The History of Maria Creek Church

©Illinois Trails History and Genealogy

In the beginning of the 19th Century, pioneers began to push out from the Eastern States into Indiana Territory.

A number of these bold, energetic men and women settled in what is now the northern part of Knox County, Indiana, between the Wabsh and White Rivers, and some of them on the west side of the Wabash river in Illinois Territory.

This country was then on the extreme western frontier and almost an unbroken forest, full of wild animals and savage Indians, where the few settlers had continually to guard their stock from the one and their wives and children from the other.

Most of them had come from Kentucky and Ohio, and had settled in this wild country. With strong arms they attacked the forest for the purpose of making homse for themselves and children, and with brave hearts purposed to defend them. Among these hardy pioneers were a number of Baptist people, who, with the assistance of Elder Alexander Diven, from Columbia, a little village on Patoka river in what is now Gibson, then Knox County, Indiana, and Elder James McQuaid from Kentucky, organized Maria Creek Church on the 20th day of May, 1809.

There were thirteen original members that entered into that organization. They were:

Samuel Allison, Phoebe Allison, Charles Polke Sr., Charles Polke Jr., Margaret Polke, Achsah Polke, William Polke, Sally Polke, John Lemen, Polly Lemen, William Bruce, Sally Bruce and John Morris, a man of color.

William Polke was elected Clerk(later to be wounded at the Battle of Tippecanoe, but recovered quickly).

Of the above names persons, Samuel Allison, Phoebe Allison and John Morris lived on the west side of the Wabsh river in Illinois Territory.

At their third meeting, they invited Isaac McCoy, then a member of the Silver Creek Church, Clark County, Indiana and holding a license to preach at that church, to visit and preach at Maria Creek. In the latter part of 1809, he became a pastor at Maria Creek and in January of 1810, united with them by letter. Elizabeth Chambers, wife of Joseph Chambers, became a member at this time as well.

During these early years of the church they had, besides the preaching of their pastor, occasional preaching by Elders Alexander Diven, James McQuaid, George Waller, William McCoy, Wilson Thompson and James Chambers; and up to the commencement of the year 1821 had received into fellowship, by baptism, 84; by letter, 48; in all, one hundred and thirty-two members. The church was strong, wielding almost the entire religious influence over all the northern part of Knox County.

In 1812 Lamotte Church, in Crawford County, Illinois Territory, near where Palestine is now located, was constituted, partly by members lettered out from Maria Creek Church.

In 1817 a number of members were granted letters in order to constitute a church at Little Village, not far from where Russelville, in Illinois is now located.

In May, 1816, Prairie Creek Church, in Vigo county, Indiana, was constituted, a number of her members having obtained letters from Maria Creek Church for that purpose.

To Be Continued...