A History & Biographical Cyclopaedia
Butler County, Ohio
With Illustrations and Sketches
of its Representative Men and Pioneers
Publ. by Western Biographical Publishing Co.
MORE CHURCHES TO BE ADDED LATER.
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.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
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
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;
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
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.