OHIO GENEALOGY EXPRESS

 

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ROSS COUNTY, OHIO

CHURCHES

The following information has been extracted from:
A Standard history of Ross County, Ohio : an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, civic and social development
Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1917
(More on Churches in Ross County, Ohio)

PRESBYTERIANS AND METHODISTS FOUND CHURCHES

     Shortly after Chillicothe was staked out as a town and a few cabins erected at and near it, the pioneers of the neighborhood commenced to get together in their homes and hold meetings for worship.  At first, in order to thus commune at all, they sunk their sectarian beliefs for the general good, but as their number increased the cleavage began.  The Presbyterians were the first to thus organize, in 1797, which was five years before the founding of the Gazette and the birth of local newspaperdom.  In the following year the Methodists commenced to hold services at Chillicothe, Dr. Edward Tiffin, among others, preaching to the society.  The First Presbyterian and the Walnut Street Methodist Episcopal churches resulted, and they have grown in membership and strengthened, in other ways, with the years.
     The Presbyterians and the Methodists divided the local field until 1831, when a Calvanistic Baptist Church was incorporated, but did not long survive.  The Quakers, or Friends, had also attempted to found a society, and in the late '40s, the Swedenborgians and Universalists founded churches, which did not long endure.  The sketches of those which follow are active and are presented substantially in chronological order.

EARLY METHODISM

     The founding of the First Presbyterian Church was an event of such moment to the welfare of Chillicothe and the county that it has already been described somewhat in detail, especially that period of its history previous to 1811, when it was known as New Hope Church.  The Old Rock, as it has been christened among the substantial churches of the city, still stands firm without any signs of undermining.
     Rev. William Speer, as stated, served the New Hope Church from 1798 to 1802.  The charge was served by various preachers during the following three years, but in 1805 Rev. Robert G. Wilson, formerly of South Carolina, was assigned to it, giving two-thirds of his time to New Hope and the remainder to a recently formed congregation known as union.  In June, 1812, he was directed to "devote" the whole of his ministerial labors to the First Presbyterian congregation in Chillicothe.
     Two years after Doctor Wilson had concentrated his ministerial labors upon the First Church at Chillicothe, the General Assembly of 18143, in response to petitions previously received, took the following action:  "The committee to which was referred the petition of the Presbytery of Lancaster for the division of the Synod of Kentucky, and a resolution of the Synod on the same subject, reported in favor of the petition, and it was 'Resolved, by the assembly, that the Presbytery of Lancaster be separated from the Synod of Pittsburgh, and the Presbyteries of Washington and Miami be separated from the Synod of Ohio, to meet at Chillicothe on the last Thursday of October next; that the Rev. Robert G. Wilson, or in case of his absence, the senior minister present, open the Synod with a sermon and preside until a new moderator be chosen.' "  In pursuance with the foregoing Doctor Wilson was named the first moderator of the Synod of Ohio.
     Doctor Wilson's pastorate was of nearly nineteen years duration - the longest this church has ever enjoyed..  Having been elected president of the Ohio University at Athens, he asked for a dissolution of the pastoral relation, which the congregation reluctantly granted, and the Presbytery effected, May 5, 1824.  He remained at Athens for some years, and then returned to Chillicothe, to end his days among the people whom he had ardently loved, and who fully reciprocated his affection.  He died at South Salem, Apr. 17, 1851, and was buried (as were also his wife and two children) in the old graveyard in the eastern part of the city.  In 1877 they were removed to the beautiful cemetery on the hill; the old monument was remodeled to adapt it to its more tasteful surroundings, and a mural tablet, with an appropriate inscription to the memory of the sainted doctor, was placed in the church edifice, which he lived and "rejoiced to see," though built twenty-two years after his resignation of the pastorate.
     Doctor Wilson was a man of great intellectual ability and fine scholarship, a dignified and cultured gentleman of the old school.  His sermons were eloquent and instructive; his style scriptural and doctrinal, practical and pointed.  He had much to do in moulding public sentiment taking an active interest in secular and educational, as well as religious affairs.  He exerted a wide and beneficent influence in the community, and to this day his name is honored and revered by all.
     After Doctor Wilson's removal, there was a vacancy in the pastorate of about two years, at the end of which time in the spring of 1826 Rev. William Graham, of the Miami Presbytery, became the pastor, being regularly installed on the fourth Wednesday of June following.  As the result of his ministry of nearly six years, 105 communicants were added to the church on profession, and 31 on certificate.  But, through his pastorate was thus blessed in the rapid growth of the church, yet it was a period of sore trials and dissensions.  Theological controversies that disturbed the Presbyterian Church throughout the country, aroused at Chillicothe a deep partisan feeling which was much intensified by local questions.  The result of these divisions was the organization of the Second Presbyterian Church, not very long after Mr. Graham's resignation, which was tendered and accepted early in the year 1832.
     In March, of that year, Rev. Hugh S. Fullerton was invited to supply the pulpit for twelve months.  At the expiration of that time he was installed - continuing pastor until October 17, 1836.
     After another vacancy of nearly a year, Rev. Thomas Woodrow was called to the pastorate August 12, 1837.  He accepted the call, but, having recently come to this country, he could not, under a rule of the Presbytery, be installed until after a year's residence.  Entering at once upon his labors, his installation took place on the first Friday of November, 1838.  After a successful pastorate of ten years and nine months he resigned, April 5, 1848.  It will interest those of the present to know that Mr. Woodrow was the maternal grandfather of President Woodrow Wilson.
     On September 4, 1848, Rev. Irwin Carson was invited to supply the pulpit for six months; but, before the expiration of that time, he was invited to become the settled pastor and was installed as such May 9, 1849.  His pastorate lasted five years and seven months, closing April 5, 1854.  After several years of faithful and successful labor in other fields, he returned in feeble health (as he had left) to Chillicothe, where he died, May 31, 1875, and was buried in its beautiful cemetery on the hill.
     On August 7, 1854, the congregation called Rev. Dr. William C. Anderson, who declined the call, but consented to serve the church as stated supply - remaining thirteen months.  Rev. Dr. Robert L. Stanton was called to the pastorate in the latter part of 1855, and was installed the first Thursday of June, 1856.
     On August 26, 1862, after the pastorate of nearly seven years, during which he served as a moderator of the General Assembly, Doctor Stanton resigned, having accepted a professorship in the theological seminary at Danville, Kentucky.  After serving in that capacity for several years, he was elected president of Miami University, where he also remained a number of years.
     On February 26, 1863, Rev. William G. Hillman was invited to supply the pulpit temporarily and remained fifteen months.  In August, 1864, Dr. H. W. Biggs entered upon his labors, being regularly installed on the twenty-first of the following month.  Doctor Biggs was called from Morgantown, West Virginia, where he had been pastor of the Presbyterian Church for ten years.  In 1845, when sixteen years of age, he was graduated from Cincinnati College, of which his father was president.  He received his degree of D. D. from Wooster College, in 1877.  His active pastorate continued until 1892 and he was pastor emeritus of the church for some years afterward.  During the last three years of his long and notable pastorate Rev. T. S. McWilliams was the co-pastor of the church.  Rev. William H. Fishburn, D. D., was pastor in 1893-94; Rev. William C. Stinson, D. D., from 1895-1900; Rev. John L. Roemer, 1901-05; Rev. William M. Hindman, D. D., 1905-12, and Doctor Stinson, whose second pastorate commenced in 1913, continues to the present time.
     The First Presbyterian Church, as an organization, has occupied four houses of worship, ranging from a long house to the beautiful stone edifice of the present.  Son after the coming of its first pastor, Rev. William Speer, a long cabin was thrown together near Bridge Street bridge, and before it was finished services were held in it.  After 1802, for a time the little Presbyterian society met in the lower room of the old long-house which served as the first meeting place of the Territorial Assembly.  A little later the services were held in the new stone state house.  Then the congregation, growing constantly stronger, built a church on the south side of the canal.  This was a quaint, brick edifice, with entrances on three sides, and with galleries running around three sides of the interior.  The floor was paved with large, square red bricks, similar to the old churches in England and on the continent.  In that old church worshipped the Renicks, McCoys, Waddles, Carlisles, Winships, Creightons and others whose names are identified with the history of the church and of Chillicothe.  In 1844 the new brick church on West Main Street was built, but was not dedicated until May 31, 1846, when the Rev. Thomas Woodrow was pastor.  In the Gazette for September 12, 1844, appears a note to the effect that the new church "is almost finished," and a description of the new bell for the "white steeple," as given by a gentleman who had just returned from Cincinnati, where the bell was being cast at the Buckeye Foundry.  On the bell, says the old note, is the motto:

"When Joy and Mirth are on the wing - I ring;
To call the folk to church in time - I chime;
When the old body parts the soul - I toll;
Long may I proclaim this honour - is my prayer."

     For almost fifty years the old church under the white steeple served as the place of meeting, but then the familiar landmark was torn down to make way for the handsome stone structure that now stands on the old site.  The corner-stone of the new church was laid on October 17, 1893, with elaborate ceremony.  During the building of the new church the congregations met in the upper courtroom.  The first services held with the walls of the new building were on September 9, 1894, and were conducted by Rev. Glenroie McQueen of Illinois.  It was formally dedicated at the centennial celebration of the founding of the church in October, 1898.  The structure, one of the handsomest religious edifices in the city, is built of grey limestone with brown sandstone trimmings, and has a seating capacity of 600 or 700.  Its square tower is 120 feet in height.  The interior is finished in quartered oak and the vestibule floors in marble mosaic.  The organ is a memorial to the McCoy, Renick and Waddel families, and among the various rich memorial windows are two large ones dedicated to the Duns and Fullertons and others to the Massies and Worthingtons.  Over $50,000 was spent in the erection of the church building.  Within recent years one of the most notable events which has transpired within its walls was the centennial celebration of the erection of the Ohio Synod from the old synods of Kentucky and Pittsburg.

TRINITY METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

 

THE THIRD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

 

EPISCOPAL CHURCHES

St. Paul's Episcopal Church dates from 1817.  etc.

THE FIRST EVANGELICAL CHURCH

 

THE GERMAN EVANGELICAL SALEM CHURCH was organized in this city on April 8, 1877.  Its first trustees were William Miller, Philip Klotz, George Lautenklos, Adam Pabst, Ph. Diehl, Leonhard Wilhelm and Leonhard Kramer.  The first pastor was Rev. A. F. F. Kohler.  In 1881 the present church at the corner of Fourth and Mulberry was built, under Rev. C. E. Clausen.  The church society was incorporated May 6, 1893, when Rev. Otto Schettler was pastor.  Among the ministers in charge since that time have been Revs. J. A. Reinicke, Paul J. Gehm and Daniel H. Moritz.

CALVARY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

     In April, 1900, Rev. George H. Schnur organized the Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, its membership being composed largely of those of the First Evangelical Church who desired services to be held in English.  Mr. Schnur resigned in October, 1906, and was succeeded by Rev. W. Whitfield Kennerly, who served until August, 1908.  In December of that year Rev. Lorenz A. Harshman was installed as pastor; resigned in March, 1914, and was followed by the present pastor, Rev. J. A. Laughbaum, in June, 1915.  The services of the church were first held in the Foulke Block, but in 1903 the society erected a house of worship on West Main Street.  The present church membership is over one hundred.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES

St. Peter's Church
St. Augustine's Church
St. Raphael's Church

PLYMOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

BRIDGE STREET CHURCH OF CHRIST

 

WATTS STREET UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH

 

QUINN CHAPEL AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

 

OTHER RELIGIOUS BODIES:

The Tabernacle Baptist Church
The Christian Scientists

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