Adams Township Churches

Bethesda Methodist Episcopal Church - The Roe Society

The first religous society in Adams township was called the Roe Society. It was formed by members of "Wheelens" in Madison township which was the original place of worship for many of the early pioneers. The first sermon preached in the area of Bethesda was in 1821 by Rev. Jesse Roe. He was a very zealous local preacher and was associated with the Wesleyan faith. The first meetings were held in the homes of the members, at the home of Rev. Roe and sometimes in a school house. The first class was formed in 1826 in the residence of John E. Honnold. The first class consisted of:

    Mordecai and Pheobe (Barrett) Edwards
    John E. Honnold
    Jesse and Margaret Roe
    James and Margaret Stewart

The following year, 1827, a second class was organized by Joseph Casper and Cornelius Springer at Jesse Roe's School House. It's members consisted of:

    William and Jane Barton and children:
        Alexander Barton
        Sarah Barton
    Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Bidwell
    Mordecai and Pheobe (Barrett) Edwards
    Jesse and Margaret Roe and son Thomas
    James (class leader) and Margaret Stewart and son:
        John Stewart

The society would later be re-organized as the Bethesda Methodist Episcopal Church although the tenets and posture would keep it's roots in the Weslyan faith.

In 1835, a log building was constructed for use by the Bethesda congregation and was dedicated by Rev. H. S. Fernandes. It was raised near the center of section 15 and was later replaced by a frame church in 1856 and was dedicated by W. F. Lauck. In 1892 a newer and more elegant building was constructed and served the church until it's end. The church was abandoned about 1969. The site of the church was just opposite the Bethesda cemetery on Bethesda Church road about a mile north of the present day Route 208. The building no longer exists and the site was used by the road crews to dump stone and other materials for road maintenance. The Cemetery still exists and is well cared for with burials still taking place in it's grounds. The land surrounding the church was owned by John Honnold and A. Doughty

The list of the original members of Bethesda from 1831 survives and follows:

James and Rachel (Winner) Armstrong
Harriet Armstrong
Anice Atchison
Eliza Atchison
Rhoda Atchison
Nancy Barclay
Jane Burnside
Margaret Burnside
William and Elizabeth Collins
William and Rebecca (Thompson) Davis and children:
    Catherine Davis
    Mary A. Davis
Mordecai and Pheobe (Barrett) Edwards
Sarah Florence
Jane Gregg
Elizabeth Guyer
Jeremiah and Catherine (Shively) Hanks and children:
    Helen Hanks
    Elizabeth Hanks
Christian and Sarah (Wolf) Hecathorn
Lavinia Hill
Mary Hill
William and Pleasant Hilling
John F. and Mary (Fell) Honnold
Margaret Humphries
Catherine Jackson
Lydia James
Charlotte Larnum
Jacob Linder and children:
    Alice Linder
    Alvira Linder
Martha Lucas
Adam and Elizabeth (Hanks) Miller
George and Jane (Titus) Needler
Mary Noble
George Parsmore
Mary Ridgway
Margaret (widow of Rev. Jesse) Roe and children:
    Francisaum Roe
    Robert Roe
Mary Seaborn
Robert and Susanna (McCoy?) Shields
Elizabeth Snoots
Samuel and Martha Steadman
Mary Steers
Mary J. Steers
Amelia Steers
James and Margaret Stewart and children:
    Ann Stewart
    James Stewart, Jr.
    Jane Stewart
    John Stewart (class leader)
    Nixon Stewart
Benjamin and Mary Stump
Samuel and Mary (Helm) Titus
Mary (w/o Francis) Titus and children:
    Elizabeth Titus
    John Titus
Elizabeth Walls
Elizabeth Wilcox
Aaron and Mary Winner
Mary Winner
Jacob and Jane (Vernon) Yearing/Yearian

The land for the cemetery was purchased by Robert Shields and Robert Halsty. The first burial in the cemetery was a child of Johnathan Rudd. That grave can no longer be identified but many of the original members of both the Roe Society and Bethesda are buried there. In 1890 the class leaders were Nathan Ross, John Foster and Samuel W. Sutton Jr. Rev.

Rev. Jesse Roe, the wellspring from which sprang Bethesda and Fairview Methodist churches and who is the spearhead of Methodism in the northern part of the county, died in 1828 and was buried in the graveyard at Wheelens in Madison township.

Contributed by Denny Shirer

Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church

From the membership of Wheelens and Bethesda sprang the most noted church in Adams township, Fairview Methodist Episcopal. James Stewart Sr. and Mordecai Edwards, both members of Bethesda, formed a new class under the guidance of their good friend Rev. Jesse Roe. The meetings were held at the home of Mordechai Edwards in the year of 1827 and in 1828 they transferred to the School house which had been previously constructed on Mordecai Edward's farm. This group was called both the Edward's Society and later the Wesley Society. In this building were made many visits by Brother Granville Moody, a well known licensed exhorter and later a Methodist Minister.

In 1831 a new class was formed under the guidance of Rev. John W. Guilbert, then pastor in charge of the Cambridge circuit. Thomas Roe, son of Rev. Jesse Roe, was appointed class leader. The first "recorded" meeting date was May 4, 1831. This members of this class were listed as:

    William and Rebecca (Thompson) Davis and daughter:
        Mary A. Davis
    Mordecai and Pheobe (Barrett) Edwards
    William and Pleasant Hilling
    Basil and Mary Ridgway
    Thomas Roe
    Catherine Shaw
    John Stewart

Mordecai Edwards' land contained a plot that was situated on high ground with an unobstructed view of the township and surrounding area for several miles that he donated to the church for use as a cemetery and for building a place of worship. James Stewart Sr., one of the founding members of both Bethesda and Fairview Methodist, died October 237, 1833 and was buried in this plot of land. It was near Stewart's grave that the group erected a new log structure in 1833 that would become Fairview named for the "fair view" provided by the elevation. This building was known as the Edward's Meeting house.

The building committee consisted of Mordecai Edwards, Joseph Green, William Hilling, John Joy, Basil Ridgway, John Stewart and Jacob Yearing. SOlomon Wenner was given the job of constructing the edifice. The dedication was performed by Rev. H. S. Fernandez. The class that year prospered and numbered fifty members. It again grew in 1837 and by 1838 it numbered 65 members. Again the class was divided in half by Rev. James Armstrong with one class led by John Stewart and the other by Mordecai Edwards. In 1847 under the direction of E. H. Taylor and D. Cross, the church saw it's greatest insurgance of new members reaching a total of about eighty. the trustees that year were J. J. Bell, Mordecai Edwards, Isaac Knisely, Basil Ridgway, A. Ross and John Stewart.

In 1851 a new group was formed and named "Harmony Excitement." Many members left Fairview to join this group or were part of the migration west and by 1853, the membership of Fairview had decreased to about 43. The congregation felt there was a need for a more modern building so in 1854 and a new site was chosen ten rods from the old. It was here in 1855 a frame structure was built which served the church for many years. Revivals of spirit resulted in many years where many new members were brought into the fiold, most notably the years of 1847, 1859 and 1864. In 1882 the membership had grown to 84 and the class leaders that year were William Edwards and W. H. Reese, the steward was William Edwards, the local preacher was Rev. Nixon Stewart and the circuit preachers were H. M. Rader and J. R. Hoover.

In 1891 saw a newer building replacing the old but it was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1919. The present structure was built in 1922 and continued in the community as a Methodist church until the Methodist Conference decided it be closed and it's congragation sent to other churches in the area. The building and grounds were bought by Mr. and Mrs. Clell bradford and donated to the community which has since used it as an Inter-Denominational Church.

A Sunday School was organized in 1835 and William C. Filler was appointed as Superintendant. Some of the first teachers were Sarah Florence, H. Edwards, Harriet Edwards, Basil Ridgway, John and Nixon Stewart and many others.

Early members of the Fairview Church were:

    William and Rebecca (Thompson) Davis and daughter:
        Mary A. Davis
    Mordecai and Pheobe (Barrett) Edwards
    Joseph and Eleanor Green
    William snd Catherine Filler
    William and Pleasant Hilling
    John and Abigail (Mace) Joy
    Basil and Mary Ridgway
    Mrs. Catherine Shaw
    James and Margaret Stewart and children:
        Ann Stewart
        James Stewart, Jr.
        Jane Stewart
        John Stewart
        Nixon Stewart
    Jacob and Jane (Vernon) Yearing/Yearian

Other families known to be members were the families of Fairview Church were:

    John Barrett
    John Bell
    John Brannon
    Joseph Cowden
    Isaac Knicely
    George McDowell
    Nimrod McNight
    Adam Miller
    Rinear Powelson
    David Ross
    John Ross
    Avory Ross
    Walter Ruse
    Thomas Saffell
    Henry Snoots
    Benajah Spragg
    William Starkey
    David Woodward

Contributed by Denny Shirer

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

See the Adams Township Scrapbook for more photos of Zion Luthean Church


The Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1839 by Rev Frederich Minner, for the German speaking Alsatian families who had emigrated to Adams Township and desired a church in their own language which was a dialect of German and French.. However the written records were recorded in the German language.

Rev Minner with the following 16 families organized the church: John VOLLMER and wife, Jacob FIESS, and Family, Martin SAUER, and family, Michael STROHACKER, and Family, Adam SHROYER,and Family, John DENNY, Martin ZIMMER, David GRESS, Christian GERWIG, John HAHN, Henry LAPP, Jacob ROLLER, Phillip MOSER, Michael KREIS, Henry SMITH, and Michael THRESH.

Some of the early Pastors were were Reverends MINNER, GEHBEL, KRETZ, KAEMMERER, SCHNELL and SCHMIDT.

On 22 February, 1840 Valentine SANDEL, deeded a lot of ground, situated in the southeast quarter of section nine, to Daniel MOSER, John VOLLMER, and Adam SHROYER, Trustees, on which a hewed log church, 26 x 30 was built in 1841. The written records of this church commenced in 1842.

The services were conducted in the German language, until 1868, when owing to the young membership being educated in the English language, desired and found it necessary to adopt the English language for services. Rev A N BARTHOLOMEW was the first Pastor employed to preach in English. This was regarded as an innovation by some, who stoutly resisted and remained faithful to the past, such as they were accustomed to, and a division occurred. The "conservatives" became a corporate body, under the title " The Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Zion Church," and as such held the old church and burying ground.

In 1872, Jacob SANDEL, donated one acre of ground just north of the church and a committee was appointed consisting of Frederick ROAHRIG, Valentine THRESH, and Jacob SANDEL, and the same year a new frame church 36 x 50 was erectedat a cost of $2000.00. The corner stone was laid 22 September, 1872, by the Reverend's G W MECHLING and J P HEINTZ, and the church was dedicated on 15 October, 1873, by the Reverend's G W MECHLING. and W P RUTTERRAUFF, Assisted by the Pastor Rev J WEBER.

The elders in 1882 were George STINER, and Jacob SANDEL. The Wardens were Valentine THRESH, and Albert KLEIN.

The old congregation continued to worship in the old log church and employed Rev John BROWN to preach for them, well into the 1880's. The Elders for this congregation in 1882 were Peter HOUCK, George REIGER, and David GRESS. As the old German speaking members passed away, the old log church was demolished and all members went to the frame church built in 1872.

In 1912 The present church was erected on the same site as the 1872 building. This excerpt from the Adamsville Register dated 19 March 1912. "The new church building for the Zion Lutheran Congregation in Adams Township will be erected on or very near the present site. This question was decided by a vote of the congregation Sunday. It is expected that the new building will have the gables to the east and west with the entrance to the west"

The following week an announcement in The Adamsville Register on 26 March, 1912. "O F WOHLHETER,has been awarded the contract to build the new church for the Zion Lutheran Congregation in Adams Township. He will be assisted by J W VINSEL, Jr and his regular help, GLEN VINSEL and CLARENCE WOHLHETER. It is quite likely that work will be commenced some time in April."

This church is yet standing and is one of the most beautiful serene spots I have ever encoutered. Andrew Carneige donated $500.00 of the $1200.00 in money to purchase an organ for this church. The cemetery and church are well cared for and a small congregation yet exist for some local families. Most of the old pioneer families moved from Adams Township years ago.

Incidentially the Rev Frederick Minner is buried at the Salem Methodist Church Cemetery with his wife in Madison Township, Muskingum County, Ohio Some Ministers who have served the congregation have been: KAEMMERER, SCHNELL, SCHMIDT, AN BARTHOLOMEW, J WELLER, G W MECHLING, W P RUTTERRAUFF, J W BARTHOLOMEW, J P HEINTZ, JOHN WEBBER, J J S RUMBARGER, IRA R LADD, L S MILLER, J F D BOWESOX, J S BARTHLEMAS, DALE S RECKER, K J BISHOP, ROBERT BINKLEY, JOHN G GARDNER, F M KOEPPLIN AND BRUCE KREIS.

Information for this came from Everhart's History of Muskingum County 1882 and Ione Bradford Supplee's Annals of Adams Township 1982.


I have extensive genealogical information on the 16 families who started this congregation, except for the VOLLMER, SMITH, and DENNY families. I have traced many back to their villages in Alsace and tracked descendants to many areas of these United States. Feel free to contact me about any of the families at my email

Contributed by Doug Kreis

Ministers Serving Bethesda and Fairview Methodist Churches

Since the beginnings of Bethesda and Fairview Methodist churches, many local and traveling ministers have served the two churches and also the Wheelen congregation in Madison township. Some of them were:

T. W. Anderson
James Armstrong
W. W. Athey
E. V. Ault
T. N. Baird
W. A. Bell
Robert Boyd
E. W. Brady
J. M. Bray
Paul Brodt
Cyrus Brooks
J. S. Brown
D. D. Canfield
Richard Cartwright
J. C. Castle
C. M. Church
Wm. L. Couts
David Cross
W. Darby
W. L. Davidson
David Davies
M. W. Davis
Wm. Deirney
J. S. Eaton
George Fate
Henry Fernandis
L. L. Fisher
W. K. Foutch
Charles Fulkerson
A. V. Galbraith
J. G. Gamble
Hiram Gearing
W. H. Gibson
J. W. Gilbert
Abnor Goff
David Gordon
Helen Groves
James Gurley
M. C. Harris
Samuel Harvey
John F. Herion
Wm. High
J. S. Hollingshead
J. R. Hoover
C. A. Hubbard
N. E. Hulbert
John Huston
J. J. Jackson
F. H. Jennings
L. S. Keagle
D. W. Knight
A. J. Lane
Clarence Lawrence
J. D. Leggett
S. Lewis
C. C. Lybrand
Andrew Magee
W. W. Manning
W. H. McBride
P. K. McCue
J. E. McGraw
George McKee
James McMahon
J. W. Miles
L. P. Miller
J. L. Mills
D. O. Mitchell
James Moore
Chester Morrison
W. S. Nicholson
J. D. Nulton
Roger Ortmeyer
Theodore Paul
Ludwell Petty
T. F. Phillips
T. K. Rader
M. F. Rainsberger
J. H. Rogers
S. F. Ross
Thomas Ruckle
J. C. Russell
T. P. Saddler
Joseph Shaw
H. Sinsabaugh
J. R. Smith
J. E. Starkey
Hugh W. Stewart
Nixon Stewart
E. H. Taylor
L. Thompson
L. Timberlake
J. W. Toland
Robert Vogt
W. B. Watkins
C. E. Weirich
Zacheus Weller
H. H. Westwood
H. S. White
Mary Willyard
H. T. Wintermute
Thomas Wood
D. Woodbridge

Contributed by Denny Shirer

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