In a time when modern transportation and communication had yet to transform rural America, churches were often at the center of small-town social life.
From Winona Lake’s Billy Sunday, whose exhortations helped pass Prohibition in 1919, to Jim Jones, whose Indianapolis People’s Temple came to its tragic end in 1978, Indiana has produced its share of charismatic preachers.
During the last century, a preacher named Billy emerged as a world-renowned evangelist. But it’s not the Billy one might imagine. As if predestined by his surname, Billy Sunday brought “old time religion” to an estimated 100 million people without the benefit of television or electric amplification. Sunday’s career was intertwined with that of Winona Lake, in Kosciusko County, a mecca of religious and cultural activity from the 1890s through the 1930s.