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History of Eel River Chapel

In 1841 at the home of Mrs. Jane Callahan small company met and organized a society for religious services and adopted the following as their creed:

State of Indiana, County of Miami

The Church of Christ

We the Members of said church capacity known by other name than the name of Christian, and do agree to take the Old and New Testaments for our faith, rule and practice and Jesus Christ for the man of our council and to watch over one another in the Lord for good.

And this church is known by the name of the Christian Salem Church at Eel River.

Where of, we have our names set here unto Originated Feb 21, 1841, by Elders Abraham Sneathen and John Adkins.

Name of charter members: Margaret Reed, Fannie Branaman, Nancy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Payne and Rebecca Stroud.

Meetings were held at the home of Mrs. Jane Callahan. Her home stood a short distance west of the present church. Meetings were also held at the home of Elijah Cox, and also at the home of Thomas Skinner and Margaret Reed, Twelve Mile.

The members of Eel River Chapel from 1841 to 1870 were:
Elijah and Cravet Cox, Jane Gallahan, Margaret Reed, Thomas and Millie Skinner, William and Fannie Brannaman, Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Stewert, Nancy Payne, Rebecca Stroud, Henry and Sarah Myers, Chandler and Julia Ann Moore, Nicholas and Catherine Myers, Samuel and Elizabeth Anderson, George Anderson, Eli Hook, Joseph Reed, William Jenkins, Barbara Repp, John and Mary Bowman, Sarah Filzjohn, William Bowman, Harriet Skinner, Dolly Jenkins, Frances Reed, Rachel Bockover, Joseph Jeffrey, Mary Austin, Polly Cottrell, Ella Bowman, Mary Jackson, Otis and Caroline Osborne, Elizabeth Paul, Ganny Moore, Nancy Reed, Mary Pierson, John and Sarah Couch, Phoebe Bailiss, John and James Payne, Richard Skinner, William Pearson, Sarah Moore, Maria Calhoun, Abraham Huling, Elizabeth Buck, John and Mary Cottrill, Nancy Bowman, Mary Long, William and Sarah Lova, John and Mrs. Davis, Thomas and Jane Whitman, Elizabeth and Milly Jones, John and Mary Johnston, John Bockover, Martha Bennet, Hezekiah and Prescila Davis, James and Elizabeth Davis, Mary Ann Davis, Elmore Simons, Harvey Bingham and wife, Smith and Buck, Barbara Cox, Mary Jane and Katherine Tillet, John, Bill, James and Margaret Reed, Mother Cromer, Morris Buckk, Sister Barrot, Sarah Pearson, Mary Jane Reed, Sarah Ellen Hoover, Nancy Jones, Miss Shortridge, Samuel and Celia Anderson, Barbara Anderson, Mary Jones, Mary Anderson, Mary and Elizabeth Myers, Jacob Cromer, John and Rachel Hoover, Mary Jane and Martha Moore, Nancy Cox, Priscilla Anderson, Elisha Buck, Price and Eliza Shortridge, Frances Anderson, Louis Helvie.

Laura Brubaker, Sarah and Barbara Brannaman, Joseph Ballom, Joseph Skinner, Rachel Bockover, John Kraning, Charles and Elizabeth Coil, Wm., Elizabeth and Nancy Olinger, Thornton Ytson, James Stevens, John Buck and wife.

The Pastors during this time were: Elders Abraham Sneathen, John Adkins, Joseph Thompson, Joel Thomas, Nicholas Myers, Peter Banta, Elder Winters, L. Shoemaker, Joseph Roberts, Thomas Whitman and Mr. Winegarden.

On February 21, 1843, the members of Eel River Chapel met at Sister Jane Callahan's and on motion, resolved to build a meeting house.

Elijah Cox, Thomas Skinner and William Anderson were appointed as a committee to procure a deed first house. The deed was given by Elijah Cox for a piece of ground where the cemetery now is. The old church stood at the west side of the present cemetery. This committee was ordered to draw up subscription papers, superintend the building of said house, etc., said house to be twenty-six feet wide, thirty-six feet long and ten feet high and to be a frame house.

When the present church was built the old frame house was sold to George Schlott, who moved it to Mexico and built a cider mill of timbers. It still stands here today.

Loyally the members worked and had the house ready to dedicate early in 1844. Abraham Snethen was the pastor at this time. At the regular monthly meeting held Dec. 26, 1946, it was resolved on motion that the Brethren at Twelve Mile become an organized church, said church to be organized in 1847. At the regular monthly meeting on Aug. 21, 1847, it was resolved on motion that we have a treasury in the church and that we circulate a subscription paper and get all subscribed that could for the support of the gospel to be paid into the treasurer and paid our quarterly on the orders of the church. On motion Henry Myers was appointed treasurer and Chandler C. Moore, Clerk. All of the records of the church from 1841 to 1859 were recorded by Chandler C. Moore, Clerk.

Among the early settlers of the neighborhood were Isaac Bond and Jesse Bond. They were always ready to help with the support of the church and they and their families were constant attendants. Isaac Bond died in 1890 and was buried in the cemetery close by. His widow who lives in Peru still owns the home place. A daughter, Mrs. Lydia Fair resides with her mother and she and her husband visit the neighborhood quite frequently. She, at one time was a teacher in the Sunday School at Eel River. Jesse Gond resides in Mexico, Indiana. His children and grand children live not very far away. Henry and Sarah Myers were strong and faithful supporter and never missed a meeting unless they were sick. Of their family Mrs. Jane Kraning, Mrs. Mary Bowman, Mrs. Kate Hurtt, Mrs. Emma Garland, Miss Julia Myers and William Myers are still living. William resides on the farm where his parents lived for a long time.

The Brannaman home was the farm owned by Milton Myers. The living members of the family are: Mrs. Sarah Car, Mrs. Nancy Brownlee, and Mrs. Maballa Conger, and a host of grand and great grandchildren.

Elder Joseph Roberts lived in the neighborhood and Samuel Anderson married his daughter. Anderson's lived on the farm known as Old Virginia. There sons, John, James, and Jackson are still living and a number of grandchildren, one of the sons still resides in the neighborhood. Nicholas and Katherine Myers, lived where Isaac Myers now lives and their old latch string always hung out for everybody.

Sometime during the 50's a conference was held at Eel River and people came a long distance in wagons, horseback and on foot.

Quite a good many came to the house of Nicholas on Saturday. There were two or three preachers among the number and the neighbors gathered in the evening and held services there. There were two rooms filled with people and the preacher would stand in the door way between the two rooms.

Those living close to the church would gather there on Saturday night for services. On Sunday morning they would hitch their horses to the wagons load in all the horses could pull and then to church. The driver would then go back after the eatables. After the afternoon services they would return to the Myers home. Services would be held there on Sunday evenings similar to those held on Saturday evening. Isaac Myers is the only on of the family still living and he resides at the old homestead. J.F. Myers widow is still living and his sons, daughters, and grandchildren are well known. One of Nicholas Myers' daughters married a Sarver and one a Bowman. I haven't time to tell more about the Myers' and Bowman's but come to our reunion to be held the first Saturday in September and I will make you acquainted with them.

Elijah Cox lived where the brick house now stands. Not any of the family is living now. Two of the Cox girls married Reed Brothers. They are lying the cemetery close by, except one, their children and grandchildren are well known.

Charlie and Riley Cox's widows are still living. They both live in Peru with their daughters. Mrs. Riley Cox's widow still owns the homestead. William Gallhan was the first person buried in the Eel River Cemetery. All his family have passed their reward, but they have left children and grandchildren, one of them Grant Gallahan, who together with his wife is a staunch, devoted member of the church.

Kendell E. West became pastor of the Eel River Church in . It was during his pastorate that the present church was built. On. Feb 2, 1881. (Just 38 years to the day), from the other meeting in 1841.

A meeting was called for the purpose. R.G. Cox was appointed chairman and the following paper was drawn up.
We the undersigned, do agree to pay the sum annexed our name for the purpose of building a brick church for Eel River, the building to be built to the committee's orders. The church is to be opened to any religious denomination when not occupied by the Christian's. The church is to be controlled by the Christian denomination. The amount is to be paid in three installments. The first when the building is commenced, the second when the roof is on and the third when the building is finished.

On motion the secretary was ordered to get suitable books in which to keep the subscription list and other business of the church. On motion Of Henry Myers, Nathan Gallahan, and Thornton Tyson Ware appointed finance committee, with C. G. Cox assistant. On motion of Jesse Bond, R.E. Dean and J.F. Myers were appointed, building committee. Of these seven men only two are living, Jesse Bond and R.E. Dean and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jesse Bond for the deed he gave of the ground on which the present church stands.

Rev. West assist ably in the building of the church. He was well liked and his preaching drew large crowds. The Christian Church suffered a great loss when he was called away. The church was dedicated early in Dec, 1881. The Dedicationary sermon by Rev. Fowler and Rev. West was the preacher.

I joined the church in 1883, Rev. S. McNeeley, of Tiosa assisted by Rev. West in his revival meetings that winter.

Today's meetings brings to mind old friends, among Benjamin Gable and family. How I love to recall the many visits at their home. No matter where you went you were cordially welcome. Eel River will never have more willing nor loyal workers than this family.

Another family I recall is Jacob Erb and family who lived by the old mill. We always enjoyed a visit there and their time and money were willingly given to the church when we needed it. Another fact I recall is when Jordan Swindler, Benj. Gable, William Myers, Frank Alspaugh, William Bowman, Wilson Garland would drive up to the church door each with a carriage load. Ah, those were the happy days, but they are gone and past and we can't readily recall the faces of dear departed ones. Prominent among those was Mrs. Kate Newman. She was admired not only her kind loving disposition, but for her lovely voice. Her singing was a pleasure to herself as well as to her friends. She loved to sing and she was always ready to help in any good work with both hands and voice.

Another one to be remembered was Nellie Myers Gallahan. She always had a kind word and a pleasant smile for everyone. She was the organist for the church and Sunday School and she loved to play and do all she could in the cause of Christ.

What tender loving memories the names Rev. and Mrs. Stricklan bring to our minds. How we did love them at Eel River, not only for preaching, but for their singing also and we always think of them as the sweet singers. They always came with kind words and pleasant smiles for everyone. They preached for us for sixteen years. Other preachers we have listened to were Rev. W.D. Daniel, J.C. Rupe, David Hyda, Mr. Vance, and O. McGreely, all excellent preachers.

Our present pastor Rev. C.E. McCoy needs no words of praise, his excellence is plainly visible, and appreciated by all who know him.

Conference was held at Eel River Chapel ____ and 1904. The first Sunday School was organized in 1889 with Grant Gallahan as superintendent and Hattie Reed (now Mrs. F. Myers), organist which she filled until 1896. Other superintendents were: Mr. Reese, Oliver King, Frank Myers, Wilson Garland, Sadie Myers and Mrs. Milton Myers.

Later additions to the church are Sarah , Nellie, and Jennie Myers. Julia Myers, John & Sadie Myers, William and Cora Myers, George and Eva Myers, Lavina, Frank, and Iva Myers, Jordan and Amanda Swindler, Nathan, Mary, Grant and Albert Gallahan, George, Arthur and Rosa King, Wilson and Emma Garland, William Wolf, Caroline Cox, Riley and Elizabeth Cox, Addie, Laura and Ottie Gable, Clark and Martha Edward, Richard, Elizabeth, and Mary Gallahan, Kate Anderson, Harry Anderson, John and Emma Rush, Eva Hooks, Tudi Grimes, Jacob, Kate, Florence and William, Erb, John and Sarah Julian, Minta and Frank Reed, Mahala, Ida and Hattie Reed, Ora and Jennie Tyson, Emma Hoover, Wallace Brown, Hattie Jones, Hattie Tillett, Montgomery and Mona Branaman, Jane and Amanda Sarver, John Kraning, Will and Lou Moore, William and Lucinda Alpach, Emma and Sadie Alspach, Frank and Phoebe Weaver, Pearl Britton, Lottie Sager, Riley and Lydia Bowman, Daniel and Emma Bowman, Amanda Anderson, David Wallace, Oliver, Martha and Marion Reese, Cora Personette, Laura Reed, Belle Hunter, Willard and Kate Ault, Isaac Ault, Harvey and Rebecca Sofer, George Yoder, Elmer Leffell, Etta Newman, Sylvia Cox, Frank, Allie, Carl and Lillie Alspach, Edward and Amanda Bowman, Maggie Roberts, Millissa Myers, Milton and Della Myers, Ray and Alice Myers, Bessie Ward, Oliver and Cora King, Milton, Carter and Bertha Garland, Grace Myers, Blanch and Hattie Myers, May Anderson and Edna Angle, Clarence Bowman, Austin Bowman and Majorie King. These include all that have every been members of Eel River. The present membership numbers fifty. How many of the list are sleeping in the cemetery close by and do we appreciate what they have done for us in erecting this beautiful house of Worship. I fear not.

We can show them reverence by constant attendance to church duties and by making the cemetery a beautiful spot instead of a home for weeds and ugliness.

Let us strive to keep up the church and cemetery and make them a lasting monument to those loyal, brave hearts who founded them.

Letters from the former members of the church read by Mrs. Milton Myers as follows:
From W.H. Deniston of Rochester, IN, who enclosed $5.00 for aid society, from Hattie and Roxie Myers of Colorado Springs, CO, from Mrs. Pat Grabill of Roanoke, VA, and from Jesse Bond of Mexico, IN and from Emma L. Isenberg of Huntington, IN.

Taken from Peru Republican
Peru, Indiana
July 15, 1910

Written by Mrs. John Myers

Grant & Rose King Gallahan

Willard & Ella (Alspaugh) Bowman
W. Milton & Della (Spencer) Myers
John & Sarah (Rayburn) Myers
George & Eva (Gallahan) Myers
Frank & Hattie (Reed) Myers
J. Fred & Lavina (Bowman) Myers

Oliver & Cord (Alspaugh) King
Jordan & Amanda (Myers) Swindler

William & Arabella (Alspaugh) Myers
Frank & Allie (Bowman) Alspaugh
Wilson & Emiline (Myers) Garland

Hester Balsbaugh reminisces concerning the Eel River chapel as follows:
The church membership was made-up of Myers, Bowman, and others living in the community near the church. The above drawing with names of families show where they lived from the church building in the early 1900's. The conference written about in the history of the Eel River Chapel was well attended. Those who lived too far away came by train or inter-urban and then taken by wagon to the church. Hester recalls Jordan Swindler driving a three seated hack to provide transportation to those who needed it.

As the families grew up they drifted away. Willard Bowman's family left in 1906 and went back for awhile before going to New Waverly church. Frank Alspaugh went to Nead. Later when Cora and Oliver King and Will Myers moved to Peru. Others stayed in their homes as long as they could.

The funeral services for the William Boone family in 1919 and the funeral of Mrs. John (Sarah) Myers in 1920 were the last services held in the church.

This rural church was west of U.S. 31 on Road 300 N near the Cass County Line across the road from the cemetery. After regular services were discontinued in the early 1900's the building was damaged by vandals and razed.

Miami County History - Brant and Fuller (1887) page 663 - Eel River Christian Church - meeting house built in 1843 - neat frame house of worship costing $600.00 - on the land of Elijah Cox. Used 39 years - replaced by a brick building erected in 1881 costing $2800.00. In 1867 the membership was about 90. Page 669 - The Eel River graveyard at Eel River Chapel was laid aside for burial purposes as long ago as 1838 or 1839.

Henry Myers, his wife Sarah (Thornburg) and all nine of their children are buried in Eel River Cemetery beside other Myers and Bowman relatives. Therefore this history of Eel River Chapel is very much a part of Myers and Bowman History.

History of Eel River Chapel
Transcribed and Submitted by Kim Edgerton
Updated 17 January 1998

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