Latest News from Blue River Friends

Blue River Historic District Update - Summer 2023

Some exciting news I wanted to pass along from Kurt Garner related to the Blue River National Historic District. 

- Dan


As of early June the National Register of Historic Places Application has been...  

With all of the maps included the document is about 75 pages and is in a "draft" form. After completion of the technical review we will share the document with you. 

Current Step:  Technical Review

Now that the document was submitted for technical review, we should hear back in 1-2 months from the technical review board.

Next Step: Substantative Review

After moving through the technical review stage,  it will receive the substantative review in about 16 months from now (Fall/Winter 2024).  

Message from Kurt.. 
This was such an immense and humbling undertaking. Thank you so much for entrusting your story with me. And thank you Jeremy for giving up a day to help with research in April! 


Blue River Historic District Update - Spring 2023


I'm working on the rough proposed boundaries at this time and are subject to minor modifications. Provided below is a current GIS map and a graphic from 1878 with boundaries outlined.

The district comprises almost 1700 acres roughly following the Quaker Road corridor. There are approximately 60 major buildings or resources in the district plus and additional 60 minor buildings or resources spread out over about 40 sites/addresses.


To date, the district has been surveyed and all of the resources (buildings, structures, sites) have been identified and inventoried into the National Register form under specific addresses. Portions of the nomination form, have been developed to include narratives and summaries of the general character of the district, period of significance, and justification under six areas of significance/criteria.

I plan to expand summaries of each of those areas of significance and provide them to the state about mid-April to gain some feedback in that critical stage. Also during that time, I’ll be describing most of the major buildings/resources in greater detail.

Right now the nomination is twenty pages long and I would anticipate that it will further expand to nearly quadruple that by the time it is complete sometime in late May.

Kurt W. Garner
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Historic District Documentation Visit February 4th

February 2023


On Saturday February 4th from 11:00am to approximately 4:00pm Kurt W. Garner will be arriving in the Blue River area to begin the documentation for the rural district submission. He will be driving a black F-150, wearing lanyards, and will have a helper along with him.

If you see him in the neighborhood be sure to say hi,  and if a Black Ford Pickup pulls in your driveway that might be Kurt visiting to document your homestead for the application.

Kurt's cellphone number is 574-780-1423 in case there are any questions or you may click here to visit his website for more information. 



Seeking Something IN Salem

It was our pleasure to welcome Sampson Livingston to the Blue River Quaker Settlement in the summer of 2021. Sampson came for a visit along with representatives from Indiana Landmarks and other people involved in our planning to submit an application for achieving National Historic District Status.

Click on the link below to view Sampson's website and learn more about his visit to Salem, Indiana.

Click here to visit Sampson Livingston's Website for more information



Blue River & Quaker History from the Driftwood Monthly Meeting

The video below was recorded at the Jackson County Library in 2016 by Mary Rose Wicker Bassett.

Many of the early Quakers that arrived from North Carolina and settled in the Jackson County/Seymour area originally had to make an arduous 25 mile journey by wagon to attend church at Blue River Friends Meeting House in Salem. A Driftwood Monthly Meeting was established in 1820 in Seymour along the Driftwood Creek. It was located near where the Wal-Mart is now located.

Click here for an informational flyer from this event

Underground Railroad Connections

In published stories there are references to the activities of the Underground Railroad in Salem and Quaker men moving freedom seekers up to Jackson County. Quakers in Driftwood and the town of Azalia,  which also began a Monthly Meeting, were most likely a path for the movement of freedom seekers north.        



Blue River Quaker National Historic District Informational Meeting

Thanks to everyone that attended our informational meeting on January 10th at the Blue River Quaker Meeting House. The meeting included a presentation from Greg Sekula from Indiana Landmarks and Kurt W Garner of KW Garner & Consulting Design followed by questions from the audience.

Greg Sekula announced that Indiana Landmarks had secured $5,000 towards the consulting fee for preparing the National Historic District inventory paperwork. The Washington County Tourism Bureau has contributed $2,000 towards the project. Other committments have been made to secure the fee required for preparing the National Historic District Application.

Kurt Garner will be returning to the area in early February to begin the process of taking inventory of all of the historic elements of the Blue River Quaker Settlement. 

If everything proceeds in a timely manner and the National Historic District approves the request the status would be received  at some point during the summer of 2024. 



Community Informational Meeting

The general public and those living in and around the Quaker Road area of Salem are cordially invited to a meeting on January 10th at 4:00pm at the Blue River Quaker Church located at 1931 North Quaker Road, Salem Indiana. 

Representatives from Indiana Landmarks-Southern District will be on hand to address any questions from the public concerning the National Register Nomination for the Blue River Friends District.

Understanding the National Register



Blue River Settlement Receives Support from Washington County Tourism

November 2022

The Washington County Tourism Commission is committed to the promotion of groups and activities whose actions and functions encourage the growth of tourism and visitors to the county. 



Blue River Settlement Historic District

November 2022

A presentation was made to the Washington County Tourism Board in order to request assistance with funding for the consultant needed to research and prepare the documents to file for National Register of Historic Places status. 

More Information on the Settlement

Understanding the National Register



207th Annual Homecoming

October 2, 2022

1931 North Quaker Road, Salem, Indiana

11:00am – Church Service
12:00 Noon – Pitch-in Dinner
2:00pm – Annual Memorial Service at the Hicksite Church 1232 North Quaker Road Salem, Indiana

The Old Church Bell will ring at 11:00 A.M. for the call to worship.  The annual Homecoming at Blue River Friends is a long-standing tradition. Come reconnect with family and friends for morning worship and stay to enjoy good food at our pitch-in dinner.

At 2:00 P.M. the Annual Memorial Service at the Hicksite Church will be held to celebrate our religious heritage. The meetinghouse has endured for over 200 years, and we are dedicated to preserving it for future generations.



11th Annual Cross Across the County

April 2022

Blue River Friends Aaron Fordyce and Chris Lindley participated in the 11th annual "Cross Across the County" on Good Friday, April 15, as the cross was carried from First Baptist Church of Salem to Mount Tabor Christian Church. During the 12.1 mile journey, the cross carriers paused at New Hope United Methodist Church and Westview Christian Church along the way for refreshments and restrooms and enjoyed the beautiful spring day, great conversation, and good fellowship. A community Good Friday service was hosted by Mount Tabor at noon. Aaron and Chris admitted they had some aches, but they also were humbled and blessed to participate in this witnessing opportunity to the people of Washington County as well as those who were driving along Highway 60 that day.  



New Pastor at Blue River Friends

March 2022

Blue River Friends Church would like to announce the arrival of their new pastor Chris Lindley and his wife Michelle. He is a graduate of Indiana University and has taught U.S. History and U.S. Government at Paoli Community Schools from 1992 to the present. In 2020 he was selected as the Indiana DAR State American History Teacher of the Year.

Lindley has served as pastor of Newberry Friends Church in Paoli since 1991 and was recorded as a minister of the gospel among Friends in 1999 by Western Yearly Meeting. He has made three foreign mission trips, two to East Africa for the African Friends Pastors Conference and one to Cuba as part of Friends United Meeting’s Living Letters program. In addition to being pastor at Blue River Friends Church, Lindley also is a talented pianist and serves as song leader. 

When asked about his desire to serve as pastor, Lindley said, “Since I first visited Blue River Friends in the late 1980s, I have always had a deep concern for their well-being. Having frequently attended Homecomings and preaching at a few, I always felt welcomed and that the church was like a second home for me.  Michelle and I have spent our ministry caring for rural congregations, and the opportunity to serve and grow with the Quakers at Blue River connects with who we are. Our desire is to build enthusiasm for spiritual growth and outreach among the members and to continue the witness of those dedicated Friends from the past who helped build God’s kingdom. We are overjoyed to be a part of the church and proclaim the love and truth of Jesus in this community.”

Blue River Friends Church invites the community to join them in welcoming Chris and Michelle as he continues the long tradition of leading the Quaker church established in Washington County in 1815. Sunday services begin at 11:00 a.m. with the ringing of the old church bell.  Blue River Friends Church is located at 1931 North Quaker Road east of Salem, Indiana. 

Chris Lindley
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Blue River Settlement Historic District

February 2022

Thanks for your interest in the Blue River Quaker Church and Community

I would like to pass along to those interested that a small group of residents of the Blue River Settlement Area, Jeremy Elliot from the local John Hay Center along with the Indiana Landmarks-Southern District are working together to establish a Blue River Settlement Historic District.

We had a meeting last summer with representatives of Indiana Landmarks and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and toured several historic homes and sites within the settlement.  

I researched and submitted some initial land use/mapping documents to the representative of the Historic Preservation division of Indiana Dept. Natural Resources and the process is moving forward.

We look forward to continuing to help move the project forward as a tribute to the significant cultural heritage of the early Quaker families that made Blue River their home.

If you would like more information or would like to contribute to the project feel free to contact me. 

Dan Neel
1508 Quaker Road Salem, IN
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Hicksite Meetinghouse Receives National Register Approval

December 2020

The historic Hicksite Meetinghouse recently received approval from the Department of the Interior as being included in the National Register of Historic Places.

John Hinds researched and prepared the application and recently received notification that the Meeting House had meet the criteria.

The official date of acceptance was November 30th, 2020.

An official ceremony is expected during the 2021 Indiana State Fair to receive the State and National Certificates.



Hicksite Fundraising Continues

October 2020

Renovation of the historic Hicksite Meetinghouse, Est. 1815, was the main topic of discussion at the 205th annual memorial meeting held at the church on October 4. After nearly two years of planning and at the recommendation of the Indiana Landmark Association, the original siding was replaced to help preserve the centuries-old building.

The renovation project for the Hicksite Meetinghouse, also known as Old Blue River Friends Church, included replacing the siding and restoring the original windows. New storm windows and doors will also be installed thanks to the generosity of an anonymous  donor.

John Hughes, guest speaker at the annual meeting , commended those who worked to preserve the 200 year-old church for the community.  In his presentation of the history of the Quaker church, he noted that Indiana became the center for Quakers in the U.S. in the 1800s. Their beliefs included the desire for peace, to love your neighbors and to put the needs of others first. 

John Hinds, a birthright  Quaker,  undertook the nomination of the Hicksite Meetinghouse to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. He reported at this year’s meeting that it has passed the first stage, and final approval of the nomination is expected by the end of the year.  Hinds commented on the importance of the building being added to the list of structures in Washington County that are on the National Register.

Fundraising for the restoration of the Old Blue River Friends Church began at the Hicksite annual meeting in 2019, and efforts continue in raising money to cover the costs. Souvenir boards made from the original siding are available for a $25 donation to the Blue River Friends Church/ Hicksite Restoration Fund.  Contact Myra Wells, Jeff Wells, or Jane Clark. Other donations can be mailed to Todd Ewen, 2660 E. Quaker Rd., Salem, In. 47167.

Purchase a souvenir board from the original siding of the Hicksite meetinghouse.



10th Annual Cross Across the County - Canceled Due to Public Health Crisis

April 2020

The 10th annual Cross Across the County walk will begin at Blue River Friends Church at 6:00 a.m. on Good Friday, April 10, 2020, and make several stops along the approximately 17 mile route. It will end with a Good Friday service hosted by First Baptist Church in Salem, Indiana.

For additional information about the walk contact Steve Gorman at 812-844-1471.



9th Annual Cross Across the County

April 2019

Blue River Friends Church hosted the 9th annual Cross Across the County walk that began at 6 a.m. on Good Friday, April 19, 2019. Participants carried a wooden cross along local highways making several stops along the way and ending at Blue River Friends Church with a Good Friday service.