[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)


C H A P T E R   I V.

Origin of the Church in Warren--Siege of Warren--The Church in
      Lordstown--Biography of Bentley--Biography of C. Bosworth
      --East Fairfield--Death of Mitchell.

T HE Baptist Church in Warren was formed September 3, 1803, by Elder Chas. B. Smith. It consisted of the following ten persons: Isaac R. Dally, Effie Dally, Jane Dally, Saml. Burnett, Nancy Burnett, John Leavitt, Jr., Caleb Jones, Mary Jones, Saml. Fortner, and Henry Fortner. Isaac R. Dally was the deacon, and John Leavitt, Jr., clerk. No elder was appointed, as the Baptist order made no provision for "ruling elders," the preachers only being eligible to that designation. May 5, 1804, they were re-inforced by five additions--Samuel Quimby, Samuel and Sophia Hayden, residing in Youngstown, and Wm. and Martha Jackson.

      From 1806 to 1810, Elder T. G. Jones preached occasionally to them. May 19, 1810, A. Bentley, then a licentiate minister, was received and ordained the same day. Some of the members residing in Youngstown, it was resolved Jan. 5, 1811, to meet alternately in that town, near Parkhurst's Mills, and in Warren. February 8, 1812, Isaac R. Dally and Saml. Hayden, after being "proved," were ordained as deacons.

      This church was a parent of churches--Youngstown, Bazetta, Lordstown, and Howland, all sprang from it. January 11, 1815, thirteen members were [91] dismissed on application to organize in Youngstown, viz.: Saml. and Sophia Hayden, Benj. and Elizabeth Ross, Wm. and Parthena Dean, Caleb and Mary Jones, Isaac R. Alice, Saml. Burnett, Lydia Cook, Sarah Morris, and Nancy Jones; which church was formed Lord's day the 19th of April following--Thos. Rigdon, J. Woodworth, and A. Bentley, officiating. They took the name of "Zoar," (Gen. xix: 20, 22,) that is, "little;" probably in allusion to the language of Lot: "Oh, let me escape thither, and my soul shall live."

      This Thomas Rigdon was a man of much prominence as a preacher, and was worthy of the distinction conferred on him. He served with acceptability a term in the Ohio Legislature. There were three brothers, Thomas, John, and Charles, all Baptist ministers. They all fully adopted the views of the reformation, and faithfully defended them. They were cousins of the famous Sidney Rigdon.

      December 4, 1819, the church granted the petition of eight members in Bazetta to form a church in that town. Benajah and Olive Austin were accepted for membership, February 5, 1820, and baptized the 20th of the same month by Mr. Bentley. March 4th, following, Sidney Rigdon was received into membership, and licensed April 1st, to preach. He married Miss Phebe Brooks, and after two years moved to Pittsburgh.

      The Baptist people of those times were a humble, Bible-loving brotherhood. The gospel in their hands was plead with much simplicity and pious zeal. Churches were increasing, and ministers multiplying. Warren was the leading center; as it was also for [92] years the seat of justice for the Western Reserve. Here in 1821, and again in 1822, were held the ministerial assemblies of which Mr. Campbell thus speaks:

      "Ministers' meetings once a year in different parts of that section of Ohio, for the purpose of making discourses before the people, and then for criticising them in concione clerum, and for propounding and answering questions on the sacred Scriptures, were about this time instituted and conducted with great harmony and much advantage. I became a regular attendant, and found in them much pleasure and profit." "These meetings were not appreciated too highly, as the sequel developed, inasmuch as they disabused the minds of the Baptist ministry of the Mahoning Association of much prejudice, and prepared the way for a great change of views and practice all over those 3,000,000 acres of the nine1 counties which constitute the Western Reserve."a

      Changes, to be safe, must be gradual. The light of day bursts not suddenly on the earth, and the earth itself, with all things upon it, came into being by a measured progress. Great principles are slow in operation. Revolutions, to be permanent, must mature as they progress. This community of churches was discussing great subjects; and as rapidly as was safe the people were preparing for the scenes which I proceed now to relate.

      Late in the autumn of 1827, as Walter Scott was riding down Buffalo Creek from Bethany toward Wellsburg, Va., he met John Secrest and James G. Mitchell, on their way to visit Mr. Campbell. They sat on their horses a good while talking over the [93] state and prospects of the cause of Christ. Scott was soon on his favorite theme--the "ancient gospel," as he called it. He said he was sick at heart hearing people talk about their dreams and visions, but not one syllable about their obedience to Jesus Christ--not a word about what blessing the ancient gospel secured to those who submitted themselves to the Messiah of God.

      Young Mitchell was charmed with his conversation, and the brogue of his native Scotch tongue. He had never met him before. Scott, turning to Secrest, asked if this young man had any gift in exhortation? He replied that he had, and that if he would keep humble he might do much good. "God bless him," said Scott. "I hope he will; he is the man I want. You meet me at Bro. Jacob Campbell's, in New Lisbon, and we will away to Warren and besiege the town ten days and nights: I will preach and you will exhort, and we will make their ears tingle with the ancient gospel."

      The Mitchells were a preaching family. They were men of firmness, promptitude, untiring zeal, and abundant in labors. The three brothers--James, Nathan, and David--were sons of William Mitchell, whose ancestors emigrated from England with Lord Baltimore, and settled in Maryland. William Mitchell removed to Washington County, Pa., where James was born, December 5, 1805, and Nathan, March 2, 1808. Near Morristown, Belmont County, O., in 1813, where Mr. Mitchell had moved with his family, Joseph Hughes, of saintly memory, and Lewis Hamrick, revivalists of the "Christian connection," found them, and led them, father and sons, out of the wilderness [94] of religious doubt and conflict into the way of the gospel as practiced by that order of people. Brought forward in "exhortation," as was their custom, James and Nathan, and eventually David also, became prominent, and they have long been in the front rank among the most active and useful preachers of the gospel.

      At the time agreed on, Bro. Mitchell went to New Lisbon, where he found Bro. Scott waiting for him. They arrived at Scott's residence in Canfield that evening, and next morning they proceeded to Warren, and found a welcome in the family of Bro. Richard Brooks.

      It was January, 1828. The town lay in spiritual lethargy, profoundly ignorant of the tempest of spiritual excitement about to sweep over the place. Bentley had preached well and lived well; but he held not the key to the heart, nor was he skilled to awaken the music of the soul. A new era was at hand in the religious history of Warren.

      Scott came unheralded. His first appointment was attended by few. There was neither expectation nor interest sufficient to collect an audience. A group of little boys, to some of whom he had spoken along the street in his eccentric way, were attracted by curiosity to the meeting which was held in the court-house. These, with a few old people, constituted his audience. In his discourse, after addressing the old with little apparent effect, he turned playfully to the boys, related to them some anecdotes, then skillfully changing his theme and tone, he melted them with sympathy for the sufferings of Jesus. His discourse was anecdote, pathos, wit, [95] eloquence, and general remark, the whole intended for future rather than present effect. He announced another appointment, and dismissed. Mitchell was disgusted.

      "We had not gone far," he writes, "before I asked him if that was the way he was going to pursue in besieging the town of Warren!--and if that was his ancient gospel! If so, I have no farther business in Warren." 'Oh!' he said, 'my dear brother, there was no one there worth preaching to, and I just threw that out for a bait. Hold still, we shall have a hearing yet, and then we will pour the great truths of the gospel red hot into their ears!' I thought possibly he was strategic in his method of gaining a hearing, and concluded to wait the issue.

      "He was cheerful and social all the afternoon, anxious to get a hearing. Bro. Brooks kept silent. We could learn nothing concerning the discourse from the old folks or the boys. So passed this first day of the siege.

      "At the appointed time we started to the meeting. The Baptist Church was secured, doubtless through Bro. Bentley's permission. Passing up, we found it crowded to its utmost capacity, and a number on the outside. Giving me an elbow touch, 'Do you see them nibbling at the bait?' said he. 'Yes,' I told him, 'I see plenty of people present.' We pressed our way through the dense crowd to the pulpit. We sung his favorite song--

"Come and taste along with me
 Consolation running free
 From my Father's wealthy throne,
 Sweeter than the honey-comb."

I opened with prayer. After it, he arose and read the third and fourth chapters of Matthew. The baptism of Christ and the temptation, was his theme. He straightened [96] himself to his full height, his great chocolate eyes glistening, his whole face full of animation and earnestness. He brought his siege guns into position, and for an hour and a half the house rang with his eloquence. I shall not attempt to give an outline, for no man could do justice to that sermon. While he described the Son of God hurling the word of his Father and his God on the great adversary, and lashing his hardened soul with words that had proceeded out of the mouth of God, until his brazen face shriveled, and his countenance most brazen fell, and he left, cowed, dismayed, foiled in his attempt, and the wonderful hero of redemption master of the field, victorious in the terrible conflict, while heaven's hosts came and ministered to him--he was powerful, lofty, and sublime. I had never heard such a discourse, so touching, so telling, not only on me, for the whole audience was moved.

      "The siege was now fairly commenced. Up to the next Thursday an incessant fire was kept up day and night. The ancient gospel was poured into their ears. They were astonished, amazed. They got their Bibles, and went to reading and searching for the truth. No word fell on the floor, or hit the wall--all was eagerly caught and tried by the book. They could do nothing against it; it was the simple gospel of Christ in its facts, and commands, and promises.

      "After the discourse on the temptation, he said we will sing a hymn, and see who will be on the Lord's side. We sang--

"Come and taste along with me," etc.

      "Three persons came forward. He asked them if they believed with all their heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. 'These persons,' said he, 'will be baptized to-morrow after sermon, for the remission of their sins.' We baptized every day, and sometimes the same hour of the night." [97]

      The tide of interest was flowing high. Scott's next discourse was on Peter's confession, Matt. xvi: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," a grand theme, favorite with him, and grandly handled. Mitchell came after with a spirited and powerful exhortation to the people to come and take their stand on this durable and firm foundation which God has laid as the only hope of the world.

      Baptism followed the evening meeting. Mitchell says to Scott, "Do not let the people know where we are going, and we will slip over to Bro. Jacob Harsh's and get a good night's rest, and be prepared for the labors of the next day"--for every night the places where they put up were crowded with inquiring and anxious souls. Mitchell retired and left Bro. Scott drying his clothes. It was but a few minutes before the house was filled with awakened people. Scott said, "If you follow me to learn the ancient gospel, I will pour it into your ears as long as I can wag a word off the end of my tongue." Mitchell fell asleep, leaving Mr. Scott speaking to the people. A number were deeply penitent. Scott awoke Mitchell, and told him to come and deliver one of his pathetic exhortations. "I would be in a fine mood, Bro. Walter, to exhort the people, just aroused from sleep!" "The iron is hot; one stroke when hot is worth a dozen when it is cold!" Out came Mitchell, singing as he came an old hymn, beginning:

"Begone, unbelief! my Savior is near,
 And for my relief will surely appear."

      He then began an exhortation based on the word "lost." The great loss, ah! the greatest, was to lose the soul; to be lost to God and Christ; and heaven [98] and angels; and the pure and good; lost to eternal life and all bliss. Mr. John Tait, a Presbyterian, who had been strongly opposed, but who was now deeply moved, cried out, "Young man, for mercy's sake pray for me, for my heart is as hard and unfeeling as a stone." "Bless God!" said Scott, "Tait is a converted man." They all kneeled down, and Bro. Mitchell prayed for him. He wept aloud; so did Scott. "We are," said he, "to weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice." Then, addressing Tait, Scott said, "Are you willing to follow your faith? Do you believe with all your heart in Jesus Christ the Son of God?" "Mr. Scott, I do; but my heart is so hard; I am as unfeeling as a stone." "Ah! but 'we walk by faith.' 'This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.' Let your feelings gush up from your faith in God's Son, effects which must follow the obedience of faith." "Mr. Scott, I am ready to obey my faith." "Bless God! that is the path to travel."

      Once more they started for the Mahoning, singing out on the midnight air as they went,

"Come and taste along with me,
 Consolation running free."

      Mr. Tait and several others were baptized upon the confession of their faith in the Savior of sinners; after which, Scott, addressing them, said, "Follow your faith."

      Next morning, the crowd still large, Scott asked Bro. Mitchell to proceed in the discourse; which he did from the words of Peter concerning the "lively hope." He was only well begun, when Mr. Tait cried out, "I give glory to God! my soul is full of [99] love to God and man." The effect was wonderful. "Go on," said Scott to the preacher. "It is no use; the feelings of the people are too high above any effort I can make." Scott took the audience, and in a very forcible manner gave an opportunity to obey the glorious gospel and be filled with the fullness of God. A number came penitently to confess their Savior.

      The next meeting closed the siege. Two such houses would not have held the people. "Too many," said Scott, "for the effect we wish to produce." The closing discourse was a recapitulation of the principal topics discoursed during the meeting. So ended the siege of Warren, with over fifty conversions.

      Bro. Mitchell adds in conclusion:

      "It is due Bro. Walter Scott to give him credit as among the first on the continent of America, if not the very first, who took the old field-notes of the apostles and run the original survey, beginning at Jerusalem. The first man I ever heard preach baptism in the name of Jesus, with its antecedents, for the remission of sins, and reduce it to practice. And from this period, 1827, it spread like fire on a prairie all over the country, and happy thousands have rejoiced to learn how to become disciples of Christ according to the divine arrangement and purpose of God."

      Scarce a vestige remained of the church in Warren to oppose the establishment of the ancient order. Additions continued to come in under the preaching of Bentley, Osborne, and Elder Thomas Campbell, who arrived soon afterward in the place. The fires of a new religious life were kindled in neighboring communities. On the 6th of March, 1830, the brethren in Howland were dismissed to form a church in [100] that place. In the beginning of the year 1831, Cyrus Bosworth and Benajah Austin were chosen bishops of the church, and Richard S. Brooks, James Gibson, and Moses Haskell, deacons. The members in Lordstown, whose names were chronicled in Warren, sent a petition to be set off, to unite with the church in that town, which was granted October 21st, 1832.

      Bro. Bentley having located near Chagrin Falls, the church in Warren was left to supply itself with another pastor. At their call, Bro. Jonas Hartzel came; and on the 5th of April, 1835, he was installed as preacher, and associate elder with Bro. C. Bosworth. Subsequently, the church has had J. E. Gaston, Isaac Errett, John W. Errett, and others, who, with a judicious and experienced eldership, have maintained to this day the cause of Christ in Warren.

      Very early a congregation sprang up in Lordstown. The new converts--fruits of Scott's meeting in Warren, with the members already there, and others gathered by Henry, Marcus Bosworth, and others--gave them such strength, that on the 20th of March, 1830, forty-one came together in the order of the Scripture models. Robert Tait and Moses Haskell were overseers, and John Tait and David Lewis, deacons. The church grew to considerable strength, and few have had a more stable brotherhood. They have participated in all the enterprises by which the cause of primitive Christianity has been sustained. The present number is about fifty. They have a good house of worship, and have been favored recently with the diligent and prudent labors, as pastor and elder, of Philander Green. [101]


      The life of a good man is a blessing to the world. As certain waters transmute to stone the perishable wood deposited in them, so communion with God turns all the actions of a man's life to immortality. Biography has its office--its mission among men. The biographic pen, like the pencil, rightly used, works out immortal things. Its rightful use is to record, in durable permanence, a useful life which floats in transient recollections, and to extend it from the family to the world.

      Adamson Bentley is beloved for his work's sake, tenderly remembered for qualities of character which mark him as a rare and noble man. He was born July 4th, 1785, in Allegheny County, Pa. While he was yet young his father moved with his numerous family to Brookfield, Trumbull County, Ohio; a country not yet rescued from the dominion of the primitive forest. Here young Bentley experienced the privations common to pioneer life. He struggled through encumbering difficulties till he obtained a suitable education for the profession in life in which he was so long distinguished.

      He made public confession of his faith in Christ when he was a youth, in the Baptist order. His religious guardians discovering the bent and capacity of the young Timothy, and correctly foreseeing the usefulness to which he might attain, advised him to prepare for the ministry.

      He began to preach at nineteen. Holding the system of Calvinism to be the unquestionable scheme of saving grace, he taught and urged its doctrines with the most unscrupulous fidelity. The clashing between the offers of mercy to all men, and the system which denied this salvation to any but the elect, was constantly present and constantly felt. In the honest devotion of his nature he carried the system in his head, and the love of God in his [102] heart. And as the heart, in this behalf, was better than the head, he proclaimed the love of Christ so powerfully that many conversions followed his ministry. As no man, probably, ever believed this doctrine more sincerely; so no one ever rejoiced more fully when its scales fell from his eyes. Take the following testimony from his own lips, as the writer heard him, in his own solemn style, declare his feelings in the great yearly meeting in Hubbard, 1837:

      "I used to take my little children on my knee, and look upon their as they played in harmless innocence about me, and wonder which of them was to be finally and forever lost! It can not be that God has been so good to me as to elect all my children! No, no! I am myself a miracle of mercy, and it can not be that God has been kinder to me than to all other parents. Some of these must be of the non-elect, and will be finally banished from God and all good. 'And now,' he continued, his parental heart swelling with unutterable emotions, 'if I only knew which of my children were to dwell in everlasting burnings, oh! how kind and tender would I be to them, knowing that all the comfort they would ever experience would be here in this world! But now I see the gospel admits all to salvation. Now I can have every one for eternal happiness. Now I can pray and labor for them in hope.'"

      His prayers were heard: years before his departure, he enjoyed that greatest bliss of a pious parent's heart--he saw all his children walking in the truth.

      He preached about five years as a licentiate. In 1810, he settled in Warren, and on the 19th of May, that year, he was ordained. On the 4th of May, the next year, at the unanimous call of the church, he accepted the duties of pastor. For a long tine he was popular in that community. The bland dignity of his manners, and his social courtesy, won him many friends. Though his talents as a preacher were above mediocrity, and he was heard with [103] delight and profit by numerous auditors, to his social qualities and moral excellencies, as a man and a citizen, are to be traced the sources of that extensive power which he possessed among the people. It is our fortune to be acquainted with few persons in a life-time, who wield a personal influence so supreme. Tall, manly, graceful, with a countenance radiant with good nature, affable and dignified, he would stand among dignitaries as his equals, and condescend to the lowly with a gentleness which won the attachment of every heart.

      In all that constitutes home a source and fountain of hospitable generosities, his amiable companion was quite his equal. With more economy and equal social talent, she managed her household with such skill that the entertained and the entertainers seemed equally happy. In those earlier days, when social habits were not yet costumed into rigid rule, many a traveler urged his journey an hour later and a few miles further to be a guest at his broad hearth-fires. None knew better than the gratefully remembered mistress of that hospitable home, how to "welcome the coming and speed the going guest."

      As may well be supposed, on a limited salary, the increasing expenses of his family had not a sufficient foundation. He therefore for a time resorted to merchandise, merely as subsidiary, however, for he never neglected the preaching of the gospel.

      In the course of his ministry he traveled extensively. He visited Kentucky, and labored a considerable time among the brethren in that State, and made many friends. The governor of that State received him into his mansion, and showed him marked attentions. He traveled much in Pennsylvania. He crossed the mountains in his saddle many times. At a time when population was sparse, and the mountain passes were infested by robbers, he climbed the craggy cliffs of those mountain barriers to tell to the East the progress of salvation in the West, and to bear [104] back to the West a share of the harvests the brethren were reaping in the cities of the East. In these travels he made the acquaintance of the renowned Dr. William Stoughton. A lasting friendship grew up between the two ministers, which Bentley perpetuated by giving to his oldest son the name of his friend. Dr. Stoughton was the author of an abridgment of Dr. Gill's "Complete Body of Divinity," a work which, through Mr. Bentley's influence, found many purchasers in the West.

      About the years 1820 to 1825, Mr. Bentley was visiting the Baptist Church which met near Cleveland's Mills in the corner of Youngstown. The memory of some yet living returns with speed swifter than carrier-dove to those primitive scenes of unsectarianized simplicity. The groves, "God's first temples," were spacious, and the umbrageous forests, cleared underneath, lent solemnity and impressiveness to the scene. I have seen him there with a wagon for his rostrum, and seats brought from the adjacent mills for the accommodation of the crowd which had gathered from miles around. Some leaned at the base, or sat down on the roots of the trees, whose leafy boughs interlacing, wove a sheltering protection against the sun's descending beams. When he stood up to read, all listened; when he lifted up his eyes to pray, all arose; when he announced, in devout accent, the sweet and solemn hymn, all joined to swell the chorus of praise. Those days and scenes have been celebrated in poetic lines:

"I well remember, and I love to stray
 Down to the grove where BENTLEY used to pray;
 Where pious neighbors thronged the place around,
 And stood, or leaned, or sat upon the ground.
 I well remember how he used to stand,
 And hold his Bible in his leftward hand;
 And use his right to point out what it meant,
 While lofty oaks in silence waved assent!"

      When the great religious awakening under the [105] Campbells began to make a stir, though cautious, he was one of the first to accept the principles of a scriptural reform by them so ably propounded. This appeal to primitive ground created much conflict among all the religious bodies, but especially among the Baptist churches. He made acquaintance with those eminent men, and so thoroughly had he canvassed the claims of their call for union on Bible ground, that when the bold and eloquent Walter Scott came to Warren, Bentley seconded his labors, and warmly co-operated with him on that occasion. There followed a great ingathering of souls; and the whole church, with scarcely an exception, adopted the platform of union contained in the New Testament. He continued to preach with great power and with fresh zeal, now that the new disclosures of the knowledge of the gospel had been made known, and many converts came to Christ under his ministry. In 1829, at the Association in Sharon, he was chosen along with Scott, Hayden, and Bosworth, to travel within its bounds.

      At the close of the year 1831 he removed to Chagrin Falls. While laboring to establish himself in his new home, he "neglected not the gift that was in him." He preached at every opportunity, not only without regard to compensation, but rendering such help as his circumstances permitted to lay the foundations of the cause in that new community.

      It will not be possible to follow minutely the active and useful life of Adamson Bentley. Such a history would make a volume of considerable dimensions. His interest in the cause of Christ, and the union of all the Israel of God on the primitive foundation, never flagged. He had great assurance of hope in the speedy dawn of the blessed day for the original union of the people of God to be perfectly restored. His great love of peace, and his ardent, hopeful temperament led him to indulge bright visions of [106] the speedy triumph of the pure, primitive gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Age drew on apace, and with it a gradual decrease of his ability to endure field-service under the King. Yet he never desisted. At nearly eighty, decrepitude forced him to retire. The going down of his day was gradual and beautiful, like the decline of the sun, leaving in full play the amiabilities of his fine social nature. Serenity and cheerfulness still held sway, while the eye grew dim, and the natural force abated. While lingering on the shore of the cold stream, he beheld the "shining ones," and longed to be with them. "I rely not on myself; my full and only trust is in the Rock which was cleft for me." Full of hope and full of days, he took his departure for the brighter world, November 2, 1864. He lacked only eight months of eighty full years. For sixty years he blew the trumpet, and led Israel in the glorious combat.

      In personal appearance, Mr. Bentley was more than an average man in dignity and comeliness. He was tall, finely proportioned, graceful in manners, and endowed with a remarkably open and engaging countenance. His noble form never stooped, till near the close of life he bowed a little, like a sheaf well ripened for the harvest.

      As a preacher, like all men who leave their impression on society, he was like no one else, and no one resembled him. He usually began slowly, with simple and plain statements of his subject, rambling not unfrequently, till warming in his theme, he broke the shackles of logic, and swept on like a swelling tide, bearing his audience along with the vehemence of his pathos and commanding oratory. On such occasions his voice became full, sonorous, and powerful. When the shower was passed, the people not caring to analyze the sermon, or to trace their emotions to logical sources, were delighted and edified, and departed with marked and decided respect for the preacher, and with far higher reverence for the adorable [107] Son of God, whom he preached and whom he served. He never trifled in the pulpit. His message was solemn, and seriously and earnestly did he deliver it.

      A life so equable as his, so uniform in its flow, has left no abruptness or sudden dash; little that is startling to create a fund of cherished anecdote. The few that are handed down bear the impress of his character. At one time infidelity, and even atheism, made considerable headway in Warren. On a Lord's day he arose in a full assembly, and after surveying the audience in silence for a moment, exclaimed: "There is no God!" The people looked surprised, while wonder and doubt glanced around. A moment more, and he repeated it with stronger emphasis. Perceiving the hearers to be thoroughly aroused, he looked inquiringly into his Bible for a moment. "But," he continued, in a softened tone, "I have omitted a part of the sentence: 'The fool hath said in his heart there is no God!'" The discourse which followed was a clear and convincing proof of the existence and perfections of the Creator of all things.

      He was one of the original trustees of Bethany College, and gave his whole influence to the missionary cause. The following notice of him appeared in the records of the missionary society for the State of Ohio, for the year 1865.

      "Among the memorials of departed worth, a large space should be allotted to the late, most worthy and patriarchal brother Adamson Bentley. Since our last meeting this eminent man of God has gone to his rest and his reward. His departure, in happy consonance with the calm and cheerful dignity of his noble life, was gentle, peaceful, and blessed. No man in north-eastern Ohio possessed the weight of influence with the people that was wielded by this princely man. He came to the side of Campbell and Scott in that early day when such an endorsement of their plea and work could be appreciated only by those who witnessed [108] the apostolic labors and struggles which marked the early epoch of our blessed work.

      "Multitudes love to linger around the memory of this good man. All respected, most loved him. Of him, as truly as of any other man, it may be said:

'Take him all in all,
We ne'er shall look upon his like again.'"


      CYRUS BOSWORTH, for many years a prominent citizen of Trumbull County, deserves much more than a passing notice. Few men in north-eastern Ohio have won more cordial or more durable respect. None surpassed him in enlightened views of public enterprise, in energy of character or business capacity. He was twice elected to the office of Sheriff of the county; served as Colonel of a military regiment, and filled a seat with credit in the Ohio Legislature; in all which positions he secured the confidence of the people.

      He was born in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, April 12, 1791. He early acquired a good English education, especially in navigation, surveying, and such branches as would fit him for the seas. Yielding to the entreaty of friends, he gave up his inclination for a maritime life, and in 1811, at the age of twenty, he came to "New Connecticut." For a time he engaged in teaching, but the late war with Great Britain breaking out, he was employed as express messenger between Warren and Pittsburgh, and was the first to carry the news of Perry's victory to the latter place. He returned to New England, married Miss Sina Strowbridge, and in the latter part of 1813 we find him, with his parents, again at Warren. He resumed his former occupation, but soon left it for the battle of life on more stirring fields. He built the National Hotel, erected a store, and became a merchant. His election to [109] the legislature was in 1822. At the expiration of that term, he accepted, at two successive polls, the office of sheriff. He settled on a large farm three miles south of Warren, where, in the more congenial pursuits of agriculture, he passed the maturer years of his active life. He lost his companion after a number of years of happy wedded life, and contracted a second marriage with Miss Sarah C. Case, sister to Leonard Case, Esq., late of Cleveland--a partner who survived him about fourteen years.

      He was religiously trained in the Baptist order. In June, 1829, in the general religious interest attending the labors of Scott, he confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus, and was baptized by Bro. Bentley. He never went through the ceremony of a formal reception into the church, insisting that, according to the Scriptures, when we are "baptized into Christ," (Gal. iii: 27,) we are baptized into "one body," which is the church of Christ. (1 Cor. xii: 13.) He was soon called to the eldership of the congregation, and stood in that position many years. Under appointment by the church, he spent much time for several years preaching the gospel. His great weight of character and clear, cogent reasoning, gave a powerful support to the cause in its comparative infancy.

      Much as he was respected in public life, to be appreciated, one must see him at home, and mingle in the scenes of the generous hospitality which for many years welcomed the coming guests to his open doors. With equal dignity and grace, he received and provided for the comfort of every one. He, too, was "given to hospitality." The social repast, well seasoned with Attic salt, where intelligence was mingled with agreeable entertainment, made the home of Bosworth known and gratefully remembered in all that region.

      In his character there were qualities seldom united. A perfect hater of shams, no one was more lenient to the trivial blunders of humble merit. He could expose [110] hypocrisy with a terrible severity, but he showed to the erring and needy a gentleness and tenderness of heart as beautiful, as they were healing. He had some enemies in a popular sense, for "he could not bear them which were evil;" yet in asserting the cause of the injured, he was prompt and decided. He declared early and openly for emancipation, because "it was right." These elements of character marked his course as a ruler in the church. His sternness was sometimes the more apparent, but his sympathetic consideration of human weaknesses was never far in the rear. Some feared him, all respected him, the most loved him. For strength of character, force of will, and even consistency with himself, he had few equals.

      His health failing, he journeyed to the milder climate of Texas and Mexico. The American Christian Missionary Society employed him to look after the weak churches while on his tour. In this work he was diligent, and proved a blessing. He assisted in the organization of some churches, and the encouragement of many. He returned from that mission in the fall of 1860, improved in health. In January following, he took a severe cold, from which he never fully recovered. Yet he was not confined to his room a day. On the 4th of April he went into his garden, and feeling ill, he turned to come in, and fell in death before any one could come to him. This was in 1861.


      A quarterly meeting was held in East Fairfield, Columbiana County, beginning February 1st. Bro. Mitchell says:

      "Leaving Warren, we went to our appointment in Fairfield, and put up with Bro. John Ferrall. We commenced at candle-lighting, and continued ten days, preaching the same gospel to the people that we did at Warren. The immediate result was thirty-seven additions, all new converts, beside instructing many of the old Christian order [111] in more scriptural views of the gospel, especially in regard to the design of baptism. At this point I parted with Bro. Scott, after enjoying his company twenty-five days, and learning many things more valuable than tens of thousands of silver and gold; sweeter than honey; more delicious than the honey-comb. Looking back over forty-four years, and remembering what was the condition of things then, and the present state of affairs, I feel satisfied that the omnipotence of truth has effected it all."

      On the Western Reserve some of the churches originated in reforming Baptist communities. In Columbiana County the "Christian" element predominated. These people were themselves reformers, seeking, in the measure of their light, to return to New Testament usages; but like most of the efforts to return from spiritual Babylon to Jerusalem, they crystallized around a few items which they capitalized into undue prominence. The great matters of the ancient gospel, and ancient order of the churches, were veiled in obscurity. Earnest and zealous, their public speakers often possessing great exhortatory power, they made many converts. They had a large congregation at Fairfield, and a good meeting-house. The amiable Joseph Gaston was their preacher. Through him, Bro. Scott obtained a favorable introduction among them. These visited the people together, and talked freely on the principles of the gospel. Scott was gifted with conversational powers of great skill and scope, and being full of his subject, he won at every onset. A meeting was called which was attended by the whole church. Scott turned his subject to his master key of Peter, pentecost and pardon. The theme was new, and in his hands the [112] scriptural scheme of the gospel was so plain and convincing, scarcely a doubt was left in the great audience. At the close of his sermon, the proposition was made to take the sense of the church upon the overture now submitted, to assume the position of a gospel church, in accordance with the scriptural teaching they had just heard. There was almost a unanimous rising up. Only five or six refused. It was a strong church of strong men.

      Not long after this, Elder James Hughes, of Kentucky, came and preached among them. Learning the clearer way of the gospel, he adopted it, saying he always thought the Scriptures connected more blessing with baptism than they had discovered. He continued to thus preach, and to practice as long as he lived.

      According to the order of the "Christian" brethren, the preachers were the elders. They had deacons to perform the duties common to that class of officers. Bringing the church to the New Testament models, they now appointed William Cunningham and John Ferrall, who had been deacons, to the office of bishop, or overseer, and Dr. Amasa Fisher, and ------- -------, deacons. Joseph Gaston continued to be their minister.

      About this time a colony of Methodists came into Fairfield, from Virginia. They had their preacher, Benjamin Patterson, and were prepared to attend to the matters of religion in their own way, and keep guarded against novelties and heresies. It was not long before Bro. Benjamin Saunders came, and proclaimed the gospel so clearly and powerfully, he captured their preacher, and left his flock so shaken, that [113] they became an easy and willing prey. Every one, without an exception, embraced the teachings of the apostolic gospel, and came into the church. Patterson was baptized by Elder John Ferrall.

      The subject of "weekly communion," was some time under discussion. It was new; and many thought it too great an innovation on established usages. Some argued that so great frequency would detract from its solemnity. On the other hand, it was steadily and convincingly plead that as the holy apostles, who had been charged by the Lord Jesus with establishing the customs and laws of his kingdom, had ordained that order in the beginning, it was binding still, and that it could not degenerate in solemnity when approached with the true and proper spirit. It was finally arranged, at Bro. Ferrall's suggestion, that the subject should be a matter of forbearance; those who regarded it a duty to show forth the Lord's death every Lord's day, to be permitted to do so; granting the unmolested right to others to come to the table of the Lord at longer intervals, as they had been accustomed to. To this all acceded; and all was harmony. Very soon all the members were a unit in this practice. Would that all differences in religious matters could be settled as amicably and permanently.

      The church of East Fairfield has a noble record, and has been a light to the surrounding country. It has been generous in sustaining the "yearly meetings," and all others, for the proclamation of the Word of Life. Our men of name have all preached among them from time to time, and assisted the faithful brethren in Fairfield to maintain the "unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." [114]

      Bro. J. G. Mitchell spent a long life in the gospel. He began when a youth, and traveled extensively in most of the north-western States. He was equally distinguished for zeal and success. He was small in stature, quick in action and speech, abundant in appropriate anecdotes, and never addressed an inattentive audience. With a kind heart, generous and high minded, few men had more friends. He settled in Danvers, McLean County, Ill., where his most useful life was terminated by a painful disease, which he bore with great patience, July 26th, 1873, in the 68th year of his age. [115]

      1 Eleven counties by divisions since made. [93]

      a From Alexander Campbell's "Anecdotes, Incidents, and Facts, Connected with the Origin and Progress of the Current Reformation, Some of Which Have Never Been Before Published--No. III," The Millennial Harbinger (September 1848): 524. [E.S.]


[EHD 91-115]

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)

Send Addenda, Corrigenda, and Sententiae to the editor