Marietta's hospitality, famous over the world, is not forgotten in the houses of worship. Marietta is known as a "City of Churches," for nowhere in the land can one find more religious interest or more generous "God-fearing" men and women, who have beautiful edifices in which to give praise to their Maker.
The first sermon in the Northwest Territory was preached Sunday, July 10th, 1788, in the hall of the northwest blockhouse in Campus Martius by Rev. William Breck. Rev. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, who visited the colony the first summer, preached a number of times. In the spring of 1789, Rev. Daniel Story came out, having been employed by the Ohio Company. He preached for a number of years, as well at Waterford and Belpre, as at Marietta. He received a part of his support from the Company and a part from the people.
The Congregational church at Marietta was organized December 6th, 1796, composed of members residing at Marietta, Belpre, Waterford and Vienna, Virginia. The first deacons were: Dr. Josiah Hart, of Marietta; Joseph Spencer, of Vienna; Benjamin Miles, of Belpre, and Nathan Proctor, of Waterford. Rev. Daniel Story was the first pastor, installed by a council convened at Hamilton, Mass., August 15th, 1798. Rev. Samuel P. Robbins became the pastor January 8th, 1806; Rev. Luther G. Bingham, May 34th, 1826; Rev. Thomas Wicks, D D., July 28th, 1840; Rev. Theron H. Hawkes, D. D., October 27th 1869.
The pastorate of Dr. Wicks extended from 1840 to 1869, being longer than any other in the county. Dr. Hawkes continued till march 22, 1883, when he located at Springfield, Mass., after some time spent in touring Europe.
Subsequent pastors of the church were: Rev. C. E. Dickinson, May 5, 1883, to June 7, 1897. After which, he went to Cincinnati and from there to Belpre until a few years ago he retired and now lives at Marietta. Rev. J. R. Nichols became pastor in March, 1897.
In June, 1901, the old "Two Horned Church" was remodeled. This building was destroyed by fire and the present handsome structure erected.
Rev. H. H. Kelsey succeeded Rev. Nichols, and Mr. Kelsey was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. C. C. Creegan.
In 1812 a Bible Society was formed at Marietta, of which General Rufus Putnam was president. It is referred to by the correspondents of General Putnam as the "Ohio Bible Society," and Bibles and Testaments were sent here from New York and Philadelphia to be distributed at the prominent points both in this State and in Indiana Territory.
On October 10th, 1814, was formed the "Society for the Promotion of Good Morals." The object: "To promote good morals and discountenance vice universally; particularly to discourage profaneness, gross breaches of the Sabbath, idleness and intemperance; and especially to discourage intemperance." The first officers were: Rev. S. P. Robbins, president; David I. Burr, vice president; David Putnam, secretary.
In the fall of 1818 a committee, consisting of David Putnam, William R. Putnam and James Whitney, wrote to Governor Worthington, asking him to call the attention of the Legislature to the subject of intemperance, which he did. They then memorialized the Legislature on the subject, asking for action and saying, "It has been a subject of regret to your memorialists while pursuing the statutes of this State that no paragraph or expression can be found which censures this offense."
In 1817 this Society voted to establish a Sunday School, and the records for 1819 show that three schools were in operation under its general care. One was the "Muskingum Academy" under the charge of Mr. William Holyoke, one at the "brick house on Point Harmar," under Mr. William Slocomb, and one for small scholars at "Buell's School Room" at the Point, under the care of Mrs. Whipple and Mrs. Merwin.
The Congregational church at Belpre was organized in 1826, and that at Harmar in 1840. The Town Hall at Harmar was used for worship till November 27th, 1847, when the present edifice was dedicated, having been erected on ground given by the late David Putnam, Esq.
The First Religious Society in Marietta was formed March 2nd, 1801. The original articles of association, with 128 autograph signatures, have been preserved. This Society was incorporated by the Legislature February 4th, 1807, two others being incorporated the same winter - an Episcopal society at Worthington, and a Presbyterian at Cincinnati. These were the first religious societies incorporated in the State. This First Society in Marietta was connected with the Congregational church, and worshiped in the Muskingum Academy till the present church was dedicated on May 28th, 1809.
The "Religious Meeting House Society," organized April 15th, 1805, seems not to have contemplated the support of public worship, but simply "the important and laudable purpose of erecting a meeting house in the town of Marietta, to be consecrated and devoted to the public worship of Almighty God." To this end the members "solemnly and irrevocably transfer" all their dividends from the ministerial rents for the period of seven years. It was this society that commenced the erection of the large brick building on Third street below Greene. As some of those who were active in this society were among those who in 1804 employed Rev. Mr. Lindley, it may be inferred that this edifice was ultimately intended as the place of worship for the Presbyterian church. But the building was never completed as a church. Both the "Second Religious Society" and the "Religious Meeting House Society" continued for some years to receive their dividends from the rents of section 29; the former to 1818, and the latter to 1816.
The "Fourth Religious Society" was formed in 1805, and was composed of persons living east of Duck Creek. The last ministerial dividend to that society was in 1812.
The "Union Religious Society" was formed in 1805 or 1806, and its members were chiefly or wholly made up of residents of Harmar. It received dividends from the ministerial rents to 1818.
It will be noted that the five religious societies organized in Marietta from 1801 to 1806, no one had a denominational designation, and that only one of the five is still in existence. The other four became extinct before 1820.
A Presbyterian congregation was gathered in Marietta very early, and Rev. Stephen Lindley was employed as minister in January, 1804. On the 18th of that month the Second Religious Society was formed. On the declaration of war with Great Britain in 1812, Mr. Lindley became chaplain in the Army. January 25th, 1812, the Legislature incorporated the "First Presbyterian Society in Marietta, called the Second Religious Society." This society received aid from the ministerial funds derived from Section 29, 1818.
A Presbyterian church was formed at Waterford at an early date. It is supposed to be the same as the present Cumberland Presbyterian church at Beverly, and is probably the oldest church but one in the county.
A Presbyterian church was organized at Marietta in 1841, which continued in existence about twenty-five years, though regular worship was not maintained during the whole period. The edifice on Third street, near Greene, was erected by them. It was afterward used by the African Methodist church and is now a manufacturing plant.
The Fourth Street Presbyterian church was formed in 1865, and their house of worship on Fourth street, near Wooster, was erected the same year. Both this and the one formed in 1841 were chiefly colonies from the Congregational church.
The first meeting was held in the home of Mrs. Sarah Dawes. Silas Slocomb was chairman and Dr. H. B. Shipman, Secretary.
Rev. W. H. Ballantine was the first pastor, and the church erected was the one now used by the Christian church on Fourth street. Rev. Ballantine continued till June 1869, and was succeeded in October 1869, by Rev. William Addy, of Franklin, New York. He continued till his death, May 18, 1870. Subsequent pastors were Rev. W. E. Roe, Rev. Jackson, Rev. A. Y. Wilcox, and the present pastor, Rev. J. H. Gross.
The present handsome church edifice was built under Rev. Roe.
The first Methodist Episcopal organization in Marietta was in 1812. The first house of worship was built in 1814 - the frame edifice on Second street, north of Scammel, later occupied by the German Methodists. The church on Putnam street, now used by John B. Alden and Kelly's news Stand, was built in 1839 and hence its name, the Centenary Church.
The Methodist church in Harmar, now called the Crawford Chapel, was formed in 1849, and the second charge in Marietta or Whitney Chapel, in 1860. Whitney Chapel returned to the old church in June, 1876.
In 1883 the present church was erected at the corner of Third and Wooster streets, and remodeled in 1899.
The Universalist Society was formed in 1817, and the frame building on Second street, formerly used for worship, was built about 1842. For some years the members of this society have worshiped with the Unitarians, but they still maintain their distinctive organization. An act was passed February 2nd, 1832, to incorporate the "First Universalian Religious Library Society of Marietta." Mr. John Delafield, Jr., in his pamphlet published in 1834, says, "The Society devotes the property which annually accrues to its treasury to the acquisition of an extensive and valuable miscellaneous library." This appropriation of their portion of the ministerial funds, long since ceased, and the library is not now in existence.
A Universalist Society was organized in Harmar in 1839, and continued until 1849. The church in Belpre was formed in 1823, and it is said to be the oldest church of the denomination in the State.
A Baptist church was organized in 1818 in Marietta Township. The first edifice in the county was the brick church near Cornerville, east of the Little Muskingum. The organization was in the town of Marietta in 1833, and the edifice on Church street was built in 1835. The old church on Putnam street was built in 1854. Rev. Jeremiah Dale was one of the early preachers in this region, doing missionary work over a large territory. He died in 1831. Rev. Hiram Gear, who died in 1843, had been pastor of the church in Marietta for six years. There are at this time fourteen Baptist churches in the county.
The pastors of this church have been: Rev. James McAboy, till 1825; Rev. Jeremiah Dale till 1831; Rev. Alfred Dana till 1834; Rev. Allen Darrow till 1837; Rev. Hiram Gear till his death, Feb. 20, 1843; Rev. Eber Crain till August 1844; Rev. Ira Corwin till March 1853; Rev. J. P. Agenbrood till 1855; Rev. L. G. Leonard till July 1863; Rev. S. N. Carman till 1868; Rev. J. D. Grieble, two months in 1868; Marana Stone, D. D., till October 1873; Rev. James W. Riddle till 1878.
On March 26, 1879, Rev. George R. Gear became pastor and remained till 1899. He was succeeded by Rev. L. Kirtley on November 27, 1899. Subsequent pastors have been Rev. Mills and Rev. Carman.
The present handsome stone church at the corner of Fourth and Putnam streets stands a monument to the congregation.
A Protestant Episcopal organization was made as early as 1827 in Marietta and an act "to incorporate St. Luke's Church" was passed by the Legislature January 9th, 1833. The church building at the corner of Fourth and Scammel streets was opened November 22nd, 1834, and occupied by this church till 1857, when the present house on Second street was erected. Rev. John Boyd was here since 1850 and until 1902, making his continuous clerical service longer than that of any other clergyman in the county.
Subsequent rectors have been Rev. W. H. K. Pendleton, Rev. George Davidson, and the present rector, Rev. J. M. Hunter.
The Catholic church was organized in Marietta in 1838 and became the St. Mary Catholic church. There were, however, many Catholics in the city and county previous to this date, there being no organization they were attended by priests and missionaries from other places.
In 1838 Rev. James McCaffrey was stationed here and soon placed the church on a solid foundation. A house and lot were given the congregation by Mrs. Mary Brophy. It was located on lower Fourth street, next below the old church property near the river. It was a two story brick, the first used for a church and the second story for a pastorial residence.
In 1847 work was begun on a new church building on the lot next above the old residence. This was completed in 1850.
In June, 1849, Father McCaffrey was succeeded by Father Robert J. Lawrence and he continued till April of the next year when he was succeeded by Rev. Peter Perry. Father Perry continued till October, 1855. It was during this time that the old, large church but a few years ago abandoned was begun and completed under Father Hardey. Rev. R. B. Hardey remained pastor till May 1857, when he was succeeded by Father A. O. Walker.
In May 1862, Rev. W. J. Ryan succeeded as pastor and remained till his death in July, 1869. Rev. C. F. Schellamer succeeded and during this time the church was frescoed and stained glass windows were added.
Rev. Peter Thurheimer became pastor in October 1877, and remained till September 1878, when Father F. P. Campbell succeeded him. Father Campbell remained till November 1879, when Father John B. Kuehn took charge and remained till his death, July 29, 1892. He is buried in the cemetery on upper Fourth street, the only priest ever buried in Marietta. Father Kuehn was greatly liked and admired by the townspeople as a whole and perhaps no pastor of any denomination was so universally esteemed as he. His life here was filled by noble deeds for his own people and other congregations of the city.
Father F. M. Woesman was appointed pastor August 2, 1892, and remains in charge, a pastor greatly liked by the people of the city. During his time a parochial school building was erected on the old church property on lower Fourth street and in connection therewith was established a musical school that has taken a decided place in the city educational circles.
In 1908 the present handsome church edifice was dedicated at the corner of Fourth and Wooster streets.
The Harmar congregational church was organized January 1, 1840. The first pastor was Rev. Milo J. Hickok installed May 4, 1842. Up to this time Rev. J. H. Linsley, president of Marietta College, filled the pulpit. On October 20, 1847, Rev. Gideon Dana began his pastorate.
The present church building was built in 1847 on a lot donated by David Putnam, Sr.
March 1, 1850, Rev. Dana was succeeded by Rev. David Gould till May 11, 1854. He was succeeded by Rev. William Wakefield till Feb. 9, 1872. The church during this time was remodeled.
he was succeeded by Prof. J. I. Wells and then Rev. J. H. Jenkins. Subsequent pastors were Rev. H. C. Haskell, Rev. D. F. Harris, Rev. Silas L. Smith, Rev. John G. Smith, Rev. Virgil Boyer, Rev. L. J. Travis and the present pastor, Rev. Whitlock.
St. Paul's German
In 1840 the first German church in Marietta was organized, the German Evangelical church, St. Paul's. Though not in organic connection with the Lutheran Synod of Ohio, their pastor is a member of that body. Their house of worship, at the corner of Fifth and Scammel streets, was built in 1848.
German M. E.
The German Methodist Episcopal church was formed in 1842 and occupied at its organization the house on Second street, built by the Methodist congregation. The first pastor was Rev. Paul Bobdeck.
The present church edifice was erected at the corner of Third and Wooster streets in 1877.
Among the pastors were Rev. H. Herzer till he was succeeded by Rev. Henry Jurd in 1899.
St. Luke's German
In 1851 a third German organization was made, the German Evangelical Church of St. Lucas. They occupied as their place of worship the house erected by the Protestant Episcopal church at the corner of Fourth and Scammel streets, a handsome old Colonial building, much admired. And the only building in town standing directly north and south.
The present handsome stone building was dedicated December 15, 1901.
The Unitarian church at the corner of Third and Putnam streets was erected in 1855. This edifice was built at the expense of Mr. Nahum Ward, and with organ and bell, was presented to the society.
The pastors have been: Rev. R. D. Burr from Jan. 9, 1858, succeeded by Rev. William L. Gage, E. c. Gild, T. J. Mumford, F. M. Holland and W. C. Finney.
In 1869 came Rev. J. R. Johnston, succeeded by T. S. Hatcher and Rev. J. T. Lusk from December 17, 1876, to October 19, 1890. Rev. Rice and others filled in till September 1, 1895, when Rev. E. A. Coil, the present pastor, took up the work.
The Church of the United Brethren was organized in 1857, and their house on Fourth street, north of Greene, was erected in 1866. This afterward became a school house and the congregation moved to the old Whitney Chapel on Second street in 1879. They later moved to an attractive house of worship on Wooster, near Seventh, and soon disbanded.
In 1871 the African Methodist church first received aid from the ministerial rents, though they had maintained worship for some time before that. for some years they occupied the frame building on Third street below Greene, built for a Presbyterian church.
The first services held were perhaps about 1860. The membership at that time being made up of Franklin Norman, Jane Norman, Susan Norman, Mrs. Fletcher and Mrs. Strawder.
Wesleyan M. E.
Services were first held on Third above Scammel and later in the old colored school building at the corner of Third and Scammel streets.
In 1883 they erected a church building on Second above Sacra Via, where services are now held.
The Christian church in Marietta began with revivals held at Mile Run, a church being organized in 1895.
The church enjoyed a steady growth and now occupy the old Presbyterian church building on Fourth street, above Wooster, which has been remodeled and enlarged.