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A History & Biographical Cyclopaedia
Butler County, Ohio

With Illustrations and Sketches
of its Representative Men and Pioneers
Publ. by Western Biographical Publishing Co.
Cincinnati, O



     St. John's Church was founded about the year 1830, and has had the following ministers: Messrs. Rosenfeld, Hardorf, Clements, Gebel, Fischer, Thomen, Richter, Anker, Gremm, Wetterstroem, Gerwig, Poster, Pfaefflen, Heimech, Gahring, Herrmann, and Stempel. On the 10th of July, 1867, the corner stone for a new church was laid, and on the 27th of May, 1868, it was consecrated. According to the record, the cost of the church amounted to $28,568. The Rev. Philip Stempel, its pastor, has been here since 1875. The services are in German.

     In 1844 some members seceded from St. John's Church and organized a new society. Their first meetings were held in a frame building in Rossville, and they also worshiped in the Rossville Presbyterian Church. After several years they began building in Hamilton, diagonally opposite where the church now stands. Some of the walls are still in use. The pastors have been the Rev. Messrs. Hardof, Conradi, G. Grau, F. Groth, from November 14, 1852, to 1861; R. Herbst, until 1873; and G. H. Trebel. Under Mr. Herbst's pastorate the new church was erected, at a cost of from twenty-eight to thirty thousand dollars. The denomination is Evangelical Lutheran. At its organization the society had eighteen members; it now has eight hundred and fifty communicants and a voting membership of one hundred and fifteen.

The Reformed Church in this city dates back as far as the 15th of April, 1866, when steps were taken towards its organization. Meetings were held at the German Methodist Episcopal Church every other Sunday until September 30, 1866, and then for two weeks in Rumple's Hall. Services were discontinued till Spring, when they were held for a short time in the Universalist Church. During the latter part of the season they held meetings in the Christian Church, in West Hamilton. An organization was begun at this period, at which F. B. Tomson, Belle Tomson, Ada Tomson, Louisa Bower, Mary M. Wehr, Jesse Jacoby, and John Breitenstein met at the house of Augustus Breidenbach, and constituted the First Reformed Church. F. B. Tomson and John Breitenstein were elected elders; Jesse Jacoby and George Huber, deacons; and F. B. Tomson, Daniel Brosier, and Jesse Jacoby, trustees. The names of those who were not present, but signified their assent, arid became members, were Mrs. F. B. Tomson, Mattie Tomson, Maggie Bowerman, Mrs. Sophia Breitenstein, Elizabeth A. Eckert, Mrs. Elizabeth Rothenbush, and George Huber. On. the 11th of September, 1867, the lot on which their house stands was purchased of Thomas Millikin by the pastor, the Rev. G. Z. Mechling, and Jesse Jacoby, on their individual responsibility. It was afterwards deeded to the congregation, and paid for by them. The lot is on the corner of Ross and Third Streets. It is eighty-six and a half feet by one hundred and sixty feet, fronting on Ross, and cost nine hundred dollars. Mr. Mechling at once began canvassing the neighboring Churches for means to erect a building, and met with grat­ifying success. Fourteen hundred dollars were obtained from Seven-Mile, St. Paul, and Millville. Jesse Jacoby obtained some five hundred dollars in Pennsylvania. The Xenia charge gave one hundred, West Alexandria one hundred and thirty-five, and other Churches contributed liberally. On the 11th of June, 1868, ground was staked off and workmen began at the foundation. The corner stone was laid on the 30th of August. The building was not completed sufficient to occupy until the 19th of September, 1869. The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. T. P. Bucher. The church is sixty feet long, thirty-eight feet wide, side walls eighteen feet high, and center of the ceiling twenty-eight feet.. It is a very pretty Gothic edifice, the handsomest in town, and cost about eight thousand dollars.
     No effort had been made to gather a congregation of size until the church was ready. Yet the body grew slowly. The first year nineteen members were received, the second, four; the third, eight; the fourth, two; the fifth, eleven; the sixth, none; the seventh, eighteen. The whole number of members up to 1876 were seventy-seven, and then appearing on the Church rolls forty-six. Number of members dismissed, seven; deaths, six; removed from the bonds of the congregation, nineteen; disaffected, seven. Up to the present time there have been one hundred and five persons on the list. The Church belongs to the Reformed Church in the United States of America, and is commonly known as the German Reformed. Its standard of faith is in the Heidelberg Catechism, and its government is Presbyterian. In connection with the Church is a flourishing Sunday-school. The Rev. G. Z. Mechling has been the pastor- since the beginning.

     The first organization of the Israelites in this town was in August, 1866, at the residence of Mr. Moses Klein, Mr. Klein being elected president, pro tern,., and F. Sternfield, secretary. Mr. Rosenthal, of Dayton, was the first one to officiate at services. Those belonging to this organization were as follows: Jacob Maas, Jacob Grabenhewer, David Koppel, Mayer Roth, Moritz Sauer, Hermann Gugenheimer, Louis Davis, Jonas Hirsch, F. Sternfield, Samuel Ganz. The first place used for public worship was at Morner's building, on High Street. On April 6, 1878, they bought a building lot on Fourth Street, upon which there was erected a synagogue, which was built by the members and the public. Its cost was $2,450. It was dedicated by the Rev. Dr. Wise, of Cincinnati, September 21, 1878.

     The first Roman Catholic that ever preached at Hamilton was the Rev. Mr. Hill, who delivered two or three discourses in the court-house in the year 1825. In the early part of the year 1829 the Rev. James Mullin, then of Cincinnati, but who now has charge of St. Peter's Church in the city of New Orleans, visited Hamilton, and preached a sermon in the courthouse to a large and respectable assembly of people, many of whom had never heard a Roman Catholic preach before. He occasionally visited Hamilton several times afterwards, during that and the succeeding year, and delivered discourses in the courthouse to large and attentive audiences. His manner and eloquence, which was of the first order, attracted considerable attention, and tended much to dissipate and do away with the prejudices existing against that denom­ination of Christians.
     The Eight Reverend Edward Fenwick, bishop of the diocese of Cincinnati, also delivered two or three dis­courses, and the Rev. Mr. Montgomery preached several times about the same period. A proposal was made by some of the citizens, that if the Catholics would build a church in Hamilton a lot of ground should be furnished them free of expense. The proposal was acceded to by Bishop Fenwick. A subscription was accordingly put in circulation, and lots numbered 151 and 152 in the town of Hamilton were purchased for the sum of four hundred dollars, which were conveyed to Bishop Fenwick in 1830, in trust for the purpose of erecting a Roman Catholic Church thereon.
     At this time there were no persons belonging to the Roman Catholic Church residing in Hamilton, and not more than a dozen known to live within the limits of Butler County. The subscription to, purchase the lots was obtained wholly from persons belonging to other denominations, and those who were not attached to any particular church. An additional subscription of three hundred dollars was afterwards obtained to aid in the erection of the building. The lots are beautifully situ­ated, on the corner of Dayton and Second Streets, forming, together, a plat of ground two hundred feet square, the most eligible location for a church in the town. In the year 1832, a brick building in the Gothic style was erected, and inclosed on the ground under the superintendence of Mr. A. White, of Cincinnati. The wood work for finishing the interior of the building, was got out and prepared in Cincinnati, but when nearly ready to be brought out and put up in the Fall of the year 1833, the carpenter shop of Mr. White was consumed by fire with all the work which had been prepared ready for finishing the interior of the church. Consequently the finishing of the building was delayed for some time. Mr. James Murray was afterwards employed to finish the interior of the building, which was completed in the year 1836.
     The church was of brick with a stone foundation, built in the Gothic style, sixty feet long by forty feet wide, and twenty-two feet high to the eaves. .The en­trance was from Dayton Street by a door on the south. The altar was at the north end. The interior was finished in a plain but neat manner, having pews capable of seating at least five hundred persons. Over the altar-was a splendid painting, and on the east a figure of our Savior on the cross as large as life. An excellent organ was obtained and placed in the church. On the south end of the building was a very neat steeple covered with tin and surmounted by a small gilt cross. The whole presented a handsome appearance, the principal defect being that the foundation of the building was not raised high enough from the ground.
     A neat brick building, two stories high, with an attic story, was afterwards erected near the south-west corner of the lot, on which a select school was taught. The rest of the building was designed for the accommodation of the officiating priest and others having the immediate charge of the Church.
     The number of members belonging to the Roman Catholic Church of Hamilton, in 1844, was about six hundred. In June, 1840, the Rev. Thomas R. Butler arrived at Hamilton and took charge of the Church and congregation, and continued as. the officiating priest from that time until about the first of January, 1845, when he removed from Hamilton to St. Louis. During Mr. Butler's residence his urbanity and gentlemanly deportment acquired him the esteem of all those with whom he had intercourse.  As a speaker he was eloquent, and as a polemic debater he acquired considerable celebrity.
     Up to 1848 the German and English speaking Catholics were united in their services, but there were serious difficulties connected with this mode of worship. Many of the Germans understood no English, and none of the Irish people understood any German. So it was thought advisable to separate, each nationality to have its own church. A plan was laid before the members of the congregation by which it was stipulated that, as the church property then was appraised at six thousand dollars, one of the two parties was to raise three thousand and pay it to the other portion of the congregation, which would go out and erect a new church. The Germans being successful in obtaining subscriptions to that amount, became, by decision of Archbishop Purcell, the owners of the existing church building and the property thereto attached. The Rev. Nicholas Wachter, of the Franciscans, became their first pastor. The congregation increased in numbers steadily until it was found necessary to replace the old church by a new house of worship. In the year 1852 the corner stone of the present edifice was laid, the church being completed in 1853, at a cost of about twenty thousand dollars, under the supervision and pas­torate of the Rev. Pirmin Eberhard. The congregation increased and flourished,, it having its own school as early as 1849. In the course of time other buildings, such as a new school, vestry room, and parsonage, were built, each attended with considerable expense. At present, St. Stephen's is one of the most complete churches of the archdiocese of Cincinnati, a monument to the zeal and liberality of the German Catholics of Hamilton. The congregation numbers at present three hundred and seventy-five families, or very nearly sixteen hundred souls. Ever since the congregation became entirely German, the Franciscan order has had charge of it. The present pastor is the Rev. Nicholas Holtel.
     The school, which is under the supervision of the pastor, is divided into classes for the boys and girls. The male pupils are taught by brothers of the Holy Cross, from Notre Dame, Indiana, while the female pupils are taught by the sisters of Notre Dame. Three hundred and eighty children attend the school, and are taught all the elementary branches. A branch from this Church is known as St. Joseph's, and is situated in the lower part of the town. Its pastor is the Rev. A. Biene. It was organized in 1866. There is a cemetery belonging to St. Stephen's, in which are many handsome monuments.

     In the early part of 1842 a few colored families felt the need of a Church. They had been worshiping in the white congregation, but on account of prejudice were compelled to sit in pews near the door or in the gallery. A meeting was called at one of the houses, and an organization effected with the following families as members: Andrew Sampson and wife, Stephen Hall and wife, Samuel Jones and wife, Robert G. H. Anderson and wife, Julia Samson, Silas Dixon, and Walter C. Young. This little company of believers grew rapidly, and a house of worship became necessary. A small building was erected, and in August, 1842, it was dedicated, and the Rev. Owen T. B. Vickers, of Cincinnati, preached the dedicatory sermon.
     Too feeble to support a regular pastor, the conference made it a circuit station, and sent them a preacher every two weeks. . The Rev. Henry Atkinson and the Rev. M. M. Clark were its first preachers. The latter gentleman was one of the best educated colored ministers of his day. He was pious and eloquent, and his influence is still felt among this people. There is but one person living who was among the founders in 1842, Mrs. Harriet Sampson.
     A new chapel was erected in 1877. It is a capacious edifice, situated in a desirable part of the city, of brick structure, sixty-two by forty. It will seat three hun­dred persons, and cost about six thousand dollars. At the entrance, of the auditorium, against the east wall, there is a marble slab with the following inscription on it:

*Payne A. M. E. Chapel*
Organized August, 1842.
Building begun In 1868, by the Rev. A. H. A.Jackson.
Finished 1877, by the Rev. P. Tolllver, Jr.
TRUSTEES—J. S. Lewis, F. Beard, A. J. Evens, B. M. Carson, H. Rimmonds.
BUILDING COMMITTEE—Alfred J. Anderson, Ira A. Collins, Clerk.
WORKERS—Mrs. L. A. Anderson, at large; M. J. Evens, M. Rimmonds, J. Sharp, Andrew Sampson.
P. Tolliver, Pastor.

The German Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as a branch of the Methodist Episcopal Society of Hamilton in 1843. The first members were Conrad Stonebreaker, Mrs. Ruoff, and Mr. Griesel. A few others came to Hamilton with their families, when a Sunday school was begun, and a church bought in 1860, formerly the property of the Lutheran Society. They paid for it two thousand two hundred dollars. The trustees were Philip Berry, S. W. Mower, Joseph Lashhorn, and Conrad Stonebreaker. They were much persecuted by the members of the other German Churches, who tried to keep their members away.
     They have grown considerably in the last three years, now having sixty-two members. A year ago they bought a lot, and intend shortly to begin the erection of an edifice on the east side of the river; The Church is still a mission, and receives support from the general Church fund. The first pastor was the Rev. Martin Hartman, and since that time they have had as preachers  Messrs. Kessinger, Voltz, Rinehart, Jacob Gabler (under whom the church was bought), Breuning, Charles.Helwig, John Felsingi and John Bier. The Sabbath school has eighty scholars, and fifteen officers and teachers. Frank Keller is superintendent. There is also a Christian Church, on the west side, of which Elder Gaff is the pastor, of whose history we are not informed.

     On the 31st of December, 1841, Dr. Loammi Rigdon, Rebecca Rigdon, Aaron Potter, and Emeline Potter, being desirous to have Baptist preaching, resolved to make an effort to maintain a minister one-half of his time, and engaged the Rev. A. Drury, of Cincinnati, for that purpose, at the rate of four dollars for each visit. In 1842 he closed, and Elder Quant succeeded, staying, however, but a short time. In April, 1843, the Rev. Mr. Osborn began preaching, receiving two hundred dollars per year. Of this Dr. Rigdon and Mr. Potter each paid seventy-five dollars, and the Ohio Baptist Association, fifty dollars. There being no organization of the Church at this time, an arrangement was made with the Muddy Creek Church to receive into their membership any who might wish to join at Hamilton. It should be remembered that all this time there was a Baptist Church here, which adhered to the anti-mission side. The split had occurred in 1836.
     In 1844 the Lockland Church received the members of the Hamilton congregation into membership, and con­stituted it a branch Church. The members were L. Rigdon, Rebecca Rigdon, Aaron Potter, Emeline Potter, Eve Davis, Elizabeth Walton, Sarah Steele, Sarah Garrison, Mary Garrison, Mary Kelley, S. Jane Walton, Louisa Pharis, and .Louisa Boatman. When Mr. Osborn's term expired no other preacher was called, but services were held occasionally, at which neighboring ministers officiated. Meetings were held in the court-house and at the Female Academy. October 20, 1844, the Rev. D. Bry­ant was called as pastor, and a couple of months after it was resolved to erect a meeting-house. This house was in due time erected, at a cost, with the lot, of $3,311, and, with an addition afterward made, was occupied till 1858, when it passed into the hands of William Miller, the German Lutheran Church, and the Episcopal Church, successively. It is now changed into stores.
Mr. Bryant accepted another call in 1845, and William Roney was installed as pastor soon after. April 15, 1846, the Church was received into membership with the other Baptist Churches of the State, under the title of the First Baptist Church of Hamilton. The first trustees were L. Rigdon, A. Potter, J. L. Batcheldor, Joseph Shotwell, and J. S. Beatty; treasurer, L. Rigdon; clerk, W. S. Going; deacons, L. Rigdon and Joseph Shotwell. Mr. Roney left on the 4th of June, 1848, and was succeeded by William Ashmore. In 1850 he went to China as a foreign missionary, and for a year the Church was without a pastor. The Rev. H. M. Richardson became pastor in 1852. The membership at this time was seventy-two. He stayed with the Church ten years, and did much good service. During his ministra­tions it was that the new church was built, at a cost of ten thousand five hundred dollars. He was succeeded by C. B. Keys, J. M. Pendleton, V. W. Snow, R. Telford, N. A. Reed, Thomas Hanford, J. R. Ware, W. R Lyon, W. A. Smith, P. M. Weddell, and Homer Eddy. The last is the present pastor.
     On Sunday, January 17, 1875, the church, building was partly destroyed by fire. The other Churches, the young Men's Christian Association, and the Masons promptly tendered their aid. The loss was fully covered by insurance. About this time, too, the Church became straitened for means, could not pay the pastor's salary, and was for several short spaces of time without preaching. It is now, however, on the upward wave. The membership is increasing, and there is much interest felt. The Sunday-school has had as superintendents Aaron Potter, E. G. Dyer, W. Richardson, W. E. Scobey, George P. Brown, Walter Webster, Joseph R. Gibbons, and F. P. Stewart. Much of the success of this Church was owing to the indefatigable zeal of Mr. Aaron Potter and Dr. Loammi Rigdon, who put their shoulders to the wheel and. made the Church an accomplished fact.

     A society of Baptists was formed in Hamilton and organized in 1829, at which time they numbered twenty-seven members. Leonard Garver, of Rossville, made them a donation of lot No. 151, in the south part of the town of Rossville, on which, in 1833, they erected a brick building as a place of public worship, at a cost of about one thousand dollars. In February, 1833, the Legislature passed an act incorporating the Hamilton and Rossville Baptist Church, under the name of "The Hamilton and Rossville Regular Baptist Church," by which act Samuel Fields, Leonard Garver, Isaac T. Saunders, Isaac Paxton, and William Morris were elected trustees to manage the property of the association.
     The first stationed preacher in the congregation was the Rev. Daniel Bryant, who settled in Hamilton in 1829, and continued to officiate for two years and four months. He was succeeded by the Rev. Stephen Gard, of Trenton, who preached to the congregation three years. The Rev. Thomas Childers then officiated four years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph H. Flint, who re­mained two years, and then the Rev. Wilson Thompson officiated two years, up to May, 1844, at which time the number of members belonging to the society was about thirty-five. Number of members at the time the society was organized, twenty-seven; there had been added by baptism, thirty-four; by letter, forty; total, one hundred and one. There had been dismissed by letter, forty; excluded, eight; deceased, eighteen; total, sixty-six Number of members in April, 1844, thirty-five. Owing to the smallness of the congregation, it .has been impos­sible to obtain any definite particulars of the later years of this society. In the division between the Old School and New School, in 1836, they adhered to the Old School, and their numbers gradually diminished. For some time past they have had preaching once a month by Mr. Danks, of Cincinnati.

     As nearly as we can ascertain, the history of Universalism in Butler County dates back to 1838, when occasional preaching services were held in the city of Hamilton, and at various other places in this county.
     James McBride estimated the attendance upon the various Churches in Hamilton, in 1842, as follows: "Methodist, 300; Presbyterians, 200; Associate Reformed, 200; Episcopal, 50; Reformed Presbyterians, 100; Baptists (Old School), 30; Universalists, 100. Total population of Hamilton and Rossville, 2,552; of age to attend Church, 2,089. Total attendance, includ­ing 200 Catholics, 1,030; non-attendants, 1,059.
     In one of our old county papers we find the following announcement: "Rev. D. R. Biddlecome, Universalist, will preach at Jacksonburg, at 3 P. M., and in Hamilton in the evening."' About this time there was an occasional sermon by some Cincinnati missionary Universalist minister, who preached at Oxford, Bunker Hill, and other places. Rev. Henry Gifford, Rev. Abel C. Thomas, Rev. John Gurley, Rev. George Rogers, Rev. E. M. Pingrey, Rev. W. W. Curry, Rev. Ben. F. Foster, Rev. J. C. Petrat, Rev. N. M. Gaylord (brother-in-law of General Van Derveer), Rev. Mr. Davis, and Rev. Mr. W. S. Bacon were the early occasional expounders of this faith "once delivered to the saints."
     Among the old-time attendants upon the Universalist Church services we find the following names: Jacob Matthias, Isaac Matthias, John W. Erwin, John K. Wilson, Perry G. Smith, John O. Brown, Peter Jacobs, Thomas Reed, Richard Easton, and Isaac Warwick. At this time these friends of liberal thought met in the lower rooms of the courthouse, which .were ordinarily well filled, and the religious services were always char­acterized by most excellent music. Their present church was erected in 1851 and cost about $9,000. Besides other generous contributions, John W. Erwin donated the church bell, which was a premium bell, and cost five hundred dollars cash. Christopher Hughes, Ludwick and Jane Betz, and Jasper Johnson were now attendants upon public worship with this congregation.
     The Rev. Jonathan Kidwell, a most able controversialist, and other prominent Universalist divines, occasionally held public debates with the ministers of opposing faiths at various places in Butler County. Churches have been built at Oxford and Bunker Hill, which have for many years had preaching about every alternate Sunday. Rev. C. H. Dutton, Rev. William Tucker, Rev. J. P. MacLean, and Rev. C. L. Haskell, in the order named, have been the more recent pastors of the Hamilton society. It has an interesting Sunday-school, with about eighty names enrolled, and an average attendance of probably fifty-five.
     Unfortunately the church property of this society has become involved in litigation, which for final adjudica­tion has been appealed to the Supreme Court. H. L. Morey, J. E. Morey, B. F. Thomas, John W. Erwin, R. N. Andrews, Dr. S. H. Potter, S. 0. Peacock, and various influential citizens of Butler County attend this church. Should the Supreme Court finally decide adversely to this society, it proposes at once to build a new and beautiful modern church edifice; otherwise, to entirely renovate its present house of worship.















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