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Monday, May 2, 2016

Putnamville church celebrates 175 years

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tucked away in the tiny town of Putnamville stands a historic brick structure in the same spot it has stood for the past 175 years.

The Putnamville United Methodist Church will celebrate this milestone anniversary on June 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. on the village green where the church is located.

There will be entertainment, refreshments, local folklore, memorabilia and tours sponsored by the Friends from Putnamville United Methodist Church.

For some time now, Susan Stewart has been recording the memories of fellow church members.

"The best lessons in life are learned at the knee of our elders. This is indeed true of the elders at PUMC. Members such as Georgia Sublette and Mary Berry have been associated with the church for over 90 years. They are living examples of faithfulness, responsibility, reliability and sharing," said Stewart.

She shared that at age 94, Sublette continues her position as substitute pianist and, until recently, Berry supervised the kitchen for vacation bible school. Sublette's grandfather, Lute Evens, was the Sunday School Superintendent for 35 years.

In those histories, Sublette said when asked to sum up life in Putnamville.

"It's been home. The last few years, of course, have been different because Putnamville was a thriving little town. We knew all of our neighbors and they came to church and we had our schoolhouse; it was so different than it is now. It's hard to explain how nice Putnamville was at one time," she said.

Berry remembered attending Putnamville School, which was just across the basketball court from the church. She usually rode to and from school in the horse-drawn surrey. The horses stayed in the barn near the corner until school was out.

Louise Bridges remembered Putnamville as "quite a town." She watched the 1939 construction that transformed the National Road (US 40) into a four-lane road.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church is a Greek revival structure built in 1834 at the intersection of SR 243 and US 40. It has been used continuously as a church since that date.

James Townsend, who owned the local inn, originally donated land for the church.

The bricks were made locally and the foundation stones, large stone steps and broad stones with ripple marks (that once made up the sidewalk) were from the well-known Putnamville limestone quarries west of town.

D.L. Mayle planted the hard maple trees that today still line the area next to U.S. 40.

In 1849, the church congregation split into two factions--the old and new school branches. The old school kept the building. They sold it to the Methodists in 1861 for $150 although the original cost of the building was $800.

Pioneer carpenter John Hendrix carved wooden frames as he sat in the window of his log cabin north of the church in the 1890s. They were filled with colored glass and with the financial help of friends and relatives, were designated as memorials.

The names listed above the windows include James Parks, John Perry, John Cooper, Jon Haymaker, John Jenkens, John Willis, Jane Layman, Jane Montgomery, Maggie Ford, Louisa Sinclair and Jane Perry.

"It's a very small and very family-oriented church. It doesn't matter whether you go once a year or every Sunday, people are always treated like family. We are a very simple but devout country church," said church member Susan Samsel.

The church has a long reputation of supporting its community. When long-time member Louise Bridges died three months before her 100th birthday, the church bell tolled 99 times at her death and 100 times during the memorial held on her birth date.

"We were drawn to this church community because of their love of children and acceptance of all people. They are among the most generous people I know. Support is routinely given for both local and worldwide needs," noted Stewart.

Dr. Amos Horn, whose 1884 office now serves as the Putnamville Museum, delivered the late Ruby Stringer and her sister, Wilma. It is located on the village green near the church. It was moved there in 1999. The structure is believed to be the oldest existing doctor's office left in the state. Tours of the museum will also be available on June 27.

The Heritage Preservation Society will be presenting a plaque to the church the day of the celebration that will be mounted July 10 on the Heritage Wall in downtown Greencastle.

The community is invited to attend the event. For information about the anniversary celebration contact Susan Stewart at 653-9646 or the church at 653-2331.

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