13JN169: Palmer Church Site

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A pre-1875, intact, limestone foundation with internal brick chimney was uncovered in the western portion of site 13JN169. The limestone foundation is believed to represent a church. Maps from both 1867 and 1875 document the presence of a church lying just to the east of site 13JN168 and immediately north of the Military Road and the village of Richland. Stephen Palmer is known to have owned this property by 1867. The depth and nature of the debris within the foundation suggests materials were dumped periodically over some time. The deepest items represent 1830s artifacts including window glass, nails, metal objects, shoe leather, a bone tooth comb, and sewing items. A storage cellar was dug to a depth of 1.4 meters in the southern interior of the foundation and contained stoneware, mammal bone, and a leather shoe. A cistern, collapsed well, and post molds also existed in association. Remnants of a brick-lined, concrete-mortared outhouse occurred 4 meters north of the limestone foundation. Stratified deposits within the privy included buttons, ceramics, building rubble, a brass candlestick, and nightsoil--the soil found within an outhouse. The range of materials associated with the structure suggests its use from the 1830s to the 1870s.

Contents of church foundation

Contents of church foundation

While at least two churches were said to have been organized in the townsite of Bowen's Prairie, the Congregational and Methodist-Episcopal, only the Congregational Church has been found within the townsite itself (see Bowen's Prairie Townsite). It is not known if 13JN169 represents the location of the Methodist-Episcopal Church or an unreported church. The Methodist-Episcopal Church was reportedly removed around 1890 to property on the border of Delaware County. Future study of church documents may resolve this question. If it were the Methodist-Episcopal Church, it would indicate that the historical record pinpointing its location within the townsite is inaccurate. Oral tradition also reports the presence of a general store at 13JN169, and an 1865 post office map shows a post office at "Zurich" at this same location. During its occupation, 13JN169 thus may have functioned as a church, store, post office, or all three.

Privy Picture 1

Extant Bowen's Prairie Cemetary

Extant Bowen's Prairie cemetery south of U.S. Highway 151