Foot stoves were needed for the comfort of
the women. I remember well standing by
and watching the glowing coals drawn out from the stove to fill up tin boxes
and have them in the pews before church began.”
“The minister’s family sat in the front
seat with no sheltering pew to hide the restless legs and arms of the
children. Dr. Faber and his wife
occupied the pew in the ‘Amen Corner’ in front of us. The ‘Amen Corner’ contained extra pews
usually a little shorter than those in front of the speaker which were placed
at right angles and made the occupants face the preacher’s side. This usually brought the occupants a little
nearer to the speaker and was therefore a favorite spot for those with
Mrs. Ely remembers Mrs. Henry Chase,
mother of Judge Dudley H. Chase and grandmother of Mrs. Mary Chase Stewart, who
used to appear at Dr. Post’s church wearing a blue merino suit. Mrs. Ely said she was truly “a marked
figure.” Mrs. Ely mentions other members
of those old time congregations. “I
remember distinctly the flowered ivory fan that Mrs. Faber used to wave and my
rapture when she allowed me a brief use of it.”
Mrs. Faber was the wife of Dr. Revel Faber. They lived on Spencer Street just east of the
Logansport Lumber Company.
“The family of Elder Samuel Gibson sat
in the pew behind us. I think there were
five daughters in the family. One of
them married S.T. McConnell, another Dyer B. McConnell. I can still see the row of them in their
Sunday bonnets with their mitted hands crossed in their laps each with an
immaculate folded handkerchief.”
In 1832 Father Post went east to Homer,
New York and brought back a wife, Lucretia Hobart, from her home there. Says Mrs. Ely: “They came up the Maumee by ox wagon and
pirogue propelled by a pole. Three sons
were born to the Posts: Truman, who died
in infancy, and Martin and Aurelian Hobart.
When Martin was five and Aurelian was two, Lucretia died.
Logansport had school from the very
beginning. The town was laid out in
April of 1828 and in September of the same year the leading men of the
community took a subscription to start a school. There were probably no public schools
then. But, says Mrs. Ely: “my five brothers were fitted for college at
home with little dependence upon the schools of the town.” Girls, as a rule, did not go to college
then. “My father taught us Greek, Latin
and my mother was always ready to help us with our studies. The hour after noon dinner was chosen as
recitation hour as being least liable to interruption. I can see my father now in the big rocking
chair, softly whistling to himself has he unraveled some intricate sentence for
us, never content until we had dug down to the last root of the word in
question. When he took the reader from
us and read some passage from Milton or Bryant, he would comment ‘that is fine
There were seven children in the Post
family, five boys, the two by the first wife and three more by the second wife
and two daughters by the second. The
second wife was Eliza Breed, a native of Keene, N.H., who Dr. Post met in
Granville, Ohio when he was on his way to visit his mother in the summer of
Post stopped in Granville, Ohio to spend
a few days with Dr. Jacob Little, pastor of a church there and he met Miss
Breed, then teaching in a seminary for young women in that town. On his way back to Logansport again, having
arranged in advance, via mail, for the young teacher to come with him, and
confine her teaching to the lonesome little boys in the parsonage. She seems to have been an admirable mother to
the two little ones she found waiting for her when she arrived, as well as the
five who came later.
Mrs. Ely says about her: “she had by nature an enthusiastic
temperament which all hardships of pioneer life could not crush. The mother of five children, the stepmother
of two, she was never too busy to take her hands out of the bread pan to point
out to us a word in our Latin dictionary or to share our delight in a new found
wild flower. She was of slender
frame. I think she was always the
mainspring of family life, guarding jealously my father’s hour of study, yet
finding time for parish calls, for her young women’s Bible class, and for all
the various activities of her position.”
Father Post relinquished his active pastoral
relationship with the town church in 1865 or 1866 but continued to serve the
rural congregation in an informal way for several years. He died on October 11, 1876 and is buried in
the old 9th Street Cemetery.
No information was at hand regarding the life of Mrs. Post after he
Logansport Press, December 9, 1951
Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April,
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