Driftwood Christian Church 5564 South State Road 135 Vallonia, IN 812-358-4036
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DRIFTWOOD CHURCH & CEMETERY
“The first real structure built for the use of allthe settlers” in Jackson County, Indiana, was the Driftwood Church. “The courthouse, the jail, and other more ‘public’ edifices came later.” According to David Sturgeon, an early pioneer, this log meeting house was built in 1815, (one year before Indiana statehood and the formation of Jackson County), on the southwest corner of the William Graham farm. Located northeast of the intersection of State Highway 135 and County Road 550 S, Driftwood Township, Jackson County, it was ''free and open to all the different denominations of orderly Christians.” The property has always been used as a cemetery, with burials made prior to 1814. Additional land secured in 1900, at a cost of $25.00, brought the cemetery to its present boundaries.
Under the leadership of evangelist Jacob Wright, Driftwood reorganized as a Christian Church in 1839. Affiliated with the Mill Creek Conference of Christian Churches, they hosted a number of their large annual meetings in the 1840's, often attended by thousands. The church trustees, newly elected in 1843, received two acres of land southwest of the original meeting house for the construction of a new church building. Known as the "White Church," this frame building was replaced in 1907.
To accommodate consistent growth, a basement was dug in the I930's, and additional classrooms were added in the 1980's. Ground breaking for a new sanctuary complex took place April 20, 1997. The 5,170 square foot addition includes a new drive-through entry, foyer, sanctuary, classrooms, offices, and restrooms. The building dedication took place Sunday November 2, 1997. Although there is some disagreement as to the first church building built in Jackson County, Driftwood is certainly the oldest ongoing congregation. The deed for the original half acre filed at the Jackson County Recorder's Office in 1820, indicates a meeting house was already in use on the property. The Silver Creek Baptist Association minutes attest to the existence of Driftwood Church prior to 1819, having accepted them as members in August of that year. Although never a large congregation in those early years, they hosted a weekend meeting of the Association in September, 1828. Driftwood is mentioned in the formation of two other early Jackson County churches: Indian Creek Church of Christ, now Cortland Christian Church (1826); and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, now Tampico Baptist Church (1829).
William Graham, donor of the original church property and cemetery, is a distinguished figure in Indiana history. In 1811, he and his first wife, Eleanor, settled a 160 acre farm in the "forks," the land between the East Fork White and the Muscatatuck Rivers. Twice Graham assisted in daring rescue attempts: one of stolen horses, the other a kidnapped boy, both taken by Indians. Selected as a (then) Washington County delegate to the Indiana Constitutional Convention of 1816, he was a signer of the Indiana State Constitution. He went on to serve in the state legislature (1816-1833) and the United States Congress (1837-1839). Upon returning to the Driftwood community, Graham joined the Christian Church by baptism and served as a trustee when the congregation obtained its present property in 1843. Married three times (he was twice a widower), he had no children of his own. Nonetheless his legacy lives on, through the members of the church and the citizens of Indiana. Highly respected locally as well as statewide, "'he rests from his labors beside his life partners in the pleasant graveyard near the Driftwood Church."