FIRST HOUSE OF WORSHIP IN OHIO.
From American Pioneer, 1842
History of the Miami Baptist Association;.
from its Organization in 1797 --
To a Division in that Body on Missions, etc.
In the Year 1836
With Short Sketches of Sketches of Deceased Pastors of this First Association in Ohio.
Prepared, at request of the Association, at their Session at Lebanon, Oct., 1855.
By A. H. [Anthony Howard] DUNLEVY
Geo. S. Blanchard & Co., 39 West Fourth Street
Thanks to Ed Kittle for giving me this copy of the book.
At the seventieth anniversary of the Miami Baptist Association, held with the Mt. Auburn Church, September 30, 1868, Messrs. George E. Stevens, John H. Taugeman, and George F. Davis were appointed a committee to provide for the publication of "Dunlevy's History of the Association," the manuscript of which had been placed by the Author at the disposal of the Association. The committee desire, at the conclusion of their task, to express their sense of the high value of this contribution to Baptist historical literature. Its author, though laboring under the infirmities of age, devoted to it much time and toil, seizing the precious moments when many important facts could be verified by living witnesses. It was a generous gift to the Association with which he has been so long identified.
The list of the Associations in Ohio, in 1867, with names of their constituent churches, will indicate the wonderful progress which has been made in seventy years. The list is inserted in the form of an Appendix — the body of the work having been written in l857.
The frontispiece of this volume is a fac-simile of a sketch of the Meeting-House of the Columbia Church, as it stood in 1830. The sketch was furnished by James Givens to a number of the AMERICAN PIONEER, issued in 1842.
It has been a noble work to rescue from oblivion the memory of the men who so patiently wrought at the foundations, and Judge Dunlevy has merited the gratitude, not only of Ohio Baptists, but of the lovers of truth everywhere. The book will enhance in value with each year that separates us from the beginnings of Baptist growth in the region which our fathers knew as the Northwestern Territory.
Geo. E. Stevens, Chairman of Committee.
Cincinnati, March 1, 1869.
By the Committee of Revision.
The Committee on Revision, under the direction of the Miami Baptist Association, have the satisfaction of presenting this History to the public, though after many years of delay.
In December, 1857, a committee of the Association, consisting of Revs, E. Thresher, M. Stone, and J. Stevens, adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved, That we accept the proposition of Geo. S. Blanchard for pub1ishing the History of the Miami Association, prepared by A. H. Dunlevy."
From some cause, not known to us, this resolution was not carried out.
At the commencement of the late war with the South the publication was delayed, on account of the great increase in the cost of materials, and it has, since the war, been delayed from various causes.
The Author prefers that it should not now be published, but as the manuscript had been donated to the Association, he consents to their desire to have it published.
There are some parts of the History which the Author thinks would not be of much interest now, because of the delay of so many years, and desires that they be omitted, but the committee, with all due regard to his convictions, think it best to retain them.
SAM'L TREVOR, Chairman of Committee.Cincinnati, November 30, 1868.
Chapter I. Introductory Historical Facts. 7
Chapter II. The First Baptist Church In Ohio. 16
Chapter III. Organization of the Miami Baptist Association, Constitution, Etc. 27
Chapter IV. Biographical Sketches 95
Introductory Historical Facts.
The first settlement in any part of the territory now comprising State of Ohio, was made at Marietta, in the spring of 1788. In July, 1787, a contract was made by authority of Congress, with Messrs. Sargent, Cutler, and their associates, for a large tract of land bordering on the Ohio, and extending up the Muskingum River. It had been explored by Gen. Israel Putnam, one of this company, the year previous, and as soon as the contract was perfected a colony, from Massachusetts principally, set out for their new home. They did not reach it, however, that year; but arriving on the Monongahela, near the mouth of the Youghiogheny, at a place afterward called Robbstown, they encamped for the winter. Early in the spring this little colony resumed its journey, and reached the month of the Muskingum, now Marietta, on the 7th day of April, 1788. These, however, were but the advanced guard of the colony, and were
not accompanied by their families. Their object was to prepare for the reception of the main colony, which left New England in the spring of 1788, in wagons, with household goods and families, and which reached Wheeling after eight weeks' travel, and soon after arrived by the river at Marietta. This was on the 2d day of July, 1788 and may be considered the first permanent settlement.
John Cleves Symmes, an enterprising and influential citizen of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in contemplation of planting a colony in the Northwestern Territory, with four companions, had made an exploring tour to the Miamis [the Great Miami and Little Miami Rivers] in the spring of 1787. In his route he met with Captain, afterward Major, Benjamin Stites, then of Red Stone, Pa., formerly, also, of New Jersey. Captain Stites had descended the Ohio with a boat-load of provisions for the new settlements in Kentucky, and was at Washington, Kentucky, making his sales, when a party of Indians committed some depredations in the neighborhood. Having been accustomed to Indian warfare, Captain Stites volunteered to pursue the Indians, and, if possible, retake the horses which they had carried off. His offer was accepted, and with a small company of men, he pursued the depredators, first along the Ohio River, on the Kentucky side, until they reached a point opposite to the mouth of the Little Miami, where they had
crossed. Following the trail, he pursued them to near Old Town, about four miles north of the present site of Xenia; but, probably from the number of the Indians, Old Town then being a pretty large Indian village, he abandoned the pursuit, and returned to Maysville. In this route Captain Stites was enabled to form a pretty correct opinion of the beauty and fertility of the Miami country, and in the fall of the same year we hear of him visiting Judge Symmes, in New Jersey, and becoming one of his principal associates in the Miami purchase.
In July, 1788, Judge Symmes' first colony left Elizabethtown, New Jersey and in their route were joined by Captain Stites and some of his friends, at Red Stone, Pennsylvania, in all about thirty persons. They reached Maysville, Kentucky, then called Limestone, in August, and sent out an exploring party, Captain Stites, in the meantime, making preparations to receive the colony at the mouth of the Little Miami, soon after called Columbia, where he had secured, by contract with Judge Symmes, a tract of some ten thousand acres of land, to be laid off, as near as could be, in a square. These preparations being made, the colony landed about one quarter of a mile below the mouth of the Little Miami, on the north bank of the Ohio, on the 18th day of November, 1788. The families of some, and the wives of others, were left to winter
at Maysville and Washington; Kentucky, until the next spring, when better provision for their comfort could be expected. Among this little band of some twenty-five persons, there were six Baptists. Their names were Benj. Stites, John S. Gano, Thomas C. Wade, Greenbright Baily, Mrs. Baily, his wife, and Edmund Buxton.
Immediately on landing prayer was offered up to Almighty God for his sustenance, guidance and protection, and all united in a hymn of praise on this solemn occasion. A winter of bloody conflict with the Indians was then anticipated; but, contrary to expectation, the colony remained undisturbed during all that winter, and until autumn of the next year. The settlers labored incessantly in building cabins for themselves upon the beautiful plain which lies east of most of the present buildings in Columbia; but on the first of January, 1789, a high flood in the Ohio proved that they had made a bad selection for a town. The whole bottom was overflowed, but one house escaping the deluge. Afterwards improvements were made below, and further from the river, on higher ground; but that flood forever ruined the prospects of Columbia. During the Indian wars many stayed there because they could not move further into the country on account of the savages. But as soon as Wayne's victory, in the fall of 1794, secured the safety of the settlements in more interior localities, the people began to
leave Columbia; and after the treaty of Greenville, in 1795, many more left, and Columbia ever after had the appearance of a deserted town.
Judge Symmes remained at Maysville when Major Stites left for Columbia, waiting some supplies, and did not leave that place, with another part of his colony, until the 29th of January, 1789. He was determined to settle at North Bend, some five miles above the mouth of the Great Miami, where he expected to lay out and build up the great town or city for the Miami country. But Matthias Denman, one of Symmes' associates from New Jersey, had explored the country in 1788, and perceiving that the place where Cincinnati now stands was the site for a city, immediately entered into a contract with Judge Symmes for the section and fractions immediately opposite the mouth of the Licking River, Kentucky. He soon after met Robert Patterson, of Lexington, Kentucky, and a surveyor by the name of Filson, and gave each of them one-third in his purchase, they assisting him in laying out the town and settling it. Filson was soon after killed by the Indians, and Israel Ludlow, another experienced surveyor, was selected to take his place, and on the 26th of December, 1788, according to some -- 28th according to others -- a few individuals landed at the present site of Cincinnati, then called Losantiville, but afterward changed to Cincinnati, by Israel Ludlow
on the suggestion of Gov. St. Clair, who laid out the town in the spring of 1789.
Judge Symmes, about the first of January, l789, with his colony of some fourteen individuals, reached North Bend, about sixteen miles below Cincinnati, and there established the third settlement between the Miamis.
At these four points, Marietta, Columbia, Cincinnati, and North Bend, were the first permanent white settlements made within the present limits of Ohio, and whatever may have been the characters of a few who followed in the wake of these, the leading men in each were persons of talent, information and great energy and firmness of purpose. Many, if not most of them, had been revolutionary soldiers, and had spent their all in that struggle. The republic, then just established, was too poor to compensate them for their services and sacrifices; and they came to a new country, in part, to repair their broken fortunes, and, as it were to commence life anew. It must be admitted, however, that with some of them, habits, probably acquired in the army, of using ardent spirits as a very common beverage, by many considered essential to health in a new country, formed one dark feature in the character and history of many of them. Some of the noblest of their number, of irreproachable conduct in every other respect, fell victims to intemperate habits, and a few melancholy instances of
this ungovernable appetite were found among those who had made profession of religion, and had been united to some branch of the Christian Church. But again there were many noble examples of men among them, who, if they did not openly advocate entire abstinence from intoxicating drinks, were examples of temperance, and made it a point not to use intoxicating beverages on any occasion.
There was, however, another consideration beside that of acquiring a new home, in a new and fertile country, which brought many of the best citizens to Ohio Territory at an early period. This was the perpetual prohibition of slavery in all the limits of the Northwestern Territory, by the deservedly celebrated ordinance of l787. This prohibition induced many of the noblest spirits of Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who had seen the blighting effects of slavery upon the moral, educational, and intellectual condition of the people, to forsake the land of their birth, and the comforts of improved homes, for the wilds of the Northwest, where they and their posterity might enjoy the blessings of pure freedom and really free institutions.
These two traits in the early settlers of Ohio -- the spirit of '76, and opposition to slavery, both concurring in their love of the largest liberty of the human family -- gave to the pioneers of theNorthwestern Territory a dignified and generous
character. In every man they recognized the common rights of humanity and their bearing to all was therefore respectful and kind.
Never was a new country settled, under the same disadvantages, so rapidly, and with so noble a class of men and women. Hence the first public men of Ohio, with all the difficulties which surrounded them in a wilderness country, afford the brightest specimens of talent integrity and worth. Even the early legislative assemblies composed, as they mostly were, of farmers and mechanics, exhibited more talent and more correct knowledge of legislation than any similar body of a late date. As fast as the old pioneers disappeared from our legislative halls, legislation dwindled into low political broils and schemes for party and individual advantage in the place of the public good. Either a new race has been engrafted upon us, or the descendants of the first settlers have degenerated. If the latter, it is probably that love of money which so distinguishes the age that has caused the changes. The pioneers were only desirous of making money and property to live. Now our people rather live to make money. At all events there is a change, whatever may be the cause, and not for the better.
In condensing the brief history of the Miami Baptist Association, whose origin was in the first settlement of Columbia, many of these pioneers of the Northwestern Territory have been brought
up, in review, before my mind, and, for the time engaged in the work, I have seemed to be still living among them -- again witnessing that marked courage, energy, and activity for which they were so distinguished. Many of them were familiar to me, and though then but a boy, their appearance and peculiarities are vividly impressed on my memory. The face of the country, as associated with these early recollections, has seemed to put on its primitive appearance, covered with its immense forests, and only here and there, miles apart, broken by a log cabin and a few acres of cleared land. In those humble dwellings, where all classes dwelt, were ever found warm-hearted friendship and hospitality. Neighborhoods then extended for miles around -- often five and six -- and nothing of interest, of joy, or sorrow, occurred to any which was not known to, and did not affect, all. But these early scenes can not be described. To be fully realized, they must have been witnessed. And I can not better convey even an imperfect idea of them and the early pioneers than by transcribing here the following stanzas, taken from some paper, but by whom written I know not:
Bold forest settlers, they have scared The wild beast from his savage den; Our valleys to the sun have bared, And clothed, with beauty, hill and glen.
And never in the battle's van, Have men at death more calmly smiled, Than our first settlers, who began The work of culture in the wild.
The perils of a frontier life, They brav'd with breasts of iron mold; And sternly waged victorious strife With famine, thirst, and pinching cold.
They toil'd that we the prize might share— They conquer'd that we might possess: Converting to an Eden fair, The terrors of a wilderness.
The car of steam now thunders by The place where blazed their cabin fires; And where rang out the panther's cry Thoughts speed along electric wires.
They vanish from us one by one In death's unlighted realm to sleep; And, oh! degenerate is the son Who would not some memorial keep.
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