History of Santa Claus Campground
A Methodist Campground
About 1847 - A German Methodist Circuit Rider, Rev. Christian Wyttenbach, came to Elizabeth (now Dale, IN) and followed a road to the East. He found a cabin with a young German Methodist and his wife from Cincinnati. People gathered from the area and a class was formed in 1850. These classes grew and a church and cemetery were dedicated on a four acre site. One acre was donated by a Lutheran, another from a Baptist, one from the Methodist, and one from the Catholic faith who joined the Methodist Church. The church was built and dedicated in 1854. The story goes that the name of "Santa Claus" came when a meeting was being held in the church on Christmas Eve to choose a name for the church. After a lengthy discussion, the door opened, in came Santa Claus, and a child exclaimed "Santa Claus!" This is the story and the name of the church. Subsequently, Santa Claus became the name of the town also.
1851 - The people felt a need for "the Word" and the first campmeeting was held on the two acres to the south of the church. The meetings were held in the open in the evening illuminated by the moon and brush fires. The minister did not need a light as her sermons were not written on paper. Week long meetings were attended by families from near and far who housed in rough tents. Later more confortable cabins were built usually a two story building, sleeping quarters on the second floor, and cooking and eating on the first floor. Many came from surrounding areas in wagons loaded with coal, wood, hay for the horses, clothes for the week, food for the week, and many anxious farmers and families looking forward to vacation and to hear the Word.