After a brief adventure with dramatic entertainment Della moves from the history of the Christian Church to the history of both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches.
Cosmelia (“Aunt Cozzy”) Hirst will be a name familiar to many researching Yellow Springs History. A series of the letters to the Yellow Springs News she wrote about village history is indexed as the ninth group on the “Blog Multi-Part Series” page.
All entries in the series are indexed on the “Blog Multi-Part Series” page (click on tab above and scroll to second group).
Snow White and The Sleeping Beauty
The Hirst home too was the scene of many parties, and here “Aunt Cozzy” the favorite S. S. [Sunday School] teacher was always active in the planning.
She had spent many years as a schoolmistress and displayed real genius with young people.
Sometimes during the summer months when things were dull she would assemble groups of young folks and would train them for a play which would be staged in the auditorium of the Village School.
I was eleven years old the summer we gave ‘Snow White and The Sleeping Beauty”. As one of the Court Ladies I wore a lovely gown of pale blue cambric with white trimmings. This was made with a full length train.
Mother had made the dress and I did my best to wear it with courtly grace.
(The dress was handed down for play use by my daughter and granddaughters.)
Perhaps it was Aunt Cozzy Hirst who was the inspiration for our little club of girls who called themselves “The Centipedes.”
This was a Secret Society and it met on Saturday afternoons at the homes of its members. The initiations were blood curdling and the play acting programs highly melodramatic. I was the youngest of the group so didn’t figure much in the casts but I helped to fill up the audience.
from The News April 18 – 1935
[transcription of article]
The above shows the church as dedicated march 3, 1860. The entrance was by two doors off the Walnut street side and remained that way until 1910 when the extension and entrance was made on the Xenia Ave. side.
A large audience was present last Sunday morning at the Presbyterian Church, when the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the church was observed. Some of the same music used in the service that was used in the dedication in 1860. Rev. Wood Duff, the pastor, delivered an appropriate sermon.
At 12:30 a covered dish dinner was served to a large number in the dining room. After dinner the assembly was called to order by chairman A. C. Erbaugh. The program was carried out as previously announced.
William Hardman read a paper on the history of the church which was received with great interest.
Russell Stewart, chairman of the trusteees, spoke of the present condition of the church, which is good.
A. C. Swinnerton spoke on the future of the church, and outlined some improvements to the building that might be made. This brought out considerable discussion. Mr. Swinnerton’s proposals included redecorating the church, a new organ, and other repairs totaling near $6000.
A committee was appointed by the chair to look over the church and report to the annual meeting in April. The committee is Mrs. Swinnerton, Miss Harriet Hardman and J. N. Wolford.
Several interesting letters were read from former church members. Mrs. Mary R. Turner of Springfield, wrote an interesting letter that contained much early history of the town and church. By request we will publish it at an early date.
The paper ready by Mr. Hardman follows:
The Story of the Church
In any Presbyterian home in Yellow Springs in the early 50’s just after breakfast on Sunday morning might have been heard such a conversation as this:
“Mother, are you nearly ready for church?”
“Yes Father, I am, I have the dinner packed and the children are dressed. I’ll be ready in just a minute.”
“Well Mother I am going out now to bring the horses to the horse block, and when you are ready I’ll help you mount. You take the baby and I’ll take the dinner basket.”
“Alright father I only hope my arms don’t give out, for its a long way to church today, to Muddy Run, or Pleasant Valley. I wish there was a service at Clifton, but most of all I wish we had a church in Yellow Springs.”
“Yes, I too, wish we had a church here, Mother.”
And off they jog, the endless miles, muddy miles to Mud Run Church, for the long service, the morning and the afternoon Sunday School, followed by the long tedious miles home. There was a very good reason for blue Monday after that.
Judge William Mills knew of these conditions, and being a public spirited man he requested Rev. E. R. Johnson of New Carlisle to come and look the field over with a view to organizing a church. He did so, but after preaching once or twice he felt it was not wise to plan for a church body at that time. A little later Rev. Samuel Smith came, and he being of a more adventurous spirit than the prudent Mr. Johnson, tried the experiment of the development of a church—the name of which should be the First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs, Ohio. He succeeded so well that in February 1855 the [nucleus] of the present church body was born in the home of Mrs. Ewing. (Now Mrs. S. W. Cox home)
At the dedication service the clerk read the account of the circumstance. He writes under that date of February 3, 1855: “This day according to previous public announcement a sermon was preached by Rev.e Samuel D. Smith from the words found in Hebrews the 10th chapter, verses 23, 24, 25:
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised. And let us consider one another to provoke to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is but exhorting one another, so much the more as ye see the day approaching.
After which, Mr. Smith stated the object of the meeting to be: To organize a Constitutional Presbyterian Church. After prayer for divine direction and blessing, certificates were called for with the following fourteen persons responding and becoming charter members; twelve by letter, and two on profession of faith. They were as follows: Males—R. Love, R. W. Davis, H. Hagan, Wm. Conklin, Julius Cone.
Females—Mrs. R. Love, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Hagan, Mrs. Wharton, Miss A. M. Berryman, Mrs. M. A. Cone, Miss Martha Jane Hannon, Mrs. Mary Conklin. Mrs. Conklin and Mrs. Julius Cone came on profession of faith.
[transcription of article]
Letter Read at Presbyterian Service Recently
Interesting letter read at the recent rededication service of the Presbyterian Church:
In response to your request, I am writing you some recollections of long ago of the Yellow Springs Presbyterian Church. It was early in April 1865 that my father moved his family from Rhode Island to the new home in Yellow Springs. A few days afterwards, services in honor of our martyred President, Abraham Lincoln, were held in this church.
Almost 70 years ago, this was the first time the writer of this was inside the Presbyterian Church. If memory is right, the pastor then was a young unmarried man whose name cannot be recalled. Following him, Rev..Moore and Rev. Comery and families are well remembered. Then came the saintly Rev. James Rodgers who drove a horse and buggy from Springfield to Yellow Springs twice a week. Once he remarked in cold weather about the wind being in his face coming down and changing about so that he faced it again in going back to Springfield. Mr. Rodgers used to love to begin the prayer meetings with “More Love to Thee, O Christ,”, often starting the songs when no organist was present.
The elders of old that can be recalled are: Martin Polhemus, Cyrus Drake and George Kedzie. The first superintendent of the Sunday School remembered is Col. Ewing, who lived, I think on the Bryan Farm. He gave several books to the scanty Sunday School Library and one was an argument between a young woman and an older male relative. The young woman who favored this diversion had the better of the argument. Most of the congregation at that time were staid, strict Presbyterians who would have consigned this book to the flames, had they known it was there.
Prof. Charles Chandler was a later superintendent. He was also teacher of a class of girls including Jeannie Polhemus, Clara Johnson, Ida Stewart, Ella Anderson, Addie Haight, Sallie Fesstermacher, Mary Wilder and others.
Another superintendent was genial Preston Love. Organist at the church services were, Mrs. Ewing, Mrs. Ganz (wife of the supt. of the public schools) and Mrs. Mary Wells longest of all. Organists for the Sunday School were: Ella Little, Anna McNair, Emma Wells, Clara Polhemus, and Charles Weaver, I think.
In the church choir, Preston Love was always our tenor singer; later tenors were: J. D. Hawkins, Mr. Lawrence, supt. of schools, Charles Hardman, Baker Rice and W. H. Wilder. The bass voices belonged to D. C. Putnam, W. A. Hopkins, Silas Keifer, Mr. Weaver, the jeweler William Rice and Milton Turner. Mrs. Conover, full of music and fun, sang alto as did Harriet Hardman, Lida Rice and Laura or Jennie Polhemus, (both were in the choir.) The sopranos were: Ella Anderson, Mrs. Thorne, wife of Dr. Ed. Thorne, Mrs. Dillman, wife of the druggist, Alice Dawson, Lily Porterfield, Mary Wilder and others not now recalled. Amongst the oldest members of the church were whiteheaded Mr. Armstrong and his wife, who I think wore a cap under her bonnet.
The prominent families who occupied seats well up in front were those of friendly James Stewart and Dr. LaFevers. On the left hand side of the church sat Mr. Dobie, his wife (sister to Mrs. Conover) and their mother, Mrs. Browne. One time some of us fashioned a cross of elder blossoms with which to decorate the church at a communion service, and Mrs. Dobie objected so violently it had to be removed from the church. Then there was Grandfather Reed (who used “for” as it is used in the Bible phrase “what went ye out for to see), his wife and daughters, Lizzie, Sue, and Nannie. Other members were: Mr. Gamaliel Garrison, wife and daughter Eliza who lived where Fralicks now do.
Grandmother Love, grandmother Wilson, (who was a Knott of Clifton) and grandmother Paige, mother of Mrs. Anderson, were all widows as was Mrs. Miller, mother of Robert and Frank Miller. The latter’s boots always squeaked as he walked up the aisle, for boots were then universally worn by the men. Then there was old Mr. Fulton, who was somewhat absent minded. Driving into town with his wife one day, he is said to have driven home alone, wondering all the way what he had forgotten. It was his wife. From somewhat the same neighborhood came Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Johnson, parents of Mrs. Ridenour, Mr. and Mrs. Beatty, parents of the present Beattys, and the Dickeys from Goes Station. Others south of town were, Mr. Hyde, a very modest man, who knew birds well, and Mrs. Hyde, a most friendly and hospitable woman and the Stillmans who lived where Mrs. Nettie Welch now lives From north of town came the Partingtons consisting of three maiden sisters and two bachelor brothers. Of this family, Miss Eliza was very proud of her English ancestry. In summer she would walk up the church aisle sedately with her fan oscillating a regular number of times per minute. The family loved to entertain their friends at meals when the tables would be loaded with different foods in the manner of that time. From this vicinity came Mr. Mellinger, father of Lizzie and Ben; Silas Keifer, the Preston Loves, the Wm. Garrisons, the Fehstermachers, the Joel Garrisons, Mr. and Mrs. James Turner, Tapley Johnson and wife and the Kedzies. From a little father north and west came Cyrus Drake and family and Miss Sue Hagan.
Grandfather Hutchinson and wife a fine old couple, with their daughters, Hannah and Sadie and son Elder lived in the house now the “Amber Lantern”. Another old time family in town was the Mayhoods. Another ws Frederic Birch, wife, two daughters and one son; another was Mr. Miller and wife, zealous workers in the church who had one daughter, Nannie. Mr. Miller used to being the crippled woman (Susan Hawk, I think was the name) in her wheel chair to church. In summer she wore a gay flowered dress and a hat bright with flowers.
Mrs. Cone a faithful Sunday School teacher and her son Eddie lived in the Octagon. Wm. Means, then Mayor of Cincinnati, and Mrs. Means had a seat well up in the front and left of the church. When Mrs. Means joined in the hymns, her voice could be heard throughout the house.
Then there was Mrs. Wharton and son Lon. Somewhat later than most mentioned, Mr. and Mrs. John Birch with three daughters and one son came to Yellow Springs. We must not forget the Wm. Bakers so faithful in attending to the collections, nor our old English janitor, Mr. Dickman.
Most of these old time members passed away before the time of automobiles. Some of them were “mighty in prayer”. To many of you here their names mean no more as I turn the leaves of memory than do the faces in an old album. But these people laid the foundation for the privileges you now enjoy and it is fitting that we pause a moment of do them honor.
Mary Wilder Turner, Springfield, Ohio, Feb. 28, 1935
Member of the Yellow springs Presbyterian Church from Dec. 1885 to April 1927
[transcription of 2nd article]
Of the Presbyterian church, prepared by Miss May Garrison and read at the 75tgh Anniversary celebration, Monday, Feb. 3rd.
As early as 1851, a number of the families, Grandfather Love’s the Wharton’s, the Conklin’s and others of this vicinity felt the need of a church home in Yellow Springs. To drive to Clifton or Pleasant Valley, better known as Muddy Run church, was such a great hardship during the winter and inclement weather.
I have heard Grandmother Love tell about how they had to go horseback when their poor roads were impassible for any kind of conveyance, carrying her baby until her arms became so numb she was afraid she would let it fall.
In the minutes of the trustees we find under date February 3, 1855, Organization: This day according to previous public announcement a sermon was preached from Hebrews: 10—23, 24, 25, by Rev. Samuel d. Smith, after which he stated the object of the meeting to be—to organize a Constitutional Presbyterian church. Clifton and Pleasant Valley were Old School. Yellow Springs was new school. After prayer for divine direction and blessing; certificates were called for.
Robert Love and wife presented a certificate from Clifton Presbyterian church in this county.
Mr. R. W. Davis and wife from Dundee, N. Y.
Mr. H. Hagan and wife from New Carlisle, Ohio
Mrs. Sarah Wharton from Sidney, Ohio.
Miss A> M. Berrman from Sidney, Ohio.
Mrs. Julius Cone from Brooklyn, Pa.
Mrs. Caroline Smith from Addison, Ohio.
Miss Martha Jane Hannan from Addison, Ohio.
Mr. Julius Cone and Mrs. Conklin joined by profession of faith and were baptized.
The first services were held in the Reform Presbyterian Church, now the Baptist church on the corner of Xenia Avenue and Whiteman streets. The business sessions were at the homes and stores of the different members of the Session.
April 2, 1855. According to previous notice the congregation (unanimously) elected Samuel D. Smith, Pastor. Rev. E. West presiding. The congregation also proceeded to make out a call to S. D. Smith for 1-2 of his time, as required in our book. Mr. R. W. Davis was ordained the first elder.
June 21, 1855. Rev. Smith was installed for 1-2 of his time by the Dayton Presbytery. Robert Love and Nathanial Benidict as elders.
March 27, 1857. A meeting of the First Presbyterian church was held at the home of Mrs. Ewing (Wolford residence) most of the members being present. Meeting opened by prayer. Mr. N. Benedict was chosen as chairman. Mr. Cone, secretary.
The chairman said the object of meeting was to consult together as to the expediency of employing Mr. Smith as Pastor another year. After due consideration it was resolved that our inability to sufficiently compensate him and the uncertainty of our being abnle to sustain him, the church organization render it inexpedient that his labors with us be long continued. Resolved: That we part with brother Smith with a feeling of regret.
April 5, 1858. We find Reve., Bassett being employed as minister for six months.
June, 1858. Mr. James Kedzie and family were received by letters from the Pleasant Valley (Mud Run) church.
December 11, 1858 the Dayton Presbytery met at Yellow springs in the Reform Presbyterian church. At which time Mr. Bassett was installed.
Nov. 1, 1858. A building committee was appointed. Chairman R. Love, Wm. Ewing, George Kedzie, Wm. Conklin, Julius Cone an James Hyde…[article cuts off]
Presby. Church – 1930
The Church as it appeared after remodelling in 1930. Dr. Thompson made the address at the dedication of the Church.
Many former ministers and members of the congregation were present on this occasion.
Ex President of Ohio State University
On the right is a view of the Church as it was in the days of my youth. One entered the building from Walnut St.
The interior presented a dignified appearance. It was carpeted thru out and the pews were well cushioned and comfortable. The stained glass windows gave one a sense of elegance and repose.
The belfry tho seemed to me to be out of character for a big bell lodged in the fork of a tree outside served to call the parishioners to worship.
Hazel had some close friends who attended the Presbyterian Sunday School and she pleaded to be permitted to go along with them. She had read all of the books in the Sunday School library at her own church and there were different ones at the Presbyterian library, but when S. S. lessons required her to memorize the Presbyterian Catechism Hazel’s parents decided once and for all that the Christian Church School was sufficient for Hazel’s needs.
The church bell in its one time primitive setting now adds a quaint bit of interest to the historic pictures of the church as it makes ready to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of its founding.
The sketch is a copy of the original drawing made by our cousin Herbert B. Judy and is dated 1899.
[transcription of article]
Present St. Paul Church, Dedicated October 25, 1908
Probably the largest crowd ever assembled for a similar event in Yellow Springs was the one that visited St. Paul Church last Saturday and Sunday, when the 75th anniversary of its founding was celebrated.
The Garden Party Saturday afternoons and evenings on the Mills Lawn opposite the church, drew a large crowd of merry makers. The various amusements added to the gaity for all. These events continued Sunday afternoon and evening.
A diamond jubilee high mass was celebrated Sunday morning at 10 o’clock with Rev. Frank Heider, a son of the parish, of Hamilton, Ohio as celebrant assisted by the Rev. Raphael Rogers,, assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Dayton, as deacon and the Rev. Frank May, S. M., chaplain of Chaminade High School, Dayton, as sub-deacon. The sermon was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Daniel Buckley, V. G., pastor of St. Raphael Church, Springfield and the Rev. Eugene Gerlach, pastor of St. Paul church, was master of ceremonies.
A feature that added much to the pleasure of the occasion was the chicken dinner [portion of article cut off]….
…stone of Assumption Church was laid. A few years later, the name was changed to that of St. Paul.
This building served the congregation until some twenty years ago when the need was felt for larger quarters. Dr. Daniel Quinn was the pastor. He had grown up here, it was his home church and he had a double interest. The present structure was then owned by the Christian denomination, which had disbanded and the building was for sale. Dr. Quinn readily saw the great advantage in buying the building rather than building a new one. It was a fine piece of masonry that would cot many times to built it for what it could be bought for. Dr. Quinn three all his great energy into the project and consummated that deal. It has been remodeled from time to time until it is now considered one of the best church properties for a town of this size, in this section. It was built in the early 50s. Surrounded by beautiful shade trees and overlooking “The Lawn” with native forest trees, and quiet peaceful surroundings, it is an ideal location for a place of worship.
The Churches — The Methodists
A clipping from the Y. S. News October 30 — 1908 shows clearly the beginnings of Church interest in the territory which became the town of Yellow Springs and the development of such interest as the town grew.
[transcription of article]
History of the M. E. Church
OCTOBER 30, 1908
There is in humanity, often unconscious to itself, a strong element of religion and wherever it goes it carries that quality with it. Men with a spirit of adventure, not knowing what they may encounter, go from civilization to wilderness and establish new homes. Scarcely are they settled amid their rough surroundings when the religious spirit asserts itself, and soon a few scattered families meet together in a primitive way to hold devotional services. The spirit of Methodism asserted itself among the pioneers of Ohio as early as 1797, when Rev. Francis McCormick, a Methodist preacher, organized a church in his cabin home in Clermont county, near the month of the Little Miami River.
This is the oldest Methodist society in Ohio, and is supposed to be the first church of any denomination in the great Northwest Territory.
Long before the town of Yellow Springs came into existence and while yet the ground on which it stands was covered with forest, excepting in a few places where small houses stood, there dwelt a number of families who owned homes and farms beyond its present limits, many of whom had, in their former homes, been connected with the Methodist church, in order that their children might grow up religiously they decided to select a place where they could hold worship regularly.
The most convenient and suitable place they found was a school house which is now known as the Hyde school. It was not of course the present school building but a frame house close to that one.
After the brick house was built the old one was used for the storage of fuel.
In this building then a Methodist church was organized and here for sometime worship was held. In good weather in the summer time, services were held in the woods opposite the school house, it being a fine piece of timber land free from undergrowth. It was known as Brown’s woods. After a few years sometime in the thirties, the congregation decided to build a church and selected as a site a point on the Dayton road which is now the northeast corner of Dayton and Corry streets, where Mr. Alig’s building stands. (1930 the postoffice) It was a frame house of good appear and fair proportions and was the first building erected within what is now the corporate limits of Yellow Springs, west of the railroad, but at that time the railroad was not yet constructed. For several years this church was supplied, as it had been from it first existence, by circuit preachers. It was dedicated by a Bishop Hameline of Cincinnati.
Among the families represented in the congregation were those of James Brown who came from Virginia, of Samuel Cox, Sr., who came from Md., of Daniel Pennell, Jacob Drake, Judge Mills, Mrs. Aaron Harlan dn her sister Mrs. Ellis. The Sipe, Cosler and Graham families, and Mrs. Isaac Baker, who was a member of the latter family.
Prior to 1845 the present brick church was built at the corner of Dayton and Winter streets. The old church was sold and converted into a dwelling. On May 6, 1895, it was destroyed by fire, originating in the first elevator which was burned with the entire block.
It must be remembered that when the present church was built, Dayton street was unimproved, with trees growing close to the road upon either side.
Under the ministration of its many efficient ministers this church has constantly increased in numbers. In the years of 64 and 65 it was enlarged by an addition at the west end.
The first preacher who was stationed here was Rev. Finley. From the first hour of its existence the Methodist church has been essentially the church militant. It has worked constantly for the betterment of humanity, always appealing to it to array itself on the side of right. It has done and is still doing a noble part in the world’s work.
The above picture shows the building as I remember it as I passed it daily on my way to school. The name of the Pastor was Mr. Peak.
This later view shows a Parsonage. This was occupied by two ministers whose families were among out very good friends — The Deems and the Middletons.
Lora and Effie Middleton were prominent in musical circles of the period, both at the church and at the College.