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As Way Opens

This past Sunday, during my sermon I asked everyone several queries. One being, Do you know the history of First Friends’ neighborhood?  A couple of weeks ago, I began compiling some of our neighborhood’s history and it has uncovered a great deal of fascinating information. Below is “Part 1” of my findings.

In 1821, the land surrounding where our meeting currently stands was a 400-acre farm owned by Hiram and Mary Bacon.  Their farm stretched from what today is Glendale Town Center all the way south to The Donut Shop on Keystone Ave.  Actually, The Donut Shop sits where the Bacon homestead originally did in 1821. 

On the east side of the homestead (approx. the Meijer parking lot) stood a large barn. In 1931, the Indianapolis Star reported that it contained a wheat bin, which could be entered only from outside by a ladder. In that day it was usually concealed by large piles of hay. The Bacon homestead and barn became known as a major stop within Indiana on the Underground Railroad helping fugitive slaves escape. 

The draw for fleeing slaves in this area was the Bacon Swamp which was created by a melting Wisconsin Glacier about 20,000 years ago.  The swamp which evolved into a peat bog, was a remote and difficult area to navigate, thus fleeing slaves found it a place to hide. All that is left of the Bacon Swamp and bogs, today, are a couple small ponds just south of Bishop Chatard High School and west of Meijer off Keystone Ave.

The Bacons were not natives of Indiana. Hiram was from Williamstown, Massachusetts, a Presbyterian by faith who studied law at Williams College. Due to poor health, Hiram joined the government surveying expedition, which introduced him to Indiana when he was 19.  At the age of 21, Hiram married Mary Blair and moved to the area in which our Meeting now resides.  

As Presbyterians, the Bacons became friends with abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, brother of novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, when he served as minister of Second Presbyterian Church downtown. Beecher often came out to Bacon’s Swamp in the 1840’s when this was a remote part of Marion County.

In 1835, the Bacons deeded the land located today at Keystone and Kessler, to Washington Township for the specific purpose of creating a cemetery.  It was appropriately named Bacon Cemetery and is considered one of Indianapolis’ earliest cemeteries. Some may have heard of two other cemeteries in the vicinity – the Dawson and Culbertson (closer to Rural Ave.). However, when Crown Hill opened in 1864, many of the bodies were relocated.  

George Edward Kessler, one of the 20th century’s preeminent landscape architects, opted to route his new road directly through this area and also the cluster of cemeteries.  Due to George Kessler’s drive to finish his new road, his love for the automobile, and the speedy development of homes surrounding the new street, he paved and built directly over graves that had not previously been relocated to Crown Hill. 

In 1984, Dorothea Sargent took it upon herself to spare what was left of the Bacon cemetery.  This left the small plot of land on the southeast corner of Keystone and Kessler which today is considered The Dickerson-Sargent Memorial. Believed to be buried on that corner are Robert Dickerson, a private in the 2nd Virginia Regiment of the American Revolutionary War and his wife, Nancy.  Also, Dorothea had John Jacob Sargent buried on this spot after he passed in 1991. John Jacob Sargent was the great-great-great grandson of John Sargent, a missionary from Stockbridge, Massachusetts who was the subject of an unfinished Norman Rockwell painting.  The painting depicted Sargent meeting with Chief Konkapot who had requested that he convert the Mahican tribe to Christianity.  

Be watching for more to come about our neighborhood in future “As Way Opens.” Meanwhile, as you drive around, take a look at what all you see and the history that lies all around us.

[Info from: Hoosier State Chronicles (https://newspapers.library.in.gov/) and https://historicindianapolis.com/]

Grace and peace,


Joys & Concerns


Talk to Congress! In these confusing days, it is important to keep communication happening! That is why during September we will have this table set up in our Fellowship Hall with ways to keep communication happening with our congressional representatives. No matter what political leanings you have, this is your right as a citizen of America. Speak Truth to Power and make your voice heard!


New Sign Coming! Now that the Crab Apple tree has come down, some of us are getting excited about our new sign! Here are the renderings! Thanks to our Trustees, especially Cindy Small for working with the city and the contractors to make this happen. The brick will match our building and present clear identification for our meetinghouse. Our address numbers will be visible on the ends of the sign from both directions. We hope to see this happening really soon! Be watching!


Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Threshing Together ~ This Thursday night, September 20th, the men of First Friends and their guests will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of gathering and Threshing Together at 7pm on the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Our first year of “threshings” found us in a variety of neighborhoods where the men of First Friends abide. These gatherings provided needed socialization and comradery for nearly 50 different men at our 10 venues last year. The only changes for this coming year will be a variety of new venues and a new name, Threshing Together

If you are interested in gathering with men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and all in a non-threatening atmosphere over a meal, then Threshing Together is for you! Join us. See locations here: https://goo.gl/HosLVg


Sing-Along with Jim! ~ Mark your calendars for Friday, September 21 for an evening of music and fun with songs ranging from Dylan to Pete Seeger, Beetles to Stephen Foster. Some are sad, pensive, inspirational, patriotic, religious. We are now enlarging the songs and printing them, placing them in folders alphabetically, thus making a less labor-intensive process for all. Rise Up Singing and Rise Again are still useful in case we have more singers than folders. Please do bring your books. We begin at 7:00, end at 8:30 or soon after. Third Friday of the month, as usual!

Join our Oak Leaf Meeting for Reading book group on Tuesday, September 25 for September’s pick ~ Sourdough by Robin Sloan. If you are interested in being on the Oak Leaf email list or would like the book list, please contact the office at office@indyfriends.org. Oak Leaf meets on the last Tuesday of each month in the Parlor at 7 pm, everyone is welcome.  


Invite to Saturday’s Harvest Picnic and Work Day; Heavy Morning Rain Will Postpone Event

Everyone, including non-gardeners, is invited to the Harvest Picnic and Garden Work Day this Saturday, September 22 at 9 a.m.  Feel free to come for the work day, the picnic, or both. The Picnic is a pitch-in.  Rain is in the forecast and we are hoping it is dry in the morning.  We can move the picnic to the Parlor if needed. If it is a drenching rain in the a.m. we will postpone the work and the picnic. Remember to bring your oats from the Glendale Library if you want to plant a cover crop!

Service Appreciation Dinner ~ All are invited to share memories and stories about several of our treasured members who have admirably served First Friends over the years.  Please reserve this Sunday, September 23, 5:30-8:30, for this exciting free dinner and program.  This year’s honorees include Judy and Clarence D, Tom F, Bev and Dan H, Barbara O, Dan R, and Gary & Cheryll W. Please let us know if you would like to attend-- see the sign-up sheet on the table in the hallway or contact the office at office@indyfriends.org or 317-255-2485.



Small Groups ~ We are excited to offer spiritual growth small groups again this fall starting October 15th and continuing for a 5-week period (ending the week before Thanksgiving). In the past our small groups study sessions were an opportunity to deepen connections in a small group with Friends.  We will be studying the book by Richard Rohr called “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” In his book, Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward." In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. See below for current available sessions. Please contact the office at office@indyfriends.org with your preferred time or sign up on Sundays just outside of the sanctuary when you're at worship. We hope you will join us!

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Slow Church Sermon Series ~ Each Sunday we are going to explore together what a “slow movement” looks like for First Friends. This is an invitation to explore outside of what is labeled “franchise faith” and back into the Kingdom of God – where people know each other well and love one another as Christ loved the church. This will be instrumental in developing an ongoing vision for First Friends. We hope you will plan to join us for this exploration during the Fall months.

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Buddy Bags ~ The Shalom Zone is continuing its support of Allisonville Elementary School and the food insecurity issue by providing Buddy Bags to some of its more vulnerable students during school breaks.  First Friends plans to provide Buddy Bags prior to Fall break.  You can help by taking a tag which will have certain food items listed, purchasing such items in the quantity noted, and putting them into the box on the stage in Fellowship Hall.  The Buddy Bags will be delivered the first week of October, so we will need the items no later than September 28.  Together, we can work to make life in our community a little bit better.  Thanks for your help.



Full Circle Festival ~ Again this year our own Ben W will be holding Full Circle Festival downtown. Full Circle Fest is an open-air dining experience, an interactive art fair, a zero-waste event, a fundraiser for sustainable community projects, and much more! There will also be local bands, performers, and DJs, engaging games and activities. Every year we focus on a timely community issue to guide the day's events. This year’s focus is “Everyone should have access to fresh, healthy food.” Indianapolis ranks among the worst cities in the country for food deserts (urban areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food). Full Circle Fest is in need of your support to help bring this event to life. To donate, please drop your contributions in the offering plate or in the meeting office with the notation “Full Circle Fest”. An anonymous donor will match donations up to $500, so please consider supporting this important cause. For more information please visit https://fullcirclefest.com/.

Underneath It All ~ In the fall some of our thoughts turn toward school children, cooler weather and the importance of underwear. For maybe 8 or 10 years First Friends has been donating underwear to the John H. Boner Center on the near east side. Social workers there have it on hand to give to children in need. This includes some preschoolers on up through high school, so a variety of sizes are needed.  If shopping for underwear is not your favorite thing, a check will be welcomed. There will be a donation box in Fellowship Hall. Questions? Ask Linda L

RSWR Stamp Newsletter – Volume 1! As you may know, in December 2017, Indy First Friends assumed the role of stamp processor for Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR). Amy P, who currently heads the program in conjunction with Brad J, and other volunteers have been busy working since then. If you’d like to see what they’ve been up to, you can read their first newsletter here:  https://goo.gl/KkETHa. As of August 14, we've taken in $1,012 for RSWR! Thank you to everyone who is making this program possible and supporting RSWR!


Meditational Woods Bird of the Month: September

Ruby-throated Hummingbird – A Energetic Friend


This little guy (yes, I drew the male with its red throat; the female lacks the red patch) can be seen flying across the parking lot and Parker Street to visit the two houses with hummingbird feeders. I also have seen hummingbirds visiting the flowers in the garden and sitting on power line wires above the east edge of the parking lot. Because they fly into the meditational woods, it is possible they nest there, especially in the pine trees. A nest has yet to be discovered. Maybe next year! As you read this most hummingbirds will be leaving to make their way south for the winter.

Those folks who put out feeders will attest to the fact that hummingbirds are quite jealous and can expend both time and energy to keep others away from a feeder. While there are usually four perches on a feeder, one bird may chase away any others that try to occupy even just one of the other perches. With a species so dependent on getting energy for their fast-moving wings, one would think the idea would be to conserve energy and share as a community! But no! It reminds me of humans (like me) who likewise seem to expend much energy in needless worry and wasted overactivity that may freeze up the mind, making things worse. There’s a sermon in there somewhere. I’ll leave that to other Friends.

I often hear hummingbirds before I see them. It’s not the hum of their wings I hear. It is a chattering sound they make in flight. It is quite distinctive, unlike any other sound in nature. By the time I spot the individual, usually it has flown on by. Hearing it chatter while it is feeding among flowers gives a better chance to observe this little friend.

~Brad J


SAVE THE DATE! We need your blood on Sunday, December 2nd. We are having a blood drive from in Fellowship Hall. Keep an eye out for more details in coming months!


Non-Lethal Ways to Control Nuisance Animals in the Garden, Part II

Animals may be cute, but they can be hazardous to a garden.  Some gardeners plant extra knowing that the native creatures will consume a portion.  In the last garden article we explored short-term solutions for managing nuisance animals. Since we want to save most of the feast for ourselves rather than our local wildlife, we will discuss long-term solutions for fending off damage. So move over Rocky Raccoon and all rabbits, deer, moles, woodchucks, voles and chipmunks.  Mercifully, we are focusing on non-lethal methods, leaving the lethal to the “guard hawks” system devised by Mother Nature.  Most information provided here is from the Purdue Extension-Marion County City Gardener Program course.   The course helps one to grow a greener thumb.



  • Install a buried wire fence around gardens.  Use galvanized wire or hardware cloth with a small mesh.  One-inch mesh will exclude rabbits while one-fourth to one-half inch mesh is necessary for smaller animals.  Bury the fence at least one foot into the ground or make a “skirt” to discourage animals from digging beneath it.  Hardware cloth can be extended perpendicular to a fence and tent-staked or garden-stapled down. This can be covered with soil and a bed of flowers or secured with rocks to keep animals out. 

· Repair leaky faucets, hydrants and irrigation systems.


  • Till soil.

  • Grow plants less susceptible to damage.


  • Live trap or box trap and relocate problem animals.  Check traps two to three times a day. Take precautions against bites. Before relocating consider how the animal’s welfare can be threatened by relocation since animals are acclimated to living in particular environments where they know their neighbors and predators. They know where they can find food and water and where they can find safe places to rest.  Such knowledge is unknown when an animal is relocated.   In addition, introduction to a new environment can cause territorial disputes among animals and may spread disease since creatures tend to take over the habitats of previous tenants.  A gardener should get permission from land owners before releasing animals onto their property. By law, captured wildlife must be released back into the same county from whence they came. 


  • Block access to hiding places by removing brush, lumber and rock piles.  Reduce mulch depth if needed.  Mow grass on a regular basis.

  • Screen or enclose compost piles.

  • Destroy burrows; fill entrance and exit holes.


Deterring animals before they become regulars at your garden is important so plan ahead.  I hope this article is helpful.  Let me know if there are garden topics you would like to see in future issues.  Meanwhile, read the advice of one poet as he ponders over animals and considers the options from the animal’s perspective:

Early Bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird

And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.

If you’re a bird, be an early early bird—   

But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

--Shel Silverstein

~Nancy 🍁



Just Faith: Living Compassionately ~ All are invited to an 8-week small group opportunity at Epworth United Methodist Church. JustFaith allows participants to gain deeper understanding of contemporary issues through the lens of Christian faith. In this first phase, we will cover the topic of living compassionately by caring for the poor, in which participants will focus on poverty, consumerism, and the Gospel call to care for the poor. The times and dates are:

Mondays | 6PM | Beginning September 24

Thursdays | 10AM | Beginning September 27

To enroll please contact Pat Engel- engelp@epworthindy.org.


SAWS Ramp Build ~ The Shalom Zone is planning another SAWS ramp build. Please note that the date for the ramp build has been changed to Saturday, October 6th.  SAWS is an organization that builds ramps for low income folks who need a ramp to enter/exit their homes.  If you would like to volunteer to help or need more information, please contact the office at office@indyfriends.org.  Volunteers must complete the volunteer form before their first build.  This form can be found on the SAWS website: http://sawsramps.org


The Creation by Haydn Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Performance ~ All are invited to the Indianapolis Symphonic choir’s performance on Sunday, October 7th at 6pm. Dan R and Bill P will both be performing. The 82nd season begins with Haydn’s oratorio The Creation, vividly depicting through the human voice and orchestra the creation story. Eric Stark conducts the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in this performance that begins with the famous musical painting of void, chaos and all that follows. If ten or more people from First Friends go there is a 20% discount on tickets. Stay tuned for more information, or see Dan R.

The Rohingya Refugee Crisis ~ Last August the government of Burma forced a million Muslim Rohingya from their homes in Burma into Bangladesh. The United Nations calls this genocide and a crime against humanity. On Wednesday, October 10, 7:00-8:3pm, the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center invites everyone to come hear John Clark, board of the Indianapolis-based OBAT Helpers, one of the few nonprofits working in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. This event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd St. For more information, please visit www.indypeaceandjustice.org.


Recycling Event! The Shalom Zone plans to have its yearly recycling event with Recycle Force on Saturday, October 13 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. If an item runs (or used to run) with a plug or a battery you can recycle it! This year it will be held at Epworth United Methodist Church, 6450 Allisonville Rd. A $20 donation is requested for appliances containing Freon (fridges, freezers, ac units and dehumidifiers) and televisions. Other monetary contributions are greatly appreciated. This is a great opportunity to clean out your basement, garage, closets, attic and responsibly recycle unwanted electronics and appliances.

Alternatives to Violence Mini Workshops ~ Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Indiana is hosting mini workshops using participants’ shared experience, interactive exercises and games to examine the ways we respond to situations where frustration can lead to anger and aggressive behavior through leadership development, community building and creative conflict management. These workshops are free and are for anyone who is interested in learning new and creative ways to respond to conflict in personal relationships and groups. The sessions are on the following Saturdays at Indianapolis Public Library branches:

October 13, 12:30-4:30pm at West Indianapolis Library, 1216 Kappes St, Indianapolis 46221

November 10, 10am-1:30pm at Brightwood Library, 2435 N Sherman Dr, Indianapolis 46218

December 8, 12:30-4:30pm at Wayne Library, 198 S Girls School Rd, Indianapolis 46231

For more information and to register, please visit https://avpindiana.org/registration-2/


Poverty 101 Class ~ The Shalom Zone is pleased to be hosting Tim Streett and his Poverty 101 course at First Friends on Monday evenings at 7 pm through October 15. Feel free to come for any or all remaining sessions. A donation of $20 is requested for the course and scholarships are available for anyone who would like one.  Simply notify the First Friends office.  All proceeds will go to the Shepherd Community Center.

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