Genealogy Trails


A light cloud of dust rises from (he old country mad that is now County Road 46. It was Sunday. 'I"he sun is out and the air is fresh and warm. The day is beautiful under a clear sky. The occasional horse or buggy is headed for the plain while simply styled colonial church
meeting house. It is located about one mile east of what is now State Road 19. A cemetery rises on a hill on the churches west side. The area is pretty much all farmland and open space.

Providence Primitive Baptist Church was organized October 5. 1850 and is the oldest
continuing church in Elkhart County, according to Elder Michael Pitney. pastor of the church, and his wife Shirley. The church was organized in 1850 with five members: Abraham Truex. Sarah Truex. Elia.s O. Pittman. Sarah Pittman and Jacob Francis. The original land parcel was purchased from Sam Hoover and the original building was erected in 1852.

Elder Asher Cottrell served as First pastor from 1850 to 1853. Primitive Baptist congregations refer to their pastors as Elder. The line of Elders to present is as follows:

Elder Asher Cottrell    1850-1853
No Pastor    1854-1858
Elder William Jackson    1859-1860
Elder David Fawley    1861-1874
Elder David Fawley and Elder Isaac McGowen    1875
Elder David Fawley and Elder Zachariah Thomas    1876-1879
Elder Zachariah Thomas and Elder J.W. Taylor    1880
Elder J. W. Taylor    1881-1886
Elder J. W. Taylor and Elder D.V. Yoder    1887
Elder S. H. Benjamin    1888-1890
Elder S. H. Benjamin and Elder George Bretz    1891
Elder George Bretz    1892-1894
Elder A. Dove    1895
Elder George Bretz    1896-1898
Elder Nowels    1899
Elder Andrew Pittman    1900-1902
Elder N. L. Ford    1903-1907
Elder Andrew Pittman    1908-1909
No Pastor    1910-1914
Elder N. L. Ford    1915-1922
Elder John Skinner    1923
Elder N. L Ford    1924-1929
Elder Charles Jones    1930-1933
Elder N. L. Ford    1934-1935
Elder John Sparks    1936-1941
Elder Elias Sarbcr    1942-2005
Elder Michael Pitney    2005-Present

The Providence cemetery is one of two Primitive Baptist cemeteries in the area. The other being Island Cemetery in Kosciusko County. The Island Cemetery was established west of Milford on County Road 1050 by the Island Primitive Baptist Church, which was disbanded some years ago. Both cemeteries arc well kept but time and weather have taken their toll on the older stones. Vandalism has resulted in a number of stones being broken or missing. Stone inscriptions for Island Cemetery can be found in "Kosciusko County, Indiana Cemetery Records Vol. VII. Scott. Jefferson. Prairie & Plain Townships" by Lester H. Binnie. A copy is in the Elkhart County Genealogical Society Sailor Library, Bristol. Indiana. Stone inscriptions for Providence Primitive Baptist Cemetery can be found in "Cemeteries of Elkhart County, Indiana. Volume II, compiled by Elkhart County Genealogical Society. Copies of this book can be found in the Elkhart Public Library. Elkhart. Indiana or the Elkhart County Genealogical Society Sailor Library, Bristol, Indiana.

Primitive Baptists trace their American origin to the early colonies. According to the Pitneys the Baptist groups from which the Primitive Baptists emerged came from England and migrated west through Pennsylvania. They also went into the southern states where a great
number of Primitive Baptist churches arc located today. 1 The English Baptists from which these Primitive Baptists emerged were often referred to as Particular Baptists. They held to a very strict form of Calvinistic doctrine. The acrostic TULIP is often used to describe the main doctrinal points. T: represents the Total Depravity of man. U: is the Unconditional Election of those God chooses to save from Hell. L: represents the Limited Atonement Christ's sacrifice on the cross provides for only the elect. I: indicates that God's grace in drawing the elect to salvation is Irresistible. P: stands for the ability God gives the elect to Persevere in God's saving grace lo their deaths and ultimate glorification in Heaven.

In 1832 a group of these conservative Baptists met at Black Rock, Maryland and drew up a series of resolutions known as the "Black Rock Address." This came to be the standard that would distinguish Primitive Baptists, also to be known as "Old School Baptists" or "Hard Shell Baptists."

Several things the Pitneys mentioned that would distinguish their church as Primitive Baptist as differentiated from other Baptist groups would include an emphasis on the Sovereign Grace of God in a souls salvation, baptism of believers by immersion, no Sunday School
(children attend church with their parents), and no musical instruments are used in the services.

Providence Primitive Baptist Church formerly belonged to the Mount Salem Association of Primitive Baptist Churches from its organization in 1869 until the Association disbanded around 2004. Other churches that belonged to the Association included Shiloh from Elkhart (formerly located at Wolf and 7th Street in Elkhart, now disbanded). Pilgrims Rest from Etna Green. Tippecanoe south of Bremen. Ft. Wayne Primitive Baptist, and Raisin River from Michigan. Providence Church had been a member of the Paint Creek Association from 1853 to 1867 and was a member of the Mississinewa Association for one year in 1868.

When asked about the associations Mrs. Pitney writes: "Primitive Baptist Associations are still held in some areas. They were established to meet and fellowship with others of like faith and order and renew and re-establish old friendships in our own faith. They held no
authority over individual churches but were a wonderful tool for discussions, both spiritually and to determine the welfare of brethren in other places. Usually these meetings lasted 3 days. Friday through Sunday, with much praying, singing and preaching. Visiting brethren stayed in the homes of members of the host association, giving more time for just plain fellowship with old and new friends. There were often 4 lo 6 (not always) churches in each association and these associations were all over the United Slates."

Some personalities who are associated with Primitive Baptist Churches would include: Abraham Lincoln, who wav the scxion for Little Pigeon Church near Lincoln City. Indiana: Thomas Jefferson; Former Speaker of Ihe House of Representatives. Sam Rayburn:
Elder James Compton who was a clock maker for the White House: and Elder Gordon L. Watson from Wabash who was a city planner for Huntington. Indiana.

Original transcribed and published in the Michiana Searcher a Quarterly of the Elkhart County Genealogical Society re-transcribed for posting here at Genealogy Trails by Barb Z.

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