The first Presbyterian minister to conduct services at Fort Wayne was the Reverend Matthew Wallace, an Ohio pastor who served as chaplain to the army under General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812 and accompanied the troops to the relief of the besieged garrison of Fort Wayne. Ten years later, the Reverend John Ross, also from Ohio, preached in the decommissioned fort and concluded, “There was no place that appeared to me so unpromising as Fort Wayne…there was no Sabbath kept there but on the part of a few.” When no other clergyman visited ‘unpromising” Fort Wayne during the next three years,, the Sunday School class that met in Samuel Hanna’s store asked Allen Hamilton to petition the American Home Missionary Society for a minister, preferably a “Presbyterian…in as much as they are generally better educated, and other here…being members of that church in other parts.”

In November 1829, a newly graduated seminarian, Charles E. Furman, arrived to become the town’s first resident pastor. The First Presbyterian Church was formally organized by the Reverend James Chute in July 1831, and it is Fort Wayne’s oldest continuing religious congregation. Reverend Alexander T. Rankin, an ardent abolitionist, was pastor of First Presbyterian Church from 1837 until 1843. His home was located to the south of the first church built in 1836 on the corner of Lafayette and Berry streets. The Presbyterian Church successively erected additional churches on the southeast corner of Clinton and Berry streets (1848), and on the northeast corner of Clinton and Washington streets (1886), before erecting the present facilities on the northwest corner of Wayne and Webster streets (1952-1967).[1]

[1] The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Committee, On the Heritage Trail: A Walking Guidebook to the Fort Wayne Heritage Trail (Fort Wayne: ARCH, Inc., 1994): 174-175.


  • The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Group, ARCH Inc., Essex Group, Inc., On The Heritage Trial, Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Walking Guide Book (1994) pp.246-247.