Thursday, November 3, 2016

When Church and Family History Collide – Part 2

Readers back in late 1920s were so taken with Lou Winslow Howe's article about the history of Carrollton (Kentucky) Methodist Church that they prevailed on her to write another. This second article, recalling the living arrangements of the church's pastors, was even longer than the first!

Here is my transcription from the Carrollton Democrat clipping Sarah Eva Howe pasted into a scrapbook. Again we see many Carrollton names and details about their homes and affiliations.

Like so many other clippings in the scrapbooks, this one was not dated. Lou Winslow Howe's reference to G.D. Prentiss as the current pastor puts the date of the article circa 1926. If you are interested in details, you can find them online.


The former article, which was published in a recent issue, under the above caption, has elicited from friendly critics so many expressions of appreciation and commendation that I have been persuaded to cull from memory’s storehouse some well-authenticated facts in regard to the dwelling places of the preachers who, in early times, were dependent on the hospitality of those of the membership who chose to invite them into their homes.

In this they complied with the Scriptural injunction which Christ urged on His disciples: “into whatsoever house ye enter . . . remain eating and drinking such things as they give; for the laborer is worthy of his hire.”

Such were the conditions in our Carrollton church for many years, until in 1850, the second year of the pastorate of Rev. John B. Ewan, the contract was let to James F. Wyatt, a skilled carpenter, who belonged to one of the pioneer families of Methodism, to build a frame parsonage, facing east, on Seventh street, a short distance north of Seminary.

This building, with some modifications, is now the comfortable home of the Kirby family. When first erected, this residence consisted of a front entrance hall, five rooms, and a long back porch on the west side. At the south end of it was a good-sized kitchen and a pantry adjoining. A coal house and wood shed were added and a small chicken coop, to whose contents the farming members were encouraged to contribute. In the rear was a fertile garden spot from which Brother Ewan supplied his family with almost everything they needed to eat. He was delighted with his surroundings, and with great gratification the following September relinquished the parsonage, feeling that he was passing on a great favor to his successor, Rev. James Lawrence.

This brother had come from the interior of the state and had cherished bright anticipations of living near the confluence of the rivers, where, in addition to hearing the boats whistle at night, he could have the pleasure of seeing them pass in the day time, so he left the parsonage vacant in the hands of the trustees and rented for his own use a house which stood down near the point, on the east side of First street, overlooking the wharf.

During the delightful autumn weather he luxuriated in the glorious scenery and the invigorating atmosphere, but when the snows had fallen in December and the Frost King in January had congealed the waters into cakes of floating ice, and later the March winds began to howl, followed by the drenching rains of the Spring equinox, which filled both rivers to overflowing, he found his chosen place of abode, on a high mound, entirely surrounded by water, and realized that he had more than he had bargained for. He then decided that it would have been better if he had satisfied himself with the home that had been provided for him.

The next pastor, Reverend Samuel Adams, and twenty-one of his successors were grateful to shelter their families under its protecting roof, though it frequently needed and received repairs, and quite a number hinted that it was a long distance from the church.

In September 1892, the appointee of the Conference was Dr. Robert Hiner. (Some will be interested to recall that it was his privilege in the following December to dedicate the church at Prestonville, which for the accommodation of about twenty-five of our members, during the summer of that year, under the supervision of Rev. C.J. Nugent, had been erected on a lot donated by Mr. E.H. Smith. For that church and the congregation which worships there we continue to cherish a most neighborly regard and loving interest.)

Shortly after the arrival of Dr. Hiner’s family some of the good sisters of the church who were at the parsonage to assist them in “getting fixed up” discovered that his wife was not feeling well, and insisted on calling in medical attention. According to the diagnosis of the physician, Dr. L.E. Goslee, incipient typhoid fever had been sapping her vitality for at least ten days. In less than a month her spirit was called “up higher” and her mortal remains were interred in the church yard.

Dr. Hiner was then nearing the completion of his threescore and ten. He was not vigorous as in former years, and he became impressed with a decided preference to live nearer the church, so the official board gratified him by renting out the parsonage, and securing for his accommodation, from the heirs of the late Rev. Wm. McD. Abbett, the house in which he had spent his last days and from which his freed spirit had taken its departure. This house, a two-story brick on High street, between Fourth and Fifth, is now owned by Mr. Geo. S. Lee and occupied by himself and family.

Dr. Hiner, whose sermons were uniformly logical, forceful and eloquent, entered upon the fourth year of his pastorate with enthusiasm of spirit but with waning physical vitality, and in March 1896, he suffered an attack of paralysis from which he never fully recovered, although at the Conference in September of that year the Bishop appointed him to serve the Warsaw circuit, which was the last place he attempted to fill.

After that he spent several months in Warsaw with his daughter and grandsons; later he went to Central Kentucky, where he had many friends, but his feebleness became more and more pronounced until, in the spring of 1903, he got aboard a train with a ticket for Carrollton, and arriving here on the formerly well known “Grobmyer bus,” when the driver said “Dr. Hiner, where do you go?” he replied, “Take me just beyond the Methodist church and put me out at Brother Joe Howe’s.” When that gentleman’s wife greeted him at their front door, he said, “Sallie, I’ve come to stay.”

. . . As the summer passed he hoped to recruit sufficiently to attend the Annual Conference, but a kind Heavenly Father decreed otherwise, and just at sun-rise one morning near the middle of September his spirit took its flight to the abode of the blessed, and his body was placed by the side of his wife, in the church yard, which resting place eleven years before had been chosen by himself.

Dr. Hiner’s successor in Carrollton was Rev. Wm. Shoesmith, who moved into the Seventh street parsonage October 1, 1896. Having an agricultural taste and two boys in their teens, he encouraged himself in an eager desire for more land to cultivate, so early in the following spring on his own initiative he vacated the parsonage and rented the farm just beyond the city limits, afterwards purchased and now occupied by Mr. J.W. Harrison.

During Brother Shoesmith’s pastorate a fund was started of individual subscriptions to supplement a donation (for a new parsonage) of $1,000, which had been bequeathed by Sister Mary E. Conn, whose oldest daughter was the wife of Rev. W.T. Rowland. Before the expiration of his term of service Brother Shoesmith accepted a position as traveling agent for the Kentucky Children’s Home Society, and Rev. H.G. Turner was appointed to fill out that year and also to serve the following year. He and his young wife preferred to board, but the parsonage fund was increased from time to time and in 1899 the brick parsonage
Image courtesy

at 219 Fifth street was completed, and Rev. J.D. Redd was the first preacher to occupy it. The same has been a much appreciated home for our pastors during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

The present occupant, Rev. G.D. Prentiss and wife, keep it in excellent condition and spare no pains to beautify the premises with shrubs and flowers.

Rev. W.T. Rowland, our highly esteemed “pastor emeritus” (local superannuate), for the past thirty years has resided in the Conn homestead, from which, in 1875, he claimed as his bride Miss Mary Ethylene Conn, to assist him in his work as pastor at Danville, Ky.

Other brides who have gone from our midst to itinerate as helpmates to pastors of the Kentucky Conference were Miss Margaret S. Winslow, who was united in marriage with Rev. William McD. Abbett in 1826; Miss Sallie Turpin, who married Rev. E.L. Southgate in 1867; Miss Anna Browinski, who married Rev. J.E. Wright in 1889, and Miss Mary E. Coliver, who married Rev. George Froh in the old church June 27, 1870. The two last named, now on the retired list, are still living together in their own home in Lagrange, and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary six years ago. Though physically frail, they are spiritually alert, relying on the promise of God . . .

. . .  Some time ago it became quite manifest that our auditorium needed to be re-decorated; we also became aware of the fact that our present organist, Mrs. R.M. Barker, an accomplished musician, could learn to handle, with pleasure and satisfaction to herself and the entire congregation, a much larger instrument than the small pipe organ to which we had been listening for the past forty years.

Also we needed more rooms, more conveniently arranged for our now well-graded Sunday school.

Our small hot air furnaces, which sometimes failed to furnish adequate heat, were also worn out.

After several preliminary meetings during the spring months, our pastor, Rev. G.D. Prentiss, who is now serving the fourth year of his quadrennium, called a special session of the church conference and appointed committees to decide what improvements were practicable and how the funds should be raised to defray the inevitable expenses.


Example of windows installed in 1892

Lou Howe then generalizes about the church hiring an architect; remodeling the church; adding several rooms; and installing a new organ, three pianos, a Raymond Vapor Heating System, Battleship Linoleum in the halls and stairways, and a Wilton velvet carpet in “the hallowed places.” She identified as project leaders George B. Winslow and his brother William Beverly Winslow, an attorney living in New York, who in 1892 had managed the replacement of clear glass with stained-glass windows.

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