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Burke A. Hinsdale
The Disciples in Hiram...
(Cleveland: Robison, Savage & Co., 1876)

  • Title page
  • Mormonism in Hiram   The Disciples

  • Religion in Hiram
  • Bethesda Baptist Church   Records
  • Mary Agnes M. Smith writings
  • Symonds Ryder Family   Manuscripts

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • "Hiram Township (1860)"  |  A. S. Hayden's History (1875)  |  Riddle's The Portrait (1874)
    "Rigdon Among the Baptists (PA)"  |  "Rigdon Among the Baptists (OH)"  |  Darwin Atwater
    "Hiram Township 1" (1874)  |  "Hiram Township 2" (1874)  |  "Hiram Township" (1885)
    "Hiram Township" (1896)  |  "Hiram Township" (1910)  |  "Hiram Township" (1957)
    "Hiram College" (1950)  |  1874 Hiram map  |  Sidney Rigdon's Hiram Period



    OF  THE

    D I S C I P L E S


    A  D I S C O U R S E



    B.  A.  HINSDALE



    [ 3 ]



    This Historical Discourse was undertaken at your request. In presenting it to you in this permanent form, I desire to say a few things that would have been out of place in the Discourse itself.

    First: It is as perfect as I could make it, considering the quantity and the kind of material at my disposal. I have read all the published works that throw light upon the story. I have also gone through all the manuscript records known to me, that promised to be of any service. The Church Book of the Church Bethesda has been largely drawn upon. Our own records are incomplete and fragmentary; and we may well regret that they have not been kept with more care. Still, they are of considerable value. Valuable facts have been obtained by conversation with living actors in many of the scenes, here narrarted; especially with John and Zeb Rudolph. To gather up these materials, to put them in shape, to compare and to weigh discrepant accounts, has not been an easy task. But the preparation of the Discourse has been to me a source of constant interest and profit. If it is equally so to you, I shall be doubly paid.

    Second: Some may think the field covered is too broad, and that the Discourse is, therefore, too long. If so, I reply that Hiram can be understood only as she is taken in her historical connections. The relations of the Campbells with the Mahoning Association; of the Association with Bethesda; of Bethesda with the Disciples in this neighborhood, are so close that I felt obliged to trace the connection, in a rapid way, from the beginning. In our case, it really seems to life, that there are especial reasons for going back to the beginning in writing a local history. If any charge that I have lingered too long under the porches of Bethesda, this is any reply: I could not resist the temptation to give some glimpses of church life in Portage County, sixty years ago. Besides, how the Baptist Churches of Mahoning were transformed into congregations of Disciples -- how the new leaven

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    leavened the lump -- is an inquiry of the first importance. Such a process is always better understood when it is studied in a single case. As great changes in society are often best seen in the lives of single men; so similar changes in religious bodies are often best seen in a particular congregation.

    Third: There are some parts of the Discourse that I hope you will read with especial care. Let me mention what is said about the characteristics and defects of the Church. Our history is interesting and profitable, but it will not keep us alive. To live, we must work and grow. Hence, we inust understand ourselves individually and collectively, in order to intelligent effort. I would also mention the paragraphs pertaining to Church and College. Reference has been made above, to the imperfection of our records. Let more care be paid to them in the future. As the generation past made history for us, so we are making history for the generation coming. Let the Church never be without a Clerk, a good scribe, practiced in the forms of business, who will conscientiously record everything that will be a matter of future interest.

    Fourth: Should this little publication fall into the bands of neighboring brethren, let me urge them to see that the history of their congregations is gathered up and put in permanent form It is hoped we all properly appreciate such works as those of Richardson, Baxter, and Hayden, especially the work of the letter, belonging as it does to our own Reserve; but many facts of local interest, well worthy of preservation, are necessarily excluded from such books as theirs. Much valuable material has already been lost; more will be unless an immediate effort is made to put it in Shape where it can be preserved. Is not the year of our National Centennial a fitting time to like the effort?

    And now, Brethren, commending this Discourse to you, and you to God and the Word of his Grace, I subscribe myself,
                 Yours in Christ,
                                             B. A. HINSDALE.

    Hiram, O., March, 27, 1876.

    [ 5 ]


    By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should, after receive for in inheritance, obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Heb. xi, 8-10.

    Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. I Samuel, vii, 12.

    Walk about Zion and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. Ps xlviii, 12-13.

    Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, Jer. vi, 16.

    Let us follow therefore after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Rom. xiv, 19.

    How came there to be a Church of Disciples in Hiram? To answer this question, we must first answer another one. How came there to be Churches of Disciples anywhere?

    In the year 1807, Thomas Campbell, a Scotchman by blood and by training, came from the North of Ireland to Western Pennsylvania. Two years later he was followed by his family, one of whose members was Alexander Campbell, his oldest son. In his own country, the senior Campbell had been a learned, useful, and honored minister of the Seceders, one of the numerous branches into which the great Calvinistic body of Scotland and North Ireland was divided. His religious experience had been such as to convince him that the divided and distracted state of the Church of which the country that he came from was so melancholy an example, was not only unnecessary, but deeply sinful;

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    that this state of affairs resulted chiefly from introducing human elements into religion, and from neglecting Scripture teaching; and that a return to primitive foundations would bring back the primitive trust and petce. In his new home, he immediately began to urge, in the spirit of charity, these views. His Seceder brethren, with whom he had promptly allied himself on his arrival, took the alarm, and he soon found himself involved in the entanglements of an ecclesiastical prosecution. He freed himself from the toils by severing the bonds that bound him to the Seceders. Together with a few who sympathized with him, he soon formed a society that he named "The Christian Association of Washington, Pa." In the fall of 1809 this Association put forth a "Declaration and Address," in which the need of Christian union and the supreme authority of Scripture as the only basis on which it could be effected, were urged with great force of argument and cathlicity of spirit. It came from the pen of Thomas Campbell. Its key-note was, "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent, we are silent." About the time the transactions here narrated were transpiring, a large number of men in different places were feeling about for a principle that would lead them out of the chaos of Sect-Christianity. Several of these made the same discovery as Thomas Campbell -- the sole authority of the Bible. Hence, the stream we are now descending, variously called the Movement of the Disciples, and the Current Reformation, had many headsprings. But the one to whose stream all the rest became tributary, by which they were all swallowed up, was the one struck by the senior Campbell in the Washington "Declaration and Address." More than any other, he was the pioneer in reform. He was soon followed by his son Alexander, but with longer steps.

    The Campbells had made their home in a society young but of boundless possibilities: the nascent society of the Mississippi Valley; a society that partook of the freedom, and even wildness, of the nature in the midst of which it was planted. As compared with the Atlantic Slope, much more as compared with Europe, this society had more enterprise, more courage, a more fluid state of opinion, less conventionalism of manners, and a

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    larger measure of personal independence. Churches of various orders had been planted; a fair share of the people "west of the mountains" in 1809, were religious people; but, the Western tone was seen in religion as well as in politics and social life. Religiously, the Western mind was impressible. It was, therefore, the good fortune of the Campbells, and of their co-laborers, to begin their work where the material at hand was plastic; also their good fortune to see this material, as society grew in culture and in age, harden, thus retaining the impression that they had made. They wrote neither upon iron nor in the water.

    As has been seen, the original inspiration of the new movement was a desire for the union of the people of God. This is what may be called the material principle of the Campbells. It led to the formal principle, viz: This union can be effected only on a simple Scriptural basis. In asserting the supremacy of Scripture, they meant much more than the common Protestant means in making the same assertion. They believed that human authority hung an obscuring veil before the Protestant mind; and this veil they proposed to tear away, and bring men face to face with the Word of God. When the Campbells adopted this formal principle, they never dreamed where it would lead them; like Abraham, they went out not knowing whither they went. Looking once more into their New Testaments, they asked: "What was the primitive faith and order?" They failed to find it reflected in the Church of 1809. They pushed their inquiry with the eagerness of men who take up a new question. Great changes were speedily wrought in their views of religion. Feeling their wry slowly onward, they at last set themselves to restore the Church of the Apostles; its faith, its polity, and its spirit. The principle set forth above, of which they were the, most conspictious, though not the only advocates, rose to the surface of almost every religious body in the West: in some, spontaneously; in others, evoked by the cry for reform that passed over the land. Let us see this principle at work in one of these bodies.

    At the opening of this history, a handful of churches of the regular Baptist order, generally were scattered over Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. So far as paper documents could do it, these Baptist congregations were well protected

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    against unsound doctrines and dangerous practices; each one had its Covenant, its Articles of Faith, and its Rules of Order-- together composing its Constitution. Of course they were Calvinistic in doctrine and congregational in polity. They were grouped together, as Baptist Churches still are, in voluntary societies called Associations, for counsel, encouragement, and cooperation.

    Following their new-found principle, the Cambells reached the conclusion that the "one baptisim" of the New Testament is immersion. This conclusion led to important results. The first was their immersion; this was in 1812. The year before, they had organized a church, called the Brush Run Church, in which was included a considerable number of the members of the Washington Christian Association. The Brush Run house of worship was in Washington county, Pa., a few miles from the village of Bethany. Originally composed of Paedo-Baptists, this church, the first Church of Disciples, now became a congregation of immersed believers. In 1813 it was admitted to the Baptist Redstone Association, a body that gathered up into its bosom the Baptist Churches of Western Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio. Regularly, a church was not admitted to one of these Associations without an acceptable statement of faith in a written form; but Brush Run stipulated in advance that she should not be required to accept any creed or confession but the Bible. Thus, immersion was the bridge over which the Campbells passed from the Presbyterian to the Baptist order. In fact, however, they never were Baptists; and the union formed in 1813, although it lasted ten years or more, was never a very happy one.

    The Campbells continued to preach their newly gained views. They departed more and more from the old Calvinistic doctrines and methods of pretching. They attempted to pour the new wine into the old bottles, in which attempt they met with very different results. According to Alexander's account, written thirty years later, the Baptist people were considerably tolerant, teachable, and progressive; but the ministry of the Redstone Association, at least for the most part, were "narrow, contracted

                                    HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                                 9

    illiberal, and uneducated men "little men in a big office." * Many of the ministers followed a very annoying and obstructive policy. Probably personal feeling had something to do with the matter; for, as time wore on, the younger Campbell came to stand in ability, knowledge, and weight of character, head and shoulders above them all. From the immersion of 1812, he, rather than his father, was the real head of the movement. For ten years the elements of opposition were slowly gathering. Arrangements were made to pack the Association of 1823 against him; certainly to proscribe his views, possibly to eject him from the connection. Weary of strife, perhaps convinced that it was useless to coontinue the struggle on that field, but not choosing to be put under ecclesiastical ban at this juncture, Alexander Campbell took a bold step that confounded his pursuers, and put matters on a new footing. In company With thirty other members of the Brush Run Church, he quoetly withdrew from that congregation, and organized the Wellsburgh Church, the second one formed on the new foundation. This was about as far from Bethany in one direction, as Brush Run was in the other. It was consistent with Baptist order for this new church to knock at the doors of any Association that it pleased -- a fact on which great events turned. The next step in the history, brings us to the Western Reserve.

    In 1820, in the adjoining town of Nelson, the Mahoning Baptist Association was organized. It embraced the territory now included in Trumbull, Portage, Mahoning, and part of Columbiana counties. It included, at most, about twenty churches. In externals, it did not differ from other associations, not even the redoubtable Redstone. But its more influential men were a superior class; pious, tolerant, and willing to learn. From 1820, and even before in some churches of the Association, views similar to those taught by the Campbells asserted themselves. Some of the leading men were in communication with Alexander Campbell as early as 1821. The Wellsburgh Church was admitted to this Association in 1824, so that the little flock which had escaped the eagles of Redstone was once more under

    * Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 344.

    10                                 HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                                

    ecclesiastical cover. The creed sent up from Wellsburgh, written by Alexander Canpbell, and called "A Belief of the Wellsburgh Church," differed about as widely from the common regulation creed as it could, and belong to the same category. * Beyond this point, I cannot follow in detail the history of this Association. After 1825, Mr. Campbell visited it yearly. He also attended the Preachers' Meetings, commencing in 1822. † Light broke in on all sides among the Baptists of Eastern Ohio. They were ascending the mountains of God. They obtained clearer and clearer views of truth, and one, by one they burst the cocoon of the, old theological and ecclesiastical wrappings. The Association protected the swelling chrysalis until, transformed, it burst its shell and flew away. In 1830, at Austintown, the Mahoning Association formally dissolved, leaving in its room a large member of Churches of Christians or Disciples. Most, if not all, the Churches of the Association went into the new movement, so that nearly all of the Baptist congregations of this region of later date than 1830. One step more brings us to Hiram.

    July 30th, 1808, there was organized in Nelson, by Elder Thomas G. Jones then of Pa., a Baptist Church that, following the custom of giving churches sentimental or historical names, was called "Bethesda." There were six members: William and Mary West, John and Susan Rudolph, John and Elizabeth Noth. It was the first church of any kind organized in Portage County. The Church Book of this little congregation, kept, with great care and minuteness, is a curious and interesting study. Let me spread before you some of its material. Externally, there was nothing to distinguish Bethesda from the other little Baptist flocks scattered through the wilderness of Northern Ohio sixty years ago. It was Calvinistic in doctrine, congregational in polity, close in communion, and practiced immersion. It held that the laying-on of hands, in the reception of members, was of Apostolic appontment. In their Covenant, the members declared: "And we do promise and engage to do all things (by divine assistance), in our different

    * Note A.
    † Note B.

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               11

    capacities and relations, that the Lord was commanded us and requires of us." One of the rules of discipline was this: "We do solemnly promise not to divulge the secrets of the Church to the world, and to keep the concerns of the House of God completely within itself." In 1810, it was "agreed that each member who neglected to attend any stated or appointed meeting of the Church, either on the Sabbath or week-day, shall be called upon to render to the Church a satisfactory excuse for such neglect." To carry out this order, the Clerk called the roll of the members, and the names of the absentees were entered on the Church Book, where they stand to this day. At this distance, the few facts relating to the financial history of this church are peculiarly interesting. It was, indeed, the day of small things. The difference between six and one-fourth and twelve and a half cents was fully recognized. April 7th, 1809, it was voted to raise six dollars for church purposes the coming year, and a committee was ordered "to levy, collect, and deliver it to the church as soon as possible." At first, members wore assessed according to their property, but later the, subscription plan was introduced. The year following, eight dollars was raised. January 25th, 1812, Elder West, the pastor, reported that he had received, for the previous and current yetrs, eighty-six dollars as salary. Bethesda generally grew from her organization. Why should she not, since she had plenty of room? Up to June 2d, 1810, she had received twenty-four members. December 15th, 1811, there were twenty-three members. The roll of August 17th, 1822, contained forty-five names. Within the territory over which these members were scattered, it is safe to say, twenty churches have since, at one time or another, existed. East and west, it touched the two extremes of Nelson and Aurora. Some of the members lived in Palmyra, some in Newton, some in Deerfield, others in Troy and in Bainbridge. In those days Hiram appears to have held a sort of bad eminence for irreligion for the whole town furnished Bethesda only one member, and that one was excluded for "heresy and unworthy conduct." On the roll we find some familiar names. April 10th, 1819, John Rudolph, Jr., "came forward and told what the Lord had done for his soul, and was received into the

    12                                 HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                                

    Church." February 12th, 1821, Darwin Atwater "gave in his experience" and was immersed. Zeb Rudolph was received August 10th, 1823. The stated meetings were held in different places in the territory covered by the membership, but most frequently in Nelson, Mantua, and Aurora. They were held either in private houses or in school houses, generally in the former, as the Church had no house of worship. William West was the shepherd of the little flock for several years, commencing with 1810. Later, Elder Freeman acted in the same capacity. Adamson Bentley, then a young man of twenty-four, afterwards our own venerable patriarch, visited the Church as early as 1809. Sidney Rigdon, afterwards the Mormon heresiarch, came about as early. About 1820, the Church territory began to be narrowed by the organization of neighboring congregations.

    It is impossible, not to admire the faith and heroism of the six persons who took upon themselves the labor and responsibility of organizing the Church Bethesda. Nor can we fail to admire the courage and faithfulness with which she moved onward. Worship was maintained, and the ordinances were observed, according, to the rules of the body. How many Christians are there in Nelson to-day who would go to Aurora or Palmyra to attend public worship on the Lord's day? How many in Aurora would up to Nelson? How many in Hiram who would go to either place? How pleasing the picture that the imagination paints of these zealous Christains, scattered through the woods of a half-dozen townships, more than half a century ago, going up, sometimes, to John Noah's, in Nelson, sometimes to Jotham Atwater's, in Mantua, sometimes to Samuel Baldwin's, in Aurora, and again to the South School House, in Hiram, to hear the Gospel preached, and to keep the ordinances of God's House! But do not hastily conclude that the former days were better than these. Bethesda had her troubles. She could not enforce her rule requiring attendance at the conference meetings, and after a few years, the Clerk ceased to put down the names of the absent. Under date of January 25th, 1812, twenty-one members are marked absent from the meeting. The Clerk plaintively observes "that the brethren who attended were hurt, in their feelings," mournfully

                                    HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                                 13

    adding, "this day is not generally attended to," I have never read the record of any church that had so many cases of discipline to look after. It would seem that more or less "impotent folk" always lay about the pool of Bethesda. Some of the cases were for absence from the Church meetings. One was for "insufferable misstatements," one for dancing, some for drunkenness, others for swearing or other violent language, and several for heretical opinions. For so small a church, there were numerous exclusions. Prominent members fell out of the way in a manner that would quite surprise us now. Plainly, society was more plastic then. Promptness in lopping off the unthrifty and dead branches of the vine may be a mark of zeal and life in the gardener, but not necessarily of wisdom and the spirit of Christ. Apparently, the waters of Bethesda were "troubled" for other purposes than healing.

    The reforming views as preached by the Campbells came to the surface as soon in Bethesda as in any of her sister Churches in the Mahoning Association. The senior Rudolph, a deacon of the Church from 1811, never believed in the laying-on of hands in the reception of members. Still, the good old Calvinistic dogmas and the good old Baptist rules held their place undisturbed, until the year 1823 was fairly rounded. Rudolph held his convictions as silent opinions, not wishing to disturb the peace of the Church. One or two things in The Church Book are very suggestive in connection with the Church's early history. In calling West to the pastorate in 1810, the form used was: "We the Church of Jesus Christ, called Bethesda." Is that a prophecy or an accident? Certainly it was remarkable for a regular Btptist Church so to describe itself. In 1823, when the Church field had been narrowed, the designation, "Baptist Church of Christ, in Nelson," was adopted. By this time, it became clear that there were two ways of thinking in the Church. The conservative party, which was the smaller, was led by Mrs. Eleanor Garrett, a lady characterized both by piety and skill in leadership. The other by Deacon Rudolph, who possessed weight of character tnd ardent piety. The one party insisted in going on in the good old way; the other thought the Bible should be regarded more and the Constitution less. John Rudolph, Jr.,

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    the Church Clerk, became tired of reading the Covenant and Articles at the monthly Covenant meeting, and he accordingly omtted some of those parts that he thought most objectionable. The conservative party insisted that they should be read; the progressives took a step forward, and proposed to lay aside the Creed altogether. The pool of Bethesda was now "troubled" as never before. A number of Church meetings were held to adjust the difficulties. Elder Thos. G. Jones, the father of the Church was called in as a counselor. At a meeting held in Nelson, June 21st, 1824, it was agreed peaceably to separate. The conservatives would remain with the old standards; the reforming party, having first received testimonials of character, would go their way. Some of the Mantua members who had not been present at the meeting, thought the proceedings irregular. Deacon Rudolph, on reflection, regretted having agreed to separate from the Church. Accordingly, at a meeting held June 29th, the previous action was both reconsidered and reversed. This left both parties under the flag. A third meeting was held in the South School House, in Hiram, Aug. 21st. Only two or three of the conservative party attended this meeting. On the motion of John Rudolph Jr., it was voted almost,unanimously, "to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the Constitution, the Articles, and Covenant of this Church, which was formed the 30th of July, 1808, and to take the Word of God for our rule of faith and practice." Brush Run had previously organized without articles; but Bethesda, so far as known to me, heads the list of Baptist Churches that voted to lay articles aside. * Messengers to the Association, soon to convene in Hubbard, were choscn at this August meeting. A string of questions that these messengers were instructed to lay before that body, better than anything, else, will show what the most active Christain minds in the borders of Hiram were thinking of fifty-two years ago:

    1. "Will this Association hold in its connection a church which acknowledges no other rule of faith and practice than the Scriptures?

    * Note C.

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    2. "In what manner were members received into the churches that were set in order by the Apostles?

    3. "How were members excluded from those churches?"

    These questions were not answered by the Association until them following year. When the iiiswers came, they were all that the reforming party could have desired.

    The minority refused to accept the action of August 21st. In itself, it was distasteful to them. Besides, they charged the majority with having broken faith in not living up to the agreement of June 21st, to separate in peace. Neither party would yield to the other; the minority determined to go to extremes. Accordingly, Nov. 27th, 1824, without summoning those who composed it to appear, the minority excluded the majority from the fellowship. Here are the names of the excommunicated persons as preserved in the Record. John Rudolph and wife, John Noah and wife, Hulda Atwater, Darwin Atwater, Rosetta Snow, John Rudolph, Jr., and wife, and Benjamin Green; in all, ten. Some of the younger adherents of the excluded party, as Zeb Rudolph, are not mentioned in the exscinding resolution. One traditional account says there were seventeen in all; another account fourteen. More than one-half were Rudolphs. Tradition also says that only eight votes were cast for the exscinding resolution. It is not invidious to say that the excluded party surpassed the excluding in intelligence, and Biblical knowledge as much as in numbers. Naturally, the majority refused to recognize the legality of what the minority had done. Each party claimed to be the Church. Both sent delegations to Association in 1825 and both delegations were received. The difficulties were referred to a committee, of which Alexander Campbell, now sitting for the first time in the Mahoning Assocation, was Chairman. The report of this committee, still extant in Mr. Campbell's hand-writing, recites that there was a hopeful prospect of the difficulties being removed, and says it would appear inexpedient for the Association to take further notice of them in the meantime. No accomodation, however, was ever made. The new cloth and the old garment could not be sewed together. Majority and minority were moving on diverging roads. In 1826 they both elected messengers to Association, but the minutes contain no

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    trace of the Regulars. As the Association was moving on the same road as the excluded party, though at a slower pace, the Regulars followed no further. With a protest against the proceedings of the Association, and a fling at "the innovations of Alexander Campbell," the Baptist Church of Nelson abandoned her late sisters, and in 1828 joined herself to the Grand River Association. Here we take our leave of Bethesda, with the remark that she lives to-day in the Baptist Church of Garrettsville. *

    In the meantime, the reforming ptrty went on very much as though nothing had happened. John Rudolph, Sr., his sons John and Zeb, and Darwin Atwater were the leading spirits among them. They had no Elders, but the senior Rudolph, continued to act in the capacity of Deacon. Sometimes they met in Nelson, sometimes in Mantua, and sometimes in Hiram. For the most part, the brethren edifted themselves in love. Occasionally, they were visited by preachers holding the new views, living in other places. They regularly sent messengers to the Association until its dissolution, where they were recognized as the Baptist Church of Nelson. The more prominent of them read "The Christian Baptist," the powerful organ of Mr. Campbell, established in 1823. We call this little band a church, but we must be careful not to carry back and attribute to it the exacter and more formal ideas of to-day. The movement of the Disciples was then in an inchoate state and the Hiram-Nelson-Mantua Church of 1825-6-7 was, in fact, a floating band of ardent brethren, without fixed ecclesiastical organization. In a sense, they had gone out, not knowing whither they went; by faith, they sojourned in the land of promise, dwelling in tabernacles, until God should give them a city which had foundations. For devotional meetings, they met in little knots in their several neighborhoods. About 1827, Rigdon begin to preach once a month, in Mantua, and as the brethren all went up there to hear him, this fact served to localize the body in that place. Hence, according to the Mantua Record, a formal organization, with nine members, was effected

    * Note D.

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    there in January of that year. Afterwards the nine were reinforced by ten others who, with them, were pilgrims from Bethesda. Thomas Campbell visited them in 1828, from which time the Church took on a still more regular form. Darwin Atwater and Zeb Rudolph were now appointed teachers, John Rudolph, Jr., and Lyman Hunt, deacons. At that time the Church was visited also by Adamson Bentley, Jacob Osborne, Walter Scott and Bosworth. By April, 1829, there had been forty-nine immersions, making a total membership of seventy. The time had now come for another step forward. April 18th, 1829, the Hiram and Nelson members petitioned for a division of the Church, on the ground that they lived so far from the common meeting place. This was at the South School House in Mantua. The petition was granted, and thirty-four persons withdrew. forming the Church of Hiram-Nelson.

    In that day, churches were propagated by a process very like that known to naturalists as fissiparous generation. The parent cell splits asunder, each part becoming a perfect organism. In this case, the products of the first fission were the Chirch in Mantua and the Church in Hiram and Nelson; the former embracing the western, the latter the central and eastern members, of the Mother Church. Each of the new churches went on its way. Thus matters stood until 1835, when the next fission took place.

    In the meantime, an important accession had been gained. The evangelical work of Walter Scott gave to the cause Marcus Bosworth. This fervent preacher preached at Hiram Center in June. One of his auditors was Symonds Ryder, a resident of fifteen years, in the vigor of life, perhaps the most influential man in the township. Though favorably disposed towards churches on account of their conservative influence, he had never made a profession of religion. His leanings were towards Universalism, to which most citizens of Hiram, at an early day, seem to have been drawn. Ryder's attention was arrested by Bosworth's sermon, and a week later, at the close of Father Campbell's sermon in Mantua, he made confession of his faith in the Savior, and was baptized the same day. He was the most important accession that the Hiram Church has ever had, so far

    Symonds Ryder  (1792-1870)
    [photo not in Hinsdale's 1876 pamphlet]

    18                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    as local results are concerned. His age, abilities, force of character, and position gave the young cause new strength. He became the leader of the little band almost at once. Especially was this the case after the western brethren found a local habitation in Mantua, and Hiram and Nelson went on alone. Before Hiram and Nelson separated, an event more startling than any yet related occurred, and, for a time, threatened to lay the whole heritage waste.

    In 1830, Mormonism broke out in Western New York. Almost immediately, its prophet and its devotees moved, by a predetermined path, to the Western Reserve. Here I need not discuss the respective relations to Mormonism of Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon, further than to say the latter furnished its historical and dogmatic materials, the former the low cunning and sensuousness that lay at the bottom of all its early triumphs. Rigdon was first a regular Baptist preacher; then he went into the reform movement, where he stood below only Campbell and Scott as a preacher; now he was a Mormon. How he and Smith were first brought together, is about the only important question relating to the genesis of Mormonism that remains Unanswered. But it is proved that he was in correspondence with Smith as early as 1827. Rigdon had been preparing the way for the new faith some time before Smith made his advent in Ohio. At first, the Ark of the Latter-Day covenant was set down in Kirtland, near Rigdon's home in Mentor; but in 1831 it was removed to Hiram. For a time, the house now occupied by Mr. William Stevens, on Ryder Street, was both the Palace and the Temple of the Prophet. But what brought the Mormons to Hiram? Why, a few converts had been made in this retired spot. One of these was Ezra Booth, both previously and subsequently a Methodist preacher, and a man of very considerable culture and eloquence. Booth was immediately made an elder, and began to preach. One of his converts was none other than Symonds Ryder. In a published discourse on "The Life and Character of Elder Symonds Ryder," I have gone over his history with some detail. All I can here say must be put in a few sentences. Ryder had never been satisfied that the Disciples did justice to the Scripture doctrine of spiritual gifts;

                                   HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                                19

    and it was the pretended miracles of Smith, some of which were very extraordinary, that led him to embrace the new faith. * In a letter published since his death, Ryder says: "It has been stated that from the year 1815 to 1835, a period of twenty years, all sorts of doctrines, by all sorts of preachers, have been plead; and most of the people of Hiram had been disposed to turn out and hear." No one can unerstand the early progress of Mormonism who does not keep this chaotic state of religious opinion in mind. Ryder also became an elder. By this time, the Mormon cause was making great headway in this neighborhood. Numerous conversions took place in Hiram, Mantua, and adjoining towns. Especially did the south part of Hiram run after Mormonism. How many Disciples were seduced from the faith and were joined to the new idols, probably cannot now be determined; but so many were, that for the time it seemed as though the Church would be broken up. Some, especially the Rudolphs, stood firm. The defection of Symonds Ryder was felt to be a severe blow. Soon, however, there were evidences of returning reason. Considered as prophets and apostles, Smith and Rigdon did not wear. Suddenly, there came a revelation demanding that the Saints should sell their farms and give the proceeds to Smith. This was a shock to the faith of Symonds Ryder. In the letter mentioned above, he says: "This was too much for the Hiramites, and they left the Mormonites faster than they ever joined them, and by fall, the Mormon Church in Hiram was a very lean concern." Booth returned from Missouri to tell the people that they were deluded. The spell was broken. About the middle of March, 1832, Rigdon and Smith were treated to tar and feathers by what must be called a mob, though made up in part of excellent citizens.

    Assault upon Smith and Rigdon - March 24, 1832
    [illustration not in Hinsdale's 1876 pamphlet]

    The Mormon Tabernacle was now hurridly taken down, and carried once more to Kirtland. † Ryder was a Mormon only from May to September. To the credit of the people of Hiram it must be said, if they took up Mormonism quickly, they dropped it quickly. Only one firmly, so far as I can learn, followed the Prophet to the West. Most, if not all, of those who had abandoned the Church,

    * Note E.
    † Note F.

    20                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    now returned. Father Ryder at their head. He soon won back the confidence of his brethren and was held in as high esteem as ever. This Mormon episode in the history of Hiram is most remarkable. It was nothing less than a temporary madness. Those who gave way to it were not adjudged fickle or unstable by their neighbors. "You were a Mormon" never became an expression of reproach. But it should be remarked, that for the time, Mormonism reflected much discredit, upon the Disciples, Rigdon had been one of their leading preachers. He engrafted many of their tenets on the Mormon System, and naturally, in that state of formative opinons, a considerable number of Disciples followed him into the new fold. One of the Parmly Brothers, of New York has told me that years afterward, he heard Rigdon, in that city, while propagating Mormonism, preach as sound Disciple doctrine as he ever heard in his life. Strenuous opponent[s] of the Campbells and their work, at once exclaimed: "See what deserting the old standards leads to!" "We told you so." My father, who had then passed his majority, tells me that the first he ever saw or heard of Mormonism was in an article in a newspaper published in Hudson. Ohio, entitled "Campbellism Gone to Seed." But the charge was so foolish than it soon fell to the ground.

    The Mormon fever over, the Hiram-Nelson Church stood once more upon her feet ready to move forward. Disciples multiplied. For their ordinary meeetings, the brethren met in two groups; one in Garrettsville and one in the South School house; but on important occasions they met together. In the spring of 1835, came the second fission. One part of the divided cell became the Church in Garrettsville, the other part the Church in Hiram. From that time, Hiram has had a church life that is all her own. To sketch that life in its main features, is now my task.

    The old Church Record declares that "the congregation of Jesus Christ in Hiram, Portage county, Ohio, was organized on the first day of March, 1835." This Record opens with a statement that bears some resemblance to an old-fashioned Baptist covenant. It recites that the persons composing the Church had previously been members of the congregation of Hiram and Nelson.

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               21

    But as it was inconvenient for all the congregation to meet at one place on the Lord's day, to keep all the ordinances delivered by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, therefore, by mutual agreement, two congregations are composed of the one. And in common together, as a congregation, having already been immersed upon a confession of their faith in the Messiah as the only begotten Son of God, they declared it to be their full purpose and determination to acknowledge no leader but Christ, no infallible teachers but the Apostles and prophets, and no articles of belief but the Old and New Testaments." Following this statement are the names of the original members of the Church, in all thirteen, viz: Symonds Ryder, Arunah Tilden, Pelatiah Allyn, Jason Ryder, Thuel Norton, Pelatiah Allyn, Jr., Mehetabel Ryder, Amelia Allyn, Lucretia Mason, Emeline Raymond, Amelia Allyn, Jr., Harriet Norton, and Betsy Sperry. Probably it will be a surprise to you, is it was to me, not to find in the list the name of "Aunt" Fanny Ryder. She had been a member of the Hiram-Nelson Church since 1830, and no account can now be given of why her name does not appear upon the original roster of the Hiram Church. Of the thirteen, only five remain in the land of the living: Jason Ryder, Thuel Norton, Amelia Allyn, (now Mrs. John Mason, of Missouri), Emeline Raymond, and Harriet Norton. These five persons, then either young or in the prime of life, are now all old and well stricken in years.

    From this point, let us trace the subsequent growth of the Church. It has been remarked already that, in early days, Hiram was an irreligious community. But after the conversion of Symonds Ryder there was a steady ingathering to the Church of influential citizens; more especially after the organization of the present Church in 1835. I will not say that we Disciples have a natural right to Hiram; but it is true that ours is the only statement of the, Gospel that has ever commended itself to large numbers of the Hiram people. A Methodist Church was organized here, and it lived a sickly life to die at last. Ours is the only Church that has ever struck her roots deep into the Hiram soil. From the first we can trace a steady healthy growth. This is exhibited in the following table:

    22                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    March, 1835
    July, 1840
    January, 1847
    January, 1849
    January, 1854
    July, 1859
    April, 1865
    January, 1869
    January, 1872
    March, 1876

    It is well known that church registers do not furnish the most valuable of statistics. Probably, too, statistics of membership are less valuable than some others. On the whole, the figures contained in this table are worth as much as those generally found in church records. Still they call for some comments. The list for 1854 contains only the resident members At that time the names of students who united with the Church were kept on a separate roll. Even Avith this explanation, one hundred and twenty-seven would seem too small a number if there were one hundred and twenty-one four years before. The decrease from 1859 to 1865 is explained by the fact, that in the latter year there was a severe revision of the list. The same explanation holds in the falling off from 1869 to 1872. Since 1872 the Church has received one hundred and twenty-seven accessions; ninety-one by baptism, thirty-two by commendation, four reclaimed. During the same period the loss has been seveuty-four; sixty-two by letter, twelve by death. To know the total membership, would gratify us; but the labor of ascertaining would be so great that I have not attempted it. *

    Once more, in estimating the strength of an old Church from its roll, a considerable margin must be allowed for inefficiency. In our case this margin must be wider than usual. Mantua is the only sister Church within ten miles of us. Naturally, therefore, a considerable number of our members are scattered over adjoining townships. A scattered membership rarely makes as strong a church as one that is compact. Besides, a considerable number of persons are brought into the Church

    * Note G.

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               23

    by baptism, mostly students, who live in places where there are no congregations of Disciples. The majority of these do not remove their membership. Accordingly, in measuring the effective strength of Hiram Church, a considerable allowance must be made for inconstant elements.

    Perhaps it will be a matter of interest for me to state when some of the older and better known of the present members, other than the four already named, came into the Church. Andrew Young and Erastus Young, 1840; Ozias Allyn, Watson Allyn and Hartwell Ryder, 1843; (Carnot and John Mason, the first deceased, the second removed, the same year.); John Ryder, 1846; James Young, 1847; Sylvester Packer, 1848; Cyrus Ryder, 1852; C. L. P. Reno and wife, by letter from Sharon, Pa., 1853; Zeb Rudolph, his wife, and daughter Lucretia, by letter from Garrettsville, in 1858.

    Let us look now at the several homes in which the Church has worshipped. It was organized in the school house standing on the brow of the hill above Deacon Erastus Young's -- the very place where eleven years before, Bethesda voted to lay aside the Articles. This was the regular place of meeting for nine years. Occasional meetings, especially protracted efforts, were held in the old Town Hall, at the Center. But as the congregation grew in numbers, it needed a house especially built and especially set apart for Divine worship. Accordingly, in 1844, a plain but commodious meeting house was built on the ground that we now occupy. This house was built by Pelatiah Allyn, Jr., and cost, including the lot, 11,500. As there were only thirty members in 1840, and only eighty-one in 1847, it is not probable that there were more than fifty or sixty when this house was built. Whether they all concurred heartily in the proposition to build, or whether some thought it savored of "pride," I am not informed. The building formerly occupied as a house of worship by our Methodist brethren, now the Town Hall, was erected the same year. One cold night in the winter of 1855-6, the cry of "fire" rang out over Hiram Hill. The church was discovered to be on fire, and in an hour's time it was laid in ashes. On how many minds will not the picture of that old meeting house linger till death! A plain frame structure, in the Grecian

    24                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    style, painted white without, entered by two doors, a front entry, two aisles running up the ascending floor, a square boxlike pulpit in front, three pillars on eiher side supporting the ceiling, the interior painted in tinted white -- how vividly it lives in memory, after the flight of twenty years! In the summer of 1856, the present house was built. Cornelius Udall, of Jefferson, had charge of the work. When finished, it had cost $3,000. In many respects the new house was an improvement on the old one, especially in size. Some of the brethren urged that some innovations should be made -- that the pulpit should be put in the back end, and that the floor should be level; but conservatism was too strong in Hiram twenty years ago. So the good old pattern shown by Mr. Campbell in the "Harbinger," was followed. Passing by immaterial repairs, the house stood as built nineteen years. Then, last summer, came the remodeling of the whole interior. The floor was leveled, the pulpit put in the other end, new seating and other fittings procured; the whole making a house of worship as comfortable and as beautiful as we can desire. All the various improvements cost, in round numbers, $2,800. For these improvements, the Church is largely indebted to the efficient committee, Brethren Reno, Leach, and John Ryder; especially to the enterprise and taste of the latter. As the repairs were going on, some of the brethren said they were unnecessary; but now that they are "finished, if any one objects to them, I have not heard him named. Here, God grant that the congregation may worship in peace and love for many years to come!

    March 8, 1835, one week after the organization of the Church, Symonds Ryder was chosen Elder or Bishop of the congregation. The Record says he had been before formally ordained, but vhen and by whom, has baffled all my enquiries. He continued to serve alone in that capacity until 1852. In that year A. S. Hayden was chosen and ordained as co-Elder. It is interesting to remark that Thomas Munnell was at the same time ordained as an Evangelist. Elders Ryder and Hayden divided the oversight between them; the first taking charge of the resident members, the second of the student members. On Brother Hayden's leaving, in 1857, Elder Ryder was again left alone. After a

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               25

    few years, C. L. P. Reno was called to his aid. Brethren Andrew Young, Felatiah Allyn, Jr., Symonds Ryder, Jr., A. M. Weston, and, perhaps, Norman Dunshee served as Elders at different times, for brief periods. None of these brethren, however, were formally set apart to the work. Jason Ryder was early called to the work of a deacon. He continued the only servant of the Church in that capacity, until the election of E. M. Young, soon after the latter's conversion. These two brethren continued to serve alone, until 1871. Am I exaggerating when I say, more Disciples have taken the elements of the Lord's Supper from the hands of Jason Ryder and Erastus Young, than from the hands of any other two deacons in Northern Ohio? Father Ryder continued an Elder until his death, in 1870. The infirmities of age, however, had compelled him to surrender the duties of the office to others for some years before his death. After his death the Church was without an ordained officer. Bro. Zeb Rudolph raised the question, whether, therefore, it was Scripturally organized. The question was referred to a committee. The subject of ordination was also fully discussed from the pulpit, by the author of this Discourse. The committee, after mature deliberation, reported that the Church was in an irregular state; and recommended that the organization be completed by electing Scripturally qualified men for the Eldership and Diaconate, and that these men should be regularly ordained for the work for which they should be chosen. This report was adopted. In pursuance of its recommendations, May 5th, 1871, the following persons, having been first chosen by the Church, were set apart by fasting, prayer, and the laying-on of hands: C. L. P. Reno, Hartwell Ryder, and B. A. Hinsdale, Elders; Jason Ryder. E. M. Young, J. F. Whitney, J. J. Ryder, and W. S. Atkinson, Deacons. Brethren O. C. Hill and E. A. Pardee were at the same time ordained to preach the gospel. The services, which were of a very interesting and impressive character, were conducted by the following preachers: Joseph King, J. W. Lanphear and L. Cooley. Bro. King was holding a meeting here at the time, and we shall not soon forget the interest he took in the Church's setting in order the things that were wanting. Bro. Atkinson's removal to the West, is the only

    26                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    change that has since occurred in the official board of the Church.

    Hiram has had one untitled officer, Carnot Mason. He came into the Church in 1843, and died, greatly lamented, in 1856. He was intelligent, wise, religious. Previous to 1850, in Elder Ryder's absences, which were frequent, the conducting of the meetings devolved on him and Andrew Young. Carnot Mason was the Church delegate to the convention that located the Eclectic Institute. It is not too much to say that to his wisdom and magnanimity, more than to any other cause, it was due that Hiram prevailed. *

    The Church's relation to preachers must be now marked out. Father Ryder was an elder or pastor in the strict New Testament sense; he was an officer of the Church who both ruled and labored in word and doctrine. Previous to 1850, he was the only stated preacher. Evangelists were frequently called in to hold what were then called "meetings of days." There is a tradition in the Bosworth family to the effect that Marcus Bosworth often came here "to set Elder Ryder's brush-heaps on fire." From 1850 onward, through several years, the preaching was divided between Father Ryder and one or more teachers in the School. A. S. Hayden, Thomas Munnell, and Norman Dunshee, especially Bro. Hayden, rendered much valuable service; also, at a later day, J. A. Garfield, H. W. Everest, and J. H. Rhodes. The services rendered by these brethren were a labor of love. Often they received nothing as a compensation, and never more than a pittance. As Elder Ryder's appearances in the pulpit became infrequent -- much more when they ceased altogether -- the Church became more dependent on foreign aid. E. H. Hawley was the pastor during the years 1866 and 1867; Dr. S. E. Shepard was preacher in the years 1868 and 1869. B. A. Hinsdale became preacher in the Fall of 1869, and has continued such to the present time. Other preachers who have rendered some service, most of them for short intervals, are A. J. Thomson, A. M. Weston, S. A. Griffin, D. S. Burnett, L. L. Pinkerton, and H. S. Anderson. On the whole, the growth of the Church has been principally due to pulpit ministrations.

    * Note H.

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               27

    However it may have been in earlier times, there has been very little pastoral labor performed in Hiram for twenty years. So far as ministering is concerned, pastoral labor is the want of the present time.

    Protracted meetings have been a marked feature of our Church life. For a quarter of a century, at least, a year was rarely passed without a meeting, and almost always a highly successful one. Many of our ablest preachers have held meetings in Hiram: Bosworth, Brockett, Perkey, William Hayden, A. S. Hayden, Brrett, Munnell, Jones, Belding, Garfield, Everest, Wakefield, Shepard, King, Baxter, Moffet, Cowden, and probably others whose names I have not recovered. During these meetings hundreds of Disciples have been baptized in the waters of Hiram. It would be impossible certainly, in Northern Ohio, to name another church that has received into her bosom so many Disciples young in years, in the same time.

    Two causes have constantly tended to reduce the strength of the Church: One, the constant departure of students who have been here converted; the other, the cause that has so much to do in preventing our growth in Ohio -- but the cause of much spiritual prosperity in the West -- emigration. It is the protracted meeting that has enabled the Church to recruit her strength and hold her ground. Some of these meetings have been occasions long to be remembered. What preaching and exhortation have they not called out! What song inspired! What joy enkindled! Their memory is precious to thousands widely scattered never to meet again on earth. It is obvious from the foregoing facts that preaching the Gospel at home has been the great work of the Church. For twenty-five years, at least, Hiram has been an important evangelizing point. Still some other kinds of work have not been wholly neglected.

    As early as 1847 I find traces in the Record of a Bible Class and Sunday School. The latter, no doubt, was a very rudimentary affair. Probably a Sunday School can be traced continuously (except winter vacations) from that day to this. But there have been, and still are, formidable difficulties in the way of Sunday School work in Hiram. A good deal of good earnest work has been done by a few persons, but the mass of

    28                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    the Church has never taken hold of the school as it should have done. In no other particular do we more stand in need of a quickening to-day, Passing by other deserving workers in the same field, I mention only Bro. G. E. Barber, our laborious Superintendent for the last three years.

    Hiram has never opposed missions, but has always supported them. In June, 1835, two brethren were sent as messengers to a co-operation meeting, to elect an Evangelist or Evangelists. In 1848, I find in the Record, that nine dollars were contributed to missions, and paid to Father Austin, a venerable Baptist minister, who was accustomed to visit our churches before we had missionary agencies of our own. I notice, also, that in 1851, the Deacons were instructed to raise fifteen dollars for co-operation purposes. It is not to be presumed that these were the only instances in which such funds were raised. Few, if any, of our churches have done their duty by missions; but since our missionary work took on its more systematic shape, perhaps we need not blush when we compare Hiram with the other churches.

    But I must not pass without noticing our outpost in Freedom. In 1866, John F. Whitney and wife, of that town, came into the Church by baptism. The religions people of the western part of Freedom were in the habit of holding devotional meetings in the school house, without regard to denominational differences. Brother Whitney and the few other Disciples in this neighborhood, aided in supporting these meetings. In 1868, Brother S. A. Griffin held a meeting among them, which resulted in a number of conversions. These converts united with the Hiram Church. From this time, our brethren took the lead in the meetings, simply because they had more elements of religious strength. A Sunday School was organized, the devotional meeting were continued, and occasionally a preacher was culled in. The cause has prospered. Now, these brethren have a small, but comfortable house of worship. They keep the ordinances of the Lord's day, and carry on an independent religious work, though, nominally, still members of the Mother Church. They deserve much appreciation for their faith and zeal. This outpost is sometimes called "The Hiram Mission Church," but it is our

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               29

    mission only in the sense that some of our zealous members, living in the vicinity, have built it up. "With the exception of Brother Hartwell Ryder, hardly one of us has done more than bid them a God-speed. On the whole, perhaps, they have not suffered from our neglect, for they have continually grown in self-reliant strength. God's blessing on the mission!

    We come, now, to the most important event in the history of the Hiram Church, the planting, under her candlestick in 1850, of the Eclectic Institute. When the proposition to found such an institution of learning assumed definite form and proportions, in 1849, there were several competitors for the place of its location: Bedford, Aurora, Ravenna, Russell, Bloomfield, and probably some others. A convention of delegates from churches was the tribunal to which the petitions were referred. Hiram asked for the School, speaking both through her citizens and the Church. Father Ryder was understood to be indifferent or opposed, at first, but he finally concurred with his brethren and neighbors. The convention decided in favor of Hiram. Now what the history of the Church has been since 1850, we know. WThat it would have been had the Eclectic Institute gone to Russell or Bloomfield, we can only infer. From all the premises, let us attempt such an inferential history.

    In 1850, Hiram did not materially differ, intellectually, socially, or morally, from other agricultural communities on the Western Reserve, remote from important lines of travel. The Church was in as good condition as other churches of the same class. It contained one hundred and twenty members, made up for the most part of substantial farmers and their families. Father Ryder was the sole Bishop of the flock, a man of fifty-eight years of age, of strong will, fond of ruling, and of great weight of character. He did not consciously dictate to the Church, nor did the Church intend to depart from his counsels. He taught the flock, and "had the rule" over its members. He was in as good pecuniary condition as any member of the Church. He was as "diligent in business" as he was "fervent in spirit." He tilled his own farm as well as he dressed the vineyard of the Lord. He was as little disposed to ask compensation from the Church, as the Church was to compensate him. The Church

    30                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    had grown up from a tender plant, under his care. Probably the idea that he was to be supported by the Church, never entered his head nor the heads of his brethren. In the year 1849, the Church voted him sixty dollars "remuneration for his labors at home and abroad." Nor does he appear, at any time, to have had a larger sum. Previous to 1850, the ordinary expenses of the Church had not exceeded one hundred dollars a year, nor did they much exceed that amount for some years thereafter. Now, what would have occurred had things gone on as they were going? Why, Elder Ryder would have continued the sole teacher and ruler, for such would have been his desire and theirs. The more work he did for nothing, the more indispensable his work would have been. By-and-by the break-down would have come. This would have been when he gave way beneath the weight of years. The situation may be thus described : The Church, without a leader, uninstructed in liberality, unable to edify itself -- for Father Ryder was not a man in whose shadow young men grew up to preach the Gospel -- no longer fed from his stores of knowledge, and no longer guided by his counsel, must have fallen into great confusion. Almost inevitably there would have been a state bordering on chaos, as there has been in all the churches so circumstanced; and strength and order would have returned, if at all, only when many years were lost in abortive labor. Here let me add, we may and should admire the spirit of the men who, forty years ago, built up churches by their uncompensated labor, supporting themselves by following a secular business. But this state of things had its unpleasant compensation. Name the Church that, under such a regimen, ever became liberal, self-reliant, and able to take care of itself. Name the Church that was not small in its ideas and weak to helplessness. A preacher may not need compensation for his preaching, but he has no right to labor for nothing for a church that is able to pay him. To do so is to break the positive law of God: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel." * Who shall undertake to repeal this statute? Such an administration as Father Ryder's is very praiseworthy, and even necessary in the

    * I. Cor. ix. 19.

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               31

    infancy of a Church; but when it becomes a settled policy, it tends to weakness and poverty.

    Passing from what would have been, let us inquire what has been. The planting of the School brought to Hiram new classes of people, whether better or worse we need not inquire. It is enough to know that their coming brought in a new order of things. They were teachers and their families, students, and families that came in to enjoy the benefits of the Institution. What had been a mere cross-roads became a small village. That happened which always happens under such circumstances. The effect upon the Church was immediate. What had been a very homogeneous congregation became very heterogeneous. Such has been its subsequent character; variety of general culture, of critical acumen, and aesthetic taste. The old state of equilibrium was destroyed, and a series of oscillations began, that has hardly ceased to this day. Perhaps the first point of contact was the preacher question. Very naturally, the Old Church appreciated Father Ryder. His preaching was still further recommended by the fact that it was cheap. The New Church, acknowledging the great value of his services in the past, thought the time had come for him to retire wholly from the Hiram pulpit, or to appear in it infrequently. Alas, for poor human nature! Strifes came in. Parties were formed; one called Church or Town, the other, School. These fires have burned out, or, if the coals are left, they are buried beneath the ashes. We will not rake them out to-day. But let us have the grace to look back to that day, and say there was fault on both sides; a lack of progressive spirit and an impatience of the new element on the one hand; a disposition to be querulous and exacting on the other. On both sides there was a lack of confidence, and a measurable failure to understand the real difficulties of the situation. It is greatly to the credit of both parties, that they never went to extremes ; they kept together and fought out the battle under the flag. There was a good deal of heart-burning, and many bitter remarks; but in few cases, if in any, was the peace of the fellowship endangered or fraternal relations disrupted. Here, I should say, to adjust a strong school to a church, in a small community, is generally a work of difficulty. Let the membership of the Church

    32                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    be suddenly doubled -- let the new comers constitute, to some extent, a different class from the old members, and, almost inevitably, the old church feels intruded upon; especially if the new church proposes considerable innovations. Hiram is only one of a large number of places where these difficulties have arisen. On the whole, there is no reason to think more trouble has arisen here than in other places under similar circumstances.

    Truth compels me to say, some members of the Church have never appreciated what the School has clone for them and for the Church. These brethren think of what it has cost them in money and trouble, and fail to look at the compensations. Already I have pointed out the weakness and disorder into which the Church would no doubt have fallen had she gone on in the old way. Through that period of irresolution and helplessness, the School did much to support the Church. Brethren, you must not overlook such facts as these. Almost immediately, the Church doubled her numbers. Nor is there room to doubt that she numbers twice as many members to-day as she would have done had the Eclectic Institute been planted somewhere else. What is more, you have had the benefit of a great amount of excellent preaching that you never would have enjoyed; none of which has cost you dear, and much of which has cost you nothing. Now that the old controversies are passed, you ought to remember with gratitude the labors of those teachers who, from 1850 onward, almost without compensation, and often in the face of much opposition, did so much by their preaching to keep the School quiet and to build up the Church. Then to what an extent has not the Church been indebted to students for their contributions of song, prayer, and exhortation! Besides, the School has enlarged your ideas and taught you a lesson in liberality. Advantages that are merely social and intellectual, I do not mention. It is my firm conviction that the Church in Hiram, instead of being one of the stronger churches of the Reserve today, would be one of the weaker, if the Brotherhood had seen fit to plant the School in Aurora or in Bedford. I do assure you, that its coming here is one of the greatest blessings that God has bestowed upon you.

    Passing from history to theory, let us ask what the relations

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               33

    between Church and School should be. The Eclectic Institute was located here by the Churches of Northern Ohio. It was a conventional act -- the most impressive one in all their history. Numerous other places were petitioners for what was felt to be a good and an honor. It was given to Hiram, panly on account of the supposed desirableness of the location, partly on account of the urgency of the solicitation, in which both town and Church united. Now, when the Convention yielded to the solicitation and gave the School to Hiram, there went with the act certain responsibilities, peculiar, heavy, solemn. Hiram was now lifted up in a moral sense, as it had been before in a physical. All that has given the name "Hiram" power for a quarter of a century, flowed from that act. When the School was planted on this Hill, Hiram Church ceased to live for herself; she entered into a covenant with the young Institution and with its founders. She pledged it pecuniary support. Pecuniarily, it may fairly be said, these responsibilities have been met. The members of the Church contributed liberally to the building fund; they have also given many thousand dollars since, to support the School and enlarge its work. Pecuniarily, no other Church has so fully done her duty to the School, as Hiram. But other duties also came to Hiram. These I shall rather hint at than describe, and this without enquiry as to their performance. The original covenant with the Churches involved moral support and religious watch-care. Previously, Hiram had done what was well pleasing in her own eyes; she now became, in a measure, amenable to others. No other church in all the State had such duties to perform. These facts have a bearing on our whole administration and work. Hiram can never forget them without being faithless to the trust that she prayed the Brotherhood to confide to her hands. Not that the Church is to submit to dictation at the hands of her sister congregations; not that she is to be governed by the College: Hiram Church must govern herself; but she must not forget that Hiram College, our only school in Ohio, stands within the radiance of her candlestick. Here, many persons get their ideas of religion, as we Disciples expound religion; here, they get their ideas of Church order and decorum; here, they form their impressions of spiritual fellowship.

    34                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    I state a principle, and pass by its applications. Brethren, you must never consider him a safe counselor, who says, if any one should say: "Let us manage our affairs without regard to the College."

    Let me now point out some of the prominent characteristics of the Church, at least, what I consider such.

    One of the most prominent is stability, permanence. Since 1835, she has kept steadily on the even tenor of her way. She has either steadily grown, or she has firmly held her ground. Her growth has always been steady and natural, if less rapid than could have been desired.

    Another characteristic is conservatism. Having steadfastly set her face as though she would go to Jerusalem; she has never swerved from the "old paths." Hiram has never been a hatching or a moulting ground for isms and "new-fangled notions." Her members, as a class, have not been of those who are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Millerism, abolitionism, come-outerism, spiritualism, etc., have not disturbed her peace. She grew in anti-slavery faith as the nation grew, no faster and no slower; and when the shock of arms came, she supported the National Government, almost to a man.

    These two qualities have borne invaluable fruit. Hiram has never been torn by factions contending about points of doctrine and questions of order. There have been no exscinding resolutions, no secessions, no convulsing cases of discipline. Conservatism has not excluded great tolerance and liberality. All along there has been a practical recognition of the line separating faith and opinion. The brethren have never been sound above what is written. It has never entered their heads that it would be a good thing to tear the Church to pieces over the "organ question." Nor have they had any scruples as to the Tightness of co-operative religious enterprise. Born of a movement that began in co-operation, they have never proclaimed themselves spiritual bastards.

    But these qualities have their unpleasant side. They have given the Church an appearance that almost amounts to stolidity. It cannot be denied that we appear to be an unimpressible, undemonstrative, impassive people. To some extent, appearances

                                  HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                               35

    belie us. There is fire in Hiram, though it generally takes hard striking to bring it out of the latent state. I haye seen our immobile natures melted down, flowing together like drops of water. But here is the source of that coldness and unsociability sometimes charged upon us by strangers, and even by some of our own members. Here, too, is the source of that lack of enthusiasm and enterprise, which is the most serious defect in the character of the Church.

    In stability and conservatism, it may be questioned whether any church has surpassed Hiram. Never on the mountain top, never in the bottom of the valley. Where do these qualities come from? In part, they are inherent in the Yankee character. In some degree they come from Father Ryder, who impressed himself upon the Church with no common power. For the rest, they may be called the fruit of the Mormon craze of 1831. No community known to me compares with Hiram in these particulars: the eagerness with which the people took up Mormonism, the speediness with which they became sick of it, the completeness with which they renounced it.

    Reviewing the story that I have told, may we not say it goes far towards vindicating the grand movement of which it is a part? Here is a Church that for forty years, or counting from Bethesda, fifty years, has gone on her way without Articles or Rules of Order, converting the people, building herself up in faith and love, supporting the Gospel at home and abroad, meting out discipline, and assisting in benevolent enterprise. Her story is an answer, clear and convincing, to those who, in the beginning, said that the principles of the Campbells would lead to doctrinal latitudinarianism and ecclesiastical disorder. Whatever else the story may be worth, it shows that a Christian, congregation can stand on the Bible alone, without a "constitution," holding fast the form of sound words and maintaining the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.

    As I have gathered up the facts and reflections here given and put them into form, I have felt my appreciation of the Church constantly growing. I am not blind to the mistakes of the past or to the defects of the present; but the work of the Church seems to me greater than ever before. She has been the

    36                               HISTORICAL  DISCOURSE.                              

    instrument of incalculable good. To mark out the range of her influence, would be to retrace the history. We meet to-day with in a mile, of the spot, where, fifty-one years ago last August, the major part Of the members of Bethesda voted "to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the Articles, and Covenant of of the Church which was formed the 30th of July, 1808, and take the word of God for our (their) rule of faith and practice." Only two of the actors in that day's proceedings remain to this present; the rest have fallen asleep. John and Zeb Rudolph, venerable men, are still with us. What has not the half century wrought before their eyes! They have seen the Reform movement grow into its present proportions. More narrowly, they have seen the small band of Disciples that went out with them increase in numbers until it divides into Mantua and Hiram-Nelson; then the first became Mantua and Shalersville, the second, Mantua and Garrettsville. They have survived the forty years since the two last separated; survived all the other actors in those early scenes. Few men now living stand in so interesting a relation to the early history of the Reformation. May God spare them to us many years!

    And now, this long discourse must close. Let us set up a stone midway between the extremes of Bethesda, call the name of it "Ebenezer," saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. "Having to-day walked about our Zion, gone round about her, told the towers, marked her bullwarks, and considered her palaces, let us tell it to the generation following. For the rest, turning from the past to the present, from history to the work before us, let us follow after the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

    Zeb Rudolph  (1803-1897)
    [photo not in Hinsdale's 1876 pamphlet]

    [ 37 ]


    NOTE A, page 10.

    One point of difference between Brush Run and Wellsburg here comes to view. Brush Run united with Redstone, by stipulation, without a written Creed of any sort. See Richardson's "Memoirs of Alexander Campbell," Vol I, p. 441; a quotation from "The Harbinger" for 1848. This was in 1813. But Wellsburg comes to the Mahoning Association, at Hubbard, in 1824. eleven years later, with a written "Belief." This Creed is found in the Record of the Association, and is printed by A. S. Hayden, in his "History of the Disciples in Western Reserve," pp. 31-3. Why a Creed at Mahoning in 1824, when there had been none at Redstone, in 1813? No answer to this question has been made, to my knowledge. Nor does the question appear to have occurred to any writer. Dr. Richardson, Vol. II, p. 100, says the statement of Belief was presented at Mahoning, in conformity with the rules of the Association. But was Mahoning more rigid than Redstone had been eleven years before?

    NOTE B, page 10.

    When Alexander Campbell first visited the Reserve, is a question of some interest to the curious. A. S. Hayden says he attended a Preacher's Meeting in Warren, in June, 1821. See "History," p. 39. Again, he speaks of his being there in October of the same year. See p. 177. But a passage from Mr. Campbell's own pen points to the year following. In the "Harbinger" for 1848, he gives the history of a visit that he received at Bethany, in the summer Of 1821, from Bentley and Rigdon, who came to him, strangers. He speaks of their leave-taking the following day, in these words: "With many an invitation to visit the Western Reserve, and with many an assurance of a full and candid bearing on the part of the uncommitted community, and an immediate access to the ears of the Baptist Churches within the sphere of their influence, we took the parting hand. They went on their way rejoicing, and in the course of a single year, prepared their whole Association to hear us with earnestness and candor." See Richardson, Vol. II, p. 45. This language evidently means a first visit to the Reserve in 1822. Hayden bases the visit in 1821, on an autobiographical sketch of William Hayden. There can be little doubt that Hayden's memory, in this instance, was at fault. John Rudolph, who met Mr. Campbell in Warren at his first visit, confirms 1822.

    38                                              NOTES.                                             

    NOTE C, page 14.

    A. S. Hayden's "History" contains this paragraph: "Though the church in Braceville was originally Baptist in name, its creed was not held rigidly. Love prevailed over law, and the Bible eventually superseded the Confession of Faith. In the discussions which resulted in the displacement of all doctrinal dogmas as grounds of Christian fellowship, this brotherhood bore a leading part. They formally organized as Christians, March 20, 1828, declaring the Holy Scriptures sufficient for all purposes of faith and practice, Their number was then twenty-eight. Marcus Bosworth was appointed the overseer. The Church in Braceville was probably the first on the Western Reserve which formally adopted this divine platform as their only basis. It was increased by twelve conversions at that time." p. 139, If Bethesda did not "formally" organize on the divine platform nearly four years before this time, she did formally renounce the Articles and so stood on the platform. What is more, the organization at Mantua, January, 1827, was "on the principle of faith in Jesus Christ, the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and the New Testament, as the rule of conduct and book of discipline."

    NOTE D, page 16.

    The history of the disruption of Bethesda is minutely given in two documents. One is The Church Book and the other a yellow, four-paged Memorandum, made by John Rudolph, Jr., as the events were transpiring. Fortunately, these documents do not antagonize, though each one contains items not found in the other. Here follows a more detailed statement than the one found in the text.

    1. The Memorandum says there was a Church meeting, April 10th, 1824, at which it was agreed to call in two Elders to aid the Church in composing the difficulties. The Conservatives chose Elder Jones, the founder of the Church, but gave the other party no notice of his coming until his arrival. Hence, only one Elder was present.

    2. June 21st, 1824, Elder Jones presiding, the points of difference were canvassed. According to The Church Book, these were three in number: The Eternal Sonship of Christ; The Law, or Ten Commandments; Written Articles of Faith. Both accounts say it was agreed, Elder Jones consenting, that the parties could not go on together; that they should separate; and that those who chose, should remain with the old standard, and that those who chose to leave, should receive letters certifying to their moral character. A vote was taken, and the two lists were made up.

    3. June 29th, the Refoming party refused to accept the letters that had been voted them. On this point, the two documents unite. But the Memorandum says the action of the 21st was reconsidered, and then "considered illegal." No reason for this step is assigned, except that a meeting had in the meantime been held in Mantua, of the members residing in that town,

                                                NOTES.                                             39

    under the leadership of Oliver Snow. The question considered by this Mantua meeting was, whether the members there would hold with the Articles, or go out with the Reforming party. On this point, the Memorandum says, "they could not come to any decision," but "were much dissatisfied about what had been done in Nelson, and thought the business there had been done too much in a corner." The Church Book states: "Deacon Rudolph then declared his own and his party's dissatisfaction with what had been done." The Memorandum agrees with this, and says Snow expressed similar views. There can be no doubt that the Senior Rudolph had changed his mind since June 21st. He had had a conversation with John, Jr. (so the latter tells me), in which the son reasoned follows: We are the majority; the major elements of strength are with us; there is no reason why we should go out and leave the minority to call themselves the Church, since we can lay aside the Articles and go on our own way. These arguments, no doubt, had as much or more to do with reversing the action of June 21t, as the dissatisfaction of the Mantua brethren, on the ground that the business "had been done too much in a corner."

    4. The Regulars have left this record of the exscinding act: "Nov. 27th, 1829. We took into consideration the conduct of our brethren who had at the Church meeting in Hiram, Aug. 21, voted to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, etc.  *  *  *  After deliberating on the subject, we viewed their departure as sufficient ground for their exclusion. The Church therefore voted to exclude them." Tradition says the Regulars charged the Reformers with being "Covenant-breakers," basing the charge on the rejection of the Church Covenant by the latter.

    5. The Reformers called a council of brethren from sister Churches, to see if the difficulties; could not be arranged. Nothing in this direction was ever accomplished.

    NOTE E, page 19.

    One of these miracles is described in the following extract from the sermon on "The Life and Character of Elder Symonds Ryder." Said sermon was published in The Christian Standard, Oct. 1, 1870; also, somewhat abridged, in A. S. Hayden's "History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve," pp. 245-59.

    "Whatever we may say of the moral character of the author of Mormonism, it can not be denied that Joseph Smith was a man of remarkable power over others. Added to the stupendous claim of supernatural power, conferred by the direct gift of God, he exercised an almost magnetic power -- an irresistible fascination -- over those with whom he came in contact. Ezra Booth of Nelson, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afllicted for some time with a

    40                                               NOTES.                                              

    lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview, the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, 'Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on the earth to cure her?' A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand. said in the most solemn and impressive manner: 'Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,' and immediately left the room. The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well attested fact -- electrified the rheumatic arm. -- Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day, she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain."

    NOTE F, page 19.

    Symonds Ryder has given this account of the affair: "But some, who had been dupes of the deception, determined not to let it pass with impunity; and accordingly, a company was formed of citizens from Shalersville, Garrettsville, and Hiram, in March, 1832, and proceeded to headquarters in the darkness of night, and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds, and tarred and feathered them both and let them go. This had the desired effect, which was to get rid of them. They soon left for Kirtland." This characteristic letter is found in Hayden's "History," pp. 220-1.

    NOTE G, page 22.

    As this Discourse has been passing through the press, all the names found in the acccessible Records have been collected. These are nine hundred and eight in number. Should the roll of student members ever come to light (from 1850 to '57 these names were entered in a separate book), it would appear, making due allowance for names never enrolled, that the total membersbip of the Church is at least one thousand two hundred. On the roll are found twenty-two Allyns, eleven Masons, fourteen Newcombs, thirteen Nortons, twenty Ryders, eleven Tildens, thirty-six Udalls, and twenty-four Youngs.

    NOTE H, page 26.

    The three men to whose exertions the selection of Hiram was principally due, were Alvah Udall, Esq., Carnot Mason, and Pelatiah Allyn, Jr. That is, they roused up the people of Hiram, and put the town in such shape that it became a formidable contestant. Mr. Udall seems first to have agitated the question.


    The Religious Environment in Hiram
    (Before and After the Mormon Tenure there)

    Transcribef from:
    "Early Religion in Hiram"
    by Harold E. Davis
    (1939 Address: 104th Hiram Christian Church anniversary)

    The Evolution from Calvinism

    Early New England Calvinism pictured all men sinners in the hand of an angry sovereign God of unbending will. Only the elect were to be saved by the exercise of unremitting vigilance. This theology dominated the New England theocracy until it exploded in the Salem witch hunt in 1692. Protests, such as those of the Narragansett Bay and New Haven settlements had some effect, but the rigidity of the New England system eventually worked its own ruin by producing a state of religious apathy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The early zeal for Christianizing the Indians had waned, and not more than four or five percent of the whites belonged to the churches, which scarcely touched the life of the common people, even after the adoption of the liberalizing Half-way Covenant in New England. The Great Awakening of the mid-eighteenth century increased religious consciousness and activity during the years preceding the Revolution, bringing such movements as that of the Presbyterian New Lights and the beginnings of Wesleyanism, the work of Charles Wesley and Whitefield, tendencies strong enough to give a turn of religious enthusiasm to the early years of the Revolution. This enthusiasm was soon succeeded by a wave of rationalism, deism, and general religious apathy comparable to the decline in political enthusiasm and idealism following the Revolution, which continued until the Great Revival of 1801 and the years following.

    Independence seemed eventually, though slowly, to furnish a stimulus to American religion, especially in the organization of denominations on national lines. The small membership of the churches, 365,000 out of a total population of five millions, and the manifest religious needs of the frontier, where churches were few and scattered, produced the first vigorous home missionary movement in our national history, beginning with the Plan of Union (1801) and the American Home Missionary Society (1826), raising

    - 2 -

    the church membership to 3,530,000 by 1850 (more than twice the rate of population increase) and initiating a process of growth, which continues uninterrupted to this day.

    This missionary activity, for various reasons, combined with democratic tendencies and resentment against any form of religious control by older settled regions, to bring a rapid multiplication of denominations by schism, by the importation of sects from Europe, and by the birth of new indigenous sects. Unitarianism although beginning somewhat earlier, now came to replace belief in man's original sin, and inborn evil character, with a belief in his goodness, paving the way for ideas of progress and perfectibility. Universalists preached a God too good to punish even sinners -- universal salvation. These two tendencies, particularly strong among the New Englanders who came to settle in the Western Reserve, or who came as missionaries of the New England Churches under the missionary. Plan of Union adopted in 1801, are well worth marking. They derived ultimately from the seventeenth and eighteenth century rationalism of England and France, especially from John Locke.

    Along; with the optimism and rationalism of the Universalists and Unitarians came the pietism of Moravians, Shakers and other continental sects, the mystic evangelicalism of the Methodists, and the revivalistic methods of the camp meeting, and gospel songs now known as spirituals. Baptists appealed to the frontier because of their basic democracy, and their congregational government. A certain spirit of democratic tolerance, and a loose flexible organization, made them accept divergences from their traditional Calvinism more readily than did the Presbyterians who seemed to find their destiny in perpetual division: one schism after another. The Baptists were thus more adaptable to the frontier, because of their flexibility. Millerism came in these years, as did many other new sects, to preach

    - 3 -

    the imminence of the Millenium. In fact, practically every new denomination in the United States seems to have begun preaching the millenium among the poorer classes, to have grown rapidly while in this stage, and then gradually lost its expansive quality. This is still true in our religion. Of the more than 200 denominations listed by the religious census in 1936, those under 50,000 had grown 29 1/2 percent from 1931 to 1936 as compared with a growth of 1 percent for those over 50,000.

    Early Popularity of Christian Primitivism

    Another element in the religious scene of the early 1800's, closely related to the new sectarianism, and the new evangelicalism, was a general tendency, which we may call religious primitivism. It called for a simple primitive religion -- one which could be understood by the American frontiersman, who, trusting to his own resources in gaining a living, and in protecting himself and family from Indians and outlaws, tended to put the same trust in his own judgment in matters religious. The tendency was toward a scriptural literalism, whether that of the Mormons in their emphasis on their own peculiar concept of the Old Testament, and the Book of Mormon, or that of Thomas Campbell with his famous dictum -- "Where the Scriptures speak we speak, where they are silent, we are silent." (Declaration and Address, 1809).

    All these elements and more were present in the religion of the Western Reserve and in Hiram during the years of settlement (in Hiram this may be taken to mean from about 1815, to the founding of the Hiram Church in 1835). As early as 1804 Thomas Robbins, Congregationalist missionary from New England under the Plan of Union, visited Hiram, finding seven families, a small school, and a group which could be gathered together for religious meetings. Congregationalist-Presbyterian influence, however, apparently never became strong. The early New England families leaned toward irreligion as evidenced by membership in the Masonic Order or toward Universalism, which evidently gained some strength in the

    - 4 -

    early days. Some took up with the newer, more colorful religion of the frontier. Actually irreligion seemed to be the strongest characteristic, as Burke A, Hinsdale pointed out in his history of the early years of the Disciples in Hiram. Methodists were few in number, although Methodist meetings seem to have been held about as early as Baptist Meetings in Hiram. The Methodist Church, however, led merely a desultory existence until sometime past the middle of the century. Though there were no Shakers in Hiram there were some near at hand in the Western Reserve. There were at least a few Thomas Paine atheists; Baptists were present in the Baptist Church of Bethesda in Nelson Which served a large cart of the county. This was the parent church of the Hiram Church, although apparently it had few members from Hiram during the first decade and a half after its organization in 1808. It was in 1824 that the liberals of the Bethesda Church, including apparently most of the Hiram members, meeting in. the south schoolhouse in Hiram, voted to lay aside the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (Baptist) as stated in the 1808 Articles of the Bethesda Church and "To take the word of God for our rule of faith and practice." The liberals were promptly expelled by the Nelson Church, but they had the support of the community and continued to be the church of Hiram, Nelson and Mantua until the development of a separate church in Mantua (1827-29). In 1829 the Hiram-Nelson members withdrew, to form their own church and in 1835 this church which had now come definitely within the Campbell movement since the dissolution of the Mahoning Baptist Association, divided into two churches: those of Garrettsville and Hiram. Finally, to complete the list of the religious elements present in early Hiram, it should be. noted that Mormonism was present in the Western Reserve after 1830 at Kirtland and from 1831-1832 in. Hiram.

    Symonds, Ryder, for many years the leader of the church in Hiram, appropriately described the religious life of the community as follows;

    - 5 -

    "It has been stated that from the year 1815 to 1835, a period of twenty years, all sorts of doctrines, by all sorts of preachers have been plead; and most of the people of Hiram had been disposed to turn out and hear." (in B. A. Hinsdale's sermon on Ryder in Christian Standard, Oct. 1, 1870 and in A. S. Hayden's History of Disciples in the Western Reserve, also in MS. Charles H. Ryder, History of Hiram.)

    Ryder himself epitomizes the developments of these years. First a Universalist, then converted to the Campbell movement (1828), then converted to Mormonism in 1831, he returned to the Disciples movement the same year and became the leader of the church and of its separated establishment in Hiram in 1835.

    I have said that two main streams of influence characterized this early development of frontier religion here in Hiram and in the Western Reserve. One, the Universalist-Unitarian-Rationalist-Masonic-Thomas Paine (I might add Jeffersonian-democratic) tendency which emphasizes the individual, his intelligence, and the role of his reason in matters of religion as in politics, and calls for democratic co-operation of individuals in congregational church governments. The second stream combines many inconsistent elements such as the Calvinism of the Baptists (doctrines of the depravity of man, the damnation of all but the elect, etc,) with the mystic evangelicalism of the Wesleyans, the fervid emotionalism of the camp meetings, Christian Communism (as urged by the Mormons, German pietists and some early followers of the Campbells), with religious primitivism, millenarianism, scriptural literalism, and zeal for social (Christian) reform. The first tendency predominated up to about 1830 in Hiram as in the Western Reserve generally. The Baptist churches of the Mahoning Valley Association, including the liberal wing of the Nelson

    - 6 -

    Church after 1824, adopted beliefs substantially like that written for the Wellsburg Church by Alexander Campbell in 1823. Walter Scott, famous evangelist and follower of the Campbells, reduced these rational principles to a simple five finger exercise in his famous sermon which explained the nature of religious life and salvation in five steps: faith, upon proof; repentance, relying upon Divine promises; baptism, in obedience to command; the remission of sins; and the gift of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the promises. The Disciples in the Hiram Church as elsewhere have continued to bear the mark of this early emphasis upon the test of the reasonable intelligence in the individual made by Alexander Campbell.

    1830s Anti-Masonry, Mormonism and the Disciples

    But about 1830 social and religious forces were at work creating a greater emphasis upon the elements of primitivism and emotionalism. In society at large it appeared as humanitarian reform (abolitionism, women's rights, vegetarianism, prison reforms, common school reform, the wearing of beards). It expressed itself in Jacksonian Democracy, in the rise of labor unions, and in the piety of presidential aspirants, who began to take pains to parade their church membership. The rise of Oberlin as a center of reform is indicative of the combination of many of these seemingly diverse currents. This tendency showed itself in the Western Reserve in striking fashion in an almost unanimous turn against the Masonic lodges after the Morgan kidnapping incident. A strong anti-Masonic political party was created throughout the Western Reserve, with the backing of the churches in most places, including Hiram. It drove out of existence Masonic lodges in Atwater, Randolph, Mantua and Parkman.

    The same influence of primitivism and emotionalism may be seen in the headway gained by the Mormons within several of the Baptist churches which had followed Alexander Campbell. Much of the theology of the Mormon Church was that of the Disciples, actually contributed to in many cases by former followers of Campbell

    - 7 & 8 -

    like Sidney Rigdon to whom William Alexander Linn, in his history of the Momons, attributes the theological interpolations in the Book of Mormon. Where the Mormons differed was in their greater emphasis upon the miraculous, upon revelation (and it is interesting to notice that thirteen of the revelations of Joseph Smith are dated at Hiram) and upon the idea of communistic ownership of goods. This last idea which had had some early standing among the Campbellites began about this time to disappear among them, but was given new emphasis by the Mormons after the Hiram revelation which seemed to direct all members of the church to place their goods in the hands of the church.

    The Mormon's stay in Hiram was a short one, from the middle of 1831 to March 1832, but long enough to reveal certain striking similarities between the two religious groups, then to produce a profound reaction in the Hiram Church against religious Communism, and finally to produce a fine example of lynching for religious views. When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were awaked one March night, tarred and feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail, the history of Mormonism was ended in Hiram, but a Mormon martyrdom had occurred and the way was paved in Hiram for the development of an especially strong and enthusiastic church of Campbellite beliefs.

    Chronological Outline

    Certain dates and events in the early history of the Hiram Church, of outstanding importance, I have been trying to fix in my own mind. We need to be reminded of them, even if, with Alexander Campbell and B. A. Hinsdale, (See especially B. A. Hinsdale, Ecclesiastical Tradition Cincinnati, 1879) we reject tradition and history as a source of social or religious, authority.

    They are:






    Founding of Bethesda Church -- Nelson

    Revolt of the liberals in old South Schoolhouse in Hiram

    Founding of Mantua Church

    Withdrawal of Hiram-Nelson Church from Mantua

    Abortive effort to establish the Mormon Temple in Hiram, and lynching of Smith and Rigdon.

    Erection of first church building in the style of the Classic Revival -- beloved of Thomas Jefferson, and introduced by him into this country. Fit temple for followers of Alexander Campbell's revolt against traditionalism of church authority and creeds.

    As the years went by the Hiram Church, like others of the Campbell movement, showed a strong tendency to develop denominationalism: to emphasize conformity to certain "scriptural" practices like baptism by immersion and weekly communion, and to emphasize fervent enthusiasm and emotionalism in religion, contrary to the ideas of its original founders. Along with these ideas came an interest in social Christianity, education, missions, social reforms. But it never escaped entirely the emphasis upon man's reason and intelligence as the best guide to religious truth: never gave up its distrust of authority and tradition as represented in authoritative creeds; never returned wholeheartedly to the fire and brimstone of the Calvinistic doctrine of man's fall and depravity. Rather it continued to believe in the basic importance of educating man's intelligence (i.e. general education, as the best means to discover religious truth); continued to recognize a large field for individual differences of opinion in religious matters, and to practice a certain broad tolerance; principles which made it possible, for them to bring into co-operation with the local church individuals whose beliefs not only refused to be confined within any "creeds," but even those whose views were in direct conflict with any known Christian creed.


    “Bethesda” Baptist Church
    (Aurora, Mantua, Hiram and Nelson, Ohio)

    Garrettsville's Old Schoolhouse (built after founding of Disciples of Christ)

    Slightly adapted excerpt from:
    "Hiram: The Church of the Disciples, The First Hundred Years"
    by Mary Truedly [sic - Treudley?]
    (Portage County Historical Society: 1949 typescript)

    Early Church Efforts in the Hiram Area

    The first religious meetings were held in 1812 at George Young's and at the Reddens'. Mr. West of Nelson, "Priest West" as the people called him, a shoemaker by trade and a Baptist preacher by avocation, conducted these services and put the fear of God into a few hearts. Itinerant preachers of all frontier denominations held occasional meetings from then on. In the summer of 1818 three Methodist women, "Old Mrs. Herrick, Mrs. Symonds Ryder and Mrs. Benjamin Hinckley," started the first regular Sunday meetings at the South Schoolhouse.

    Eventually a Methodist Church was built [in 1844] but its teachings never took a very strong hold on this free-thinking, rationalistic community. The church building was in time turned to other uses and later on converted into a barn. It still stands (1949) though not in its original location, that of the present administration building of the College.

    The Universalists and Baptists

    Universalism had its day in 1820 when Mr. Biglow preached for twelve Sundays. He objected so strenuously to the hireling system "by which the minister's salary was was fixed in advance" that no agreement was made ahead of time. When his term was up he demanded five dollars per Sunday for the sermons he had delivered, a fortune for a depression year in a backwoods community. His greed and his meddling in the domestic affairs of his parishioners cured Hiram of any belief in Universalism.

    On the whole, Baptist sentiment seemed to prevail, but close communion, which the Baptists stressed, was a little hard for this liberal community to take. Its inhabitants were not ready to sacrifice their intellectual freedom and their tolerant eclecticism to the doctrines and rule of any denomination.

    There was a church organized in Nelson for those families who wanted regular membership and fixed services; but most residents of Hiram were content to sample all brands of religious orthodoxy as occasion offered.

    Portage County: Townships After 1816  -  See also 1857 Map: Aurora, Mantua, Hiram, Nelson

    The Campbellites come to Ohio

    It is not possible to understand the forming of the Eclectic Institute without knowing something of the way in which the Disciples of Christ came to the Western Reserve.

    The lives of Thomas Campbell and his famous son, Alexander, have been recounted elsewhere. It is [not] necessary here to trace every step of the journey which led them from their English home and their Presbyterian religion to found a new denomination and a college, Bethany, on the frontier of the New World.

    Father Campbell was stirred by the reawakening of religious fervor at the beginning of the 19th century. It sent him back from man-made creeds to the Bible. He compressed his belief into a sentence -- "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak: where they are silent, we are silent." On that platform he proposed that all Christians should unite and so end the division of the church into countless sects. Other men were also finding their way to Bible Christianity. After varied experiences many groups merged in what they hoped might be the Church Universal. But for the Western Reserve, the influence of the Campbells was paramount.

    Of the denominations developed in the Old World, the Methodist and the Baptist were the best fitted to the American frontier. The Campbells were born into the Presbyterian faith but they became convinced that baptism by immersion was the Scriptural commandment. For the, to believe was to act. In 1812 both father and son were immersed. The year before they had organized the Brush Run church in Washington County, Penna., just over the border from Bethany.

    In 1813 it was admitted into the Baptist Redstone Association, made up of churches in the Western Pennslyvania and Southern Ohio districts.

    To Alexander Campbell the religious life was one of constant growth in understanding. To the "narrow, contracted, illiberal, and uneducated men" who made up the ministry of the Redstone Association, it was a matter of fixed covenants, articles of faith and rules of order. By 1823 they were ready to read the Brush Run Church out of the association.

    To forstall such a movement, Campbell with about thirty of the brethren withfrew and founded a new church at Wellsburg, Virginia. It would only have been refused if it had sought admission to the Redstone Association. Instead it turned to the Western Reserve,

    At this time the Baptists were strong in Northern Ohio and had planted sturdy churches in many small settlements. One of these was in Nelson, which adjoined Hiram, to the east. There in 1820 the Mahoning Baptist Association was organized. It included a score of congregations scattered through Trumbull, Portage, Columbia and what is now Mahoning counties.

    Into this Association the church at Wellsburg was admitted. Even Before this action was taken, there was contact between Alexander Campbell and leaders of the Baptist Churches -- afterward he came yearly to the Western Reserve.

    The Church of the Reformed Baptists

    Hiram did not have a Baptist Church but as early as July 30, 1808, Nelson had organized one, called Bethesda. Of its six founders, John and Susan Rudolph are the most inextrably bound by long continued ties to the College yet to be born. The members of the little church came on the Lord's Day over forest trails and dirt roads, from small villages and crossroad settlements of a half dozen townships. Only one member came from Hiram and he was soon excluded for "heresy and unorthodox conduct." The church had no fixed abiding place, but met in homes or schoolhouses, usually in Nelson, Mantua or Aurora. There it called the roll of members and judged their behavior, cutting from its roll any who were accused of drunkenness or swearing, of making "insufferable misstatements," or holding heretical views.

    Quickly two parties developed within Bethesda, the conservatives were led by Eleanor Garrett and held firmly to the Covenant and the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Church. The larger number of the members followed the Rudolphs as they turned more and more to simple Bible Christianity. On June 21, 1824 the church agreed peaceably to divide, but on June 29th the action was reconsidered and rescinded. On August 21, a third meeting was held in the South Schoolhouse in Hiram, when in the absence of most of the conservatives, it voted to "Renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the constitution, the articles, and the covenant of this church, which was formed the 30th of July 1808 and to take the Word of God for our rule of faith and practice." This was the first Baptist Church definitely to lay aside the rule of the denomination.

    On November 27, 1824, the conservatives met and voted to exclude the majority from fellowship. Over half of those excluded belonged to the Rudolph family. Both parties claimed to be the church Bethesda. Both sent delegations the following year to the yearly meeting of the Mahoning Baptist Association and both were received. In 1828 the conservatives joined the Grand River Association and became the Baptist Church of Garrettsville.

    Garrettsville, Nelson Twp., Portage Co., Ohio  (19th century engraving)

    The Conversion of Symonds Ryder in 1828

    The reforming party continued to meet in Nelson, Mantua and Hiram. John Rudolph, Sr., was the deacon of the church. It had no form and no other officials, except messengers whom it sent to annual meetings of the Association. John Rudolph, Jr., his brother Zeb, and Darwin Atwater of Mantua were the younger men who gave it strength. In January 1827, a formal organization of the church was effected in Mantua and Sidney Rigdon was engaged to preach for the tiny congregation once a month. The church grew rapidly from nine members to seventy by April 1830. In that month the families from Hiram and Nelson asked to be dismissed to form a church nearer their homes. Thirty four persons withdrew to become the founding members of the Hiram-Nelson church.

    Mantua Center Christian Church

    Structure is necessary to the theology, practices and membership even of the simplest church. It was the genius of Walter Scott to phrase the new faith in words acceptable even to the most ardent believer in promotive Christianity. He was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburg. After the death of his parents he came to New York to live with an uncle. Soon the West called to his youth and he made his way to Pittsburg, where he met Alexander Campbell, and was one over to his understanding of Christianity. In 1827 he was asked by the Mahoning [Baptist] Association to become its evangelist. As he went up and down the countryside, talking with the men who were preaching the new gospel, he developed the steps in the conversion of a sinner: (1) Faith; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism; (4) Remission of Sins; (5) The Holy Spirit; (6) Eternal Life, through patient continuance in well-doing.

    In 1820 a Baptist Church was organized in Braceville [in Trumbull Co.], with Marcus Bosworth as Deacon. On six days of the week he was a farmer, but on the seventh day he turned preacher. Through the Mahoning Association, he met Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott. By gradual and painless steps, Bosworth prepared the Braceville / Newton Falls churches for the new faith. On March 20, 1828, it was formally reorganized as a Christian Church.

    In June, 1828, Bosworth, whose growing eloquence was constantly being drawn on by other churches, preached in Hiram. In the audience that day was Symonds Ryder. He had never belonged to any church, but he was much impressed by the simple preaching of Scott's doctrine. A week later, after listening to Thomas Campbell at Mantua, he made a confession of his faith and was baptized. He was by far the most influential man in Hiram and his accession gave the infant church new strength and standing, though there were moments later when the Rudolphs and the Atwaters must have had deep misgivings about this man.

    The Coming of the Mormons

    The history of Hiram is never told without some mention of the brief period when Joseph Smith considered building a Mormon temple upon one of its ridges. An early adherent of Smith's teaching was Sidney Rigdon, who added to the Mormon doctrines spiritual interpretations common among the Disciples of Christ. It was he too, who encouraged the imigration of Mormonism to the Western Reserve. He had paved the way for the settlement of the Latter Day Saints in 1830 in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1831 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon moved to Hiram where Rigdon had already made a few converts. One was Ezra Booth, living in Nelson, "a Methodist preacher of considerable culture and eloquence." Booth was instrumental in bringing Symonds Ryder to belief in the new revelation. When Ryder led, others followed. The Mormons flourished in Hiram in the summer of 1831.

    It is necessary to remember that a church had been organized in Hiram for only two years. The Reformation, as the Disciples called their movement, had weakened the belief of the people generally in traditional teachings and practice. Religious faith was plastic in the hands of the unschooled men who insisted on thinking for themselves

    Ryder felt that there should be gifts of the Spirit at conversion in modern times as in the New Testament days. To one who had caught the enthusiasm of the church of the Apostles, through reading the account in Acts as if it had been written yesterday, it seemed possible that God might reveal his will directly to men of the nineteenth, as well as the first century and that he might still be able to perform miracles.

    For a few months Ryder followed Rigdon and Booth, whom he had known and trusted. But neither he nor Hiram were ready to accept communism of property. When Joseph Smith announced his heavenly instructions, that saints should turn their land and other possessions into cash and entrust it to his care, disillusionment set in. Booth, who had been sent to Missouri to spy out the land, returned to denounce the new gospel. By the fall of 1831, Ryder had severed his connection with the temple and its prophets. He and Booth devoted themselves to reclaiming those whom they had led astray.

    Persecution by "Laying on of Hands"

    One cold night in March 1832, young men of the neighborhood took Rigdon from his warm bed and tore Smith from the bedside of his sick child and led them out into darkness to be tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail.

    A fanciful depiction of two tarred-and-feathered men being ridden out of town on rails.
    Some accounts of the 1832 assault upon the Mormons include this unverified detail.

    The child died of the illness aggrivated by terror. The dawn found the women scraping the tar from the prophet's body. With true courage he appeared at the morning service as if nothing had occured to disturb his peace of mind

    But soon after, Smith and Rigdon left Hiram, never to return. The attack provided a cruel and shameful ending for the temporary madness.

    Symonds Ryder returned to the Hiram Church in contrition and meekness of spirit. In time he regained the condidence of its members and of himself.

    By 1835 the Disciples had grown strong enough to support a church. There were thirteen members of the Hiram Church on March 1st 1835. Their names were known in the local history. It slowly grew under Symonds Ryder as Elder and Bishop, until January 1849, it had one hundred and twenty-one members. In 1852 A. S. Hayden was chosen as second elder and for the next seven years he shared the responsibility for the church and its service.


    Church Book of "Bethesda" Baptist Church
    (Aurora, Mantua, Hiram and Nelson, Ohio)

    (view enlargement)
                The Church Book 
          On July 30 1808. was Constituted 
    at Nelson in Portage County & State 
    of Ohio:  The first Baptist Church 
    in said County.  Called 
    By the Revd. Thomas G. Jones Pastor of Sharon 
    Church Penn. 
                The Covenant 

    ... [goes to next page in the middle of this section]
    WILLIAM WEST  Mary West 
    John Rudulph   Susan Rudulph 
    John Noah   Elisabeth Noah 
    A declaration of our faith and practice. 
    ... [the remainder of the declaration and several pages of minutes skipped]

    [the following notes are organized by meeting dates, without page numbers.
    Only meeting dates with partial transcription are included.]
    Aurora  Feby. 5 1820   Church met accor- 
    -ding to appointment.  meeting opened by prayer 
    and singing 
    1  Chose Br Jothum Atwater Moderator 
    2  Voted that our next Church meeting be in Nelson 
    the Saturday before the second Lords day in 
    May the Lords Supper to be administered on 
    Lord's day 
    3  Voted that the Church should be divided and 
    that the Clerk should have liberty to give letters 
    to the Bretheren in Aurora and Mantua 
    to be organized into churches whenever they 
    should call for them. 
    Mantua  August 19th 1820  ... 
    4  Voted that the clerk should write letters 
    for the Bretheren of Aurora and Brainbrige 
    to be constituted in Brainbrige the Saturday 
    before the fourth Lords day in September 
    Mantua  August 17 1822 ... 
    6  Voted that Elder Freeman and John Rudolph visit 
    Sister Young and make report at our next church 
    meeting of the state of her mind. 
    Mantua  Feby 15 1823  ... 
    ... 2  The committee that 
    was appointed to visit Sister Young was called 
    upon and they reported that they had neglected 
    to do it and the business was refered to them 
    5  Voted that Br. John Rudolph and Benjamin Green 
    be a committee to visit Br. Oliver Snow and converse 
    with him about his negligence in not attending 
    meetings and report at our next meeting. 
    Nelson  May 10 1823  ... 
    2  Called the committee sent to Br. Snow one of 
    them being present reported that they had visited 
    him a talked with him about his negligence in 
    not attending our meetings and he said that it 
    was on account of the difficulties of his own mind. 
    3  Called the committee that was sent to Sister 
    Young and they reported that they had been 
    but could not get an opportunity to converse with 
    her on account of there being other company present 
    Mantua  August 16 1823 
    3  Voted that we will hearafter designate ourselves by 
    they name of Baptist Church of Christ in Nelson. 
    Nelson  April 10 1824  ... 
    3  Called the committee respecting Sister Young 
    and they reported that they had attended 
    to the business and she being present confessed 
    that she was a restorationer and that she had 
    also danced and appearing very hard and unh- 
    -esitant the church did exclude her. 
    [exact date for the below entry not given, though minutes appear to resume
    on August 28, 1824]
    The church here feels it her duty to leave on 
    record some painfull events in her history occ- 
    -asioned by a difference of opinion springing up 
    and gaining on the minds of many of the bretheren 
    who became dissatisfied with some of the leading 
    doctrines of the Church and was the principle 
    means of preventing the regular administration 
    of the Lords Supper and the reception of some per- 
    -sons who had been baptized.  About the 18th June 
    1824 Elder Thomas G. Jones visited the church and 
    preached several times and on Lords day June 
    20th after sermon at the centre of Nelson publicly 
    requested to see the church together on the next 
    day at Bro. Noahs on business of importance in order 
    to see if the breaches could not be made up and 
    a way opened for the church proceed in order and 
    fellowship.  June 21.  The church met agreeable to 
    request at Bro. Noahs.  Elder jones presided and 
    the meeting was opened by solemn prayer by several 
    of the Bretheren.  The question was then asked by the 
    Elder what their difficulties were?  and why they were 
    not in fellowship?  On examination it was found 
    that a part of the church was dissatisfied with the 
    doctrine 1st of the eternal sonship of Christ as expressed 
    in the church articles 2nd of the law of ten command- 
    ments as explained in our confession of faith. and 3d 
    they were dissatisfied with having any written or printed 
    articles or confession of their religious belief.  After 
    considerable discussion of the points of difference it 
    was unanimously agreed to separate peacebly and 
    those who adhered to the constitution of the church 
    should give the other part a letter expressive of the 
    cause of separation and their good moral standing 
    in the church.  On the vote being taken the following 
    persons manifested their satisfaction with and their 
    adherence to the constitution by [???]ing. 
    Joseph Tucker and wife  Martin Manley and wife 
    Caleb Storr  Elenor Garrett  Anna Morris  Paulina 
    Storr  Rhoda Gilmore  and Roxanne Ketcham who 
    afterwards gave her assent to the articles.  Deacon J. 
    Rudolph and wife with their sons and daughters 
    and Bro. Noah and wife dissented.  It was then 
    agreed to meet at the house of Sister Eleanor Garrett 
    on the 29th of June and those who now constitute the 
    church was to give the dissenting party their letter 
    dismissed in the usual way.  June 29 1824  Church 
    met agreeable to appointment and Elder Jones gave 
    an address from 3d chap of 1st Timothy.  Deacon Rud- 
    -olph then declared his own and his party's dissatisfaction 
    with what had been done and that they would not 
    receive the letters agreed o at the meeting above noted 
    and another meeting was then appointed in Hiram 
    on the 21st of August.  The meeting was then closed 
    by an appropriate sermon by Bro. Jones. 
    At the meeting appointed in Hiram on the 21st of Augt. 
    a number met but mostly of the dissenting party.  they 
    then chose Bro. Green Moderator.  2.  Voted to renounce 
    the Philadelphia Confession of faith, the constitution, the 
    articles and covenant of this church which was formed 
    the 30th of July 1808 and take the word of god for our 
    rule of faith and practice.  Those who voted as above 
    were John Rudolph Sr. and wife  John Noah and wife 
    Huldah Atwater  Darwin Atwater  Rosetta Snow  John 
    Rudolph Jr. and wife and Benjamin Green 

    [At this point the record appears to go back to its original format,
    beginning with minutes from a meeting in Nelson on August 28, 1824.]

    A related document is preserved in the archives of Hiram College:
    Bethesda Church 1824
    At our Church meeting April the 10th 1824 
    There was an agreement by the Church to hold 
    a councill of two Elds one of which was to be 
    Thomas G Jones and there was a person agreed 
    to write to him and find out when he could come 
    and let us know in time to send and get some 
    other Eld to sit with him and upon this agreement 
    our meeting was concluded without making 
    any future appointment for another meeting 
    But Eld Jones was sent for and agreed to 
    come but we were not notified when untill it 
    was too late to send for any boddy else but when he 
    came he preached three or four times and called 
    [June 21] the members to gether that live in Nelson and 
    Hiram which was about half the Church the 
    meeting was opened by singing and prayer and 
    Eld Jones said he would serve as moderator and called 
    for the business after a few minutes 
    silence there was a number of charges brought 
    against about half the members present 
    which brought on a good deal of conversation and 
    when Eld Jones saw that we could not agree 
    he advised us to part and accordingly put it to 
    vote to know if we would be willing to become 
    two Churches we all voted and then he put 
    it to vote to know how many was willing to 
    still hold to the old articles and covenant &c 
    and there was nine voted and then it was agreed 
    that all that did not wish to hold to the before 
    mentioned articles & covenant should have letters 
    when they requested them and then Eld Jones 
    told them nine that he would meet with them 
    on the 29th of june 1824 for a Church meeting
    But before the 29 of June came there was a letter
    sent to Br Olive Snow in Mantua stating what
    had been done in Nelson and requesting him to call
    a meeting in mantua and find out how many of the
    members there would continue to hold to the before
    mentioned articles and covenant he accordingly
    called the members to gether and they could not
    come to any decision at present wat they would do but were
    much dissatisfied about what had been done in Nelson 
    and thought that the business there had
    been done two much in a corner but when the
    day came for the nine members to meet
    after Eld Jones had opened the meeting Brethren
    Oliver Snow & John Rudulph being present
    they wished to have the business that had been done
    on the 21st of June reconsidered and accordingly it
    was and considered illegal and then Eld Jones 
    advised us to call a general Church meeting the 
    Saturday before the fourth Lords day in August
    and to have no Eld with us and to try to settle the 
    difficulties amongst our selves and accordingly it was
    agreed to and Br Oliver Snow agreed to notify all the
    members in Mantua which was done the place
    to meet was at the school house on the hill by old
    Mr Reddings in Hiram 	
    			Hiram August 21st 1824
    The Church met according to appointment
    And opened meeting by reading the 1 chap of 1 corinthians 
    singing and prayer	First Chose Br Ben
    Green moderater  	2  a number of the members
    present was charged with a number of things such
    as the following  you deny the Divinity of Christ
    and the holy law of God and the validity of the 4 commandment 
    you also deny the necessity of articles covenants
    and confessions of faith other than the scriptures
    and after there had been much disputing about the 
    necessity of articles & it was 
    motioned and seconded that it should be put
    to vote to know how many of us would renounce them
    3 voted to renounce the Philadelphia confession of faith
    the constitution the articles and covenant of this church
    which was formed the 30th of July 1808 and take the word
    of God for our rule of faith and practice all the members 
    that were at this meeting voted except three one of
    whom said that she had nothing to renounce for
    she never had received them nor believed in them one
    of the others gave a similar reason for not voting
    4 Voted that Br Ben Green visit Br Riley and convers
    with him about some of his conduct
    5 voted that Br Darwin Atwater visit Br Carlton
    6 voted that Brethren John Rudulph Jr James Ruddulph 
    and Darwin Atwater be our messengers to 
    bear our letter to the association
    7 voted that our next church meeting be in Hiram the saturday
    before the second Lords day in September next to
    Hiram September the 11th 1824	Ch met according
    to appointment opened meeting in the usual manner
    1 Appointed Br John Rudulph moderater the members 
    having been specially notified to attend
    and hear the letter read which was sent to us from the 
    association it was opened and read but there appeared
    no sign of a reconciliation and there being no other
    business on hand this meeting was adjourned until
    the Saturday before the second Lords day in Oct
    to meet in Mantua
    Mantua October the [9]th 1824
    Church met according to appointment and there
    being but a few members present there was no bu
    siness done except to appoint another meeting in
    Nelson the Saturday before the second Lords day in Nov
    			Nelson November 13 1824
    Church met according to appointment opened
    meeting in the usual manner and there being
    no particular business on hand and but a few
    members present there was nothing done except
    to appoint another meeting in hiram the saturday
    before the seccond Lords day in December
    			Hiram December the 11th 1824
    Church met according to appointment opened 
    meeting by reading a part of the word of
    God singing and prayer.
    2 Chose Br. John Rudulph moderater
    3 Took into consideration the difficulties
    which had arisen in the church and
    after much consultation we concluded that
    it would be for the honour of this church and
    the cause that we had espoused to infite
    our sister churches in the following places
    to send some of there brethren to sit in council
    with us on the Thursday before the second Lords
    day in Feb 1825  Southington Braceville Warren 
    Bazetta Youngstown New Lisbon Palmyra
    Randolph Bainbridge Auburn and Chardon closed 
    meeting by singing and prayer

    The following excerpt is taken from Mary Agnes Smith's M A. thesis, "A History of the Mahoning Baptist Association," (Morgantown: West Virginia University, 1943):

    [ 59 ]

    At the meeting [of the Bethesda Baptist Church] appointed in Hiram on the 21st of Aug. [1824] a number [of members] met but mostly of the [non-Calvinist] dissenting party. They then chose Bro. Green moderator. "2 -- voted to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of faith, the Constitution, the Articles and Covenant of this Church which was formed the 30th of July 1808 and take the Word of God for our rule of faith and practice." Those who voted as above were: John Rudolph, sen. & wife; John Noah and wife; Huldah Atwater; Darwin Atwater; Rosetta Snow; John Rudolph, Jr. and wife and Benjamin Green. [37]

    Those of the "Bethesda" church adhering to the traditional Baptist faith met August 28, 1824 and voted to send a letter to the Association. The representatives of "Bethesda" at that meeting of the Association were of the liberal party. Darwin Atwater

    37. A few incidents in the history of "Bethesda" which immediately preceded the abandonment of the statement of creed help to make clear some of the reasons for that step. It is related that "a short time before, two members had been received without the laying on of hands after baptism, which had previously been regarded by some as much a gospel ordinance as baptism or the Lord's Supper; this was done in consequence of their minister, Rufus Freeman, refusing to lay hands on the converts, as he did not regard it as enjoined by the Scriptures. And so the articles of faith which made it necessary had the effect of making trouble instead of keeping it away. A refractory member had also been brought up for trial, but as the offense was not specified in the church articles, and she beyond all question guilty and yet unwilling to confess her fault, she was excluded on scriptural ground. An aged German brother, highly esteemed for his godly life, but who had never spoken in a church meeting before, arose, and after alluding to the above case, said: 'Brethren, that trial was conducted without the use of the church articles; we have found that we can exclude disorderly members without them; if the Bible is a good rule by which to exclude evil-doers, it ought to be a good rule for right-doers to live by. I think we can do without the articles.' The longer the discussion continued the stronger grew the party which stood up for the Bible alone, and when the motion was put that all their church rules and standards save the Bible alone should be renounced, all save three voted in its favor. One of the three, a lady, rose and said she had not voted on the motion from the fact that she had never accepted the documents which had been rejected, and for that reason could not renounce them; another gave a similar reason, leaving only one in the opposition." Baxter, Life, pp. 97-99.

    [ 60 ]

    and James Rudolph [38] attended. Rufus Freeman, who had been their minister and one of the representatives in 1823, was no longer at Nelson. In the midst of her difficulties (April 10, 1824, he resigned as pastor of the church and requested letters of dismissal for himself and his family. This request was filled by the church that day. Freeman's name is listed with the "Bethesda" delegation on the records of the Association for 1824 with the notation that he was absent from the meeting.

    Failing to receive any answer from the Association to their questions, the members of "Bethesda" were forced to solve their problems in their own way. Those attending a meeting of the church November 27, 1824, took the following action:

    Took into consideration the conduct of our brethren who have at the church meeting in Hiram August 21 "voted to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the constitution, the Articles and Covenant of this church which was formed the 30th of July 1808." After deliberating on the subject we viewed this departure of sufficient grounds for their exclusion in the church therefore voted to exclude them. [39]

    The group thus driven from "Bethesda" was the first of the Mahoning area to adopt Campbell's doctrine as the basis of its church organization. Such a step was certain to bring immediate and drastic action. Baxter describes the attitude of churches of the early nineteenth century with regard to creed

    38. James, a brother of Zeb Rudolph and John Rudolph, Jr.

    39. Following this statement the names of those who reached the agreement at Hiram are listed as excluded. Church Book of Bethesda, minutes for November 27, 1824.

    [ 61 ]

    thus: "Conformity to party views was a test of orthodoxy; and to deny the teachings of the Church Standards, whether Creed, Catechism, or Confession of Faith, even though the Bible were silent in regard to such matters, was quite as heretical and dangerous as to deny the clearest and most explicit declaration of Holy Writ." [40] The dissenting members of "Bethesda" could expect nothing less than excommunication.

    Appeal to the Association

    This party, which is often referred to as the "Rudolph Group" because John Rudolph was its leader, refused to consider itself excluded, however, and both sides considered themselves the Church. In 1825 both groups sent delegations to the meeting of the Association, and both were received. Five men, instead of the customary three, represented "Bethesda." Jotham Maxson, Martin Manley and Joseph Tucker were chosen by "Bethesda" to represent her, but the Association Records indicate that Tucker did not attend. [41] John Rudolph, jr. and Jacob Osborne were also in attendance representing the dissenting party.

    The difficulties in the Nelson church and a similar problem

    40. Baxter, Life, p. 21.

    41. Menley and Tucker were leaders of the parent church following the split. That part of "Bethesda" met frequently at Menlay's home. They retained the record book and continued to keep records of the meetings of "Bethesda." The minutes of the meeting in which the agreement to abandon the stated creeds was reached by the Rudloph group are in the Hiram College Library. The original was retained by the Rudolphs and their party; only a summary of the section taken was entered into the _Church Book of Bethesda_.

    [ 62 ]

    in the Hubbard church were assigned to a committee for examination and report to the Association in 1825. Alexander Campbell, Thomas Miller, William West, and Adamson Bentley were on the committee.

    This was Campbell's second year in the Association. His influence had been great both before and after his entrance into that group. The Association was moving in the same direction as the dissenting party of "Bethesda." As chairman of the committee, Campbell wrote the following report of their investigation:

    The committee to which were referred the difficulties existing in the churches of Nelson and Hubbard report that having heard from all the messengers a statement of the causes of said difficulties and conversed familiarly with them it appeared from their determinations that there was a hopeful prospect of those difficulties being removed and that it would appear inexpedient for the Association to take further notice of these difficulties in the mean time. [42]

    That important question concerning the willingness of the Association to accept a church which acknowledged no other rule of faith and practice than the Scriptures was answered as follows: "Yes, on satisfactory evidence that they walk according to this rule." [43]

    Further Questioning

    A query from the Youngstown church was made as follows: "Was the practice of the primitive church an exact pattern to

    42. This report, in Campbell's own handwriting and over his signature, appears in the Journal. It is pasted on the inside front cover.

    43. Appendix C, p. 29.

    [ 63 ]

    succeeding ages and is every practice practice designed for good to be receded from which was not the practice of the primitive saints in their peculiar circumstances?" The Association concluded that "It is the duty and high privilege of every Christian church to aim at an exact conformity to the example of the churches set in order by the Apostles and endeavor to imitate them in all things imitable by them." [44]

    A disturbing query from Randolph foreshadowed further problems for the Association it it intended to follow, to its logical conclusion, the doctrine of Campbell. Randolph inquired: "Can Associations in their present modifications find their model in the New Testament?" The committee was forced to admit, "Not Exactly." [45]

    The answers to these questions point to the conclusion that the Association was more "Campbellite" than "Regular Baptist" by 1825. Of the replies, Baxter says, "These answers were condemnatory of the almost universal practice of the Baptist Churches at that time, as they did not recognize any church unless it had articles of faith corresponding to their own; and such was the universal demand for an 'experience' that persons who had been baptized on a simple profession of faith in the Lord Jesus were denied membership with them." [46]

    44. Appendix C, pp. 30-31.

    45. Appendix C, p. 30.

    46. Baxter, Life, pp. 96-97.

    [ 64 ]

    Meeting of 1826

    Again in 1826 both sections of "Bethesda" elected messengers to the [Mahoning Baptist] Association. The original group "thought it proper that Bro. Edward Welch, Tucker and William Sumner be appointed to write a letter and protest against the proceedings of the Association." [47] The minutes of the Association contain no trace of the "Regulars," or of their protest, however. They had apparently given up hope of reconciliation with the dissenters, [48] and they blamed the apostasy of their brothers on "the innovations of Alexander Campbell." [49]

    The corresponding letter for 1826 refers to that meeting as one of the most joyous in the history of the Association.

    47. Church Book of Bethesda, minutes for August 12, 1826.

    48. In December, 1825, Tucker and Hanley were sent to Mantua to visit the brothers and sisters and to determine whether or not there was possibility of bringing them back into the fold. The report was made April 5 and the Atwaters were excluded from the church. It is interesting to note that the dissenters lived in the area of Hiram and Mantua while the original group came from Garretsville and Nelson. The "Rudolph party" met at Hiram and Mantua and continued to send its representatives to the Association. The church was formally organized at Mantua in 1827 -- the first in Ohio to completely take apostolic grounds. (Wilcox, Disciples in Ohio, p. 42) That church is still in existence today and in 1927 celebrated its centennial. In 1829 the Garrettsville and Hiram members asked for a division because it was so far to go to Mantua, and thirty-four of them formed a separate church. The Garrettsville-Hiram division died out but a second Disciple church was organized there in 1889. It lived until 1915 when it went into the United Church of Garrettsville. The Hiram church has had a continuous history and recently (March, 1943) celebrated its 108 anniversary,

    49. Bethesda used this expression in connection with a difference of opinion which arose in the Palmyra Church and upon which they were consulted because of its similarity to their own difficulty. (Church Book of Bethesda, Minutes for March 10, 1827). The "Regular" Baptist church of "Bethesda" remained Baptist and in 1828 joined the Grand River Association (Church Book of Bethesda, minutes for August 9, 1828). It lived as the Baptist church of Garrettsville until 1915 when it, together with the Disciples of Christ and Congregational churches of that village, formed a United Church.

    [ 65 ]

    It was, in contrast to that of the previous year, quite peaceful and harmonious. [50] An important conclusion regarding the nature of the activity of the Association was reached in 1826. It is set forth in a portion of the correspinding letter written by Campbell for that year as follows:

    You will, from the preceding minutes, see thar nothing very special has occurred amongst us during the past year. Our increase in number has not been great. We think, however, we see one of the causes at least, why it has been so. The discovery of an error is necessary to its correction, and to our reformation. It is a fact that both the public teachers and the private brethren have been labouring more in the doctrines than in the word. Whereas we ought to labour chiefly or preeminently in the word: and then in the doctrine. Labours in the word tend to increase the body; but labours in the doctrine tend to strengthen the body. To labour in the word is the way to bring sinners into the fold; to labour in the doctrine or in teaching is the way to confirm and edify those already in the fold. But, perhaps, while we have supposed ourselves labouring in the doctrine, we have been merely labouring in opinions and speculations upon the doctrine of the apostles.

    It is one thing to speculate on, and another thing to labour in the doctrine. It is more than worthy of an experiment to try the effects of labouring in the word with more zeal and industry and thus to test the results. [51]

    50. Appendix D, p. 17.

    51. Ibid, p. 16.


    Mary Agnes M. Smith:
    Miscellaneous  Sources

    1943 M.A. Thesis   |   1960 Seminar Paper   |   1966 Folklore Paper
    [1966?] "On Oral History and the Stevens Family" (under constr.)



    Mary Agnes M. Smith
    "A History of the Mahoning Baptist Association"

    (West Virginia Univ. M.A. thesis, 1943)
    The [Mahoning] Association was reluctant to commit itself on these matters, but in 1825 it was forced to face the issue. By that time the Nelson church had split over the use of the Scriptures alone as the basis of church practice and the difficulties within that church were presented to the Association for solution. The Association was faced directly with the alternative of accepting the group which had taken the stand advocated by Campbell or of rejecting it to support the "regular" Baptist church.

    The Problem of "Bethesda"

    "Bethesda" had been established in Nelson, Portage County, Ohio in 1808 by Elder Thomas Jones of Sharon Pennsylvania. It was the first church of any kind organized in Portage County. [31] In the beginning there were six members. They had no church building but met in homes, school houses, and even barns, usually in the townships of Nelson, Mantua, or Aurora. The area covered by the "Bethesda" church was quite extensive. It reached west from Nelson about fifteen miles, to Aurora; south about twenty miles to Palmyra; and north five miles to Troy and Bainbridge in Geaufa County. By 1820 the territory was considerably narrowed by the organization of other churches in the vicinity.

    31. Hinsdale, Disciples in Hiram, p. 10.
    John Rudolph, who came from Maryland in 1806 and settled in Hiram Township near the present site of Garrettsville, was influencial in organizing the church in 1808. The six members drew up articles of faith and entered the minutes of their meetings in a church book. Membership increased to twenty-four by 1810. When the Mahoning Baptist Association was organized, at Nelson, in 1820, "Bethesda" reported thirty-eight members.

    Before the organization of the Mahoning Association, "Bethesda" had some contact with the Redstone Association. The following entry appears on the church records for August 20, 1808: (Item) "4 Resolved to write to the Redstone Association stating the state of the church and suggesting to them the propriety of dividing the Association." [32]

    The records do not indicate whether there was any such division made. The next reference to an association appears in the records for July 15, 1809. The church agreed to send a letter to the Association at Connuonnesson (?) to be held in August. Elder William West was appointed to write the letter and attend the association meeting as a messenger.

    July 28, 1810 West, who on June 2 of that year had accepted the formal call of the "Bethesda" church to serve it as pastor, was chosen, along with John Rudolph and Jothom Atwater, to represent the church at "the Association." West and Rudolph were appointed to write the customary letter to the Association, and it was agreed that three dollars be sent by the messengers

    32. Church Book of Bethesda Church, records for August 20, 1808.
    to pay the necessary expenses of printing the minutes.... etc. Other references to association meetings were recorded on the following dates: July 4, 1812; July 17, 1813; August 6, 1814; July 1, 1815; August 9, 1817; July 11, 1818; and July 3, 1819. Little information is given about the Association meetings. It was recorded that the meeting of 1818 was to be held in Wooster, Wayne County; and in July, 1819 the church voted that a request be made to the Association for a division of the Association.

    At a meeting in Nelson October 9, 1819, the group voted that "there should three Brethren be sent to sit in council with the Brethren in Palmyra to form a new association." It was decided that Jothem Atwater, John Noah, and John Rudolph "be the Brethren to sit with them." At that meeting, which was held October 23 of that year, articles of faith for a church association were drawn up. The organizational meeting for the Association was appointed to be held August 30, 1820 at Nelson.

    Meeting in Mantua on August 19, 1820 the "Bethesda" church voted "to receive the Articles of the Association to be held at Nelson 30 August." [33] They also voted to send Rufus Edwards, Samuel Baldwin, and John Rudolph to "sit in council with our Brethren in Nelson at the time of the Association to be held 30 August." [34]

    In 1821 Oliver Snow, John Rudloph and John Rudolph, Jr.

    33. Church Book of Bethesda, minutes for August 19, 1820.

    34. Idem. The records of the Association show only Rudolph and Edwards in attendance.
    attended the Association meeting at Palmyra. On 1822 Rufus Freeman (the newly-elected minister who had come to "Bethesda" from Jefferson, Ohio), John Rudolph, Jr., and Darwin Atwater were the representatives at the meeting of the Association held at the "Valley of Achor" church.

    On August 16, 1823 the church voted to send Freeman, John Rudolph, and Zeb Rudolph [35] to the meeting in Toungstown. These three took with them the letter in which was presented the first query to show the influence in the Association of Alexander Campbell's theology. At that time "Bethesda" asked: "Is it an apostolloc practice for churches to have Confessions of Faith, Constitutions or anything of like nature except the scriptures?" [36]

    The Association postponed giving its answers until the following year. Between 1823 and 1824, however, the disagreement within the church became very great. Before the Association met in 1824 the church had agreed to separate; a group of the members had renounced the articles of faith of the "Bethesda" church and had adopted the Campbell doctrine of the Word of God as the only rule of faith and practice. The best explanation of this difficulty is presented in the Church Book of "Bethesda" after the minutes of the meeting of April 10, 1824 as follows:

    35. Zeb Rudolph was a resident of Hiram, Ohio. He was a son of John Rudolph and brother of John Rudolph, Jr. He was the father of Lucretia Rudolph Garfield (wife of President James A. Garfield).

    36. Appendix C, p. 16.
    The church here feels it her duty to leave on record some painful events in her history occasioned by a difference of opinion springing up and gaining on the minds of many of the brethren who became dissatisfied with some of the leading doctrines of the church and was the principal means of preventing the regular administration of the Lord's Supper and the reception of some persons who had been baptized. About the 18th of June 1824 Elder Thomas G. Jones visited the church and preached several times and on Lord's Day June 20th after sermons at the Centre of Nelson publicly requested to see the church together on the next day at Bro. Noah's on business of importance in order to see if the breaches could not be made up and a way opened for the church to proceed in order and fellowship. June 21 the Church met agreeable to request at Bro. Noahs. Elder Jones presided and the meeting was opened by solemn prayer by several of the Brethren. The question was then asked by the Elder what their difficulties were and why they were not in fellowship. On examination it was found that a part of the church was dissatisfied with the doctrine [law?] of the eternal sonship of Christ as expressed in the church articles. 2nd of the law of ten commandments as explained in our confession of faith and 3rd they were dissatisfied with having any written or printed articles or confession of their religious belief. After considerable discussion of the points of difference it was unanimously agreed to separate peaceably and those who adhered to the constitution of the church should give the other part a letter expressive of the cause of separation and their good moral standing in the church. On the vote being taken the following persons manifested their satisfaction with and their adnerence to the constitution by rising: Joseph Tucker and wife; Martin Manley and wife; Caleb Stow, Eleanor Garrett; Ann Morris; Pauline Stowe; Rhody Gilmore; and Roxanne Ketcham who afterwards gave her assent to the Articles. Deacon J. Rudolph and wife with their sons and daughters and Bro. Noah and wife dissented. It was then agreed to meet at the house of sister Eleanor Garrett on the 29th of June and those who _now_ constitute the church was to give the dissenting party their letter dismissed in the usual way. June 29, 1824 Church met agreeable to appointment and Elder Jonesgave an address from 3 Chap of 1st Timothy. Deacon Rudolph then declared his own and his party's dissatisfaction with what had been done and that they would not receive the letters agreed on at the meeting above noted and another meeting was then appointed in Hiram on the 21st of August. The meeting was then closed by an appropriate sermon by Bro. Jones.
    At the meeting appointed in Hiram on the 21st of Aug. a number met but mostly of the dissenting party. They then chose Bro. Green moderator. 2 -- voted to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of faith, the Constitution, the Articles and Covenant of this Church which was formed the 30th of July 1808 and take the Word of God for our rule of faith and practice. Those who voted as above were: John Rudolph, sen. & wife; John Noah and wife; Huldah Atwater; Darwin Atwater; Rosetta Snow; John Rudolph, Jr. and wife and Benjamin Green. [37] These of the "Bethesda" church adhering to the traditional Baptist faith met August 28, 1824 and voted to send a letter to the Association. The representatives of "Bethesda" at that meeting of the Association were of the liberal party. Darwin

    37. A few incidents in the history of "Bethesda" which immediately preceded the abandonment of the statement of creed help to make clear some of the reasons for that step. It is related that "a short time before, two members had been received without the laying on of hands after baptism, which had previously been regarded by some as much a gospel ordinance as baptism or the Lord's Supper; this was done in consequence of their minister, Rufus Freeman, refusing to lay hands on the converts, as he did not regard it as enjoined by the Scriptures. And so the articles of faith which made it necessary had the effect of making trouble instead of keeping it away. A refractory member had also been brought up for trial, but as the offense was not specified in the church articles, and she beyond all question guilty and yet unwilling to confess her fault, she was excluded on scriptural ground. An aged German brother, highly esteemed for his godly life, but who had never spoken in a church meeting before, arose, and after alluding to the above case, said: 'Brethren, that trial was conducted without the use of the church articles; we have found that we can exclude disorderly members without them; if the Bible is a good rule by which to exclude evil-doers, it ought to be a good rule for right-doers to live by. I think we can do without the articles.' The longer the discussion continued the stronger grew the party which stood up for the Bible alone, and when the motion was put that all their church rules and standards save the Bible alone should be renounced, all save three voted in its favor. One of the three, a lady, rose and said she had not voted on the motion from the fact that she had never accepted the documents which had been rejected, and for that reason could not renounce them; another gave a similar reason, leaving only one in the opposition." Baxter, _Life_, pp. 97-99.
    Atwater and James Rudolph [38] attended. Rufus Freeman, who had been their minister and one of the representatives in 1823, was no longer at Nelson. In the midst of her difficulties (April 10, 1824, he resigned as pastor of the church and requested letters of dismissal for himself and his family. This request was filled by the church that day. Freeman's name is listed with the "Bethesda" delegation on the records of the Association for 1824 with the notation that he was absent from the meeting.

    Failing to receive any answer from the Association to their questions, the members of "Bethesda" were forced to solve their problems in their own way. Those attending a meeting of the church November 27, 1824, took the following action:

    Took into consideration the conduct of our brethren who have at the church meeting in Hiram August 21 "voted to renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the constitution, the Articles and Covenant of this church which was formed the 30th of July 1808." After deliberating on the subject we viewed this departure of sufficient grounds for their exclusion in the church therefore voted to exclude them. [39]

    The group thus driven from "Bethesda" was the first of the Mahoning area to adopt Campbell's doctrine as the basis of its church organization. Such a step was certain to bring immediate and drastic action. Baxter describes the attitude of churches of the early nineteenth century with regard to creed

    38. James, a brother of Zeb Rudolph and John Rudolph, Jr.

    39. Following this statement the names of those who reached the agreement at Hiram are listed as excluded. Church Book of Bethesda, minutes for November 27, 1824.


    Mary Agnes M. Smith
    "Folklore and History in the Mormon Encounter with
    the Disciples of Christ at Hiram, Ohio, March, 1832"

    (Journal of the Ohio Folklore Society, 1966)


    Agnes Monroe Smith

    Few events in the history of Ohio's Western Reserve have been more productive of fascinating folklore than the advent of Mormonism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- one of the largest religious bodies to have had its origin in the United States -- took root on the Western Reserve in the decade after 1830. Since this was also the time in which the newly formed church of the Disciples of Christ saw its beginnings in Northeastern Ohio, clashes between these two major indigenous churches were perhaps inevitable and certainly exciting. Members of the Campbellite persuasion had broken away from the Baptists in 1830 to form the new Disciple sect, and in a spirit of enthusiastic evangelism characteristic of the time they competed vigorously with the Mormons for adherents.

    The competition sometimes took the form of an intellectual challenge as when Alexander Campbell reviewed the Book of Mormon in the Painesville Telegraph of March 8 and 16m 1831 or when William Hayden, a leading Disciple minister, sought unsuccessfully to arrange a debate with Mormon elders on religious issues.

    On one notorious occasion, however, Disciples resisted the Mormon inroads into their domain with the characteristic frontier expedient of a tar and feathering. This oft-related incident has naturally been the occasion for the growth of a considerable body of folklore in the area of Hiram, Ohio where the event took place in March, 1832.

    The basic facts leading to Joseph Smith's sojourn in Hiram Township are perhaps best related and interpreted by Burke Aaron Hinsdale,
    Former President of Hiram College. As related by President Hinsdale, they were published in Amos Sutton Hayden's History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve:

    Joseph Smith was a man of remarkable power -- over others. Added to the stupendous claim of supernatural power, conferred by the direct gift of God, he exercised an almost magnetic power -- an irresistible fascination -- over those with whom he came in contact. Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview, the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, "Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on the earth to cure her?" A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: "Woman, in the name ofthe Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole," and immediately left the room.

    The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well attested fact -- electrified the rheumatic arm -- Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.

    Johnson invited Joseph Smith to come to Hiram and stay at their home, which he did; and he preached in the south school house of Hiram Township about a mile from the Johnson residence. Also with Smith came Sidney Rigdon, a former leader among the Disciples and an individual of considerable historical importance to both churches.

    Ezra Booth soon became a convert and an Elder of the Mormon Church. Symonds, a neighbor of the Johnsons and a leader in the Disciple Church at Hiram, also became, for a brief time, a convert to Mormonism.

    During the next spring and summer several converts were made, and their success seemed to indicate an
    immediate triumph in Hiram." When Smith and some of his followers went out to Missouri to lay the foundation for a new stake in Zion, curious neighbors took the opportunity to look into certain papers that were left behind. As Ryder stated it, this gave them an insight into the "internal arrangement of their church," the information making it appear appear to them that "a plot laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the prophet."

    In his writing while in Missouri Smith recorded his dismay at the primitive nature of the frontier. He wrote that his personal anxiety "was soon relieved" by a revelation in July assigning others of the party to serve the cause of the church on the frontier. Sidney Gildert was to remain and buy land as an agent of the church and "plant himself in this place and establish a store." Edward Partridge to "divide unto the unto the Saints their inheritance;" William W. Phelps to "be planted in this place and be established as a printer unto the church." But Joseph himself was directed by God to return to the more congenial "highly cultivated state of society in the east." On returning to Hiram and the Johnson home, however, he was to experience something other than a cultivated encounter.

    Their suspicion of Smith's intention to get their property for the Church was too much for the Hiramites, according to Ryder. Some who had been the dupes of this deception determined not to let it pass with impunity: "Accordingly, a company was formed of citizens from Shalersville, Garrettsville, and Hiram in March 1832 and proceeded to headquarters [2] in the darkness of night, and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds, and tarred and feathered them both, and let them go. This had the desired effect, which was to get rid of them. They soon left for Kirtland....

    (remainder of page not transcribed, due to copyright)
    (beginning of page not transcribed, due to copyright)

    ...To Booth, as to the Hiram Disciples and many others, Joseph Smith, the man, did not bear out his assumptions and their faith in Joseph Smith, the Prophet.

    It has been claimed through the years that following the tar and feathering incident and as a direct result of it, Joseph Smith received a revelation to move himself and his converts further west. This has the facts reversed. Among the revelations of Joseph Smith recorded in the book, The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are thirteen received (or pretended to be received depending on one's point of view) during the period that Smith lived in that area; none of them have to do with the subject of removal westward....

    As Symonds Ryder's account concluded: The result of the tar and feathers was Smith's return to Kirtland. The migration to Missouri by a considerable body of the church did not take place until the autumn of 1837 after the fall of Smith's empire in a financial fiasco in the Kirtland area.

    Tradition has it that one source of Symonds Ryder's disillusionment was the spelling of his name in a revelation. The story goes that Smith, in transcribing what God dictated, had spelled the last name with an i and that Symonds was certain that God knew he spelled his name R-y-d-e-r.

    As a matter of fact, Joseph Smith wrote very little in those days. In composing the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenant it was his practice to use various of his early converts as amanuenses while he while he, with the aid of some special spectacles, translated the plates given him by the angel."
    when it is ascertainable, truth is not only stranger than fiction; frequently it is more interesting. The part played by Sidney Rigdon in both the Mormon and the Baptist-Disciple movements on the Western Reserve, 1820-1830, is a case in point Sidney Rigdon had been active among the Baptist churches of the Western Reserve which in the decade of the eighteen twenties were coming under the influence of the theories of Alexander Campbell whose Christian Baptist circulated among them. Driven out by orthodox Baptist groups, the churches of the Mahoning Baptist Association in 1830 established a new sect which took the name Disciples of Christ. In this Association Sidney Rigdon had been an effective leader. One of the main tenets of the new thinking was an emphasis on restoring the doctrine and doctrine and practice of the New Testament churches, and those in this Restoration Movement were given to careful study of the Scriptures in their desire to learn the ways of the early church....

    (remainder of pp. 42-43 not transcribed, due to copyright)
    Smith soon absorbed Rigdon's communal group at Kirtland -- and their property -- and for a time he tried to persuade others to consecrate their property to the church in like manner. This attempt was of limited effect and was abandoned after a few months with every effort being made to erase the entire episode from the history of Mormonism. This point, which has thus become clouded in the history of the Church, is essential for an understanding of Mormonism on the Reserve and particularly the episode at Hiram. This transitory influence, more attributable to Rigdon than to Joseph Smith, had important effects on the Hiram converts; ...

    (remainder of pp. 44-45 not transcribed, due to copyright)
    (beginning of page not transcribed, due to copyright)

    The fact seems to be that holdings in Independence and holdings in Kirtland which were so consecrated were all held in common together. Many members did not see fit to follow that dictate, and of course countless numbers of people had no property. Less than a year later the properties were taken out of the hands of a bishopand transferred to a firm composed of Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery.

    For some reason, after giving up this system Joseph Smith wished to convey the idea that it had never existed in exactly that form. Later editions of the Doctrine and Covenants carry an amended version and seek to imply that the statement on consecration of property was merely in the interest of charity:
    "And behold. thou will remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. - And they shall be laid before the bishop of my church."
    Comparing these two versions [Book of Commandments and Doctrine and Covenants] one notes the substitution of the phrase "of thy properties" for the original "all thy properties," as well as other emendations which change the original meaning of the statement. In the first edition of the Book of Commandments another revelation presented by Smith in August, 1832 after reaching Independence, Missouri pressed Martin Harris to "lay his moneys before the bishop of the church." And it continued: "And also, this is a law unto every man that cometh unto this land, to receive an inheritance. And he shall do with his moneys according as the law directs."

    (remainder of 1966 text not transcribed, due to copyright)

    Notes: (forthcoming)


    The Symonds Ryder Family
    of Hiram, Ohio

    Slightly adapted excerpt from:
    The History of The Ryder Family of Hiram
    by Vesta Ryder Clarke
    (Portage County Historical Society: 2001)

    The Ryders of Hiram

    The Rider / Ryder family was among the earliest English families to come to America, fleeing from the tyranny of the Stuarts. The immigrants, Samuel Rider and his wife, Ann Gamlett Rider, came from All Saints Parish, Northampton County, England around 1637. Samuel is first found in colonial records January 7, 1638/39 among those proposed to take up freedom in Yarmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

    One of Samuel's sons, John, was also born in England in 1636, and the Hiram Ryders are from this lineage. Thus, we see that parents with very young children were willing to venture into the wilderness of a new country across the sea.

    John's family along with his son, Ebenezer's family, remained on Cape Cod for approximately 138 years. As farm land became less available on Cape Cod, Ebenezer's son, Peter, and family sought a new life in Hartford, Vermont which was the first town in Vermont chartered after the close of the French and Indian War.

    Here Peter settled around the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775. The Ryders lived in Vermont for some forty years, but because the rocky soil was not good for farming, when land became available in the Connecticut Western Reserve in the early 1800's, the Ryder family decided to move to the rich farm land in Northeastern Ohio. Several other Vermont families also came to Hiram during these years.

    Peter's son, Joshua, had been born on Cape Cod, grew up in Vermont and tried farming and the proprietorship of a hotel in White River village near Windsor, Vermont. Joshua, was now willing to move west as his father, who was now dead, had done so that his sons and daughters would have a chance for a better life in the newly developing country.

    First Arrival in 1814

    Joshua's oldest son, Symonds, age 22, scouted the area of Hiram, Ohio having ridden alone on horseback from Hartford, Vermont. He arrived in Hiram in January of 1814. As he left the Buffalo area in December 1813 (during the War of 1812), he observed the fires set by the invading British and Indian forces which burned down the town. Another interesting sidelight is that the saddle bags which Symonds used on his horse remain in the possession of one of his descendants. After reaching Hiram, Symonds selected land, started building a cabin, and in the fall of 1814 returned East to encourage his parents to move to Hiram.

    On June 29, 1815, Joshua, his wife Marilla, and their children came to settle in Hiram township. The family of eight, Joshua and Marilla, sons Symonds and Jason plus four daughters came with a four ox team and settled on 115 acres purchased from James Young on July 10, 1815.

    At the point of arrival in Hiram, Joshua Ryder was 50 years old. His oldest son, Symonds was 22 and the younger son, Jason, was a youth of 16. Cabins were built and in time much additional land was purchased by the two brothers. Both brothers eventually married neighbor girls who had come from Vermont with their parents in 1818.

    Neighboring homesteads in Hiram Twp., Portage Co., Ohio  (enlarge Johnsons')   (enlarge Ryders')

    Pioneer Trail Homesteads

    The two brothers settled on adjoining farms, Symonds on what is now Roger Monroe's Pioneer Trail Orchard, and Jason on the farm to the east which was recently brought back into the Ryder family by Jack Ryder Groselle.

    Both Symonds and Jason Ryder became leaders in the Hiram community involved with church, college and civic affairs. Both acquired a considerable amount of land (400 to 500 acres each), and were efficient and well respected farmers.

    Symonds was especially well known for his leadership in the Disciple Church, and held the position of Elder for more than forty years. He preached for the church on a regular basis for a number of years.

    Symonds Ryder and the Mormons

    Four years prior to the official establishment of the Disciple Church in Hiram, Joseph Smith and several other Mormons arrived in the spring of 1831 at the John Johnson farm on Ryder Rd. (now Pioneer Trail). They soon began preaching and gained many converts. In June 1831 Symonds united with them, and soon Smith had a revelation that Symonds was to act as an Elder of the church. However, very soon several events took place which led Symonds to doubt the validity of the teachings, and he withdrew from the church. Warnings were issued to the Mormons that they were no longer welcome in the community. These were not heeded, and the following March a band of sixty men met, divided into two groups and quietly marched to the Johnson house. They proceeded to tar and feather Joseph Smith and his ardent follower, Sidney Rigdon. Over the years the Mormons have maintained that Symonds was the leader of the mob, though his son, Hartwell, writes in his memoirs that he remembers his father was sick in bed that night, and that he did not leave his bed from early evening until the next morning. Symonds Ryder's part in this will never be known for certain.

    Symonds played an active part in the founding of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, later to become Hiram College. He was the first Treasurer of the Eclectic Institute, and remained in this position from 1850-1860. It was known that he carried his own money in one section of his wallet and that of the college in another. He never used the college funds in his own business, and never changed a bill in one fund for smaller ones of equal value in the other. He was also on the Board of Trustees of the Institute during the same period as he was Treasurer.

    Symonds held various offices in the village, and when the first State Militia was organized he was appointed its Captain. For fifty years he was an influential leader in the community, giving his all in time and energy.

    Elder Symonds Ryder  (1792-1870)

    The Jason Ryder Family

    Jason Ryder was equally well thought of in the Hiram community, though he was not as outgoing an individual as his older brother. He was a quiet unassuming man. However, he too, had a great interest in the founding of the Eclectic Institute, and served on the first Building Committee.

    Though Jason's wife, Fanny Johnson Ryder, was a daughter of the Johnson family who became Mormons, neither ever embraced the Mormon faith, and remained faithful members of the local church. Throughout their lives Jason, Fanny and their children remained in contact with her Mormon parents and siblings in Kirtland, Ohio, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Salt Lake City, Utah and their religious differences did not effect their private lives.

    Jason along with his brother Symonds, was one of the original thirteen people who on March 1, 1835 organized the "Congregation of Jesus Christ in Hiram", which eventually became the Hiram Christian Church. For many years he was the only Deacon of the church.

    Jason lived to be 98 years old, and remained on his original farm to his death. Long before that occurred his son, John, and family continued the farming enterprise he had established in the 1820's.

    Symonds Ryder had three sons. Hartwell remained on the family farm on Ryder Rd. Cyrus and Symonds, Jr. had farms elsewhere, and their descendants became scattered in Geauga, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties among other places.

    The two first cousins, Symonds' son, Hartwell, and Jason's son, John, carried on as leaders in the Hiram community. Both were intensely interested in the success of Hiram College. Hartwell served on the Board of Trustees from 1860 to 1879, and John served from 1872 to 1892. John was chairman of the Board from 1880 to 1890.

    1857 Map of Hiram:   JS = Jude Stephens, SR = Symonds Ryder, JR = Jason Ryder, HR = Hartwell Ryder
    CL = Charles Loomis, CU = Charles Udell   (view the 1832 land owners adjacent to Symonds Ryder)
      (view an enlargement of the 1857 map)   (view an 1874 version of area around the Ryder property)

    An Extended New England Family

    The 1857 land ownership map of Hiram Township shows the congregating of an extended New England family, southwest of Hiram Centre. The Ryders came first, with Symonds Ryder's father, Joshua Ryder, settling on the north side of what is Now Pioneer Trail Road. Joshua's initial homestead was 115 acres, purchased from James Young on July 10, 1815. The family purchased adjoining lots, some of which are highlighted in yellow in the above graphic. Situated in the midst of the Ryder properties are the 181.5 acres acquired as a homestead by John Johnson in 1818-19. Johnson may have purchased his farm from the Ryders: in 1822 the two families became inter-related, when Joshua Ryder's son Jason married John Johnson's daughter Fanny. In 1833 Johnson sold his place to Jude Stephens, whose name appears as its ownder on the 1857 map.

    Charles Loomis, Jr. was the brother of Symonds Ryder's wife, Mehitable Loomis Ryder (1792-1870). The Udells (or Udalls) also became part of this extended family, when Mehitable's sister, Mary "Polly" Loomis, married Rufus Udell, father of Charles Udell.

    Gertrude V. Wickham provides the following details in the "Hiram" chapter of her 1896 book, Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve:
    In 1818, early in January, a company of about forty men, women, and children started from Vermont with ox and horse teams and sleds. The snow was deep. The horse teams would go ahead about as far as the slow oxen could travel, then locate for the night in cabins by the way, tumble the bedding from the sleds on to the floor, and sleep almost any way.... They reached Hiram in March. The snow began to thaw the day after they reached their destination. The following are some of the women:

    Mrs. Anna Bruce Udell, Olive Loomis, Mehitabel Loomis, Elsie Johnson, Misses Nancy, Polly, Lucinda, and Sarah Udell, Miss Fanny Johnson, Chloe Loomis, etc., etc. Mehitabel Loomis became Mrs. Symonds Ryder. The Ryders were descendants of a Ryder who came over in the Mayflower.

    Hiram's pioneer population was not remarkably religious. One of the earliest public religious services was conducted at the old south school house in 1818 by three Methodist women, Mrs. Marilla Ryder [wife of Joshua], Mrs. Herrick, and Mrs. Susannah Hinkley. The pioneer church of Portage county was the "Bethesda" Baptist, organized July 30, 1808, in what is now Nelson township. The only religious people who seem to have become deeply rooted in Hiram were the Disciples, an offshoot from the "Bethesda" Baptist Church in 1824. The Hiram church was organized March 1, 1835, with thirteen members, as follows: Symonds Ryder, Arrunah Tilden, Pelatiah Allyn, Jason Ryder (still living in his ninety-eighth year), Thuel Norton, Mehitabel Ryder, Amelia Allyn, Lucretia Mason (grandmother of Lucretia Garfirld), Emeline Raymond, Amelia Allyn, Jr., Harriet Norton, and Betsy Sperry.

    The Famous Mormon Episode in Hiram occurred in 1831-32. At this distance it looks like a comedy; to the Mormon leaders and the Hiram church it was more of a tragedy. The new ark of Mormonism had recently been set up at Kirtland. There was a serious attempt to transfer it to Hiram. The Mormonism of 1831 was not that of Brigham Young, with its "revelation" of polygamy. John Johnson had built a fine large frame house on Ryder street. The Johnsons visited Joseph Smith at Kirtland and Mrs. Johnson was miraculously (?) healed of a rheumatic arm by the Mormon prophet. They became confirmed converts to the delusion. For a time their home was both palace and temple to Smith. Sidney Rigdon, who furnished the brains for the Mormon movement in its infancy, took up his abode in a log house across the street from the Johnsons. Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister of some culture, from Mantua and Symonds Ryder, [subsequently] the leading Hiram Disciple, fell temporary victims. For a few months it seemed as though the whole Hiram church would be swept into the Mormon fold.

    But the real drift of Mormonism was soon apparent, and the end came suddenly, when on a March night in 1832 Joseph SMITH and Sidney Rigdon were treated to a coat of tar and feathers. Smith was taken from the Johnson house, Rigdon from his own log cabin across the road. In the confusion Miss Vashti Higley was dragged from her bed. The mistake was soon discovered. Miss Higlry afterward married Peter Whitmer, one of the original witnesses to the "golden plates" on which the Mormon bible was based. She left with the Mormons, but returned on the death of her husband. The Johnson family went out with the Mormon exodus.

    The Symonds Ryder Manuscripts

    1996 article   |   2004 article   |   Comments

    Symonds Ryder home on Pioneer Trial Road, Hiram, Ohio   (1928 photo)

    (under construction)

    Mormon History Association Newsletter 103
    Layton, Utah: Mormon History Assoc., Fall 1996

    MHA Newsletter                                      3                                      Fall 1996

    S Y M O N D S   R Y D E R

    An Update on Symonds Ryder 1
    by Scott Faulring

    In September 1960, the LDS Church Historian's Office received, through an unsolicited donation from a nonmember, a small but significant cache of manuscript revelations dating from June 1831 or earlier. The donor, Virginia Ryder Watters, and her husband had become acquainted with a Latter Day Saint family, the William D. Dailys who had recently moved to Watters' hometown of Ravenna, Ohio. It was through these faithful Church members that the documents were conveyed to the LDS Church Archives. Mrs. Watters was a great, great granddaughter of Symonds Ryder. The Ryder descendants found these rare manuscripts in 1958 among some of Symonds's personal belongings. The records had been preserved for more than 130 years by being rolled up and hidden in a linen cloth by Mrs. Watters's great, great grandfather.

    In early Mormon history, Ryder was conspicuous for several reasons. He was the convert from Hiram, Ohio who apostatized because his name was misspelled in a revelation and his letter of appointment. He was also identified as the notorious ringleader of the Hiram mob that assaulted Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon at the John Johnson farm in late March 1832.

    As traditionally reported, in the spring of 1831, Symonds Ryder, then a thirty-eight year old deacon of the Campbellite movement from Hiram, Ohio, visited the Mormon Church's headquarters in Kirtland, where he allegedly heard a young Latter-day Saint girl prophecy terrible destruction on Peking, China. Weeks later, when Ryder read a newspaper story reporting the devastation of Peking and resultant death of thousands of souls in eastern Asia, he was convinced that the restored Church of Christ merited deeper investigation. Shortly after he was baptized. In early June 1831, Symonds was in Kirtland and may have attended some or all of the landmark conference held June 3-5, 1831 on Isaac Morely's property. During this special conference, the first high priests of the latter-day dispensation were ordained. 2 We know from the minutes retained in the Far West Record that Ryder was ordained an elder by Joseph Smith on June 6, 1831, the day after the priesthood conference closed. In a revelation given the same day, Symonds was appointed to fulfill the calling previously given to another elder who had transgressed. 3 Disgruntled that his name was misspelled, Ryder's faith wavered and he began to question his recent conversion. Rather than fulfill his mission call, Ryder returned to his farm in Hiram where, over the summer, his commitment to Mormonism faded and he became hostile to the Church of Christ.

    Less than two weeks after the close of the June conference, complying with a previous revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, Sidney Gilbert and others left Kirtland on their first trip to Missouri. According to the Manuscript History of the Church, the purpose of their appointed journey was to survey the "land of [their] inheritance, even the place for the city of New Jerusalem." 4 Ryder later recalled that while the Prophet and his associates were in Missouri a group of converts from Hiram began to question the appropriateness of certain revelatory proclamations. In a letter written in 1868, just two and a half years before his death, Symonds described, in a third-person sort of way, his hostile feelings in 1831 and possible involvement in finding these manuscript revelations. An extract from his letter reads, "When they [Joseph Smith and others] went to Missouri to lay foundation of the splendid city of Zion, and also of the temple, they left their papers behind. This gave their new converts an opportunity to become acquainted with the internal arrangement of their church, which revealed to them the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the prophet." 5

    The documents given to the LDS Church in 1960 included a previously unknown manuscript by Oliver Cowdery written in 1829, entitled "The Articles of the Church of Christ," and copies of several other early manuscript revelations. Besides the Cowdery document, there were complete or partial copies of the revelations currently published in the LDS D&C 20, 35, 36, 42, 52 and 56 (RLDS D&C 17, 34, 35, 42, 52, 56). Not surprisingly, all of the manuscript revelations that Ryder had in his possession are dated 15 June 1831 or earlier -- all given before Joseph Smith's June 19 departure from Kirtland. All but the Cowdery document appear from internal evidence to be copies made from the original dictation manuscripts and are in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery and possibly David and Christian Whitmer.

    From Ryder's statement we can suppose that he and other apostates in Hiram interpreted the recent revelation concerning the law of consecration and stewardship (current LDS/RLDS D&C 42) as a threat to their personal property. Several documents acquired from Ryder's family dealt with the Mormon Church's "internal arrangement." These would be Cowdery's "Articles" and the early manuscript copies of the revelations published in LDS D&C 20 and 42 (RLDS D&C 17 and 42). One of the other manuscripts is dated June 6, 1831 (current LDS/RLDS D&C 52) and is the revelation calling Ryder to replace Heman Basset who had fallen away. Ironically Ryder's name is misspelled "Symonds Rider" in this document. Ezra Booth, another disaffected Ohio member from 1831 who allied with Ryder, definitely had access to one of these documents. In the second to the last of his nine letters critical of Mormonism published in the Ohio Star, Booth quoted verbatim from Cowdery's "Articles." 6

    Precisely how Symonds Ryder obtained these church documents is still a mystery. At least one of the manuscripts Ryder claimed was given him by David Whitmer. 7 It is possible that during the summer of 1831, while Joseph Smith was in Missouri, that Ryder or someone else went to Kirtland and pilfered these papers. However they were acquired, the fact remains that they ended up with Ryder. Fortunately for those interested in the early development of Mormonism, these rare manuscripts were found and are preserved in the LDS Church Archives.

    1. According to Ryder's gravestone, his signature, and family records, the accepted spelling of the name is Symonds Ryder.

    2. Ryder was not listed among the attendees at the conference in minutes in the Far West Record. Then again, the FWR minutes listed only the priesthood brethren in attendance and Symonds Ryder may have been unordained at the time of the conference.

    3. Currently published as LDS D&C 52:37 / RLDS D&C 52:8c.

    4. Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1, 126; published in Dean C. Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith 1:356.

    5. Symonds Ryder to Amos S. Hayden, 1 February 1868; published in A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1876), 220-21. Emphasis added.

    6. Ezra Booth to Rev. 1 Eddy, Letter 8, 29 November 1831; published in Ohio Star, 8 December 1831.

    7. See editorial comment in the Ohio Star, 29 December 1831.

    Scott H. Faulring
    "An Examination..."

    Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness
    Provo: Maxwell Inst., BYU, 2006

    Copyright © 2004, 2006 BYU, all rights reserved
    Limited, "fair use" excerpts reproduced here --
    full BYU Studies text

    [ 155 ]

    An Examination of the 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ"
    in Relation to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants


    Scott H. Faulring

    Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants was originally labeled the "Articles and Covenants." It was the first revelation canonized by the restored Church and the most lengthy revelation given before the first priesthood conference was held in June 1830. Scriptural commentators in recent years have described the inspired set of instructions section 20 as "a constitution for the restored church."...

    (remainder of page not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    [ 156 ]

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    [ 157 ]

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    [ 158 ]

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    The 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ" and Section 20                                      159

    Prophetic Anticipation of the Organization of the Church

    Joseph Smith's first responsibility as the latter-day prophet was to translate the Book of Mormon plates, which were entrusted to him by the angel Moroni on September 22, 1827. Only later would restoring and organizing the Lord's Church become an obvious extension of his prophetic mission, for that aspect of the restoration had to wait until the Prophet had finished translating the Book of Mormon in 1829. But as the work of translation unfolded, the way was simultaneously being prepared for the imminent restoration and organization of the Church.

    The earliest revelation that specifically mentions the impending establishment of the Church was given in late summer 1828. It was received shortly after Martin Harris had carelessly lost the initial 116 pages (containing the book of Lehi) from the Book of Mormon translation. In the revelation that followed, the Lord told Joseph Smith that in reestablishing His Church, this modern generation should be openhearted and spiritually prepared. The Lord admonished: "And for this cause have I said, if this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them. Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church: therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven."

    A few months later, in March 1829, the Lord spoke again on this subject, telling Joseph Smith and Martin Harris that the restored Church would be patterned after the New Testament–era organization. Expanding the earlier precondition, the Savior declared, "And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them,... and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old." The Lord explained to his latter-day disciples that this reformation marked "the beginning of the rising up, and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness 00 clear as the moon and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."

    160                                                                                                                      Scott H. Faulring

    After Martin Harris was dismissed as scribe over the loss of the 116-page manuscript of the book of Lehi, Joseph Smith prayed fervently for another assistant to help him complete the work. His prayers were answered when Oliver Cowdery, the district school teacher from Manchester, New York, came to Harmony, Pennsylvania, in early April 1829. As part of his teaching remuneration, Cowdery had boarded with Joseph's parents, who eventually confided in Oliver about Joseph Jr.'s possession of the Book of Mormon record. After receiving profound spiritual confirmation of Joseph's calling, Oliver traveled to Harmony with the intention to be Joseph Smith's scribe. With Cowdery's assistance, the Book of Mormon translation made substantial progress. Inside of an amazingly productive three-month stretch, from early April to late June 1829, Joseph translated and Oliver, as the main scribe, wrote more than four hundred closely written foolscap pages -- almost the entire unsealed portion of the Nephite plates. Also, during these months, Joseph Smith received at least a dozen revelations and accomplished several other important tasks.

    The Nature of Oliver's Authority

    Soon after they met, Oliver asked Joseph to inquire of the Lord to know his (Oliver's) duty. In response the Lord told Oliver -- not once, but twice -- to "give heed unto my words." Cowdery was also counseled, "Now as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion." The Lord reminded the young schoolmaster, "For thou hast inquired of me, and behold as often as thou hast inquired, thou hast received instruction of my Spirit." Oliver was assured that he would "receive a knowledge of whatsoever things [he] shall ask in faith, with an honest heart."

    Fascinated by Joseph's ability to translate the ancient record, Oliver sought for the same blessing. Weeks earlier, the Lord had promised Oliver the gift "to translate even as my servant Joseph." Few details are known about the scribe's attempt to translate, but, after Cowdery "did not translate according to that which [he]

    The 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ" and Section 20                                      161

    (pages 161-174 not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    The 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ" and Section 20                                      175

    revelation "concerning the upbuilding of Zion [and] the order of the Church." Acknowledging Joseph Smith as the only revelator for the Church clarified, for leaders and members alike, that he alone was charged with the prophetic governance of the Church.

    During the conference, Oliver Cowdery read the Articles and Covenants to the congregation, and the Prophet commented upon them. Evidently, by autumn 1830, Oliver had become reconciled to and sustained the Articles and Covenants as the procedural authority of the Church, as did all other members at that time.


    The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ began to take shape shortly after Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery first met in April 1829. The Lord commanded Oliver to "rely upon the things which are written" in shaping the forthcoming Church's earliest policies and procedures (D&C 18:3). Cowdery's Articles of the Church of Christ, prepared sometime in the second half of 1829, was a relatively short procedural statement that depended heavily on excerpts from the Book of Mormon and early revelations to the Prophet. Thus it can be concluded that even though Oliver's Articles were written in the first person of Christ's voice, it does not rise to the same stature of original and authoritative revelation. At some point between late March and early June 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith, assisted by Oliver Cowdery as scribe, wrote the revelation known as the Article and Covenants, which superceded Cowdery's earlier Articles. In the more comprehensive and longer Articles and Covenants, the Lord gave to Joseph, Oliver, and the Church a constitutional and procedural guide to regulate Church affairs. Oliver's 1829 document was simply a preliminary attempt to compile a governing document, but it lacked the organizational details needed to administer to the needs of the Church. The material in D&C section 20 was read in the first two conferences of the Church and was cited authoritatively in official Church documents, such as priesthood licenses and member recommends, from the earliest years of the Church.

    176                                                                                                                      Scott H. Faulring

    Appendix: Oliver Cowdery's 1829
    "Articles of the Church of Christ"

    In the early 1970s, while conducting research on the historical and textual development of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, Robert J. Woodford analyzed all extant manuscript copies of Joseph Smith's revelations, most of which are in the LDS Church Archives. 64 Woodford's analysis of D&C section 20 includes the earliest verbatim transcription of Oliver Cowdery's Articles of the Church of Christ. 65 Woodford's was the first public presentation of Cowdery's 1829 document.

    The only surviving copy of Cowdery's Articles was written on a large sheet of paper folded in half, creating a four-page manuscript. Oliver wrote on the first three pages and left the fourth page blank. 66 The document's concluding notation, written by Oliver, indicates that this manuscript is a "true copy" of the Articles of the Church as they existed in 1829. This suggests that an earlier, original Articles manuscript must have once existed. From mid-1831 until the late 1950s, this three-page "true copy" was hidden away and unknown to anyone.

    What is unique about Cowdery's manuscript is that it was once part of the official Church records but was lost (probably stolen) from the Church in summer 1831. Almost 130 years later, in 1960, the Church unexpectedly received Cowdery's Articles document as part of a larger donation of early church manuscripts. The unsolicited donation came from a non-Mormon descendant of an individual briefly noticed in the Ohio period of Latter-day Saint history. Many readers of early Mormon history will recall the name Symonds Ryder. He had joined the Church by June 1831, but his conversion was short-lived and he apostatized after only a few months. In addition, the official Church history identifies Symonds Ryder as the notorious ringleader of the Hiram, Ohio, mob that tarred and feathered Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in March 1832. 67 Earlier, prior to his apostasy, Ryder was mentioned in a revelation (D&C 52:37) when the Lord called him to replace an unfaithful missionary. Unfortunately, in writing the revelation and letter of appointment,

    64. In April 1974, Woodford, a Church Educational System instructor, completed his massive 1,900-page dissertation at Brigham Young University entitled "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants." Woodford later privately published a limited edition of this three-volume work. At the core of his meticulous study was a section-by-section examination of the textual variants in each revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants. Woodford compared all known manuscripts, early Church publications, and English language editions of the Book of Commandments and Doctrine and Covenants.

    65. Portions of Cowdery's Articles were either direct revelation to Oliver, quoted or paraphrased material from the Book of Mormon manuscript, or ideas influenced by modern revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Citations to the 1829-1830 printer's manuscript (Community of Christ Archives) are used here for comparison, since the relevant parts of the original (LDS Church Archives) are no longer extant. The transcription presented herein corrects Woodford's transcription errors and adds extensive textual annotations. Additional articles dealing with the relationship of this manuscript to the organization of the Church and D&C section 20 are: Woodford, "Historical Development," 1:287–93; Bushman, Beginnings of Mormonism, 156–57, 166–67; Whittaker, "Articles of Faith," 64–66; Anderson, "The Organizational Revelations," 109–23; and Robert J. Woodford, "The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ and the Book of Mormon," in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants (Provo, Utah, and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book, 2004), 103–16. Appreciation is given to Robert J. Woodford, Ronald O. Barney, and Steven R. Sorensen for their assistance in understanding this important document and its historical background.

    66. There are 1,444 words in Cowdery's Articles; page one has 522 words, page two has 521 words, and page three has 401 words.

    67. Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1, 205–8; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:374–78; History of the Church, 1:260–64.

    The 1829 "Articles of the Church of Christ" and Section 20                                      177

    the Prophet's scribe misspelled Symonds Ryder's name by writing an i rather than a y. This innocent mistake allegedly gave Ryder reason to doubt Joseph Smith's source of inspiration. Even though Ryder himself was not very consistent, his preferred spelling of the name is Symonds Ryder. Strangely, and with perhaps a touch of humorous irony, the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants still misspells Ryder's first name.

    There is a potential link, recently discovered, between Symonds Ryder's apostasy and the disappearance of the manuscript of Oliver Cowdery's Articles of the Church in 1831. Ryder was in Kirtland on June 6, 1831, when he was ordained an elder by Joseph Smith. 68 Two weeks after Symonds's ordination, the Prophet, accompanied by many of the leading brethren in Ohio, departed from Kirtland on their first visit to Independence, Jackson County, Missouri -- the site of the prophesied city of the New Jerusalem and the land designated as Zion. Allegedly, with the Church leaders away, Symonds Ryder traveled north from his farm in Hiram, Ohio, up to the Church headquarters in Kirtland. Somehow, without being discovered, he accessed the Church records. Symonds apparently knew what he was looking for. He secured a certain group of manuscript revelations. The documents he took detailed, in one way or another, the organization, procedures, or laws of the Church. Included in these materials was Oliver Cowdery's 1829 Articles. 69 Ironically, also among the manuscripts was a copy of the revelation in which Ryder's name was misspelled. More than 125 years later, in 1958, Symonds Ryder's descendants discovered these manuscript revelations tightly rolled up in a linen handkerchief inside the drawer of a dresser that had been in the Ryder family for many years. The family believes that Ryder himself hid these documents for unknown reasons and they remained untouched until being discovered in 1958. It was his great-great-granddaughter who unrolled the precious old documents and flattened them in books. Two years later, the Ryder family, assisted by a Latter-day Saint family living in the community of Ravenna, Ohio, forwarded these priceless historical revelation documents to the Church historian in Salt Lake City. 70

    68. Ryder's ordination was recorded in the Far West Record, 6. See Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 9.

    69. Later in life, Symonds Ryder explained that when Joseph Smith and the other Church authorities went up to Zion (Jackson County, Missouri) in 1831, they "left their papers behind." Without directly identifying himself as one of the "new converts," Symonds described how the "new converts [took] an opportunity to become acquainted with the internal arrangement of their church." Symonds Ryder to A. S. Hayden, February 1, 1868, published in A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall Publishers, 1876), 221. In addition to Oliver Cowdery's 1829 articles, Symonds Ryder had in his possession copies of the following manuscript revelations: D&C 20, 35, 36, 42, 52, and 56. This listing was noted by Church archivist Earl Olson in his May 27, 1964, typewritten notation on William D. Daily's September 27, 1960, statement.

    70. These documents are now at the LDS Church Archives. Further information on the finding and subsequent donation of these documents is in William D. Daily, Statement, September 27, 1960, in author's possession (see note 97); Woodford, "Articles and Covenants," 262–63; and Scott H. Faulring, "Symonds Ryder," Mormon History Association Newsletter, no. 103 (fall 1996): 3–5. The specific details about the documents being found by the Ryder family tightly rolled up in a linen handkerchief in a dresser drawer is from a personal telephone conversation between the author and Mr. Wayne E. Watters and his wife, Virginia (she is the descendant of Symonds Ryder), on October 2, 1996. Notes of conversation in author's possession.

    Oliver composed these articles either at the Joseph Smith Sr. residence in Manchester, New York, or at the Peter Whitmer Sr. home in Fayette, New York. The Church acquired the document in 1960. On September 27, 1960, William D. Daily, a Latter-day Saint serviceman stationed at the Ravenna Arsenal, made the following statement: "The enclosed writings were given to William D. Daily and his family on the night of 26 September 1960 by Mr. Wayne E. Watters, the principal of the Ravenna City High School, Ravenna, Ohio. Mr. Watters lives at 7101 State Rt. 44, Ravenna Ohio. --- Mrs. Watters' great-great grandfather was Symonds Ryder. It was in his belongings that these writings were found. They were found about 2 years ago rolled in a linen cloth. The Watters pressed them in books and have held them in a pressed condition until they were delivered to me on the above date.... [signature over typed name] William D. Daily (Elder) Quarters "Q" RD2 Ravenna, Ohio."

    Later in the 1960s, after Cowdery's three-page Articles manuscript was returned to the Church by Symonds Ryder's descendants, the archivists filed it in the LDS Church Archives' Revelations Collection. Earl Olson, an LDS Church archivist, mistakenly cataloged the Articles as two separate documents. In a typewritten note appended to William D. Daily's September 1960 statement, Olson described the first two pages of the Articles as "A supposed revelation to Oliver Cowdery, beginning: 'A commandment from God unto Oliver how he should build up his Church.'" This manuscript leaf, written on both sides, had become separated from the other half of the sheet and did not identify Cowdery as the author. The first two pages of the Articles were filed in the "Unpublished Revelations" section of the Revelations Collection and assigned a "ca. 1830" date. The other half, the third page with a blank reverse side, had the year 1829 written on it, but it was not included in the Revelations Collection. Olson described this page as simply "A supposed revelation to Oliver Cowdery, 1829, beginning: 'And now I speak unto the Church.'" Cowdery's Articles document, recently deacidified and reattached, has since been moved to a collection of Oliver Cowdery's personal papers. A photocopy of William D. Daily's statement is in the author's possession.

    178                                                                                                                      Scott H. Faulring

    (pages 178-193 not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)

    Notes: (forthcoming)



    Burke A. Hinsdale (1837-1900)

    B. A. Hinsdale's 1876 Pamphlet

    (under construction)

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