John Jacoby moved from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania to Marion County, Ohio with his family in 1831 or 1832. He bought land in Marion County, on December 23, 1831. In 1847, he and his wife and children journeyed to Wisconsin by way of the water route from Huron, Ohio, and from there they went to Marshall County, Indiana. John bought a farm in Marshall County on November 17, 1847. He owned the entire Section 35 in Center Township. He was one of the founders of the St. John or Jacoby Reformed Church, and he deeded an acre of ground on which to erect the house of worship and its cemetery.
Prior to constructing the house of worship, the Jacobys needed a burial ground for members of the family who passed on. The cemetery dates about 12 years older than the church. In a letter between Daniel Jacoby (a brother) and Michael Jacoby (his son in Ohio) the need for a church is evident:
December 30, 1849
"Our spiritual affairs is not very good. We have not heard a sermon of our own church since Pence left here. It is true we have meeting here in Plymouth sometimes by the Methodist and sometimes by the Presbyterian but still it is not home for we like our own. I hope the time will soon come that we will be able to support a minister sufficient to preach the Gospel to us of our own church. I am not discouraged. I will serve my God while I live. Let others do as they will. For God is a prayer hearing and prayer answering. God hears and therefore I put my trust in him, and if we will never meet on earth I hope to meet you all in heaven where parting will be no more is the prayer of your most humble . . ."
Their prayers were answered by the construction of the single room timber frame building in 1860, being dedicated in 1861, on the corner of the John Jacoby farm. This was largely a German Reformed/Lutheran congregation. In about 1904 the church was updated with the addition of the front foyer and bell tower. The church operated in several generations of denominations/congregations including one associated with the Missionary Church. The building was closed for a period of about ten years before another group began meeting here for a few years during the 1960's while their building was constructed in Plymouth.
And then it sat vacant. A descendant of the family cared for the building, but it quickly fell into disrepair as the building approached the new millennium. Windows were broken out, a corner of the building had dropped by over a foot and gaping holes in the ceiling accelerated deterioration. Further complicating the matter was an ownership issue, while the township owned the cemetery, there was no clear title to the building.....creating difficulty in organizing efforts to save the 140+ year old building.
To say the church is a landmark in the community is an understatement, but the future seemed bleak.
Soon........the salvation of the church.