New Book Outlines History of
Orange County Churches
by Nancy Wright


    Orange County's rich religious history is documented in the History of Orange County Churches, published this year by the Orange County Historical Society. The book lists the history of present day churches throughout the county, as well as many discontinued churches.
     The history book was a labor of love for Historical Society member Marjorie Lapping, who almost single-handedly put the book together. Marjorie dedicated three years of her life to working towards its completion.

Marjorie Lapping

     She said she was inspired by a small book on the history of county churches written by Jesse M. Trinkle and published in 1940 by The Paoli Republican.
     The Historical Society felt that an updated history of county churches was a worthwhile project, so Marjorie went to work.
     First, she photographed all of the existing church buildings, an undertaking which required visiting and revisiting some of the churches to get a better view or better light.
     Marjorie bought a new computer, printer and scanner, then had to learn how to use them, because she was unfamiliar with the system.
     Once that was accomplished she spent hours scanning in the text supplied by members of the churches. She said the days she was snowbound during the winter months helped her complete the work.
     All churches in the county are not included in the book, despite repeated efforts by the Historical Society to obtain the history of every church. Letters were sent repeatedly to church officials, notices were placed in all of the newspapers in the county, seeking information on churches, and phone calls and personal visits were made.
     The publication date was also extended to give church officials and members more time to assemble information. But there were still many churches which did not respond, and as a result, could not be included in the book.
     The book, though, does include information on the history of a large number of churches in the county, those still active, and those which no longer exist. It is indexed to assist the reader, and has a map of the townships showing the location of rural churches. The book outlines the history of Our Lady of Lourdes, a church built on the hillside just west of the West Baden Springs Hotel by Lee Sinclair. Though that church no longer exists, the brick, large rosette window and six stained glass windows were used in the construction of the St. Raphael Catholic Church in Dubois.
     The history of the Log Creek Friends Church, destroyed by a tornado in 1905, is included in the history book, as is the history of the First Baptist Church in West Baden, and the Newberry Friends Church, both named to the National Register of Historic Places.
     The book contains information on the history of discontinued churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Paoli, Patoka Chapel, Scarlet Chapel in Northwest Township, United Brethren in Chambersburg, and Lost River Friends.
     Churches such as Syria Christian, Providence Primitive Baptist, Orleans United Methodist, Ames Chapel and Christ the King Catholic, are among the many present day ones included in the history book.
     The book can be purchased by contacting Mrs. Lapping or any member of the Orange County Historical Society.

From the Paoli News, reprinted by permission



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