GRACE CHURCH, Dayton, Ohio
by Charles F. Sullivan
The early settlers of Dayton, started from Cincinnati in three parties, one going by water down the Ohio to the mouth of the Miami and up it, to what is now the end of St. Clair street, and arrived on April 1st 1796. The others came by wagon and had roads to make, bridges to construct, and brush to clear and did not arrive for several days later. Wm. Hamer, owned a team and wagon at Cincinnati and he loaded his wife and six children with a few others in it and, with another wagon, started toward Dayton to settle here.
He was a local preacher, so the Methodists were the first to have a preacher upon the ground, and he was a believer in prayer, for it is said of him “he could be heard three miles at family prayers.”
He located upon a quarter section of land east of Dayton on the Springfield pike, known as Tate’s hill and is now used by the Wm. Focke Co., as a meat packing house. Later this large family married and the girls moved to Troy, Sidney and other points, and their descendants have been good citizens where ever they settled and have been interested in church work.
I will quote from Pioneer life in Dayton by John F. Edgar, “To the Methodist church belonged the first minister in Dayton, William Hamer, who held services at this home as opportunity offered. On August 12, 1798, the Rev. John Kobler preached in Dayton and organized a class of eight members, William Hamer leader. After his last visit on April 2, 1799, there is no record of services, except class meetings, until September 22, 1811, when Bishop Asbury preached from the front of the courthouse to over a thousand people. The Rev. John Collins, who, in 1811, was appointed upon the circuit, proposed to the society of twenty four members that they build a meeting house, and on December 26, Andrew Read, Thomas Smith, Henry Opdyche, William Cottingham, Thomas Cottom and Aaron Baker were appointed trustees.
When $457.55 was subscribed, Aaron Baker was appointed to make the collections. The church was incorporated in the winter of 1813 & 14 and Mr. Cooper gave the congregation lot 155, on the south side of east Third near Main, now owned by Daniel Kiefer. Their first building, a one story red frame, was erected in 1814. Before this, their meetings had been held in the open air, the log cabin of the Presbyterians and the courthouse. In 1818, two classes were formed with Thomas Sullivan and Thomas Cottom leaders and the Sunday School organized. The first camp meeting was held in 1819, at the foot of Ludlow street, where there was a large spring. In 1827, Lorenzo Dow a noted man at that time, preached from one of the east windows of the church to a large crowd on the open common extending east as far as Jefferson street. In 1828, a new meeting house was erected, and in 1848, a brick church was erected upon the same site, in the tower of which was placed the first town clock. The church was damaged in 1854, by the falling of a wall of a new building next west of it, but it was rededicated and repaired and used until the present Grace Methodist Episcopal church, at the corner of Fourth and Ludlow streets was completed. The Presbyterians, who had the first organization held their meetings for three years, in the homes of the members, and in 1799 held occasional meetings in the blockhouse. At that time, Daniel C. Cooper gave them the lots on the N.E. corner of Third and Main where the Callahan building is now located, where they built the first meeting house in Dayton, eighteen by twenty feet and seven logs high, two feet from the ground, no windows, nor way of heating the room, and slabs from saw logs for seats. After five years they sold the building for $22. and used the courthouse for their services. In 1817 the Presbyterians built a new brick church at the corner of Second and Ludlow, which lasted them many years.
In 1805 Mr. Cooper gave to the Presbyterians, two lots, the Methodists one and to all others, one, for burial purposes, being the whole square between Ludlow and Wilkinson on the south side of Fifth, provided they would clear and fence it. The above information I got from Pioneer life in Dayton by John F. Edgar who was born in 1814, who was a Presbyterian, and now I will give you what I got from my Father who was born in 1822 and was a Methodist, and both of them tell what they heard and not from experience in the early part of this history, and I will work them together as I go along.
My Grandfather was William Sullivan, born in Virginia, an ardent Methodist and Anti slavery man and with many others of Salem Virginia, decided that they did not want to live and raise their families in a slave state, made up a colony to go to Ohio and settle there.
With the aid of empty salt wagons going to the mouth of the Gauley for salt, they arrived there and when all had arrived, they bought a flat boat, loaded all their belongings upon it and floated down the Kanawha and Ohio rivers to Cincinnati. After staying there about a year, Grandfather arranged to move to Dayton, bringing his wife, three children and his Methodism with him. They occupied a house on S. Main street about opposite Elder’s store and this happened in about 1816. It was not long until a Methodist class was formed and it was held frequently at his home, together with prayer meeting.
I quote from a reminiscence written by my Father in 1881, “The preacher in charge of the circuit, Rev. Goddard, was an excellent man and the church prospered. The first Methodist church was a little red frame on Third street, which I saw removed in 1829, to the basin for a pork house, and a new brick, two story, gallery around three sides, erected in 1830, on the same ground. This, in 1846, was torn down and a new church with class rooms and Sunday school on the first floor built upon the same ground. This church and property was sold to Daniel Kiefer for $20,000, and Grace Church built upon the corner of Fourth and Ludlow in 1870.”
In another history he says, “In the year 1798, when nearly the whole State of Ohio was embraced in one circuit, the Rev. John Kobler was sent from Kentucky, by Bishop Asbury, probably our only Bishop in America, to form a circuit in the Miami valley in Ohio.”
He visited Dayton, which then consisted of eight or ten log cabins, where he said he found a Methodist class of six or eight persons and appointed Wm Hamer, class leader. From this time until 1812, this class met and held prayer meetings at the private houses of Wm Hamer, Wm Cottingham, Thomas Cottom, and Aaron Baker, and preaching was held in their houses by the circuit preachers passing, and their coming was an occasion of great rejoicing among the membership. From 1800 to 1812, Dayton belonged to the Miami, Madriver and Union circuits.
The preachers then on these circuits, visiting Dayton, were Rev Elisha W. Bowman, John Sale, John Meek, Benjamin Lakin, John Collins, Wm Young, Moses Crume and Wm McKendree, afterwards Bishop.
Oct 22 1811, Bishop Asbury, while on his way to the conference held that year in Cincinnati, preached at the Dayton Courthouse and from that conference, Rev John Collins was sent to this circuit.
Soon after his arrival, the society of Dayton determined to erect a meeting house. They then numbered twenty four members and having made their subscriptions in money, labor and all kinds of merchandise from Maple sugar to a spinning wheel, they secured a lot from D.C. Cooper, erected a frame meeting house, had Trustees, and afterward were incorporated by an act of the legislature of Ohio as The Methodist Episcopal Church in Dayton Ohio, Jan 10 1829.
The first Methodist church in Dayton, 1813, had 65 members, cost $257.55; It was twelve feet high, 40 feet long, and thirty feet wide, and had two doors and seven windows.
It was not completed for three years. The preachers who ministered in this house as pastors, were Collins, Crume, Lakin, Lindsay, Miller, Goddard, Brooke, Sale, Dixon, Watterman, Strange, Quinn, Elliott, Maley, Raper and Augustus Eddy.
In 1829 this first church was removed from the ground and became Geo. C. Davis’ pork house. It was afterwards destroyed by fire, with all its contents at the head of the basin. At this old frame church, about the time of its removal from the ground after the floors were taken out, preparatory to its removal from the church lot, a stranger from England made his appearance with a minature locomotive and two small cars, in each of which two persons could sit, and in this old church he laid his tracks in a circle as large as its capacity would admit of, upon which he exhibited his wonderful piece of mechanism for the sum of 12 ½ cents each, for a ride around the track by steam, and this man then predicted that the time would come when this would be the mode of travel all over this country.
This old frame church was also, a few years before its removal from church duty, honored by a visit from the celebrated Lorenzo Dow.
On the same site, in 1839 was erected a fine two story, large brick church, with a gallery on three sides; it was, at the time of its completion, one of the finest churches in the west. The official board at this time was composed of sterling men. The first list of the board I find for Dayton station, was Rev. D. D. Dyche, pastor, The Rev. J. F. Wright presiding elder, Thomas Sullivan, local preacher, (probably a brother of my Grandfather) Isaac Wareham, Thomas Cottom, Wm. Kirk, Daniel Stutsman, Aaron Baker, Wm. Patterson, Ephraim Broadwell, Mr. Tyler, Thomas Parrott, and Wm. H Brown, the last of whom was secretary of the board. Afterwards the following were stationed preachers of this charge, in the order named, beginning in 1832: Rev. Arza Brown, W. D. Barrett, Wm. Simmons, J. A. Watterman, W. A. Lawder, and Samuel A Latta under whose administration, in 1839, our old parsonage was erected and occupied by him. Then followed David Whitcomb, Wm. Herr, J. W. Weakly, Cyrus Brooks, and John S. Inskip. The membership about this time had increased to four hundred and fifty.
March 16, 1833, a committee, consisting of Bro. Thomas Sullivan was appointed to prepare a place of public worship for the colored people of our church, and a committee consisting of Aaron Baker, Wm. Patterson, and James Slaight, estimated the expense of building a house for the blacks. The result of this action was the building of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Bruen street.
The second branch, now called Raper church, was organized August 9, 1841.
At that meeting a committee consisting of Daniel Coffin, Thomas Sullivan and J. W. Whitmore was appointed to estimate the cost necessary to erect a meetinghouse on the east side of the canal, from which action we now have Raper Chapel, one of our best churches in this city and Conference.
Shortly afterwards, our German brethren organized and built their church on the lot where Dr. Walden lives.
Nov. 4, 1853, the following resolution was adopted; that Bro. J. W. Whitmore, C. G. Swain, and J. D. Loomis act in conjunction with a committee of Raper Chapel on Dayton Missions.
The result of this committee was the organization of Davisson Chapel and Sears street mission,
The third and last church on the lot on Third street, where the dry goods stores of Mr. Parmerly and Darst are now, was begun when the Rev. Inskip was pastor. The corner stone was laid by the Rev. Arthur Elliott April 10th 1848. This church building was 55 feet wide, 82 feet long, with end galleries and tower in front, on which the first town clock was placed at a cost of from $700. to $1,000. The pastors of the Third street church were Rev. John S. Inskip, George C. Crum, W. P. Strickland, Wm. H. Sutherland, E. G. Nicholson, Wm. I. Fee, J. M. Leavitt, J. F. Marley, Chas. Ferguson, (for whom I was named) Asbury Lowry, and Wm. L. Hypes.
July 1866, the corner stone of Grace Church was laid. This is the successor of the old Wesley chapel. After more than three years it was completed and dedicated, March 26, 1870, by the Rev. E. O. Haven and John S. Inskip. The entire cost ($102,000.) was subscribed and has since been paid. Father told me that in the old Wesley Chapel, all the men sat upon one side of the church and the women upon the other, and the church was filled to capacity during the revivals held every winter. This church after being bought by Daniel Kiefer was remodeled when he took it over, in 1870 and made into store rooms and rented out to merchants. The windows up stairs were all Gothic proving it was the original building. Later this building came into the hands of the Home store, using it until the night of Feby 14 1926, late, when it took fire and burned to the ground, thus finishing that chapter of the old church.
John F. Edgar tells a good one for the prohibition movement in Pioneer life, “It was customary in Dayton, for all merchants not only to sell domestic wine and whisky, but to keep a bottle standing upon the counters, where all could help themselves. In 1827 & 28, the temperance question came up for the first time in this community and being intimate with Mr. Conover’s son, Burlow, I was much about the store and heard many discussions between Mr. Conover and his friends.
The question with him, was what to do with the liquor he had in his cellar. It seemed like a waste to let it run into the ground, but he thought that he could no longer sell it or give it away, so the bungs were drawn, settling once for all the liquor in that store.” My Father was very active in the church work upon Third street and became the treasurer during its removal and building at the corner of Fourth and Ludlow, where Keith’s Theatre is now located.
This place was chosen because it was out of the business district and away from the noise and commotion of traffic and there were no street cars and no chance of them, they thought.
My earliest recollection of the new church, was when I was in the old horse drawn carriage across the street from the church and some of the older ones of the family, called my attention to Father walking upon the scaffold where the stone masons were at work, when the walls were complete to above the base of the windows on the second floor. My next recollection is going into the auditorium in the new church when the carpenters were finishing the wood work in that room, and father was talking to the contractor, Joseph Peters, who was also a member of the church.
The next time was at Christmas eve, when the work was all done and the room filled with chairs, and an immense tree up in front all lighted with candles and at it s base a big pile of presents to be given to the scholars, and every thing ready for the Sunday School Celebration.
I was probably not to exceed four years of age and had been brought to the church in an old style baby cab, by my brothers.
This cab had two wheels, probably about two feet in diameter, a small body with a top much like the old horse drawn buggy, which could be raised or lowered as needed. A tongue was attached so that it could be pushed or pulled as was most convenient and there was a standard to support it, but if not careful it was liable to go over backward, especially with a baby in it.
Grace Church was built of Dayton lime stone, sometimes called Dayton marble, stained glass windows, Gothic architecture, entrance upon Fourth street, with two spires and a very steep slate roof. Three double doors in front, probably about 25 feet high and 6 feet wide, with a cut stone pillar between them. The church set back from the sidewalk about ten feet, sodded, and a high iron fence along the tow streets. Entering the front doors, was a large hall, and on each side was a wide stairway, to a landing and from there the stair reversed back to a gallery, with a double door at the head of each stair.
From each of these doors an aisle ran to the front of the auditorium dividing the pews into three sections and there was a narrow aisle along each side wall. At the front was the altar rail with kneeling cushions in front of it for the communion service.
Next was the pulpit and behind it, was the pipe organ, which I think was the first to be installed in this city. The first organist was a lady by the name of Wells, but later Sylvester Hurlbert played it for many years. Space was left for a quartet choir but it was not popular and Miss Aggie Stout sang a solo at the Sunday morning service, and she was considered the best soloist in this city.
Later Lucius Cook, father of Lucius Cook now living, led the singing with his cornet and was followed later by John Lytle also with his cornet. There was a gallery over the front entrance to the church, as well as in the rear of the auditorium, which would seat over two hundred people, but it was seldom used.
The building was lighted, at first with artificial gas and two rings of jets were placed I the ceiling, properly spaced, with reflectors over them and they were a fairly good light, but it was necessary to go up into the attic to light them.
Later electricity came in, and it made a much better light and was much easier to light.
The ceiling was very high in the auditorium, making it very hard to heat and many times it was necessary to hold the services down stairs because the auditorium could not be heated with the hot air furnaces then in use.
Down stairs, the front hall led back to the Sunday School room which I think would seat 400 people and back of it was the Kitchen and on the Ludlow street side was the pastor’s study and on the east side was a class room, and this outfit was busy when ever a social was given, feeding the people. These were a source on income, as well as a way to get acquainted with the new members.
Toward Fourth street, on the east side of the hall were two class meetings, the first from the big room was at the start an infant room, but it was soon found to be too small, and that room was used for a circulating library, then quite popular in Sunday Schools.
Across the hall a partition was removed, making one room out of two and given to the infant department and Mrs. D. W. Schaeffer was placed in charge of it, with small chairs for the children to use. This room had a large double door to the School, which was used on special occasions, allowing the children to see what was doing there in that room. I attended this department for a few years, and when about a dozen of us were ready to be promoted, J. R. Johnston was made our teacher, and one Saturday afternoon we were invited to come to his foundry and see the men pour the white hot iron into the molds. We went there, Wayne ave. and the railroad, and were much interested in seeing the work being done there.
Our next teacher was Thomas Staniland, who had a marble shop on S. Main where the Stomps auto store is now located, and his home was straight across Main street from his shop. He taught us for several years and we were all well pleased with him, but he had quite a job to keep us boys interested in the lesson we were supposed to study but I suppose that is customary of all boys.
When in the infant department, Mr. D. W. Schaeffer acted as Santa one Christmas and after it was all over, I saw him carrying a large basket, well covered but just a streak of red showing and there was a muffled sound of sleigh bells, and I was suspicious after that.
I remember one Pastor by the name of Richards, who lived across the street from us, and I played with his daughter, but that is all I remember of him. The next was Rev. Ramsey, and he lived in a house standing about the middle of the present postoffice on Third street, and later the church built a new parsonage thee. Rev. Ramsey was a very good man, but as there was a limit of three years for all pastorates, he had to move before I became acquainted with him.
Rev. Thomas Pearne followed him, and was a fine man, coming in 1874 a widower and that winter he went to New Jersey and married Miss Carrie Mc Donald and brought her back as his bride. The first Sunday after his return, I saw them coming west on Fourth street, both smiling, and he was introducing her to all and it was a happy return.
He was a fine man in every way, yet his wife threw him into the shade, because she was so talented and congenial to all.
In the first year of his ministry, he received a couple of my brothers into the church, and when they were taken into full membership I was much impressed and that after noon I had a long talk with Mother and she agreed to allow me to join on probation, which I did that evening. I was only nine years old at that time, and I have never been sorry, for I have been a stronger Christian on account of it.
That winter Mrs. Pearne held a class meeting for the young folks of the church on Friday evenings, and she was a fine leader and we all adored her. Several men and women were developed by her into strong Christian work, for she was trying to get us all ready to speak or pray in public, and she was very successful in her plan.
Dr. Pearne was a great horseman and once he arranged to trade horses and asked me to go along with him and we drove to West Carrollton which, to me, was a long drive and there we waited for the man from Franklin, and when he came we exchanged horses and retraced our journey.
After their three years were up, the last service was one of hand shaking and tears, for we all were sorry to lose them.
After their going, there was no one found that was able to carry on the class and it was discontinued, which was a great loss to the church. During his pastorate we were accustomed to having an attendance of 200 to 300 at prayer meeting and many took part in them.
Now in many churches there is no mid-week devotional service, and in others there is a small attendance in proportion to the membership. At that time, the prayer meeting was one of experience and prayer and when leaving this meeting, we were all determined to live a better and more useful life. Now the pastor gives a lecture, a book review (seldom reviewing the greatest book in the world, the Bible, or any part of it) or a high class musical entertainment which does not stir the soul to better living.
At these old time prayer meetings, no one was a more constant attendant than old Mother Starr (mother of Mrs. D. W. Schaeffer) probably over 80 years of age at that time and she enjoyed them greatly.
She would be on her feet at every one testifying as to what the Lord had done for her and then she would begin singing “O Happy day” or some thing like it and all would join in the singing.
George Parrott, a plough manufacturer had seven daughters, and when he spoke at prayer meeting, no matter what it was, some one would always take exception to it, not because of what he said but the way he said it, as he was quite a man to argue. His daughters were all active in church work, until death or age got the best of them.
Mrs Lewis was a devoted worker and trained her two daughters into the work, and were a good team for all kinds of work. Mrs. Legler and Mrs. Whyte are still active in Grace church.
The Gaddis family were, very devoted, consisting of Rev. M. P. Gaddis, a retired M. E. preacher and his wife and two sons and four daughters.
Eugene followed in his fathers footsteps and entered the ministry and had the help of his sister Sallie at most of his charges and they were very successful in their work. Lou, Sallie, Mary and Josephine were very active in all the work of the church especially as teachers of the School. They lived out in Oakwood avenue beyond Far Hills and the only way to come into the city was by horse drawn carriage and they owned one. It is said that they were never absent from prayer meeting on Wednesday evening for any reason, heat or cold, wet or dry or anything else.
However there was once heavy rain during the service and they started for home, but found that the bridge over Rubicon creek near the N C R Co had been washed away and they were obliged to return to the city and stay with their friends over night. I think all these folks have gone home at this time.
Miss Ella Ebright come here from Waynesville and she was very musical and at once she became organist and when the piano came in she took it and was a satisfactory player until she was called home.
My sister, Miss Lucy W. Sullivan, was very active in all the work of the church, teaching a class of girls, playing the organ in a pinch, and otherwise being very handy, until she was called to go to India as a missionary, where she served fifty years of active work for the W F M S and when retired by them went back and finished the fifty years in the service of the parent church. She is still in India and expects to finish her life there and although retired from active service work, does all she can for one at the age of 87 years.
In the Sunday School, Col. W. J. white acted as superintendent for several years, while he was superintendent of the Dayton Public schools.
Lewis D. Reynolds, also was superintendent for many years and he was a live wire and built up the school greatly. He had a small printing establishment when I first made his acquaintance but when he died in was an immense plant.
In the church, James Campbell was a regular attendant and his two daughters, Mrs.Wight and Miss Anna are still at work, but on account of age, are not very active.
J. S. Frizell, wife, son William and two daughters, were regular in attendance. Now the daughters are married and away from here, and William was the secretary of the Sunday School for a while.
John Herby, was a farmer living near Stillwater river on what is now east Hudson avenue but then was out in the country. He would come in to church regularly, with his three daughters, all taller than the father and very slender, would follow him up the west aisle along the wall and sit in the second seat from the front and seldom missed a Sunday. I think their only means of transportation was their feet and Main street from the bridge north, was only a country road and was very poor walking.
David Engle was in the hardward business and sat about the middle of the church. He was rather nervous and was continually looking back so we boys thought he was watching to see that we behaved, but he never said any thing to any of us about it.
Three old maid school teachers sat well toward the front and came only upon special occasions, when the church would be crowded, and when they did come and if their seat was filled, the ushers would be sure to be told not to do so again, in no uncertain language.
Samuel N. Brown was the owner of a wheel works and it was quite a plant. He was a very large man, weighting over three hundred pounds while his wife weighed less than a hundred and were very regular in their attendance.
J. B. Boalt was at first cashier for the Big 4 railroad and then he went into the insurance business. He sat one seat in front of us with their two daughters, who are married and active in the church.
Oliver Zell was a constant attendant at all services as long as he was able to come, but as he was a very quiet man, never speaking to any one unless they seemed to be willing to speak to him, he had no enemies, yet few knew him. Albert Whyte and his two sons were on hand all the time and when the father died, the boys, Lawrence and Joseph stepped into their father’s shoes and are still active in the work.
David Schaeffer and his wife were very active in all branches of the work. She was in charge of the infant department for many years, and they were started right.
Valentine Schaeffer, brother of David, was much interested in the class meetings as well as the other work, and one of his sons, John, became active in the ministry of the Episcopal church, being in charge of the work at Waynesville for many years. He is now retired from active service.
Only a few of those mentioned above are living at this time and even they are old and not very active, but the present church is a monument to their labors and those on the other side, will be ready to welcome them, when their time comes to go.
Have we done our full duty up to this time: I know that I have fallen far short of doing my duty and I hope that the rest have a better record than myself. Those mentioned above are not all the active ones, but after fifty years these are the ones who stand out to me, but as the church had nearly 700 members, I cannot remember more of them.
After electric cars began running on Ludlow street, it was found to be rather noisy, and following this a few years after, the auto come into use, it was thought best to find another location and after several years, Salem and Harvard blvd. was selected. A temporary building was erected at the S W corner and the old church was sold and the work on the new church started with the money received from the sale of it. This was completed in 1921 and dedicated Sunday, July 3, and the membership has been growing continually ever since.
It is customary to dedicate a new church when built, and it is dedicated to the service of the Lord. We place no limit upon the time the dedication, and the inference is that it is for all time. When the old church was sold, was there a service asking the Lord’s permission to move the dedication to the new site? Was there any effort to find out what the Lord would have the church to do?
Or was it just a question of getting the most money for the property, regardless of God’s wishes or the use to be made of the property? There were no strings tied to the deed and the new owner can use it for any purposes he wishes, and neither God or the church have any right to protest by law against any use the property may be given. It had been dedicated to the Lord’s work and who has the right to take it from the Lord and use it for work that is leading the people away from him and doing many things that are contrary to the welfare of the people who are patronizing these places and since God loved us while we were its sinners, he does not want these places that lead his people away, to prosper. Matthew 18 7. “Woe unto the world because of offenses, for it needs must be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom offenses come.”
This building was torn down but the ground space remains the same as it was when dedicated, and now I will ask if you can pass you O K upon all the pictures and shows that are given there?
Is Grace church free from all responsibility because they sold the property to the highest bidder? Since the money received from this sale was used to make a larger and more beautiful church, does that leave the church guiltless?
A few years before this, the Third street Presbyterian church was sold to the highest bidder and a new building was erected on the same site. Now two drug stores occupy the building and advertise in the papers and upon their windows, the sale of intoxicating liquors, is the Westminster church guiltless?
A grill, selling intoxicating liquors to all who have the price to pay, also is there and they sell during 21½ hours of every day including Sunday, is the seller of the property guiltless?
As I pass this grill upon the sidewalk, I see an electric sign in red letters saying “Ladies” with an arrow pointing to the toilet, so they are ready to sell their poisonous drinks to the ladies or the men, old or young, and to your son or daughter if they have the money to pay for what they get, is the Westminister church guiltless?
It is bad enough to sell intoxicants to men but when women go into such places and drink and smoke, and when they do, it is very liable that they will fall much lower, and as these places open at 5 A. M. and do not close until 2:30 A. M. the next morning, doing the work of the Devil upon ground formerly dedicated to the work of the Lord and the church that formerly owned the place, doing nothing to stop that work of the Devil, is the Westminister church guiltless?
About the same time, the First Baptist church, sold their old home upon north Main street where they had been, almost since the city was settled, and it is being used by another Theatre, and is that congregation guiltless for the evils that have come to the young folks attending the movies at this location?
The Strand theatre is also the location of a former church, but I cannot give you the details or the denomination of it, yet is has housed this Theatre for many years. Beside this Theatre, the building houses another problem. The Steffins ran a saloon for years before prohibition came in and after that they advertised soft drinks, and now since repeal, a restaurant, selling intoxicating drinks, is there.
The call them restaurants to make them seem more respectable, yet with bar maids and woman customers as plentiful as men, they are much worse than the old Saloon. If you call a hog by another name, for instance, a St. Bernard dog, would that make the hog change his habits?
Would he stop wollowing in the mud and take away his taste for garbage?
The wet restaurants are hell holes and the more respectable they try to keep themselves, the more dangerous they become.
Our boys and girls would not go into the dives at first but because of the bright lights and the seeming respectability of the so called high class restaurant, will go in and probably only take a soft drink but after the first visit, it is easy to take strong drink and after this they will drift into any kind of a place, even a bad house, so we must stop them before they get that far.
The movies run every day in the week, and I remember to have been taught in the infant class, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holly, six days shalt thou labor and do all the work” and four of our churches have sold out knowing that they were going to be used for this work. I remember a man by the name of Pontius Pilate, washing his hands and saying that he was guiltless, but was he?
Another man was offered a big price to do a short time job, and he thought he was a good business man, yet he came back and threw the money at the feet of his employers, and went and hanged himself, was he guiltless? The Movies keep open seven days in the week and the churches knew it when they sold to them, and because they received more than thirty pieces of silver for the ground, does that make them guiltless? Many of our church people allow their children to go to the movies Sunday afternoon, for several hours seeing a program that they know nothing about, yet it is a terrible bore for the children to go to Sunday school for one whole hour, to learn about the Bible.
After the Movies began keeping open on Sundays, the congregations began diminishing until now, few churches have any Sunday evening services and now the Movies get all the money that the churches formerly received.
This is supposed to be a Christian country, yet because we could make a little money, selling ammunition to the Japanese, when we knew they were using it to conquer the Koreans are we guiltless? Because we showed ourselves to be hypocrites at that time, the condition of the world has been getting worse and worse, and we are responsible for this condition. Many of our preachers are not preaching the many fine lessons of the Bible, but are just pussy-footing in order to keep their jobs at good salaries.
One plan of the old Methodists, which was very influential in the early days, is the old class meeting, and I attended many of them, and it has died out completely, and I wonder if that is not the reason for the condition of the Methodist church today? Class meetings were very popular seventy years ago, and when one attended them, he left with a great desire to live a better life and to help his neighbor.
As the class meetings died out, the spirituality of the churches went down, and now they are not hungry to hear the word of the Lord preached by a consecrated minister. I have already mentioned the class of young folks led by Mrs. Pearne and the good it accomplished, and I wish it was possible to have a person of her ability to take charge of the activities of the young in every church, and thus direct their thoughts to their living a pure Christian life.
Here I will give you a few anecdotes that may be of interest.
Father was the treasurer of Grace Church during its construction at Ludlow and Fourth, and when the pipe organ was set up, it was necessary to tune it, and at that time the only power was man power for it, and the janitor was asked by the organ builder to do it.
After the work was done, the janitor came to Father to collect for it, and Father told him to make out a bill and he would present it to the board. Tommy was a colored man and could not write so he asked Father to write it for him. Father asked him what he had done to earn the money and his answer was to organ---organ---organ---organize the church, and that is the way Father wrote it.
When Father read it to the board, it caused quite a discussion, one said that “the church had been organized long before Tommy as born” another said that “Tommy was hired as a janitor and not to organize the church” and they were opposed to paying the bill. After this had run long enough to get all the fun out of it, Father explained it and the bill was ordered paid.
The women’s Foreign Missionary Society, gave a mush supper at the church one evening, serving it in every way they could think about.
Father was very favorable to corn products and he ate fried much so the next day he was telling what a wonderful supper he had been served by the Women’s Fried Mush Society and that rather bored mother.
Father had a lounging robe, that he wore around the house, and at this time it was some worse for wear. On Sunday evening Mother told Father to get ready for church and he put on his overcoat and started along. Mother as usual went to the family pew about the center of the church and Father went to the front and sat in a chair, near a register, and was in plain view of all in the church. He had made a good start in removing his overcoat when he saw what he had done and he tried to bring it back up on his shoulders and failed and so he hugged it around him as well as he could and went out. As he passed me in the lobby, he said “Isn’t this terrible” and went home, changed clothes and came back and sat at his usual place.
While Mr. Hurlbert was organist, I was his assistant, furnishing the wind to make the organ talk. One hot Sunday evening when the attendance was small, Mr. Hurlbert wanted to get the congregation singing, so he turned on the full force of the organ upon the closing hymn, and kept it on through all six verses, so when that was over I was winded.
As I was behind a screen and could not be seen, I allowed myself to go on breathing hard, while the benediction was being pronounced.
The audience was very quiet and I could be heard all over the church. Then came the postlude, which usually was loud and long but to my surprise it was soft and short, and as I passed out, Mr. Hurlbert apologized to me for having worked me so hard.
One day, an old member came back on a visit to the church, and when the collection was being taken up, The visitor whispered to his guest that “There is Charlie Snyder with that same pair of squeaky shoes that he wore before I left here.” Charles Snyder was treasurer of the church for many years and as long as I attended there helped in taking the collection.
I have already told about Rev. Richards, Rev. Ramsey, and Rev. Pearne, and next came Rev. A. B. Leonard with a family of four or five children and his son is now a bishop of the church, so he is following in his Father’s footsteps. Rev. Leonard was pastor from 1876 to 1879 and he was a fighter and not afraid to condemn anything that was wrong, and this included the liquor business, but he was well thought of by all. He was followed by Rev. W. L. Hypes, and it was reported that this was the second time he had had served our church, he was a very saintly old gentleman, and was loved by all, serving from 79 to 82. Rev. R. H. Rust followed him from 82-85 and B. F. Dimmick from 85 to 88 and while stationed there, his wife presented him with triplets I think but it may have been twins. About this time, the time limit of pastorates was extended from three to five years and so Rev. Mc Afee served from 88 to 93 and was followed by Rev. W. L. Bobinson form 93-98 and during his pastorate I was married and moved to Riverdale and my letter to the Riverdale M. E. church thus closing my close attendance at the church. Following him were Rev. Gillette, 98 to 02, Jamieson 02 to 06, Fuller 06 to 11, Mc Gurk from 11 to 15 and at this time all limits were removed and Rev. Bunton, Brashares and Werner bring the list up to date.
June 10, 1941 Chas. F. Sullivan