Prospect Presbyterian Church: This church was organized about 1835 at Burns School House by the families of Thomas Burns, Thomas McMannis, James Moore, James Duncan, John Duncan, Joseph Patten, and some others. In a few years after the organization they built a house of worship on the northwest corner of James Duncan’s land (where the Rural Academy now stands) and the first preacher who occupied the pulpit there was the Rev. Stewart, who continued to preach for this church for a number of years. After him Rev. Henry Ward Beecher (the noted Brooklyn divine) preached here, and he was followed by the Rev. Reed, who preached for the church for a number of years, and the Rev. Long who was the last minister of this church. As some of its leading members had moved to the west, and others had died, the house was sold for a school house, and is now known as Rural Academy. (1884). Below this double spaced information is the following single spaced note: As I recall, some of the folk used to talk about the Traders Point school was known as the Academy. I trust this information will be of some interest and help to you, and he signed his name. Beneath his name was another single spaced typed note: Since writing the above I learned that this land ws where the church was built was owned by a Mr. Abraham Busenbarrick. It is also the same location where the Pleasant Hill cemetery is located on the Moore Road about one mile north of Traders Point.
Could this be true? According to many published sources, the chronology makes this highly possible.
Henry Ward Beecher, the fourth son of Lyman Beecher (whose mantle, reputation, and personality he inherited), (and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe) was born on June 24, 1813, at Litchfield, Conn. Though an undisciplined student with a greater gift for speaking than studying, he graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and Lane Theological Seminary in 1837. He was ordained by the Presbyterian Church (New School) in 1838, serving first a small parish at Lawrenceburg, Ind., and then the larger Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis after 1839. Here he developed the oratorical style – a singleness of aim which sought to achieve a moral response and change in his hearers – that enabled him to become the most conspicuous preacher in the nation for several decades. In 1847 Beecher moved from Indianapolis to Brooklyn, N.Y., to become pastor of the newly formed Plymouth Church. He remained there the rest of his life and made it one of the most renowned and influential American pulpits, attracting crowds of 2, 500 regularly every Sunday. His striking appearance, dynamic delivery, and ability to speak directly on topics of popular interest gained him a national audience. A stenographer recorded his sermons, which were regularly published and widely read.
And a confirming note from “Anecdotes of Henry Ward Beecher” by N. A. Shenstone, p. 62: “(while in Indianapolis) He always preached twice on a Sunday, and in various districts of the city held an average of five other meetings a week. During three months of every year, by consent of his people, he devoted himself to missionary work throughout the State, making the journeys on horseback and preaching at some place every day. His fame spread throughout the whole country, until finally his arrival in any town was sufficient to attract a multitude of people to hear him. And from page 65: “There was then a feeling in the church, almost throughout the country, which was especially strong in Indianapolis, against discussions on slavery from the pulpit. Some of Mr. Beecher’s most prominent parishoners were bitterly opposed to the subject being even publicly named by a Christian minister. But he emphasized his position by early introducing into the synod a resolution declaring that every minister should preach a thorough exposition and condemnation of slavery.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), American Congregational clergyman, was an outstanding preacher and lecturer. He was probably the best known and most influential Protestant minister in the United States between 1850 and 1887.
So yes, Henry Ward Beecher was in Indianapolis from 1839 to 1847 and he could well have preached here on a regular basis. But one of the most interesting facts of this timeline is that while the church was here at the time Beecher preached in Indianapolis, the village of Traders Point was not platted until 1864.
Any historical references to Beecher preaching at this church will be cited as Prospect Presbyterian Church, (which was less than one mile north of the village). It is also quite possible that the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery on Moore Road was affiliated with Prospect since we know that it was not affiliated with the other churches of Traders Point. We also know, based upon dates on graves, that the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery predates the establishment of Traders Point.