TSGS Cruiser Blog

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mystery - "The Agoga Bible Class Fountain of 1929"

Yesterday morning (Saturday), I went over to Oak Hill Cemetery to find a few grave sites to take photos of the grave markers for “Find A Grave” requests of individuals living away. I had searched for one on late Friday after work and could not find it... so I was hoping the office would be open on Sat. to look at the plat sheets in the office showing all of the burials. Chris Cooke, the Superintendent of the Evansville City Cemeteries (Locust Hill & Oak Hill), was manning the office. He helped me locate the graves I was looking for and we talked about some interesting things concerning the cemetery and he showed me a photo on his cell phone of a plaque on the back side of a large monument that he was curious about. (See their huge database for both cemeteries http://www.evansvillegov.org/cemeteries/ )

The above plaque (click on images to enlarge) is on the back of James Monroe Crowder's monument (below) at Oak Hill Cemetery. It apparently was used in 1929 as a memorial to Crowder when they were dedicating a fountain at the Agoga Tabernacle. At least, I suspect that the fountain was at the Agoga Tabernacle.

Agoga Tabernacle images of exterior & interior from Willard Library Photo Gallery http://www.willard.lib.in.us/online_resources/photography_gallery_detail.php?ID=14

Donahue Studios http://www.donahuestudiosphotographs.com/documents/Donahue_Studios_Church.pdf
Text taken from negatives for a brochure, probably around 1955.
The formation of First Baptist Church, 04 July 1847. Services were held in a small church on Second & Clark Streets until lots on Third & Cherry were purchased for $800.00, and a brick church built there in 1868. A call was extended to Rev. J. Frederick Rake of St. Louis in 1916. The present church on Fourth & Cherry was built and dedicated in 1922. The next year, the Agoga Bible Class erected the Tabernacle on the corner across the street. In 1944, the church purchased the Welborn-Walker Hospital changing its name to Welborn Memorial Baptist Hospital. December of 1951, Dr. Rake resigned after fifty years in the Ministry. Rev. Dallas J. West [no relation to me – JGWest] was called to succeed him.

Indiana History by Ralph D. Gray, Published by Indiana University Press, 1994
ISBN 025332629X, 9780253326294
442 pages (article by William E. Wilson pp. 292-302) Page 294: “As we approached a large vacant lot [on Fourth Street - JGWest] we saw that a crowd was gathered under floodlights, and a fiddler's contest was in progress on a platform in the blue haze of a pit barbecue. My father [U.S. Congressman William Edward Wilson of Indiana's 1st. District, D-Evansville - JGWest] said, '... The Agoga Bible Class is raising money to build a tabernacle on that lot. They outgrew the Strand Theatre and moved into the Victory Theatre, and now they've outgrown it. They gave the preacher an automobile last month.'”

From my limited research which included the Browning Genealogical Database of obituaries http://browning.evcpl.lib.in.us/ and newspaper articles http://local.evpl.org/ and Google & Yahoo web searches, I think that the fountain was completed about the time of J. Monroe Crowder's death in 1928. It appears that the Agoga Bible Class dedicated the fountain in 1929 about 4 to 6 years after the Agoga Tabernacle was built. The memorial plaque would have been placed on the fountain or nearby. I am not sure when the Agoga was razed, but I believe the fountain went with it and someone salvaged the plaque and had it mounted to Mr. Crowder's Monument. His wife Mary Lou (nee Coomes) next married Carl H. Blum and she was a long-time Chief Clerk of the Vanderburgh County Probate Court, ending a 43-year career at the time of her death in 1962. She is buried next to her first husband J. Monroe Crowder. - Compiled by JGWest
[Anyone with additional information concerning this Agoga Fountain, please contact me: jgw.mylines@gmail.com ]

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