GOSPORT CHURCH HISTORY
Union Christian Church
The oldest religious society in Gosport is the Christian Church, organized as early as the year 1821, at which time it was known as the Union Church. The first meeting was held at the residence of Ephraim Goss, where the organization was effected, with the following members: Phillip Hodges and wife, James Dowden and wife, Ephraim Goss and wife, Zachariah Dowden and wife, Jeremiah Sandy and wife and Thomas C. Johnson and wife. A little later, Jeremiah Mathes and wife, David Lukenbill and wife, William Alexander and wife, Abraham Littell and wife, Sarah Mathes, Kittie Mathes and J.M. Mathes became members, and the little society thus formed soon became the nucleus around which a flourishing religious community sprang up. The church met for worship at the dwellings of Goss, Sandy and Mathes until about the year 1825, when steps were taken to erect a house more in keeping with the constantly increasing congregation. A hewed log building was erected on Limestone Creek, about one and a half miles west of town on land donated by Price Hayes. This building was a comfortable structure, with a large shed at one end and served its purpose until the year 1840, at which time it was decided to move the organization to the village and the house was abandoned. A lot was secured on Main Street, where the present edifice stands, and a neat frame building was erected some time in 1840 or 1841, and was used for a period of ten years, at the end of which time it was completely destroyed by fire. The beautiful temple in which the congregation worshipped in the middle 1880's was erected about the year 1851 or 1852, and is one of the most commodious audience rooms in the county, and will comfortably seat 300 persons. It is a brick building and represents a value of several thousand dollars.
Until 1830, the church was known as the Old Christian or New Light, but in that year, through the preaching of Elder J.M. Mathes, it was re organized upon the basis of the current reformation, with a loss of but three members out of 200 belonging.
Among the pastors of the church to 1830 were Elder John Henderson, the principal mover in the organization, Joseph Berry, Perseus E. Harris, Conrad Kern and Thomas E. Johnson who afterward served as County Clerk. J. M. Mathes began preaching in 1831 and served the church regularly thereafter for seven years. Elder James Blankenship was probably the next pastor, and preached at intervals for about two years. Jackson Mathes preached for the church in an early day and later came O.P. Badger, A.C. Layman, W.B.F. Treat, J.H. Henry, A.J. Frank and C.W. Martz. The pastor in 1884 was Elder O. P. Badger of Greencastle, a man of fine abilities and well liked by his congregation. The church has an active membership of eighty persons at the present time and is one of the aggressive religious societies of Owen County. A good Sunday school is maintained throughout the year, with an average attendance of seventy five scholars. J. H. Henry is the efficient Superintendent.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Gosport
As there is no record of the origin of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Gosport, it is impossible to obtain correct data and therefore impossible to give a perfectly reliable account of the very early history of the church at this point. The first sermon ever preached in the village, from a Methodist standpoint was in the year 1838, by Rev. William McGinnis, then a young man doing his first work in the Spencer Circuit. When at Spencer one day, he met Daniel Anderson, an exhorter living in the neighborhood of the county, known as "Bethany", who requested him to go to Gosport and preach. McGinnis consented and wishing to know with whom to stop was informed that there was no Methodist family living in the town. James M. Allison, an active layman, then living in Spencer, hearing the conversation, proffered to pay the hotel bill, and McGinnis then sent an appointment, met Anderson there and in an old log schoolhouse preached the first Methodist sermon ever heard in Gosport. There was no attempt then made to organize a soceity, class or church and on account of the community being overwhelmingly Disciples, Baptists and New Lights, all insisting on immersion being the only Scriptural baptism, the allowing of a choice of three modes by the Methodists was animadverted upon to such an extent that bias became strong and prevalent and several years elapsed after the preaching of the first sermon before even a feeble organization was effected. The probabilities are that the church proper should date its origin not earlier than 1845, and that the original members were: John Buskirk, Catherine Buskirk, Lorenzo D. Cravens, Lovey Cravens and the wife of Dr. E.C. Moberly.
Catherine Buskirk, the only resident survivor who had an undisturbed and honorable membership during all the years from then till now and who though aged, still retains largely her strong physical and intellectual powers bears testimony to what has been given, but does not remember the name of the officiating minister. During the year 1848, a Sunday school was held in the old schoolhouse, Lorenzo D. Cravens acting as Superintendent .
For the conference year of 1849 and 1850, James R. Williams, with Othniel Bruner, associate, was appointed to the Spencer Circuit, Gosport forming a part of the work and to their untiring and well directed efforts, in connection with the Masonic fraternity and the Sons of Temperance, a building was erected to be jointly used by the three organizations, the church to own the first and the two societies the second story. The building, a frame costing about a thousand dollars was completed and dedicated, Rev. Giles Smith preaching the dedicatory discourse some time during the summer of 1850.
The church has been served successively and successfully during the last thirty years by the following named ministers: William Butt, Henry S. Talbott, J.H. Belamy, John Laverty, L. Forbes, A.D. Cunningham, H. O. Chapman, Silas Rawson, Calvin Lee, W.S. Carter, Gideon Heavenridge, Elder Elias Gaskins, J. R. Williams, G.W. Rower, W. E. Davis, W. H. Cornelius, J. Wharton, John Tansey, Simon Herr, S.T. Cooper, John B. Knott, G.W. Tolle, J. W. Culmer, F.A. Eller,W. T. Davis, and J. D. Crane.
Others who have joined the church since its organization were: Casper Lingle, Dr. J. M. Stuckey and wife, Dr.H.G. Osgood and family, Arch A. Brown and wife, J.L. Rumbarger and family, J. N. Steele and wife, J. M. Alexander and wife, Rev. Hayden Hays and family, Barnabas Lukenbill and family and E.W. Arganbright and wife.
Baptist Church of Gosport
This church is an offshoot of the Little Mount Church and was organized in the month of February 1855 and the same year was formally recognized by an ecclesiastical council of several sister churches, which convened at Gosport for that purpose. The names of the constitutional members appear on the old church record as follows: George Goss, Mary Goss, Josiah Buchanan, James Buchanan, Allen Asher, Sarah Asher, John Rogers, James H. Buchanan, John Brasier, and William H. Buchanan.
Among those united with the church a little later were: Samuel Hubbard, Elizabeth Hubbard, Jane Condiff, Caroline Mosier, P.H. Evans, Lucy Rogers, Jane Evans, Sarah Buchanan, Noah Spainhour, Sarah Boyd, John L. Crouch, Cornelius Crouch, Lavina Crouch, E.M. Minning, Rebecca Smith, Allen Ducker, George Spainhour, Matilda Burt, Priscilla Stout, Parmelia Spainhour, Dorinda Spainhour, Mary Spainhour and Thomas P. Burt. Efforts were made to erect a house of worship early in the year of 1853 before the organization was thoroughly effected and in the fall of 1854 the present neat brick structure was completed at the cost of $3500.
The first pastor was Rev. P.H. Evans, after whom came G.D. Crabb, ___ Terry, L. M. Parks, William McNutt, ____ Bashiel, Beaman, Clark and Moore. No preaching is sustained at the present time and the organization is in a very weak condition. A flourishing Sunday school is conducted under the superintendency of Prof Samuel Lilly.
Methodist Episcopal Church, South of Gosport
This society ws organized in the month of March 1872 by Rev. F. G. Rogers with an original membership of persons whose names were are follows: John W. Smith, R. D. Washburn, Eliza A Smith, Mary E. Smith, Nancy E. Holmes, A. J. Cunningham, Rebecca Cunningham, and A. J. Modrell. The organization was the result of a meeting held by Rev. Mr. Rogers and in April following a series of meetings was conducted in the Presbyterian Church by Rev. C.C. Mayhew, during the progress of which the number of members was increased to fifteen. About this time, Rev. F. G. Brodie was appointed pastor and under his labors the church increased in members very rapidly and became a strong organization.
The Cumberland Presbyterian meeting house was purchased and remodeled and with the different improvements made represents a value at the present time of about $2000. It was dedicated by Rev. Mr. Marvin of St. Louis. The church has been ministered to by the following pastors in the order named: F.G. Brodie, Wolls, William C. Hays, E. M. Davis, V.P. Thomas, Davis, H. C. Dowell, E.C.Morrison, J. L. Branstetter, and J.V. Guthrie. The presiding Elders have been: F.G. Rogers, Rev. Mr. Sehorn, D.D., Rev. Mr. Lawson, J.L. Branstetter, Jacob Ditzler, D.D, and Rev Mr. Ames. The present membership is 125.
At one time a flourishing Presbyterian Church in Gosport but its existence terminated a number of years ago and no facts concerning its history were learned.