Eden Church’s sidewalk to righteousness in Delaware County

“In all thy ways acknowledge him,” directs Proverbs 3:6 in the King James Bible, “and he shall direct thy paths.” A narrow, concrete lane that spans nearly a third of a mile in rural Delaware County proves that members of the Eden United Church of Christ took their verses to heart: Around 1907, the church built a sidewalk to connect the nearest interurban stop to the congregation’s brand-new sanctuary.

A segment of the old Eden Church sidewalk, as pictured in front of the Eden Church on December 20, 2022.

The story begins about thirty years before the sidewalk’s construction, when the worshippers who eventually organized the Eden Christian Church first met in Hamilton Township’s District 2: Stafford schoolhouse. In 1868, sixty-one congregants formally organized the church1 and one of its members, Matthew McCormick, donated the land to erect a proper sanctuary. A frame building was finished the following year.

This segment of Steele and Draper’s 1904 map of Delaware County shows the site of Eden Christian Church on Matthew McCormick’ land, to the left of the railroad.

In 1903, the Muncie, Hartford & Fort Wayne Railway extended an interurban track nearby as part of its Muncie-Bluffton line. The interurban was an electric railway that let people travel between cities and towns and their surrounding rural areas. Since it passed through McCormick’s land, the point that it stopped to pick up passengers or drop off freight was called McCormick’s Stop. As simplistic as it sounds, that was a typical naming pattern in those days! If you’ve ever driven around the Greenwood area near the south side of Indianapolis, Stop 11 Road gets its name from the interurban too.

McCormick’s Stop, looking westward, as pictured on December 20, 2022.

Matthew McCormick eventually became a prominent citizen who served as county commissioner for two terms and as a trustee of Hamilton Township’s consolidated school at Royerton2. Thirty-five years after he provided the land for the original church, McCormick offered the congregation $1,000 towards building a larger sanctuary with the condition that the worshippers contribute another $6,000 of their own. They did, and a second, larger building was dedicated in either 1905 or 19073.

The church is seen at the upper middle of this 1887 atlas, along with the District 2: Stafford school at the left edge.

Although today’s Eden Church sits on Indiana State Road 3, the highway was a toll road known as Studebaker Pike until the late 1920s. It’s hard to believe now, but rural roads were poorly maintained near the dawn of the twentieth century! Toll gates in Royerton and Dogtown made attending worship an expensive proposition for parishioners who didn’t live within two miles of the church, and though other routes existed a mile apart on section lines, they often were little more than a pair of muddy tracks through the countryside4.

A portion of the old Eden Church sidewalk, as pictured on December 20, 2022.

Bespattered pathways aren’t great places to traipse around in one’s Sunday best, so the members of Eden Church built themselves a sidewalk to connect their new sanctuary with McCormick’s Stop. With much of the labor donated, the 1/3-mile pathway only cost the church $505. About thirteen years later, Matthew McCormick died. The Union Traction Company discontinued its interurban service in 1941. Nevertheless, the path lives on.

The Eden Church sidewalk just past McCormick’s Stop.

The second Eden Christian Church burned in 1953. As they had in the congregation’s earliest days, its members worshipped in a schoolhouse -Royerton’s- for two years before their present Gothic Revival structure was completed at a cost of around $130,000 ($1.4 million today6).

The modern Eden Church is a landmark in northern Delaware County.

About 250 feet of the sidewalk’s three-quarters of a mile -6%- is graded over or covered by driveways. The overwhelming majority of it still exists! Though better roads and cars have rendered its original use obsolete, Eden Church’s old sidewalk now caters to kids on tricycles, parents with strollers, or old-timers who might remember it from its interurban days.

As of 2022, the Eden Church sidewalk is visible in Google Maps just north of County Road 700. Satellite imagery courtesy Google, copyright IndianaMap Framework Data. Landsat /Copernicus, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. 

Mark 1:3 says to “…prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.Eden’s congregation certainly did, literally, and there should be no wonder that this random, rural pathway has lasted as long as it has despite the state of its counterparts in Muncie. Nevertheless, the Eden Church sidewalk continues to serve the area long after the parishioners who built it have passed.

Sources Cited
1 Greene, D. (1954, October 28). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 6.
2 Funeral of Former Official at Eaton (1920, March 13). The Muncie Star. p. 12.
3 Walker, B. (2000, April 24). Old sidewalk a pathway to Eden. The Muncie Star Press. p. 7.
4 Spurgeon, B. (1997, March 5). Pay roads were a phenomenon of the 19th century. The Muncie Star Press. p. 6C.
5 (See footnote 3).
6 (See footnote 1).

8 thoughts on “Eden Church’s sidewalk to righteousness in Delaware County

  1. Well Ted your new correspondent from Atlanta was brought home with your Eden Church post!! The farm where I grew up was one mile north of the church at Hwy 3 and 800N—between Hwy 3 and Shideler.

    I remember the sidewalk you featured very well. My Dad told me about it going to the interurban stop, but did not know about the Eden Church having it constructed. Our family was returning from Muncie one evening when I was a kid and came upon the old Eden Church in full flames. As we watched, the bell fell from the burning tower. I believe that bell is still on the property? Lastly on April 19, 1969 my wife and I were married at the Eden Church. We will hit 54 years this coming April!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! What a great story! I do believe the bell is still there. The old church was a cool structure.

      Congratulations on almost 54 years!


  2. Wow, this is a great read, love this kind of thing, I have a question
    I seen where you mentioned “Studebaker ” pike.. is that names that, because it took you towards or away for a Studebaker plant? I new they were built in Indiana.. my Grandfater Jr Hicks, was an x teamster, and he had a few of them, and he also owned some old muncie properties… thank you very mucj

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I believe the road led to a farm owned by the Studebaker family. I’m no expert, but I believe Studebaker’s operations in Indiana were centered around South Bend. I think a couple of their buildings are still standing up there.

      How interesting about your grandpa!


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