2021 marks the 184th anniversary of the founding of Huntersville Evangelical Protestant Church, now known as St. John’s United Church of Christ. The founding of the church in 1836 marked the beginning of a community centered around  Huntersville platted in 1841. Huntersville is now the oldest part of present-day Batesville.

The values, heritage, culture, cuisine and religion of the Batesville area communities are influenced by early immigration, primarily from northern Germany. Early settlement also included English ancestry from Pennsylvania. The Indians did not have any major stakes left in southeastern Indiana at the time of white settlement.

Significant Indian presence disappeared in the years after the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.  The last meeting of Indians in this area reportedly occurred in 1833 near Metamora where reportedly forty gathered for the last time before being removed further west.

It is also interesting to note that while the parishioners at Oldenburg, Indiana, were primarily north Germans, some of their religious teachers-the priests and nuns-came from southern Germany and Austria. Mother Theresa Hackelmeier came from Vienna, Austria, to establish the Convent at Oldenburg in 1851, and the Franciscan Fathers at the Oldenburg Friary came from their Province in Cincinnati originally established by friars from the Austrian Tyrol.  The governments of Austria and Bavaria spent several million dollars in missions to the American Germans.

Immigration between 1842 and 1854 was particularly heavy. Many entered at the Port of Baltimore, crossed the Alleghenies, and flat boated down the Ohio River.  Others came up the Mississippi through New Orleans. Many families stopped for several years in Cincinnati before moving to southeastern Indiana.

St. John’s United Church of Christ was built in 1859 by memberss of the congregation under the leadership of Mr. Henry Haberkotte, a builder who focused on covered bridges. The construction is hand-hewn timbers, about a foot on each side, joined with out nails, built to last for centuries.
 In 1987 when the church was celebrating its 105th anniversary, the church in Venne, Germany was celebrating its 900th anniversary.

St. John’s United Church of Christ states the following regarding its history:
“The founders of the church along with Rev. Henry Dolle, their pastor, came from a fairly liberal community of Christians in Germany who wished to be open to many of Christ’s followers.  They may have wanted to distinguish themselves from other groups who sought members only from their group or sect.  This symbol, quietly tucked away in the 150 year old bridgework above us, may provide an important link with our present.  Though this church was constructed almost 100 years before the formation of the United  Church of Christ, its builders’ symbolism is very consistent with our UCC bywords from John Chapter 17 ‘That All May Be One.’”
Then came the American Civil War, and much of the immigration to this area stopped.  It is reported Hermann Bruns of Sunman, born at Wachendorfin Hannover, fought for the North.  His first cousin, Henry Severs, born at sea off Charleston, South Carolina, fought for the South. They visited each other after the war and became friends.