This was written on June 2, 1937 as one of the WPA projects in Dayton during the Great Depression
Churches in Dayton
Dayton, though a city of little more than 200,000 people, has nearly 175 religious organizations and churches. Of these 86 Protestant, 19 Catholic, 4 Jewish, including one Reformed and three Orthodox congregations, 34 Negro; and there is a miscellaneous group numbering more than 30, which includes such denominations as the Pentecostal, the Nazarene, Pilgrim Holiness church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Spiritualists, Assembly of God, and colored congregations with such mouth-filling names as the Church of God Pillar and Ground of Truth, the Church of God and Saints of Christ, and the Church of God in Christ. Add to these the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., with buildings for white and colored members, the Salvation Army, the City Rescue Mission, and several missions and cults - not forgetting a small colored Moslem church on the West Side - and it is apparent why Dayton has become celebrated in the religious sense; why it has earned the reputation of being a religious community, a city of vaulted domes and towering spires.
Many of the churches show large memberships, ranging from 500 to 2,000, while some, especially those ministering to the colored population, number as few as 25 to 30 members. Naturally these churches, missions, cults, and societies differ widely from one another, in creed, doctrine and system of church government. Yet practically all of what might be designated as Orthodox churches work together harmoniously and efficiently through the Council of Churches, organized more than 20 years ago by Rev. C. McLeod Smith, later secretary of the Council of Churches, Buffalo, N.Y. Particularly has Dayton become known for its activities in the line of Christian education, for having developed a system of week-day schools of religious education that is not surpassed in the country.
From the beginning Dayton has evinced great interest in religion and in the organization and building of proper sanctuaries for worship. Dayton has ever been a city of churches and church-goers. The cabins and over-arching forest trees were the first temples. As the larger number of people in the village of pioneer settlement of Dayton were adherents to the Presbyterian church, D. C. Cooper, in his role as deputy agent for the purchasers of the 7th and 8th ranges, reserved lots at the corner of what is now the Callahan Bank Building, NE corner of Third & Main Sts., for a Presbyterian church and burial ground. Three years after the founding of the city, this, the first meeting house in Dayton, was erected in 1799 or 1800 in the north part of this allotted ground and somewhat in from Main St., among the hazel bushes. It was a log house 18 by 20 ft. facing to the south, 7 logs high, the floor 2 ft. from the ground, the roof of clapboards held down by weight poles, slabs for seats, a wide slab for a pulpit. Unchinked openings between the round logs served to admit the light. The burial ground was between the meeting house and Third St., but within a few years was transferred to West Fifth St. between Ludlow and Wilkinson St. This land became Dayton’s public burial ground, remaining so until the acquisition of Woodland cemetery, April 12, 1841 an dits opening, June 7, 1843.
This church was organized by Rev. William Robinson. The Presbytery of Washington in the State of Kentucky then sent its pastor Rev. James Kemper, who was the first stated Presbyterian preacher north of the Ohio river. The first trustees were John Miller, David Reed, John McCabe, John Ewing, and Robert Edgar. As this meeting house soon became inadequate a movement was begun to secure funds for the erection of a new building. Only $403.00 was obtained and it was decided to loan this to the County Commissioners to assist in the erection of the Courthouse, on condition that the church be allowed to use it for religious services,
In 1806, the log church was sold for $22.00, and, in 1807, the congregation began worship in the new courthouse. Records reveal the following elders served the church during this period: James Hanna, Obadiah Conover, Charles Spinning, David Osborn, Dr. John Steele, Dr. Job Haines, William King and John Williams.
The first regular pastor was Rev. James Welsh, M.D., who served until 1816 or 1817. As he received no regular support from the congregation, he had to put out his shingle and use his medical skill in order to eke out a living. Following his ministry fourteen other pastors shepherded this flock during the approximately 180 years of its remarkable history. The most notable of these were Rev. Phineas D. Gurley (1849-1853), who later became the pastor and trusted friend of President Abraham Lincoln and preached his funeral sermon at the White House; Rev. James A. Brookes, D. D. (1854-1858), who later won a national reputation during a long ministry at St. Louis; Rev. Thomas E. Thomas, D. D. (1858-1870), whose character, influence, scholarship, Biblical knowledge, opposition to slavery and general aggressiveness made him loom large in the history of this congregation and in the whole Presbyterian church, (for he served variously as president of Hanover College, near Madison, Ind. And as professor of New Albany and Lane theological seminaries,) and Rev. Maurice E. Wilson, the last pastor, whose long and fruitful ministry extended from 1890 to 1919.. His pastorate continued until First and Third Street Presbyterian churches united in 1919 to form the Westminster Presbyterian church.
Dayton’s first church was incorporated in the winter of 1811-12, and, the following year, the lots at the northeast corner of Main and Third Sts. Were subdivided and sold for the sum of $3,542.00 A lot west of Wilkinson St. was bought as a site for a church bullding, but later that site was excaanged for one at the NW corner of Second and Ludlow Sts., where members of the First Presbyterian worshiped for more than a century. Three different houses of worship have graced the site: a two-story brick church 50 by 40 feet, which was erected in 1817 at a cost for building, furnishings and bell of $6,514.12 ½; a building 50 by 70 feet, surmounted by a lofty tower, constructed in 1839 at a cost of $14,613.38 and the commodious and stately stone structure that stands on this site, started in 1867 and completed in 1874 at a cost of $100,000.00. A legacy of $7,000.00 and $24,000.00, realized from the sale of the Fifth St. graveyard, assisted the congregation in meeting the cost of the building.
That church, one of the most impressive of the downtown churches in Dayton, and certainly the most centrally located, is now the property of the Central Reformed church. That congregation purchased it in 1927 at a cost of about $175,000.00.
Such is the very abbreviated story of Dayton’s first church congregation. It was Presbyterian because many of the city’s early settlers were members of the Presbyterian denomination before coming here. But there were also a few Methodists, who, if fewer in numbers, were louder and more vehement in their worship. More of these early Methodists lived in the county than in the city. In 1798, Rev. John Kobler, having been placed in charge of the Miami circuit, extended his work up the Miami River and preached in Dayton, a village of either or ten log cabins, Aug. 12, 1798. A year before that, William Hamer, a Methodist local preacher, had formed a class, which worshipped at his home, situated just east of the present site of Focke and Son’s meat-packing plant. Out of this have grown the powerful Methodist churches of Dayton and Montgomery County.
There were not enough Methodists in this backwoods village to make possible the erection of a church building until 1811. It was during the pastorate of a Rev. Collins that the local Methodist congregation of 24 members was organized and work started on the frame structure, thirty by forty feet and painted red, which was put up on the SE corner of Third and Main Sts., present site of the American Building. This site was land apportioned to the Methodists by D. C. Cooper, titular proprietor. While the church was being constructed the Methodists worshipped in the old log Presbyterian church across the street.
The new building served the congregation until 1828 when the rapidly growing congregation required a larger house of worship. This was built of brick, was forty by fifty feet and had a balcony on both sides. In 1843, it became known as Wesley Chapel. In 1844, this building was badly damaged through the falling of a wall of an adjoining building under construction. The church was immediately repaired and served the congregation until 1847, when the third and last edifice on this site, a brick structure, was constructed at a cost of $7,500.00 and was dedicated by Bishop Simpson.
Encroaching business and increasing property values caused the congregation to sell this building to Daniel Kiefer for $20,500.00 shortly after the Civil War. A lot was secured at the S. E. Corner of Fourth and Ludlow Sts., where a beautiful and imposing stone Gothic church structure, long regarded as the best example of Gothic architecture in Dayton, was erected in 1870. This church was renamed Grace M. E. and is so known today. By 1919, this property had become so valuable that the congregation determined to sell it and remove to Dayton View. So the site was sold to the B. F. Keith interests, and property was purchased at the corner of Salem Avenue and Harvard Boulevard, where was put up what is regarded as one of the most magnificent churches in Methodism at a cost of $325,000.00. A new Casavant organ was purchased and installed in October, 1928.
Many ministers have served Grace church because of the former rule of the church forbidding a pastor from serving any one charge longer than from three to five years. Among these who became nationally know were Dr. A. B. Leonard (1877-79), later general secretary of the whole Methodist Episcopal church in the north; W. I. Hypes (1893-98); Rev. Daniel McGurk (1911-15); Rev. George W. Bunton (1915-22), during whose pastorate the present magnificent and commanding church at Salem Ave., and Harvard Blvd. Was erected and dedicated, July 3, 1921 and Rev. C. W. Brashares, pastor from 1922 to 1034, during whose ministry the church experienced a remarkable growth both in spirit and numbers. Rev. Hazen G. Werner has been serving since November, 1934, and, during his ministry, has amply justified the belief of the committee which chose him that he would be worth successor to Dr. Brashares.
Central Reformed Church
Grace M. E. Church
After the Presbyterians and Methodists had organized and built churches, members of other denominations began to meet together and to evince an interest to worship in churches of their own. The other religious groups, active during this period, who started what might be called parent churches, were Baptists, Episcopalians, German reformed and Disciples of Christ. These groups all had their won meeting houses by 1830. During the next 20 years the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, United Brethren and members of the Evangelical and other denominations had also organized and entered upon church building campaigns, which resulted successfully in all cases.
Thus, by 1850, there were more than a dozen different denominations and religious divisions represented in Dayton. In the same year, a small group of 12 German Jews organized a Hebrew Society. Their meeting place was in the rooms of the old Dayton bank building, a stone structure built on the ground where now stands the fountain of Steele High School. When these quarters became inadequate the group moved to a building adjacent to the Cooper Building N. E. corner of Second & Main st. This remained its meeting place until 1863 when the congregation purchased the old Baptist Church, then located on the N. e. corner of Fourth & Jefferson Sts. And converted it into the first synagogue.
The Protestant church which became a synagogue had been put up by the First Baptist congregation in 1838 after a long and arduous struggle. Indeed, among the early congregations in Dayton, none had to experience quite such an ordeal as this particular church. Only the courage and faith of the founders prevailed against such odds and so many reverses.
Baptists there were in Dayton almost from the first, though they were not so numerous as the Presbyterians and Methodists. As early as 1806, Charles R. Roe, representing the Baptist Union Congregation, appealed to d. C. Cooper, who had laid out the city and had become titular proprietor, for a donation of land on which to build a Baptist church. He was assigned lot No. 156 on Main St., Sept. 8, 1807. For some reason the plan fell through and the land was deeded to other parties. So it was not until 1824 that a council of 17 men, including nine ministers, met on the porch of the residence of William Huffman, NW corner of Third and Jefferson Sts. And organized the First Baptist church. Lydia Huffman was immersed in the Miami River the following Sunday. This was the first immersion ever held in Dayton. Several others followed, and the congregation began to grow, so that by 1827 it was able to call Rev. D. S. Burnett to become its pastor. A lot was purchased on the west side of Main St. between First and Monument Ave., where a small church building was constructed at a cost of about $2,000.00.
The peace of the congregation was disturbed a little later by an upheaval which, in the minds of the faithful, was nothing short of a calamity. Alexander Campbell, the famous revivalist, came into the Miami Valley, preaching that, to say “I believe in Jesus Christ”, is creed enough for admission to any church; that articles of faith are only human inventions calculated to destroy the harmony of the church. Otherwise, he favored immersion and certain other beliefs and practices of the Baptists.
Among the Baptist churches rent assunder during this stormy period was the First Baptist church. Following the lead of the pastor most of the members separated from the Miami Baptist Association and organized a Disciples or Campbellite church. The meeting house on N. Main St., became the first Disciples or Church of Christ and formed the nucleus of the congregation, now known as the Central Church of Christ, which worships on the NW corner of Sixth and Brown Sts.
Eight members remained with the Baptist organization. On the bronze tablet in the foyer of the First Baptist church, W. Monument Ave. opposite Ludlow St. are inscribed the names of the eight who remained true to the Baptist church, and from this small company has grown the various Baptist organizations in the city. On this honor roll appear the names of Andrew Huffman, Lydia Huffman, Daniel Kiser and wife, Moses Stout, Elizabeth Crowell, Elizabeth Bowen and Rachel Bradford.
As the result of another conflict regarding missions and Sunday school work, the congregation, which for a time was then grouped with the New Carlisle field under Rev. Samuel R. Clark, was excluded from the Miami Baptist association, together with other progressive congregations in Cincinnati, Lebanon and Middletown. These congregations however, easily survived even this expulsion and, in 1838, they adopted the name of “Regular Baptist”. The same year, the local congregation, which had been experiencing a healthy growth, erected the building on the northeast corner of Fourth and Jefferson Sts. At a cost of $5,164.00, a building which served it as its meeting house until 1863.
During the pastorate of Rev. Samson Talbot (1856-1863), later president of Denison University, the imposing brick church which for nearly 50 years occupied the present site of Loew’s Theater on N. Main St., was erected at a cost of $45,856.00. Eighty-two new members were received, bringing the total enrollment to 268. The present beautiful church building on W. Monument Ave. opposite Ludlow St., now the house of worship of this congregation, was begun shortly after the flood of 1913, and was built at a cost of #215,000.00, and dedicated in 1918, after that very large sum of money had been collected.
(See POI #
Rev. Henry Francis Colby had the longest and one of the most notable pastorates in the history of the church, for he served from 1868 until 1903 when he resigned on account of ill health. In 1970, during a revival conducted by Dr., Colby, there were 89 new members added to the church roll and the congregation continued to grow through the long years of his ministry.
He was succeeded by Rev. Howard P. Whidden, who served eight years and a half and started plans which resulted in the erection of the present church. The church in late years has been served by the rev. J. C. Massee, brought to Dayton from Chattanooga, Tenn., whose eloquence during the seven years of his pastorate drew crowds even on hot Sunday evenings and who served later the famous Brooklyn, N. Y. Baptist Temple; Rev. Joel H. Slocum, who died suddenly at Vancouver, British Columbus, while on a vacation, following a ministry extending from 1919 to 1922; the late W. H. Geistweit, brought from the Third church, St. Louis, who endeared himself to his congregation as have few ministers until he left here in September, 1929 to live, lecture and work in California, and Rev. C. L. Seasholes, who has been in charge since January, 1931.
Central Reformed church is the result of the merger of three congregations. First and Trinity Reformed churches united in 1923 and chose Central Reformed church as the name of the new body. Fourth Reformed Church united with Central church in 1929.
First Reformed church, however, is the parent church of that denomination in Dayton. The congregation was about 100 years old even when it joined forces and became united in fellowship with the first of its offspring. Though it did not have a church of its own in which to worship until about 14 years later, the congregation is one of Dayton’s oldest.
As early as 1809, Rev. Thomas Winters, assisted by United Brethren ministers, was conducting meetings for members of the Reformed church who had come here from Pennsylvania and Maryland. But it was not until 1824 that Rev. Winters’ sons, David and Thomas, and several other prominent citizens, started the first church.
The church was regularly organized in 1833 with the following charter members: Mr. and Mrs. Abram Artz, Mr. and Mrs. Frybarger, Mrs. David Winters and Mrs. Valentine Winters. The organization took place at the New Light (Christian) church, then on the west side of Main St. between Fourth and Fifth. Later the meetings were held at the Old Courthouse until, in April, 1837, a lot was purchased for $752.00 on N. Ludlow St., between Second and Third Sts., present site of Partner’s jewelry store, and a church was built. Dedicated in June, 1840 the church was enlarged in 1863 at a cost of $15,000.00
Rev. David Winters, the first pastor, who ministered to the congregation for 17 years and was known as the “Marrying Parson”, continued to officiate at many weddings long after he resigned in 1850. Several other notable pastors in the Reformed church headed the congregation, including Rev. T.P. Bucher, during whose pastorate the church building was enlarged, and Rev. David Van Horn, who ministered to the congregation eight years and later became president of Central Theological Seminary.
But Rev. W. A. Hale, who became pastor in 1876 and was minister almost 42 years, building up one of the largest congregations in Dayton, made a record, for length and fruitfulness of service, which is unsurpassed in the religious history of Dayton. Following his resignation in 1971 he organized the church at the corner of Delaware and Grafton Aves., which in his memory is now known as Hale Memorial Reformed church, and had built up a growing, active and well-knit congregation when death suddenly cut short his pastoral labors in 1922. Nearly 50 years he was a figure here of tremendous importance; a leader not only among the people that he shepherded, but also among those of other churches and many outside the church.
Dr. Hale was succeeded by Rev. Frederick K. Stamm. He served five years, and, following his resignation, First church and Trinity church formed the first of the two mergers which resulted in the organization of Central Reformed church.
Episcopalians, who had been here since Dayton was a pioneer community of a few scattered log houses, had no church organization nor meeting house until the population had grown to a sizable village. This was in accordance with the religious trends of other settlements in the Middle West; the evangelistic churches were organized long before those that emphasized ritual.
As early as 1817, however, Bishop Philander Chase, one of the pioneer missionaries of the Episcopal church, visited Dayton while exploring the southwestern part of Ohio on horseback and made an effort to organize the Episcopalians of the town. He met with little encouragement at first; but after conducting a meeting obtained the names of some seven settlers. These founded the parish of St. Thomas’ two years later at a meeting held at the Old Academy on N. St. Clair st.
The first communion service took place at the old Courthouse in 1821. The congregation was very small, had no fixed meeting place, and seems to have become discouraged; for in 1822 St. Thomas’ passed into history.
During the next eight years it is likely that the Episcopalians met in other churches if they met at all. But it was not until 1830, at a meeting held at the First Presbyterian church, that they seemed to have obtained a new lease on life. Rev. Ethan Allen became rector after 59 people agreed to pay him an annual salary of $320.00, which seems miserable pay even in those days of low prices. Judge Crane was senior warden and Warren Munger Jr. was junior warden.
Christ Church Parish Association was organized with 15 members, May 15, 1831. Sunday school was started in January, 1832. A year later a lot was purchased on the east side of Jefferson St. a hundred feet north of Fifth St. The church opened June 1833, was remodeled in 1849 and continued to be the house of worship of the congregation until the property was sold in 1871 and the present site of Christ church on the south side of W. First St. between Main and Ludlow Sts., was bought. Bishop Bedell laid the cornerstone. The church building was constructed at a cost of about $100,000.00, the first service being held there in 1873.
A dignified brick structure with graceful lines, Christ Church is much the same today as when it was put up except for the fact that the parish house was added in 1891. Christ Episcopal and Central Reformed churches are the oldest of Dayton’s fast diminishing downtown church buildings.
Like other downtown churches Christ Church suffered great damage in the flood of 1913. The organ, the gift of Fowler Stoddard, had to be rebuilt.
It was rededicated at a recital given Feb. 2, 1926 by the noted blind organist and composer, Alfred Hollins. The rebuilt organ is the gift of the late Robert Patterson, senior warden, in honor of his grandmother, Mrs. Julian Johnston Patterson and his mother, Mary Thomas Patterson.
Christ Church is interesting in chronology to many who are now members of the congregation. It is adorned with numerous memorials, some of which carry one back to the personal history of the city. There is a painting of Christ (by John Ortel), presented by the late Mrs. George W. Houk. Only Rochester, N.Y. is said to have a religious subject of equal beauty. The re-table, holding the cross, vases and candles, was the gift of the congregation in memory of the deceased rectors. It was installed at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the church in 1882. Two brass memorial tablets honor the memory of two former rectors, Rev. Jesse T. Webster and Rev. Yelverton Peyton Morgan. There are eleven illuminated windows bearing the names of former parishoners who donated them.
Eleven different rectors served the old church on Jefferson St. Since the new church has been occupied it has been served by the following rectors: Jesse Thomas Webster (1880), Herbert J. Cooke (1887), Y.P. Morgan (1895), John D. Hills (1900), Holmes Whitmore (1901), Arthur Dumper (1909), B. H. Reinheimer (1918) and Phil Porter, who has been serving since 1920.
During the week of Oct. 19 to 26, 1930 the church celebrated its centennial, bringing back to its altar many of its former rectors and laymen.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
According to Msgm. Chas. A. Ertel, Dean of the Dayton Deanery and pastor of the Holy Family Church, approximately 30% of the population of Dayton is Roman Catholic. The 1930 Census reveals there were at that time 20,181 Catholics in Dayton distributed among 19 churches. Four of these are exclusively foreign, two of the congregations being Hungarian, one Polish and one Lithuanian. Yet the Roman Catholic church in Dayton was comparatively late in starting for the very good reason that Catholics were late in arriving here. There were no members of that church among the early arrivals in Dayton and very few in Ohio. Indeed, 89% of the early Ohioians were native Americans. Two-thirds of the remaining 11 percent were Germans and belonged to the Lutheran and Reformed churches.
According to the record, the Robert Conway family, which moved to Dayton in 1832, was the first Catholic family to arrive. Several other families of German and Irish nationality followed the next year. Showing a great zeal for establishing a church for the faithful here, Conway soon assembled the Catholics at his home on Ice Alley, running off Jefferson St. between Second and Third Sts. He also arranged for Rev. E. T. Collins of Cincinnati to take up his residence here. Father Collins, with the permission of the Bishop of Cincinnati celebrated mass at the Conway residence, as did various other visiting priests from Cincinnati, including Father Thienpont, Father Juncker and Father Theodore Badin. The other portions of the service were conducted exclusively in the German language.
Out of these visits arose the Emanuel church, now on Franklin ST., which might be called the mother of Catholic churches in Dayton. The nucleus of the organization was formed at the Conway residence, but it was only a short time later that the little group was meeting in a one-story brick building located on N. St. Clair St. opposite Cooper Park. In 1836, Father Thienpont became the first pastor. The year following a new church was built on Franklin St. between Ludlow and Prairie Ave. near the present house of worship, and was dedicated Nov. 26, 1837 by Bishop Purcell. The building was of brick and was 85 ft. long, 50 ft. wide and 33 ft. high.
Father Thienpont was succeeded in 1844 by Father D. Juncker, who worked with such ardor to advance the congregation that it was not long before the building had to be enlarged. During Father Juncker’s rectorship, the church bought a large organ and three magnificent pure white marble altars. So the church was in a flourishing condition when Father Juncker was forced to leave, following his election as Bishop at Alton, Ill.
During the next 54 years, the spiritual guides and leaders of the church were members of the Hahne family, descendants of whom still live here. In 1857, Rev. John F. Hahne, a native of Germany, became rector and remained in that position until his death in 1882. In 1869, it became necessary to plan for a new church to be put up on Franklin St. on the site just east of the old church lot. The building was begun Sept., 1871, was completed and dedicated, Oct. 6, 1873, by Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati. This building of brick 166 x 84 ft. with two towers in front, each 212 ft. high, and one in the rear 150 ft. high, is still one of the largest Catholic churches in the city. It was completed at a cost of nearly $100,000.00. After the death of Father J. F. Hahne in 1882, he was succeeded by his brother, Father Chas. Hahne, who had served as assistant to his brother during the greater part of his rectorship. Father Charles continues as pastor of Emanuel church until his death in June 1911, being, at the time, the oldest priest both in age and ordination in the Arch-diocese of Cincinnati.
He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Sieber, who continued his pastorate until 1923 when he became chaplain of St. Gregory’s College in Cincinnati. During Father Sieber’s pastorate, the church was re-decorated in a style that has won it the distinction of being perhaps the stateliest and most dignified of the Catholic churches of the city. It is entirely frescoed in block formation. There are oil paintings over the main altar and the ceiling over the main altar is in gold leaf. Painted in shades of gray and light tan, tastefully distributed, the effect of the scheme of decoration upon the beholder is one of extreme plainness and simplicity.
Rev. Albert Kroum, the present pastor, has served the congregation since 1923. Though Emanuel church is downtown, and has the financial problems which usually confronts a church whose many members have moved to the suburbs, the church has continued to go forward under his direction, and the parish is one of the largest in the city.
Members of Emanuel church started three of Dayton’s largest church bodies and most influential parishes - St. Joseph for English-speaking Catholics and St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity for German Catholics. Though most of the members of St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity are still German in name and ancestry, the services, exclusive of the mass and other parts of the ritual, are conducted exclusively in English today.
St. Joseph was formed in 1846 and its members were largely of Irish extraction. Two lots were purchases for $2,000.00 at the northeast corner of Second and Madison Sts. Where a church, 88 ft. by 45 ft., surmounted by a handsome towner, was built and dedicated in 1847 by Bishop Purcell. This remained the house of worship of the congregation for 62 years, the last service there being held on Easter Sunday, 1909. Growth and improved condition of the parish made a new church necessary, and the present building of Italian Renaissance design, regarded architecturally as one of Dayton’s finest churches, was built and dedicated in July, 1910, during the pastorate of the late Father William D. Hickey (See POI #17)
More that a dozen priests have served during the ninety or more years of its existence. Rev. Patrick O’Meally (1847-1857) was founder and first pastor of the church. One of the early pastors, Rev. Richard Gilmour (1867-1869) later became bishop at Cleveland. Rev. William D. Hickey (1890-1916) had decidedly the longest pastorate, planned and directed the building of the new church, proved himself an excellent business man as well as spiritual guide, was dean of the Dayton Deanery after the death of the very Rev. Dean Sedley of St. Raphael’s church, Springfield, and was, at the time of his leaving here to become chaplain of the Convent of good Shepherd, a member of Archbishop Moeller’s Council and a member of the Archdiocesan school board. No other Catholic priest has taken such an interest in Dayton civic affairs.
Since the death of Father Hickey the following priests have served the congregation: Rev. James Ward, of revered memory (March, 1917 to June, 1928); Rev. Frank Varley (June 1928 to August, 1930) and Rev. David Powers, (August, 1930 up to the present time).
East Dayton members of the Emanuel Church organized St. Mary’s Church in 1859 and built the church, schoolhouse and pastor’s residence on the corner of Xenia Avenue and Allen St. The ground on which the church was erected was donated by Allen McClure. Bishop Prucell laid the cornerstone of the brick church, 100 x 50 ft., April 25, 1859, and Rev. D. Juncker, Bishop of Alton, Ill., and former pastor of Emanuel church, officiated at the dedication, Aug. 15, 1860.
During the 78 years that St. Mary’s Church has been in existence it has been served by only six pastors. The Rev. Peter Schiff, first rector, served until 1869. He directed the building of the church and the schoolhouse, and in other ways laid a substantial foundation for the parish. He was succeeded by Rev. H. L. Stuckenborg, who held the pastorate more than 30 years before illlhealth caused his resignation in 1901. Rev. Joseph Lutz, his successor, was pastor for only two years, when he resigned for similar reasons.
In September, 1903, Rev. Chas. H. Kemper, first permanent chaplain at the National Military Home, was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s after ministering for 23 years to the spiritual needs of Catholics at the Home. During Father Kemper’s pastorate at the present church, a Romanesque structure, one of the finest churches in the city, was erected at a cost of $125,000.00 Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati dedicated the church, Nov. 18, 1906. Father Kemper’s death, shortly after the flood of 1913, was mourned by people of all creeds and sects. He was personally loved as have been few Dayton priests. He was also born in this city.
Father Otto Auer served as pastor of this congregation four years and was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Bernard J. Beckmeyer. The church, during the past 20 years of Father Beckmeyer’s ministry, has experienced a remarkable growth, and the parish is, today, one of the most prosperous in the city. Extensive alterations and improvements inside the church have been made from time to time and many regard St. Mary’s as being the most artistic of Dayton’s Catholic churches. IN fact, the whole interior of the church was renovated, the altar was rebuilt and a new tabernacle and lighting system were installed. The church has also experienced a growth in various other directions, The high school, for example, which was maintained for several years before the establishment of the Catholic Central High Schools, was recognized as one of the best conducted educational institutions maintained by any parish in the Cincinnati Arch-diocese. There are several men’s and women’s societies continually working to advance the church.
A year after St. Mary’s Church had been organized, another group of members of Emanuel Church left that congregation and organized the Holy Trinity Church. As many of them lived in the eastern part of the city, a lot was purchased on the NE corner of Fifth and Bainbridge Sts., and a church was erected and dedicated Aug. 15, 1861 by Bishop D. Juncker of Alton, Ill.
Rev. Francis Goetz was the founder and first pastor of the church, his long pastorate extending from 1860 until 1899, when he dies. At the beginning of his ministry a school for boys and girls was erected, which gave place to a better and larger school in 1883. Following the death of Father Goetz, Rev. Chas. F. Hahne, a nephew of Revs. John and Charles Hahne of Emanuel Church, and a native of Dayton, was placed in charge of this congregation. While he was pastor, the church building was thoroughly renovated, the external walls were sham-rocked, a modern heating plant was installed and the entrance of the church was beautified with stone portals, granite columns and bronze doors. The total cost was approximately $25,000.00.
Holy Trinity Church, now 67 years old, has had only four pastors during its long existence. Upon Father Hahne’s death in November, 1910, he was succeeded by Rev. J. Henry Schengber, whose principal physical achievements may be listed as the erection of a modern school building with auditorium at a cost of $100,000.00, the purchase of real estate for playground purposes, the installation of a new organ at a cost of $15,000.00, and the establishment of a two-year commercial high school. This was discontinued when the Catholic Central High School became a reality. English replaced German as the medium of administration during this pastorate.
When, in 1921, Father Schengber was placed in charge of a large church in Cincinnati, Rev. Herman J. Leising, the present pastor, succeeded him. During the 16 years of Father Leising’s pastorate, the teacher’s dwelling was modernized at a cost of $18,000.00, the hcurch steeple was embellished with a new clock, five new bells, Westminster chimes and the electrical bell-ringing device, at a cost of $10,000.00, and the recotry was modernized at a cost of $13,000.00.
It is interesting to note that the Catholic fraternity, known as the Knights of St. John, was founded in the Holy Trinity parish under the guidance of Father Goetz, becoming in his life time a National organization. The work of the church has been greatly advanced by several societies of men and women and a sodality for the well-being of the young people.
There were Lutherans and Lutheran churches north, south, and west of Dayton long before they had effected any organization or constructed any house of worship. Early German settlers were numerous, most of whom were members either of the Lutheran or Reformed denominations. These, the Rev. David Winters, pastor of the First or German Reformed church, who was bi-lingual, sometimes gathered together in his little church on North Ludlow Street and preached to them. This continued for several years. Meanwhile, the Lutherans grew in numbers and were anxious to worship in a church of their own.
Finally, in 1839, the English Lutherans started Zion, now First Lutheran Church, and, the following year, the German Lutherans organized St. John’s German Lutheran Church. As regards the First Lutheran Church, it is pertinent that, on July 10, 1840, the articles of organization were drawn up by Frederick Gebhart, Philip Beaver, and Dr. Elijah Ealy, who met in the storeroom of Mr. Gebhart on North Main St. between Second and Third Sts. The signers were the four men mentioned, together with Henry Creager, John Prugh, Peter Baker, Samuel Keller, John Hoppert and I. G. Hoppert. The congregation met for a short time at the Reformed Church, but soon determined to worship in a church of its own.
Then Rev. D. P. Rosenmiller, Of Pennsylvania, was invited to come to Dayton and preach every Sunday, provided $200.00 be raised for his support. He answered the call and arranged to supply several churches, including Zion’s Church on Cincinnati Pike, David’s Church, Wolf Creek, and Union. Services were held for a while at the old Academy on St. Clair Street, opposite Cooper Park, but the building was in such impossible condition that a lot on the southwest corner of Fourth and Jefferson St. was purchased in April, 1941, for $1,025.00., and the basement of the building was erected during the year. The first service was conducted there by Dr. Rosenmiller, Jan. 10, 1842, for the building was not completed until April, 1845.
Dr. P. Riser was called in 1849 as a successor to Rev. Rosenmiller to serve full time at a salary of $450.00 The latter accepted a pastorate in Hanover, Pa. After working nine years in the local field and serving as first pastor of the church. His ministry was successful but it was during the pastorate of a Rev. Conrad, starting in 1855, that the membership was actually doubled, being increased from 160 to 325. This necessitated erecting a new church building. So the old building was sold to the United Presbyterians and a lot was secured on Main St. near Fifth St. at a cost of $6,500.00 Building operations started immediately and the entire structure was completed and dedicated on January 20, 1861. This edifice, 72 x 121 ft., was put up at a cost of $61,118.00.
The congregation had been growing rapidly and enjoying great harmony. But during the Civil war, there occured a dissension similar to that suffered by so many churches during that troubled period. The result was that Rev. Daniel Steck, who had been called to the pastorate following Dr. Conrad’s resignation in March, 1862, resigned in 1864, and helped organize the church now known as St. John’s English Lutheran church located on North St. Clair Street, across from Cooper Park. Dr. L. A. Gotwald, who succeeded Dr. Steck, introduced the cause of missions and education in the church and helped raise $33,412.00 for Wittenberg College in Springfield. During the pastorate of Rev. Irving Magee in 1870, occured the great revival that swept the entire country and affected all protestant churches. As a result of the revival, 231 members were added to the church enrollment and 200 to the Sunday School, making it the largest in the city at that time.
Since 1873, a period of 64 years, when Dr. J. W. Helwig resigned the pastorate to become president of Wittenberg College, the church has been served by 10 pastors. The most notable of these have been Rev. E. E. Baker, pastor from 1887 to 1898, dynamic not only in the pulpit but in the pastoral work in the church; Rev. D. Frank Garland, pastor from 1899 to 1913, during whose ministry the present house of worship, on the southeast corner of First and Wilkinson Sts. Was constructed; Rev. Miles H. Krumbine, who introduced several innovations, such as establishing a church office, engaging an assistant pastor, starting a Sunday evening forum, erecting an adult Sunday School at a cost of $13, 000.00, and promoting a summer school of religious education that became nationally known and was the inspiration for articles in several leading religious publications.
While several of the ministers of this church had been interested in public affairs, it was the late Rev. D. Frank Garland, who most strongly impressed his personality upon the city. He became Dayton’s first welfare director, a position for which he was well fitted, through his long experience in work of that kind, partly in association with the late John H. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company. After serving several years in that capacity, he was named Welfare Director of the N.C.R. and was holding that position at the time of his death.
During his ministry, the church prospered greatly both in the physical and the spiritual sense. ON Jan. 9, 1905, the Main St. church was sold to the Masonic Temple Association for $126,000.00 On My 27th, of that year, the present lot, 99 x 206 ft. at the southeast corner of First and Wilkinson Sts., was purchased. The handsome English Gothic stone edifice, with modern accommodations for Sunday School and social purposes, which now adorns that corner, was constructed and dedicated Dec. 1, 1907, at a cost of $170,000.00. In 1927, extensive improvements costing $127,000.00 were made, the church being re-decorated, a new organ installed, and the kitchen and social rooms made into modern well-equipped departments.
The First Lutheran Church is almost unique among Lutheran churches in using no liturgy. The Lutheran liturgical service was abandoned during the 1850's and the one attempt to revive it during the 1880's ended in the forced resignation of the pastor. It is recognized as one of the lowest Lutheran churches - that is, lowest in form of worship - in the United Lutheran Synod.
This church has been the mother of three churches, Second organized Sept. 15, 1892, Trinity, 1900, and Grace, 1907. A few years ago, Second and Trinity merged and took the name of Second Trinity Lutheran church, Shaw and McDaniel Sts.
As for St. John’s German Lutheran Church, mother of the German Protestant churches of the city, it deserves to be considered with the First Church because it was organized in 1840, one year after that congregation. Increasing numbers of German immigrants, who were Lutherans, made possible the calling of Frederick Reiss, originally of Richmond, Indiana, to become their pastor. The organization was effected July 18th of that year, and the name of St. John’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church was adopted. In 1842, a lot was purchases on Sears St., where a frame building was erected at a cost of $1,173.00. The German Lutherans continued to increase in numbers so that it was soon necessary to worship in a much larger building. Property was secured around the corner on Third St. for $5,000., where a building 65 x 115 ft. was constructed.
This church suffered two disasters. On July 9, 1871, during the Sunday School hour, it was almost entirely destroyed by tornado. Three people were killed and a number was injured. The church was immediately re-built and, in 1887, was enlarged. Twelve years later, on April 30, 1899, it was destroyed by fire. Immediately, the congregation evidenced its invincible character by proceeding at once with the erection of the very large and exceptionally impressive brick church covering a space of 95 x 190 ft., which is now on the old site. The Miami Valley Hospital was organized in this church in 1890, during the pastorate of Rev. Carl Mueller. It was first know as Deaconess Hospital. For thirty years, St. John’s educational classes, offering instruction in many subjects to working men and women, have attracted favorable attention to this congregation. Indeed, in this special field, this church has performed a unique service for Dayton.
Nine pastors have served this congregation. The longest and most successful pastorate was that of Rev. J. G. Mueller, who ministered to the spiritual life of the congregation for 39 years and was also a potent force in the life of the city. It was under his direction that the present imposing church structure on East Third St. between Madison and Sears, was constructed and the notable educational program of the church was instituted. Following Rev. Mueller’s death in 1932, the church called Rev. Walter R. Grunewald as its pastor. He is gradually liberalizing the life of the church in Harmony with modern ideas of cooperative church effort. Although St. John’s Church is now a member of the Evangelical synod, which, several years ago united with the Reformed church of the United States, it still retains the name of Lutheran.
UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH
Dayton has been facetiously referred to as, “the Rome of the U. B. Church”. The reference seems to be justified by the numerous United Brethren in Christ congregations located here. In Dayton, alone, there are 14 churches and three more within a few miles of the corporation line. Moreover, Dayton is the seat of the denomination’s publishing house, known as the Otterbein Press Publishing Co., as well as the headquarters of practically all of the church officials. IN Montgomery County there are about 15 more congregations, bringing the number of members in the city and county to more than 10,000.
Yet the United Brethren Church was long in organizing in Dayton, considering the fact that the church had a very early start in Montgomery County at Germantown and in various other communities, much nearer the city. It was in 1804 that a colony of 24 German families from Berk’s County Pa. came to Montgomery County, nearly all of whom settled in Germantown. In 1805, after Andrew Zellar built his house there, he organized a United Brethren class. However, it was not until 1829 that the congregation had acquired its own church.
More Germans were added to the growing population of Montgomery County in 1805, when 96 Marylanders, all of them of German extraction, including women and children, settled a few miles east of Dayton. In this company were members of the Kemp, Lehman, and other families of the United Brethren communities in Maryland. Thus Montgomery County, and other counties in the Miami Valley with a large German population, furnished a needy and inviting field for such United Brethren ministers as found their way here.
In the city, almost from the time it was founded, occasional meetings for the United Brethren were also conducted by visiting bishops and circuit-riding ministers. The first of these, of which there is any account, was led by Bishop Newcomer in 1810. He remained here for two days and preached several forceful sermons. Then, preceding the establishment of a church, Bishop Joseph Hoffman moved to Dayton about 1835, locating in the section now know as Dayton View. He built a house on Superior Ave., fitting it up with two classrooms, where he held frequent meetings. This house was later occupied by the late J. O. Arnold, one of Dayton’s most interesting historians. By the time he left Dayton, in 1838, a class of 41 members had been organized. Mrs. Mary Somers, a member of this organization, was baptized by Bishop Hoffman in the Miami River near the present Dayton View bridge.
Seemingly, this class continued its sessions, for, in 1840, the following public announcement appeared in the Religious Telescope: “We have been informed by a Dayton brother that there is a small class of United Brethren in that place, who meet regularly once a week for worship, but are destitute for preaching by ministers of our faith” Some time later, at a meeting at the home of Daniel Keifer, the class was regularly organized and Daniel Bonebrake was assigned as minister of the Dayton District. This was formed in 1841 and, in 1843, it consisted of 12 appointments and 270 members.
During the ministry of Rev. Bonebrake, Miami Chapel United Brethren Church, now located on Miami Chapel Road near Greencastle Cemetery was organized in 1846 as a part of the Stillwater circuit. For a time, services were held in the schoolhouse known as Goliday school, located near Bolander Avenue, within one-half mile of the present church. In 1848, Joseph P. Fleming donated three-fourths of an acre of ground to Frederick Shupe Jr. and Reuben Dillow, to be held in trust for the use of the United Brethren Church. On this land, then a mile southeast of Dayton, a brick building was erected. This was enlarged in 1852. So much for Miami Chapel, the first United Brethren congregation in the vicinity of Dayton.
First U. B. Church grew out of a class formerly connected with the Springfield circuit. This class was organized in 1852 in an engine house at the corner of Sixth and Tecumseh Sts., with six members. As lack of a house of worship impeded the growth of the church, a building was started at Sixth and Logan sts. Removal of the United Brethren Publishing house to Dayton in 1863, added much to the prestige of the small congregation, then being served by Rev. W. R. Rhinehart, assisted by Rev. D. K. Flickinger. Dayton also became the headquarters of the denomination and all church officers became members of First Church. Then, during 1860 and 1861, while Rev. W. J. Shuey, later agent for the United Brethren publishing house, was serving as pastor, 104 members were added to the church enrollment. The congregation soon outgrew its first house of worship. So, in 1872, while Rev. C. Griggs was pastor, the meeting house was sold to the municipality for a city prison.
In 1873, erection of a new church on the north side of East Fifth Street, about the middle of the block between Main and Jefferson Sts. Began, and the building was completed and dedicated in 1876. This church continued to serve the congregation until 1905, when it was decided to take advantage of the increased value of their property, as well as to retire from the noise of East Fifth Street, and move to a residential section. A site was obtained at the southeast corner of Fourth and Perry Street, where the present handsome church was erected and dedicated, July 1, 1906 at a cost of $115,000.00. The church is patterned after the Gothic style of architecture. It is a large, almost square building, of brown brick with a foundation of brown stone. The decorations are of limestone.
Twenty-three different ministers had served the church up to 1929 when Rev. G. D. Batdorf, then pastor of the congregation, was elected to the office of bishop. Following his resignation, First Church merged with Cowden memorial. The united church now has a membership of 1307 members. It is slightly smaller numerically than Euclid Avenue United Brethren church and just a trifle larger than Oak Street. Each of these congregations has more than a thousand members. However, First Church has the most prestige and influence. It is not only the first U. B. Church in Dayton, but, by many, is regarded as the first church, of the denomination.
Euclid Ave., U. B. Church was organized in 1871, most of its charter members coming from the Miami Chapel. For two years before, this group conducted a Sunday School in a bookstore near Fourth and Summit Sts. As soon as the organization was completed the work of building a church started. This was completed May, 1871, on Summit St. just north of Third St. The building was a two-story structure, but its use was confined to the first story, consisting of a Sunday School room, also used for church purposes, and five smaller rooms, used for either years by Bonebrake Seminary. In 1880, all the upper part of the building was removed. Rev. J. P. Landis, who served more than 60 years as professor of Bonebrake Theological Seminary, was the first pastor. Sixteen otehr pastors have ministered to this congregation, of whom the most notable have been Rev. A. R. Clippinger, now bishop of the Central Area of the United Brethren Church; Rev. F. L. Dennis, now pastor of the First U. B. Church, who succeeded Bishop Clippinger in August, 1919; Dr. D. T. Gregory, superintendent of the Miami Conference of the U. B. Church, and secretary of the Board of Administration, and the present pastor, Rev. R. D. Miller.
For many years, the church had been recognized as the home church for faculty and students of Bonebrake Seminary. Many of its members and former members have become prominent in denominational activities.
The present church, somewhat resembling the First United Brethren, was constructed in 1910 at the northwest corner of Third and Euclid Avenue, at a cost of $75,000.00. This was during the pastorate of Bishop A. R. Clippinger. The larger part of the debt was paid off during his ministry and only $14,500.00 of the indebtedness remained when he resigned in 1918 to become superintendent of the Miami Conference.
Oak Street was started as a mission in the southern part of the city, and the work of constructing a big chapel and parsonage began July 7, 1886. On August 28, 1886, the Miami Conference, in session at Greenville, recognized the mission and appointed Rev. L. Bookwalter as pastor. During his pastorate, the chapel was finished and formerly opened and occupied, Oct. 30, 1886. The chapel was completed and dedicated by Prof. G. A. Funkhouser, of Bonebrake Seminary, Oct. 31, 1886. On Nov. 7, of the same year, 25 charter members were received, and by the end of the month, with 50 charter members, the church was formally organized and the first communion service observed. A large portion of the cost of construction was paid by the late John Dodds, local philanthropist.
It was during the pastorate of the Rev. H. H. Fout, now Bishop Fout, that the auditorium was built, and the main portion of the church building was completed. A commodius basement was added and publicly opened April 4, 1909. During the half century of it’s history, Oak St. Church has been served by a dozen ministers, several of whom, were distinguished officials of the church. Two of the, Rev. H. H. Fout and Rev. Ira Warner, became bishops of the church. The longest and one of the most effective pastorates was that of Rev. J. G. Huber, who served from Aug. 1899 to Aug. 1909, when he was succeeded by Rev. D. D. Bowman.
No religious history of Dayton would be complete if the Watervliet SOCIETY of UNITED BELIEVERS in CHIRST’S SECOND APPEARING, commonly called Shakers, did not receive due consideration. Dayton was only 10 years old, when this Society was established in Section 13, township 2, range 7, of Van Buren Township, south by east of Dayton, and it continued an interesting part of the ecclesiastical life of Montgomery County more than 100 years.
Daytonians generally treated the members of this society with kindness and courtesy.
Indeed, it is part of the folklore of Dayton that, because of this fair treatment, the Shakers gave the city their blessing sometime during the 1820's, laying a cruse upon the village of Lebanon, in Warren County, because the citizens there made the Shakers in Union Village suffer great oppressions during the early part of the 19th Century. True, there is a reference in Steele’s History of Dayton, issued by the United Brethren Publishing House in 1899, that Daytonians were not always so considerate and well-disposed to certain Shakers who came here in 1811 to preach and to gather in converts. These Shakers, the story runs, were mobbed and warned in insulting placards to leave town. They offered no resistance to these attacks, only making a sensible and reasonable reply to their assailants in the Repertory, Dayton’s first newspaper.
It was in 1806, that the few Shaker families here bought an 800-acre tract in Van Buren township, and quickly improved and cultivated it. Of all the Shaker communities, Watervliet, on Beaver Creek, was the least in numbers, acreage, and general wealth. Still the community was always self-supporting and was prosperous in numerous ways. There was a Shaker stand on the city market for many years, where the best of fruits and vegetables and general produce were sold. Every part of the 800 acres was highly improved and cultivated except that portion reserved for buildings and grounds. A carding mill for woolen garments, and a grist mill were being operated as early as 1812. Sheep raising and wool growing were among the industries and every lucrative business in garden seeds was carried on. There were blacksmith shops and shops for making wagons, brooms and wooden ware. Some of these industries were, of course, abandoned when the residents of the community became too old to carry them on. In 1909, there were so few of the Shakers left that they sold the land to the Dayton State Hospital. It is now used as a dairy farm of that institution.
Shakerism, here and elsewhere, may be said to be largely due to the doctrines promulgated during a period of four years, or that time, starting about 1800, when the great Kentucky revival was at its zenith. Many of the converts were emigrants from Kentucky. The majority of them came from Bethel Congregation between Georgetown and Lexington. Coming here about 180, they founded Beulah congregation in the Beaver Creek community in May 1802, at the home of John Patterson. At first they were staunch Calvanists; but at a camp meeting in 1803 occurred a division that resulted in the preliminary establishment of the Shaker church in Watervliet. Robert Marshall, all wrought up with religious zeal, as a result of the Kentucky revival, preached so forcibly against predestination and other Presbyterian fundamentals, that he won over quite a number who had been faithful formerly to Presbyterian teachings. A faction followed the lead of James Kemper, who defended Presbyterianism just as ardently as Robert Marshall opposed it. But the New Lights or Christians were in the majority, and it was some of these converts to New Light doctrines who became Shakers.
The foundations of the society were laid by Issachar Bates, Benjamin Seth Youngs and Richard McNemar, according to the records. William Stewart was the first convert and John and Betsy Milligan and John Patterson, a cousin of Col. Robert Patterson, quickly followed his example.
As for McNemar, he was serving as pastor of the New Light church at Turtle Creek, later Union Village in Warren County, when he became converted to Shakerism, leading most of his flock into the Society of True Believers, as the Shakers delighted to call themselves. He was converted to this faith by Bates and Youngs, two of the missionaries previously mentioned, and John Meacham. This trio of missionaries had been sent from the central society at New Lebanon, N.Y. when the noise made by the Kentucky revival reverberated throughout New England and other eastern localities. They left their homes on the morning of Jan. 1, 1805, and traveled on foot a distance of 1233 miles, before they arrived at the residence of Malcolm Worley at Turtle Creek. Worley was quickly persuaded to leave the New Light church and become a Shaker, deeding his land that became the first unit of what was known for years as Union Village, and what is today Otterbein Home. But McNemar’s contribution was greater; he not only added converts to the society, but he became one of the most zealous Shaker missionaries in the Middle West, set up the first printing presses at Union Village and at Watervliet, and established the first Shaker paper. Throughout his life he was a prolific writer.
Efforts of all three missionaries must have borne early fruit. We find on April 13, 1806, James and Betsy Milligan and Ezekiel and Eunice Patterson visited Union Village, near Lebanon, and imbibed more of Shaker teachings at that fount. After their return, interest at Beaver Creek had become so intensified that Issachar Bates and Benjamin S. Youngs were both asked to return to Beaver Creek. The next day Rachael Southard confessed to Benjamin S. Youngs. Others who were also induced at an early date to “worship in the dance” were David Grommon, James and Peggy Durst, Benjamin Simonton and family, John Rue and family, John Davis and family, John Jackson and family and Thomas Williams. Formal recognition of the society took place April 26, 1806, but the community was not designated as Watervliet until 1813. It was so names from the community at Watervliet in New Your, the first settlement of the Shakers in America, at which place Ann Lee, founder of the society, died Sept. 8, 1784.
Regarding theology and worship, it may be explained in passing that the Shakers ascribed a duality of sex to the Deity, regarding God both as male and female; as possessing the purest and loftiest sense of the Father and Mother.
They believed that, as Christ had come first in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, so he came a second time in the person of Ann Lee of Manchester, England.
Mother Ann, as she was called, born in Manchester on Bef. 29, 1736, came under the influence of the Shaking Quaker leaders, James and Jane Wardleigh, who, at first, had no strange, ideas about Christ’s second appearing. Soon she claimed to have visions from heaven. So far as theology is concerned, these visions centered about two ideas: first, that she was the second incarnation of Christ; second, that the highest spiritual attainment can be acquired only through complete separation of the sexes and strict continence. This second vision she claimed to have received from heaven in 1770 and, although she preached it in England, it was not until four years later, after she had come to this country, that she promulgated the practice of celibacy and sexual purity as a law. Naturally there was some opposition to the disruption of domestic ties among those already married. Hence, later, we find Shakers divided into two orders, the Adamic and Spiritual, members of the former who were married being permitted to live together and to enjoy sexual congress for the production of offspring. But the Spiritual order was decidedly in the majority. Generally, when a man and his wife joined the Shakers, they were compelled to separate and henceforth be brother and sister.
The Shakers believed that their form of government approached a spiritual and temporal theocracy. This paved the way for a type of spiritualism consisting of visions, which affected the government and practical life of the Shaker communities. Often it was carried to excess. A continuance of the gifts said to have been possessed by Mother Ann was all this. Indeed, she was credited with causing the revelations. Whether she was actually worshipped is not clearly known. Certainly, her authority was not questioned on any subject.
The divine appointment of elders, ten men and ten women, was a leading doctrine throughout the life of this sect. The Shakers claimed their body was organized by Infinite Wisdom and that their spiritual government organized from divine appointment.
Shaker communities were conducted on the communistic plan. When a man joined the Shakers, all his property was turned into the common treasury, whether he remained true to the sect or not.
Shaker was a term first applied in derision, like that of Quaker or Methodist; but it came to be regarded as entirely respectful. The epithet was applied to members of the society beaause of their dances following their formal worship wherein the division of the sexes was strictly maintained. It was also applied because of the peculiar jerking of the head, arms or body under stress of peculiar religious excitement.
DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
There were only Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopal, and Reformed churches in Dayton when the first Disciples of Christ congregation was established. This, as mentioned briefly in the history of the First Baptist Church, came about in a manner that is unique in the religious annals of Dayton. In 1827, Rev. D. s. Burnett became pastor of the Baptist congregation. Though the congregation was small at the beginning of his ministry, it increased to 40 members the first year and to 84 members the second. Soon, a lot was purchased and a meeting house was erected on the west side of Main St. between Water St. (now Monument Ave.) And First St., at a cost of $2,000.00 It was soon apparent that Rev. Burnett was strongly influenced by the teachings of Alexander Campbell, then preaching in the Miami Valley, and declaring that immersion was the only right form of baptism, that, to say “I believe in Jesus Christ”, is creed enough for admission into the church, that all written articles of faith are only human inventions calculated to destroy the unity of the church. The result was that not only the pastor adopted the Campbell doctrines, but he influenced all members of the Baptist Church, except eight, to become Campbellites or Disciples of Christ. Moreover, the Baptist house of worship became the Disciples church.
This congregation, in 1855, moved to the SW corner of Sixth and Brown St. and adopted the name of the Central Church of Christ. It was not until 1889, during the pastorate of Rev. H. L. Willett, that the present church edifice was built.
During the 108 years of its existence, Central Church of Christ has been served by 22 pastors, two of whom became very prominent in denominational affairs. The longest and most successful pastorate was that of the Rev. I. J. Cahill, extending from 1896 to 1909, during which, the debt on the church was cancelled and the West Side Church of Christ was organized. After serving the congregation 13 years, Rev. Cahill became secretary of the Ohio Christian Missionary Society, with headquarters in Cleveland. In 1930, he was named as Vice-president of the United Christian Missionary Society, with headquarters in Indianapolis, a position which he held until that society merged with other denominational bodies. His successor was Rev. John Sala, whose pastorate was characterized by two notable events, the organization of the Santa Clara Ave. Church and the Dayton flood. Rev. C. O. Hawley, who served as pastor from 1920 to 1924, left the church to become promotional secretary of the United Christian Missionary Society. He is now director of the recently created Board of United Promotions. The present pastor, Rev. Ernest L. Ford, who came to Dayton in Nov. 1929, is leading the church into greater fields of service.
Dayton was, for years, the seat of the Christian Publishing Company and of the American Christian Convention. So it is natural that the Christian Church loomed large in the religious life of Dayton. By the name, Christian Church, reference is made not to the Disciples of Christ, who are also commonly called Christians in certain localities, but to the New Light Church, which came out of the great Kentucky revival. The term, New Light, however, was always a sobriquet, not an official title. Since 1931, the Christian Church has been merged with the Congregational Church, while the official body, since the attainment of organic union, is known as General Council of Congregational Christian Churches.
One of the first members of the Christian Church in Dayton was Luther Bruen, who came here from New Jersey in 1804. He became active in the business life of the city, proved a great friend of the negro, and was later elected president of the Anti-slavery Society. Largely through his influence, a church building was put up on the west side of Main St., between Fourth and Fifth Sts., on part of the present site of the Reibold Building, about 1828. It was first known as the Union Church. The trustees were Luther Bruen, John Hiser, and Mr. Overlease. Here were given several lectures on Anti-slavery. Two of these lectures, Dr. Birney and Rev. Mr. Rankin were almost mobbed, and escaped violence only by hiding in the homes of Dr. H. Stewart and Dr. John Steele.
In 1858, the church was organized at a meeting held at the Miami City schoolhouse, Fifth and Baxter Sts. Forth members were enrolled and Sunday School was started. Two lots were purchased, in 1959, at Broadway and Home Ave. The basement of the church was completed the following year, and was used for regular church and Sunday School services for about eight years. In 1868, the unpretentious church was completed, serving the congregation of the First Christian Church until a few years ago, when it merged with its own offspring, the Walnut Hills Christian Church. When the Christian Church moved its publishing house to Dayton, in 1868, most of the departmental heads worshipped at First Church. This extended its prestige and added to its membership.
Rev. Peter McCullough was pastor when the reorganization was effected in 1858. Rev. J. Warren Weeks served the church when it was finally completed and dedicated about 1868. As for the several pastors who have served this congregation, perhaps the most prominent, besides those already mentioned, have been Rev. S. D. Bennett, Rev. F. G. Coffin, and Rev. M. C. D. Howsare. Rev. Coffin, after leaving Dayton, following a very successful ministry, during which the Walnut Hills and Crown Christian Churches were organized, served as president of the General Christian Convention from 1913 to 1934, and was also president of Palmer University, Albany Missouri. Another former pastor of First Church, Rev. M.C. D. Howsare, now pastor of the Crown Point Christian church, became secretary of Evangelism of the denomination, serving up to the time of the merger of the Christian congregational churches.
As for Walnut Hills Christian Church, the organization grew out of a meeting held at the home of J. H. Stewart, 102 Sprague St., May 28, 1908, when a committee composed of d. G. Pleasant, A. F. Chase, and T. R. Townsend was appointed to co-operate with the Christian Ministerial Association, securing a location in the southeast section of the city, known as Walnut Hills, where a mission might be begun. Out of this emerged the Walnut Hills church.
A Sunday School was started, July 2, 1907, in a room rented on Wayne Ave. where Rev. F. G. Coffin preached the first sermon. Shortly afterwards, the school was organized addresses being given from time to time by various denominational officers and prominent ministers of the church. Miss Betty Stephenson was appointed church assistant. Prayer meetings were also conducted weekly. However, the formal organization of the church did not occur until Feb. 26, 1908, following a series of meetings by the Christian Ministerial Association, which resulted in 27 signers to the church covenant.
The late Rev. Pressley E. Zartmann became pastor Feb. 27, 1909, and immediately began leading discussions in connection with the building of a church. In the Spring of 1911, two lots were purchased on Edgar Ave. near Wayne Ave. where, during the summer, a plain wooden chapel was erected with a seating capacity of 250. The building, put up at a cost of approximately of $7,000.00, was dedicated Sept. 3, 1911. The membership was 60 at that time. After he had thoroughly organized the church in all departments, besides starting several men’s and women’s societies and freeing the church from debt, Rev. Zartmann resigned his pastorate, and preached his farewell sermon, June 30, 1921. During the pastorate of Rev. A. W. Hirby, who succeeded him, the present building was erected on the same site at a cost of $43,000.00. It is the finest church structure in Walnut Hills.
The merger of the Wayne Ave. Church with the mother church, the First Christian, occurred in 1930. The membership of the congregation is over 400, which is no criterion of the importance of the congregation to the community which it serves. The Sunday School is considerably larger and the department of Religious Education is one of the most active in the city. Rev. Frank Wright has been pastor for most of the time since the union of the two congregations was consummated. The future of the church seems bright, the pastor and his people are happily at work, and there is hope of acquiring a new church when the need becomes imperative.
The first Evangelical Church of the Evangelical Association, now part of the Wayne Ave. Evangelical Church, was started in 1840 among a group of German Protestants as a result of the preaching of Rev. A. B. Schaeffer at the home of Peter Schneider. The next year, an organization of 12 members was formed at a hall rented on Fourth St. This became the nucleus of the First Church, though, at first, it was conducted as a mission and Sunday School. By 1843, the group had grown large enough to purchase a lot on the NE corner of Fifth and Walnut St. for $200.00, where a one-story brick building was erected. This building, the first meeting house of this religious body, was enlarged to two stories in 1849. It remained the house of worship of this organization until 1870, when a new church was constructed on Commercial St. near Fifth. Both buildings are still standing, the latter still being used by another religious body. For 16 years First Evangelical Church was part of the Ohio Conference, but, after 1857, it joined the Indiana Conference. Numerous pastors served the church, owing to the rule of the Evangelical Association requiring frequent shifting around of ministers. The last pastor was Rev. B. E. Koenig, after whose ministry the merger with the Wayne Ave. Evangelical Church was effected in 1927.
Wayne Avenue Evangelical Church has the somewhat unusual distinction of having absorbed both the membership and the name of the parent organization. It was established among the members of the Commercial St. church by the late J. F. Ditzel, and others, because of a desire for an English Society to hold the young people. The movement started in 1885, but it was three years later that an organization was formed and the movement toward acquiring a place for meetings was begun.
This proved easy, because Raper M. E. Church turned the mission, which its members had started a year before at 1237 Wayne Avenue, over to the Evangelical group. Finally, on June 5, 1888, at a meeting at the home of Peter Grimm, a movement for a new building was started by Rev. A. O. Raber, who had been sent to Dayton to take charge of the mission by the Indiana Conference. At that same time, an organization of 129 members was formed and the name, Wayne Avenue Evangelical Church was adopted.
The first church, a frame structure, was quickly built on a lot purchased at the SE corner of Wayne and Xenia Aves. For $2,500.00, and was dedicated by Bishop Esher, Oct. 7, 1888. During the pastorate of Rev. G. B. Kimmel in 1907, the present commodious church home was erected at a cost of $20,000.00 The congregation has enjoyed continued prosperity and includes among its members some of the leading business men of the city. Among the pastors who have served the church in recent years, are Rev. J. H. Breish, Rev. A. H. Doescher, Rev. Charles H. Haney, and the present pastor, Rev. F. H. Willard.
There have been Dunkards in Dayton since 1801, but there was no organized society of them until 1840's in the city proper. Meetings must have been held somewhere as early as 1844, and a society organized, for, on Mar. 7, 1845, Peter Auginbaugh, for a consideration of one dollar, transferred Lot #77, located at the SE corner of Jackson and Van Buren Sts., to three trustees of the society. On that site, a plain brick structure was put up the same year. Elder Moses Shoup was the first bishop. Meetings were conducted every two weeks by speakers furnished by the Beaver Creek church in Greene county, of which the local society was a branch, and by other Dunkard churches in the country districts. After Rev. Peter R. Wrightsman assumed charge of the local congregation, meetings were held every week.
When the Old Order withdrew in 1881, causing the first split among the Dunkards, the local society remained with the conference and became known as a Church of the Brethren or Conservative Brethren church. The Old Order withdrew from the main body of the denomination because the latter was no longer insisting upon the uniform and because it was going too fast. In 1883, occurred the second cleavage, these dissenters claiming that the ruling body of the church was not going fast enough, and formed the Brethren, otherwise the Progressive Brethren church.
As a result of these denominational divisions, three different congregations emerged in Dayton. The original society threw its lot with the Church of the Brethren conference, continuing to meet at the Jackson and Van Buren building until after 1890, when another building, at the NE corner of Fourth and Philadelphia Sts., replaced it. In 1903, the congregation, re-organized under the name of the East Dayton Church of the Brethren. Since 1908, and while Rev. John W. Fidler was pastor, the church has been regularly served by a paid ministry. The year 1917 was particularly happy for the congregation and the membership was doubled. Rev. Van b. Wright became pastor in 1925, and added more than 100 members to the church enrollment. The church now has about 250 members and continues its record of usefulness in the eastern section of the city. Rev. Hugh Cloppert, formerly of the Lower Stillwater Conference, has served as pastor of the congregation about three years.
The First Church of the Brethren (Conservative) was organized in 1889 at the home of Elder Samuel W. Hoover, just outside the city. A square brick building was erected and dedicated in the fall of the same year. Various elders and pastors served the church for several years, but Rev. Chas. W. Bame, who was pastor from 1902 to 1907, was the first paid minister. Since that time the church has obtained numerous accessions of members, has built up a very large Sunday School and is one of the most influential congregations on the West Side.
During the pastorate of Rev. David Warner, about 20 years ago, the church was completely renovated inside, and stuccoed outside, the position of the altar was changed, and annex was built, and Sunday School and social rooms were added. The church is now oblong instead of square in appearance. The pastorate of Rev. Ernest Coffman lasted seven years. It was the longest pastorate in the history of the congregation, and, during it, the congregation experienced its largest growth in membership. Rev. J. Perry Prather has been pastor during the past three years, and partly, as the result of this religious activity, the congregation now numbers 600 souls.
The First Brethren Church )Progressive) was organized after a general conference of the leaders, from among those who had separated from the Church of the Brethren in 1883 was held in June of that year, in Dayton, at the old Grand Opera House, First and Main Sts. There were 12
charter members when the first meeting of the congregation was held at the old Dunkard church, Jackson and Van Buren St. Elder Samuel Kiehl was chosen as the first pastor. After five years, the congregation purchased a church on Clemmer St., and continued its worship there until 1899,
when it purchased property on Conover St. from the Fourth Reformed Church. On Jan. 21, 1911 the congregation was incorporated under the laws of the state of Ohio under its present name. As it had been experiencing a steady growth and had already about 500 members, two lots were purchased the same year on the SW corner of West Third and Grosvenor Sts., where the present large church building, modeled after the temple style of architecture, was erected and dedicated, May 12, 1912. A Bible School annex was constructed and dedicated in 1923.
The church is now one of the largest Protestant churches in the city, with a membership of 1400. Being the only one of its denomination in the city, it draws its membership from all sections, as well as from the rural districts. Fifteen pastors have shepherded it, each of whom has played his part in its development. The present pastor, Rev. Russell D. Barnard has greatly advanced it ain all departments.
Each of these congregations of the Dunkard fraternity is doing active work along Sunday School and mission lines and has a large Christian Endeavor society.
The old German Baptist Brethren (Old Order) has no organization in the city. In fact, there area only about 3,500 of them in the entire country. Montgomery County, however, of which Dayton is the county seat, and other counties nearby, have long been the headquarters of these highly respected and honored people, who still retain the uniform and are opposed to modernism in general. Practically all their annual meetings have been held within a few miles of the city, where, through the years, they have discussed the adoption of modern inventions which other people accept without question. Use of the automobile was allowed the membership only a few years ago. The radio is still forbidden. There are several Old Order churches in Montgomery and other nearby counties.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Dayton had no United Presbyterian church until 1880 when, on Nov. 23rd of that year, the First United Presbyterian church was organized, with 15 families and 29 members. There were churches of the denomination in Van Buren Twp., in Xenia and elsewhere in the vicinity, previous to that organization, which local United Presbyterians had to attend or else worship in churches of other denominations that sang hymns instead of psalms.
The first house of worship was in a building purchased from the First English Lutheran church at the southwest corner of Fourth and Jefferson Sts. This was used until 1894, when the congregation had grown to such an extent as to make a new building necessary. As most of the members lived in the eastern section of the city, a site was purchased at the northeast corner of High and McLain Sts., where a combined church edifice and parsonage was erected in 1895. The dedication took place on Dec. 15th of that year.
Thirteen pastors have served the denomination, all of whom contributed to the growth of the congregation. It was during the pastorate of Rev. C. E. McStravick that the Wayne Avenue United Presbyterian church was started as a Sunday School on Jan. 1, 1904. He was assisted by Miss Margaret J. Steward, a Sabbath School missionary sent by the Women’s Board of the church, A building was purchased on Wayne Avenue and Park Street from the Presbyterian congregation then using it. The church was regularly organized with 27 charter members, April 28, 1904, and Rev. Edgar G. Bailey was appointed by the Home Mission Board to act as pastor. Half a dozen other ministers served the congregation, including Rev. C. McLeod Smith, during whose pastorate, extending from Feb. 4, 1912 to Dec. 10, 1916, the Dayton Council of Churches was organized. Rev. Smith was the first Secretary, serving at first in a part-time capacity. He resigned in 1916, to become secretary of the Buffalo Council of Churches. However, during the pastorate, he did a splendid work, and the church became self-supporting. This congregation continued to function as a separate church body until a few years ago when it merged with the mother church. Rev. Roland Boyer is the present pastor of the First church.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH
The history of Christian Science in Dayton is a record of Christian healing and the growth of church activity which follows such healing. As any record of the growth of Christian Science in any community is bound up with the story of its discoverer and founder, Mary Baker Eddy, it may be explained that she discovered Christian Science in February, 1866. At that time, she was suffering from the effects of an accident, which her physician declared would prove fatal. On the third day thereafter, she called for a Bible, read in Matthew 9:2 how Jesus had cured the sick man of palsy, arose, dressed herself, and declared herself miraculously cured of the effects of the accident. After thie demonstration of the efficacy of her religion, she organized The First Church of Christ, Scientist* among a little group of students she had been teaching in Boston, Mass., in the spring of 1879. The mother church was re-organized in September 1892 under the name hitherto mentioned.
So far as Dayton is concerned, the First Church of Christ, Scientist was organized March 11, after a number of people had experienced healing. Services were held in the Pruden block, corner of Fifth and Main Sts. and later at the Central Block, Fifth and Jefferson Sts. In 1902, the congregation purchased the old Congregational church building on South Robert Blvd. Near Third St. and continued to worship there, until May 1922, when it was decided to build the present imposing church at the corner of Saw Mill and Rubicon Rds. The first services in the edifice were held Sunday, Aug. 9, 1925.
The organization of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist took place December 27, 1905. First services were held at a room in the Reibold Bldg. And later the U. B. Bldg. About 1907, the congregation bought the Nixon property at 11-19 East First St., remodeled it into a desirable church home, and continued to use it until the membership outgrew the church. The congregation then purchased the present property at the northeast corner of Grand and Belmonte Park, N., holding services during the progress of building operations in the First Unitarian Church on Salem Ave. The first service in this, one of the handsomest church buildings in Dayton View, was held Dec. 14, 1924.
Both these congregations not only have fine edifices in desirable residential sections, but maintain private reading rooms where the Bible, the works of Mary Baker Eddy, and other Christian Science literature may be read.
*The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is the official title of the Mother Church. “T” is not capitalized in “the” is article precedes name of other Scientist churches.
FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH.
From the visit of Rev. Ernest C. Smith, secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference, and Rev. C. W. Casson, as well as from the early efforts of Rev. John M. Davidson, of Xenia, the First Unitarian church was organized and papers of incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State, May 23, 1910. First formal business meeting and election of trustees occurred June 3, 1910. Rev. Troward H. Marshall, Ph. D., assumed the pastorate in October, serving five years, putting the church on a firm foundation and starting the movement toward a new church building.
Meetings were held first at the Young Women’s League and were being conducted there when Dayton suffered from the flood disaster of 1913. Scarcely had the flood waters subsided when Rev. Marshall sent a message to the American Unitarian Association that the time was ripe to plant some money in Dayton. Financial aid was promptly sent in my the Association. Moreover, at the annual meeting of the American Unitarian Association in May, 1913 the Association voted to advance money, which, together with contributions from other Unitarian churches and interested members and friends, enabled the congregation to purchase a site at Salem and Neal Aves. And to erect the small but very tasteful church that now occupies that site.
Following the resignation of Rev. Marshall came the following pastors in the order names: Rev. Morris Evans, Rev. Arthur L. Weatherley, Rev. Lawrence R. Plank, Rev. James W. MacDonald, Rev. Edwin Henry Wilson and Rev. Raymond Cope.
This church, like all other Unitarian churches, is strictly congregational in form. The business management is vested in seven trustees who elect a president, secretary and treasurer. But the pastor is free from dictation by either the board or the membership. As for the American Unitarian Association, the main body of the Unitarian church, its function is purely missionary.
There are about 32 organized Negro churches in Dayton to which belong a goodly portion of Dayton’s Negro population of about 20,000. There are also many colored missions and cults and small congregations with such grandiloquent names as the Church of God Pillar and Ground of Truth, the Church of God in Christ and the Church of God and Saints and Christ. Several of the Baptist and Methodist churches are very large, having as many as a thousand members, but they are decidedly the exception. Mergers among certain of the Negro churches of the same denomination have been suggested from time to time to avoid duplication of effort, but the tendency among Negro groups seems to incline toward division rather than union.
Zion, Bethel, Tabernacle, Corinthian and Mt. Pisgah are among the largest Baptist congregations, which now number about 20. The Methodists have seven congregations, two Weslyan Methodist, three African Methodist Episcopal and two Methodist Episcopal. Largest among them are the Wayman Chapel, A.M.E. McKinley, M.E., Phillips Chapel, M.E., Allen A.M.E., and the Weslyan Methodist on the NW corner of Scott and Bruen Sts. In addition, there are five congregations belonging to the Church of God, one Disciples Church, one Episcopal, two Pentecostal, one Seventh Day Adventist and St. John’s Catholic Church, which has a white preist but a membership largely Catholic.
Waymen A.M.E. church, which now worships in an edifice of pleasing architectural lines on the NE corner of Fifth and Bank Sts., erected in 1926, is the oldest colored congregation in the city. Organized in the year 1837, it was not until 1840 that the first house of worship, a frame building built upon under posts, was dedicated by the late Bishop Paul Quinn. Twenyy-seven years later he confirmed the re-organization until in 1872, the congregation built a brick church on Baker St., in which it worshiped until the present building was erected. Rev. J. G. Yeiser was pastor at the time. About 20 pastors have served the church during the 100 years it has been in existence. Rev. J. T. Farley is the present pastor.
This ends the Dayton Guide’s brief history of religions in Dayton. The leading denominations have been considered in this report, together with the parent church and, in some instances, the other churches that owe their existence to the mother organization. As there are nearly 200 churches, missions, cults and religious groups in Dayton, it is simply impossible within space limitations to cover the history of each one.
There are now 69 churches affiliated with the Dayton Council of Churches, whereas, when taht organization started about 1913, there were 77. This is due, not to a decrease in church membership, but to several mergers, starting in 129191 with the union of the third St. and First Presbyterian churches, by which the Westminster Presbyterian church was formed.
Other mergers included the following:
Trinity reformed merged with the First Reformed to form the Central Reformed Church and was later joined in the same union by the Fourth Reformed: Cowden Memorial U. B. church in Riverdale joined forces with the parent church, the First U. B. without change of name of the mother church; Trinity and Second Trinity Lutheran Church; Summit St. Baptist and Dayton View Baptist churches united under the style name of Trinity Baptist Church and erected aa new edifice at the corner of Lexington Avenue and Windsor Drive, Dayton View; Fourth Presbyterian and Park Presbyterian merged under the name of the Central Presbyterian Church Wayne Avenue United Presbyterian rejoined the parent church, the First United Presbyterian without changing the name of the mother church; Raper M. E. Church; the second Methodist church body formed in Dayton, purchased the Patterson Memorial Presbyterian Church, changed its name as an organization to South Park M. E. Church and received into fellowship most of the members of the group from which it purchased its present house of worship; First Evangelical Church joined with its offspring, the Wayne Ave. Evangelical Church and adopted the name of the latter church body, and Walnut Hills Christian Church in the southern part of the city and the First Christian Church, on the West Side, the mother church, united and took the name of the parent organization.
According to figures obtained and estimates made by Rev. Daniel E. Brownlee, Secretary of the Council of Churches, in a recent canvass, there are about 86,000 members and adherents of Protestantism in Dayton, about 20,000 members of the 19 Roman Catholic churches of the city and about 6,000 members and adherents of the four Jewish congregations, embracing the Reformed Temple and three Orthodox Synagogues. The Baptists are divided into 10 white and 120 colored church groups, the white churches having an estimated membership of 4925. No figures are obtainable on the membership of the colored congregations.
Numerically the largest Protestant denomination in Dayton is the United Brethren Church in Christ, which has 20 congregations in the city and its environs. The estimated city membership of this denomination is about 9,000.
Next in point of members is the Methodist Episcopal Church, with nine white congregations in the city, having a membership of 6700, and with about half that number of colored churches, most of them having a large membership. Then follow the Baptists, according to figures previously mentioned; the Evangelical Reformed, with 11 churches in Dayton and vicinity and a membership of 4800; and the Lutherans, with 13 congregations belonging to the United, the American and the Missouri synods of the United States, with an estimated membership of 4475.
In addition, there are one Brethren church, with a membership of 1400; four Disciples of Christ churches, including one colored, with 1400 members; two white and six colored congregations of the Church of God, of which there is no record of membership; three Nazarene churches, with an estimated membership of 700; six Congregational Christian churches in Dayton and vicinity, with an estimated membership of 1500; one Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church, with a membership of about 150; two white Episcopal churches in Dayton and one in Oakwood, with an estimated membership of 1500, and one colored church in the city having about 200 members; one Evangelical church with 500 members; one Friends Church with about 100 members; one United Presbyterian Church with 375 members; one Pilgrim Holiness church with a small membership; four Presbyterian churches, having a membership of 3350; either Spiritualist organizations and numerous other unclassified religious groups, of which there is no record of membership.