Saturday, July 19, 2008

First Baptist Church of Fort Wayne

Allen County Public Library CONTENTdm Collection

I just can't seem to get away from history - and you know - that's fine with me.

I'm returning to Fort Wayne this weekend - but just for a handful of hours - specifically - to attend a service at First Baptist Church. More on the "whys" behind that - tomorrow.

Being the Catholic chick that I am (or should I say - sometimes claim to be), I had never heard of First Baptist Church.

When I found this picture on the library's website, my curiosity was peaked.

Gasp! Another Fort Wayne historical figure that I had never heard of before?! How could that be?!

I had to look through my Fort Wayne history books - not much existed. Online, I found many more resources.

From the Fort Wayne Baptist Church website:

Rev. and Christina McCoy with six of their eight children, Johnston Lykins, a teacher, a hired Indian, and a quantity of livestock, arrived at Fort Wayne on May 15, 1820 from Fort Benjamin Harrison via the Wabash Canal.

The first church of any faith or creed in Fort Wayne was the Baptist Church organized August 3, 1822 by the Rev. Isaac McCoy, missionary to the Indians. They were given quarters in the evacuated fort on May 29, 1820. The McCoys established the first school of any nature in Fort Wayne.

Rev. McCoy performed the first Protestant baptism in Fort Wayne and all the surrounding Middle West; Pe-me-zah-quah on June 18, 1820 and her sister Ah-pez-zah-quah on July 8, 1821. These sisters, grand-daughters of Chief Little Turtle, were members of the church organized August 3, 1822 and chartered under the "Articles of Faith".

I noticed that this church on Fairfield wasn't the "original" church. I soon found out that the first building was located on a lot donated by Samuel Hanna (Clay Street) and then, it was moved to the southeast corner of Berry and Clinton Streets. It's last existence before 2323 Fairfield was at 228 West Jefferson Street. Of course nothing exists there - maybe a parking lot now??

Anyway - some fascinating stuff.

I'm not sure if this interior picture is from their current location - or if it is one of the previously demolished churches. I'll find out soon!