James Dean’s Church, Back Creek Friends, a history

     Updated August 11, 2010 URL is http://our.tentativetimes.net/dean/bckhisty.html

A Brief History of

Back Creek

Friends Meeting

Most Indiana Friends migrated north from the Carolinas. Those settling in southern Grant County, having come from a local meeting in North Carolina called Back Creek, named theri new home meeting in Indiana Back Creek. The church was first established in 1831 by the Indiana Yearly Meeting and has been in continuous operation since then. Presently it is the oldest Friends Meeting in Grant County and the oldest meeting of any denomination in the county.

In 1829 meetings were first held for worship in the cabin of Joseph Winslow. In 1831 a log meetinghouse was erected, but it proved too small for the membership. In 1841 a new brick meetinghouse was completed. This was divided right and left by moveable doors. The men and boys occupied one side and the women and girls the other. Meetings for business and discipline were thus held separately. During the service the women would smile serenely from under their gray silk bonnets. The men would sit in quiet reverence. With so much silence and little activity the time seemed to pass slowly for the young folk.

Back Creek was instrumental in establishing other meetings in southern Grant County. Included in the list are

  • Oakridge in 1843
  • Chester (Jonesboro) in 1844
  • Fairmount in 1852
  • Little Ridge in 1854
  • East Bethel in 1867 and
  • Upland in 1874.

Education was important to the early Quaker settlers. Back Creek began Sabbath School (Sunday School) in 1863. In 1874 the Meeting built a two-story brick school that was used by Friends children. In 1883 we helped start the Fairmount Academy.

The biggest event to come to Back Creek was the June Quarterly Meeting. In years it was held here (1839 – 1893) the attendance grew every year until possibly 10,000 people assembled on the grounds. Excursion trains brought people on the tracks east of the meeting. The atmosphere of a County Fair prevailed, as six to eight out-of-door pulpits accomodated all who wanted to preach. The membership of Back Creek at this time was around 440.

The present meeting house was constructed in 1899, and the parsonage was purchased in 1953.

The program closed with this quotation attributed to the Rubio Reminder, a collection of quotations, anecdotes, stories and statistics gathered by the pastor of Back Creek Friends Meeting:

Our lives are harps of God, but many of them do not give their sweetest music in the calm of quiet, prosperous day. It is in the heavy storms of trial, adversity, in sore pain or loss, that the richest, noblest music comes from our souls.

The above history is printed on the back of each week’s program at the meeting. Tom Burghuis and I again remind all the Dean fans that if you missed finding the plate as you left the service, or if you weren’t able to be there this year, you can send a donation to

Back Creek Friends Treasurer

2520East 750 South

Fairmount IN 46928

The telephone there is (765) 948-5640.

No, I’m not a member, and I hope they don’t mind my telling you about how much they appreciate the help we give them each year.

Read the welcome given us at the service by the Friends, and Susan Bricker’s poem.

(For the official history of Back Creek Friends Meeting, please go to their own fine website.)


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