Anderson Mennonite Church
The Old Country Church
This article is about THE OLD COUNTRY CHURCH that used to stand at the corner of Hand and Carroll roads. It was a Mennonite church. Look later for a picture of the church in the form of a drawing. The artist was Pat Delagrange. (At the present time it is still missing from our photo page, but we are working on it) Also the poem below was written about the church by Elmer Goheen. Goheen was a teacher at Forest Park Elementary School in Fort Wayne. The drawing was brought into the News office by local resident Lois Barrett, who remembers going to the church as a young girl. “Even though we weren’t Mennonite, it was close and everyone was so friendly that we always felt comfortable going there,” Barrett said. Barrett remembers that after the Mennonites closed the church, it became Wallen Methodist Church. The church was eventually abandoned because of the near proximity to the Eel River Baptist Church, which many local residents chose to attend. The church was torn down in the late 40’s or early 50’s.
“Memories of Our Old Country Church”
The Anderson Church on the corner with its very tall steeple Was built in the “eighties” by the neighborhood people.
The structure was wood and painted all white.
The arched windows were frescoes to diffuse the light.
Double doors at the entrance were considered quite swell.
In the vestibule hung the rope for ringing the bell.
To enter the chapel you opened a swing door.
The individual seats were screwed to the floor.
An aisle at each side and a wide center one too
Made easy the access to each individual pew.
The stage at the front was two steps up from the floor;
The pulpit thereon was straight in from the door.
A stove at each side was fired with good wood
In the winter we kept warm the best that we could.
The bell rang before the service to call the people in
To practice good living and to keep away from sin.
The Sunday school classes, maybe only three or four
Were attended by neighbors seldom more than two score.
The lessons were discussed by all taking part.
An offering was taken usually right at the start.
On a Saturday in August, usually as a rule
A “picnic” was held by the church Sunday school.
Other churches were invited and as many as would
Came to enjoy a day of fun in Tuckers’ big wood.
Chicken dinner was served by the churches’ good women
For which a good offering was usually given.
In the program on the stage so many took part
Singing, speaking and music were all good from the start.
Close by was the stand where refreshments were sold
Ice cream, candy and pop to both young and old.
A bag of peanuts for a nickel could be had at that stand.
One could eat them while listening to a “community band”.
Another program I remember was one Christmas Eve,
Much snow on the ground, in 1904 I believe.
The church was quite crowded with youth and with aged,
The tree lighted with candles was up on the stage.
At the proper time Old Santa with his sleigh bells came in.
He laughed and he joked; children were delighted with him.
Santa presented each child with some candy and nuts.
For all said they’d been good without, “ands, ifs or buts.”
Then he proceeded to the front to the big Christmas tree.
The candles were still burning as bright as could be.
As Santa reached for a gift, — to everyone’s surprise
His clothes caught on fire right there before our eyes.
Shrieks of terror went up as people rushed for the door
But one lady threw Santa right down on the floor.
Jerked the mask from his face and put out the flame;
Santa’s life was saved by the quick work of that dame.
The church not on fire, order soon was restored.
Lighted candles after that were never ignored.
Santa’s “helper” we remember was good neighbor “Dode.”.
Villa Johnston was the heroine of that night’s episode.
Another happening I remember along a different line,
November 11, 1919, I know was the time.
At five in the morning we heard that church bell ring –
Glad tidings to all it was trying to sing.
Like “tom-toms” in Africa it sent the news on –
The World War was over, — the victory was won.
What a feeling of GLADNESS when we heard that church bell!!
Now our boys could come home and in peace try to dwell.
So many things have changed since those years long ago;
The automobile came in, the horse and buggy had to go.
Most of the old neighbors gone; their work here is done.
A few kin are still around, — a daughter or a son.
The church was deserted; folks lost interest there,
Some go to other churches, others don’t seem to care.
Eventually torn down, — a house took its place,
But the memories of my childhood, time does not erase.
So to you, my Dear Friends, may memories come too
As you read these verses I am sending to you.
We loved that old church we attended yester-year.
May God’s will and His love always guide us while here.
By Elmer S. Goheen
December 10, 1964