Wednesday, August 17, 2005


At the corner of Washington and South East Street sits the cornerstone of Winchester Friends Meeting house. This cornerstone was laid Oct. 13, 1897 when construction for the new meetinghouse began. The cement block is inscribed with the names of T. Frank Moorman, Dr. Charles E. Milligan, Dr. Charles F. Gray, Joseph Keys and William C. Diggs (all on the Building Committee) and W.S. Kaufman, Architect, and Joseph L. Shetterly, Contractor.

Dr. Charles Milligan was 35 years old at the laying of the cornerstone and was the secretary and treasurer of the building committee. There is a Journal written in Dr. Milligan’s handwriting detailing the tearing down of the 1875 meetinghouse and the building of the 1898 meetinghouse. Dr. Milligan kept minute details of money pledged for the project and what was paid out for the project. He earned his place inscribed on the cornerstone.

Dr. Milligan was a prominent physician in Winchester for 32 years. He was born in Portland, Indiana and started his career life as a school teacher. He then graduated from Nelson’s Business College at Cincinnati, Ohio. He always had a desire to study medicine and in March of 1890, when he was 28 years old, he graduated from the Physio Medical College in Indianapolis. While in Indianapolis, Charles joined a Friends Meeting there and married Idella Hoffner on January 1, 1890. The month following his graduation, he moved to Winchester and began to practice medicine. Idella died seventeen months after her marriage to Charles. During the next few years he transferred his membership from Indianapolis to Winchester Friends and became acquainted with a Quaker young woman from Winchester Friends, Winifred Hinshaw (a half sister to Dick Hinshaw’s grandmother). On Sept.3, 1895 a 33 year old Charles and a 28 year old Winnie were married. They had no children, but both invested their lives in the lives of children. Dr. Milligan was on the School Board of Winchester for 12 years and Evelyn Fields remembers going to the Milligan home as a child for a Sunday School parties. Charles and Winifred left an incredible heritage by their commitment to leadership at Winchester Friends and White River Quarterly Meeting.

One part of the heritage left by Dr. Milligan’s was stated in his obituary in May 1922. It read: “He has always proven himself a consistent member of the church, helpful to others, considerate and thoughtful in his judgment. His strength of purpose, his self-control and steadfastness, his simplicity and directness made the world better because he lived. His love of truth and hatred of sham has inspired other to the realities of life. He did not win applause, but he won that which is more -- affection. His church recognized his merits for he was treasurer of both local and quarterly meeting of Friends for many years. The community saw his worth and for twelve years his splendid judgment was appreciated in his filling the position as a member of the School Board of Winchester…….His broad vision of the needs of the world was shown by his deep interest in not only home mission work but the needs of the foreign field appealed to him. Two bells donated to mission fields in [Kenya] call [Africans] to worship, and he had already arranged to furnish two others to serve a similar purpose at other stations. Truly the good we do rings our in never dying tones of gladness.”

Dr. and Winifred Milligan also left Winchester Friends a great heritage through their care for written records and books. Both had beautiful, clear handwriting and journals and minute books from the 1890’s through the 1920’s reflect their care for history and the Quaker organizations for which they volunteered their time, energy and leadership. In 2003 when we were going through books from Marybelle Hinshaw’s collection, we found many books with Winifred Milligan’s name written in pencil in the front cover. It was there I learned Winnie Thompson was named for Winifred Milligan. I appreciate the composition of the libraries of both Winifred Milligan and Marybelle Hinshaw. Marybelle was proud of her library and I was delighted to discover so many treasures from her and Winifred Milligan to add to the library of Winchester Friends. These books tell the story of these women’s spiritual lives, their journeys and their souls. It tells what they found important enough to read, collect, and pass on to another generation.

We live in a different world than the one Charles and Winifred Milligan lived in. Randolph County is having a very public debate over the preservation of the old historic courthouse, a courthouse that has been the cornerstone of our community and the downtown for well over 100 years. We live in a day and age when churches leave their historic buildings for more modern structures rather than make already standing structures functional. We are challenged today by consuming Christians who move from church fellowship to church fellowship looking for anything but commitment and service. In light of this modern consumer culture and an abandonment of history and heritage, I’ve been thinking much these days about cornerstones.

I believe the real cornerstone of Winchester Friends are people today who sit in the pew each Sunday morning, or those who teach Sunday School year in a year out, those who volunteer for leading Junior Church, or those who paint the walls of the meetinghouse or install hot water heaters, those who sacrificially give week after week to missions here and abroad, and those who take minutes at Monthly meetings or in committees meetings.

But people like Charles and Winifred Milligan are also cornerstones of our fellowship. Even though they are long gone from our midst, the names on our building’s cornerstone is a written reminder of the lives and souls behind those names. Those names remind us of the many who gave sacrificially to build this place of worship. They remind us of those who provided leadership faithfully year after year to this fellowship. The cornerstone at the corner of Washington and South East Street is a visible testimony of lives lived thoughtfully and carefully. The cornerstone is a witness of energy given to support and maintain the ministry of Winchester Friends Meeting. Not because those people on the stone loved the building or the institution, but because they loved God, because they loved the people they worshipped and worked with on a daily basis, and because they had hope and vision for the potential of this church in our community.

I thank God for the cornerstones in our fellowship and in our community today and for the church being built by their faithfulness and love for God. But I also pray we do not ignore, abandon or tear down old cornerstones without respect given to those names written in stone. Their sacrifice should matter to us here today and I pray we live up to their hope and vision.