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Madison (IN) Association of Baptists
(Counties Of Jefferson, Ripley And Jennings)
History of Indiana Baptists, 1908
     This Association was constituted in 1833, the preliminary meeting having been held in 1832. As was stated elsewhere it was formed from the Coffee Creek Association, the understanding being that the churches located on the west side of the Madison and Indianapolis railroad should remain in the Coffee Creek, and those on the east side should join the Madison. Aurora, Madison and New Albany being the principal towns on the Ohio river, in Indiana, Evansville being much farther away, we should expect to find the Baptist cause prosperous in the districts of which these towns were the centers; and so it was.

     Madison was for many years one of the largest and best organized churches in Indiana, and this church gave complexion to the Association. From a membership of 567 at the time of its organization the Association grew to 1,911 members in ten years time. The churches of this Association, in common with those of others, was obliged to meet the heresies of Predestinarianism on the one hand, and those of Campbellism on the other; but there was no general departure from established Baptist doctrines. From the first the missionary spirit was present and operative.

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     In the Circular Letter for 1843 Elder William Wallace writes:
"While some Baptists spend their time and talents in disputing on decrees, creeds, etc., there are others with feelings none of the best, consuming their strength in talking about the mission and anti-mission race, thus paralyzing each other's efforts in the common cause . . . . O, brethren, how devotedly thankful we ought to be that none of these things have been permitted to mar our peace or stop our work of faith and labor of love."

     The Association was prompt to advocate Sunday schools, missions, civil freedom for all, and temperance in those days when many of the churches were opposed to all such measures. The minority did not have the courage to come out in the open, in its opposition. The close proximity of the territory of this Association to Kentucky made the discussion of the matter of slavery a delicate one, and yet there was no hesitancy nor evasion.

     In 1818 the Vernon church sent this query to the Association: "Is it consistent with the principles and practice of this Association to correspond with Kentucky slave-holding Baptists?"

     A direct answer was declined; but convictions did not lose their strength; and many years afterwards this resolution was passed: - "While we do not allow mere differences of opinion on questions of ways and means to be a bar to fellowship among us - we are opposed to intemperance, and oppression of every form." And still later this resolution was passed:

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     "That we request those Associations corresponding with us, and also others who advocate slavery as a right, to seriously consider whether they ought not to drop such correspondence in order to the keeping up of a harmonious christian correspondence with us."

     In 1871 one of the churches was considerably demoralized by the heresy of "Soul sleeping." But a wise committee was sent to the church to talk the matter over, with the result that it came back into full cooperation with the Association.

     This was found in a quarterly paper of the Home Mission Society in 1838:

"Madison is a flourishing town on the banks of the beautiful Ohio, and is destined to become a place of no inferior commercial importance. One year ago in November last, by our advice, Brother Reuben Morey went there, found a small Baptist church divided into three fragments - the mission, the anti-mission and the Campbellite Baptists. With our promise of help he preached for them three months, when on account of their dissensions he announced his intention of leaving them. Contrary to expectation all parties were anxious for his continuance, and so far laid aside the differences as to join in his support. This was the state of the church, and of course to all foreign operations, it was no better than dead and plucked up by the roots. They applied to the Home Mission society for $150.00, which was granted, they raising $250.00.

During the year now past they have raised by a society among themselves $70.00 for their State Convention, $81.00 for the Burman Bible, and $7.00 at a monthly

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concert; by collections during a sermon of the State Convention they raised $40.00 for the cause in Indiana, and $40.00 for foreign missions of which we will suppose that one-quarter was contributed by the church - that is, $20.00; by collection of Brother Bennett for foreign missions $20.00 - in all, $198.00 for objects without themselves. Seventeen had been baptized and nineteen added by letter. 'There has been,' Mr. Morey adds, 'we hope, a gradual and constant increase of union and brotherly love among the members and an increasing disposition to come up to every good work.' Brother Morey must have been a good missionary."
     The largest aggregate membership of the Association was reached in 1844, when it was 8,179; but the withdrawal of nine churches to form the Sand Creek Association reduced the number. In 1905 the number of churches was fifteen and the total membership 1,932; in 1906 there were sixteen churches and 1,975 members. Madison Association was rich in the large number of representative laymen and ministers it contained; studying sketches of these we can see why the Association held a foremost place among the Associations of the State, in all good words and works.

     The first to be mentioned is that prince of laymen - the Hon. Milton Stapp. He was born in Kentucky in 1793; as a young man he enlisted in the regiment commanded by Colonel Richard M. Johnson; he was in many skirmishes with the Indians, and took part in the battle of Thames in 1813 and was wounded by a ball. He always regarded the scar from this wound with a kind of pride. He came to Indiana in 1816 and

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settled at Madison, which remained his home for many years; he was inclined towards the profession of law and entered the office of James F. D. Lanier, as a student, and before many months was admitted to the bar. He soon found his way into politics and in 1822 was elected to the State legislature from Jefferson county. The next year he was elected joint-senator from Jefferson and Jennings counties, and was chosen president of the body. Twice he was elected lieutenant governor of the State (1825 and 1828). Probably his most important service to the State was rendered as a member of the Fund commission, whose duty it was to extricate the State from the large and alarming indebtedness which was incurred in the Internal Improvement venture. While the work of the commission was not completely successful, its members were most faithful, and above suspicion as to their integrity. Mr. Stapp was not more deeply interested in matters of state, however, than he was in the maintenance and progress of christianity as represented by his denomination. He was an active and valued member of the Madison Baptist church, which he joined in 1844; and his worth was recognized in the Baptist deliberations which took place here and there in the State. He was elected president of the Indiana Baptist Convention for nine different years, and was a member of the board of trustees of Franklin College from 1835 to 1854. In 1860 he moved to Texas, but did not remain long, as he saw that the civil war was coming on, and his sympathies were with the north; but when the war was over he went to Galveston, Texas, and was appointed
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collector of Internal Revenue. He died in 1869 and his Madison friends had his body brought back and buried in the old home cemetery. His memory will ever remain green, for his life was devoted to the service of God in helping his fellow men.

     Another of the very worthy laymen of the Association was Deacon A. Daniells, who was born in New York in 1818. His father was a Methodist minister of the radical kind; the son engaged, in turn, in teaching, farming and merchandise. He came west while yet a young man and spent several years in teaching in Kentucky and Indiana. He came to Madison during the civil war and was made deputy county treasurer first, and afterwards deputy auditor. The auditor died in office and Mr. Daniells filled the unexpired term; he was subsequently elected county treasurer. At the expiration of his term he engaged in merchandizing, but was not successful; his last work was that of book-keeping. He was a highly esteemed member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges, but his main work was done as a member of the Madison church. His daily christian walk was of the most beautiful kind; he served as deacon for more than twenty-eight years, was Sunday school superintendent many years, and was clerk of his Association twenty-eight years. When financial reverses came to him he was heard to say: "Well, I'm glad that what I gave to Franklin College is saved, anyhow." More than once he responded to the wants of the college. He died in August, 1897, mourned by relatives, his brethren of the church, and a host of friends. Mrs. Philo R. Hoy of Chicago is

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his only child. When the Madison church had such wise, progressive leaders as A. Daniells, C. A. Stanton, U. B. Stribling, William Stapp, J. E. C. F. Harper and William Trow, it could not but prosper; it did more - it became a model church in the management of both discipline and finances. If pastors had a "paradise" anywhere in Indiana, it was at Madison.

     Among the leading ministers of the Association the first place clearly belongs to Elder Jesse Vawter, a partial sketch of whose life has aready been given; in 1782 he and his wife first moved to Kentucky. In 1806 they came to Indiana and located on a hill overlooking Madison from the north; they named the home Mount Glad - glad that at last they were settled where there was no dispute about the title to their land. He began to preach in 1800 and was ordained in 1805. He assisted in organizing the first Baptist church in Jefferson county; it was first located on a little stream called Crooked Creek, down in the bottom; afterwards the meeting-house was moved up on the hill, and the name was changed to Mount Pleasant; still later it was moved down into the city and was given the name Madison. Elder Vawter was the pastor till his death in 1838. "He was preeminently useful in the ministry and did much to advance the Messiah's kingdom, especially among the Baptist churches, from their first organization, but more especially in the bounds of the Silver Creek, Coffee Creek, Laughery, Flat Rock and Madison Associations. He was, without doubt, one of the most pious men of his day, and as a doctrinal, practical and experimental preacher his qualifications were

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far above mediocrity, and as a peace-maker he was, perhaps, without an equal in the congregation of which he was a member."

     His sons, John and William, were ministers also, and will be referred to in connection with their own Associations. Elder Vawter's dust reposes in the cemetery at Wirt, a few miles north of Madison.

     Elder William T. Stott was one of the best known and best loved ministers in the Association, and in southern Indiana. He was born in Kentucky in 1789 and at the age of thirteen was received into the Salt River Baptist church. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 under General Hull (who, he says, was a coward). In 1815 he came to Indiana and settled near Vernon; but not being able to meet the payments on his land he was obliged to give it up; he next bought some land on the south branch of Muscatatuck creek, four miles east of Vernon. His brethren of the Concord church assisted him in paying for this land. He was away from home most of the time on preaching tours, and the care of the home rested on his wife, a most excellent and courageous woman. The churches paid him but a mere pittance, but he was unceasing in his efforts to establish and build up the Baptist cause. He was often in the employ of the Indiana Baptist Convention, doing missionary work in Jefferson, Jennings, Scott and Ripley counties, and for nearly fifty years - with the exception of a few interims - he was pastor of the Vernon church. He always took a live interest in matters of state, deeming it his duty to help in the nomination and election of civil officers. The

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last twenty-five years of his life he spent at the home of his son John, and continued to preach as long as he was able to travel; he was permitted to baptize nearly or quite one thousand persons who had been led to Christ through his ministry. One who has often heard him preach, has said that he often rose to great heights of genuine eloquence - being very familiar with the word of God and peculiarly apt in illustration; in addition he had a fine commanding presence and a musical voice. He was moderator of the Madison Association for twenty years and was asked to preach the introductory sermon at eight different sessions of the body. He died in 1877 after a few weeks' illness; he had a lucid hour in the midst of several days of unconsciousness, and in that hour he rehearsed his first Christian experience, and his work in the ministry; and spoke of his hope of going home to be with Christ. After speaking personal words to those of the family who stood about him he again lapsed into unconsciousness - to awaken in the land of light and love. The funeral exercises were held in the church of which he was pastor so long, and his body was buried beside that of his wife in the Read cemetery, a few miles east of Vernon.

     The Rev. William Y. Monroe was moderator of the Association for a longer period than any other minister, having served in that office twenty-four or twenty-five times; he was pastor of the North Madison church for thirty years, and would have continued, but for ill health. He came to Scott county, Indiana, in 1834, and joined a Methodist church in 1842; but being dissatisfied

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with some of the doctrines of that denomination, he began a thorough search of the Bible, and as a consequence he became a Baptist. He was ordained in 1850 and proved to be a strong minister of the word. No one could make the way of salvation plainer, and in such esteem was he held, that men were compelled to listen to his preaching. He was in the civil war as captain in the Eighty-second Indiana Infantry, and on his return from the war his fellow citizens honored him with public offices of trust. He was twice elected treasurer of Jefferson county, and was twice elected to the legislature of the state. Being a man of good business ability he was frequently called on to assist in settling the estates of families of his acquaintance. In the eighties he moved to Franklin for the sake of giving his boys a course in Franklin College. Most of the time from his coming to Franklin he was an invalid, much of the time being confined to his bed. But he was never in despair nor discouraged; when the new College chapel was dedicated he expressed a desire to be present to ejoy the exercises; accordingly the young men carried him on his couch, and no one was more deeply interested than he. As another example of his cheerfulness of spirit: a prayer-meeting was appointed to be held in his room, and his emaciated form had the effect to deeply stir the emotions of those present; in fact it was a time of copious tears. He said afterwards in a playful way that he did not want any more "funeral services" till he was ready. If he were alive today he would rejoice with his wife that their older son is an able teacher in Columbia
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University, and also an author of note; and the younger a successful physician and surgeon in the city of Mexico. He died in October, 1889, and his body was taken to his old home at North Madison for burial.

     The Rev. Matthew B. Phares came to Franklin College from Little Blue River church in Shelby county; a church which also furnished the following ministers to the Baptist denomination: the Revs. J. M. Smith, D. J. Huston, William Golding and J. C. Rhodes - he was graduated in 1849, and besides holding several important pastorates, conducted academies at Vernon, Dupont and Greensburg. He was an accurate scholar and a very attractive speaker. He died in 1862 in the prime of life while pastor of the Greensburg church.

     Many other ministers doubtless deserve as full and favorable mention as these, but definite data are lacking. The Rev. E. D. Owen will long be remembered as the man who originated and for a while published the Christian Messenger - finally merged into the Journal and Messenger of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Rev. Caleb Moncrief, the plain Scotchman, who had the courage to ask a brother noted for his long prayers to "please lead us in some new short prayer;" the Rev. William Wallace, who believed in progress; the Rev. Andrew Baker, who used his knowledge of astronomy to good effect in his preaching; the Rev. Alexander Connelly, who had mastered a large section of general history, and knew how to use it; the Rev. Robert Stevenson, who knew his Bible, and who was the doughty champion of Calvinism, and whom

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nobody cared to meet in debate; the Rev. J. B. Swindler, who was in demand far and near to assist in evangelistic meetings; the Rev. Thomas George, the fervent preacher of the old gospel; the Rev. John G. Craven, the teacher, and friend of the negro; the Rev. T. A. Childs, the unselfish and always busy servant of Christ; and not least the Rev. C. E. W. Dobbs, D. D., who was pastor of the Madison church from 1882 to 1884. He was by far the ablest exegetical scholar and preacher among the Baptists of the State, and was interested as well in the local history of the denomination. In 1883 he read a history of Madison Association at its annual meeting at Hebron church. The future historian of the Indiana Baptists will be sure to rely much on the facts gathered and organized in this pamphlet.

[From William Taylor Stott, History of Indiana Baptists, 1798-1908, 1908, pp. 158-169. Document from Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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