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

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one audience room. The auditorium is on the west side of
the building and has a seating capacity of about 450 with a
gallery on the east, seating about 125. The pulpit is in the
northwest corner with a large pipe organ immediately back
of it. The pastor's study adjoins the pulpit in the rear.
The auditorium is nicely furnished with body brussels car-
pet, and adjustable seats, is beautifully frescoed, lighted with
stained glass windows and heated and ventilated by a modern
plant. The high ceiling with exposed beams adds to the
beauty and harmony of the whole.

The building committee was : Henry St. Clair, J. H. Mar-
tin and Alex. Kerr. Rev. J. P- Hutchinson was pastor at
this time.

The pastors since 1880 were: Jas. Crawford, 1880-1887;
J. P. Hutchinson, 1887 1890; C. E. Tedford, 1890-1894;
^^^ C. Helt. 1894-1897; W. L. Swan, 1898-1903; J. R. Tones,
1903-1908; C. C. McKinney, 1908.

Elders or Sessions: I. 'SI. Pierson, clerk; B. F. :Metcalf,
.M. G. Demorest, B. T. Hughes, W. L. Reece, E. :\I. Welker,
W. M. Limbert, W. D. Craig, J. J. Matthews.

Trustees: M. W. Westeriield, president; Gales Helm,
clerk; Chas. J. Herr, C. C. Pitts, C. R. Leftwich and D. L.
Gaskill.

Treasurer, J. G. Reid.

Women's Missionary Society: Mrs. M. W. Limbert, pres-
ident ; Mrs. A. B. Craig, vice-president ; Mrs. M. G. Demorest,
secretary; Mrs. I. M. Pierson, treasurer.



214 DAKKE COUNTY

The church now has an enroUment of aboiit 385, with 240
in the Sunday school. The annual budget for all purposes
for the last fiscal year was about $4,000.00.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church dates from the
year 1832. In that year Rev. Alva Guion, recently located
at Piqua, visited Greenville to address the people on the im-
portance of sustaining a Sunday school, and of establishing a
library of religious books for children. This was done, al-
though at this time there was not an Episcopalian in the vil-
lage. In the spring of 1833, Rev. Guion. on a visit, was
pleased to find a convert in the person of Mrs. Eliza A. Briggs.
In 1835, an article of association was drawn up and circulated
in Greenville, twelve persons subscribed their names to it,
and in 1836. nine more were added, and the next spring the
number increased to twenty-five. The following is a copy
of the article, and of the names attached. May 29, 1837: "We
whose names are herewith affixed, do hereby associate our-
selves together under the name of the Parish of St. Paul's
church. John and Eliza A. Briggs, \V. B. and Mary A. Beall,
Jane E. Ross, Evaline Dorsey, Margaret Kilbourne, Daniel
R. and Ann B. Davis, Margaret Baird, Joseph Ross, Thomas
F. Kilbourne, Stephen Perrine, ^^'. M. \\^ilson, Eliza Duncan,
Elisha Dawes, Hiram Potter, Francis Waring, \\"illiam j\I.
Crane, William McKhann, A. L. Northrop, John Wharry, H.
Arnold, H. D. \\'illiams and Chloe Herkeiner."

Pursuant to canonical notice, members assembled l\Iav 29,
1837. at the dwelling of Dr. John Briggs, to organize a parish,
and the following names were elected to the vestry: John
Briggs, W. B. Beall, Thomas F. Kilbourne. Joseph Ross and
A. L. Northrop. A building committee was chosen January
13, 1840. which consisted of \A'illiam M. Wilson, W. B. Beall
and Hiram Potter. In due time, the building was erected,
completed and properly furnished.

The original building was a small frame located on the
northeast corner of Third and Walnut streets with front on
the latter street. It was built in 1840 at a cost of some
$600.00 and served the congregation until 1879 or 1880. when
it was remodeled into a larger and more suitable frame
structure facing on Third street. ]\Irs. E. Briggs and Eva-
line Dorsey superintended the Sabbath school from 1832 to



DARKE COUNTY 215

1853, and B. Hubbard from about that time until 1851. As
in many other churches to a few zealous women must be
given a large share of the credit for establishing and nourish-
ing the infant congregation. Mrs. Dr. Briggs was the leader
of a coterie of workers and to her energy, tact and perse-
verance, aided by her daughters, Mrs. Knox, Mrs. Workman
and :\Irs. Black, together with Mrs. Beall, Mrs. Dawes, Miss
Evaline Dorsey and others was due the building up of the
early church. The fairs, suppers and entertainments planned
and executed by this band along in the forties are referred
to as enjoyable and remarkable occasions.

The Sunday school was reorganized in 1874 by Mr. Henry
A. Webb. At that time it had but twelve members. Under
his direction it grew in numbers and efficiency until today
it is known as one of the live schools of the city. J\lr. Webb,
although now past ninetv years of age, is still the nominal
superintendent, having served nearly forty years. In recent
years he has been ai)ly assisted by Mr. Frank S. Gordon
and Judge Jas. B. Kolp.

The Episcopal church is not relatively strong in Ohio and
seems to thrive best in the cities. It was a common practice
among Protestant churches for years to decry its formal mode
of worship but in recent years these same sects are gradually
introducing some of the same practices and the future of the
Episcopal church in the more populous centers seems secure.
Up to March, 1868, forty-three persons had been confirmed.
The church in Greenville made but slow growth until re-
cently as shown bv the fact that in 1880 the membership was
only about forty.

Under Rev. Chas. H. Lee's pastorate a large and very de-
sirable lot was purchased on the southeast corner of Broad-
way and Water street.

A building committee was appointed comprising the fol-
lowing named persons : J. C. Turpen, Frank S. Gordon, A.
C. Robeson. The cornerstone was laid with appropriate Ma-
sonic ceremonies under Grand Master M^'m. Belt, and the
new edifice onsecrated in ]\Iay, 1906, by Bishop Vincent.

This structure is built of rough faced limestone on a con-
crete foundation, and cost about $20,000.00. It is Gothic in style
with high pitched slate roof, buttresses, pointed arch win-
dows, substantial corner tower and is arranged inside to suit
the mode of worship practiced in this church. A wing ex-
tends on the southeast side which is used for parish house



216 DARKE COUNTY

and Sunday school room. It is one of the best furnished
churches in the city, and in exterior appearance has no peer.

The present rector is Rev. Chas. H. Gross, who has served
since 1906. Under his pastorate the church has made a sub-
stantial growth in membership, is well organized, has made
good progress in paying off the debt incurred in building the
new church, and is now recognized as one of the strong
churches of the county. The church now has 22^ communi-
cant members and the Sunday school 117 members.

The annual financial budget is about $2,500.00. The vestry
is composed of the following persons : Henry A. Webb, sen-
ior warden; J. C. Turpen, junior warden; E. A. Grubbs, F.
S. Gordon, Jas. B. Kolp, A. C. Robeson, D. Robeson, D. W.
Bowman, H. C. Helm, Conrad Kipp, Joseph ]\Ienke, Jacob
^lenke, G. A. Katzenberger.

The Greenville church is the only one of this denomination
in Darke county.

The following rectors have served St. Paul's Episcopal
church since its organization: Rev. Alvah Guion, mission-
ary, 1833, became rector on establishment of parish in 1837
Rev. Norman Badger, 1838-1841 ; Rev. J. J. O'Kill, 1841-1844
Rev. D. W. Toiford, 184-1-1848; Rev. Wm. Miller, 1848-1852
Rev. Mr. Wiggins. 1852-1855; Rev. Mr. Whittinter, 1855-
1857; Rev. Daniel E. Brown. 1857-1860; Rev. J. N. Lee. 1860-
1862; Rev. Mr. McElroy, 1865-1867; Rev. Mr. Butler (died
30 days after arrival), 1867; Rev. Richard Wainwright, 1871-
1875; Rev. Geo. B. Sturgis, 1875-1877; Rev. D. W. Cox, 1877-
1881; Rev. Lewis Brown, 1882-1883; Rev. J. H. Logic, 1883-
1885; Rev. Christian M. Young, 1887-1888; Rev. John W.
Sykes, 1888-1895; Rev. J. P. Tyler, 1895-1896;. Rev. Chas. H.
Lee, 1897-1906; Rev. Chas. H. Gross, 1906-.

Baptist Church.

In the early days of Ohio history the three denominations
having the greatest number of adherents among the settlers
were the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist. We have no-
ticed how the former two got an early start in Darke county
and are not surprised to learn that the Beptists likewise
sought to get a footing here. John Childers and John Win-
termuth were pioneer preachers of that flenominaticm in
Greenville and vicinity, where they held services at long in-
tervals, beginning in 1819 to 1820. Childers is credited witli



DARKE COUNTY 217

preaching the first sermon delivered in Richland township,
and mention is made of a Baptist church in Versailles in
early days. An early writer tells an interesting anecdote
about one of these early preachers, as follows: Elder John
Wintermuth was an old school Baptist, and had organized
several churches in the county, with a tolerable number of
members. He was an excellent man of great piety for the
times and country in which he lived, and though in compari-
son with many others was a very poor preacher, that is, he
could not speak fluently, being no orator, but his great learn-
ing in the scriptures, and excellent character, carried great
weight among the people, and through a long time he did
much good. He lived and died on his farm about five miles
northeast of Greenville, in the year 1846. He had some pe-
culiarities. It is recollected of being said of him that on one
occasion he was called to marry a couple, about ten miles
from his home. He answered the call, married the couple,
and on his taking leave of them to go home the young mar-
ried man handed him a bill of paper money folded up, which
the reverend gentleman without looking at stuck into his vest
pocket, mounted his horse and rode home. He then thought
he would look at it and show his wife the dollar, which was
the usual fee (dollars were scarce in those days), but great
was his surprise when he unfolded the bill, he saw that
instead of a dollar, it was a ten-dollar bill. Filed with mor-
tification, and chagrined at his carelessness and lack of
thought in not looking at the money he immediately saddled
his horse, rode back, found the young man, presented him the
bill, and began making the best apology he could, when the
young man said: "I need no apology, there is no mistake,
I intended to give a^ou that bill and did not look for any
change. He mounted his horse again and rode back home.
In those days there were few church buildings in the county,
meetings were held at private houses and in the green woods.
Many preachers from a distance of various denominations
visited and preached to the people in various parts of the
county.

An old school Baptist church was organized in Greenville
in early days, and, it seems, worshipped in a log meeting
house on the rear of lot No. 32 on Elm street in the rear of
the new Catholic church. Seymour Craig was one of the early
preachers in this church, where he held occasional services
along the forties. Rev. Cottrell served the congregation



218 DARKE COUNTY

for a while. Herman Rush, a brother of Isaac Rush, and
member of one of the pioneer families, preached in this church
in the fifties. The congregation was very small, being com-
prised largely of the Rush. Potter and Bishop families. The
Baptists and the United Brethren, it is said, built a union
church here about 1856, which they were unable to continue.
The building was sold to George H. Martz and J. W. Legg.
who opened up a "select"' school here for pupils who wanted
to take advanced studies not included in the curriculum of the
grade schools maintained by the city. This school was the
forerunner of the high school.

These early Baptists belonged to the old order, and were
commonly called "Hardshells." They believed in predesti-
nation, were opposed to foreign missionaries, and on the
whole, seemed to be opposed to advanced education and pro-
gression. About the middle of the nineteenth century, or
before, a split occurred in this body, and those who w^ere op-
posed to predestination and believed in missions formed a new
denomination, called the Missionary or New Order Baptists.
As a result the Old Order decreased rapidly in numbers and
influence, and are now almost extinct, while the Xew Order
made rapid strides and are today one of the strongest relig-
ious bodies in the United .States. The Hardshells disap-
peared from Darke county at an early date.

The first Missionary or Regular Baptist church in Darke
county was established at Gordon, and the organization is
still in existence. S. M. Brower was the first preacher who
conducted Baptist services in the Union church at this place
about 1860. On Saturday, August 10, 1867. a number of
brethren and sisters of the Baptist faith from the Gordon.
Middletown. Caesar's Creek and Centerville churches met at
the Union church four miles north of Greenville, and a'ter
prayer and exhortation, by Elder W. R. Thomas, organized
into council b}' appointing Elder Thomas, moderator, and
William Hicks, secretary. At this meeting a "Baptist Church
of Chirst" was organized and called the "Regular Baptist
church of Greenville." Jeremiah, John and Peter Deardofif
were elected deacons. Jeremiah. John and Peter Deardofif.
Thompson L. Bishop and Wm. Hicks were appointed a com-
mittee to procure a house of worship in Greenville. The
charter members of the society were: Jeremiah. John and
Peter DeardofT, Wm. Hicks, Jas. DeardoflF, Wm. DeardofT.
Henry Collet. Thompson L. Bishop. Mary John, Hannah A.



DARKE COUNTY 219

Hicks, Debbie Deardoft', Deardoff, Sarah Collet, Sarah

Deardoff, ^laria Bishop, Cynthia A. Bishop. Elder Thomas
was called as the first pastor. First meetings were held in
private residences and at the court house. In 1868 the Chris-
tian church was rented and became the place of meeting.
About this time the church became a member of the Mad
River Association. Services were also hold at times in the
Union meeting house. From 1872 to 1874 meetings were
held in the Evangelical church. In early days Elder Thomas
was engaged to preach on one Saturday and the Sabbath
following for $150.00 per year. $100.00 being furnished by
the congregation and $50.00 by the JNIissionary Board of the
]\Iad River Association. Many hardships were experienced
in these days. Sickness in the family of Elder Thomas spe-
cial meetings in other charges, the late arrival of trains, and
extreme cold often prevented or interfered with regular
meetings. The membership increased slowly and some mem-
bers were expelled for misconduct. Elder Thomas served un-
til 1874, when Elder James Simpson accepted a call, and
served until 1878. St. Paul's Reformed church was rented
for monthly meetings on Saturdays and on Sundav after-
noons in 1875, and services were held here until Jan., 1881.

The church was without a regular pastor from March, 1878,
to October, 1880, when Elder B. J. George of Urbana, was
called. Services were then resumed in the Evangelical
church on the first and third Sabbaths of each month. A lot
was purchased on the southwest corner of \\^ayne avenue and
Cypress street for $500.00 in the spring of 1881 and a frame
church building about 32x48 feet was erected thereon during
the summer, at a cost of some thirteen hundred dollars. The
dedication of this church took place on the first Sabbath in
November, 1881. The dedicatory sermon was preached by
the Rev. Mr. Fisher of Piqua, Ohio, in the morning, to a
crowded congregation. A Sunday school was organized in
the afternon, with T. L. Bishop as superintendent, and the
evening sermon was delivered by Rev. T. P. Childs of Troy,
Ohio. Rev. George served until the third Sunday in Sept.,

1882. Elder Childs served the church at intervals until Jan.,

1883, when Rev, J. L. Wyley was sent by the Ohio Baptist
convention and was called to fill the pulpit one year, the state
convention furnishing three hundred dollars per year toward
his salary. In 1883 the church was dismissed from the Mad
River Association by request, and was admitted to the Day-



220 DARKE COUNTY

Ion Association. Evangelistic services were held in Feb.,
1886, by Rev. Palmer, which greatly revived the church and
resulted in several additions. Rev. Wyley finished his pas-
torate in April, 1886. There was no regular pastor until
July. 1887, when Rev. Sherwood Fison preached his first
sermon. He served until Jan.. 1890. During his pastorate
of two and one-half years the church grew in numbers and
organization. Rev. J. H. Smith entered on his ministry in
the summer of 1891 and continued as pastor until October 1.
1892.

B. Y. P. U. organized in Dec, 1892. Rev. J. E. Lee ac-
cepted call in Oct.. 1893, served until Oct., 1895. Pulpit va-
cant until May, 1897, when Rev. T. P. James accepted call.
During his pastorate of nearly five years the church made
substantial progress, several members were added, a new lot
was purchased on the northeast corner of Washington avenue
and Devor street for $1,600.00, and the church was moved.

A substantial frame parsonage was built on Devor street
adjoining the church about 1904. The following pastors have
served the congregation since the moving of the church to
Washington avenue : W. L. Lemon, January, 1902, to October,
1902; E. M. Kessler, November, 1903, to July, 1905; E. L.
Clevenger, October, 1904, to September, 1905 ; B. J. George,
March, 1906, to October 1906: L. E. Smith, January, 1907, to
July, 1908; Frederick Fisher, November, 1908, to April, 1911;
T. J. Hall, November, 1911, to November 1912; William

Pieffer, November, 1912, to .

The present membership of the church is about 100 and the
Sunday school enrollment about 80.

John A. Miller succeeded T. L. Bishop as superintendent of
Sunday school. A. B. Maurer served as superintendent of
the Sunday school from 1887 to 1908. C. O. Howell has
served since 1911.

Trustees: W. G. Bishop, treasurer; .A. R. Guthridge,
clerk; C. O. Howell, A. J. Klinger, A. J. Miller, G. A. Beam.

The church is well organized, has an excellent site on
which it is expected that a substantial church and Sunday
school building will be built at no very distant day, and has
exhibited a vitality and perseverance which promises to make
it one of the strong congregations of the city.



DARKE COUNTY 221

The Catholic Church.

On account of the fact that the earliest settlers in Darke
county were almost exclusively of native American stock the
Catholic church did not become established here until a few
French families settled in the northeastern section about the
year 1836. At first they fanned the flame of faith and devo-
tion in their own private homes and met at stated times for
the public reading of the scriptures, and the recitation of mass
prayers. This sufificed for but a short time when the zealous
pioneer missionary, Father Louis Navarron. a priest from
the French domains of Canada, came into their midst to min-
ister to their spiritual wants. Shortly after his appearance
the rude log hut inhabited by Joseph Smith, on the present
site of Frenchtown, was used as a temporary chapel for about
a year by the dozen families who had recently come into this
neighborhood. Later the home of Mr. Marchal, some three
miles eastward, was used. About this time other small col-
onies of Frenchmen settled at Russia, some six miles east,
just across the line in Shelby county, and at Versailles.
Neither of these communities was large enough to maintain
a resident pastor, so they agreed that all three should share
the burden. It was then resolved to erect a church which
would be of easy access to all. A committee chosen from.
each community examined various suggested sites and
finnally agreed to erect a house of worship where the present
St. Valberts cemetery is located, some two miles north of the
present site of Versailles. Here a log church was soon erect-
ed and in the spring of 1838 the first services were held
within its rude walls. Daily mass was still said at French-
town, but the Sunday services for Russia, Versailles and
Frenchtown were held at St. Valberts, in the French lan-
guage. A church was finished at Frenchtown in 1848, and
one in Russia about this time, and St. Valberts lost some of
its early popularity. On Easter Sunday, 1849, it is said, the
great Archbishop Purcell preached in the English tongue.
using the stump of a great oak as a pulpit. The devoted.
saintly and faithful pastor Navarron served this parish until
the above year. Desirous of having their church nearer their
homes the Catholics of Versailles bought an old Baptist
meeting house in 1864, and remodeled it for their first chapel,
leaving St. Valberts at last as a burial site.

The further historv of the Frenchtown and Versailles



211 DARKE COUNTY

churches, as well as that of those established in more recent
years at Delvin and Osgood, will be found in the history of
those villages under the proper township heads, and we will
now consider briefly the story of the founding o. St. Mary's
church at the county seat.

The members o: the Cathnlic church, who were the first
to come to the central part of the county, settled on farms
along the Versailles pike about two miles from the city of
Greenville. They built a small log church on a tract of land
donated for the use of a cemetery by Mr. Caron on the east
side of the pike in the northwest quarter of section 19, range
3 east, Greenville township. The priests of the neighboring
cities of Springfield, Dayton, Piqua and Minster occasionally
visited them and held services for them. When the city of
Greenville grew in population, several Catholic families came
here, and religious services were at times held in one or
other of the private homes. Among the first families re-
called were the Carons, the Kuntzs. the O'Briens and the
Lynchs. This was in 1854 and the succeeding years. In
the year 1863 their number had so far increased that they
decided to have a church in the city and to secure a resi-
dent pastor. Accordingly, they bought a small brick church
situated on Elm street betwen Third and Fourth streets,
which had formerly been used by the U. R. congregation.
This structure was enlarged, remodeled, and dedicated by
Archbishop Purcell in the summer of 1863. About the same
time they purchased the vacant lot on the northeast corner
of Third and Elm streets, on which they erected a parson •
age under the administration of the first pastor, the Re\-.
Charles F. Schellhamer. To accommodate the growing num-
ber of members this church building was in 1871 or 1872 en-
larged under the direction of Rev. John F. Kalenburg, their
second pastor. In a few ve?4rs after the vacant lot on the
southeast corner of Third and Elm streets and adjoining the
church was also secured. During the subsequent years the
congregation prospered and became established on a firm
basis. The members felt that they were in condition to
support a parochial school for the better instruction of their
children in religion and morality. Conse(|uently. in 1888 a
substantial school building on the lot adjoining the parson-
age, and a new parish house on the opposite lot were erected
at the cost of some S5.000. In Sentember of the same vear



DARKE COUNTY 223

tlie school -was opened under the charge of the sisters of
charity of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the year 1899 it was found that the old church building
was in need of extensive repairs. Upon deliberation it was
determined to erect a new edifice on the southeast corner of
Third and Elm streets. In the same year active preparations
were begun, and in June of 1900 the cornerstone was blessed
and set in position. Thereupon, thanks to the united efforts
of the parish members and the generous help of several
citizens of Greenville, the work of building could be success-
fully prosecuted and completed in the following years of
1901 and 1902. The solemn dedication of the new church
took place on the 19th of October, 1902. This stately pile
of gray brick with its two large towers, its mellow chimes,
its stained glass windows, its interior decorations and fur-
nishings cost about $26,000.00 and is a worthy monument
to the zeal and devotion of the Catholic families of the coun-
ty seat. Mr. Dennis Dewyr, one of the parishioners, was the
contractor.

Since then, though the membership has somewhat decreased,
owing to the demise of some older members and the removal
to dififerent localities, the congregation still continues in an
active and prosperous condition. Rev. J- H. Brummer has
been the faithful resident pastor since 1882, and, as above
noted, the new school, parsonage and church have all been
erected during his pastorate.