The Universalist Church of Huntertown was organized at the home of Dr. D. Vanderhyden in 1850, with seventeen constituent members. In 1851, they erected their house of worship at Huntertown at a cost of $1,500. It was dedicated by Mr. Chaplin who in 1855, was engaged as pastor. The Sunday School was organized in 1863, with one hundred scholars. John Malcolm later served as Superintendent. The church sits on the east side of the road at the north end of Huntertown, and is now an apartment building.
From the article on the Underground Railroad by Alex Jokay we find a little more about the Universalist Church. (Read complete article under MISC. ARTICLES, Underground Railroad.)
“Historian T. B. Helm, in his 1880 History of Allen County, Indiana, says that the Reverend Rankin held a meeting and led one of Perry Township’s first-ever religious services in 1834. This took place in a log cabin near the site of what was to become Huntertown.
Whose cabin would it have been? In 1834, the township was home to a relative handful of people. Deducing from what Helms wrote about Perry Township’s earliest settlers and the placement of their first cabins, it appears very likely that it was the home of one of the Duntens, the Parkers or the Woods.
These families were later among the charter members of the Huntertown Universalist Church. As early as the eighteenth century, the Universalists began arguing against the practice of slavery, and in the nineteenth century took a leading role in the progressive causes of the day: slavery abolition, temperance and women’s suffrage.
Other charter members of Huntertown’s Universalist congregation included the Hatches, a “staunch Republican” family from Hatch Hollow, Erie County, Pennsylvania, according to records turned up from there. Today the 1851 Universalist Church building still stands. It has been rehabbed into an apartment building and is located on Old 3 just south of Cedar Canyons Road.
In studying the genealogy and history of the Duntens, Parkers and Woods, I discovered that all came here from Jefferson County, New York, in the vicinity of Watertown--a place known in the nineteenth century as a hotbed of abolitionism. It also bears mentioning here that Ebenezer Dunten of Watertown, brother of Huntertown settlers Thomas and Ephraim Dunten, is noted as an abolitionist in a Jefferson County, New York, biography.
I also learned of several other local families who migrated from the Watertown vicinity in 1833-35, and it turns out they were all intermarried or associated with the Duntens, Woods and Parkers in one way or another. These were the Holbrooks, who settled near present-day LaOtto, and the Broughtons, Timmermans and Cramers, who settled just north of LaOtto in Swan Township, Noble County, along the old Lima Road.”
Helms adds a few more facts about the church in his 1880 history:
THE UNIVERSALIST CHURCH AT HUNTERTOWN was organized at the house of DR. VANDERHYDEN in 1850, with 17 constituent members. WILLIAM CHAPLIN of Kosciusko County, Indiana, was the officiating Pastor on this occasion, and visited the congregation at irregular intervals for several years succeeding that date.
In 1851, they erected the present house of worship at Huntertown, at a cost of $1,500. It was dedicated by Mr. Chaplin, who, in 1855, was engaged as Pastor. He served as such for a term of one year and was succeeded by J. MERRIFIELD; and in the interim between that time and the present, the following pastors have had charge of the Church; REV. RAYHOUSER, REV. SPOONER, REV. S.F. GIBB, WILLIAM STEWART AND JOHN P. CHAPLIN. Since the close of Mr. Chaplin’s pastorate, the Church has been served by REV. M. CROSLEY, of Fort Wayne. It now has a membership of 63.
The Sunday School was organized in 1863, with fully 100 scholars. Of this number many were the children of parents belonging to other denominations, and it was conducted as a union school. Several years later the Methodist Episcopal Sunday school was organized, and the withdrawal from the union school of the Methodist children lessened its numbers fully 50%. It was continued under the superintendence of BENJAMIN MORRIS, and has since been maintained as a school of the church. It is now in a prosperous condition, having 60 scholars enrolled. JOHN MALCOLM is the present Superintendent.