Richland Co., Ohio


Church Records

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Early Methodism in Bellville

The Bellville Methodist Episcopal Church - one of the First in the State


Bellville Star:  02 August 1888, Vol. 11, No. 45


The annual conferences of the State has been collecting the history of all the Methodist churches of the State.  The work of collecting the history of the Methodist church of Bellville was entrusted to Mrs. A.M. Fairchild, who has succeeded in securing some very interesting information relative to the early days of the church.  By permission the following is gleaned from her manuscript.

The church at this place was organized in 1814 by Rev. Charles Waddell and James Smith, with a very small membership -- in fact only three families besides Rev. Waddell and James Smith.  The families of Robert Bell Sen., and Robert Bell Jr., the great-grandfather and grandfather of our fellow townsman R.W. Bell;  and William Oldfield, the grandfather of Abner Oldfield who lives just south of town were the only members.  From the time of its organization to 1835 - 21 years - the followers of Methodism worshiped in the log cabins of the settlers.  There is no record to be found that tells how many classes, organization, there were in this circuit up to 1839 which leaves almost a total blank of 25 years in the history of the church.  During this time this church belonged to the Michigan conference.

The first church conference erected by the class was built in 1835 at a total of $91.  The dimensions of the building was 30 x 40 ft, and was built by Lewis Potts.  It was in use for eighteen years when it was sold and a new building erected on the old site.  The ground had been given to the church by Robert Bell Jr. to be used only by a Methodist church.  The second church built is the one in use at the present time, having been used 34 years.  No change was ever made in its out side appearance other than repainting until last fall when new windows were put in.  It was repaired on the inside in 1872 when the whole interior was papered, the seats painted, and a new pulpit and choir stand erected.  When ready for worship it was dedicated by L.B. Gurley

In 1840 the Sunday School was organized.  Among the names on the roll which are familiar to nearly all our older citizens we find:  John Lobach, B. Jackson, T.V. Park, E. French, Chas. Wilcox, George High, Nancy Jackson, Elizabeth Beach and Louise Von Dorn.

During the first fifty years of the existence of the church two pastors were sent by the Conference to have charge over this circuit which was very large, taking in Bellville, Newville, Washington, Fairview, Lexington and Bloominggrove.  The circuit was kept up until 1884 when Bellville was made a station under the Pastorate of Rev. R.L. McNabb.  The present Pastor Rev. Austin Philpott, stands the 104th. in the line [of] Pastors of the church.

The Methodist people may well feel proud of the church for it is one of the oldest churches in the State.  One of its Pastors, Rev. W.L. Harris, born within the bounds of the circuit became a Bishop, Rev. J.H. Powers.  Rev. Adam Poe and Rev. Russell Bigelow are names familiar to every true Methodist in the U.S.  Rev. Alfred Wheeler, editor of the Pittsburg Advocate and President of a church college in Pa., and Rev. Nathan Sites, missionary to China, were both born and raised within this Pastorate and are men whom the church at large pays homage to.

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