During the month of January, 1841, owing to some division of sentiment on questions of Church polity among the membership of the Presbyterian Church of Oxford, party spirit and strife rose to such a pitch that a large number withdrew themselves therefrom, and on the first of February following organized themselves into a new religious body, under the name of the Second Presbyterian Church of Oxford. Among those thus seceding from the mother Church was the acting pastor, the Rev. William GRAHAM, and him the new Church called to be their first minister. The new society organized with some thirty-two members, which number was increased at the second meeting to seventy. Joseph WOODRUFF, Joseph PARKS, Robert LONG, R. E. HILLS, G. Y. ROOTS, and Horace CROSS were elected the first board of elders; and Aaron AUSTIN, Harry LEWIS, R. E. HILLS, Romeo LEWIS, William KENNEDY, John ADAMS, James MAYHEW, P. H. ROOTS, and Robert LONG were made the first board of trustees. In March Joseph PARKS, G. Y. ROOTS, and R. E. HILLS were constituted a building committee to raise funds and superintend the erection of a place of worship for the new Church, which about this time applied for and obtained admission into the Cincinnati Presbytery of the so-called New School Presbyterians. The new body pushed matters vigorously, and in due time were in possession of a comfortable house of worship, on the south west corner of lot No. 54, bounded west by Main an south by Church Street, and fronting on the latter. Mr. GRAHAM continued to serve the new interest for some three years, and was followed by the Rev. Daniel TENNEY (June 30, 1844). Mr. TENNEY remained the efficient pastor for nearly twelve years. In July, 1856, the Rev. E. W. ROOT was installed pastor, being followed, August 11, 1861, by the Rev J. P. E. KUMLER, and in March, 1869, by the Rev. A. H. YOUNG. In the Fall and Winter following the settlement of Mr. YOUNG, a growing fraternal feeling developed itself among the membership of the two existing branches of the Presbyterian Church in Oxford, and in November, 1869, by full and most harmonious concert of action upon the part of both bodies, it was decided to unite the same in one organization, to be known as the First Presbyterian Church of Oxford. The new Church thus strengthened, decided to occupy the house of worship of the Second Church, and retain the pastoral labors and pulpit ministrations of the Rev. Mr. YOUNG, and to enlarge and improve their church edifice to meet the wants of the increased society and congregation, which was accordingly done. The future history of the body was thus merged into that of the First Church.
From the time Oxford began to attract the attention of the public the Presbyterian Church took a strong hold upon the people. Nearly all the professors of the university belonged to this or the Associate Reformed Church. Many of the students were often sent to college here because of the strict Presbyterian doctrine to which most of the faculty were committed. About the year 1836 the Associate Reformed congregation was organized. It was a branch of the Rev. Alexander PORTER's Church of Israel Township, in Preble County, eight miles north. PORTER's Church was formed by members who came from South Carolina to avoid slavery. After some years of great success the Oxford Church was organized with the understanding by the synod that a theological institute should there be opened. The Rev. S. W. McCRACKEN, who was born in Hamilton County, was the organizer. He preached here as "stated supply" for two or three years, during which time he was a professor of mathematics in the university. He afterward removed to Hopewell, in Preble County, and died in 1856 or 1857. The Rev. Joseph CLAYBAUGH, D. D., was the first pastor. He was born in Frederick County, Maryland, July 1, 1803. He received his preparatory education in the Chillicothe Academy, Ohio, and was graduated at Jefferson College, in 1822, and in 1824, May 26th was licensed to preach. His theological education was obtained under the direction of the Rev. John STEELE, of Xenia, Ohio. He served the people as pastor at Chillicothe, Ohio, from 1825 to 1839; and of Oxford, Ohio, from 1840 to September, 1855. He was the principal of the Chillicothe Academy from 1825 to 1827, and professor of theology in the Associate Reformed Seminary at this place from 1839 until his death on the 9th of September, 1855, which resulted from scrofula.
The Rev. Mr. CLAYBAUGH was succeeded as pastor of the Church by the Rev. Wm. J. McSURLEY, who remained about four years. Then came Marcus ORMOND, for four years; J. S. BLACK, four years; James DODDS, for two years, and who was with the people from 1878 to 1880. The Church was then without stated ministration after Mr. DODD left for over a year. In April 1882, they extended a call to the Rev. S. R. FRAZIER, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and the Church, now known as the "United Presbyterian," having taken that name in common with bodies of the same faith in 1858, has been enjoying his labors as settled pastor from the first Sabbath in June. It has a resident membership of about ninety communicants. We find among the early members Kennedy BROOKS, William and Alexander WALLACE, Hugh HERRON, Arthur ORR, John CALDWELL, Mr. BEATON and Alexander YOUNG, with their wives and portions of their families.
In November, 1839, the Universalist congregation was organized in Oxford, Ohio; the number of members who associated themselves together at that time was thirteen. Harvey GILFORD was their preacher, and officiated as their pastor for some time. In the same year the society purchased lot No. 5, for $350, and erected upon it a frame building for a church, thirty by fifty feet, and sixteen feet to the eave of the roof. The interior was furnished with pews capable of seating two hundred and fifty persons; the cost of the building was $300. In 1856 the membership numbered thirty; the pastor or preacher was the Rev. William CURRY.
The Rev. Abner LONGLEY, a citizen of Oxford in 1828, was among the early members and preachers. He afterwards removed to Lebanon, Indiana, and died in Kansas a few years ago. Mr. LONGLEY was a cabinet-maker by trade; he attended college at the university, but was not a good speaker. Amaziah DODGE was another of the early members, and also exhorted sometimes. DODGE was a farmer; he died thirty years ago. Isaiah HALL, a farmer and music-teacher, was a prominent member.
Peter SUTTON, a carpenter and house joiner here in 1828, now living, a justice of the peace for thirty-one years in succession and a term afterwards, and treasurer of the Miami University for thirty years, was also one of the leading early members.
Mr. LEE, Mrs. WITHROW, and Mrs. Peter SUTTON were also first members.
This Church now has a membership of thirty. There were here for the first preachers the Revs. Messrs. ROGERS, KIDWELL, and ST. JOHN. KIDWELL was an itinerant and went throughout the country in all directions. ST. JOHN afterwards joined the Methodist Church, and died in Brookville, Indiana. Mr. EMMETT was located here as pastor for some years. The Rev. John GURLEY, a distinguished minister from Cincinnati, preached to this society some time in the '50's. The Rev. Messrs. MANFORD and PINGREE did not reside in Oxford, but preached here as much as a quarter of a century ago. Mr. POLK, who resided in Oxford, remained with the people for seven or eight years. C. L. HASKELL came in 1876 and remained for two years. Many of the preachers who administered to this society also preached to the Bunker Hill Church in Reily Township. Their names will appear in the history of that organization.
The Oxford African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized on the 11th of November, 1842, in the house of John ROLLINS, by the Rev. Robert JOHNSON of Hillsboro, Ohio. The house in which this Church worships was built by Joel COLLINS for the Christian Church, which had a partial existence at one time. COLLINS was the only member of the Church who lived in this neighborhood, and for this reason built the house mainly out of his own means. From the best information at hand, the probabilities are that the Christian Church never had any regular pastor, but the Rev. John HARRISON preached to a small congregation in this and other houses for twenty odd years.
The following are worthy original members of the Colored Church: Martha ROBERTS, Josiah ALBERSON, Mother ROLLINS, Thomas ROLLINS, Jeremiah LEWIS, Simon WHITE, John BANISTER, George WILLIAMS. Martha ROBERTS and John BANISTER are still living.
The Rev. Robert JOHNSON was the first minister, and served for one year, commencing in the Fall of 1842. Watkins LEE followed for one year; Robert JONES began in the Fall of 1844, and served one year; he was followed by Hiram REVELS, Horace B. SMITH, Benjamin HILL, Levi BASS, and John TURNER, all for one year. At that date this Church was under the control of the Indiana Conference, and remained so until the General Conference which met in Cincinnati in 1856 placed it under the management of the Ohio Conference. Since that time the succession of their ministers have been: In 1857, Matthew J. NEWSOME; 1858, David SMITH; 1859, Jeremiah LEWIS; 1861, Turner ROBERTS; 1862, Alexander AUSTIN; 1863, William DAVIDSON; 1866, Jeremiah LEWIS; 1867, Henry A. JACKSON; 1869, George W. CLARK; 1870, Moses W. WALKER; 1872, George H. SHAFER; 175, Philip TOWLER; 1880, Primus ALSTON.
Its local preachers were Thomas ROLLINS, William BROWN, James KNOX, Richard HASTIE, and Samuel BURRELL. The most useful of the laymen: Albert RUSSELL, Thomas ROLLINS, Beverly TYLER, Henry MCDONALD, William TOWNSEND, Beverly YANCY, Ephriam JONES, John S. JONES. Among the faithful workers were Katie BROWN, Betsey JACKSON, Martha ROBERTS, Mary TOWNSEND, Eva SAWYER, Cilea WILLIAMSON, Mary J. LEWIS, Clara JACKSON, Elizabeth LAWRENCE, Margaret YOUNG, Betsey SAUNDERS, Emily CARTER, and Jane YANCEY.
The original place of worship of this Church was called Bethel, a hewed log-house built by Jeremiah LEWIS and Thomas ROLLINS. In this house the congregation worshipped from 1843 to 1858, when the trustees, under the pastorate of Matthew J. NEWSOME, purchased the present place of worship for $3,000.
The Christian African Church of Oxford was organized about eighteen years ago. At first this Church met at the colored school-house, but shortly afterwards a frame building was bought of Mr. Constantine McCOWEN, an early member. This building stood on the site now occupied by the present house, but is removed to the rear of it, for festivals and other purposes. The present house, which cost about $3,000, and which has a seating capacity of three hundred people, was completed in 1881. Hannah SCOTT, Hardy SCOTT, Constantine McCOWEN and wife, Isaiah DICSON and wife Sarah, William BRASSFIELD and Mary his wife, Jacob PIATT and wife Maria, Ann WRIGHT, Amanda ANDERSON, Ceburn OLIVER and wife Malinda, Betsey CRAWFORD, Alfred REED and wife Nancy, Ronson DEVINEY and wife Fanny, Maria PRICE, Eliza MITCHELL, Polly TIPTON and George, her husband; Stephen PIATT and Jane, his wife, were among the early members. At present there are about fifty members on the register. The Rev. Rufus CONRAD was the first preacher, and also the organizer of the Church, serving for two or three years. The Rev Isaiah DICSON, who removed to Kansas, and died in 1878, preached for twelve years. The Rev. Benjamin KING, of Cincinnati, filled the pulpit for two years. The Rev. William BROWN, of Kentucky, served as pastor for three years. He is now in Kentucky engaged in ministerial work. The Rev Laban S. LOCKER filled the pastorate for one year. This Church is one of the most enterprising in the village, and bids fair to do much good.
The Baptist African Church, of Oxford, was organized about twelve years ago by the Rev. Mr. BROWN, of Cincinnati. James STROUD, Mary ROBERTS, Mather TESTER, Willis PYLE and wife, JACKSON PIATT and wife, Ellen CARTER, Thomas JACKSON, Mother LANEY, who is now about eighty years of age, Spencer YOUNG, who was licensed here to preach, but is now in Covington, Kentucky, and wife, were among the leading first members. Persons who are now the support of the Church, are Wesley CALBERT, Mary CASE, Chrisey DICKENSON, Thomas BOSTON and wife. The membership numbers about twenty-five.
The Rev. Mr. BROWN, of Cincinnati was the first pastor who filled the pulpit for two years. He was followed by the Rev. Spencer YOUNG, who served six or seven years, but who was ordained outside of the regular association. Then came the Rev. Mr. WOODLEY, of the Middle Run Church, near Xenia, Ohio, who remained one year. He was succeeded by the Rev. John GOINGS, from Shelby County, Ohio, who remained for nearly three years. During the Winter of 1881 and 1882 the Rev. Mr. CLAY preached as an irregular minister.
The house in which this society worships was erected in 1875. The builder was Mr. MARSHALL, now an old man, and one of the first settlers in Oxford. The land on which the house stands was given for this purpose by Dr. Andrew GUY, of Oxford, a gentleman of many excellent parts.
The establishment of the Miami University at Oxford had induced the people to take much interest in the education of their sons, and efforts for the education of their daughters naturally followed.
After Dr. SCOTT had given some three or four years to Farmers' College, he began to make arrangements to set the Female College in successful operation. Hence, in 1849, a number of the public-spirited citizens of Oxford organized a stock company for the Oxford Female Institute, and secured as special charter from the Legislature of Ohio for that purpose. A handsome two-story brick building, forty by fifty-three feet, was at once erected in the west end of the village, and operations begun. The Rev John W. SCOTT, D. D., formerly of the Miami University, was elected principal, with his daughter, now Mrs. LORD, and his sister-in-law, Miss NEAL, who became his first permanent assistant, and continued so until her death in 1852, as helpers. The institute prospered and began to draw students from a distance. Dr. SCOTT's position at Farmers' College was filled by the Rev. John COVERT, who on the foundation which had been laid built the Ohio Female College, an institution which has accomplished much good in female education.
On the arrival of Dr. SCOTT and his assistants from College Hill, operations were begun in the basement of the United Presbyterian Church, while waiting for the completion of the building. But in the Fall these rooms were needed for the theological seminary, and the young institution was compelled to seek quarters elsewhere, which were found by renting rooms over Mr. MOLLYNEAUX's store and the adjoining building, on the corner of Main Street and the public square. In 1850, the institute being finished, the Female College took possession of their new building, with a flourishing school of boarding and day students. But the accommodations were soon found insufficient.
Under these circumstances, Dr. SCOTT, the Rev. W. S. ROGERS, and the Rev. Henry MALTBY, Presbyterian clergymen and able educators, along with other friends, offered to raise money for the much-needed and necessary buildings, provided they could be secured in the general management of the institution. Mr. ROGERS's plan was, that the new school should cease to be a private enterprise, and that while it should be open to all, it should be especially adapted for the education of missionaries' daughters; where, at least, if not altogether, some of the regular expense might be lessened, and the mission boards might be relieved of much care and anxiety. At the same time Mr. Ebenezer LANE, then a resident of Oxford, handsomely offered a tract of thirty-four acres of land, adjoining the eastern edge of the borough of Oxford, as a college site, and in addition a subscription of a liberal sum of money for the endowment of such an institution. After consultation it was decided to go forward with the enterprise. Mr. LANE gave his land and Mr. ROGERS took the field to solicit subscriptions.
This change of location produced important results. Great dissatisfaction sprang up among a very large portion of those interested in the institute, and resulted finally in Dr. SCOTT taking new rooms by renting the old Oxford Hotel, then vacant. The founders of the Female College were mainly connected with the First Presbyterian Church of Oxford. The pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, the Rev. David TENNEY, and his friends were New School, and determined to found another institution, on the south-eastern borders of Oxford, on the Mt. Holyoke system. The institute then passed under the control of the Rev. J. H. BUCHANAN and the United Presbyterians. Thus the three schools arose, and were zealously carried forward by their several friends, far and near.
After Mr. ROGERS's canvass for a few weeks he reported subscriptions in one form and another, to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, a large proportion of which, however, unfortunately were scholarships. A board of trustees was formed under the sanction and direction of the Synod of Cincinnati, of the Presbyterian Church. A committee was appointed to visit Eastern colleges, and report on some plan for the buildings. Thus the present college was determined upon, and on the 3d of September, 1856, dedicated by appropriate ceremonies. The Rev. Professor MOFFAT, afterward of the Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Joseph WARREN, formerly missionary to India, and others delivered addresses. A beautiful poem was also written for the occasion by Mrs. Lydia H. SIGOURNEY. The school was thus launched into existence, and practically began a new life.
In the commencement of this enterprise, the general intention was to expend some $25,000 or $30,000 in a building, with whatever additional amount might be necessary for its furnishing and apparatus, the remainder to be so used as to lessen the cost of tuition, and for the payment of the faculty. When the proposals came in, however, the lowest amounted to considerably over $40,000. The building was begun, and before its completion, with all the steam-heating and gas-lighting fixtures, cost $60,000; and with musical instruments, room furniture, and sundry stables and other out-houses, and general improvements of the grounds, to over $80,000. But the first year opened with two hundred students, one hundred of whom were from a distance. There were, however, many embarrassing circumstances, and the patronage which had fallen to this people, began to be withdrawn and directed toward the Wooster University. The Synod of Cincinnati, after much indifference, finally, by a formal vote, entirely dissolved their connection with it.
Before this, however, some of the debts had become very pressing, and in the exigency of the case some of the members of the board and other friends of the enterprise formed themselves into a joint-stock company to save the institution from failure and bankruptcy. This was some time in the Fall and Winter of 1857. The name of the company was the "Company in trust of the Oxford Female College." This company proposed to assume in trust the debts and obligations of the institution till such time as the obligations and debts were released, and then return it to the synod and its chartered board, to be a public institution for the benefit of the Church and the world forever. But after taking the matter in hand and paying off a considerable portion of the pressing debt, the company found that in consequence of the drawing back of certain parties, who were with some ground of confidence expected to become partners, they were left too weak pecuniarily to manage the whole debt, and were, therefore, compelled to give the property back to the synod, with a small portion of the obligation paid off. Yet there remained a considerable portion of debt still to be met.
In the early Spring of 1859, the Rev. Dr. CHESTER, one of the secretaries of the General Assembly's board of education, who had distinguished himself in the management of financial matters, by request came out from Philadelphia to meet with the board, and if possible adopt some measures to relieve their pecuniary embarrassments. The indebtedness was found to be over $35,000. A decision was made to send out two new soliciting agents in addition to Mr. ROGERS, the regular agent of the college, and to secure if possible the amount needed to save the institution. The condition was that no part should be binding unless the whole amount was subscribed. The three agents were Mr. ROGERS, Mr. STEWART, then pastor of the Oxford Presbyterian Church, and Mr. SCOTT. On making a three months' canvass, the whole amount summed up only to about $20,000. During these troublesome times Mr. Stephen WADE, a gentleman of much Christian benevolence and philanthropic spirit, made a proposition to sustain the boarding establishment at his own expense, for whatever pay the scholars might bring in for tuition.
For ten years the Oxford Female College had undergone many hours of trial. The time had now come for the resignation of President SCOTT. He had during his connection with the institution sunk some $20,000 or $25,000, and in other ways made for himself enemies and traducers.
Among those who contributed liberally to the support of the institution in its hours of need were Dr. Alexander GUY, who gave in donations some $15,000; Judge Nehemiah WADE, who gave $5,000; Ebenezer LANE, besides the land, a large donation in money; the Rev. W. S. ROGERS, S. R. MOLLYNEAUX, Mrs. Judge HINDMAN, and perhaps others, who gave from $1,000 to $2,500. And it is worthy of record that the Rev. Samuel HAIR did effective service in aiding Mr. ROGERS to obtain subscriptions and scholarships. Judge WADE was for a number of years president of the board of directors, of which there were thirty.
When Dr. SCOTT resigned, in July, 1859, the college was in danger of suspension, if not of direct failure. Students pressed in for instruction and accommodations, and the means were not forthcoming. But it was determined to support the college and look for another president. Under the circumstances the Rev. Robert D. MORRIS, for some years pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Newtown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, was induced to undertake the task in November following. He had been active in educational work in Ohio, and entered upon his duties here with energy and hope. Henceforward the scholarships were honored and the institution went on with apparent prosperity for thirty-three years.