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Stony Point Evangelical Lutheran Church - Douglas County, Kansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 38° 49.547 W 095° 12.662
15S E 308063 N 4299766
Quick Description: This former Church and Cemetery are located at 1575 N. 600 Rd. in rural Douglas County, Kansas.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 11/3/2009 5:58:30 PM
Waymark Code: WM7K7C
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

Long Description:
From the Vinland Elementary Website on the Stony Point Church & Cemetery
(visit link)

Before Kansas was open for settlement with the signing of the Kansas Nebraska Act, there was a spot on the Santa Fe Trail called Hickory Point. Large areas of Kansas were part of the Indian reservation even after the signing of the Kansas Nebraska Act. The Santa Fe Trail left the Westport Landing and followed the ridges, avoiding rivers on its westward voyage. Along the Santa Fe Trail, before 1854, there were often towns or settlements at intervals of a day's ride. Hickory Point was approximately 2 day's travel along the Santa Fe Trail after leaving Westport by wagon. In 1854 Hickory Point had 2 blacksmith shops, a harness shop, hotel, supply store, and several houses. Hickory Point was important in 1854 because of its location. There were three trails branching north of the Santa Fe Trail to Lawrence. When Kansas was open for settlement, all land five miles west of the Missouri line was claimed by Missourians. There were large tracts of Indian reservations between those five miles that Missourians claimed and Hickory Point, so Hickory Point was a prime area for settlement.

In November 1855 Charles Dow was shot and killed at Hickory Point. (Read more about Hickory Point at the VES history website.) Dow lived in a cabin with Jacob Branson. Charles Dow is considered to be the first victim of what later became the Civil War. The 1856 maps show Hickory Point. But at some point after that, the area changed its name to Stony Point. Some say the reason for the name change was because of another settlement called Hickory Point 25 miles to the north. With the Civil War and the Transcontinental Railroad, the Santa Fe Trail was no longer used. The town of Hickory Point ceased to exist as a town. For the 1858-59 school year, Stony Point was one of the first five schools in Douglas County, District No. 3. The Stony Point School was a rock building one mile north and 3/4 miles east of Hickory Point. The school became the focal point of the community by hosting church services and community activities.

Joseph Eberhart and his ten children came to Kansas in March 1854 before the actual signing of the Kansas Nebraska Act. Joseph was a strong abolitionist and believed Kansas should be free. They first settled around Pleasant Grove but in 1865 bought Jacob Branson's claim and moved into Jacob's cabin. Joseph Eberhart was a strong believer in the Lutheran Church and brought Lutheran ministers to the Stony Point School.

The Stony Point School was where the Eberharts as well as other fellow Lutherans met for religious services. On Sunday, October 10th, 1868, David Earhart (The Reverend David Earhart was a well known Lutheran minister that traveled to several Lutheran settlements for services. David Earhart is the grandfather of Amelia Earhart, the famous female pilot of the 1930s.) He reported at a meeting, that a motion was made and carried "to appoint a committee to secure, if possible, a piece of land for a church and congregational farm." Before the meeting adjourned it was suggested that some plan be adopted for securing a church and a cemetery site. A committee of Lewis Eberhart, Michael Herring, and Obashal Eberhart was established.

Upon Michael Herring's sudden death in 1873, the cemetery was chosen and Michael was the first person buried in what became Stony Point Cemetery. The idea of a congregational farm was dropped. All efforts were focused on the cemetery and a church building. The site of the cemetery was on Joseph Eberhart's farm. The Eberhart family had donated two acres for the cemetery. The cemetery was laid out with 35 lots and had 18 burial plots in each lot.

May 10, 1898, Isaac Hemphill and family donated the land north of the church to the Stony Point Emmanuel Lutheran Church and Cemetery Association. The Stony Point Cemetery Association owned the church and cemetery and maintained both. The large family plots (18 lot plots) turned out to be a disadvantage. Many plots housed only a couple of graves with the remainder being empty.

The Stony Point community was very strong in its early years. The church and school were important focal points for the community. Vinland and Baldwin City were both just 2-3 miles away. The community had a train stop at Quayle Station just a mile and a half south. The school, a one-room school, was extremely important to parents and students. With the consolidation of the schools in 1947, the area lost its last symbol of the community.

The Stony Point Church built in 1883, by the Eberhart family and community members, was used until 1900 when either or both the preacher Rev. D. Scholl retired, was transferred or the congregation's population was too low to support the reverend. The board decided to close and lock the doors with hope of sporadic use. According to 92 year old Herschel Hemphill, whose grandparents donated the north property, only one service was held in 1938, on the 55th anniversary of the dedication of the church. Only occasional funeral services or annual picnics have been conducted in the church since then.

The church remains the same as it did in 1900 when it closed. The pews all face the little, wooden pulpit with 2 pot-bellied stoves with wood lying next to them all ready for the next sermon. The large windows on the north, south, and west allow the interior much light in the daytime. Hooks from the ceiling show where carbide lanterns once hung for night services. The church has no parking. The members either rode horses, traveled in horse drawn buggies, or walked to church services.

Sometime in the 1980s the pump organ was stolen. The perpetrator, a Baker University student, had a guilty conscience and returned the organ. After the organ was returned, it was sold.

The cemetery is surrounded with a chain link fence provided by Ruth Endacott Brown, the great granddaughter of Eberhart. The community of Stony Point was a small geographical area, roughly the size of the school's borders. Two miles southwest was Hopewell School, west about 3 miles was Pleasant Grove School, northeast 2 1/2 miles was Vinland School, 2 miles east was Coal Creek School, and Baldwin schools were located 3 miles to the southeast. The Stony Point area was all based on agriculture. It was an extremely poor farm area with rocky, hilly, poor soils and small patches of farmland. The harshness of the agricultural area probably contributed to the decline in the population and number of parishioners in the Stony Point Church.

The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

In 2007 the cemetery board members purchased one more acre of land to increase the size of the cemetery.

Two Stories about Stony Point Church

Some of the area of the cemetery was found to have solid sandstone at 2 feet below the surface. Since the graves were dug by hand, this was a problem. Grave digging members solved this problem by drilling holes into the sandstone and using black powder in the holes. Precautions had to be taken to cover the hole with large planks to protect the windows on the south side of the church from flying rocks and debris. Also the precaution of the person drilling the hole in the sandstone had to make sure they drilled straight. Any angle on the hole would cause the grave to be much larger than needed and could possibly disturb the nearby plots. The black powder would force the sandstone at straight angles up and down from the drilled hole. The black powder was stored in a small building in the cemetery.

Herschel Hemphill, grandson of Isaac Hemphill, a Stony Point board member, tells the following story. Herschel, as a young boy, would help mow the cemetery with his dad who was a cemetery board member. The grass in the cemetery was native grass and was only mowed once or twice a year. The native grass would get extremely tall in spots. Some of the native grass reached 6 foot tall. Herschel's job was to lift the sickle bar on the horse drawn mower over the gravestones. It was a tough, dangerous job. After the grass was mowed, given time to dry, and was then dragged out of the cemetery.

- Compiled by Mel Verhaeghe
- February 2009
Name of church or churchyard: Stony Point Evangelical Lutheran Church

Approximate Size: Large (100+)

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