Sunday, March 6, 2016
On August 24, 1866 Helenor Alter Davisson was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Protestant Church, making her the the first Methodist woman to be ordained, sixteen years before Anna Howard Shaw of the Methodist Episcopal Church. (When the MPC split off from the MEC in 1828 it did not retain the ban on female clergy, although it was reinstated in 1871.)
She was born in Pennsylvania on January 24, 1823 to Rev. John Alter and Charity VanAusdall Alter. The family moved westward to Jasper County, Indiana in 1835, and her mother died two years later leaving 14-year-old Helenor to raise her seven younger siblings and run the family sawmill. A church history in Remington, Indiana lists her and her father as circuit riders in the 1840s, and they also founded a church at Alder's Grove, a group of walnut trees behind their home.
This and one other church building, as well as their home and their graves were dedicated in 2014 as the Helenor Alter Davisson Cluster of United Methodist Sites. Read more about the dedication and Rev. Davisson's life here http://gcsrw.org/Portals/4/helenor%20davisson.pdf