Where in the World is Cherry Grove? [Genealogy] –
There are some places that exist as a distinct entity only in the minds of longtime local residents. Near my home, there’s an area called Horseshoe Bend. It’s a place where the creek bends, and the road bends with it. I suspect it was referred to as Horseshoe Bend long before there was an actual road there. You won’t find Horseshoe Bend on any map, at least not any map I’ve ever seen, but it’s as real as any other place labeled on any map. Cherry Grove is potentially a location like that, perhaps a culture fixture more so than a geographical standard.
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Cherry Grove doesn’t exist in the same way for people outside of Randolph County, Indiana, maybe not even for people outside of its general vicinity in southern Randolph County. I recently came across a post in an Indiana genealogy Facebook group. A researcher was looking for information on her ancestors. She is planning a trip to Indiana to look for records and visit some of the places her ancestors walked. The details she gave mentioned Cherry Grove as the birthplace of one of her relatives. The helpful contributors in the group were very eager to volunteer information telling the researcher how to get to Cherry Grove NEAR CRAWFORDSVILLE.
Apparently, there is a real town in Indiana called Cherry Grove. It’s near Crawfordsville, so someone searching for Cherry Grove, Indiana would find information about the one around Crawfordsville. Someone seeing a mention of Cherry Grove would naturally point the searcher to that Cherry Grove. This one particular post happened to be the first one I saw after joining the group only a few hours earlier. I saw the mention of a birth at Cherry Grove and a marriage in Randolph County right after that, and I had a suspicion the Cherry Grove in question was not anywhere near Crawfordsville. The Cherry Grove being referenced was the one near Bloomingport in Randolph County, Indiana. It’s difficult to find a location that doesn’t exist as a town in any formal compacity though.
“The Old Furnas Place” near Cherry Grove, Randolph County, Indiana
Cherry Grove in Randolph County, Indiana has never been an actual town as far as I can tell, but it is a real place. It was quite common for my grandparents to refer to something as being at Cherry Grove or happening at Cherry Grove. When I asked about this photo that was labeled with “The Old Furnas Place,” both my grandpa and his sister told me it looked like a house that used to be at Cherry Grove.
I don’t actually know if “The Old Furnas Place” was really at Cherry Grove. It could be anywhere really. There was an Isaac Lester Furnas whose birthplace is listed as September 3, 1888 in Lynn, Indiana. It is possible “The Old Furnas Place” is connected to his family. I have no idea why my relatives had a picture of the house.
Cherry Grove Monthly Meeting – Indiana Society of Friends
Cherry Grove likely had more geographical significance in times past. Today it’s largely a shadow left from earlier activities and earlier prominence in the community. Cherry Grove owes its existence to the Cherry Grove Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers, being established in 1822. Cherry Grove was a Preparative Meeting even before that.
According to E. Tucker’s History of Randolph County, Indiana 1882:
The chief members of Cherry Grove at first were Stephen Hockett, John Osborn, Jonathan Johnson, John Pegg, Caleb Reece, Thomas Frazier, Curtis Bales, James Jay, Gideon Frazier, Edward, Joseph, and Nathan Thornburg, etc.
The recorded ministers from time to time, during the almost two-thirds of a century, have been Thomas Frazier, the only one for many years, Elizabeth Pearson, Elwood Osborn, Jonathan Hodgin, Levi Jessup, Seth Reece, Huldah Reece, Cynthia Reece, Martha Johnson.
Some of the members at the time are, in addition to most of the above ministers; Isaac Osborn, Davis Pegg, Eli Reece, Calvin Johnson, Elkanah Osborn. There are about eighty families belonging to the Preparative Meeting, with about two hundred and eighty persons, including children. (page 148)
According to Temple Smith’s reminiscences on page 84 of E. Tucker, “The Quaker meeting was set up at Cherry Grove in 1816 or 1817; they build a double log cabin for a meeting-house.” Smith is likely referring to the Preparative Meeting. This means Cherry Grove was present about the time Indiana became a state and probably before Randolph County was established as a county.
Although Bloomingport is/was an actual town, and Cherry Grove was not in any formal capacity as a town, Cherry Grove was around before Bloomingport. Bloomingport wasn’t established until nearly a decade later in 1829 (Tucker page 377). As you’ll remember from earlier posts, my great-great-grandfather John Henry Bales ran the livery stable at Bloomingport. The meeting-house at Cherry Grove no longer stands. All that’s left of Cherry Grove Monthly Meeting now are the hundreds of graves at the Cherry Grove cemetery.
Cherry Grove Camp Meeting – Randolph County, Indiana
A few miles south of the Cherry Grove burial ground is the site of the Cherry Grove camp meeting. I’m not sure how long Cherry Grove has been the site of a camp meeting. Camp meetings were happening in neighboring Wayne County as early as 1810. Camp meetings were open-air revival meetings where traveling evangelists came to preach. These camp meetings were a key component of the Second Great Awakening in the United States.
The camp meeting site is still active today apparently.
So what’s your favorite place that exists only to the locals?
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