Congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church 1909

Witherspoon Presbyterian Church – 1909 Indianapolis, Indiana. Click to enlarge.

This is a photograph of the congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN in 1909, two years after they organized. This photograph is from the personal collection of my cousin Vivian Vaughn McDonald.  My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage is the third person on the top right. My grandfather, Albert Cleage is next to her.  They wouldn’t be married for two more years. Next to Albert is his brother Jacob and next to him is their brother Henry.  Directly in front of my grandfather Albert is Jacob’s wife, Gertrude.

I was told that my grandfather’s sister Josephine, also a church member, was not there for the photograph, but was home pregnant with Hattie Ruth, the youngest of her five children. Her husband, James Cleage  stands four people to the left of Henry.  James Cleage was from a different branch of Cleages.  In the second row, second from the right, is Henrietta Cleage, oldest daughter of James and Josephine.

In the 1909 Indianapolis City Directory Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church is listed as located in Realty Hall with Rev. David White as Pastor.  I wonder if he is in this photograph and if so, which one he is?

The history below was from the Witherspoon web page, however they  have taken the history section down. My grandparents, Albert Cleage and Pearl Reed, are both listed as founders.

On April 30, 1907 the Presbytery of Indiana of the United Presbyterian Church held a called meeting at Realty Hall in response to a petition signed by 31 persons asking to be organized into a United Presbyterian congregation.

Begins With 31 Members

Prof. David Graham of Rushville was moderator and Rev. W. W. McCall of Greensburg was secretary. Other members present were Rev. Fred W. Schmuch of Milroy, Rev. N. B. McClung of Vevay, Rev. Mr. McDill of Madison, and Dr. Cowan of Indianapolis.

The petition was discussed at some length. By unanimous vote an organization was decided upon. The 31 members who signed the petition were as follows: Henry W. Cleage, Mrs. Carrie Perkins, Mrs. Emma Moore, A. T. Roney, Mrs. Cora Donann, Mrs. Cathern Crenshaw, Mrs. Daisy L. Brabham, Albert Cleage, Mrs. Gertrude Cleage, James Myers, Mrs. A. L. McElrath, O. F. Dennis, Mrs. Hattie  Mitchell, H. M. Mitchell, Mrs. Theresa Finley, Othello Finley, Miss Edith Finley, Miss Luell E. Hibbett, Mrs. Mary Peterson, Mrs. Anna Bowman, John T. Fox, Miss Pearl Reed, Thomas H. Bransford, Mrs. O. F. Dennis, Miss Alice Mathews, Miss Hilda Reeder, W. J. Perkins, Henry Moore and H. L. Hummons.

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18 thoughts on “Congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church 1909”

  1. A terrific picture. Despite being two years off marriage your grandparents are already a couple.
    Many of the ladies are wearing beautiful hats. I would call them Edwardian but since the King of England has no relevance to the USA, what do you call that elegant period from the turn of the century to the outbreak of WW1?
    Best wishes Anne

    1. Hmmm, I wonder. Just googled and they say it’s called “The Progressive Era”. I don’t think that would explain the elaborate hats though. I would probably just call it the early 20th century or the turn of the century.

  2. How wonderful to have such an early photograph with so many of your family. It ticks the boxes of this week’s prompt with the a crowd, the big hats and the similar date. There are fascinating little touches to identify when you look more closely, such as the decorations on the hats and the huge ribbons in the hair of the little girl in the middle of the front row.

  3. With only 31 members, I guess you couldn’t skip church without being noticed. The hats are great.

  4. All manner of beautiful big hats in that crowd – on the women, anyway. The men had apparently been asked by the photographer to remove theirs for the photograph as men definitely wore hats back in the day.

  5. Although I personally don’t like to wear hat, I do love the look. And I can just imagine all these ladies being judged (hopefully not too harshly!) by their millinery choices.

    1. I don’t like hats either. I have been reading books written at the turn of the century and there is a lot of hat making and wearing and redoing there.

  6. A fantastic photo full of character and history. Only one man wears a hat and I wondered if he was the pastor. He’s the right age but in the wrong place in the group. Seems like he should be in the center. Maybe the tall man who is at center back row is the pastor.

  7. What a great photo, and you knew so many of the family were there! That brings these people’s lives home to us, and makes the photo more meaningful. Knowing that one great aunt of yours was home expecting a child, and then wondering how the minister doesn’t have any identifying marks! Thanks so much. Oh, there is a man at the right back holding a homburg!

    1. I knew my grandparents and my grandfather’s brothers and the wife of the one, and then the cousin who shared the photograph with me told me which were his relatives and that Aunt Josie was home.

  8. Love the photo! You are so fortunate to have so many relatives depicted and named in the congregation history. I also admire those hats — my maternal grandmother’s uncle was a milliner and I love the photo I have inherited of his hat shop. Perhaps I will make it a Sepia Saturday post one of these days.

  9. A fantastic photo. So lucky it survived. And there are some seriously amazing hats in that shot. Do you know if it’s a very large photo or the size of a real photo post card? It has some amazing details.

    1. I didn’t think to ask. I assumed it was a large photo because it showed up larger than a postcard when I downloaded my copy.

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