In 1830, just previous to the organization of this Church, there were in this city four (4) Baptist Churches: The Enon Church, now known as the First Baptist Church; the Sycamore Street Baptist Church, the one claiming the name of Original and Regular First Baptist Church;and the Bethel Baptist Church.
It was a time of religious activity, and as Alexander Campbell was preaching here in some of the Baptist Churches, earnestly presenting his peculiar views, while some Baptist ministers were inclined toward hyper-Calvinism, it was also a time of much discussion and difference of opinion upon doctrinal subjects, among Baptists.
At this time Rev. S. W. Lynd came here on a visit and preached several times in different churches. A number of members, attracted by his style of preaching and his clear and sound views of Christian doctrine, determined to organize a Church under his leadership. This company was composed of nineteen (19) members, fourteen (14) of whom had obtained letters from the Enon Church, and four (4) from the Sycamore Street Church. They were recognized by a council November 9th, 1830. Rev. Dr. Geo. Patterson, of the Enon Church, and Rev. Jno. Boyd, of the Bethel Church, took part in the exercises, Rev. S. W. Lynd giving the right hand of fellowship. The names of the nineteen (19) constituent members were:
Wm. Morgan, Ebenezer Marsh, Joshua W. Kendall, Thomas Harris, Thomas Mitchell, Luke Kendall, Thomas Bevan, John Shays, Wm. Bruce, John Woolley, Henry Miller, Thomas Simpson, Elizabeth Morgan, Lydia Kendall, Laura Kendall, Lydia Woolley, Sarah J, Vallette, Mary Bruce, Elizabeth Bevan.
Most of them were persons of more than ordinary intelligence and force of Christian character. Wm. Morgan had been a preacher; Jno. Woolley was a leading physician, whose wisdom and weight of character in the community added much strength; Wm. Bruce was a licensed preacher; Henry Miller was the author of a collection of hymns used extensively in the West.
Rev. S. W. Lynd was called to the pastorate and took charge January 1st,
1831. The new Church having no house of worship, met for awhile, Sunday mornings, in the City Council Chamber, and Sunday evenings occupied the house of the Enon Church. Subsequently they met in the "Wing Schoolhouse," on the southeast corner of Sixth and Vine Streets. Within four months from the time of organization the entire membership of the "Original and Regular First Baptist Church" was added to their number, and they were so prospered in other ways as to be able, during their first year, to erect a house of worship. This house of 40 by 70 feet, costing $12,000.00, was built upon the south side of Sixth Street, just east of Walnut. The Church accordingly received the name of the Sixth Street Baptist Church, and was incorporated under this name February 6th, 1832.
In a little more than a year from its organization the Bethel Baptist Church was absorbed into its membership, so that this Church now consisted of a membership drawn from all the four Churches above mentioned as having an existence previous to this one.
Dr. Lynd had the qualities of mind and heart that enabled him not only to draw, but to unite these elements from so many different sources, into one harmonious Church, which was characterized by most delightful brotherly love during the early years of its history.
The first baptism took place in March, 1831, in the river at the foot of Vine Street, and the Church was permitted to welcome converts by baptism, almost every month, for several successive years. The increase was so great that in September, 1831, the membership numbered 200.
In 1836 their house on Sixth Street, having become too small, was sold to a Presbyterian Church. The lot at present occupied on Ninth Street was purchased, and a new house of worship erected at a cost of $30,000.00. They were able to occupy it in the spring of 1837, and the name of the corporation was changed to "The Ninth Street Baptist Church."
Among the names of the brethren who came into the Church during 1831-1837 and whose fragrant memories will ever be cherished for their wise counsels and long and valued service, are those of John Ewing, John Bevan, R. A. Holden, Jno. W. Sheppard, John Poinier, Aaron Gano, Coleb Trevor, Win. Powell and J. Jones Duffield.
In 1840 a revival occurred, the most remarkable in the history of the Church, and such as it has seldom been the privilege of any church to enjoy. It seems to have been unlooked for either by the pastor or by the body of the Church. The first manifestation of the Spirit's presence was when a stranger told an usher that he was in trouble on account of his sins, and wished the pastor to pray for him. Dr. Lynd was deeply moved by the request, and appointed some special meetings for the week following. On Monday evening, instead of a very small attendance, to which they were accustomed, the vestry was filled to every corner. When Dr. Lynd rose to address them he looked around at the great company and his first words were, "Some one has been praying." The pastor, although taken by surprise, seemed to be immediately girded with strength equal to the task before him, and was permitted to baptize 200 converts during the following four mouths of refreshing.
The years just preceding had not been very fruitful in conversions, and when
this work commenced it was as when waters that have been held back are suddenly set free, and the flood moves on with irresistible power. The genuineness of the work is shown by the general steadfastness of those who were brought into the Church. Four (4) became ministers and occupied important positions in the denomination. Of names familiar to many of us are those of E. J. Wilson, Eliza Evans, D. G. A. Davenport, William Young, Geo. Crawford, Sarah R. Steer, Charlotte Ewing, Abram Ross, Mary Gove, Jane Snodgrass, John DeCamp, H. Thane Miller, Chas. Duffield, Geo. L. Hanks, James Cooper, Samuel Trevor, Nancy Wilson (Mrs. Geo. F. Davis, Sr.), Gabriel Taylor.
During the year 1841 an event occurred, the result of which it would be agreeable to omit. A personal disagreement between two prominent members was a source of much unpleasant contention in the Church, and caused wounds which were not easily healed. The trouble lasted about six months and was finally settled. Although the above item is like a blot upon the record, we may take satisfaction in the thought that it is probably the only exception to the rule of almost perfect peace and harmony with which the Church has been blessed throughout its long history.
In the years immediately following this the Church exercised faithful watch and care over its members, by fraternal visitation to promote their spiritual interests and to settle differences that threatened any alienation between the brethren, The example of the Church, at this time, as shown by the record of resolutions passed upon the subject of discipline, and carried into effect, for which we cannot afford space here, might be copied with profit at the present day. In 1843 some prominent members were excluded for what we might consider small offenses; but the Christian spirit with which it was done caused it to result, as is common in such cases, for the good of those who were put away. The brethren abandoned their evil ways, were restored to the Church, and became valuable members.
Dr. Lynd resigned in September, 1845, having accepted a call to the Second Baptist Church, St. Louis. During his pastorate of 15 years 764 persons united with the Church; 400 of them by baptism.
Dr. Duncan, in his Historical Discourse of 1880, says of him: "He was a master builder. * * * He laid good and deep foundations. * * * Many whose Christian character began and was nourished under his ministry here, have since been firm pillars in this and other Churches of the West. * * * He was one of the staunchest advocates of the cause of foreign missions. * * * Dr. Lynd was also prominent in the educational work of his day. * * * His power was felt through the religious press. In 1837 he conducted in the columns of the Harbinger a controversy with Alexander Campbell. * * * He was in the forefront of the anti-mission conflict in Southern Ohio, battling along with Father Bryant against the Antinomianism which was rending in twain the Miami Association. When this Church, in company with the Churches in Dayton, Lebanon and Middletown, were excluded by the anti-mission party, he was active for the promotion of the new Miami Association and was chosen its first Moderator."
His preaching was characterized by great clearness, fervor and pungency. He drew around him one of the most intelligent congregations in the city. Judges
and lawyers waited on his ministry. He was nobly supplemented in his work by Mrs. Lynd, a woman of fine mental gifts, combined with rare grace and sweetness of character.
So much space having been given, as seemed fitting, to the important events at the time of organization, and during the pastorate of Dr. Lynd, it will be necessary to pass more rapidly over the history of the Church during the ministry of subsequent pastors.
Rev. E. L. Magoon accepted a call extended to him September, 1846, and entered upon his labors in November of the same year. The Church prepared for his coming by paying off a debt of $2,500.00 and repairing their house of worship. The Church prospered under his care. In 1847 it entertained the National Missionary Societies and contributed that year $1,600.00 for foreign missions, the largest amount ever given in a single year for this object. In 1847 a plan was formed of organizing a new Church in this city. Dr. Magoon resigned his charge to go with the new enterprise, but it failed for want of funds, and he accepted a call to New York City.
Dr. E. G. Robinson, who was at this time preaching for the Walnut Street Church in this city, accepted a call from this Church and began his work with it in July, 1849. The Walnut Street Church soon followed their leader, coming into this Church in a body — some thirty in all — the following August. The Church was greatly blessed in having such a preacher and teacher as Dr. Robinson. He was naturally a deep and clear thinker and was endowed with rare scholarship. His preaching was not of the kind to produce immediate results in conversions, but it made deep and lasting impressions, and the seed sown bore rich fruit in later years, as proved by the testimony of those who had received their first convictions under his preaching. His lectures on Infidelity, Sunday evenings, filled the house with intelligent listeners, ministers of other denominations and many scholarly men being among them. The memory of Dr. Robinson's pastorate is cherished with just pride, not only on account of his great ability manifested while here, but also because of his important positions and influence in the denomination since that time. He resigned in April, 1853, to assume the professorship of theology in the Seminary at Rochester, N. Y.
In March, 1852, Rev. Jos. Emery was directed into the path of missionary labor in this city which he has followed ever since. The Church entered into an engagement with him to labor as a city missionary. The salary, at first $500.00, would have been no inducement if it had not been for his love for the work; but he was evidently called of God, and was willing to make sacrifices for the good of the cause in which he was engaged. While engaged in business as a baker, he had been in the habit of giving what time he could spare, and soliciting others to help him, in visitation and the distribution of tracts. For a few years his main support came from this Church, but since then he has been sustained by contributions from persons of other denominations as well. His work has never been especially for this Church, but he has sown seed beside all waters. We can not state results here, but his record is on high, and eternity will reveal the golden fruit.
During the interval following the removal of Dr. Robinson the Church was,
for considerable time beginning with September, 1853, supplied by the instructive ministrations of Rev. Marsena Stone.
Wm. T. Hansell, of Philadelphia, was next called, and began his ministry as pastor in February, 1854. Mr. Hansell had great organizing ability and possessed rare tact in conducting the social meetings of the Church, and in leading those who were seeking the way of life. He had the privilege of baptizing into the Church 169 willing converts. In 1855 a missionary work was begun among the Germans of this city, which resulted in establishing the German Baptist Church. Rev. P. W. Bickel was appointed to this work and labored most earnestly. By personal effort on his part converts were brought in, one at a time, and united with this Church until a sufficient number had been gathered to form an independent Church. Our Church assisted this interest until it became self-sustaining, contributing for it altogether $11,643.00.
In January, 1856, nineteen (19) members withdrew and formed the Mt. Auburn Baptist Church. They were mostly persons prominent in this Church for ability and financial strength, and no little concern was felt in regard to the effect of such a loss to the parent Church. Mr. Hansell closed his labors here in July, 1858.
After the resignation of Mr. Hansell the Church was without a pastor until May 5th, 1860, when E. T. Robinson who, in answer to a call, had come to the Church in March previous, was ordained by a council called for that purpose. His short but useful service was terminated by death in July, 1862, the 29th year of his age and the 29th month of his pastorate. Although his time was so short he had the privilege of baptizing 95 converts, and he had been here long enough to be greatly loved. He was very mature, for one of his age, in wisdom and in rich Christian experience. He had a warm generous nature that won the hearts of those who knew him, so that the loss when it came was a great affliction to the Church. The Church erected a monument over his grave, and his wife, who soon followed him, sleeps by his side in beautiful Spring Grove.
In the interval following the death of Rev. E. T. Robinson, Rev. O. N. Sage frequently occupied the pulpit and administered the ordinances. Rev. Wm. Ashmore also preached several times, and later the pulpit was supplied for a considerable time by Rev. J. F. Elder.
Rev. Wayland Hoyt came to the Church in September, 1864. He was a most interesting and instructive preacher, drew large congregations and baptized during his pastorate one hundred and ten (110) converts. He closed his labors here in 1867, accepting a call to Brooklyn, N. Y. During his term the Church commenced the work of entirely remodeling its house of worship, which cost at completion $90,000.00. The amount seems large now, but these were times of high prices. The effort required great sacrifice on the part of the members, and the burden of a heavy debt had to be carried for several years.
Rev. F. M. Ellis accepted a call from this Church and commenced his work in January, 1868. On October 25th, of the same year, occurred the dedication services of the new house. Rev. W. W. Everts, D. D., preached in the morning and Rev. Wayland Hoyt in the evening. Mr. Ellis becoming interested in a new enterprise resigned in November, 1868, to accept the care of the Second Baptist Church in this city.
In February, 1869, Dr. Reuben Jeffery having accepted a call, came to the Church from Chicago and entered at once upon very successful work. During the first year 100 were baptized into the fellowship of the Church. Dr. Jeffery also did valuable service in assisting the Church to free itself from a burden of debt, which was being carried when he came. He resigned his charge iu July, 1873. Among those who were brought in during his ministry, and whose service has been specially valuable in this and other churches were Gardner Phipps, Geo. L. Mason and Jno. Trevor. Bro. Phipps was a man of excellent spirit, and was not only able, but ready always to shoulder the heavy end of every financial burden. He was called away by death July 7th, 1881. In the kind providence of God he had been given to the Church for the very time when His financial ability was most needed.
During the long period of more than eighteen months which followed, the pulpit, for the larger part of the time, was supplied with great satisfaction by Rev. G. O. King.
In January, 1875, the Church extended a unanimous call to Rev. S. W. Duncan, of Cleveland, O., which he accepted, and began his labors in March following. Dr. Duncan's preaching was eminently sound, earnest and forcible. Frequently his sermons, in substance and style, were of the highest order. In November, 1880, the Church celebrated its semi-centennial. Dr. Duncan preached an historical discourse which was listened to with great interest and satisfaction. This discourse was published in pamphlet form and is a document of great value. The facts given in this paper are mostly gathered from that source. Dr. Duncan took a deep and active interest in the affairs of the denomination at large, and much of his time and thought was expended in this direction. He was strongly opposed to retaining upon the Church roll names of persons who added nothing to its character or efficiency, and the list of members would have been considerably larger but for his policy of frequent revision. In May, 1883, he resigned to accept the charge of a church in Rochester, N. Y. An earnest effort was made by this Church to persuade him to reconsider his resignation, but without success. He is remembered as a man of very sincere and lovely Christian character. He was ably seconded in his work by Mrs. Duncan, a woman of superior mental ability and wise judgment.
After the removal of Dr. Duncan the Church was without a pastor for two years. The pulpit was, however, ably filled during the first year, by Dr. J. A. Broadus, Dr. J. P. Boyce, Dr. Basil Manly, and others, from the Theological Seminary, at Louisville, and during the last few months by Dr. Kerr B. Tupper, now of Denver, Col.
In the summer of 1884, Rev. Johnston Myers came from the Theological Seminary at Rochester, and ministered to the Church as a supply during the vacation previous to his last year at the Seminary. His work here was so satisfactory that the Church decided to call him to the pastorate. He accepted the call to take effect at the close of his term at Rochester, and came to the Church and was ordained as pastor in May, 1885. He has remained ever since and is now in the seventh year of his service for this Church. His success has been quite remarkable and continuous year after year, 522 having been received by baptism alone, and altogether the membership has nearly doubled, now numbering 944. His
work at the Stations, inaugurated by him, of which there are now five, has widely extended the influence of the Church, and attracted general attention throughout the city.
In looking back over this line of pastors, the Church has cause for deep gratitude to God for the gift of men of such high character and ability as the ten ministers who have at different periods occupied its pulpit. They have differed greatly in their characteristics, but all have been men of more than ordinary ability. Each one, in his own way, has added something in the way of edification, or building up, of this Church, which now views with just pride its relation to the worthy men who have ministered to it in the past. All of them who have lived to labor in other fields, subsequent to their relation to us, have taken high rank and have occupied the most important positions in the denomination. The public ministry of Hansell and E. T. Robinson in the province of God ended here, but who that has known much of the history of Baptists has not heard of Lynd and Magoon and Robinson, of Hoyt, and Ellis and Jeffery and Duncan? There is no church in the land that would not take pride in such a list of pastors. Mr. Myers, who is still in his first pastorate, is already widely known for his great work here, and from Christian workers in this city and other parts of the country come inquiries as to the secret of his success. This Church can not claim that its good fortune in this line is owing to great sagacity in choosing pastors, nor that these men were made great by their connection with this Church. It can only be attributed to the goodness of God in answer to the prayers of his people for men after his own heart. Five of the pastors who have ministered here, Lynd, Magoon, E. T. Robinson and Jeffery, have been called to their reward; and five, E. G. Robinson, Hoyt, Ellis, Duncan and Myers, are still in the Master's service.
During the past five years this Church has employed Mrs. J. B. Byl as a city missionary, her daughter, Miss Mamie Byl, also being engaged in the same work a large part of the time. They have rendered service of great value, which in the present system of Sunday-school and Station work, seems indispensable.
One year ago it was decided to engage an associate pastor to assist Mr. Myers in his work, which had grown to be so large as to make it impossible for one man to answer all the calls made upon his time. Rev. W. D. Holt was selected for the position, and his service began January 1st, 1891. He has been a valuable helper. Both in the general work and in the pulpit, when occasion required, he has ministered with great satisfaction to the Church.
There are some interesting features of our Church history that are worthy of special notice. One of these is the Friday evening social prayer-meeting, which had its beginning in February, 1855, under the pastorate of Wm. F. Hansell. Mr. Hansell had a happy faculty for leading the social meetings, which had previously been held on Monday evening, and there was considerable increase in religious interest. "At the suggestion of H. Thane Miller a young people's meeting was established. * * * It was appointed for Friday evening, because then released from school duties they could more conveniently attend. It was intended only as a temporary movement. * * * The last evening had come when the meeting was to be discontinued, but just as Mr. Hansell was about to dismiss the meeting a young man arose and said he could not allow these
meetings to close without securing his soul's salvation. This was the commencement of a work of grace. The meetings went on growing in interest. Subsequently the regular weekly meeting of the Church was combined with this, and the Friday night gathering has been an institution ever since." It can be said that never, since its beginning, has there been a time when the Friday night meeting has not been largely attended and very interesting. It has proved more attractive than any social entertainments, and has drawn to it not only Christians, but many of the unconverted, who have here been brought under the best Christian influence. Here has been heard the best expression of devotional feeling and of Christian sympathy and love. This institution is one of the greatest blessings connected with our history, and for which we have reason to be profoundly thankful. It has been common to hear the thought expressed by strangers, temporarily with us, that a church was highly favored indeed that could enjoy the inspiration of such services. Here a multitude have told publicly, for the first time, what God has done for their souls, and pledged themselves to the service of Christ, and here, too, month after month, their covenant has been renewed. So largely has the spiritual life of the Church been connected with this service and found expression here, that those who are temporarily away turn their thoughts to this prayer-room when Friday evening comes, and for those who are permanently removed to think of their old church home at Ninth Street is to think of the Friday evening meeting.
Another prominent institution connected with the church history was the church choir, under the leadership of Bro. Victor Williams, and which, for so many years, with its stately music added dignity and enjoyment to the sanctuary services. In its early history the church seems to have had within its membership several persons possessed of more than ordinary musical talent, and who furnished excellent material for the founding of a chorus choir, but it is owing principally to the efforts and genius of Professor Williams, that it was maintained as the largest and best chorus choir in this city through its long history. Bro. Williams' term of service, which began in 1840, continued through the exceptionally long period of fifty years. Although never receiving from the Church large compensation he always took an intense personal interest in the choir. To promote its efficiency seemed continually to be the uppermost thought in his mind. He always succeeded by his persistent efforts in keeping its ranks recruited up with new material as older members were, from various causes, removed. One of the common faults for which choirs are noted is that while producing harmony of sound there is the opposite of harmony in feeling, leading frequently to serious trouble. But there is no record of any trouble to this Church from this source. To quote the words of Bro. Williams, written not long since: "During the long period of time we have, by God's special providence, been permitted to exist in peace and harmony, which is more than can be said of any other large choir in this country, and to God alone do we lift up our hearts in praise and thanksgiving for his unspeakable goodness and mercy." It may be further said of its good influence that many have become members of the Church who were first introduced there.
In the history of David, who was so long the leader of Israel in the sweetest songs of prayer and praise, there came a time when it was said, "The prayers of
David, the son of Jesse, are ended." But David is not forgotten, and though time has removed Bro. Williams from his post of active duty, he still occupies a warm place in the hearts of those who were familiar with his faithful service, and his memory will long be fragrant with the pleasantest recollections of beautiful worship in the sanctuary.
Our Church Sunday-school has a history too important to treat with any justice in the brief space allowed here. It has been a continuous blessing, not only to the children, but to the teachers as well. In this work has been developed Christian character and ability for Christian work of the highest order. The school has been characterized by an earnest Christian spirit that was not satisfied with merely teaching and entertaining the scholars, but sought their conversion and membership in the Church. It has consequently been a fruitful field. The converts who from time to time have been baptized into the fellowship of the Church were mostly of those who were first brought under the influence of the Sunday-school. The names of those who during its history have served as Superinteudents are: T. B. Hawks, William Bond, William Booth, Jno. R. Poinier, Thomas Harris, James Cooper, Albert L. Beatty, Jones Duffield, Asa Drury, Thomas Spooner, Samuel Trevor, Jno. W. Sheppard, Isaac Russell, Rev. M. Stone, D. G. A. Davenport, Geo. S. Blanchard, H. W. Sage, F. A. Barnard, Geo. B. Nichols and F. B. Baldwin. The term of service of Deacon Nichols was fourteen years, the longest of any on the list. He retired in 1890 leaving the school in a more prosperous condition than at any previous time in its history. Bro. Forester B. Baldwin is the present very efficient Superintendent, and has just been elected to a second term.
There have been other organizations of great value to the Church, such as the Ladies' Benevolent Society, the Burman Missionary Society, and the Dorcas Society, all of which have existed for many years. The Benevolent Society contributed fully one-half of the amount given for the German Baptist Church, and for all purposes Dr. Duncan estimated the amount raised by them at $25,000.00. The work done by these societies is worthy of more extended notice than can be given here. Eternity alone can reveal its great value.
As we look back over the history of the Church we find abundant cause for praise and thanksgiving to God for his presence and guidance through all the uncertain way, delivering it from the evil of contention and strife, permitting us to dwell together in unity, and to often sit together as in heavenly places in His sanctuary. Our whole history speaks aloud of the goodness of that God in whom our fathers trusted, and who is now the hope and confidence of our children.
But while we find so much cause for satisfaction in reviewing the past there is no disposition on the part of this Church to rest satisfied with the past or present situation. The thought of this people is not so much occupied with what has been accomplished, as with what may be accomplished in the future. Our house of worship is now being remodeled, at a cost of $7,000 which will add to its capacity and beauty, and with all its pleasant appointments for the sanctuary service, and its able assistant pastor and missionaries, the Church will, in all respects, be in better condition for earnest and effective work the coming season than ever before. This Church is old in years of experience, but not old in spirit. It is led by a young and aggressive pastor, with a large corps of working
members in hearty sympathy with him, so that while it is not without conservative counsel, it is characterized by the energy and hopefulness of youth. This, with God's continued blessing, will insure a still more useful future. While we have been favored with great leaders our faith has never rested in men, but in God and in the truth of His Word, and if we still go forward trusting in His truth, this God will be our God forever and ever.
[From the Miami Baptist Association Minutes, 1900, pp. 24-33. Document from the Miami Baptist Association Office, Cincinnati. - jrd]
Ohio Baptist History
American Baptist Church Histories
Baptist History Homepage