Nicholas Snethen

Nicholas Snethen, arguably the most prominent founder of the Methodist Protestant Church, had three encounters with Hoosierland.

Early in his career, he was a staunch itinerant preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in New England and points south. Snethen was so well regarded that in 1800 he was elected secretary of the M.E. General Conference. For a time, Bishop Francis Asbury selected Snethen as his traveling companion. Asbury's poor health on much of their travels meant that Snethen did most of the preaching along the way. His eloquence and his melodious voice earned him the title “Asbury’s Silver Trumpet.”

After his marriage to Susannah Hood, in 1803, Rev. Snethen located and later made his first acquaintance with Indiana, moving the family to a farm near Merom. This proved a short-lived venture, and he returned to the traveling ministry.

Gradually Snethen became opposed to the episcopal form of church governance, and he also supported lay representation at all levels of the church. When like-minded people formed the Associated Methodist Churches, he presided over their 1828 organizational conference. This group became the Methodist Protestant Church in 1830, and Snethen was a foremost figure in the new denomination.

In 1836 the M.P. Church opened Dearborn College, its first institution of higher education, near Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and named Snethen its president. This was his second foray into the Hoosier state. But in 1839 the buildings burned, the enterprise was abandoned, and no marker or other trace of this site remains today.

In 1843, Rev. Snethen was offered the presidency of an M.P. seminary which was to be established at Iowa City, Iowa, and to be called Snethen Seminary. En route to keep this appointment, he visited his daughter's home in Princeton, Indiana, became seriously ill, and died there on May 10, 1845. Thus, Rev. Snethen's third encounter with Indiana ended badly. He was buried in the Warnock Cemetery on the north side of Princeton.

The Indiana Conference has the honor to claim the gravesite as one of our United Methodist Historic Sites. It is registered with the General Commission on Archives and History as Site No. 281.

His grave marker, surmounted by a large Bible, is centered in the section of this large cemetery which lies on the east side of Main Street (Ind. 65) in Princeton.

GPS: 38 21 50.07, -87 33 59.55

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