A History of Lemmons Church

The early settlers of Dubois County in its formative days came from the Carolinas, across the Blue Ridge, the Smoky Mountains, and through the Cumberland Gap. 

It was the Scotch Irish who settled in the Lemmons community.  They were very religious, had family worship, and believed the Bible as written in the King James version. They were strong in their attendance of church duties and far more attentive than many other protestants.  They thought their first duty was to be at church on Sunday, even though they had to go there on a mule.  Sickness was about the only excuse for not attending services.  The home of a settler was the place for a gathering the absence of a church.  This place became known as the "Preaching Place" in the community. 

Soon the circuit rider appeared once a month on a horse with saddle bags which contained his Bible, a hymn book, and a change of clothing.  His salary was in the hands of the people of the district.  One circuit rider said he got one hundred dollars a year; his horse was well taken care of, and he also received many gifts.

Such a circuit rider was Reverend Andrew Strain, the first to appear in the Lemmons community.  He was the most prominent minster of the Presbyterian faith located in Dubois County in the early days.  His home was in Jasper on Newton Street.  He was pastor while nearly all of the Cumberland Presbyterian were erected.  Wilson's History of Dubois County states that he was host to the first Catholic Priest who came to Jasper.  He was godfather and promoter of free schools in Indiana and the second County Superintendent of Dubois County.  Later he lived in Ireland and died there having contracted pneumonia after doctoring his horse that had become sick on one of his journeys.  Other circuit riders were Rev. Lowry, Rev. Hunter, Rev. Downey, and Rev. Lynn.

According to the deed record number 7 page 50 in the recorders office, John Lemmon sold one acre of ground for one dollar to trustees Giles Lansford, Thomas Harbison, and David Lemmon for school purposes.  The lease was made to the trustees and to their successors in office as long as the land would be used in that way.  At that time there were only six townships in Dubois County, and Boone township was a part of Harbison Township.  This transaction was made in 1854.  It is likely that religious services were held in the one room Lemmons school for several years. 

As the community grew, there was need for a larger meeting place, and plans began to be made for the establishment of a church.  At one time, about 1859, the Cumberland Presbyterians serious considered building a brick church at the Lemmon place, four miles west of Portersville, but rumors of Civil War prevented this. 

According to Dubois County records, on August 6, 1859 Captain John Lemmon, who lived in the first house east of the Church sold two acres of ground to seven trustees for the purpose building a church.  The deed was recorded September 6, 1859 in Book 9 page 281.

In the year 1860 Samuel Baugh of Loogootee planned and built the church as it is today.  Since that time changes have been made inside the building.  New windows were installed in 1953.  It is said the attic of the church has large heavy timbers that were used in construction the building, and it is most likely that they were hand hewn. 

The church was dedicated in October 1860 by Rev Andrew Strain and he was pastor of the church until his death 13 years later.  On Sunday, July 14, 1907 through the thoughtfulness of Nicholas Harris and others, an enlarged picture of Rev. Strain was presented to the church. 

The first trustees of Lemmons Church were Richard Harris, Hamilton McCain, David Lemmon, Jacob Lemmon Sr, Elijah Lemmon Sr, Mordecai Hopkins, and John Fisher.  Three of the trustees had the surname Lemmon.  The church was named Lemmons because the land was purchased from the Lemmons and also because the area was known as the Lemmons Community.

Richard Harris was a Civil War veteran.  According to the statement of his daughter, Mrs. Katie May, Mr. Harris layed the cornerstone of the Lemmons Church.  He came with his father from Carolina in 1817 and settled near Portersville. He lived in Boone Township 65 years, and the family was always a leading one in the community.  He is buried in the church cemetery. 

Hamilton McCain had a mill dam across Birch Creek in Boone Township.  It was near where the line between where ranges 5 and 6 cross the creek.  In 1847 the dam was used as a public highway.  Later a bridge was made.  Mr. McCain is buried in the church cemetery.  His funeral was one week before that of Rev. Strain, but Rev. Strain preached the funeral. 

David Lemmon, one of the first trustees, and his brother John were half brother of Elijah and Jacob.  David lived northwest of the church on what was known as the W.S. Lemmon Homestead.  John lived where Pete Himsel lived in later years. 

Jacob Lemmon lived near Flat Rock, on the Dubois County side of White River.  At one time he was without question the wealthiest man in Dubois County.  He owned more than 1500 acres of land and was a great livestock feeder and dealer.  In 1855 he was presented a silver cup by Sam Orr and George Foster and Company as a premium on 1100 hogs, being the largest number fattened by one feeder ever delivered to Evansville, IN.  It took three weeks to drive them from the Wilson Farm in Boone Township.  His family was the first in this community to use a cookstove and to do home canning.

Elijah Lemmon had a flatboat.  He and Jacob Lemmon took loads of pork, lard, and hoop poles down White River to Memphis or New Orleans.  Pork sold for three dollars a hundred and lard for five cents per pound.  A cotton gin was located on the south bank of White River near High Rock.  When he was a boy, Elijah Lemmon got an arm mangled in the cotton gin and had to have it amputated.  Elijah Lemmon was a brother of Jacob Lemmon who was the father of Mrs. Ora B. Wilson and Grant Lemmon.  Elijah Lemmon and his wife were buried in a private cemetery one quarter of a mile northwest of the current Lemmons Cemetery.  After many years, it was Mrs. Wilson who persuaded relatives to move the remains to Lemmons Cemetery where they now repose. 

Morecai Hopkins, whose father was a veteran of the War of 1812, lived near the Sherritt's place, across the road from the settlement stone.  HIs father never saw him, but asked that the son be named Mordecai and taught the tanners trade.  Mordecai came to Dubois County in 1817 and was a successful farmer for 50 years  in Boone Township until he moved to Kansas in 1870.  He is buried in Sherritt's cemetery.

Roll call of Presbytery in Dubois County from 1830 to 1840 brings to light that the strongest characters in Dubois County were men of wealth, character, and education.  By 1833 every Presbyterian church in the county could support a minister. 

Other Cumberland Presbyterian ministers on the Lemmon field were Rev. Gallloway, Rev. Martin, Rev. Maddan, Rev. Gill, Rev. Cheak, Rev. Gregory, Rev. Medcalf, Rev. Shaffer, and Rev. Estes. 

When Rev. E.J. Bouher was on the field, probably from 1904 to 1908, the Lemmon Church changed from Cumberland Presbyterian to Presbyterian USA.  The change was not recorded in the session minutes of the church. 

Other pastors of the Lemmon Church since that time were Rev. Banta, Rev., Oldfather, Rev. Worrell, Rev. Bast, Rev. Hicks, Rev. Shaffer, Rev. Reeder, Rev. Hartman, Rev. Nathan, Rev. Hubbard, Rev. Glasgow, Rev. Kircher, Rev. Parker, and Rev. Showalter. 

Until early in the year 1923, Lemmon and Portersville churches were known in Vincennes Presbytery as the Lemmon congregation. When the session met January 10, 1923 it was decided to send a delegate to Presbytery at Evansville to take steps toward making Portersville a church with its own name.  John Brittain was sent as a delegate and took a petition which contained names of 53 persons who wished to be members of the Portersville church.  Moderator of Presbytery, Dr. J.B. Miller at Parke Memorial Church, Evansville, April 16, 1923, presented the petition and asked for a change of name.  A commission was appointed to organize a church.  Those appointed were Rev. J.C. McClung, Rev. L.A. Harriman, Rev. C.J. Grimes, and elders J.A. Brittain of the Lemmon congregation and W.B. Morgan of the Ireland Presbyterian church.  This commission with Dr. J.B. Miller as moderator met on May 11, 1923 and the Portersville Union Church was organized.  Later the name was changed to Portersville Presbyterian Church. 

Members of the church who entered the ministry were Maj. Otis Schnarr and Dr. LaVere C. Rudolph.  Dr. Leland Bauer, a former member of the church, has been working in Menaul Presbyterian Mission School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since 1931.  He taught in the high school many years and later became dean of the school.  In recent years he has been the business manager.  Rev. William Harris, a great-great-grandson of Richard Harris, one of the first trustees, was ordained a Presbyterian minister in June of 1954. 

Some of the church records are lost, but the record of elders since 1882 is as follows: A.H Traylor, J.A. Brittain, O.D. Crandall, J.F. Rudolph, W.F. Reed, T.H. Inman, K.F. Dooley, Rose Rudolph, Elmer Haycox, and Morris Schnarr.  This church has never used a rotary system for keeping elders in office. 

In length of time as a ruling elder, Mr. John A. Brittain surpassed all the other elders of this church.  He became and elder in 1895 and served as late as March 12, 1946.  He gave a long and useful service of 51 years  It was often his duty to drive long distances in a carriage to attend Presbytery accompanied by the minister and other delegates.  He was in his 90's at the time of his death. 

Mr. Albert H. Traylor was ordained an elder in September 1882, and received a letter os dismissal October 13, 1912.  He was ruling elder 30 years.  He resigned because he and his family had moved to Booneville to live.  According to the churches oldest record book Mr. Traylor was very active in all phases of the churches work.  He was with the church during its most successful years.

Mr. K.F. Dooley joined Lemmon church in 1886 and was elder from 1924 until his death in 1935.  He served the church and Sunday School in many capacities and was especially good at teaching. 

Mr. Thomas H. Inman was a member of the church 58 years and served as ruling elder 11 years, from 1924 to 1935.  He also served as Sunday School superintendent, treasurer, and teacher.

Women began to be ruling elders in the Presbyterian church in 1930.  In August 1935 Rose Rudolph was ordained the first woman elder of the Lemmon Church.  Mrs. Rudolph became a member in January 1907 and with the exception of about 10 years has held offices in the church and the Sunday School since that time.

Among the church deacons were Elmer Lansford, Alex Wiseman, Ralph Brittain, Will Reed, Ernest McCain, Will Himsel, and others. 

The Lemmons cemetery. extends northward from the church building.  The first burial was the body of Zerrilda Lemmon, daughter of John and Elizabeth Lemmon, who dies October 16, 1860.  The grave is near the northwest corner of the Jacob Lemmon family lot.  This lot has the tallest monument in the cemetery. According to a statement of Rachel Harris Herrod, daughter of Richard Harris, one of the first trustees, the funeral of Zerrilda Lemmon was held outside because the paint on the benches in the new church was not dry.  It is likely that the new church was dedicated late in October 1860. 

The graves of Jacob Lemmon, born in 1844 and died in 1845, and of Elizabeth Lemmon, born in 1855 and died in 1856, are reburials.  The graves of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Lemmon, their parents, and reburials too. 

Other graves of interest are Jeremiah Rogers, a veteran of the War of 1812, the grave of Hamilton McCain, one of the founders of the church, that of his son, Thomas, whose monument has the masonic emblem, the grave of B.F. Lansford, a Civil War veteran, and the grave of W.S. Lemmon, a Civil War veteran whose father was on the church founders.

During World War II, two young men from the Lemmons community gave their lives for our country.  They were Carl Stradtner and Gilbert Miller.

On August 15, 1935, plans were made to incorporate the Lemmons Cemetery.  Directors named were Ernest Weisheit, Earnest McCain, Perry Schnarr, Ralph Brittain, and Russel Murry.  Money was raised to rehabilitate and care for the cemetery. and the work progressed nicely.