Lois Harned Jordan's Memories of Richsquare

Rememberances of Richsquare

According to my baby book, my mother and father took me to Meeting at Richsquare just a few weeks after I was born in the summer of 1929. Since then, my Sunday mornings spent away from Richsquare are far fewer than the ones spent there. When I was growing up, Richsquare Friends were, for me, an extended family. There were aunts and uncles and cousins there and a grandmother until I was five. I thought of all the other families as related, too.

It was never a chore to go to Sunday School and church on Sunday morning. For one thing, my best friend would be there - Janet Johnson. Our parents usually let us sit together between them, unless we got the giggle too badly. I rather think we giggled frequently, but not to the point of disrupting Meeting. We never felt embarrassed or disapproved of; people at Richsquare seemed to understand children and love them, and overlooked our childish foibles. I can remember our mothers making handkerchief babies in a cradle by rolling up their handkerchiefs just so, and Janet and I writing notes and drawing pictures until we were old enough to listen more closely to the sermons. I can remember the secure feeling I had and the wonderful atmosphere; and as generations of other children had done, I, too, enjoyed looking out the windows at the trees and squirrels and birds.

In our teen years there were times we did yearn for more young people. Mostly there was Janet and me, and max and Richard Gaddis. Their mother, Lucille, was our Sunday School teacher. She made lessons interesting by bringing objects as illustrations. I remember, for example, her illustration of a "hypocrite." She brought a breakfast cup, the outside of which was sparkling and clean; but inside it was still dirty from having held cocoa. This really impressed me and I hoped I would not be a hypocrite.

One of our members, my aunt Mildred White, was seldom seen in Meeting, yet her presence was very real to me. She was, for many years, a missionary in Ramallah, in the country then called Palestine. Because of her life in Ramallah and her close contacts with us, our Meeting felt especially close to that spot on the globe. It was always an exciting even when Aunt Mildred was home on furlough, with her fascinating trunks and wonderful stories.

When I was in high school and my friend, Janet, went on to college, I joined the ranks of Sunday School teachers and enjoyed some time teaching the Hawk girls, Thompsons, Souder and Greenwell boys. I really enjoyed it and worked hard to make lessons interesting. Whether or not I succeeded - they are the judge of that.

When I became an Earlham student, too, it was always good to return to my Richsquare family. Adjusting to life away from home in a college dorm did not come easily for me, so it was very refreshing to return now and then and feel "at home."

Richsquare was more than a church building where we met on Sunday mornings. I breathed "Richsquare air" at home, when I visited my cousins and friends, when I went to Farm Bureau meetings with my parents, to Farmer's Institute, when I went to Sesame Circle meetings with my mother, and so on. Many of the people I saw on Sunday morning, I also saw in these other places. An atmosphere of caring pervaded the whole community. Another special group of people that overlapped with Richsquare people was the "threshing ring." It was so exciting for me, a child, when it was our turn to have the threshing done. It was exciting to see the men gathering, to hear the threshing machine start up with its chugging noise and to see the long belts winding around busily. It was exciting to carry the water jug out through the stickery stubble of the wheat fields to those hard-working, dusty, but jolly men. It was impressive to see the quantity of food prepared by my mother and other women in our kitchen for the noon meal. I am glad I ca remember those days when neighbors works so closely together to harvest the crops. 

Even when I joined the 4-H club, there, too, were Richsquare people. My mother and Janet's mother, Bessie, Richsquare members, and their good friend and neighbor, Carolyn Pickering, were the leaders of our club for a year or two when janet and I were beginning members.

Raymond Johnson was one of the people in our county who formed the Henry County REMC and served on its board for many years. He was our Sunday School Superintendent for many years as well as Clerk of the Monthly Meeting and Sunday School teacher. I remember him as one who especially encouraged me as a young person to be active in the Meeting. His wife, Edith, I remember, always enjoyed the days when the women got together to clean the church. You would always find Edith up on a tall ladder polishing the windows - that was her special joy - to get those windows sparkling clean!

Aunt Mildred and Mildred Stubbs were among those first attenders of Quaker Haven Camp when they lived in tents, had to cut down weeds, and row to a farm across the lake for their daily supply of milk. By the time Janet and I started going to Quaker Haven it was quite "civilized;" yet it was not as built up as it is now. There was still one hillside where we would gather every evening for vespers. This I shall always remember as the very best part of Quaker Haven. After all of the bustling activity of the day, the classes, games, swimming, boating, helping at mealtime, and so on, the time spent on the hill in quiet meditation was a time of real communion with God. We often sang "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" as we wound our way up the hillside. The sun made a beautiful, golden path across Dewart Lake as it settled slowly down behind the buildings and trees on the opposite shore. Thanks to all who made Quake Haven possible!

Another great aspect of camp was that there were many other young people there from all over Indiana, and our awareness grew that we were all a part of a larger family of Friends. A particular joy for me was that my beloved Richmond cousins would be there, Stan, Ewin, and Esther White.

We had man fine leaders, among whom I especially remember Norval and Amy Webb, Isaac Harris, Murray S. Kenworthy, George Scherer, Logan Smith, David Stanfield and Kenneth Pickering. These people and others helped enlarge our vision of what being a Christian can mean. The theme one year was "Adventures in Christian Service." The classes were so challenging and exciting.

In later years, when Carl and I were counselors in one camp directed by Dick and Nancy Parsons, and then leaders for three years of junior camps, we learned how much hard work, planning and prayers go into carrying out a camp program! 

I can't recall the special programs I was in at Richsquare when I was a child, but in a scrapbook that I kept during my high school years, I found a program that was from Christmas of 1945 which included the following:
     Christmas Story - Janet Johnson
     Song, Silent Night - Helen and Charlotta Hawk
     Christmas Pictures - Primary Class
          Joann Sweat, Nancy Hawk, Emily Noble
     Her Present - Carolyn Thompson
     A Speech - Lois Ann Hughes
     Piano Duet - Janet Johnson and Lois Harned
     The Guiding Light - Junior Class
          Norma Thompson, Jimmy Sweat, Helen Hawk, Richard Gaddis, Charlotta Hawk
     A Hurry Up Call - Joann Sweat

In the fall of 1947, I became a freshman at Earlham College and so my contacts with Richsquare were less frequent for awhile, but always I was glad to return to "home base." One way I think of Richsquare is as an open door - study and worship and experiences open the door and give us opportunities to expand our love and understanding for each other, for God, and for the world about us. Besides Richsquare gathering there was Dublin Quarterly Meeting at which I felt almost as much at home. Then there were Quaker Haven Camps where young people from all around Indiana met each other and realized we were members of a larger family of Friends. The conferences sponsored by the Young Friends Committee of North America really pushed back the boundaries of my understanding as at those conferences there were young Friends from all over the United States and even other countries. They were inspiring and exciting events in Christian struggle and growth. In 1952, I had the privilege of being a young Friend's representative to the Friends World Conference in Oxford, England. Many years before Mildred Stubbs from our Meeting had also been a representative to a Friends Conference in England. 

One did not have to leave Richsquare to expand one's faith and understanding of the world-wide family of Friends, because we had people from other parts of the world, or who had been to other parts of the world, in our Meeting. We have had first hand reports from Africa, Jamaica, Ramallah, Alaska, Oklahoma, Guatemala and other places. Whether one left the community for far-away places or stayed at home, there have been many opportunities and much encouragement to learn, to grow, and to serve God. 


The first pastor I remember was Truman Kenworthy. He and his wife, Anna, came out from Richmond for many years to be with us on Sunday. I remember their kindly interest in all of us at Richsquare. They ate dinner with different families in the neighborhood on Sunday and I was always glad when it was their turn to come to our house. Truman and Anna were very influential in helping me want to be a Christian in deed, not just in name. Truman handed me the Bible from the Meeting and welcomed me as an active member at the age of ten.

When Truman was no longer able to come out, we were most fortunate in our next pastor. Murvel Garner also lived in Richmond and taught Biology at Earlham College. Murvel and his wife, Esther, became very much a part of our fellowship and Murvel brought practical, inspiring messages that included many examples from the field of Biology. The families enjoyed having the Garners for Sunday dinner, too. It was Murvel who encouraged me to go on the Five  Years Meeting Youth Caravan in teh summer of 1949 after my sophomore year at Earlham. I felt very unsure of my qualifications for such a venture, but Murvel knew I could do it. Without his encouragement I would have missed out on an outstanding summer and would have missed meeting many wonderful people. 

After Murvel and Esther left, we became rather discouraged and even our building reflected the discouragement. Again, we were fortunate in securing the services of Merton Scott, who also came out from Richmond with his wife, Audrey, and their daughters, Mary Jane and Myrna. The Scotts cared very much for us, too, and saw potential in our fellowship that we were not seeing. Merton's sermons were inspiring and practical and frequently included illustrations from his field, engineering. During his years we grew spiritually and numerically. Our building was painted and fixed up and reflected the new enthusiasm we felt in our Meeting. We were also blessed in the 60's with a fine group of children and youth. There were the Gaddises, Whites, McConnells, Jordans, Niles, Fallons, Ammermans, and sometimes other children who attended for a time. We had some wonderful times planning and presenting programs at Christmas, Easter, and for other special occasions. Much joy and good fellowship as well as worship revolved around these special occasions when our young people gave of their time and talents. 

Time never stops, however. Changes are continuous. The time came when the Scotts moved away and we were again seeing pastoral leadership. We enjoyed the Page family during the short time Larry Page was our pastor. After that we had several young people who came from the Earlham School of Religion or from the Richmond community. Among those were Dan Whitley, Larry Barker, Tom Applegate, Jack Kirk, Robert Vetter, and others. Later we had Cldy Thralls, who, along with the young people of the Earlham deputation team, raised money and bought our present hymnals - a real surprise as we had no hint they were doing this for us until the day they presented the hymnals.

For 13 years we have had Earlham College deputation teams come to Richsquare frequently. We formed some close and warm relationships especially with those who came consistently for most of their four years at Earlham.

Marshall Gibson came for two years as pastor and then came our present pastor, Mary E. Long. In her short time here, she has been with us in the deepest experiences of life. Carl and I very much appreciated her great support through the illness and death of my mother. She has rejoiced with members of Richsquare over the birth of grandchildren, graduations from high school and college, married a young couple, visited the ill, and so on. She is a counselor, also, at the Preble County, Ohio, Mental Health Center, and her sermons reflect not only her Christian and Quaker background and studies, but her caring for people and the kind of world they live in. 

When the 70's decade began, we still had a good group of young people. But by 1980, most of them had grown up and gone elsewhere. Like many small, rural Friends Meetings we have the problem of dwindling numbers. We ask ourselves, "What is our future? What is God's mission for us in the life of our community? If each denomination has its special contribution to make to the world, what is our special contribution as Quakers?" As our ancestors sought to follow God's will, we too would seek to know and to have the courage to follow His will. 
Lois E. Jordan
Daughter of Clyde and Frances Harned
Wife of Carl Jordan