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History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

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sized congregations at Versailles, Ansonia, Hollansburg,
Beamsville, Coletown, Woodington, Dawn, Teegarden (north-
west of Woodington), besides active churches at Stelvideo,
Brock, Walnut Grove (Willow DelO, The Beach, North Star,
Sugar Grove (one and one-half miles east of Rossburg).

Methodist.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, which originated in Eng-
land in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and grew
rapidly under the preaching of the Wesleys and ^^^litf^eld.
early become an active and powerful factor in the evangeliza-
tion of the Ohio valley. At the time of the settlement at
Marietta it was in the strong vigor of its youth, and its
zealous and aggressive preachers soon established themselves
in the earliest communities of pioneers and eagerly braved the
dangers and hardships of riding the circuits between the set-
tlements. The story of their earlj^ privations and experiences
would make many volumes of interesting reading, and the re-
sults of their labors are readily seen today in the prosperous
churches which ever3'where greet the traveler in the Ohio
valley, and in the large and influential educational institu-
tions in the states formed out of the old northwest territory.

The great revival, which originated largely among the Cal-
vinistic settlers of Kentucky, and which was fostered by
Presbyterian clergymen, soon affected the Methodist church,
which was drawn almost bodily into it. This revival was
characterized by some of the most remarkable physical phe-
nomena known in the history of Christendom. Great outdoor
meetings were held in various localities for periods of a week
or more which were attended bv multitudes from near and



204 DARKE COUNTY

far. Strong men, as well as women and children, were greatly
affected and manifested their agitation by jerking, dancing,
failing, singing from their breasts and in other remarkable
wa3'S.

The Methodist church readily accepted and incorporated the
camp meeting and" the revival, and adapted itself to the
needs and conditions of pioneer life. It is said that Methodist
sermons were preached in Greenville as early as 1812. Rev.
John Brown preached in the county in 1817. About 1818 it
became a point in the Eaton circuit, which included Camden,
and Eaton, in Preble county; Greenville and Killer's (four
miles west) in Darke county; Covington, in Miami county;
and Union, Concord and Germantown, in ^Montgomery
county, besides parts of Wayne and Randolph counties, in
Indiana. At this time, it is said, there was not a Methodist in
Greenville. John P. Durbin, who was the first preacher, held
services in the house of Abraham Scribner, who, though
favorable to the Unitarian doctrine, tendered his friendship
and hospitality to the followers of Wesley. "Many manifested
a deep interest in the new doctrine, as it was called, but Dur-
bin had preached here only a short time when limits of the
circuit were lessened and regular preaching was discontinued
at Greenville by the Methodists until the year 1832, though
during this interval sermons were occasionally preached in
the court house, dwelling houses and such other buildings as
could be procured for that purpose." Rev. Durbin became
one of the most prominent preachers in the early histiiry of
the church.

About 1818 the Methodists erected the first meeting house
of the county in Washington township, just across the Green-
ville township line, about four miles west of Greenville, and
a half mile south of the Winchester pike. It was carefully
and substantially constructed of hewed logs, and, no doubt,
had the typical clapboard roof, puncheon floor, rough board
pulpit and slab seats. It was still used on funeral occasions
as late as 1880, but has since been torn down. Many of the
pioneers of A\'ashington and Greenville townships lie buried
in the adjoining cemetery. This pioiieer house of worship
was dedicated by Rev. Durbin and during early days was
visited by the following presiding elders: Alexander Cum-
mins, John Strange, John Collins, J. P>. Finley, John F.
Wright, William H. Raper and ^^'illiam B. Christie. The
"Hiiler and Livergood Class." the first "formed in the countv,



DARKE COUNTY 205

was organized at this church in 1818. Today, except for the
neglected burial ground, the passerby would not suspect that
a church was ever located here.

The Methodist churches of Darke county ought to secure
and mark this site with an appropriate tablet or memorial for
the instruction and inspiration of coming generations.

"In 1833 William Oliver, living about six miles north of
Greenville, formed the second Methodist class in Darke
county, which comprised the following members : Mrs. M. H.
Turpen and daughter, Emeline, Mrs. L. R. Brownell, Mr. and
Mrs. William Barrett (nee Maria Turpen) and Mr. and JNIrs.
William J. Birely. Francis Timmons and Ira Chase were
the circuit preachers at this time and Greenville became the
leading point on the "Greenville circuit" which, at times,
comprised from ten to sixteen preaching places. A class was
also formed at Greenville in 1833. I\Iuch opposition was ex-
perienced by the Methodists at this time, as they were looked
upon by some as fanatics and hypocrites, their meetings were
disturbed and their ministers attacked.

Jesse Prior was on the circuit in 1834. Under his ministry
Dr. J. M. P. Baslcerville, Lovina Houp, Hiram Bell, Jane and
Lemuel Rush and Eliza McGinnis were added to the church
in the county. Steps for the building of the first M. E. Church
in Greenville were taken this year. The work was begun in
1835 and completed in 1836. In this year the Greenville
charge was admitted to the Ohio conference, Stephen F.
Conry and Adam Miller being on the circuit. The location of
this church, it is said, was determined in this way: Isaac Jay, a
Quaker, identified himself with the Methodists, and deter-
mined to buy the northwest half of lot No. 5 on the east side
of Sycamore between Third and Fourth streets, in Greenville,
and upon it to erect a suitable building, claiming that he was
moved to do this as the outcome of a dream in which he saw-
sheep surrounded by wolves make a successful stand on this
site, which was then a thicket of thorn bushes. He purchased
this plot February 22, 1835, of Hiram and John C. Potter for
forty dollars. The building erected here was a low frame,
which cost about $600.00, Isaac Jay, William Oliver, Chris-
topher Martin, William Folkerth, William W. Jordan, Jacob
Chenoweth and Hiram Bell being the building committee.
When the building was completed there remained a debt of
seventy dollars, which was liquidated by each member of the



206 DARKE COUNTY

above committee paying ten dollars. D. D. Davidson and
Martin Wolf were on the circuit in 1836.

Following the erection of this building thirty-seven mem-
bers were added to the church. In 1837 Jesse Prior again
followed the circuit. A revival of religious enthusiasm be-
came manifest in public and private life and the church pros-
pered. Eli Truitt was on the circuit in 1838 and Edward
Williams in 1839. In 1840-1841 Wm. Morrow and Jas. Mc-
Nabb were on the circuit which had been reduced on the ac-
count of increasing population to the limits of the county.
Their labors resulted in the conversion of some three hun-
dred persons, and the addition of a like number to the church.
Many incidents of the power of the spirit were witnessed
during the revival. In 1840 the Greenville church was trans-
ferred to the North Ohio Conference.

In 1842 and 1843 Samuel M. Beatty and Eliakin Zimmer-
man labored on the circuit. Jacob Brown and Cadwallader
Owens labored in 1844; G. S. Phillips with C. Coleman in
1845; and with C. B. Brandeburg in 1846; Jos. Wykes and
P. R. Roseberry in 1847-48 : Alexander Hammond in 1849-50.

The first M. E. parsonage, on West Fourth street, was pur-
chased in 1848. David Rutledge and Gershom Lease had
charge of the circuit in 1851 and it was determined to erect
a larger meeting house as soon as practicable. Jacob Burk-
holder and Franklin Mariott labored on the circuit in 1852
and 1853. In 1852 the little frame church was sold to Wm.
J. Birely for $50. Subscriptions were taken for the purpose
of buildirig a new brick church at an estimated cost of $5,003.
About $2,000 was subscribed at this time, only part of which
was paid when work was commenced. Backwardness in
paying subscriptions retarded the work. The trustees were
compelled to borrow $1,500 to complete the work, and mort-
gaged the property for that amount. This debt lingered and
embarrassed the congregation for ten years, when it was as-
sumed by members of conference in the fall o^ 1862. The
mortgage was not canceled, however, until 1865. Franklin
Mariott and Loring C. Webster were ministers in 1853 ; W.
W. Winters and Patrick G. Good in 1854-55; Oliver Kennedy,
L. C. Webster and P. B. Lewis preached on the circuit in 1856;
A\\ J. Peck and John T. Bowers in 1858; during which year
the congregation at Greenville was visited by one of the
most powerful revivals it had witnessed previous to this time,
and a large number were added to the church. The church



DARKE COUNTY



207



was transferred from the Ohio to the Central Ohio Confer-
ence in 1856. Isaac Newton and P. B. Lewis labored as min-
isters in 1858-59. In 1860 Greenville was made a station with
one appointment at Coletown. Jas. W. Alderman served this
charge in 1860; Jacob Feghtby in 1861-62; Fielding L. Harper
1863 ; during whose short pastorate the appointment at Cole-
town was discontinued. Chas. Reynold, 1864; Henry E. Pil-
cher. 1865 ; during this year the old parsonage was sold for
$800, and another on lot No. 1, of the same street, purchased
for $2,500. Rev. L. C. Webster was the pastor in 1866 and
1867. The parsonage purchased in 1866 was exchanged for
one on part of lot No. 2, the trustees receiving $100 in addi-
tion to same.

Amos Wilson served the charge in 1868-70; H. J. Bradley
came in the fall of 1870 and served one year. During his
administration the Sabbath school had an attendance of over
two hundred and at one time had 341 members. Rev. A.
Berry was pastor from 1871-74. During Rev. Berry's pas-
torate a movement was started to remodel the church build-
ing. A contract was entered into with Robison & Fryber-
ger to remodel the church for $2,916, making the Sunday
school ro(im separate from the main auditorium, and rais-
ing the roof five feet. Rev. A. J- Fish served from 1874 to
1877. During his pastorate the remodeling was completed
and the church redecorated with a large new bell in the tower
donated by Wm. Allen.

Rev. L. M. Albright was pastor from 1877 to 1879, and suc-
ceeded after much labor in paying off the debt due on the
last improvement. Rev. J. A. Ferguson served from 1879 to
1882 and was suceeded by J. L. Rushbridge, during whose
pastorate the parsonage was enlarged, remodeled and en-
closed with brick, and the church building remodeled by re-
moving the partition, erecting a large gallery with enclosed
rooms beneath for separate Sunday school classes and repair-
in? the building in a suitable manner.

Rev. David Bowers succeeded Rev. Rushbridge in 1884.
This charge was attached to the Cincinnati Conference in
1886 and Rev. J. W. Cassatt became the pastor. The parson-
age was now provided with heavy furniture. A protracted
meeting was held in the early part of 1887 during which
scores were added to the church. ^Most of the latter became
earnest, efificient workers and have proved a tower of strength
to the church. Rev. Cassatt served until June. 1891, his be-



208 DARKE COUNTY

ing the longest, and one of the most efficient pastorates to
that date. On account of age and declining health, he with-
drew from the ministry, and passed his remaining days in
Greenville, where he expired, greatly beloved by the com-
munity.

On the evening of June. 16th, 1895, the city of Greenville
was visited by the largest conflagration ever occurring in its
history. The fire seemed to be of incendiary origin and be-
gan in a stable belonging to Mrs. Winner, about the middle
of the alley running from Broadway to Sycamore street, be-
tween Third and Fourth streets. The flames spread rapidly
to the rooms of Dr. Wm. Matchett, the Mozart Hall, the
Huddle Block on Fourth street and the M. E. church. The
latter soon became a sea of flames, the roof yielded to the
fire fiend, fell and the interior became a caldron of flame ; the
tower, serving as the chimney to a furnace, was soon an area
of white flame : the bell, yielding to the intense heat, was soon
burned from its moorings, and being partially melted fell
with a crash. After the fire was subdued nothing but the
bare walls remained to mark the spot where the devoted
members of this congregation had met so often for praise
and devotion. The pulpit, stand, organ and a few books were
all that were saved from the general ruin. Perhaps nothing
better could illustrate the undaunted faith and zeal of this
congregation than what happened immediately. "The official
board met on the following morning, communications of sym-
pathy and a desire to assist us in our time of need were freely
tendered us by the Presbyterian, Lutheran and other church-
es, which were received in the spirit in which they were ten-
dered. The Board resolved at once to build a new church, but
to locate it on lot No. 4, if the same could be purchased on
favorable terms. Those terms were at once secured, a com-
mittee appointed to secure the insurance ($2,500.00) from the
fire insurance company ; a subscription list was at once cir-
culated, a respectable amount secured, and a contract en-
tered into for a new church. The work progressed rapidly
and on April 21, 1896, the cornerstone of the new edifice was
placed in position. Work was pushed rapidly and the build-
ing was dedicated on Sunday, Feb. 20, 1897. Dr. J. F. JMarly,
of Springfield. Dr. C. H. Payne of New York, and Dr. D. H.
JMoore of Cincinnati, were present and participated in the
ceremonies of the occasion. The sermon bv Dr. Pavne was



DARKE COUNTY 209

said to have been one of the finest ever heard in Greenville.
During the forenoon services it was announced that the build-
ing and grounds had cost $27,025.10 and that all had been
paid except $7,020. Dr. Payne succeeded in raising a little
over $9,000, putting the church completely out of debt and
having a surplus of nearly $2,000. The new structure is one
of the largest and finest churches in Darke county. It is
built of pressed brick with slate roof and stained glass win-
dows. Besides a large and well fitted basement, it has a
finely appointed auditorium with a seating capacity of about
600, a large Sunday school with separate class rooms, bal-
cony and assembly room, which may readily be thrown to-
gether, besides a Board room. The large church auditorium
is nicely furnished with pews, body brussels carpet and a
large pipe organ, and has beautiful art glass windows. It is
lighted by electricity and heated with a furnace. In the
tower hangs a peal of three bells, a bequest of Mrs. Sophia
Koop, placed in 1907. Rev. Conger, who had been largely in-
strumental in building and financing the new church, finished
his seven years' pastorate in September, 1901 and was suc-
ceeded by Alpheus B. Austin, who served aceptably until
September, 1904. Calvin W. Elliott served from this time
until September, 1906, and was followed by Charles H.
HaA'nes, who served four months. A. L. Brokaw served from
January, 1907, until the summer of 1910, and was suceeded
by Charles CliiTord Peale, who remained three years. The
present pastor, Alerrick E. Ketcham, was assigned this charge
in 1913 by the ^^'est Ohio Conference, which had just been,
formed by the consolidation of the Cincinnati and Central
Ohio Conferences.

The following persons have acted as superintendent since
1859: George H. Martz, 1859 to 1870; Henry A. Webb, 1870
to 1874: Jacob T. Martz, 1874 to 1884; Wm. B. Hough, 1884
to 1894 ; Ammon J. Mider, 1894 to 1897 ; Geo. W. Rosser, 1897
to 1899; W. B. Hough, 1899 to 1900; Chas. M. Davenport.
1900 to .

At the Rally Day services, Sunday, October 30, 1910, all
of these superintendents were present and took an active part
in the exercises.

The present church- officials are: Recording secretary.
John H. Martz ; financial secretarv. Chas. ^I. Davenport :
treasurer. R. R. Winters ; treasurer-secretary benevolences,
(14)



210 DARKE COUNTY

Frank H. Jobes ; organist, }iliss Lottie Leas: chief usher. Z.
T. Dorman ; janitor, C. Stubbs.

Trustees: President. John Whiteley : Juhn H. ]\lartz, Geo.
\V. ^[ace, J. L. Selby. \\'. A. Xewby, R. T. Humphreys, S.
C. Reigle, C. M. Da\ enport, A. G. Keighley.

Stewards: Jas J. Martz. A. J. Mider. Edward Martin,
Enoch Westerfield, Geo. F. Taylor, Geo. W. Rosser, Frank
H. Jobes, J. A. Folkerth, E. D. Irwin, F. U. Schreel, Floyd
Kerwood.

Superintendent of Sunday school, Chas. 'SI. Davenport ;
president of Epworth League, Floyd Kerwood ; superintend-
ent of Junior League, Miss Hazel Folkerth ; president of
Home and Foreign Missionary Society, Mrs. M. E. Ketcham ;
president of Ladies' Aid Society, Mrs. Ed Mong.

This church now has a membership of 530 and the enroll-
ment in the Sunday school is 428. The current expenses of
the church for the year 1913 were $2,295.00 and the amount
contributed for missions, $1,636.00, making the total budget
for the year $3,931.00.

Probably no other church in Greenville has exercised a
more steady and powerful influence for good than the First
Methodist Episcopal, ^^■ith its present large membership and
excellent equipment it promises to continue in the forefront
of local denominations for many years.

Other congregations of this denomination are located at
the following points : Versailles, Arcanum, Ansonia, Pitts-
burg, Gettysburg, Rossburg, Lightsville, Gordon, A\^ebster,
Jaysville, Fort Jefferson, Shock's Chapel (\\'abash town-
ship), the German ^I. E. church, Greenville, O., which was
organized in 1852, under the pastorate of Re\-. ^^'m. Floerke,
erected a frame church building on Ash street near ^^'ater
street in 1855 and a parsonage on Water street in 1857. Sun-
day school and preaching services have been conducted here
with regularity since its organization but, owing to the fact
that the present generation of members all speak English flu-
ently, it is generally recognized that this congregation will
discontinue or merge with the First M. E. church within a
few years.

The Presbyterian Church.

About 1818 Greenville and vicinity became a missionary
field for the Presbyterian church. Nicholas Pittenger and
John Ross are credited with holding meetings here at this



DARKE COUNTY 211

period. In that year Rev. Shannon, who had served as chap-
lain in one of Harrison's Kentucky regiments, preached at
the residence of Wm. Martin. A Presbyterian society was
formed as early as Feb. 14, 1821, at which time the following
persons signed a call for the formation of a corporate body :
L. Bascom, James Craig, William L. Wilson, John Craig,
William McKhann, Jesse McGinnis, John Armstrong, John
Devor, Benjamin Murphy, David Fisher, John McFarland,
William Clark, John Beers, Robert Hood, James Buchanan,
Heman L. Aiken, Stephen Perrine, William jNIartin, David
Irwin, James Devor, A. Scribner, Easton Norris, James
Stevenson (senior and junior), H. McCune, George I. Isham,
Erastus Putnam, John Miller, William Lipe, Thomas Stoke-
]y, Charles Steward, George W. Hight and John Briggs.
Agreeably to legal notice, the above-named met at the house
of Linus Bascom on ]\Iarch 10, 1821, and elected Easton Nor-
ris, clerk, and for trustees, Benjamin Murphy, William Mar-
tin and Linus Bascom, and they also placed the organization
on record as the "Greenville Presbyterian Society." Septem-
ber 9, 1825, a congregation collected at the house of Benja-
min Murphy for the purpose of being organized into a church.
The Rev. John Ross officiated, and, having concluded relig-
ious exercises, he set apart Benjamin Murphy and Linus Bas-
com as elders, and Robert Robinson was re-elected as elder.
John Ross commenced preaching in 1825 and remained with
the congregation till 1831. In 1833, the society, at a called
meeting, detached a portion of their number living in Adams
township to form the Mount Pleasant church, now the Gettys-
burg Presbyterian, whose first pastor was Rev. Isaac Ogden.
The society at Greenville did not have regular preaching for
some time previous to October, 1841, when Alexander Gulick
was installed pastor, and divided his time between the two
societies named, remaining two years. November 31, 1844,
Rev. Badeau was engaged, and served four years. May 12.
1849, Rev. John A. Weeks commenced preaching, and was
succeeded in 1853 by Rev. R. M. McCullough, who was pas-
tor but one year. Rev. Orlando Clark was secured for the
year 1857. Two years later D. B. WycofT served six months,
previous to departure for India as a missionary. In June,
1860, Rev. C. B. H. Martin became pastor, and served a year
acceotably. Next came John W. Drake, from 1862 to August,
1864.
This denomination worshipped in the court house until



212 DARKE COUNTY

1850, when a substantial brick structure with four immense
pillars on the front facade was begun on lot No. 10, on the
north side of Fourth street, between Broadway and Walnut
streets. This structure was not completed until about 1832.
It served the congregation until late in the eighties, when
a new building was determined upon.

On account of an unfortunate division in the main Presby-
terian body in 1837. dissension prevailed for many years,
which resulted in the establishment of competing churches in
various localities. As a result of this divsion a Second or
"New School" Presbyterian church was organized in Green-
ville, June 21, 1843.

A small but substantial frame house of worship was erected
on the south side of East Fourth, street, a short distance west
of Walnut street, on the present site of the Lutheran church.
Rev. Franklin Putnam was one of the early pastors in this
church. He was succeeded by Rev. J. P. Kumler, under
whose preaching the congregation increased in numbers and
erected a substantial brick building on the northeast corner
of Broadway and Fourth streets. Here they continued to
worship under the pastorates of Revs. Jamison, Lyman and
L. E. Jones until the spring of 1865, at which time the official
■bodies of the old school and the new school churches, after
due deliberation, agreed to unite into one organization, and
to call a pastor. Dr. Thomas of the First church, Dayton,
Ohio, representing the old school, and Rev. L. E. Jones, pastor
of the Second churcii at Greenville, representing the new
school, were authorized by their respective Presbyteries to
form a union of the two bodies in Greenville, which union
was consummated on the first Sunday in May, 1865. by unan-
imous vote of both congregations. On May 8, an election
of trustees was held which resulted in the choice of James
B. Avery, A. Gaskill, M. Creager, Stephen Baird, Charles
Tate and David B. John to constitute the Board. The unit-
ed church called Rev. H. A. Newell, a man of attractive per-
sonality, and a fine speaker as its first pastor, under whose
ministry' it revived and made great progress. The Second
church building was used as a place of worship for a few
months after the union, but was afterward sold, as it was
feared that the title to the property of the Old School church
would revert to the heirs of the donor, who gave it as a site
for the erection of the house of worship. Rev. Newell served
the united church until 1868, and was succeeded by John S.



DARKE COUNTY 213

Gourlay, who served until March 26, 1871. J. C. Eastman
came as a temporary supply in the spring of 1872 and re-
mained until 1880.

The contract for the present structure was given in 1889
to Z. Benfeldt, of Richmond, Ind., for $14,989, and it was
expected that the additional expense for furniture, furnace,
glass, etc. would bring the total up to $17,000.00. The plans
and specifications were furnished by John A. Hosacoster, and
called for a structure 84 feet deep, with a vestibule under the
central tower, opening into the reception room, the primary
class room, the main Sunday school room and the auditorium.
The Sabbath school rooms occupy the eastern part of the
building, and consist of a lecture or assembly room 28x32
feet, and six class rooms, opening by movable partitions into
it. This department is separated from the church auditorium
by roller blinds, which are readily raised, throwing all into