Film focuses on ‘Scripture Rocks' near Brookville

By Randy Bartley

Staff Writer


A message carved in stone has found its way to the digital age. On Oct. 26, a new film based on the "Scripture Rocks" was shown for the first time at the annual meeting of the Jefferson County Historical Society.

Douglas Monroe Stahlman was born in 1861 on a farm in Warsaw Township, Jefferson County. Following the death of his wife in Valprasio, Ind., in 1901, he returned to Brookville.

By 1908 he began a personal questrelating to the large rocky outcrops in the nearby woodlands.

First he began praying at a secludedrock and after a year he developeda vision of dedicating rocks withspecific names such as Health, Veil-lifting, Consecration, Hope, Love, and Courage.

Some of the rocks are supported by verse or biblical reference.

Stahlman encouraged people to spend time at these locations in prayer and meditation for the dedication that the rock supports.

By January 1912, more than 500 rocks had been dedicated.

In 1909, with the help of some friends, he began building outdoor chapels (bleachers and pavilions) at McConnell's Grove, Altar Rock, Chapel Rock, Tunnel Hill, and the Millcreek trestle.

In 1911, he moved into a cabin onAltar Rock living almost as a hermit. By 1913, at least 165 rocks had been inscribed,with 3-inch, 12-inch, 24-inch or 30-inch letters.

In September 1915 he was committed to jail. An appointed local commission declared him insane and transferred him to the Dixmont State Hospital where hespent the rest of hislife before dying onAug. 26, 1942.

His grave is in the Temple Cemetery near Hazen.

Stahlman was a controversial figure during his life.

There was no controversy in his mind. In his journal he wrote, "I choose to be a fool in the eyes of men rather than the eyes of God."

His legacy today continues to invoke intrigue, speculation and discussion.

The film project

The one-hour film combines live action with archival footage.

Local actors were used for the production. Locations in and around Brookville were used for several scenes.

The film also contains a demonstration of the method used by Stahlman to carve the inscriptions into the rocks.

A final segment of the film explains how the Scripture Rocks Heritage Park was created.

Ed Frank, the director of "The Story of Douglas Stahlman," said the background music needs to be added and a final edit performed before it can be submitted to PBS for possible broadcast.

"Our goal for this project is a presentation on PBS and to have the DVD for sale in the JCHC Gift Shop," said Jefferson County Historical Society Executive Director Ken Burkett.