Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sarah's Next-Door Neighbor, Carrollton Methodist Church

Sarah Eva Howe lived next door to the church. I don't know if that was by design, but the location was definitely convenient. Her parents were "pillars of the church." Both Robert James Howe[1] and Alice Ada Cost Howe taught Sunday school classes and were leaders of various committees and groups within the church. Robert was the Sunday School superintendent, as was at least one of his brothers. Alice played the piano and organ, organized the Foreign Missionary Society, and worked on many committees.

The family's connections with the church go back another generation to Sarah's Irish immigrant grandparents, John Howe and Sarah "Sallie" Brown Howe, who were members and leaders there by the 1850s. Their son (and Robert's brother) William Ficklin Howe was an active member and leader of the church, too, and his wife Louisiana Winslow Howe – Sarah's "Aunt Lou" – compiled a church history in 1898. Before that, from 1835 to 1883, Lou's father William Beverly Winslow was secretary of the church's Board of Stewards and kept the records his daughter used to write the history. 

Sarah herself participated in all of the church's programs for children and youth. When she grew up and married William Levi Salyers, she followed in her parents' footsteps and served the church in multiple ways. She brought up four children in that church.

No surprise, then, that she mentions the church often in her scrapbooks. Here is a transcription of one church-related story.

I haven't been saying much about the church at this time [1890s], but it was the ever-present factor in our lives – living next door, as we did, every church service was important to us. As Mama had played the organ up to about July before Leonora was born, we even had the big iron key of the church at our house and if someone wanted to get in the church without going clear out to Frank Whiteheads (on Sycamore St. right on the alley from Cousin Jenne's house), they came to us. . . .

Carrollton Methodist Church circa 1895 [3]
Dr. [Robert] Hiner suffered a severe illness during his later ministry, his son Morton Hiner preached for him for awhile, but Dr. Hiner himself was able to preach again during the spring and summer of 1896, and Papa told him Mama was going to have to give up the organ by that time. He was very much perturbed, for he was devoted to Mama's playing. But he himself faced what was to him a bitter prospect – that of being "superannuated"[2]; he preached such a moving sermon before he left from the text "and now I go to Jerusalem not knowing what shall await me there." It was the end of his 4th year at Carrollton; almost all this time his family had lived in the Orr-Lee house (next to Mrs. Rose Baker) instead of in the very antiquated parsonage on 7th street near Seminary, which besides being pretty far from the street was in bad repair. So when Dr. Hiner's successor came and the "Lee" house was not available (as the Orrs were moving into it), the new family, the Shoesmiths, had to live in the old parsonage. It was Brother Shoesmith who soon began agitating and planning for the new parsonage, which was built a few years later.

Since writing the above, I have been doing some mental calculations. It was in the fall of 1895 that Dr. Hiner left and Brother Shoesmith came to preach. What deceived me was that I knew the Shoesmiths went to school to Mr. English – but at last it came back, Brother Shoesmith only preached for us a year, the next year his family remained in town but he travelled for the American Bible Society, making Carrollton his headquarters. So, in the fall of 1896 Brother Horace G. (Greeley?) Turner came to preach – he was unmarried, but brought his new wife in a few months – they did not occupy the parsonage but boarded at the home of Mrs. Cox in the "Vance house" (across from Uncle Will Fisher's) on 5th Street. The Shoesmiths moved, I believe, to the brick house next to Brother Rowland's now occupied by the Harrisons, on Highland Ave. But the movement for the new parsonage, once started, grew and finally the site was bought, next to Aunt Lou's in what was formerly the big yard where we used to play Hoo hoo and Prisoner's Base.

[1] Read more about the role of Robert James Howe in Methodism locally, regionally, and nationally in the "Papa – Robert James Howe (1855-1910)," the post dated August 11, 2016, "

[2] Poor Dr. Hiner! According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "superannuated" means " "old and therefore no longer very effective or useful; out-moded; old-fashioned; incapacitated or disqualified for active duty by advanced age." It appears that the Methodist bishop and/or the people who decided where Kentucky's Methodist ministers would preach were giving Dr. Hiner his walking papers based on his age. (I wonder if they could get by with that today!)

[3] Image courtesy Carrollton United Methodist Church, Carrollton, Kentucky. A book of church history from 1790 to 2014 is available in three installments at

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