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Churches: The United Brethren Church in Perry Township

Rev. Robert Brown of Lafayette preached the first sermon in the woods back of Daniel Underhill's house in Perry Township. His congregation consisted of less than twenty persons.

Services were conducted in the home of the settlers for a number of years. The home of Ephraim Tucker was used very often.

It was not until 1834 that the United Brethren attempted to erect a house of worship for themselves. This was Gideon Chapel, referred to in later years as "Old Gideon". The Chapel was located at the north end of Gideon Cemetery, in section twenty-two. It was a small frame building, built on the hillside. The south side rested on stone near the surface of the ground while the north side rested on stilts.

The Chapel was erected about 1834. It was about the time Rev. Joseph Hershey settled in the township. He promoted the establishment of several United Brethren Churches in the area, one, Union Chapel on his farm in section sixteen. Two of Rev. Hershey's children, Jacob B. and Mary E., are buried in the Gideon Cemetery (Monitor). Nearby is the grave of Cynthia Ann Powell, sister-in-law of William Powell, after whom an undeveloped town was named as well as the school at Monitor.

Another prominent United Brethren leader was Rev. David M. B. Patton who was born November 25, 1814, a son of A. J. Patton. A. J. Patton was the son of William Patton, a native of Virginia. A. J. Patton was born in Floyd County, Kentucky. The family came to Orange County, Indiana in 1819 where he died in 1820.

A. J. Patton's widow married Charles Sewards in 1823 and they settled, first in Montgomery County, Indian, in 1826, but moved to Perry Township, Tippecanoe county, Indiana, in 1827.

David M. B. Patton received his early education in the subscription school of James Thompson, the first school in the township. Here he received the foundation for a successful ministerial career in the United Brethren Church. He preached in many churches in the area. He died May 20, 1904 and is buried in the Old Gideon Cemetery (Monitor).

The Gideon Chapel became too small for its congregation, so in 1888 a new church building, Zion, was erected on the main road towards Lafayette about a half-mile to the south. The old church was torn down in 1889.

Among the early member families of Gideon Chapel were: Ephraim Tucker, David Patton, Charles Sewards, Moses Tucker, Moses Banker, John Gard, John Robeson, William Powell, Andrew J. Patton, Jeremiah Virgin, Peter Farner, Sidney Arnold, Erastus Robeson, Samuel Masters, Sewell Cleaver, Gabriel Myers, M. M. Virgin and Samuel Weaver.

A second United Brethren Church, Union Chapel, was organized in section sixteen by the Rev. Joseph Hershey on his homestead. This was in the year 1846.

Rev. Joseph Hershey was born near Hagertown, Maryland, September 3, 1810. Early in life he joined the United Brethren Church and was ordained a minister. For some time he preached in his native Maryland and the state of Virginia.

In the meantime he had married Miss Marie Witter who died in 1875 and is buried in the Union Chapel Cemetery on the old homestead. Rev. Joseph M. Hershey, for his second wife married Mrs. Arbelia Markwood, the widow of U. B. Bishop Markwood.

In 1834, Rev. Hershey came to Perry Township, conveyed with his few belongings in a two-wheeled cart. He farmed his land and preached in many of the young churches springing up in the area.

Early member families of Union Chapel were: Rev. Joseph M. Hershey, George Carson, Henry Elzy, Julia Ann Smith, Jacob Leslie, William Whistler, William Hershey and Laura K. Gober.

Information provided by: (1) Stanley Virgin, (2) Biographical Record and Portrait Album 1888, pages 411 and 445.