Ohio History Journal




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In the fall of 1816 the state offices were removed from

Chillicothe to Columbus, and on the first Monday of December,

of the same year, the legislature began its first session in the

then new state house in Columbus.     The proprietors having

finished the public buildings and deeded the two ten acre lots

to the state, agreeably to their proposals, at this session they

presented their account for the erection of the public buildings:

and by an act passed January 29, 1817, the Governor was au-

thorized to settle and adjust the account, and the Auditor re-

quired to draw on the treasurer for the balance found due after

deducting the $50,000 which the proprietors were by their pro-

posal bound to give.

In the settlement, after deducting from the charge for car-

penter work some six or seven per cent., and the $50,000, there

was found a balance due the proprietors of about $33,000, which

was paid by the state, and thus was closed the political and finan-

cial enterprise of fixing the permanent capital for the state of

Ohio.

Concerning this matter of the location of the capital, The

Supporter-a Chillicothe weekly of the date Saturday morning,

February 29, 1812-in its leading editorial spoke as follows:

"The law fixing the permanent seat of government will be seen

in this week's paper-a town to be laid out on the east bank of the

Scioto river, opposite Franklinton, and is, we understand, to be named

Columbus. We believe a more eligible site for a town is not to be found

and it must afford considerable gratification that this long contested sub-

ject has at last been settled. The legislature has appointed Joel Wright,

of Warren county, director."

 

 

THE CENTENNIAL CHURCHES OF THE MIAMI VALLEY.

J. E. BRADFORD, MIAMI UNIVERSITY, OXFORD.

The aim of this study is to trace the course and note some

of the main features of ecclesiastical development in the Miami

Valley to the close of the year 1815. By the Miami Valley we

mean the whole area drained by the two Miamis including the

Whitewater which is one of its tributaries entering the Great

Miami near its mouth. Let it be borne in mind that what is

here offered is but a hasty preliminary survey of a very inter-



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esting field which would well justify a much more careful in-

vestigation.

One hundred years ago the Miami country had a popula-

tion of about ninety thousand. Dr. Drake1 gives us a good sur-

vey of it in that year of which the following is a summary: Cin-

cinnati had about one thousand houses, a stone courthouse with

dome, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Friends' meeting-

houses, two banks, two newspapers, a library, a two-story build-

ing in process of erection for the accommodation of the newly

founded Lancastrian Seminary, and a number of manufacturing

establishments, including one stone mill.

Hamilton had seventy houses, chiefly log, a postoffice and

printing office, but no public buildings save a stone jail. Lebanon

was a considerable village with houses of brick and wood, a

courthouse and a schoolhouse, Baptist and Methodist churches,

a stone jail, a printing office, a library, a bank, and several

manufactories.

Franklin had forty-five families, grist and saw mills and a

postoffice. Dayton had one hundred dwellings, principally wood,

a courthouse, a Methodist meeting-house, a brick academy, a

library of two hundred and fifty books, a bank, a postoffice, and

a printing office.

Xenia was a group of wooden houses with a courthouse,

one church, a postoffice, and printing office. Urbana, having been

the base of the recent military operations, had developed into a

town of about one hundred houses, with a newspaper and bank,

but without any public buildings. West of the Miami River was

Greenville, a military post, and Eaton, with thirty dwellings and

a postoffice, but with no public buildings. Oxford he describes

as a sparsely populated village located on the frontier of the

state, that had gained notoriety from having been fixed on as the

seat of a university.

It was a full quarter century before Dr. Drake penned his

description of the Miami country that the first churches were

planted to the northward of the Ohio. But little more than a

year after the coming of the first settlers into the Miami coun-

try steps were taken to effect a religious organization. The

initiative was taken by the Baptists who, at Columbia, on Jan.



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20, 1796, organized the first Protestant church in the Northwest

Territory. The officiating clergyman was Rev. Stephen Gane,

and the number of charter members was nine, though this was

shortly added to. The following May, Elder John Smith, later

a member of the Constitutional Convention, and United States

senator from  Ohio, took charge of the congregation.  This

church grew rapidly, but after Wayne's Treaty in 1795 many of

its members moved into the interior, and, in 1797, we have the

founding of Miami Island, Carpenter's Run and Clear Creek

churches.2

In December of the same year, as the founding of the Col-

umbia church, a Presbyterian congregation was organized at

Cincinnati by the Rev. David Rice3 of Danville, Kentucky. A

few months after James Kemper, a licentiate, was sent to supply

this congregation, and to establish preaching stations at Colum-

bia, North Bend and Round Bottom. He arrived at his field of

labor a few days before St. Clair's defeat, and proved a tower

of strength to the disheartened settlement in those troublous days.

If the Baptists have the honor of organizing the first congre-

gation, to the Presbyterians belong the credit of erecting the

first house of worship in the Miami country, and this by the

Cincinnati church. In January, 1792, subscriptions were made

by one hundred and sixteen persons, totaling $289 plus 3. 6d.

English money, one hundred and seventy days work, seventy-one

days' work with team, twenty-three pounds of nails, four hun-

dred and fifty feet of boards, and sixty-five boat planks. The

church erected at this time is described as a good frame house

thirty by forty feet, but "neither lathed, plastered, nor ceiled".

The floor was of boat plank laid loosely upon the joists. The

seats were of the same material supported by blocks of wood.

There was a breastwork of unplaned cherry boards called a pul-

pit, behind which the clergyman stood on a piece of boat plank

resting on a block of wood. This church somewhat improved

a few years later served the congregation until 1812 when a more

commodious edifice was erected.4

Though there may have been some prior sporadic preaching,

it was not until 1798 that a definite effort was made to establish

Methodism in the Miami Valley. In that year Rev. John Kobler,



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acting under appointment of Bishop Asbury, crossed the Ohio at

Columbia and made his way to the cabin of Francis McCormick

near Milford. Here he organized a class of twenty-one mem-

bers. A few days later, accompanied by McCormick, he set out

on a tour of the settlements between the Miamis, visiting among

other points Dayton, Franklin, Hamilton, and Cincinnati. The

few score of Methodists whom he found he organized into eight

or ten classes which he sought to visit every two weeks. After

such a ministry of several months, he retired from the circuit

reporting ninety-nine members.

It was not, however, until five years after the close of his

ministry in the Miami Valley that Methodism gained a foothold

in Cincinnati, as on his visit to the place in 1798 he could find

no one interested in his ministry, and so did not include it in his

list of appointments. It was in 1804 that John Collins, a local

preacher residing in Clermont County, while on a business trip

to Cincinnati learned of the presence there of a number of

Methodists. These he at once gathered together, and after

preaching to them organized them into a class, and a little later

secured their inclusion in the appointments of the Miami Circuit.

There was, however, no regular place of preaching until about

1807, when a stone meeting-house was erected. By 1812 this

church had so grown that it had two hundred and nine names

upon the roll of its members.5

So far as has been ascertained, the following list comprises

the churches founded prior to 1816 that have persisted to the

present time.



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Of the churches listed above twenty-seven are of the Presby-

terian group, twenty-three are Baptist, twenty-two are Methodist,

sixteen are designated as Friends, five are Lutheran, four are

Reformed, two are Christian, one is United Brethren, one is

Congregational, one is known as Shaker. The affiliation of two

is undetermined. It is noteworthy that no Catholic or Episcopal

church or Jewish synagogue is included in the list.

Judging by the churches founded, it appears that until 1795

the religious frontier adhered closely to the Ohio river. By 1797

it had reached the banks of Mad river beyond which it does not

appear to have advanced until a decade later. In 1805 it ex-

tended to the westward of the Great Miami and a little later

crossed the boundary line into Indiana.

An examination of this list shows that comparatively few

churches were founded between 1790 and 1800. This evidences

lack of interest for the religious welfare of the rapidly growing

community, and reflects the general indifference of the West to

matters religious at the close of the 18th century. The great

mass of the people were out of sympathy with the church. But

with the dawn of the new century a change occurred, as is

shown from the churches founded after 1802.

 

THE NEW LIGHT REVIVAL.7

During the years 1801-1805 the Miami Valley was affected

by certain remarkable religious phenomena that were farreach-

ing in their results. These were first manifest in the Cumber-

land settlements some time previous to this. Due to denomina-

tional dissensions, the influence of French infidel philosophy, and

the prevalence of wrong doing, interest in religion at the close

of the eighteenth century was at a very low ebb. Moved by the

low state of religion, the Rev. James McCrady, a Presbyterian

clergyman, of southwest Kentucky, prevailed upon certain ear-

nest Christian spirits to join him in a covenant to observe the

third Sabbath of each month as a day of fasting and prayer,

and to spend one-half hour each Saturday evening and the same

time each Sabbath morning in praying to God for a revival of

His work in their midst.

The results were first noted at a sacramental service held



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In 1798 which was pervaded by such earnestness that little work

was done the following week, the time being given over to prayer

and other religious exercises. At a sacramental service held the

following year, while a Rev. Mr. Hodge was preaching a woman

gave vent to her emotions with a scream. This was followed

by other meetings frequently held in the open air in which much

interest was shown. Soon Bishop McKendree of the Methodist

church arrived on the scene and threw himself into the work.

Various meetings were held which attracted persons from far and

near, some of whom came prepared to camp out during the meet-

ings. Thus originated the camp meetings which became a char-

acteristic feature of the religious life of the West, and prepared

the way for the modern Chautauqua.

Hundreds were affected in various ways. Some swooned

away and would lie for hours apparently without breathing.

Others would roll over and over like a log, or sometimes like a

wheel. Still others would have violent twitching of the muscles.

If those of the neck were affected the head would jerk from side

to side, or backwards and forwards, so as to threaten the dis-

location of the neck. Some would move about on hands and

feet barking like dogs. At the Cane Ridge meeting where the

attendance was estimated at twenty thousand, it is said that as

many as three thousand fell, jerking, rolling, dancing and laugh-

ing. No class was exempt from the affection, nor was it con-

fined to religious gatherings. Usually the ones so affected were

brought under strong convictions of sin, but not always.

By 1801 these phenomena began to be manifest in the Miami

Valley as also in western Pennsylvania, Virginia and Carolina.

By some they were regarded as operations of the Divine Spirit

intended to humble the pride of the human heart and bring con-

viction of sin. Such taught that "the will of God was made

manifest to each individual who sought after it by an inward

light which shone into the heart". Hence these persons came

to be known as New Lights.

The effects of this movement on the Miami Valley were

threefold:

1. The almost complete extinction of all Presbyterian churches north

of Hamilton County.



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2. The development of the New Light movement under the leadership

of Rev. Barton K. Stone.

3. The establishment of three Shaker communities within the Miami

Valley.

In 1802, there came into the Miami Valley a Presbyterian

clergyman-the Rev. Richard McNemar who had but lately

resigned his charge at Cabin Creek, Kentucky, because of op-

position to his participation in the revival movement in that

region. Though tall and gaunt he had a commanding presence.

an expressive countenance, and was a good scholar, reading with

ease Latin, Greek and Hebrew. His manner was animated and

fervent. His services as pastor being desired by Turtle Creek

Presbyterian church, a call was presented to Presbytery at a meet-

ing at Springfield (now Glendale), in April, 1803. This called

forth a proposal to examine McNemar and John Thompson, the

pastor of the Springfield church, "on the fundamental doctrines

of religion". This proposal was sustained by Rev. James Kem-

per of Cincinnati, and Matthew Wallace then located in Hamil-

ton. But as the brethren thus brought under suspicion were

joined by Rev. John Dunlevy the motion did not prevail. On

the matter being brought before the Synod of Kentucky these

were joined by the Rev. Robert Marshall and Barton K. Stone

in entering a protest disclaiming the jurisdiction of Synod.

These protestants formed the "Dissenting Presbytery of Spring-

field" which was later joined by David Purviance. This body,

however, was of brief duration. On June 28, 1804, at a meeting

held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, it drafted a Last Will and Testa-

ment, dispensing with the title of "Reverend", disrobing itself of

all governmental authority, and of its power to license and ordain

ministers, instituting congregational form of government and

declaring itself dissolved. Meanwhile these brethren were inces-

sant in their religious ministrations. The churches frequently

proved inadequate to accommodate those who waited upon their

ministry, and services had to be held out of doors. Numerous

largely attended camp meetings were held. The strange phenom-

ena to which reference has already been made were frequently

manifest. It is recorded that at a communion held at Turtle

Creek in the spring of 1804, even Thompson - more conserva-



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tive than some others-after administering the elements began

to dance around the communion table repeating in a low voice:

"This is the Holy Ghost. Glory." This exercise in which others

joined him continued for more than an hour.

 

THE SHAKER MOVEMENT.8

While interest was at this height, there arrived at the home

of one of the members of the Turtle Creek congregation three

representatives of the Shaker community at Lebanon, New York,

who had been attracted by the reports that reached them of the

strange happenings in the Ohio Valley. The next day these men

were introduced to McNemar to whom they explained their mis-

sion. He was deeply impressed with their words and consented

to their preaching to his people. To them they unfolded their

doctrine of the Duality of God, spirit communications, religious

asceticism, and community of life and property. The message

found a response in the hearts of the hearers. McNemar and

the greater part of his congregation espoused the principles of

Shakerism, renounced the family relation and transferred their

property to the community which they founded. On a beautiful

elevation near the old church they erected their community build-

ings some of which are more than a hundred years old. Here,

in 1819, they erected their chapel which is a fine example of

pioneer architecture, and is perhaps the oldest building devoted

to religious services now standing in the Miami Valley. Here

the Shakers led their life, introducing new methods of agricul-

ture, developing new breeds of stock, providing garden seeds

and remedial agents to the general public, and engaging in certain

forms of manufacturing. For many years the community flour-

ished until it numbered several hundred people. North and

South villages were erected on the Turtle Creek property, while

additional communities were established on Whitewater and

near Dayton. In time, however, the community declined, and as

numbers decreased they centralized at Union Village. Finally

in 1912, recognizing that they must soon become extinct, they

disposed of their buildings and farm lands amounting to about

six thousand acres to the United Brethren Church, reserving a

life interest in one of the buildings and its grounds. Here, en-



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joying the comforts of life, the remnant of this interesting com-

munity calmly await ultimate extinction.

Dunlevy followed McNemar ino Shakerism, but his other

associates failed to accompany him in this course. Thompson

soon returned to the Presbyterian fold and resumed the pastorate

of the Springfield (Glendale) church. Stone and Purviance

held to their profession, and aided in laying the foundation of

the Christian church with which they ultimately merged. Stone,

in his biography, narrates an experience of himself and a minister

named Dooley while on one of their preaching tours. "We

preached and baptized daily in Eaton for many days. No house

could contain the people that flocked to hear. We left the place

and preached and baptized as many others. We were poorly clad

and had no money to buy clothes. Going on to a certain place

through the barrens, a limb tore Brother Dooley's striped panta-

loons very much. He had no others and I had none to lend

him. He tied his handkerchief over the seat and went on and

preached to the people."

 

SUGAR CREEK UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.9

The years that saw the foregoing religious development were

marked by the founding of several congregations that are worthy

of special mention. In 1804, the members of the Kentucky con-

gregation ministered to by the Rev. Robert Armstrong, being

dissatisfied with slavery, and having sent a committee to examine

the country and to select a suitable location, removed in a body

to the Miami country. These settled -part of them on Massie's

Creek, an eastern tributary of the Little Miami, and part on

Sugar Creek, a western branch of the same stream.   Two

churches were built-one on either stream.   The Massie's

Creek church in time was absorbed by congregations of a kindred

faith organized at Xenia, Cedarville and Jamestown. The other,

though its church stands at a cross road in the open country,

has grown stronger with the years. Originally it was composed

exclusively of Scotch Irish. It chanced that in removing the site

of the church to a point more central and accessible, land there-

for was secured from a member of the German Reformed church.

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asked to be received into membership, and after some deliberation

they were accepted. They were soon followed by some Lutherans

and later by some Methodists and others of Baptist and Quaker

stock. Today this church is thoroughly Americanized, is well

organized and highly efficient. Last year it gave its pastor one

thousand dollars salary and a parsonage, and presented him an

auto that he might more effectively do his work, while its con-

tributions to benevolence amounted to one thousand and ninety

dollars. It has given nine of its sons to the ministry. One of

these is a distinguished college president and another a university

professor, while one of its daughters has for more than half a

century labored in the Egyptian mission field. Two sons that

studied medicine achieved such distinction that they were chosen

to chairs in medical colleges of recognized standing, while an-

other son is a leading layman of the denomination.

 

THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF WHITEWATER.10

As early as 1802 Mr. J. W. Brown of Cincinnati preached

at various points in the region of Paddy's Run, Butler County.

The Christians of the community were from England, Wales,

Scotland, Ireland and New England; they were of various de-

nominations, but in order to properly maintain the ordinances

of the church decided to drop personal predilections and organize

on the broad basis of Christian love. A committee was appointed

to draft a constitution and rules of discipline. The report of

the committee was, after due deliberation, adopted, and the

church formally organized on September 3, 1803, at the home of

John Templeton, and given the name of "The Congregational

Church of Whitewater" but is commonly known as the "Paddy's

Run Church." The first members were Benjamin McCarty, Asa

Mitchell, Joab Comstock, Andrew Scott, Margaret Bebb, Ezekiel

Hughes, Wm. and Ann Gwilyne, David and Mary Francis. In

1804 a committee of their own members set apart the aforemen-

tioned John W. Brown to the office and work of the ministry.

The relation thus established continued until 1811 when Mr.

Brown was sent on a mission to the eastern states by Miami

University. The church received large accessions to its mem-

bership among whom were many Welsh. These soon became



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numerous and in 1817 a minister was secured, Rev. Rees Lloyd,

who could hold services in both English and Welsh, which custom

was continued for many years.

The members of this congregation early evinced an interest

in education, and in 1807 erected a schoolhouse and started a

subscription school. In 1821 the co-pastor, Rev. Thomas Thomas

of the congregation, opened a high school with a boarding depart-

ment. This school soon acquired considerable distinction. In

1821 a Union Library Association was formed and chartered

which is still flourishing. In 1823-25 a brick meeting-house

43 x 30 was erected. In 1856 a new church was erected and the

old one given ever to community purpose. This congregation

continues to flourish, and during the present year has at very

considerable expense remodeled its building in order to better

adapt it to its present needs.

It is but natural that a congregation with such a spirit should

send forth a due complement of its sons and daughters to achieve

distinction in the world's work. Among them have been Gov.

William Bebb, Murat Halstead, Dr. Griffen Shaw, Alfred

Thomas, legal advisor in the United States Treasury Depart-

ment, Rev. Thomas E. Thomas, at one time a professor in Lane

Theological Seminary, Rev. Mart Williams of the China mission,

Prof. S. W. Williams of Miami University and many others.

 

 

HOPEWELL UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.11

When, in 1801, the lands west of the Miami River had been

open to settlement, a number of Scotch Irish Presbyterians of

the South located in the southwest part of Preble County. In

1808 Rev. David Risk of the Associate Reformed Church organ-

ized these into a congregation which took the name of Hopewell.

After the cessation of hostilities in the West in 1813, a gen-

eral exodus from the South, due to the opposition to slavery,

set in toward this region. This movement climaxed with the

coming in 1815 of a number of families from Georgia, led by

their pastor, Rev. Alexander Porter, a graduate of Dickenson

College. This congregation so increased that the old log church

thirty by thirty which had been built prior to 1814 was enlarged

by a thirty foot addition. This building gave place in 1823 to



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the present commodious brick edifice. By 1835 this building was

so overcrowded that rather than enlarge it a new church was

built in the northern part of the congregation, and the members

living in that section were set off and organized into the Fair-

haven congregation. In 1837 those members living in and near

Oxford were organized as the Oxford congregation, and in

connection with the Synod erected a building that until 1856 was

used both as a theological seminary and church. Upon the build-

ing of the railroad between Hamilton and Indianapolis, and the

laying out of College Corner but three miles to the southwest

of the parent church, another body of members swarmed to

organize a church at that place. In 1875 almost half of the re-

maining members voted to unite with the Beechwood Reformed

Presbyterian congregation and erect a new building at Morning

Sun, midway between the two churches. This union was effected

and a flourishing congregation is the result. The other members

were loath to have the services discontinued, and so have main-

tained a pastor and regular services until the past year when it

was decided to disband and distribute themselves among the other

congregations.

The members of this congregation early showed an interest

in education by establishing a school, and later founded an

academy which has since evolved into a high school. This inter-

est is shown in the fact that upward of forty of the sons of this

community have entered the Christian ministry. Many of them

have achieved high distinction, two becoming moderators of the

General Assembly, and two professors in theological seminaries.

Each of the congregations of the group has a well equipped

church with parsonage, pays an average salary of one thousand

dollars to its pastor, and contributes an equal amount to the mis-

sionary and benevolent agencies.

The community has long been noted for the loyalty, probity,

as well as religious zeal of its members. During the Civil War

this purely rural community sent more than two hundred and

fifty of its men into the Union army, one of whom became cap-

tain and another a colonel. During the Civil War and after, the

party vote of the community was almost unanimously republican.



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WEST ELKTON FRIENDS CHURCH.12

As early as 1804, Nathan Stubbs of Georgia settled near the

southern boundary of Preble County. He was shortly followed

by others of like faith from Georgia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania

and New Jersey. In 1805 a meeting-house of round logs was

erected. This gave place in 1809 to one of hewed logs, while

this was replaced in 1827 by a brick meeting-house. This later

gave place to the one now standing. At this time this congrega-

tion numbered about three hundred members and was but one of

the numerous Quaker settlements made in the Miami Valley prior

to 1815 the membership of which numbered upwards of five

thousand. This congregation in common with other churches

was sadly disturbed by the Hicksite controversy, and a Hicksite

meeting-house was erected near by. For a time the congregation

was in a state of decline. Some years ago, however, a paid pas-

tor was secured, public services were conformed to the customary

practice, a Bible school was organized, evangelistic preaching

was introduced, and today the church is grasping the community

problems in a very practical and forceful way and gives promise

of long continued service. In this respect she was more fortunate

than some of her sister churches which, due to dissension, have

been forced to abandon their churches and discontinue their

services.

THE GERMAN CHURCHES.13

Among the pioneers who came into the Miami Valley during

the early years of the last century were many Germans from

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the valley of Virginia. Judging

by churches founded these settled almost wholly within the val-

ley of the Great Miami, and for the most part within the upper

half of the west slope of the valley. One important center was

about Germantown, German township, Montgomery County.

Here they organized a United Brethren church in 1806, and

Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations in 1809.

These latter two, as they frequently did throughout the valley,

united in erecting a house of worship which they used alternately.

As the congregation grew in strength each built its own house

of worship, and today both are flourishing congregations with



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well appointed buildings. To the west of Germantown extend-

ing into the bounds of Preble County is a community of German

Baptists or Dunkards. These began the holding of services as

early as 1806 but it was not until 1845 that they erected a church.

They have now divided into three sects which are distinguished

as the Old Order, the Conservatives, and the Progressives.

Many of the German churches endeavored to continue the

exclusive use of the German language in their church services.

They found in time that they could not do this and retain their

young people. Thus they were led to use the English in part or

in whole in their services.

 

 

NEW JERSEY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.14

After 18OO a number of families settled in the vicinity of

Franklin. On August 14, 1813, a number of them met at the

home of William P. Barkalow and resolved to form themselves

into a congregation, to apply to Presbytery for one-half of the

ministerial services of Rev. Francis Montfort, and to raise him

one hundred and fifty dollars in half yearly payments. The fol-

lowing year ruling elders were chosen and Mr. Montfort ordained

as their pastor. In 1815 steps were taken to build a frame

church. This was used until 1867 when it gave place to a hand-

some brick structure that cost $16,365 and which is well adapted

to religious services, Bible school work and the social work of

the community. This congregation today numbers more than

two hundred members who look well to the comfort and support

of their pastor and are deeply interested in all missionary ac-

tivities.

TAPSCOTT BAPTIST CHURCH.15

Within half a mile of this church stands the Tapscott Bap-

tist church, founded in 1814 by people of the same general stock

but with different religious ideals. A little later a brick meeting-

house which still stands was erected and for a time the church

prospered. But in 1835 dissension arose in the Baptist churches

as to the propriety of undertaking missionary work, establishing

Bible schools and joining in evangelistic effort. In 1836 a majority

of this congregation decided in opposition to those agencies.



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Those favoring withdrew and formed the Franklin Baptist

church. Today the Tapscott church numbers a scant dozen mem-

bers, holds an occasional service, and is without any vital hold

on the community life. Of similar history is the Clear Creek Bap-

tist founded in 1797, but which stands today practically unused

and with woods growing about its doors.

 

CHURCH ARCHITECTURE ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

The most primitive type of pioneer church was that built

of round logs. Such an one was that at Massie's Creek, Greene

County, in 1808 which is thus described: "The building was

thirty feet square and built of peeled hickory logs, and had

neither loft nor floor save mother earth. There was but one

door, and it was in the center of one end of the house. From the

door there was an aisle which ran to the foundation of the pul-

pit in the center of the other end of the house. The pulpit was

constructed of clapboards on a wooden foundation, and on each

side of the pulpit was a window of twelve eight by ten lights.

It was seated with two rows of puncheons from twelve to fifteen

inches broad and twelve feet long, split out from poplar near by,

and from four to six inches thick, hewed on the upper side and

smoothed with a jack plane. In each end and center there were

uprights some three feet long mortised in, and on these uprights

two or three slats were pinned which formed quite a comfortable

back." To worship in these rude houses men and women would

travel as many as fifteen miles and sit without fire, even in the

winter, and hear two sermons. With the growth of the congre-

gation the church was sometimes enlarged by building thereto.

This was done at Hopewell when, ere the first building was com-

pleted, it was found too small to accommodate the influx of

population, so an addition of thirty feet was built to the original

structure.16

With the development of society a hewed log meeting house

would be erected. Immense logs would be selected and so care-

fully hewed that no mark of the ax was seen. For such a build-

ing at Massie's Creek the members contributed material and

labor, while Parson Armstrong contributed a gallon of whisky

for the raising, without which that function would have been



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254       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

incomplete. Sometimes the building was made two stories with

a gallery, as was the first church building in the Miami Valley

erected at Columbia, or the "Old Dutch church" erected in 1823

which still stands a few miles west of Germantown and in which

a pipe organ was installed in 1859. The pulpit was small and

was built high up on the wall, and was reached by a number of

steps and entered by a door. Such without the pulpit was the

first Methodist meeting-house in the Miami Valley, erected in

1804, at "Old Hopewell, Clermont Co." It was a hewed log

building two stories high and a very large building for its day.

Some congregations were more ambitious and erected frame

structures. The New Jersey church at Carlisle modeled its first

building after the Old Tenant church in New Jersey from whence

they had come. For its construction Tanes D. Vanderveer fur-

nished the frame work, George Lane the weather boarding, Hen-

drix Lane the floor, Michael Van Tuyle sawed the material, John

McKean built the pulpit, while each man furnished his own

bench.

The Associate Presbyterian (now Second United Presby-

terian) church of Xenia determined to build somewhat more

durably, and in 1814 a stone building fifty by thirty-five feet was

erected. But the masterpiece of church architecture in the Miami

Valley one hundred years ago was that erected by the Cincinnati

Presbyterians in 1814 and known as the Two-horn church from

its two towers. However, the churches of a hundred years ago

were for the most part of the most primitive type, while many

congregations were worshipping from place to place in the cabins

of its members.

EARLY PREACHERS.

It would be interesting to study the lives of the men who

pioneered in the religious development of the Miami Valley. We

can, however, but note, and that briefly, a few of these.

Stephen Gard, 1776-1839, was born in Essex County, N. J.,

and educated in a classical academy near his home. He arrived

at Columbia in 1798 and located at Trenton, where, in 1801, he

was married to Rachel Pierce. He founded Baptist churches at

Trenton, Middletown, Carlisle, Dayton and Hamilton.17

James Kemper (1755-1784) was born at Warrentown,



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Annual Meeting Ohio Valley Historical Association. 255

 

Fauquier Co., Va. Though reared in the Episcopal Church he

was led to espouse the Presbyterian faith. In 1735, at the solicita-

tion of Rev. David Rice, he moved to Kentucky to take a posi-

tion as teacher in the Transylvania Seminary. In 1791 he was

licensed and appointed to supply in the "churches of the Miami."

In 1791 he came to Cincinnati where, after a year, he was

ordained and installed pastor of the Presbyterian church at that

place. Later he ministered to the Turtle Creek Presbyterian

church, but his work here was cut short on account of the dis-

approval by the plain dressing pioneers of his wife's elaborate

head-dress. Later he founded the Second Presbyterian church

of Cincinnati. He was a man of ambitious plans and promoted

the Kentucky Academy, the Walnut Hills Academy, the Cincin-

nati College, and Lane Theological Seminary.18

James Hughes was born of English parentage in York

County, Pa. About 1780 he moved wtih his parents to Washing-

ton County where he received his classical and theological educa-

tion, in part at least, under the tuition of Rev. John McMillan

in the "Log College" which he erected near his house, and which

still stands on the campus of old Jefferson College. He was

licensed in 1788, and two years later was ordained and installed

as pastor of the Short Creek and Lower Buffalo churches. He

was probably the first Presbyterian clergyman ordained west of

the Alleghenies. In these fields he labored until 1814. In 1815

he settled at Urbana, where he founded the Presbyterian church

to which he ministered until 1818, when he was elected Principal

of the Grammar School of Miami University. On moving to

Oxford he organized the Presbyterian church at that place. Here

he died in 1821.19

Robert H. Bishop (1777-1855) was born near Edinburgh,

Scotland, graduating from the university at that place in 1798,

and from the theological seminary at Selkirk in 1802. In that

year he, with four others, was induced to migrate to America

to minister to the Associate Presbyterian churches there. He,

with another of these, was sent to the Ohio Valley to labor.

After ministering for a time to churches in southern Ohio, he

located at Lexington, Ky., where he occupied a professorship in

Transylvania University, and the pastorate of two congregations



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256       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

near that place. In 1819 he connected with the Presbyterian

church, and became pastor of McChord church, Lexington. In

1820 he was made first president of Miami University. In this

connection he served for a time as pastor of the Presbyterian

church at Oxford. In Kentucky he was reckoned as one of

her best pulpit orators. In 1844 he severed his connection with

Miami, and became president of Farmers' College at College Hill,

where he served until his death.20

The pioneer Methodist preacher of the Miami Valley was

Francis McCormick who was born in Frederick County, Virginia,

June 4, 1764. In 1790 he became a local preacher. In 1795 he

moved to Kentucky and two years later crossed the river into

Ohio, locating at Milford in Clermont County. At his suggestion,

Bishop Asbury sent Rev. John Kobler to Ohio, and it was at

his cabin that the first class was organized. He acted as guide

to Kobler on his first tour of the Miami country. He was in-

strumental in organizing a class near Lockland and another near

Columbia, where he located in 1807.21

Rev. John Kobler was born in Virginia in 1768. At twenty-

one he entered the ministry, and in 1798 he was appointed to the

work in Ohio where he formed the Miami Circuit, being the first

regularly appointed Methodist preacher in the Northwest Ter-

ritory. He is described as tall and well proportioned, with long

black hair, and unusual intellectual powers. The arduous work

of the frontier undermined his health and he died after render-

ing eighteen years of ministerial service.22

Rev. John Collins was born of Quaker parentage in New

Jersey in 1789. At an early age he was licensed as a local

preacher. In 1803 he moved to Ohio and settled on the East

Fork of the Little Miami where he purchased a tract of land.

In 1807 he became an itinerant and attached to the Miami cir-

cuit. He was a man of prepossessing appearance, gentle spirit

and great eloquence. He was the founder of the churches at

Cincinnati, Columbia, Dayton, Hillsboro, and other places. He

died in 1845.23

Does this survey reveal any general principles that deter-

mine the growth or decadence, the life or death of a congrega-



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Annual Meeting Ohio Valley Historical Association.       257

 

tion ? I would not be over positive on this point but would pro-

pose the following tentatively:

To live and grow a congregation must

1. Become Americanized.

2. It must keep itself free from serious distractions.

3. It must have some aim in existing other than itself.

4. It must understand the application of the Divine prin-

ciples of life and action in their relation to its own community

and age.

 

 

 

REFERENCES.

1. Drake, Natural and Statistical View or Picture of the Miami Coun-

try, 36-50.

2. Dunlevy, History of the Miami Baptist Association, 16-54.

3. Bishop, Memoirs of Rev. David Rice, 13-116.

4. Montfort, History of the First Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati,

(Mss.).

5. Williams, Pictures of Early Methodism in Ohio, 38-49.

Barker, History of Ohio Methodism, 81-10, 338-346, 361-364, 421-

424, 436-438.

6. The list of churches here given has been compiled for the most part

from the following histories:

History of Hamilton County, Ohio.

Greve, Centennial History of Cincinnati.

A History and Biographical Cyclopedia of Butler County, Ohio.

Steele, History of Dayton, Ohio.

History of Montgomery County, Ohio.

History of Preble County, Ohio.

History of Clinton County, Ohio.

Williams, History of Clermont and Brown Counties, Ohio.

History of Greene County, Ohio.

History of Clark County, Ohio.

Antrim, The History of Champaign and Logan Counties, Ohio.

Harbaugh, Centennial History of Troy, Piqua, and Miami County,

Ohio.

Young, History of Wayne County, Indiana.

History of Union County, Indiana.

History of Fayette County, Indiana.

Morrow, History of Warren County, Ohio.

8. McNemar, The Kentucky Revival with a Brief Sketch of Sha-

kerism, (1808), 19-72.

 

Vol. XXV-17.



258 Ohio Arch

258        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

 

Bishop, Memoirs of Rev. David Rice and History of the Church in

Kentucky, 118-140.

Hoffman, The Story of a Country Church, 36-59.

8. McNemar, The Kentucky Revival with a Brief Sketch of Sha-

kerism, (1808), 73-105.

Morrow, History of Warren County, Ohio, 267-274.

Otterbein Home Annual.

9. Centennial History of the Sugar Creek United Presbyterian Church.

History of Greene County, Ohio.

10. The Articles of Faith, Constitution and History of the Congrega-

tional Church of Whitewater, Morgan Township, Butler

County, Ohio.

Chidlaw, An Historical Sketch of Paddy's Run, Butler County, Ohio.

11. Records of Hopewell United Presbyterian Church (Mss.).

12. Records of the West Elkton Friends Church (Mss.).

13. History of Montgomery County, Ohio.

14. Morrow, History of Warren County, Ohio.

15. Morrow, History of Warren County, Ohio.

16. History of Greene County, Ohio, 272.

17. Dunlevy, History of the Miami Baptist Association, 165.

18. Kemper, A Memorial of James Kemper.

19. Smith, Old Redstone Presbytery, 344-347.

Porter, The Presbyterian Church of Oxford, 8, 9.

20. Mills, Life and Services of Rev. R. H. Bishop, D. D.

The Diamond Jubilee Volume of Miami University, 86-90.

21. Barker, History of Ohio Methodism, 83-87.

22. Barker, History of Ohio Methodism, 87-90.

23. Barker, History of Ohio Methodism, 137-140.

 

 

 

 

BUSINESS MEETING OF THE OHIO VALLEY HISTORICAL

ASSOCIATION.

A business meeting was held at the close of the Friday after-

noon session. Prof. H. W. Elson called for the report of the

committees on nominations and resolutions. The following of-

ficers were nominated and elected.

President: Prof. Harlow Lindley of Earlham College, Richmond,

Indiana.

Vice Presidents: Prof. J. R. Robertson of Berea College, Berea,

Ky.; Mr. B. S. Patterson, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Prof. W. H. Siebert, Ohio

State University, Columbus, Ohio; Prof. C. L. Martzolff, Ohio University,

Athens, Ohio.