On a recent visit to my old home I was requested by a member of the centennial committee appointed for Belpre Township for any information or statistics I might have relating to the organization of the M. E. Church in Belpre and more particularly the time of building the church at Rockland. I submit to your readers such facts as I think might be of interest to all that are interested in the Marietta's Centennial.
Some 20 years ago Harvey Ellenwood (who is now deceased) informed me that his father Daniel Ellenwood assisted in floating the lumber for Rockland Church in the flood of 1832, but on my recent visit to Belpre I found it was the opinion of some of the citizens it was built as early as 1827. This I think is not correct. And I base my opinion on the following reasons: first - the positive statement of Mr. Ellenwood; second - the deed from Joseph Newberry to the trustees of M. E. Church, at Belpre, was dated February 19th, 1835, and acknowledge William Burroughs, Justice of the Peace, and recorded January 18th, 1836, volume 26th, page 2, of record of deeds in Washington Co.
The trustees, Joseph O'Neal, William Burroughs, Benjamin F. Stone, Calbert O'Neal and Daniel Goss purchased 34-100 of an acre for the sum of $3.00.
Third - I find that Lavina McClure (who now lives at Briggs Post Office) was married April 26th, 1827, and moved to Belpre and lived on the widow Cook's farm near the Belpre Hotel and lived there till the flood of 1832, when their house washed away. She joined the church at Belpre, May 27th, 1827, and went to church in a school house in Stone's grove near Belpre depot till 1832. There is no mistake as to time she joined the church for I have the old class book of 1826 and 1827. David Young was Presiding Elder and Leroy Swarmstedt was preacher in charge and Daniel Goss leader. On the back of this it says: class book for the class that meets at the Middle School House, Belpre Township, Marietta Circuit, O. A. C. From these facts it would seem that the first church was built in 1832.
The first account we have of Methodism in Belpre as an organization dates back to 1820-21. At this time a class was formed of 13 members whose names I gave in an article published in the Register, September 1st, 1870. Daniel Goss was leader of this class. In 1822 Joseph O'Neal was appointed leader and Daniel Goss was appointed leader at the forks of Hocking. This year Jacob Young was elder, Daniel Limerick and William J. Kent circuit preachers.
Lavinia McClure and Calbert O'Neal are the only living members of the class of 1827. The former joined May 27th and the latter July 25th. Colbert O'Neal is the only living trustee of the church built in 1832. I have heard Captain Henderson speak of a church situated on the bluff opposite Blennerhassett Island above the old site of Farmers Castle. Of this I knew nothing. I think the Captain had a drawing made of it before he died and it is now in the hands of Col. Stone's family.
In 1842 Calbert O'Neal was Leader of class number 2 and out of 75 members living at that time there is but two to my knowledge living. Mrs. Rebecca Leseur (formerly Rebecca Rouse) and Calbert O'Neal, these with Mrs. McClure are the only living persons of any of the classes from 1820 to 1842. Mrs. Hutchinson, who lives with Mrs. Leseur, was born in Farmer's Castle in Belpre, but she moved away at so early a period she does not remember anything about the organization of the church.
Mt. Vernon, June 1st, 1888.