Ohio History Journal

Annual Meeting Ohio Valley Historical Association

Annual Meeting Ohio Valley Historical Association. 183


Records of the Synod of Pittsburgh. (1802-1832).

Centenary Memorial Volume of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsyl-

vania. (Papers by Darlington and Veech.)

History of Pittsburgh, by N. B. Craig. (1851).

History of Pittsburgh, by Sarah H. Killikelly. (1906).

History of Pittsburgh, by Erasmus Wilson. (1898).






The dominant note in the settlement of the majority of the

colonies was, as we know, religious freedom.   The spirit of

modern history which has as its slogan, "All men are free,"

found in those days expression in terms of religion, with the

result that the most of men's acts were determined by a religious


While the settlement of the Muskingum Valley, which in-

cludes practically all of southeastern and eastern Ohio, was

not prompted by the same reasons which urged the fathers to

come across the Atlantic and establish colonies in the name of

religious freedom, yet the fact that these men were their fathers,

leads us confidently to expect that the founding of the church

was contemporaneous with the founding of a settlement.

"Like father, like son."  So, noble sons of noble sires had

learned the experiences of the elders and had received a thor-

ough training in the traditions, growing out of the acts which

had made history. We have only to recall, therefore, that this

section of Ohio was settled in a great measure by Puritans from

Massachusetts, Scotch-Irish from  Pennsylvania and New Jer-

sey, and Quakers and Germans, also from our eastern neighbor,

to at once conclude that the statement made in the previous

paragraph is a correct one.

While, figuratively speaking, the Lilies of France once

floated over this section of Ohio, and we might with some degree

of assurance look for the presence of the Jesuit missionary in

these parts, yet we have no record of any of these black cowled

messengers of the Cross ever being in this region. Yet, we are

quite certain that their influence was felt upon the Indians who

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made these hills their hunting grounds as a subsequent statement

will show.

To Christopher Gist, the Man with Compass and Pen, be-

longs the recorded honor of being the first to expound the Gospel

in the Muskingum Valley. On his celebrated journey, to spy out

the land for the benefit of the First Ohio Company in the win-

ter of 1751, he finds himself with a motley company of trappers,

traders and Indians at the junction of the Walhonding and the

Tuscarawas Rivers. It is Christmas Day, and while he is not

an ordained minister and never studied theology, he proceeds to

hold services in accordance with the Episcopalian Book of Prayer,

which he had brought all the way from the Yadkin in his knap-

sack. He also sought to explain, according to his own words,

the "doctrine of salvation, faith and good works," seemingly

much to the satisfaction if not to the edification of his miscel-

laneous congregation. At least, we are led to the belief that

Christopher Gist would have made quite as much of a success

as a missionary as he did a traveler, writer and diplomat. For

the Indians were immensely pleased. They wanted Gist to live

with them and to baptize them. They promised never again to

asten to the French priests, and the lay-preacher had a hard

time explaining that he was not a minister.

This same Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum Valley

likewise calls to mind the activities of the noble and consecrated

Moravian Brethren. The events connected with their attempts

here in Ohio are so well known that only for the exalted type

of their labors and the intense devotion to their cause, a passing

notice would be sufficient.

It is around the labors of David Zeisberger, missionary,

preacher and teacher, that the Moravian history of Ohio assem-

bles. At the age of fifty, in 1771, we find him an invited guest

in the wigwam of the chief of the Delaware Indians in Oxford

Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The next year, with the

assistance of John Heckewelder, he establishes his community at

Schoen-Brunn near New Philadelphia. In the course of a few

years this had grown into a cluster of Christian communities.

Here dwelt in peace and prosperity many scores of Indian

families under the leadership of the devoted missionary and his

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self-sacrificing assistants. The church erected at Schoen-Brunn

held five hundred, and often its capacity proved too small for the

congregation. Here on Easter Day 1774 the Easter morning

litany of the Moravian Church was rendered in the Delaware

language. The Indian Brethren were taught to work as well as

to worship; to love peace; to hate fire-water.

Such success was not permitted to continue. The Revolu-

tion brought on its troubles. Verily a neutral hath a hard time

of it--loved by none and suspicioned by all. The crisis was

reached in 1781, when by order of the British commandant at

Detroit, Zeisberger and his co-workers were arrested and carried

from the scenes of their labors. Then followed, the next year,

the awful massacre of ninety of the Brown Brethren at Gnadden-

hutten by an American militia and the ship-wreck of his efforts

seemed complete. Then for nigh two-score years, David Zeis-

berger was a veritable Moses, leading the remnant of his de-

voted followers from place to place in the American wilderness.

In 1798 he returned to the Tuscarawas valley, now an old man,

and at Goshen helped to re-build out of the ashes new "Tents

of Grace."  Here, yet, in this vicinity in several prosperous

church homes. Moravian Brethren gather Sunday after Sunday

and worship as did Zeisberger and his Brown Brethren more

than a century ago.

Of but one other movement belonging to the period preced-

ing that of actual organized settlement do we find any record.

In 1785 General Butler, who was sent to drive the "squatters"

from the land in the Seven Ranges in what is now on Short Creek

in Harrison county, notes in his Journal "the people of this coun-

try appear to be much imposed upon by a sect called Methodists

and are become great fanatics." This means that the Methodist

circuit-rider had made his appearance with the first sporadic set-

tlement. We have the record that two years later (1787) Rev.

George Callahan, of the Virginia District, preached to these same

people at Carpenter's Fort, on Short Creek.

The reference to fanatical Methodists leads us to remark

that the intolerance of the various sects for each other was simply

appalling compared with our views on such matters today.

Something similar to the above is found in the records of a Lu-

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theran missionary, who inquired once of a Methodist brother if

there were any German Lutherans in the vicinity. The reply was

that there were none, that all they had was a "pack of corrupted


At this place it is quite appropriate to parenthetically call

attention to the oft-repeated, "education, religion, and morality"

clause of the famous Ordinance of 1787, under whose organic

control the settlements of Ohio were now to be established. This

is ever regarded as a fundamental guarantee for the encourage-

ment and protection of religious development in the Northwest


In this connection, it is likewise well to be reminded of the

bargain struck by Manasseh Cutler with the dying Congress of

the Confederation, viz., the giving as a perpetual endowment of

one thirty-sixth of all lands in the Ohio Company's Purchase

for the support of the churches which might be established. This

"section twenty-nine" is quite interesting enough and there is suf-

ficient material connected with its history alone to warrant the

consideration of a paper longer than this is going to be. Suffice

it to say these expressions of interest in religious matters mani-

festly indicated the character of the men whom we regard as

the fathers of the Commonwealth. It is therefore easy to see why

so many of the original settlements were made in connection with

the church, the minister usually coming with his people.

But it is not easy to explain why the Marietta settlers, al-

though they held services from the beginning, did not organize

a congregation for eight years after their settlement was made.

The first sermon seems to have been preached by the Rev.

Daniel Breck on Sunday, July 20, 1788. The services were con-

ducted in the same bower where a few weeks before they had

held their Fourth of July exercises. There were about 300

present. The reverend gentleman remained at Marietta about

a month and preached for them each Sunday during his stay.

The day after he left, Dr. Manasseh Cutler arrived and for three

successive Sundays he preached at the block-house.   From

now till a regular pastor, Daniel Story, of Boston, arrived in

the spring of 1789, it seems that different laymen acted in the

preacher's capacity.  The Rev. Mr. Story's salary was the

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equivalent of about five dollars a week and his board, a part

of his salary being paid out of the Treasury of the Ohio Com-

pany. Soon preaching stations were established at Waterford

and Belpre, Mr. Story attending there also.

In December, 1796, steps were taken for the organization

of a congregation. A comprehensive confession of faith and a

covenant was drawn which might be easily subscribed to by both

Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Rev. Mr. Story, who had

in the meantime returned to the East, was called as the regular

pastor. His ordination occurred in Massachusetts at the hands

of Dr. Cutler, and in 1799 he returned to take charge of the

congregation, which he served till within a few months of his

death in 1804. This congregation is still in existence and wor-

ships in what is known as the "Two-Horn Church" in Marietta.

In these days of wonderful Sunday School activity, it is

interesting to be reminded of the first one in Ohio. During the

Indian Wars, which lasted from 1791 till 1795, the officers at

Marietta ordered the families to retire within the fortifications.

About thirty families took refuge within the stockade at Campus

Martius. Among them was the wife of a settler, Mrs. Mary

Bird Lake, a woman of philanthropic spirit. She conceived the

idea of assembling the children, who were wont to play, in the

stockade on Sunday afternoons and teaching them Scripture les-

sons and portions of the Catechism. She continued these services

till within a year of her death in 1796. She is said to lie in an

unmarked grave at Rainbow, about eight miles from Marietta.

In point of time the Presbyterians were the next to leave

their impress on the Muskingum Valley, although this denomina-

tion had succeeded in organizing congregations at both Cincin-

nati and Chillicothe previously. These first movements of Pres-

byterianism in the Muskingum country are difficult to separate

from those across the ridge on the many streams that flow into

the Ohio in the counties of Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont and

Monroe. They all belong together. The congregation organized

at Short Creek, Jefferson County, in 1797, embraced the region

on both sides of the divide. Soon it was divided owing to in-

crease of population: then in a few years it was again separated.

By this process of division as the result of addition, the star of

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Presbyterianism moved westward. And it was rapid. In 1803,

it had reached Newark, when the Rev. John Wright, a mission-

ary, arrived in that city then consisting of six log cabins and a

tavern. There was just one Presbyterian family in town. The

town was full of people who had come to attend a horse race

the next day, although it was Sunday. Needless to say, the

people were mostly full, too. The minister was importuned to

join in their hilarity and threatened a ducking if he refused.

Upon learning that he was a member of the cloth, they desisted

and offered to attend his services the next day if he would post-

pone it till after the races. Not complying with this generous

offer, he preached twice, the second time on Sabbath desecration.

Whether the crowd was penitent or not, we do not know, but

one of the horse racers acted as deacon by taking up a collection.

He collected seven dollars. Three years later a congregation

was established.

The first Presbyterian church in what is now Guernsey

County was established at Cumberland in 1812. As intimated be-

fore, numerous Quakers from Pennsylvania and North Carolina

were among the settlers of Eastern Ohio. Like the Presbyterians,

they soon spilled across the ridge into the Muskingum head-

waters. It was in 1800 that the first Friends' meeting west of

the Ohio River was held. Unlike the Presbyterians perhaps be-

cause they were fewer in number they did not spread very far

westward into the Muskingum Valley. The church on Stillwater

in the western part of Belmont county was organized in 1804

and the first sermon preached was by a woman named Ruth Bos-

well. The congregation is still in a flourishing state.

The Lutheran movement was not so extended, since the

German element was not so plentiful at an early date. The

upper courses of the Tuscarawas, however, saw quite a few of

this denomination seek the rich valleys. As early as 1805, Rev.

William Foster was sent as a missionary to Ohio, looking up the

scattered German settlements.  At New    Reading in Perry

County, in 1805, he organized the first congregation of the Lu-

theran faith. This congregation is still active as is another one

organized the next year a few miles away. Rev. Foster also

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established the church at Somerset in 1812. The building boasted

of a genuine pipe organ, built by one of the members. Here six

years later the Ohio Synod was organized.

Mention has already been made of the coming of the itiner-

ant Methodist preacher. In 1795-96 Revs. Samuel Hill and John

Reynolds rode a circuit extending from the Muskingum river

to Pittsburgh and Washington County, Pennsylvania, on the east.

In the records of Bishop Asbury we find that renowned

traveling preacher passing through the Muskingum country on

various occasions. This can also be said of the Reverend J. B.

Finley, surveyor, Indian scout, and divine, one of the first travel-

ing evangelists in the state. He had come from North Carolina

and he preached all over Ohio when it was entirely a wilderness.

The Catholic church naturally did not have many advocates

among the early Ohioans when we recall their respective nation-

alities. So we can not look for much activity except in isolated

cases. Such a one is the St. Michael settlement on Duck Creek

in Noble county. Here in 1803, one James Archer brought his

numerous family from Virginia and originated what is still

known as the Archer settlement. Being a devout Catholic, he

at once began religious services, which have been maintained

ever since three church buildings have been erected in the cen-

tury of its history and the congregation is still a strong and pros-

perous one.

Only a few years subsequent, Bishop Fenwick, the mission-

ary priest of Ohio, in traveling over the famous Zane's Trace,

reached the tavern of John Fink at Somerset. Upon discovering

that his host was a Catholic, he celebrated mass within the rude

home of the pioneer. Bishop Fenwick was a priest of the

Dominican Order which had established a convent at St. Rose,


The Ditto and Fink families had entered at the land office

three hundred and twenty-nine acres located two miles south

of Somerset. This they donated to Father Fenwick for the pur-

pose of establishing a church and convent of the Dominican

Order. At the beginning, the congregation consisted of but six

families. The church and convent is still in existence and from

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the beginning to within a few years it was the headquarters of

that Order in America. From its halls its preachers went into

all parts of the country.

We now find our time gone and we are only getting into

out subject. Other events are quite as interesting and valuable

but we have restricted ourselves to the very first as closely as

possible, and the half has not been told.

Some one ought to write a history of the first forty years

of religious development in Ohio. With its account of God-

fearing men and women, who hungered for the Manna of Life

in their wilderness home, with its story of the splendid band of

consecrated men of God, who had but one passion, namely, to

win souls, with its narrative of struggle and sacrifice to build

these first temples. Nothing in our state history has such ab-

sorbing interest, such vital realities and such permanent results

in the establishment of our Commonwealth.






Sir William  Berkeley, twice governor of Virginia, made

answer to the inquiries of the Lords of the Committee for the

Colonies in 1671, during his second term of office, and one of

his replies to their questionings was as follows:

"I thank God that we have not free schools nor printing, and I

hope we shall not have these hundred years; for learning has brought

disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has

divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from


This pious protest of Governor Berkeley was uttered more

than thirty years after the importation of a press into the colony

of Massachusetts and nearly forty years after the founding of

Harvard, and it has been held to indicate that the cavalier civil-

ization which grew up about the Jamestown settlement was more

conservative in its attitude toward learning and literature than

the puritan civilization of New England. However, the printer's

devil began to get in his work in Virginia long before the expira-

tion of the hundred years' respite for which Governor Berkeley