The principal mover in the building of the neat little African Methodist Episcopal Church on First Street was Richard EDWARDS, one of the first members of the original society. Through his earnest wish, in the Spring of 1874, he had procured over three hundred dollars of good subscriptions. The contract was given to Messrs. Caldwell & Co., in May, 1874, and the church was finished in August of that same year. On Saturday, May 9, 1874, Bishop PAYNE dedicated the chapel, giving a beautiful discourse. The entire cost of the church was about six hundred dollars, all of which was raised and the church cleared of debt. The Rev. S. C. WHITE is pastor of the little society, which only numbers a very few members. Mr. Richard EDWARDS is Sabbath-school superintendent.
The organization of the African Baptist Church was effected some fifteen years ago by Elder SHELTON, of Cincinnati. Their building was not erected until June, 1876. The society has a membership of twenty-eight and a Sabbath-school of forty-five. Rev. Albert WAYNE, a self-educated man, is the pastor.
The German Catholic Church of Middletown had its birth in 1873. Mr. Matthew HEPTING, John RITTER, and John KAISER, with the Rev. Mr. KILGENSTEIN, set the enterprise on foot at that time, raised a subscription, and erected a church building at a cost of five thousand dollars. Mr. LYTLE served the Church as pastor from the beginning till the year 1874, the Rev. Carl SCHOEPPNER then being in charge until 1880. The Rev. Mr. STAUNLAUS had the pastorate a short time, and the Rev. Angelus HAFERTEPE has been in charge since May, 1881. The school building was erected in 1876. Sister Boniface has the superintendence of this work. The membership of this congregation numbers about fifty families, all Germans.
There is also a Methodist Episcopal Church, of whose history we are not informed, but which dates back sixty years; and an Episcopalian Church, organized since the war.
The First Baptist Church in Middletown was organized in the house of David HEATON, August 9, 1808. It first bore the title of Salem Church, and its original officers were James DEWISE, deacon, and Nathan CANFIELD, clerk. In June following they extended a call to Elder R. STAPLETON and Samuel DEWISE to preach to them on the first Sunday in each month, attending at the house of Elisha WADE. The Church was received in the Miami Association in the Fall of 1809. On the 26th of June, 1811, they resolved to build a house of worship, and appointed a committee, consisting of David ENOCH, E. HEATON, Isaac ROBBINS, Jacob DEARDORF, and Daniel MCDONALD, to select the site. They discharged this duty, choosing a place on the road from Middletown to Franklin, a mile from the former place. The contractor made the following agreement:
"I agree to build a meeting-house twenty-four by thirty feet, and thirteen feet high, and to weatherboard the same, and put on a lap-shingle, or sawed-shingle roof, one double door and windows, with sleepers, and two beams for a gallery, and find the nails, for one hundred and sixty dollars, payable in whisky and wheat that is merchantable, delivered at Abner ENOCH's mill, on the first day of October next, at the market price it sells for in Franklin, and to have the said house finished by the first of next October."
The congregation worshiped in this house till October, 1826, when they removed their meetings to Middletown, and met at the house of Thomas ROYAL. The old frame building after that was converted into a school-house, and occupied as such till 1848. In October, 1826, the Rev. Jacob MULFORD was called to preach one Sabbath in each month. On the 9th of August, 1828, the name of the Church was changed to the First Baptist Church of Middletown. All this time there was no house of worship in Middletown of any denomination. There were three Church organizations---Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist. Each held their meetings alternately in a brick school-house about twenty-four by thirty. The Baptists held about this time some of their meetings in the upper part of a cooper-shop. In the Winter of 1828, however, the Church resolved to build a house, and obtained an act of incorporation, with Jacob DEARDORF, Thomas ROYAL, and David TAYLOR as trustees. They bought a lot, and in the Spring of 1829 erected a house of forty by eighty feet. It was not finished till the Spring of 1832, its total cost being about $3,000. This building remained in use till the Spring of 1854, when it was taken down and a handsome structure put up on the same foundation. It was ready to worship in on the 1st of September.
Twelve years after the Church found themselves very much in need of more room for the Sabbath-school. In the Fall of 1867 it added a building sixty-four by twenty-five feet to the rear of the former house, which makes the whole church cruciform in shape, and added fully one-third to its capacity. The church is arranged with especial reference to the Sunday-schools, and is arranged so that all the rooms, six in number, can be thrown into one. The cost of this was about $10,000. This left the Church with a debt of about $2,500, which annoyed them for a number of years. They paid it off during the centennial year. In the Fall of 1861 the Church resolved to build a parsonage on the lot they had purchased adjoining their church lot, and in 1862 completed a handsome residence at a cost of about $3,000. The church and parsonage lot is one hundred and forty feet in front, and runs back two hundred feet.
In 1836 the delegates from this Church to the Miami Association were rejected by the majority of the body. The Middletown Church, the Sixth Street Church, of Cincinnati, and the Dayton and Lebanon Churches were thrown out for "aiding and supporting Sunday-schools, Bible, missionary, tract, and temperance societies." These four Churches then met elsewhere and organized themselves as the true association. The next year they met in Middletown. The Church there then consisted of seventy-seven members. About this time six women, members of the association, handed in the following letter at a regular meeting of the Church:
"We, whose names are hereunto set, being met together to consult on matters pertaining to the First Baptist Church in Middletown, and now being of one mind, that we have been burdened with many things in the Church not according to the Word, this we present you because of your departure from the faith and practice of the regular Baptist Church, and following many ways and things burdensome to us, we intend to walk separate from all who will thus continue to walk, and we invite all our brethren and sisters to sit with us who will renounce them. Our meeting will be on Saturday, before the second Sunday in November, next, and we invite all our brothers and sisters who are of the mind to join with us."
The members who thus protested were promptly excluded, and no further trouble was afterwards experienced from them or from others. The association has since met in Middletown seven times.
The pastors of the Church since 1828 have been twelve in number. Six of them are dead. Jacob MULFORD was pastor on October 14, 1826; Daniel BRYANT, August 21, 1830; William T. BOYNTON, January 26, 1839; John FINLAY, July 27, 1844; J. BLODGETT, January, 1847; J. A. BALLARD, March 1, 1848; J. G. BOWEN, October, 1849; Albert GUY, November, 1853; D. S. WATSON, October 9, 1860; F. L. CHAPELL, July, 1864; J. W. T. BOOTH, December 10, 1871; Thomas CULL, May 17, 1874; and Edward A. INCE, December 12, 1880. Only one member is now living who was connected with the Church when it assumed its present name, and that is Francis J. TYTUS, and to him we are indebted for the historical sketch from which we have drawn the above.
A difficulty occurring in the Methodist Episcopal Church, resulted in about thirty members leaving the Church, who were Methodists in doctrine and usages. They met to consult on what was best for them to do under the circumstances. A citizen, who had heard of the meeting, determined, if possible, to influence them to organize a Methodist Protestant Church, which he and a Mr. HARDESTY, a minister of that Church, prevailed on them to do. Mr. HARDESTY recommended the Rev. W. B. WARRINGTON, residing in Cincinnati, as a suitable person to minister to them until the meeting of the annual conference. Mr. James BUTLER, being the only one of their number acquainted with Mr. WARRINGTON, was requested by them to go to the city and secure his services, which he did. A meeting was called in Mr. Jacob LEIBEE's hall, on Sunday, March 4, 1855, at which Mr. WARRINGTON, assisted by the Rev. J. b. WALKER, then pastor of the George Street Methodist Protestant Church, Cincinnati, succeeded in organizing a society, consisting of thirty-eight members. A hall, belonging to Mr. LEIBEE, was rented and fitted up suitably, and religious services held regularly every Sunday morning and evening. A Sunday-School was organized also, holding its sessions every Sunday morning.
At the session of the annual conference Mr. WARRINGTON was appointed by that body as pastor for the following year, and entered heartily into the work, being determined to succeed in building a permanent Church. In December he commenced a meeting, which was protracted for eleven weeks. This resulted in ninety-seven members being added to the Church. At its close the subject of building a house of worship was agitated, and resulted in one being put up, forty feet front by sixty-five feet deep, of brick, two stories and basement above ground; and also a parsonage, eighteen feet front by thirty-four feet deep, with kitchen, the main part two stories. This also is of brick. The audience-room is finished with white walnut varnished. The basement was opened for divine service in December, 1856, and the auditorium in the Fall of 1858. Mr. WARRINGTON was stationed here for four consecutive years. During his pastorate over three hundred persons were received into the Church. The Rev. R. ROSE succeeded him as pastor in 1859, remaining two years. The following named ministers have since served the Church: J. B. WALKER, E. J. WINANS, T. T. KENDRICK, T. J. EVANS, J. W. ELLIS, J. J. WHITE, J. MCFARLAND, R. ROSE, T. B. GRAHAM, W. G. ROBERTS, N. G. OGLESBY; W. R. PARSONS, and J. H. DALBEY, the present pastor.
Jefferson Lodge, F and A. M., was instituted January 18, 1827, and its charter by the Grand Lodge is dated January 15, 1828. The charter is signed by Thomas CORWIN, grand master. The first meeting was held at Mark DIXON's tavern, on the south-east corner of Main and Third Streets. The installation ceremonies were performed by Mr. CORWIN. David S. DAVIES was the worshipful master; Israel T. GIBSON, the senior warden; John CRANE, junior warden; Charles STARR, senior deacon; John P. REYNOLDS, junior deacon; John A. GANO, secretary; Carlton WALDO, treasurer; John YOPST, first steward and tyler, and Francis GRIFFIN, second steward. Besides these there were five other charter members, Squier LITTELL and Joseph TAYLOR being two of them. Among other prominent men who have belonged to this society are Vincent D. ENYART, George DICKEY, Pliny M. CRUME, James BOWMAN, James HEATON, Byron KILBOURN, Dr. Peter VANDERVEER, Colonel H. DUNN, John H. GORDON, D. H. PECK, Richard H. HENDRICKSON, Dr. W. W. CALDWELL, David HEATON, Isaac ROBERTSON, L. D. HARLAN, Dr. W. WEBSTER, John L. MARTIN, Rev. D. S. WATSON, and W. W. PHARES. The third meeting, and all after that date until 1842, were held in a building which had been put up by John P. REYNOLDS. It is on the north-east corner of Third and Broadway, and is now occupied by Mr. BUEHNER and Mr. WAGNER. Here, in the attic, the Masons met in secrecy during the Morgan excitement. In those times the tyler, sitting at the door with his drawn sword, was the cause of great dismay and terror to the woman servants and children of the REYNOLDs family, who were afraid to go to bed until the dangerous specter had disappeared for the night. The society has increased in strength and usefulness with its years, and is doing a good work.
The town of Monroe was laid out by John H. PIATT and Nathaniel SACKETT in 1817. The house now owned by Dr. E. KIMBALL stands on the original ground upon which John BAKER, the pioneer adventurer, built his log-cabin prior to 1800. It was a double log-house, with an old fashioned porch between. BAKER kept the farm some years and then sold to Nathaniel SACKETT, a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and this house often became the place of worship previous to the erection of their church building. Mr. SACKETT planted an orchard, and a pear tree is still standing in the yard that bears very nice, large Bartlett pears yet each year. Dr. KIMBALL built the new brick that stands on these grounds in 1860. The old log-house had gone to ruin, and the whole ground was thrown into cultivation years previous to the erection of his residence. John BAKER died January 4, 1852, seventy-seven years old, and was buried in the old United Presbyterian Church grave-yard, just north of town. The plan of the town is shown by the following: The main road running through the town from Cincinnati to Dayton, called Main Street, was laid off four poles wide. The cross streets were three poles wide, and were called Elm, Church, and Lebanon. The three alleys running east and west were one pole wide each. An addition was laid off in January, 1819. The town of Monroe is two hundred feet above the valley, and consequently towers above the malarial portions of the country. It had a gradual growth and a good country surrounding to support it, and naturally became a center of trade for a few miles around. The earliest settlers, John P. WILLIAMSON, Nathan SACKETT, and Mr. CONOVER soon opened up stores to supply the trade. SACKETT and WILLIAMSON probably began the first. They kept together on the corner of Leabanon and Main Streets, and subsequently WILLIAMSON kept on Main Street, south of CONOVER's. SACKETT quit the business in 1840. CALDWELL now keeps the drug-store and post-office. Monroe is on the old Dayton and Cincinnati turnpike road, and just half way. The travel between these points at an early day was considerable, and to accommodate the traveling public, Mr. MCCLURE opened up a hotel on Main Street, on property now owned by Michael SCHEIK. He established his business as early as the year 1825, and kept tavern until he died, when Colonel CLARKSON opened a hotel on Main Street, just in front of where John P. CARSON now owns. He kept a number of years after MCCLURE, and after he died John CLARK was in the same business. ELIAS came between the years 1830 and 1840, and erected a large house on Pike Street, called the Half-way House. It was two-story frame, in which he entertained travelers twelve or fifteen years. The present brick hotel was built by Daniel BOGGS in 1850. It was carried on a few years by him, and then rented to Joseph BOGGS, who ran it a while, and since that time has run through a great many hands. Mr. SIMPSON built just on the opposite corner in 1845, and carried it on until 1855.
During the early period, and after the pike was built, Monroe had the most travel. Then the mail coaches ran between the two cities, while hotels and places of entertainment were scattered all along the road. This town was one of the principal stopping points. The travel was so great competition soon sprang up, and there were three and four lines of coaches running, all at the same time. Peter and John VOORHES owned the mail-coach line, and Mr. RUCKER the stage line. The usual fare from Dayton to Cincinnati was two dollars and a half, but VOOHES put on opposition coaches to the opposition rates offered by others, and the through fare at one time became reduced to fifty cents, and it was rumored that for a while a good dinner was given besides. The mail and stage coaches had usually four horses, sometimes six, and left Dayton at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon, reaching Monroe for early supper, and from there run to Cincinnati by nine o'clock that night. At one time Messrs. VOORHES, RUCKER, and STEVENSON had five lines, all at one time. They then had mail twice a week, but now since the railroad has come into operation Monroe receives hers once each day. Among the manufacturers of Monroe was Peter JOTTER, who was here as early as 1840, and made wagons. This business was carried on by him for many years, and subsequently by William JOTTER, his son, now the oldest citizen in Monroe, who took his place about 1872. He employs from three to five hands, and manufactures the Edgar patent gate, and also a furrowing sled or corn-marker. The Paragon Double Plow Works, owned by Charles WARNER, have been in operation six years. The blacksmith's shop was sold as early as 1859 by Peter JOTTER, who built it, and it was afterwards rented and then bought by WARNER, who uses it in connection with his wood-shop in the manufacture of his plows. He manufactures the one-horse and the double-horse corn plow, a patent of his own, which he is selling in quantities, doing a business of over four thousand dollars yearly, working seven hands about four months each year. He does general custom work also. The buggy factory of C. M. HITESHUE was started by him in 1875, and was bought of Frank WILSON, who built the shops about 1870. He has a paint-shop, wood-working shop, and also a blacksmith's shop, which is carried on the year round, giving employment to about five men and doing a business of five thousand dollars a year. He also does custom work. The oldest cemetery in Monroe is just north of town, and is called the Monroe Cemetery, and was organized into an association in 1860. Its first officers were Colonel IRWIN, Thomas MATSON, Mr. KYLE, and Mr. ROBINSON. It consists of seven acres of ground, and its present officers are William VANSKIKE, president, and Dr. KIMBALL, secretary. In this yard were buried some of the earliest settlers.
John MORROW, brother of Governor MORROW, died November 26, 1846; 71 years old. John BAKER, January 4, 1852; aged 77. John LOWERY, October 20, 1838; 59 years old. John ROBINSON, November 28, 1841; aged 62. Peter WILLIAMSON, April 7, 1832; 65 years old. David WILLIAMSON, April 10, 1845; aged 78. David REED, March 18, 1812; 46 years of age. Colonel James CLARK, August 15, 1853; 80 years of age.
James STEWARD, who was killed by a tree falling upon him, his wife, and another lady, while on their way in a two-horse wagon to Cincinnati for carpets and other furniture for their new church, was buried here. He was killed May 4, 1835, and at that time was sixty-one years of age. He was a ruling elder of the United Presbyterian Church, of which he had been an active member many years.
The Mound Cemetery, just south of Monroe, but bordering on the town, is a beautiful, well laid out yard, consisting of ten acres of ground, incorporated into an association in 1859. They have, as yet, no vault, but contemplate putting in one this year. The executive officers of this association are Ayers MCCREARY, president; William LINN, vice-president; Charles WARNER, treasurer and secretary.
Methodist preaching was had in Monroe as early as 1823. There was at that time no organized society, but a few of the early members petitioned to have appointments. It was then in Miami Circuit, and preaching was had on nights once every two weeks. Father SACKETT's house was then the preacher's home, and during the first year a Church was organized. Among the early members of the Methodist Episcopal Church may be mentioned Isaac CONOVER and wife, now Mrs. KYLE, John YOUNK and wife, Mrs. ULM, Mrs. FLOYD, Joseph ALEXANDER, and G. P. WILLIAMSON. At first they worshiped and had class-meetings wherever they could find a place to meet.