BLACK CREEK TOWNSHIP
Black Creek Township was organized in 1834, although the first settlers were here prior to 1830. The township is in the northwest portion of Mercer County, bounded on the north by Van Wert County, on the east by Dublin Township, on the south by Liberty Township, and on the west by Adams County, Indiana. There are two small reservations in the northeast corner of the township, Charlie Reservation and the Labadie Reservation. There are no villages in the township. Shanesville, known today as Rockford, and Willshire, both in Ohio, and Berne, Indiana, are the nearest towns. According to an 1897 Mercer County map, there was a post office known as Black Creek Center Pond P.O., located at the intersection of Manley and Wabash Roads.
The first religious society in the township was a Methodist Episcopal class at the Duckcreek school house in about 1856. By 1907 Black Creek Township had two Methodist Episcopal churches—Duck Creek Church and Fountain Chapel. Both churches were served by the pastor of the ME Church at Willshire, in Van Wert County. In 1907 there were two classes of the United Brethren Church in the township—Pleasant Grove and East Bethel. Both were served by the same pastor. Zion United Brethren Church, a radical United Brethren congregation, was established in 1891. Over the years, there have been seven churches in Black Creek Township, Centenary Church, Duckcreek Church, East Bethel Church, Fairview Church, Fountain Chapel Church, Pleasant Grove Church, and Zion United Brethren Church. Today there are no active churches in Black Creek Township. In August, 2003, Zion United Brethren Church, the last active church in Black Creek Township, closed its doors.
As a result of its location, some Black Creek Township churches attracted members from Van Wert County and Indiana, as well as members from Mercer County.
Status: Inactive; church destroyed
Denomination: Radical United Brethren until 1878, then Methodist Episcopal
Previous names: Methodist Episcopal at Duckcreek School
Location: Black Creek Twp. Sec. 17, west edge of the SW ¼, 3 mi. N of Chattanooga on east side of SR 49
Records: Most records destroyed by mice. A few baptism records and membership lists remain, c.1879-1909, copies in Genealogy Room, Mercer County Public Library, Celina
Cemetery: Yes [north of where church was located]
Timeline: 1859: Celina Circuit, Duckcreek Society; 1867: Shanesville Circuit; 1868: frame church built; 1869: Willshire Circuit; 1878: left the radical United Brethren Circuit to go to Shanesville Circuit of Methodist Churches. Church destroyed by a cyclone in 1920.
Duckcreek was the first religious society in Black Creek Township, formed by Rev. Joshua Smith about 1856. The first members were A.M. Counterman & wife, Alonzo Cross & wife, George Clark & wife, and William Harper & wife, and a few others.
Duckcreek Church, Duckcreek Society, was in the Celina Circuit in 1859. Conference members were George Clark, J. Koons, D. Foreman, A.M. Counterman, S. Hopkins, D. Tinkham, A. Foreman, J. Garwood, John Detterer, W. Foreman, I. Foreman, C. Counterman, M.A. Clark, N.A. Counterman, and M.S. Tinkham.
In 1867 they were on the Shanesville Circuit with officers Elmer Hill, collector, Porter Davis, Geo Clark, James Nelson, M.H. Porter, John Frank, D. Clark, Christiania Johnson, Mary Clark, and Alex Counterman.
Services were conducted in the Duckcreek schoolhouse until it became too small for the congregation. About 1868 a frame church was built across the road and north about a quarter mile, where a cemetery had already been started on a hill above the Duckcreek Ditch. This was the first church in the township. Land for the church was purchased from Josiah H. Wilmore in 1873 for $12.50. The oldest stone in the cemetery is that of Johnathan Emery, son of John and Sarah Emery, who died 18 August 1841.
In 1869 Duck Creek was put on the Willshire circuit, with members reporting to conference as C.Y. Hill, collector, Christiania Johnson, Mary Clark, G. Clark, J. Johnson, P. Counterman, Prescilla Wood, John Frank, L. Tinkham, R. Coppersmith, and S. Hollinger.
In 1878, due to much dissatisfaction, Duckcreek left the radical United Brethren circuit and went on the Shanesville Circuit of Methodist churches. This circuit was made up of Shanesville, Fountain Chapel, Mercer and Coss, and Willshire and Duckcreek as a Willshire Circuit. Church officers in 1879 were John Davis, Moses Foreman, D. Smith, M. Detro, H. Mille, William Beall, J. Wechter, Reed Hopkins, Baldwin Clark, and Alex Counterman. Alex and Ann Elizabeth Bolenbaugh Counterman were among the list of older members.
In 1882 Pastor M.M. Figley reported that small pox in the spring was very detrimental to the work. According to the 1891 conference notes, they were out of debt. In 1903 the officers were as follows: Trustees: G. Marbaugh, Wm. Tinkham, J. Davis, A. Bailey, S. Tinkham; Stewards: Wm. Tinkham and Eva Morrison; Class Leader: Emanuel Stetler.
Late in the evening of March 28, 1920, just after dark, the church was completely blown apart by a cyclone. It destroyed the church building and knocked over or broke cemetery stones, but the bell came straight down and was later moved and used in the Mount Hope Church in Adams County, Indiana, four miles to the west. Most of the Duckcreek members joined the Chattanooga Methodist Church.
I grew up on wabash rd and attended a small EUB church on 707 until I was in 8th grade. That would have been around 1962 when the church closed and we then attended the church in chatt. Was this the duck creek church? We never called it that. My dad(Melville Gehm) remembers when the church was UB and became EUB. He painted an E in front of then UB. When I was small I remember him ringing the church bell on Sunday morning. Some of the names listed in the above article are familiar to me. Both Counterman and the Cross families attended there with us. The Countermans lived just down the road from us ( grandson Duane lives there now) and then my grandparents home (John &i Icy) was next.
My husbands (Jerry) great grandfather was instrumental in starting the chatt Methodist church. A few years ago he attended a homecoming and read a poem that was written by one of the founding duffs.
Did you grow up in chatt? I graduated from parkway in1967 and attended Rockford grade school.
Linda Gehm Duff
We may be interested in some duff genealogy work. His grandparents and great grandparents are buried at the kessler cemetary. We have tried to do some research but never can go back further than James Madison duff.
Hi Linda! Nice to hear from you. The church you went to was called East Bethel and it closed about 1962-3. I was able to get a copy of a photo of that church from Florence Gause. Duck Creek church was a little over a mile north of 707 on State Route 49. I know some of Jerry’s family attended Chatt Methodist and I have heard about that Duff poem written for the church. Didn’t the Duffs live in Chatt at one time? I grew up just north of Chatt. In fact I graduated with your sister Rhonda and Jerry’s sister Linda. We were all very good friends. Linda and I attended Willshire Grade School together and we had some good times together growing up. And, Linda was a bridesmaid in our wedding. I also knew your parents, the Gehms better than the Duffs. Karen
Was this Duckcreek church where the cemetery still lies there on 49 between Rockford West Road and Wilson Road? Just across the road and up north a 1/4 mile from the old one room school that fell a few years ago? Next door to Johny Meyer’s home place? There has never been a building there in my 60+ years.
Yes, you have the correct location. According to the old maps, the church was just south of the cemetery. The cemetery is still in use. There was a burial there last year. The church was destroyed by a tornado in about 1920.
My parents will be traveling to the area next month and are very interested in visiting some sites that relate to our Counterman ancestry line. I have been researching Jacob Counterman (son of David Counterman and Anna (Gant) Counterman. David is buried in Duck Creek Cemetery and his son Jacob is buried in Mercer Cemetery. I read in an old text “The History of Van Wert and Mercer Counties” that Jacob Counterman was very involved in helping to build a church in Mercer that was originally called The Counterman Tabernacle and later changed to Mercer Church. Do you happen to know what church this is? I suspect it may be the Duck Creek Church given its location and the involvement of other Counterman’s but I’m unsure. Any insight you have would be most appreciated.
I do not know of a church called the Counterman Tabernacle, but your theory that it was Duck Creek Church may be correct. I do not think I ran across that name in my church research, but I will check. Perhaps a reader may know. I hope you have a nice visit to our area and thanks for writing.
Wow! That is interesting as our farm sits right behind (east) that cemetery. Your mention of the tornado makes the second tornado that caused major damage within 1 mile of the farm house. The Palm Sunday tornadoes circa 1966 (or was it 1965) struck just across the section killing members of the Wolfe family (pretty much destroying Mr. Wolfe’s life as he never recovered losing his wife and child). All the boys from Parkway were taken by bus into the damaged fields to help clean up in the days that followed. The girls were required to stay in school in order to have it count as an active school day for the district. Suspect you were one of those girls in about the 8th or 9th grade.
I lived on Hill Road as a child and attended Zion U.B. church. I know it closed in 2003 and was made into a residence. Can you tell me when the addition was built on to the church, when the bell was removed from the bell-tower, and when the church was destroyed by fire? The fire, I believe was after it became a residence.
Zion UB built a classroom addition in 1954 and built a new sanctuary in 1968. The church closed in 2003. I do not know about the bell and I would have research the date of the fire. Maybe someone knows when the fire occurred.
I just came across this thread and think I can clear up a couple of details. I went to Zion UB Church for many years growing up. Our family started going there right after the 1954 classroom addition was built and we were very involved in the 1968 sanctuary addition. The church did indeed close in 2003 (I brought my mother back for the final service there) and it burned in a fire in (I’m almost sure) 2009.
I have a funny story about the 1968 addition. John Gamble and I are the same age and we both grew up at Zion UB together. We were 7th Graders when the planning and construction for the addition began. As all 13-year-old boys would be, we were curious about the addition and were busily engaged looking over the blueprints. As we studied them, we couldn’t figure out why anybody would want to put a restroom right at the front of the sanctuary in the middle of the platform. I never will forget the twinkle in Bill Gamble’s (John’s dad’s) eyes as he explained to us what a “rostrum” was!
Thank you for the information about the history of Zion UB and for telling about your misunderstand of the the word rostrum. I can imagine your confusion. Funny!
I am doing books for my two aunts who are in their 90’s. They both attended the Duck Creek school as children. My father also attended there. I can find pictures of the church, but not the school. I have been to the library in Celina and Rockford. Does anyone have a picture or know where I can find one ?
I will look to see if I have one, but I am not sure. Maybe someone else does.
I have a picture of the school as it was burning if anyone is interested.
Thank you for offering and sharing. Very good photos of the last hours of Duck Creek School.
I just found this site today. I’m researching Jonathan Spry history. I have his death occuring in 1851 in Black Creek, Mercer County, Ohio. He was born in 1805 in Pennsylvania. I have tenative plans to visit the area next summer, but would like some guidance on where I might find the most information regardin marriage and death records. Is there a cemetery near by Black Creek? Are there any historical records kept in Black Creek, if not, where are they kept? I have not been able to locate anything on line regarding his burial. Thank you in advance for any information you may care to share. Rozella
I am not familiar with this family, although I read in the 1882 history of Mercer and Van Wert Counties that the Sprys were early settlers in Black Creek Township. To answer your questions:
Marriage records are in Probate in the Mercer County Courthouse in Celina, on the 3rd floor. They have also been microfilmed and you can search for them on FamilySearch.org and view them at home on your computer for free. Ohio did not record birth or death records until 1867. Birth and death records from 1867-1906/7 are also in Probate and are on FamilySearch.org as well. Land records are in the Recorder’s office on the second floor of the courthouse. I do not know of any historical records for Black Creek, just what has been written in the compiled county histories. There are no villages in Black Creek Township and church records are scarce.
There are 8 cemeteries in Black Creek Township: Plank, Zimmerman, King, Knight, Fountain Chapel, Coats, Duck Creek, and East Bethel. Plank is on the Mercer/Van Wert County Line and is listed in both Mercer and Van Wert County Cemetery books. There are two Sprys buried in Plank Cemetery: Ellen (1839-1888), wife of T.B.; and an infant daughter of T.B. and E, died 8 Oct 1883, age 16 days. You probably already have that information.
I hope this information helps you a little and good luck with your research!
Mike Schumm and others talk about your comments and I decided to check it out. After the little time I have spent on the site I realized that you may have an answer to something ‘Spank’ and I have been researching. The old Nazarene church at the corner of Market and Franklin streets in Rockford was just torn down and we know it was moved into town from the Blackcreek Twp. We are trying to find the date it was moved and we were sure it was the Pleasant Grove church on US 33 at the county line. We were told that if anyone knows it would be you. Thank you for all your research and keep up the good work.
Norm Van Tilburg
Norm & Spank, thank you for the kind words and for your confidence in me! Several years ago I researched most Mercer County churches, so I do have an answer for you. I will give you the long version.
According to my notes, yes, the church building that was recently torn down was once the Pleasant Grove church located on US 33 near the county line. That congregation was established in 1859 as United Brethren, part of the Pleasant Grove Circuit, and was called Pontius Class. In 1889 they separated from the radical UB and joined the Methodists.
The church building was built in 1870. In about 1940 the church building was purchased by the Nazarenes and was moved to the southeast corner of Market and Franklin Streets in Rockford.
The Nazarenes established their group in Rockford in 1935/36 at a tent-camp meeting on lots called the Mill Ground of Hawks, where Ruthilene Dudgeon lived. Rev. Shell and Rev. Boice were the ministers for the revival meeting. Those that were converted during the meeting wanted a Nazarene Church in Rockford. Rev. Swain was the first pastor sent to Rockford. They first met in the Billy Hunter Tin Shop, near the Auto Specialty Shop. They worshipped in the following sites until they had a permanent building: Russell Strayer’s store, the Opera House, Mrs. Martha Rhoades’ building, the show house, and to West Market Street in 1940.
The church was used for Nazarene services until the Nazarenes disbanded in 1978. After that time the building was used for services by a Baptist group. In the 1990s the building was used as a gift shop and as a dance studio in 2005.
Thanks for the great question and I hope this information helps.