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The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lebanon


Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 7 Sep 2003

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


The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lebanon. – The first Methodist society in Lebanon was organized at the house of Thomas Anderson, which stood where Gov. Corwin afterward resided, in the year 1805. The little society at first was composed of only four members, viz., Thomas Anderson, Hetta Anderson, his wife, Abner Leonard and his wife. Abner Leonard was the first class leader; he afterward became a minister. George Foglesong and wife, Henry Miller and wife, George Duckworth and wife and others were added in the year 1806. Before this, however, there had been occasional Methodist preaching at Lebanon. John Kobbler, in 1798, had preached at the house of Ichabod Corwin, and John Collins preached at Lebanon in 1804. The house of Thomas Anderson was a commodious one, and the class-meetings and preaching of the new society were held at his house until Rev. John Collins, afterward long known among Methodists as Father Collins, preached at Lebanon as one of the places on the Miami circuit. A revival took place under his preaching, in 1811 and 1812, and the Methodist Church, which, up to this time, had been small, became the strongest in Lebanon. Mr. Collins’ congregation soon became too large for a private house, and the society rented and fitted up for their meetings a frame building which stood near the northwest corner of Mulberry and Mechanic streets. It was known as the “Old Red House,” and was used as a meeting-house for two or three years.

Among the young men who joined the church under the preaching of Rev. John Collins was John McLean, who was soon after elected to Congress; and later, became Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. A number of young men of education and talent at Lebanon, who were inclined toward Deism, were brought into the Methodist Church by Rev. Mr. Collins. In after years, whenever Father Collins preached at Lebanon, he commanded full houses.

In 1821, the society numbered 183 members, and at this time it was constituted a station. In 1823, Rev. J. P. Durbin, D. D., was appointed to Lebanon. He began and kept in his own hand-writing “Church Records” for this society, which are said, by Rev. Maxwell P. Gaddis, Sr., who examined them, to have been model records. They gave a brief, minute of the operations of the church, and, instead of the simple announcement of deaths, short obituaries of the deceased members. These records, unfortunately, have been lost. Dr. Durbin was then a young man but a fine preacher. His oratory was altogether different from that usually heard in Methodist pulpits at that day; he was calm, deliberate and argumentative.

In 1824, the society was again placed in the Union Circuit; it was then the largest and most influential society on that circuit, which included Dayton

and Xenia, and was then considered one of the best appointments in the gift of the conference. Bishop Asbury presided at a conference held at Lebanon in 1815. He is reported to have said that the Lebanon Church was the strongest Methodist Church intellectually, morally and financially, in the Mississippi Valley. In 1867, A. H. Dunlevy wrote: “I seldom attend public worship in this church without being saddened by the vivid recollection of that array of strong men I used to meet in that congregation, now all, or nearly all, gone. Among them was Judge John McLean, his two brothers, Nathaniel and William, George Foglesong, John Reeves, Tobias Bretney, Samuel Nixon, Matthias Corwin, Jr., and many others I might name.”

In 1812, the society purchased the ground upon which its present house of worship stands. The first church was a small one-story brick building, erected about 1813 and taken down in 1837, and a two-story church erected. In 1863, the present convenient edifice was erected on the same ground, at a cost of $8,000. The building committee consisted of Rev. John W. Mason, Dr. Adam Sellers and Robert Duckworth. The church was completed without incurring a debt upon the society. An organ has been used in public worship for the last fifteen years. The society is in a prosperous state. The number of members at this time is 320. The pastors of the church have been so numerous that a complete list of their names cannot be well given. The policy of changing pastors every one or two years gave this society the opportunity of hearing nearly all the eminent preachers of former days in the conference to which it belonged. In 1825, Bishop Joshua Soule made Lebanon his residence. He afterward became connected with the Methodist Church South, and, about 1845, removed to Nashville, Tenn.

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This page created 7 Sep 2003 and last updated 20 March, 2011
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