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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 6 January 2005


The History of Warren County Ohio
Part IV Township Histories
Franklin Township by W. C. Reeder
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)

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Churches of Warren County, Ohio


The Presbyterian Church of Franklin was organized May 20, 1818, with Rev. William Schenck as pastor. He was soon after succeeded by Rev. M. G. Wallace, who continued to serve the people for a time, but the church was not well kept up and for several years no regular meetings were held. However, in 1827, Rev. Adrian Aten began to serve this people as well as those of New Jersey congregation, and, in 1829, there were sixty-nine names of members on the roll of the church. About this time, Rev. John S. Weaver took charge of this church, but was succeeded in one year by Rev. John Hudson, who retained the pastorate for ten years. During his labors, the present church edifice was erected, in the year 1835, largely through the efforts of Dr. O. Evans, Sr. In 1840, Rev. J. B. Morton came to this charge and remained several years doing a good work during the week by his thorough teaching of secular branches. Rev. G. M. Hair then preached for a number of years, and he, too, had a very good private school. By the kindness of Mr. J. N. C. Schenck, who gave land and house, this church was provided with a fine parsonage with ample grounds, which were much improved during the stay of Mr. Hair. Mr. Anon succeeded Mr. Hair, and preached for a short time an a supply. Rev. Henry W. Taylor was the next regular pastor, and lived here for about ten years. Since his time. Rev. John L. Gage, Rev. William Humphreys and Rev. M. V. Crouse have all preached for this people. Rev. Humphreys died with consumption after a short stay. Rev. M. V. Crouse has been a very popular minister and a citizen well beloved by all denominations, and would probably have continued long here had not throat disease compelled him to leave the ministry. Rev. Thomas Todd supplied the pulpit for three months during the present season, since which there has been no regular pastor. The church is financially in good condition.

Franklin Baptist Church.—As has been stated, in 1836, a split occurred in the membership of Tapscott Church, on the subject of missions and some doctrinal points. Those leaving that congregation were without an organization until June 29, 1843, when they organized with forty-two members. Rev. William T. Boynton was pastor; Peter Dubois and H W. Meeker, Deacons, and Absalom Death, Clerk, They had no regular place of worship, but finally took possession of the old church building, corner Fourth and Center streets, and, fitting it up, they fenced it in and occupied it for worship. Gen. Schenck had set apart this lot for church purposes, and his heirs afterward quit-claimed the property. In 1851, the vestry on the west side was built; in 1854, the

main room was rebuilt, the walls raised, the roof renewed, a cupola put on and new windows put in. Within the past two years, the main room has been handsomely frescoed, a furnace put beneath and vestibules built. The room is a very commodious and tasteful one, and, being on the ground floor, is easy of access.

Elder Boynton dying in 1846, was succeeded by Rev. L. Osborn, who remained until 1851. Rev. J. C. Armstrong became pastor January 13, 1852, and remained until March, 1854. Rev. M. W. Homes was pastor from January, 1855, to June, 1856. Elder John Blodgett took charge in April, 1857, but resigned August, 1858, on account of ill health. Rev. J. L. Moore supplied from October, 1858, to October, 1859. Rev. J. R. Powell was ordained November, 1859, and remained until January, 1864. Elder Blodgett returned in February, 1864, and preached until June, 1871. Rev. Jonathan E. Morris succeeded him and remained until April, 1873. Rev. A. L. Lockert was ordained in October, 1873, and is still working with this congregation.

This church is praiseworthy for the punctuality and prompt attendance of all its members upon all services. The Working Band, which meets on Friday night of each week, has for its object all work that can be done, both in and out of the church, by good earnest Christian people. Missions, home and foreign, the poor, the intemperate, the hungry and the naked, the sinner and the so-called professor, all are subjects of thought, of prayer and of work. The amount of good done to both body and soul by this people cannot be estimated here, but will be repaid hereafter. The Sunday school is under the efficient leadership of W. A. Boynton.

The Methodist Episcopal Church.—This society was formed about 1825. Among its early members were James E. Thirkield and wife, John Rossman and wife, Fletcher Emley and wife, Stephen Wood and wife, Thomas Emerson and wife, and, after a few years, Uriah Clutch and wife and Daniel Hawkins and wife came from New Jersey and were added to the membership. Of these, Mrs. Clutch is the only survivor. Meetings were held at the homes of the members for about seven years, when a church was built, in 1832, on the alley and fronting on the south side of Third, between Front and Center streets. This building, now the property of E. B. Thirkield, still stands, and is occupied as a double residence. In 1836, a brick church of larger dimensions was erected just east of the former and fronting on Center street. This was a more pretentious building, having class-rooms and Sunday-school room in the basement and the audience room above, reached by steps in front and at the sides. A good bell was in the steeple; but this building, too, became too small, and, in 1859, it was torn away to make room for the present building. The services of the church were held at the town hall during the demolition of the old and the building of the new church, and the Baptist Church was frequently placed at the disposal of the Methodist Episcopal Congregation. The class and prayer-meetings were held at the residences of members. The new building is of the Gothic style, having buttresses exteriorly and having a steeple which rises 120 feet from the ground, in the lower part of which hangs a magnificent bell, the donation of R. S. Lockwood. This house cost about $10,000 and was a marvel of cheapness. J. L. Thirkield, D. Deardoff and J. W. Thomas were the building committee. The audience room is a very large one, and is now handsomely frescoed, has stained glass Gothic windows and is neatly seated and carpeted. Below are the vestry, Sunday-school room and five class rooms. The building is heated by means of furnaces and lighted with gas.

During the early history of this church, its people were favored by having some of the most renowned ministers of that day, and, as it was only one of the many charges in the old Union Circuit, afterward of Lebanon, and finally

Franklin Circuit, preaching occurred but once in four weeks, and later, but once in two weeks. Among the early ministers were James B. Findley, John Brook, Thomas A. Morris, John F. Wright, A. W. Elliott, W. B. Christie, William H. Raper, Joseph Hill, Granville Moody and many others of like fame. In the fall of 1854, it was made a station, with G. C. Townley as minister. Mr. Townley died with consumption before his year closed and was succeeded by S. L. Yourtee, J. F. Marley, J. Morrow, Alexander Meharry, L. F. Van Cleve, William Fitzgerald, Dr. J. W. Weakley, S. F. Conrey, William B. Moler, S. B. Smith, S A. Brewster, G. W. Kelley, Charles Ferguson, Sylvester Weeks and Davis W. Clark, who is still in charge. The present church was built through the efforts of Rev. A. Meharry, who, when he came, found a debt on the parsonage, an old church building and a congregation of old people, and who left this charge clear of debt, with the new church almost completed and a large number of young men and women members of the church. His zeal was so great that he was called a fanatic, but he infused some of the fire into others and built more temples than the one visible to mortal eyes.

The Sunday school was organized in 1833, with Daniel Harper as superintendent. It has an attendance of over 200, and is attended by more persons than any other school. Mr. E. B. Thirkield has been its superintendent for about fifteen years. The church numbers more than 200 members.

The Christian Church. —The date of organization of the Christian Church, I have been unable to find, but it was probably organized at a very early date. In the Ohio Argus and Franklin Gazette, of September 9, 1837, we find the following notice:

The members of the Christian Church of Franklin Township, are requested to meet in the Union Meeting House, in said township, on the Saturday previous to the second Sunday in October next, to take into consideration the propriety of relinquishing the further use and occupancy of the Lots No. 39 and 41, in the town of Franklin, and the meeting house thereon.

(Signed), A. RABB.

The Union Meeting House above mentioned, was situated on the farms of A. Rabb and Daniel Storms, and was used as a schoolhouse during the week For this purpose it was large, so a swinging partition was made which was removed on Sundays. This building was about two miles southeast of town, and here the country people gathered to listen to the words of Rev. N. Worley and his son Caleb, and, after a number of years, to Elder James Maple. This building proved too small, and, some time about 1850, a spacious brick was erected in Franklin, just south of the present railroad depot The congregation was always a large one, being composed largely of farmers, who came for several miles to attend services and by many townsmen who loved to listen to the sermons of Elder Maple, and also to meet their country friends and relatives. Rev. Maple left this charge to go to Indiana, and, for several years, no regular minister was assigned them. Finally, Rev. T. M. McWhinney came and took charge of this congregation. He soon saw the need of a larger and more commodious building, and, by strenuous efforts, raised the funds to erect the present fine church edifice, and on June 15, 1872, the corner-stone was laid, Rev. A. L. McKinney, of Troy, Ohio, delivering the address. The corner-stone bears the following inscription: "Unity in the Christian spirit, liberty in Bible in interpretation. T. M. McWhinney, Pastor." The vestry was dedicated November 24, 1872, by Rev. T. M. McWhinney. The building is a pleasant and commodious one, the lower room, or vestry, being seated with chairs, and having in the rear an additional room shut off by folding doors. The audience room is neatly frescoed, has a large gallery and contains a fine pipe organ. The whole building is lighted with gas. Its cupola is intended

to hold a town-clock, but is vacant as yet, while on the summit a vane in the shape of an angel blowing a trumpet, calls the attention of all passers. Mr. McWhinney believing in the doctrine that "the merciful man is merciful to his beast," had ample shed room in which to hitch the horses, so that they might be comfortable while their owners worshiped. The building stands on the east side of Center street, nearly facing Seventh street. Rev. T. M. McWhinney, some two years ago, resigned, and was succeeded by Rev. H. Y. Rush, who still has charge of this congregation.

St. Mary's Catholic Church.—About twenty years ago, the Catholics of the town and vicinity were ministered to by Rev. Father Bulger, who was in charge of Middletown Catholic Church, They met for some years at the houses of the members, but finally rented a room in the property of J. C. Schenck, on Sixth street, east of the canal. After some years, they rented the town hall for their services, which were held once in four weeks. About the year 1866 or 1867, they contracted for a building which was erected on a lot in Van Horne's addition to Franklin. The building is a frame one, and contains two rooms and a gallery. It is, unfortunately, situated in a low place, but the members have lately surrounded the yard with a neat paling and ornamented the grounds with flowers and shrubbery. Rev. Father Kalenburg has been pastor for several years, and during his pastorate the church have held two fairs, by means of which they have become free from debt. When the building was first erected, there were no seats, but the members stood or sat on the floor until they were able to buy seats. The membership is large and services are held every Sunday.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has been organized but two or three years, and holds its meetings in Woodward's Block.

The African Baptist Church, which formerly worshiped with the Methodist Episcopal Congregation, now holds its meetings in the building near the northeast corner of Second and Front streets. Both congregations are in their infancy, but they are faithfully discharging all church duties, and seem to be fixed institutions.

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