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The Columns of Will Ball


Martin M. Post


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 Logansport.


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 Blanche.

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 defective hearing.”

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 poetry’.”

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 1841.

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 died.


Logansport Press, December 9, 1951


Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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