Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

Fairfield Township History


From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883

For many years there was no church edifice within the territory of what now comprises Fairfield Township, but the venerable pioneers here, as in other localities, were not long without the dispensing of the word of God in their midst. Probably the first place in this township where the Gospel was preached was at the house of the worthy pioneer, Enoch Thomas, on Opossum Run. He was an earnest and devoted Christian of the United Brethren faith, and very soon after his settling here, in 1807, preaching was had at his house, and continued to be dispensed there and in the primitive log schoolhouses in the neighborhood, till, at a later day, as the country became more thickly settled, a class was organized and a house built for church purposes, near Mr. Thomas', but just over the county line, in Franklin County, in accomplishing which Mr. Thomas was the chief actor and leading support, to honor whom the church was called the Thomas Chapel.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at California.—Here, as elsewhere, we find the Methodists with their itinerant system early in the field, and, as soon as the settlements demanded it, their preachers were soon on the ground and held meetings, first at private houses, and thence, as soon as schoolhouses were built, they were used as places of worship. We find a class early organized at Spring Hill, about three miles northeast of California, and another class at the Bales Schoolhouse. At the latter place, preaching was held regularly every two weeks. These meetings were generally conducted by a number of Methodist preachers, one after another, as they came on to the circuit, till after the town of California was laid out, when, in 1852, they decided to erect a church in that town. Robert Thomas gave and deeded them a lot, and, in the summer of the above mentioned year, the present frame house was erected, and they organized with the Eollowing members: John F. Chenoweth, Charles Henderson, Charles Warner, Moses Ellsworth, Hezekiah Chenoweth, Andrew White, John Callander, Thomas Corder, Richard Johnson and their wives, Rachel Bales, Sabina Hume, with, perhaps, a few others, whose names are not now remembered. Charles Warner and Hezekiah Chenoweth were class leaders for many years. Among the first ministers were Revs. Hurd, Wolf, Smith, William Sutton, Stewart and Young. The church has had many precious seasons of revivals, and in former days seemed to possess more vitality and earnestness than of late years. The church building is becoming old and dilapidated, and a new one is very much needed. The present membership is nearly one hundred, with Rev. J. W. Waite as their minister. The class leaders are Charles Warner, Lucy Minshall and Minnie Higgins. The church and community are abundantly able to erect a good house, and, whenever the Spirit and God's grace shall pervade the hearts of the people, as it did the forefathers, she will arise in her might and strength, a new and beautiful house will be built, Zion will prosper, God honored and the people blessed.

Dennison Chapel (United Brethren Church).—About the year 1849, a class was formed at the old log schoolhouse which stood on the farm of Lemuel Lawrence, with thirteen members, some of whom were as follows: John Creath, James Dennison, W. Estep, Elizabeth Dennison, Michael Robey, Jesse Timmons, with Joseph Timmons as class leader. They had preaching every three weeks in the schoolhouse. The first minister was Rev. Jesse Bright. Subsequently, they held their meetings for awhile at the house of William Peel, who then lived on the Lawrence farm. About 1852 or 1858, they built a log house for church purposes, by each person furnishing a specified number of logs. It was built on the same lot where the present church stands. This house was quite large and commodious, and within its walls much good was done. This building was burned down in 1860. But they went right to work, and, in 1861, the present frame house was erected, and was dedicated, in the fall of 1861, by Rev. Joseph M. Spangler, Presiding Elder of the Winchester District, in the Scioto Conference. The church prospered and increased in membership quite rapidly under the faithful and earnest labors of Rev. William Ferguson, James Ross, and others, and at one time her membership was one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty. Subsequently the church declined very much; and one among the various causes of her decrease in members was a large emigration West; forty three persons among the most efficient members moved to the State of Missouri. Her present membership is about sixty, with F. Reibal as their minister, and Henry Bowers and Samuel Watrous as Class Leaders. During the existence of this church, they have generally had a good and prosperous Sabbath school. James Brown is its Superintendent at the present time.

Methodist Episcopal Church at Lilly Chapel.—From the best information we can get, this church was organized about 1828. The class embraced the following persons: Philip Durflinger, Isaac Morris, George Bell, Amos Morris, Stephen Morris, William Tway, David Sidner, David Crane, Daniel Durflinger, Samuel Tway, with their wives. For many years, their meetings were held at private houses and in schoolhouses. Among their first ministers were Rev. David Kemper and William Westlake. The present church edifice was built about 1850. and received the name of Lilly Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.

German Lutheran Church.—In 1867 a few persons of the Lutheran faith convened together and organized a church at Lilly Chapel, embracing the following persons: Louis Gierich, Charles Greassle, John Mantz, Michael Bellman, Lawrence Miller, Charles Stark, Jacob Schwartz, Jacob Cowling, with their wives and some of their children, numbering twenty or more persons. They held their meetings in the schoolhouse, with Rev. Henry Horst as their minister, who continued as such about three years, when, from having several other appointments at other places for preaching, he was compelled to make his appointment for preaching at Lilly Chapel on a week day, and, from the pressure of work and business matters, the people were unable to attend services with regularity, and preaching was discontinued and the organization ceased. In 1878, they again re-organized, with the same members, except Jacob Cowling, who had moved away, with the following additional persons: Henry Wise, Martin Straus, Mrs. Young and John Grierich, with Rev. Henry Peters as minister. Services were held in the schoolhouse till in May, 1882, they obtained privilege to hold services in the M. E. Church. On December 25, 1880, a subscription was commenced to raise money to build a house for church purposes, and their efforts have been continued till they have an amount raised sufficient to justify them to commence the erection of the house, and, July 2, 1882, is appointed as the day to lay the corner-stone, after which the work will be pushed forward to completion as rapidly as possible. The church now has a membership of twenty eight, and it is hoped the church will prosper and increase in numbers and usefulness. Mr. Peters, their former minister, received a call to preach at Yeagerstown, Penn., which he accepted, and resigned his charge here in the summer of 1881. He was succeeded here by Rev. W. H. Brown, who is still their minister.

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