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A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)


C H A P T E R   X X.

Rise of the cause in Euclid--Church formed by T. Campbell--
      Preachers arising, and growing success--The Church in
      Cleveland established--Planting of the congregation in East

T HE first church in Euclid was Presbyterian. Luther Dille was a member of it. In 1820, Elder Hanks, a Baptist, preached in that town, and Dille, becoming convinced by the New Testament that immersion was the true baptism, united with the Baptists. Having buried his wife, he married, September 7, 1828, Mrs. Clarissa Kent, sister to Benjamin Blish, of Mentor. She was a disciple; her husband and William Hutchinson were the deacons of the Baptist church. Returning from the "Communion" one Sunday, Mrs. Dille asked her husband why she could not commune with them. "I could myself," said he, "but our church could not." "Why not?" "Because you are not of the same faith and order." "That's the creed," she replied; adding, "I can never put my hand to a creed!" He said: "Then we can never be together." She asked him, "If you should see that we are right, would you unite with us?" "I would," was his prompt reply; not thinking, it is presumed, that he would be put to that test. But she was satisfied and comforted by his answer, convinced of his scrupulous honesty and independence of character. Her confidence in these excellent [408] qualities was, not misplaced, neither were her expectations of his early change destined to be disappointed.

      Soon afterwards, meeting Rigdon in Mentor, she related the conversation to him. He remarked: "I will go up and take their deacons from them." In the autumn of 1829, he came, preached a few days, and baptized Eri M. Dille, Lurilla Dille, Leonard Marsilliott and wife, Mrs. Perry, Mary Ann Perry, Clarissa Perry, Mrs. Cranny, and her daughter Fanny Cranny. These, with Sister Dille, were associated together for meetings. Rigdon, taking Luther Dille's hand, said: "Will you not go with these young converts and take care of them?" "I will." This was his change; a happy one to him, and blessed to hundreds. He was so full of joy on discovering that salvation is offered to all men in the gospel that he could not sleep. "I always thought," he said, "I was like some whom Paul spoke of, 'ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.' The creed and the doctrines of Calvinism I never could see through, but I thought I must accept them, and thought I believed them; but now the gospel plan of salvation is so plain, it fills my soul with joy unspeakable." "I am tired waiting on the people," said Mrs. Dille; "you must let me rest." But he could not sleep. He rose, got his hymn-book and sung, then prayed, and so he spent the night--too happy to sleep.

      Elder Baily and deacon Beebee came to recover him from the error of his ways. The elder was full of assurance and pomp. "Uncle Luther," new in the faith, was not well prepared for defense. Mrs. Dille wished to help him, but refrained. She stepped [409] across the way and called in A. P. Jones from his school-room, who entered and sat quietly down on a low seat. At a juncture, Baily having quoted Scripture in disproof of the "new" doctrine, Jones spoke: "If you would read the whole of that passage it would make directly against your views." "Modesty becomes a young man," said Baily, in contempt. "And wisdom becomes age," quickly replied the young teacher, and then quoted the language. "It does not read so," said the elder. "We shall see," said Jones; and taking out his testament, he read out the exact words he had quoted. Mr. Baily was discomfitted. He was persuaded with difficulty to remain till after dinner. He returned to deacon Hutchinson's, who asked, What have you done with deacon Dille? "O, he has fallen asleep in the lap of Delilah!"

      In April, 1830, Elder Thomas Campbell came and organized the church in scriptural order, setting apart, by imposition of hands, Luther Dille as elder, and Leonard Marsilliott and Eri M. Dille as deacons.

      Bro. William Collins came about the same time, laboring with great acceptance, and adding to their numbers. Lanson O'Connor heard him, and said to him: "You are the first man I ever heard preach the gospel." He obeyed it, and plead it zealously till his death. To Bro. J. J. Moss also the church was, and ever will be, greatly indebted for his zealous labors in teaching the people, and defending the principles of the gospel. Rigdon's fall staggered many, but Mormonism never made a convert in Euclid. This is much owing to the presence of Moss. He debated with one of their elders, and so routed him that he fled from the community. Bro. Washington O'Connor [410] rose up in the church and became very useful in keeping the members together, and adding to their numbers. This young brother was soon on the wing, encouraged by the church, and became very useful as a proclaimer of the gospel. He traveled extensively in Lorain, Huron, Erie, Wayne, and Holmes counties, bringing many souls to Christ. He married Miss Elizabeth Dille, and after a few years he settled in Mishawaka, Ind., where his useful life terminated May 12, 1859, aged fifty-one years.

      Damon O'Connor, also, was many years a prominent member; and Armon O'Connor, one of the first to embrace the faith, baptized by A. P. Jones, October, 1832, was chosen associate in the eldership with Luther Dille, a position he held with credit for many years, and till he removed to another church.

      William Hayden was one of the first to sow the seed of the kingdom in this community. A meeting held by him and Bro. Moss in Shumway's barn made a great impression, and is talked of yet, after nearly forty years, as a notable occasion.

      The first of the great yearly meetings in Euclid was in September, 1837, and was a memorable occasion. The attendance was by thousands. Mr. Campbell's former visits to the county, and especially his signal triumph over the Anakims of skepticism the year before; in the city of Cleveland, freshly and favorably remembered, called crowds to hear him. His discourse on Lord's day was one of his most masterly efforts. It was founded on Gen. iii: 15; and showed the nature and design of positive institutions as tests of obedience. It was a powerful argument against infidelity. Assisting in the [411] meeting, were Butler, of Indiana, Hayden, Green, Bentley, Clapp, Moody, Williams, Allerton, Collins, Moss, Veits, O'Connor, Atwater, Brown, and A. S. Hayden. The immediate result was nineteen conversions. This meeting formed an epoch in the history of this church and of the cause of primitive Christianity in all that region. The plea was lifted high into public notice, and many, from this hearing, afterward became obedient to the faith.

      In October, the following year, a successful meeting was conducted in Euclid by A. P. Jones, Moody, and Robison. Eight additions.

      A few months after, February, 1839, John Henry came for eight days. The brethren not having a meeting-house, they rented a vacant store-room in the village. This, for nearly three years, was their meeting place. It was crowded nightly to hear this invincible champion of the truth. There were ten added to the number, seven of them conversions. Among these last was an old sea captain, Jephtha G. Nickerson, from New Bedford, Mass. In command of a vessel, he had made most of the commercial ports of the world--had visited Malta, the island where Paul was cast ashore. He had been ship-wrecked on the Mediterranean; and now, spending a quiet winter in the secluded village of Collamer, he turned in to hear the stranger. Henry's manner, bold, decided, energetic, exactly suited the captain, whose own nature was a compacted tempest. He understood the preacher. For the first time he heard something plain, tangible, and common sense on the subject of conversion, and well backed up with Scripture. He obeyed, and his soul was as tender as the [412] mourning-dove. Sleep left him, but "songs in the night" came to him. He learned the hymns, and his mouth was opened with a "new song."

      He said to Bro. Henry: "I have a brother David. I'll have him here next winter. You must come back and convert him." So spoke the earnest sailor. Henry made a promise, and he never forgot one, that a year hence he would return.

      Intervening, June, 1839, J. J. Moss and A. S. Hayden held a two days' meeting in the same store-room, resulting in nine conversions. The next February, at Bro. Henry's arrival, both the captains were at home. The younger one discovered in the teachings of the gifted preacher what had never been suggested or hinted in all the preaching to which he had listened; that in the gospel God has made known the way of salvation through faith, repentance and baptism, into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that this, his established order, is open to all men to the end of time. His soul was kindled as he saw the way so plain that "the wayfaring man could not err therein;" and he also turned to the Lord. Several others also were added.

      The yearly meetings this year, 1840, one of which was in this church, were marked with peculiar interest. Bro. Campbella says of them:

      "We attended the yearly meetings in Warren, and in Euclid, Ohio, held annually in the last week in August and the first week in September. Both meetings were well attended with public laborers. Present at Warren, were brethren C. Bosworth, J. Hartzel, J. Henry, S. Church, E. Williams, A. Allerton, M. S. Clapp, Dr. Robison, A. S. Hayden, S. Ryder, W. Collins, M. Martin, C. [413] McNeely, Z. Rudolph, H. Brockett, W. Beaumont, C. E. Vanvoorhis, Abijah Sturdevant and Dr. A. W. Campbell. Besides a number of these, there were at the Euclid meeting, Elder A. Bentley, W. Hayden, J. J. Moss, and others.

      ". . . . . From a number of detailed statements we concluded that the number of disciples on the Reserve has nearly, or altogether, doubled during the last year. The churches also are in the very best order; the laborers have been more industrious, more engaged, and, consequently, more successful during the present season. Bro. William Beaumont has immersed 75 in New Lisbon; Bro. Henry, 140 since the beginning of the year; Bro. Wesley Lanphear and J. H. Jones have baptized many; and, indeed, all the laborers have reason to bless the Lord and to renew their courage in the glorious work of saving men."

      There were 43 immersed at the meeting in Warren, and ten in Euclid. On Monday, Bro. Moss made a stirring appeal for greater liberality in support of the gospel, asserting strongly the need of a brother to be sent out among the churches to arouse them to this duty. William Hayden was his man. He offered to be one of four who would give him the sum of three hundred dollars for a year's labor to this end. "Who will be the other three?" Samuel Miller, late of Willoughby, was quick on his feet. "Who next?" Casper Hendershot, of Euclid. "Now the third?" holding firmly to his point. Bro. Webster, of Mentor, completed the quaternion, and William Hayden accepted the mission.

      There was a great ingathering here in October, 1842. A. S. Hayden began the meeting in the audience room of the meeting-house, which was yet unfinished. The work of conversion began with the [414] meeting. After several days, and the baptism of twenty-eight, the laborer dispatched a note to Bro. Robison, of Bedford, who was in his carriage in thirty minutes after receiving it, and in ninety minutes more was on the ground, a distance of twelve miles, ready for work. He remained five days. Forty souls were brought into the kingdom.

      In March, of 1847, Bro. Isaac Errett labored a week, gathering in twenty; and in 1851, the church was increased by the addition of twenty more by Calvin Smith and B. F. Perky. After this, W. A. Belding and J. H. Jones held very successful meetings at different times. The new meeting-house was erected in 1862-3.

      Elder Luther Dille, having served as bishop of the church over thirty years, with great efficiency and universal esteem, fell asleep, April 18, 1863, aged 79 years. The other churches closed their meetings at an earlier hour than usual, that the people might come and mourn together over a man whose Christian character won the respect of all who knew him. That day the church lost its first elder, who, in all his administration, had been a model of firmness, integrity, impartiality and philanthropy.


      The first discourse in this city, on the "ancient gospel" as plead by the disciples, was delivered by the pioneer, William Hayden. It occurred under the following circumstances: Coming to Armon O'Connor's, a new convert from Euclid, then living in Brooklyn, two miles west of the Cuyahoga River, Bro. O'Connor asked him to preach in the village, down [415] near the river. This was before even "Ohio City" was known or named. Hayden replied that he would do so, if an audience could be obtained at 10 o'clock on a certain Monday morning which he mentioned. O'Connor agreed to these terms. About 8 o'clock of the appointed morning, Bro. O'Connor started and canvassed the entire community, visiting every house. One hour and a half accomplished the patrol. Every family was invited, and nearly every one came. The preacher took up the subject of "election," much discussed those times, and in a full and vigorous argument he stated and replied to the leading proofs relied on in support of the foreordination of a select few to eternal life; and in contrast with this unscriptural hypothesis, he opened a free salvation through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The sermon was listened to with marked attention, as well for the boldness and novelty of the preacher's manner, as for the freshness and power of the scriptural views he presented. This was in October, 1833. The ground thus gained was never lost. He introduced Bro. Moss and Bro. Green, who astonished the people by their knowledge of the Bible and power in teaching it. Among the first converts were Mrs. Armon O'Connor, baptized by Bro. Moss; and W. B. Storer and his wife, who were baptized by Hayden at the yearly meeting in Richfield, September, 1834. Bro. Hayden preached in the old academy in Cleveland to full assemblies. Some of the converts recently gathered into the church are the fruits of those sermons delivered thirty years before.

      At the conclusion of the meeting held on Mr. Wightman's farm, in 1835, it was arranged for Mr. [416] Campbell to preach in the court-house on Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock. It was the old court-house which stood on the south-west corner of the public square. There were only two hours to circulate the word. No time for hand-bills. This appointment was at the solicitation of Thomas Hawley, an intelligent disciple, who not long before had moved from Shrewsbury, England, and was then a resident in Cleveland. At his suggestion, his son Joseph and Armon O'Connor went through all the principal streets, and in clear ringing tones announced in stores, shops, and private houses, that Alexander Campbell would preach in the court-house at 4 o'clock. These messengers were young and active. The whole city heard, and the court-room was overflowing before the hour arrived, all anxious to hear him.

      Sheriff Wightman's influence was great with the officials, and with the people, by whom he was much respected. Through him the court-house was opened several times for William Hayden, whose discourses were listened to by full audiences. His brother held a two days' meeting in it. Discourses were delivered thereby Moss, Williams, and Collins. These sermons, like the leaven in the meal, were doing their work. They opened the way for the harvest which ere long was reaped in the city. But it was in June, 1836, the greatest advance was made in Cleveland. On a trip to New England, Mr. Campbell stopped in the city and delivered some discourses in favor of the Bible. These sermons aroused the skeptics in the city, and Irad Kelley volunteered as the defender of infidelity. A few speeches and rejoinders were made, when Mr. Campbell urged the infidel junto, for it [417] appears they had no defined organization, to put forth their champion, as the discomfiture of any other would not be acknowledged by them as the overthrow of their cause. Skepticism in the city of Cleveland was then delivered into the hands of the intrepid Dr. Underhill, to make for it the best defense in his power. As court was to open the next day, the first Presbyterian church, of which the venerable Dr. Aiken was pastor, was freely granted for the continuance of the discussion.

      The conclusion of this debate of four days, which attracted the attention of the whole city, is thus declared by Mr. Campbell:b

      "After hearing some other reiterations from Taylor, and some explanations from Mr. Kelley, and some very flattering compliments from my friend Underhill, with the greatest urbanity and good nature we came to a close--I recapitulating the whole, and showing that now, after so long and so patient a session, we had heard these leaders of the skeptics of Cleveland display, if not all they had, certainly the best and the strongest allegations they had to offer. It could not be difficult to see the nakedness of the land of infidelity, the poverty of its soul; when such an assiduous cultivator as my opponent had raised so poor a crop after the toils of so many moons. We contrasted the bearings, the prospects, and the ultimate termination of the two hopes--that of immortality; and that of eternal sleep; the present pleasures of religion and the pains of skepticism; and after a word of friendly exhortation to my antagonists, I bade them adieu.

      "Thus, after enjoying, with many others, the very kind hospitalities of our benevolent brother Hawley and his amiable family for several days, and various demonstrations of respect and good will from all parties, we retired in the [418] evening of that day to our good but afflicted brother Wightman's, in the country; and, after spending a pleasant evening with himself and family, on the next morning we embarked on Lake Erie for the State of New York.

      "We had the pleasure," Mr. Campbell adds, "in the midst of our discussions, to be called to the river to hear the confession of six converts who were immersed into Christ by our brother Adamson Bentley."

      This, it is presumed, is the first instance of baptism by our brethren in the city of Cleveland. The occasion is memorable. The administrator was as venerable as a patriarch; and the converts were trophies of a signal victory achieved over the allied forces of infidelity in the city.

      The gentlemen who presided, at different times over this discussion, were Elder Bentley, Thomas Hawley, and Tolbert Fanning, of Nashville, Tenn., one of Mr. Campbell's companions in travel.

      It is eminently worthy of special attention, that all the participants in that scene are now dwellers among the countless tenants of the grave. Campbell, Bentley, Fanning, Hawley, Wightman; M. S. Clapp also, and William Hayden. Bro. Clapp made two speeches in the discussion, in consequence of Mr. Campbell's hoarseness. All these have wheeled into the ranks of that long procession of immortal spirits who are awaiting their crowns. Dr. Underhill sleeps. And now, within a few days, Irad Kelley, Esq., the lone survivor of that group of historic names, is brought from the seaboard where he died, to rest among his kindred dead.

      From that day the cause of infidelity withered. It was the blasting of the fruitless fig-tree. Long [419] afterward in a public assembly of the citizens, Rev. Mr. Aiken declared that to Mr. Campbell was to be credited the downfall of infidelity in the city of Cleveland. In this opinion he only expressed the concurring judgment of other intelligent citizens, some of whom, legal gentlemen of reputation, have so said to me.

      The cherished purpose of planting the ancient gospel in Cleveland seemed to be delayed by the death of Col. Wightman. This warm-hearted Christian was no less active than influential. On January 12, 1837, he fell asleep in good hope, after a long and painful illness. The removal of Bro. Hawley and family to Detroit, about this time, was also a blow to hope. It was not long, however, before a door of faith was opened, and in the following manner:

      Capt. J. G. Nickerson and his brother, having moved to Cleveland, they importuned Henry to come and preach in the city. This panoplied chieftain opened the siege Friday, the 11th of February, 1842. In three days the meeting was all ablaze. Great numbers were not able to gain admittance. The overpowering mastery of that matchless man held his audiences for an hour and a half to two hours as under a charm. Gentlemen, and sometimes ladies, stood during the sermon unconscious of the time. During the ten days of his meeting there were twenty-six conversions. Three others united, and on Lord's day, the 20th of February, 1842, the church was constituted and left under the general oversight of Dr. J. P. Robison and A. S. Hayden. D. P. Nickerson and Geo. B. Tibbitts were the elders. The next Lord's day, Robison preached and baptized six more. Bro. Jones, whose prowess scents the battle from afar, [420] was quickly on the ground, and made many accessions to the infant church. Soon after, the amiable and gifted Collins, with Robison, held a meeting which resulted in thirty conversions.

      On the 10th of December, 1843, the church removed to Apollo Hall, east side of the river. In this and in Empire Hall it met about two years--Dr. Robison and A. S. Hayden alternating in preaching; then, in 1846, the congregation re-established itself in Ohio City. Soon after this, Bro. L. Cooley, who had been an early member here, became their preacher. He was succeeded, in 1852, by Bro. Green, following whom, Bro. Cooley was again employed. In 1860, Bro. C. C. Foot became the pastor; then brethren B. A. Hinsdale, James Canon, and S. E. Shephard served the church successively; the present incumbent is Bro. A. Wilcox.


      This church originated as a branch of the church in Euclid. A number of the members residing at this place, known as Doane's Corners, prepared the way for a meeting the 4th of July, 1843. It was held under a tent, and was attended by brethren Hartzel, Clapp, Collins, Robison, Benjamin and A. S. Hayden. All assisted, but the chief preaching was by Hartzel. There were over thirty additions; among them was Dr. N. H. Finney, who afterward attained considerable eminence as a preacher, and who died in the faith a few years after. Thus encouraged and increased, the brethren at the "Corners" presented a petition to the church of Euclid, dated August 7, 1843, signed by seventeen names, asking to [421] be set off to form a separate church. The request being granted, the members met September 4th, at the dwelling of Col. Gardner, nominated their officers, and soon after entered on the exercise of their duties as a church of Jesus Christ.

      Their first officers were W. P. Hudson and Theodore Stafford. This band of disciples held their position with great perseverance, having to contend much of the time with sharp opposition. Besides the help which they received from the parent church, Bro. M. S. Clapp was procured for regular visits. Few churches had pastors, or elders, those days, who gave themselves wholly to the care of them. They had "meetings" by Bros. Green, Robison, J. H. Jones, and others. William Hayden was a chief dependence, both for preaching and counsel. Among the last discourses he delivered was to this church, which he loved, and the importance of whose position he fully appreciated, in view of the prospective increase of the city of Cleveland. After meeting for a time in the old stone school-house, the church erected a plain, commodious edifice, which continued to serve them till the erection of their present large and attractive house of worship. In this excellent building, which is a rich credit to the architect, as well as to the liberality and enlightened impulses of the brotherhood, and a monument to the generosity of Dr. W. S. Streator, the church entered on a new and wider career of usefulness. Bro. J. H. Jones was called to the charge of the church. After him Bro. C. C. Foot was their help. Bro. J. B. Johnston, from Illinois, was their minister for a year, greatly beloved. His declining health compelled his [422] resignation. The church has enjoyed the labors also of Isaac Errett and of Dr. L. L. Pinkerton. It is now widening its influence and enlarging its activities under the pastoral charge of Bro. Jabez Hall. [423]

      a Alexander Campbell. "Our Meetings in the Western Reserve." The Millennial Harbinger (October 1840): 478.
      b Alexander Campbell. "Notes on a Tour to the North-east--No. III." The Millennial Harbinger (September 1836): 418; "Notes on a Tour to the North-east--No. II." The Millennial Harbinger (August 1836): 341.


[EHD 408-423]

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A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)

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