Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of
Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J.
Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O. 1901
of early pioneers are more entitled to remembrance in
these sketches than the self-sacrificing traveling
Methodist preachers of the early days. Many of
them were without much education to speak of, but they
were earnest, pious, God-fearing men. They were
plain men, and dressed in clothing intended for service
and not for show, made upon a uniform pattern, round
cutaways. Bishop Asbury's suit was made of
homemade cloth. In one case, cloth and suit were
both made by a lady friend and presented to him.
They traveled horseback, fording creeks and swimming
rivers. In many cases it required four weeks to
make the rounds of the circuit, and often preaching in
some cabin every night. On such circuits the
people came ten and fifteen miles to attend the service.
This was especially the case on Sunday. They were
cheerful men, happy men and good conversationalists, and
they were received with open hand wherever they stopped.
Happy the family so highly favored. The parents
rejoiced for the opportunity to converse and for the
influence for good the visit of the preacher would have
upon the lives of their children.
Senator Ewing understood this when he gave a
thousand dollars in the will to Catholic priests, as a
slight evidence of this regard for the early priests,
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made his home their home, and assisted him, as he
expressed it, in raising his boys. The hearty
reception given the preacher was not confined to
Methodists. - Presbyterians and Baptists gave them
hearty welcome. This is acknowledged by Bishop
Asbury in his journal.
The first pioneers to preach in this county, and have
charge of a circuit, were Jesse Stoneman and
James Quinn. They both lived to a great age
and their memory is still cherished. Stoneman,
after closing his career as a preacher, settled on a
farm in Perry county. He, with his family, is
buried at Thornville.
James Quinn preached for nearly forty years in
this and adjoining counties, and closed his career in
Highland County. He was buried near Hillsboro,
Ohio. He has several relatives in this county, or
more properly his wife, who was a daughter of Edward
James Axley preached in this county in 1805.
He was a "rough diamond" and was kept on the frontier
all of his life. Being at Chillicothe, he, with
another minister, were entertained by Governor Tiffin,
a Methodist. A part of the evening meal was stewed
chicken. - Axley took his portion in his fingers
and stripped the bones and then threw them to a dog
sitting on the carpet near him. This was probably
the first carpet he had ever seen in a dining room.
On his day to Mississippi Territory, to which he had
been assigned, he preached in Nashville. The
minister there was afraid he would make a break and gave
him a word of caution. Soon after commencing his
discourse a gentleman entered, the minister whispered,
"That is General Jackson." Axley
exclaimed: "Who cares for General Jackson!
He will go to hell as quick as anybody else if he does
not repent." After the close
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of the services
Jackson came forward, took him by the hand, and
thanked him for his frankness and fearlessness.
James B. Findlay preached here in 1811, and he
was on the district as later as 1842. He was a
distinguished preacher of his time. He, with
Rev. Jacob Hooper, who lived near New Salem, were
missionaries to the Wyandot Indians, at Sandusky, in
1821. The city of Findlay is named for one of his
James Gilruth was a famous preacher of early
days. He was in this county in 1823. He was
a man of great strength and fought the rowdies at camp
meetings. He, as late as 1842, after the close of
his ministry, moved to Davenport, Iowa, where his
daughter opened a seminary. The distinguished
Dr. Kynett, who died a few days since in
Philadelphia, married one of his daughters.
Charles Waddle was 1814 to 1834 was a very
distinguished preacher. People came long distances
to hear him at camp meeting, and the name of Charles
Waddle, was famous in a large region. He fell
from grace and left the church. The writer saw him
a few years since in Pleasantville, where he lived a
short time with his son, a broken down, sorrowful
looking old man, unknown and unhonored in a region where
his eloquence had once delighted thousands.
Jacob Young was a distinguished preacher in this
county in 1820, and about the year 1841 he closed his
ministry here. He was a good man and his life was
an inspiration. His oldest son, Wheeler Young,
is the present sheriff of Franklin County, Ohio.
Michael Ellis was an earnest, faithful and pious
preacher, as early as 1817. Thomas Batton,
of the Boys' Industrial School, married a niece of his.
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Leroy Swormstedt was a somewhat famous preacher
in this county in 1825. He was for many years
manager of the Methodist Book Concern at Cincinnati.
James Lewis was here as early as 1826. His
oldest son was born in Lancaster. His sons were
for many years and still are commission merchants of
Henry S. Fernandes was a preacher in this county
in 1829. He was in charge of the church at Athens
in 1837, when the great revival of that year brought
many students into the church, among them Rev. Joseph
M. Trimble. He spent his old age in Rushville,
and made a very modest living selling goods.
In 1830 one of the very distinguished and eloquent
preachers as Samuel Hamilton.
Thomas A. Morris, afterwards bishop, preached in
Lancaster one year (1820). Joseph M. Trimble,
W. H. Sutherland, R. S. Foster, (now a
bishop), M. Dustin, Colonel G. Moody and S. M.
Merrill (now a bishop) were distinguished and
eloquent Lancaster divines in their prime.
Talmadge Foster, son of the bishop, is an
attorney of Cincinnati.
Rev. Joseph Carper was once a distinguished
preacher of this region. He was a man of
intellect, fine presence and a splendid speaker.
He died thirty or more years since in Perry County,
Ohio. His son, Homer Carper, was for many
years a distinguished lawyer of Delaware, Ohio.
Homer once met a gentleman of Athens, who told him
that if he would go to Athens he could spend a month or
two in that county and stop every night with a friend
and admirer of his father. Rev. Joseph Carper
officiated at the wedding of the writer, 45 years ago.
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David Young was another good man, who preached
as early as 1826. His home was in Zanesville.
He married the widow of John McIntire, founder of
Zanesville, and son-in-law of Ebenezer Zane,
founder of Lancaster, Ohio.
Moses A. Milligen was a preacher here as late as
1841. His brother, Lamsden P. Milligan of
Indiana, was a Knight of the Golden Circle, tried and
convicted of treason, and sent to the Ohio penitentiary.
The kind heart of Lincoln consented to his liberation.
The writer met him in Huntington, Indiana, a few years
since. He referred to Ohio and his early life
there and spoke of his brother, Rev. Milligen.
The famous Peter Cartwright preached at the
early camp meetings in this county. He was a
"rough diamond," but possessed many good qualities as a
pioneer preacher. He moved late in life to
Illinois and settled near Springfield. Hi
name is immortal, for it will be forever associated with
Abraham Lincoln. In 1847 he was the
Democratic candidate for Congress, and Abraham
Lincoln was his opponent and defeated him.
His aged widow met with a singular death. She was attending a
quarterly meeting. During the general class, she
arose and gave her testimony in a clear but impassioned
style, and after she had brought the people to a high
state of excitement by her eloquence and zeal, she
closed by saying, "I am waiting for the chariot," and
immediately sank into her seat a corpse. The
preacher in charge arose and immediately exclaimed, "The
chariot has come." Hay tells this in his
life of Lincoln, and it is corroborated by a
minister still living, who was present at the time.