Walnut Street Church
Circa 1864, an organ was built by W. D. B. Simmons & Co.,
of Boston, Mass. at the cost of $1,500.00.
In 1883 an organ was built by H.
Pilcher & Sons of 2
manuals and 22 stops.
In the 1920s an
organ by the Austin Organ Co. was installed (Opus 1204, 3 manuals, 28
The old organ was sold to the Jefferson Avenue Cumberland
In 1926 Walnut Street Church
united with Grace Church to become First Presbyterian Church. The
Walnut Street Church building was sold to the Christian Church and was
used by them until it was destroyed by fire in 1944.
HISTORY OF ORGANS AT THE "LITTLE CHURCH ON THE HILL" AND
WALNUT STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
From: A Century of
History of the
Walnut Street Presbvterian Church of Evansville, Indiana
Colonel Drew's son was then quite young, but presided over the
Melodeon, and for years after entering the larger edifice, he was
(Mid-1800s, by Rev. W. H. McCarver
refering to his service at the Little Church on the Hill.)
In the third year of my ministry (1850s) God so greatly prospered us
that it was deemed necessary to enlarge our habitation, which to me
then seemed as David expressed it, "The Habitation of His Holiness;
that place where His Honor dwelleth." The rear gable end of the
building was removed and so extended that with the construction of a
small organ gallery we had additional seating of at least one-third
(Mid-1800s, by Rev. W. H. McCarver refering to his service
at the Little Church on the Hill.)
Father Chute was the first person who led the
choir, and soon after him Col. C. K. Drew, Sr., who in the
"Little Church on the Hill," played on the bass-viol the ac-
companiment to the sacred songs of Zion. His son Col. C.
K. Drew, Jr., who now resides in New Orleans, was the or-
ganist after the new church was built. Miss Amelia Law-
rence, Mrs. Maclean, Miss Laura Thompson, Miss Talbot
and Mr. Arnold Habbe, have filled the position of organist,
which Mrs. Millis now occupies. ... In 1836 the first
piano was brought to the place, and for fifteen years after,
there was but one teacher who gave lessons on that instru-
ment. (p. 85)
In 1851, the Church was extended 29 feet and a little gallery
constructed 9/2 feet in the clear at the highest point, receding
towards the sides. It was reached by a narrow winding staircase. There
is a choir legend, that when the balloon-hoop-skirt epidemic was at its
height, some of the lady members had to sit with the congregation. A
Melodeon was purchased and in the steeple a bell was hung — the first
church bell in Evansville. Mr. Drew says, if the church had a sexton he
must have drawn the line on Saturday night service, fer he remembers
very well that it was his business to start the fire in the winter time
and ring the bell for the choir meeting. After the choir assembled, he
was the "Melodeonist." No salaries were paid in those days for choir
services — it was the labor of love.
n 1859 the church decided upon the erection of a new
edifice. The foundations were then laid, and in March, 1860,
the "Church on the Hill," was no more, its venerable walls
were removed, a few of the brick, however, sacredly pre-
served and lovingly incorporated in the new building on
Walnut and Second streets.
WOMEN'S SEWING SOCIETY AND LADIES' AID.
In 1859 the society was reorganized, primarily for the
purpose of raising funds for the purchase of an organ for
the new church....The sum of $750.00
being raised before it was needed for the organ, the women
were persuaded to lend it to the trustees for the usual in-
debtedness, but some shrewd official demanded "10 per cent
interest for fifteen months with the personal note of the
Treasurer, and church collections as collateral."
After the dedication of the present Church edifice m
1864, the organ was in the gallery across the Walnut St.
end of the building, Mr. Theodore Russell became the leader
and Mr. C. K. Drew, Jr., the organist. The organ was built
by W. D. B. Simmons & Co., of Boston, Mass., and cost
$1,500.00 For about ten years the choir occupied the loft,
then the organ was removed to the present location in the
rear of the pulpit. The moving of the organ from the gar-
ret was not a very expensive or laborious work, but to move
the congregation to permit it to be done, was a task, the
magnitude of which cannot be appreciated in these days of
ready acceptance of new ideas. A campaign document was
printed, headed "five reasons why the organ and choir
should be removed to the rear of the pulpit," and a copy
was placed in every pew at a prayer meeting service. At
the conclusion of the service, Mr. Samuel Orr, the nestor of
the congregation, arose in his place, and with a copy of the
tract in his hand, proceeded to advocate the change.
That settled it. Whatever Mr. Orr's sound judgment
approved, was surely done. The organ was moved and the
present choir loft was erected.
In the year 1870, Prof. Milton Z. Tinker became the
Director of the Choir and served faithfully for a period of
forty years. A capable leader, his heart in his work. The
foremost qualities he instilled into his choir members, were
strict attention and punctuality. He, himself, was never
known to be absent or late. After one hour of hard study
at choir rehearsals, he was usually heard to say, "We will
stop now and trust to Providence tomorrow."
In 1883, after clearing the church of debt, there was a
fat year with a balance of 42 cents. Encouraged by this un-
usual balance, the trustees plunged into debt again in the
purchase of a new organ for $2,300, plus the old organ.
In the year 1883, the present organ was installed, hav-
ing been built by H. Pilcher Co., of Louisville, Ky.
A noteworthy event during Prof. Tinker's leadership
was the celebration of his Silver Jubilee as leader, held in the
church parlors and attended by the membership of the
Church, at which time Rev. Otis Smith, then pastor, present-
ed him with a handsome diamond stud from the ladies of the
Two time-honored institutions have been banished ;
the window stick with crotched end for pulling down the
upper window sash and the human organ blowers. The
sight of old Dr. Johnson swaying down the aisle at a call
for fresh air with the long stick unconsciously hit-
ting a bald head on one side and dislodging a woman's bon-
net on the other side of the aisle, amused many a small child
in the family pew. A rope and pulley made ventilating easy.
The vagaries of various organ blowers were many. Regular-
ly "Crazy Al" went to sleep during the sermon and had to
be awakened by one of the bases at the lack of response in
the organ. An electric motor installed was a joy, except
when some practical joker turned off the switch in the room
below, as happened lately.
Prof. Tinker was assisted in his work by several prom-
inent organists, who, each served a number of years, among
them. Miss Amelia Lawrence, Mrs. Boyden, Miss Hobbs,
Miss Maggie Allen (afterwards Mrs. Wm. McLean-, Prof.
Arnold Habbe and Mrs. Addie K. Millis, who began her serv-
ices about the year 1887 and continued until Prof. Tinker's
resignation in 1910, when she became Director as well as
organist. At this time Mrs. Louis Kestner became assist-
ant organist, and was succeeded by Mrs. Willis M. Copeland
a year later.
Mrs. Lizzie Shanklin raised $250.00 in the congregation
toward the proposed Tinker Memorial Organ in memory of
Mr. Tinker's long service as leader of Walnut Street Choir.
In Sept., 1917, Prof. Walter A. Otto became Choir
Leader and Mrs. Copeland, organist. Mr. Otto was succeed-
ed the present year by Prof. Andrew T. Webster, Super-
visor of Music in the Public Schools. (A coincidence that
half a century after Mr. Tinker began his work with the
choir, the present director should have the same position in
the Public Schools as that occupied by Mr. Tinker.
S. F. 0. CLUB (Sunshine for Others) :
One Saturday ofternoon in September, 1906, the mem-
bers of Miss Kaloolah Howe's class met at the home of their
teacher and organized the S. F. 0. Club....
The thing of which they were very proud and thank-
ful was the giving of an organ to the Mission School (in the Cotton
In various small ways the funds for this were gathered and
to make up the considerable deficit a Social and Bazaar was
given and this was found to have brought in suff'icient to
complete the sum required. The class were very happy
to take part in the program on the day that saw the organ
PART OF CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION:
Thursday November 24, 1921
Evening, 7.30. Church Auditorium.
(Old Folks' Night)
- Organ Recital Prof. James R. Gillette, Municipal Organist.
- Invocation ...Rev. C. S. Nickerson, D. D.
- Special Musical Numbers Members of old Tinker Choir
- Sermon Rev. Otis Smith, D. D.
- Special Music.
Historical narratives from:
A Century of History of the
Walnut Street Presbvterian Church of Evansville, Indiana:
With Sketches of it's
Pastors, Officers, and Prominent Members and Reminiscences of Early
Part I. By Mary F. Reilly Published in 1891
Part II. By Emily Orr Clifford Published in 1921 KIHKPATRICK - HEIM
PTG. CO. EV^ANSVILLE 1921
Accessed online at Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/index.php
Information about Pilcher Organ from the Organ
Historical Society website:
Informatnion about the Austin organ from the Organ Historical Society
website (accessed 12/14/2010):
Church image from http://postcards.evansville.net/Churches/church4.html
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