EDUCATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS
Few of the early settlers of Clermont enjoyed any advantages of education other than a few months' attendance at an occasional "pay school," or the instructions at their own blazing hearth-fire by the parents or older inmates of the family. But these advantages had been so well improved that nearly all of them were able to read and write a legible hand, and had acquired sufficient knowledge of arithmetic for the transaction of ordinary business. They were, in general, men of strong and penetrating minds, and clearly perceiving the numerous benefits which education confers, they early directed their attention to the establishment of schools. Some of them were academically educated, more were thoroughly indoctrinated in stern mathematics, and there were many good practical surveyors, while but very few were really ignorant of the common rudiments and elementary branches. For many years there were obstacles, in addition to those incident to all new settlements, which impeded the progress of educational facilities, among which might be classed the defective titles of many settlers and the consequent troubles and privations attending them, and the war with Great Britain in 1812, which produced hard times, dangers of Indian troubles, and called a large force away from the productive industries.
In her legislative history Ohio has ever been distinguished for her zeal and success in the cause of popular education, and one of her organic laws was, "That schools and the means of instruction shall forever be encouraged by legislative provision;" and to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the diffusion of knowledge has been the great effort and constant aim of her legislation. In this Clermont played a conspicuous part through the labors of its two members of the first Constitutional Convention, Philip Gatch and James Sargent, and its senator, Judge Owen T. Fishback, and representatives, Dr. A.V. Hopkins and Gen. Thomas Gatch, who worked for and helped secure the great educational act of 1825, and its senator, Thomas Morris, and representatives, John Shaw and John Emery, who labored with their votes and voices for the still better laws of later days, which laid broad in the State the foundations of that magnificent system of common schools we enjoy, unequaled in perfect strength and solidity by that of any State in our Union.
This establishment of a system of common schools by taxation was the great end of the legislation of Ohio in respect to education, and was rightly regarded as indispensable to the well-being and liberties of the State. Our government is a beautiful machinery, made up, not of parts, but of the whole body of the people. It requires, therefore, not the aid of a few, but the aid of all to keep it in motion; and to do this every citizen must understand all its parts and all its movements. He must possess knowledge, virtue, intelligence, because, in the language of our own constitution, they are essentially necessary to good government and the happiness of the people. To provide means for the instruction of all is, then, a duty that devolves on those who are called to administer the government. This is not only necessary to the safety and correct administration of government, but for the happiness and welfare of the people. The advance of the female character, and the instruction and cultivation which woman receives, has always been justly viewed as evidence of the improved state of society where it exists, for knowledge is the handmaid of virtue, prudence, and economy, and where female virtue, knowledge, and intelligence abound man can never be degraded or enslaved. Let the young who read these pages be faithful to their duty in their day and generation in receiving instruction, for true education universally diffused will more securely protect their liberties than walls of adamant or temples of brass.
By compact between the United States and the State of Ohio, when the latter was admitted into the Union, in 1802, it was stipulated, for and in consideration, that the State of Ohio should never tax the Congress lands until after they had been sold five years, and in consideration that the said public lands would thereby more readily sell, that the one-thirty-sixth part of all the territory included within the limits of the State should be set apart for the support of common schools therein. And for the Virginia Military Tract (between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers, and including all of Clermont) Congress enacted that a quantity of land equal to the one-thirty-sixth part of the estimated quantity of land contained therein should be selected by lot in what was then called the "New Purchase," in quarter-township tracts of three miles square each.
Thus, while no land in Clermont (owing to its peculiar surveys) was set apart by the general government for school purposes, Clermont had lands in other parts of Ohio specially reserved for her equal to the one-thirty-sixth of her area, - in other words, she had eight thousand and fifty-five acres of land designated for her for school purposes only. The State leased the lands belonging to Clermont and the other counties on the Virginia Reservation for quite a term of years, then began selling them, a little at a time; but on Jan. 29, 1827, the largest part was still unsold, and the State acted as a kind of a guardian for these counties, pocketing all the rents and still holding the proceeds of what had been sold. Then the Legislature passed a law submitting to the voters in the various counties of the Virginia Military District a proposition to consent or dissent to the selling of their county's quota of the unsold school-lands in the "New Purchase." This vote was curiously taken by the county assessor when he made his rounds, enumerating the white male inhabitants over twenty-one years and listing their property (generally in part by deputies) in this way. The assessor kept a separate book in which one column was headed, "I am in favor of the sale of the Virginia Military school-lands," and another vice versa, and under these each voter had to write or cause to be written his name. Of course the affirmative carried; the people wanted schools and wanted their own school money, that had been tied up in these lands for twenty-odd years, with no equivalent rendered in educational facilities. By an act of Jan. 28, 1828, the lands were sold, and after paying the almost endless horde of land-registers, appraisers, surveyors, chain-carriers, mark-men, attorneys, clerks, and attaches generally, there was left as Clermont's part and proportion the snug sum of "seven thousand three hundred and twenty-seven dollars and seventy-two cents," which was the first fund of any magnitude the county had ever received, and the only one, save by its small taxation of a few previous years. What became of it will be shortly made known.
The first enactment in Ohio for the creation of common schools, and prior to which none existed (save the law of 1821, making the creation of districts optional with the voters, and making conditional taxation therefor), was the grand old act of Feb. 5, 1825, entitled "An act for the support and better regulation of common schools," whose first section provided for a permanent fund to be annually raised for the instruction of "youth of every class and grade, without distinction, in reading, writing, arithmetic, and other necessary branches of a common education;" that at their June meeting in 1826 and at every annual meeting thereafter, the county commissioners should levy and assess upon the ad valorem amount of its general list one-twentieth of one per centum, or one-half of a mill upon the dollar, to be appropriated for the use of the common schools; that the township trustees should lay off their township into one or more suitable school districts (their first creation), in manner most suitable and convenient to the population and different neighborhoods, paying due regard to any schoolhouse already erected or district already formed, and to any incorporated school company, and to schools in populous towns and villages. Then followed provisions for householders to meet and elect the directors, fix on a site for school-house, provide fuel, employ teachers; and that the Common Pleas Court appoint annually three suitable persons as school examiners, to serve for one year, to examine all applicants desiring to teach as to their qualifications and moral character; and no teacher to be employed without the certificate issued upon a proper examination. This was the first general school law, but a few districts and school-houses, independent and not supported by taxation, existed before, like oases in the desert, and were sweet retreats for the few happy neighborhoods whose prosperous condition and burning desire for the education of their youth had elevated them up above the average sentiment prevailing. No township could receive any of the money collected for school purposes unless its trustees had divided it into districts, as the law required, and which some, in their old-fogy notions, failed to do. By an amendment of Jan. 30, 1827, the Court of Common Pleas could appoint such number of suitable persons as it deemed expedient as school examiners, not exceeding the number of townships in the county, - that is, one for each.
On Feb. 10, 1829, a new enactment was passed, containing all the good features of the previous law and making new and stronger provisions for the educational cause, now on the broad path to a grand usefulness. The law of 1821 was wholly optional with the inhabitants of each township to have districts by a vote, and only ordered a slight taxation, conditional upon the whims of the people of these districts, if any were organized; but the statutes of 1825 and 1829 were mandatory and not dependent on the caprices of the school-district voters, who in many places had, under the first act, voted the whole project down.
The last law increased the school-tax from one-half to three-fourths of a mill on the dollar, and under certain restrictions authorized the householders to impose taxes, but not for the support of teachers, as they were paid from the other fund. The clerk of the court was empowered to appoint not less than five persons nor more than the number of organized townships to serve as examiners for the term of two years, by whom the qualifications of all parties wishing to be employed as teachers had to be tested. The school districts were made sovereignties in this, that by a vote they could purchase sites for school-houses, erect buildings or repair old ones, and impose taxes for the same and for labor and materials necessary.
The amendment of Feb. 22, 1830, and the new act of March 10, 1831, preserved all the essential parts of the law of 1829, but exempted from taxation the property of blacks and mulattoes, and made several important additions, strengthening and simplifying the system now in full blast and most generally indorsed by the people. An amendment of Dec. 23, 1831, for the first statute in Ohio made it lawful for women to teach the common schools, by allowing the school directors to employ females for instructing in spelling, reading, and writing only; and that only when the inhabitants of any district were desirous of having a lady teacher, and its directors had so signified in writing to the school examiners. This was the entering wedge for woman. She seized the opportunity, and gradually worked herself into not only the common and primary schools, but through, in successive gradations, all the academies, seminaries, and, at this day, many of the higher institutions of learning as a teacher. And partly to her zeal, efficiency, and refining influence is the success of the Ohio schools to be attributed, for in the school-room, in strict discipline and thoroughness of education, she has proved the equal of the sterner sex, and brought to her duties the beautifying halo of her sweet influence in divesting the system of many of the old relics of severity and roughness which characterized the old regime, which often injured the heart and delayed the expansion of the young mind. The acts of 1825 and 1829, with the amendments of 1831, continued substantially in force until after the adoption of the new constitution, in 1851, and by which organic instrument the system received new strength, and had its foundations laid for still grander triumphs.
The law of March 14, 1853, was the magnificent culmination of the "Ohio Idea," so to speak educationally, and made our State the first in the land in its strong and majestic free-school system. It was the work principally of Harvey Rice, senator of Cuyahoga County, and an old educator, living in Cleveland. It made the townships districts by themselves, and created sub-school districts, and removing all the rubbish of previous enactments, preserved the necessary parts of value, and made additions of incalculable importance. This law substantially, with the modifications and amendments of the statutes of May 1, 1873, and of June, 1879, is in force to-day, and is the pride and glory of the State, and under it over three-quarters of a million of the youth are receiving instruction, with special regulations and provisions for colored pupils and academical systems in all the towns and cities.
The whole quantity of land which, under the ordinance, Congress was bound to grant for the use of schools in Ohio was over seven hundred thousand acres, and the portion in money that was allotted to Clermont (as before stated) was $7327.72, and which was paid to the superintendent of common schools of Clermon County, agreeably to the provisions of "an act to create and establish a fund for the support of common schools in the county of Clermont," passed Jan. 5, 1829. The general act distributing the proceeds of the sale of the lands in the Virginia Reservation passed Feb. 11, 1829, and under its tedious provisions and technicalities the other counties were a year or two getting their respective amounts; but Thomas Morris, foreseeing the evident future delays, and to give Clermont a chance to get her school-money at once, originated a special act and got it passed thirty-eight days before the general law, and in it had himself created a special fund commission for Clermont County, and as such received the fund and brought it to this county. And thus, in advance by several years of the adjoining counties, was laid the foundation of a grand school fund, which has from that day to the present been continually increasing, and now amounts to about one-third of all the taxes, and is the part most gratefully and willingly paid.
The first school-tax ever put on the county duplicates was on those of the year 1827, and was five cents only on the $100. For the year ending June 2, 1829, the amounts paid out of the county treasury for school purposes was $621.83 to the organized school districts, and $639.92 to the superintendent of Clermont common schools, for distribution to the various districts. That year the school-tax was 7 ½ cents on the $100. By a notice published in 1831 we find the money due to each school district in Clermont, and those districts not set down had drawn their apportionment. The notice says that the $7000 - "county fund" - brought from Columbus by Thomas Morris (as before stated in this chapter), the superintendent, would be distributed in December, after the commissioners met (this notice being dated October 26th), as follows:
|Districts||What years||due Amount|
|No 1||1827, 1829, 1830||$76.04.1|
|No 5||1829, 1830||14.87.3|
|No 4||1829, 1830||24.92|
|No 6||1829, 1830||19.31.5|
|No 7||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||13.79.9|
|No 2||1829, 1830||17.68.3|
|No 4||1829, 1830||22.88.4|
|No 5||1829, 1830||24.44.4|
|No 7||1829, 1830||22.88.4|
|No 1 (fractional)||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||16.84.3|
|No 2 "||1829, 1830||6.24.2|
|No 2||1829, 1830||11.78|
|No 5||1826, 1827||7.91|
|No 8||1829, 1830||23.66|
|No 9 (balance)||1830||4.80.4|
|No 10||1829, 1830||14.27|
|No 11||1829, 1830||6.40.8|
|No 1||1829, 1830||$19.95.3|
|No 3||1829, 1830||25.20|
|No 4||1829, 1830||12.91.1|
|No 6||1829, 1830||14.62.3|
|No 8||1829, 1830||14.08.5|
|No 9 (balance)||1829, 1830||18.19.2|
|No 10||1829, 1830||15.85|
|No 3||1829, 1830||22.88.8|
|No 5||1829, 1830||14.10.9|
|No 6||1829, 1830||11.92.3|
|No 7||1829, 1830||10.31.2|
|No 1 (fractional)||1829, 1830||5.97.5|
|No 3 (fractional)||1826, 1827||3.27.2|
|No 1||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||$19.58.1|
|No 3||1829, 1830||16.07.1|
|No 8||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||19.66.9|
|No 10||1829, 1830||13.90.4|
|No 11||1829, 1830||11.78.7|
|No 1||1829, 1830||20.89.2|
|No 4||1829, 1830||13.21.2|
|No 7||1829, 1830||9.99.9|
|No 1||1829, 1830||$41.58.4|
|No 2||1829, 1830||21.44.3|
|No 3||1829, 1830||16.89.8|
|No 4||1829, 1830||24.69.1|
|No 6||1829, 1830||14.94.6|
|No 1||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||$9.95|
|No 2||1826, 1827||4.30|
|No 3||1829, 1830||11.14.2|
|No 7||1829, 1830||2.97.1|
|No 4||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||7.59.9|
|No 5||1829, 1830||5.48.8|
|No 1||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||$16.50.4|
|No 3||1829, 1830||15.09.6|
|No 5||1826, 1827, 1829, 1830||10.27.4|
|No 6||1829, 1830||12.34.8|
|No 7||1829, 1830||12.34.8|
|No 8||1829, 1830||10.97.6|
These small pittances were the first sums ever drawn by the school district treasurers from the county treasurers direct. All before paid under the laws of 1825-26-27, were paid (exceedingly small sums) by the county superintendent, Thomas Morris, direct to the various school district treasurers. The $700 county school fund was paid out in December, 1831, and from that time on the schools began to prosper. For the year ending June 4, 1833, there were paid out of the county treasury for school purposes, $3691.57, of which were collected from show licenses, $120; and $1058.49 were the proceeds of the Virginia Military School Fund apportioned by the State for 1831. The balance was made up by school tax carried on to the duplicates.
In 1840 there were two academies or grammar-schools in the county, with 78 pupils therein; 66 district schools, with 3289 scholars; and the number of persons who could not read or write were 557. In 1846 the number of districts were 128; fractional districts, 8; number of schools, 68; male teachers, 47; female teachers, 12; number of scholars in daily attendance, - boys, 672, and girls, 438; wages paid teachers from public funds, $3577; and from other sources, $1561; school tax from county duplicate, $5415.40; and school fund obtained from the State, $3136.01.
The grand old school law of 1853, and upon which the present law is substantially based, made a revolution in school affairs and gave the cause of education a splendid impetus, from which has arisen the "Ohio system," unequaled in the world. In 1854 the Clermont school taxes were $12,489.30; in 1862 its entire school expenditures, $38,988.39; and in 1869 they aggregated the enormous sum of $86,329.65; of which $21,193.34 were for sites, building, and repairs, $54,367.06 to teachers, and balance for contingent and other expenses.
The entire taxes levied for school purposes in 1879 were $59,752.70 There are 144 sub-school districts and 12 special districts, and the number of enrolled pupils for year 1878 were 11,328 white and 588 colored scholars. In all of the towns and most of the townships ample provisions have been made for colored schools, usually taught by intelligent teachers of that race. No county in Ohio excels Clermont in its elegant and substantial school structures, whose very low estimated valuation is put at $273,972; but they could hardly be replaced at double that sum, if we consider the many costly and stately school edifices in the towns and villages. Clermont has paid heavy and onerous taxes for its splended educational facilities, but she has never begrudged them, and to-day points with pride to her unsurpassed schools and unequaled teachers.
Under the law of 1825 provision was made for the appointment of three school examiners by the court, to serve for one year. The first selected were at the August term, 1826, - Andrew Foote, of Batavia township; Charles H. Vaughn, of Goshen township; and Benjamin Graves. The two former declining to serve, there were appointed in their place, at the October term, 1826, Dr. Josiah Lyman, of Batavia township; and at the expiration of their terms were chosen, October term, 1827, Dr. Thomas Boude, of Franklin township; George Palmer, of Monroe township. In place of Dr. L. A. Hendrick, of Miami township. In Hendrick's place, under the act of 1829 and on his resignation, the clerk of court appointed, April term, 1831, Samuel Medary, of Batavia township; April term, 1832, S. G. Meek, of Goshen township; August term, 1832, Josiah Gallup, of Franklin township. Under the law of 1833 there was appointed by court, November term, 1833, William Fee, Jr., Washington township; but who resigning, James Warren, of same township, at said term was chosen in his place. April term, 1834, Reuben Utter, Squire Franzee, of Washington township; Robert Porter, James T. Johnson, of Ohio township.
The law of March, 1836, called for each township to elect three school examiners, and on their refusal or failure to do so the court, on application of any two school directors in said derelict township, was ordered to appoint them; and in pursuance of said statute it chose, October term, 1836, William Doane, Peter C. Parker, and Levi Crane for Union; William Morrell, Ira Belts, and James H. Layman for Wayne; Samuel Ewing, John Williams, and William Roudebush for Stonelick; William Hartman, Isaac Hartman, and John Dickey for Jackson; William G. Gage, David Jones, and Eben S. Ricker for Ohio; and George S. Lee to fill the place in Batavia of Thomas L. Shields, resigned.
The act of March 7, 1838, provided for three county examiners to be appointed by the Common Pleas Court and serve for a term of three years, and the following were the examiners under it and until after the adoption of the new constitution, in 1851:
June term, 1838, Joshua Dial, Batavia township; William Roudebush, Stonelick township; Dr. James T. Johnson, Ohio township.
1840 (in place of Dr. Johnson), Dr. S. Y. Thornton, Batavia township.
May term, 1841 (in place of Dr. Thornton), John Hill, Stonelick township.
August term, 1841, William Howard, Joshua Dial, Batavia township.
April term, 1842, Samuel Martin.
October term, 1844, William Howard, T. L. Shields, Batavia township; John Hill, Stonelick township.
July term, 1847, George L. Swing, Batavia township; Edward F. W. Ellis, Franklin township; James S. Kemper.
July term, 1850, George L. Swing, Batavia township. There were others (some three or four), but the records of court fail to show their names. Under the new law of 1853 and since, the following are the names of the examiners, with the dates of their appointment:
- April 13, 1853, G. L. Swing, N. M. Preble, Batavia township; H. V. Kerr, Williamsburgh township.
- March 20, 1854, J. K. Parker, Clermontville.
- July 28, 1854, J. M. McGrew, Amelia.
- Feb. 1, 1855, J. A. Sloane, Batavia township.
- Feb. 13, 1855, William Carter, Felicity.
- July 8, 1856, G. W. Halick, Batavia Township.
- Feb. 28, 1857, William Carter, Felicity.
- March 26, 1857, D. W. Stevens, Milford.
- Aug. 10, 1858, J. K. Parker, Clermontville.
- March 26, 1859, G. W. Felter, Batavia township.
- June 17, 1859, John Ferguson, Amelia.
- Aug. 20, 1860, John D. Hovey, Edenton.
- March 28, 1862, H. V. Kerr, Batavia township.
- Aug. 29, 1862, J. D. Hovey, Edenton.
- Nov. 30, 1863, G. W. Felter, Batavia township.
- April 18, 1864, J. C. Morris, Batavia township.
- Oct. 17, 1864, George H. Hill, Goshen township.
- Dec. 22, 1865, Frank Browning, Batavia township.
- Dec. 3, 1867, George H. Hill, Goshen township.
- Jan. 26, 1867, J. C. Morris, Bethel.
- Dec. 22, 1867, G. W. Felter, Batavia township.
- Oct. 30, 1868, J. H. Laycock, Felicity.
- Jan. 29, 1869, William Nichols, Batavia township.
- Dec. 24, 1869, G. W. Felter, Batavia township.
- June 7, 1870, C. J. Harrison, Boston.
- Nov. 25, 1871, W. B. Applegate, Batavia township.
- July 20, 1872, G. W. Felter, New Richmond
- Aug. 8, 1872, C. J. Harrison, Boston.
- Dec. 6, 1873, W. B. Applegate, Batavia township.
- July 21, 1874, C. M. Riggs, Williamsburgh township; W. H. Ulrey, Felicity; W. B. Applegate, Batavia township.
- July 21, 1875, C. M. Riggs, Williamsburgh township.
- Dec. 16, 1876, W. H. Ulrey, Felicity; J. G. Moorehead, New Richmond.
- July 17, 1878, C. M. Riggs, Williamsburgh township.
- July 21, 1879, W. H. Ulrey, Felicity.
- Dec. 22, 1879, J. G. Moorehead, New Richmond.
The examiners meet the first Saturday in every month at Batavia and hold a special session. At the teachers' institute at times of its annual session they meet, and have raised the standard in Clermont to the highest degree consistent with the law.
Under the last law certificates can be granted for a period not exceeding thirty-six months, and for the shortest time six months is the limit. Each teacher, on receipt of a certificate, is entitled to teach wherever in the county he may be employed, but without the required certificate can draw no wages. Under the old regime teachers who were practically failures in the school-rooms were just as liable, if they possessed the required scholastic knowledge, to secure certificates as those who had established high claims for excellence in the teacher's calling, as the examinations were almost wholly confined to more scholastic matters; and the singularly technical and the memoriter character of the questions usually proposed could generally be answered or solved by persons who had no idea of the real work and duties of the profession. But of late the standard of qualifications has been elevated, more inquiry has been instituted as to the general culture of the applicant, and sharper scrutiny into the maturity of his thought, his moral and mental force, and into his methods of teaching.
THE CLERMONT TEACHERS' INSTITUTE.
In the autumn of 1848 the teachers of Clermont took the initiatory proceedings towards the formation of a county institute, and the first meeting for that purpose was held at Amelia. The venerable Dr. Andrew V. Hopkins, - a good pedgogue in his younger days, - always ready to aid any good enterprise, opened his doors and generously placed his office, his parlor, and his cupboard at the command of those present. Among those assembled to assist in the grand projected educational movement was Professor J. K. Parker, whose whole soul was enlisted in the cause of education, with his timely suggestions, his matter-of fact propositions, and his deep, earnest effort to do something for the elevation of man, - gentle as the lisping child, mild as a May morning, the very soul of affability and intercourse, yet firm as his own native mount, he was in himself a host in the cause; and John Hancock, the teacher of Ohio, with his sparkling wit, his spicy criticisms, his endless store of anecdotes, his matchless powers of elucidation, his thorough knowledge of mathematics, his disposition to cultivate the sunny side of human nature and make himself useful in the world, always secured him a hearty welcome.
Then there was Henry V. Kerr, prompt, positive, and energetic, with his nice sense of propriety and decorum, smoothing down all rough propositions and moulding them into systematic order, taking crude suggestions and shaping them into a grand and beautiful fabric, bringing order out of chaos, and making easy the rugged path of science. And there, too, was John Ferguson, with his calm deliberation, his cool, philosophical investigation, his unyielding devotion to truth, and his untiring zeal in tracing the laws of nature, his uncompromising hostility to everything superficial, and his most earnest labors for practical knowledge. There, also, was Ira McCollum, patient and persuasive, and who nobly gave his life to the sacred cause and died in the harness, battling to the very last in the glorious cause of human improvement. Likewise present was J. C. Morris, genial and true, who never dreamed for a moment that there was any possibility of the institute ever becoming a failure. There stood L. French, a gentleman by birth and a student by nature, an ornament to his profession, and a faithful laborer in the field of mental progress. But there was another man present, - a poet, a scholar, and a soldier, - whose heart and mind, whose brain and eye made him the centre of the gathering, but who now sleeps in a happier world; yet to his loving memory, his many happy reminiscences left behind, his intellect never surpassed by a native Clermonter, and his general characteristics that made him a leader in all humanitarian movements, the historian would not do justice did he omit the name of Charles Robb, the impress and imprint of whose good and great labors for education, society, and state through the school-room, press, battle-field, and other walks of life is grandly stamped on the brightest pages of Clermont's history. The ladies, too, ever present and foremost in every good work, were there to shed their sweet smiles on the auspicious opening of the movement, and to give their radian countenance to the undertaking that in the not distant future would prove of such inestimable value to the progress and growth of the country. Among them were Mrs. Sarah P. B. Parker, Miss C. L. Dudley, Miss M. E. Bannister, and Miss Fairfield. There were, also, on hand C. W. Page, Harris Smethurst, and G. P. Jenkins, gentlemen who labored zealously for the love they bore the cause. This was the first meeting that led to the organization of the institute session at Amelia on Dec. 26, 1848, and four distinguished educators of Cincinnati promised to conduct the exercises. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: President, Dr. A. V. Hopkins; Vice-Presidents, J. K. Parker, John Hancock, Joseph Tritt; Secretary, Charles Robb; Treasurer, R. A. Hopkins. The enterprise seems to have lagged, for a convention was held on Nov. 3, 1849, at Bantam, and J. K. Parker, L. French, and H. V. Kerr were appointed a committee to draft a constitution for a teachers' institute, which they reported and it was adopted. The institute met Dec. 1, 1849, with the following officers: President, C. W. Page; Vice-Presidents, J. K. Parker, L. French; Secretary, John Hancock; Treasurer, G. P. Jenkins; Librarian, Dr. A. V. Hopkins.
On April 10, 1850, the first regular session of the institute was held at Bantam, with the officers given above (elected Dec. 1, 1849). Its recitations were conducted by J. K. Parker, John Ferguson, C. W. Page, John Hancock, G. P. Jenkins, H. V. Kerr, Charles Robb, and others. Conscious of the magnitude of the work before them and the difficulties to be encountered, the managers called, in that and subsequent years, to their aid the first talent of the West, - men whose very lives had been guide-boards on the highway to moral and intellectual eminence. Samuel Lewis, of Cincinnati, with his vast store of practical knowledge, kindly came to their assistance; and among the other invited instructors were Professor Ray, of the Woodward High School; Dr. Asa D. Lord, of Columbus; the venerable Dr. John Locke, of Cincinnati; Professor Knowlton, Hon. Hiram H. Barney, E. D. Babbitt, Professors Hurty, Rainey, and others. Lectures were delivered by L. A. Hine, Drs. T. W. Gordon, A. Robb, D. Barber, and Cristine, Professors A. J. Rickoff, C. H. Raymond, E. W. Longley, D. W. C. Loudon, E. C. Ellis, and other men able and noted in various professions. When the teachers failed in procuring a speaker they fell back upon their own resources, selecting some versatile member of the institute, who led them to a glorious intellectual feast.
The second regular semi-annual session was held at Bantam, commencing Monday, Oct. 7, 1850, and nine recitations of forty minutes each were daily had. Monday evening was spent in the discussion of an educational question. Tuesday evening Hon. Samuel Lewis delivered an able and eloquent address. Wednesday forenoon Dr. Ray lectured on Arithmetic, in the afternoon on Algebra, and in the evening on Physiology. Thursday evening there was a splendid address by Charles Robb on Physical Education, and Friday evening Mrs. Sarah P. B. Parker read a highly interesting essay on the Advantages of Teaching Music in the Common Schools.
The institute now began holding two sessions a year, - in the spring and fall, - the officers being elected at the latter for the whole year. The following officers were elected: President, H. V. Kerr; Vice-Presidents, John Ferguson, William Carter; Secretary, John Hancock; Treasurer, James K. Parker; Librarian, G. P. Jenkins. The programme was filled for next session by electing for Reading, Mrs. S. P. B. Parker; Arithmetic, Harris Smethurst; Grammar, Miss C. L. Dudley; Algebra, John Hancock; Chemistry, J. K. Parker; Philosophy, John Ferguson; Physiology, Noble M. Preble; Astronomy, William Carter.
April 14, 1851, the third semi-annual session covened at Bantam, and the first evening was spent in a discussion of the merits of the new school law, and the subsequent evenings of the week to lectures, discussions, and entertainments. Charles M. Smith, county auditor, made an excellent address on the progress and condition of education in the county, and Dr. D. Barber delivered a lecture on physiology. At the October meeting of 1851 essays were read (in addition to the many other intellectual and educational treats) by J. K. Parker, F. Walker, Miss C. L. Dudley, Miss M. E. Bannister, Mrs. S. P. B. Parker, J. C. Morris, John Ferguson, and Ira McCollum.
In 1852, John Ferguson was president and Harris Smethurst secretary. The second session of this year, the sixth since its organization, was held at Bantam, and among the teachers occur the names of H. Lockwood, H. Hancock, J. B. Bellville, A. Page, Dr. Small, George L. Swing, C. N. Browning, Miss Foster, E. A. Parker, E. Martin, B. J. Long, and William Ricker, who have not been heretofore mentioned, but who took very conspicuous parts in its varied exercises.
1853. - Officers: President, J. K. Parker; Vice-Presidents, William Carter, J. C. Morris; Secretary, John Ferguson; Librarian, Ira McCollum. Spring session held at Bantam, beginning April 11th, at which appeared as visitors a large delegation of Brown County teachers to listen to the lecture of A. D. Filmore, on Importance of Vocal Music; that of T. C. Bowles, on Duties of Teachers; Rev. J. Denham, on Zoology; and Dr. John Lock, on Agricultural Chemistry. The fall session convened at Bantam, October 3d. Lorin Andrews (colonel of the Fourth Ohio Regiment Infantry during the Rebellion) delivered several able addresses, and being considered the ablest educator in Ohio, his suggestions imparted new strength and a higher tone to its exercises. Among the teachers not before announced by name there were present as instructors: G. B. Nichols, Dr. Porter, Lowell H. Smith, Miss Mellie F. Stone, Miss A. Hitch, Miss M. Page, Miss L. Williamson, Miss E. Archard, and J. H. Smith. Henry Childs, of Cleveland, made a speech on the Condition of Schools in Northern Ohio.
1854. - President, William Carter; Vice-President, W. W. Ricker; Treasurer, C. N. Browning; Secretary, B. J. Long; Librarian, Ira McCollum. The spring session assembled at Bethel, April 10th, and the following names of teachers as instructors first appear: Orville Burke, Payton Smith, Miss Eliza Bettle, Miss C. T. Quinlan, Miss Jane Morton, Miss Caroline Thompson, Miss Perin, E. G. Martin. The lecturers were Dr. Asa D. Lord and H. H. Barney, State school commissioner. The fall term also met at Bethel, on October 2d. Professors A. J. Rickoff and Knowlton were the lecturers, and on Geology Dr. S. S. Scoville read a very interesting paper. The names of R. C. Patterson, P. Kidd, Miss Sarah A. Dobbin, Miss H. M. Medary, as new members, are noticed.
1855. - Officers: President, J. K. Parker; Vice-President, R. C. Patterson; Secretary, George B. Nichols; Treasurer, L. H. Smith; Librarian, J. C. Morris. The spring term began in New Richmond, and lasted five days. Lecturers, Drs. Christin and E. D. Babbitt, of Cincinnati. New members prominently officiating, J. A. Sloane, M. H. Fitch, J. W. Mahan, Miss H. Blanchard. L. B. Leeds, of the Sun, and J. R. S. Bond, of the Courier, were elected honorary members. Fall session met at Batavia, on 3d of October. The lecturers were Professors Parsons and Vaughn (the latter the eminent astronomer of Cincinnati, but now deceased), and Rev. A. A. Livermore. The following are members whose names have not been before given: G. W. Hulick, C. P. Dennis, G. H. Hill, Zadok Miller, J. W. Delaplane, C. W. Rogers, J. P. Widmyer, Robert Johnson, Miss E. Harvey, Miss J. Curry, Mrs. A. H. Ferguson, Miss M. E. Taylor, Miss E. B. Hulick, A. H. Earhart, J. S. McClave, S. S. Orwin, J. B. Rapp, J. R. Long, W. O. Hopkins, S. O. Mount, A. McKee, J. H. Mount, Cyrus Gaskins, Asher Goslin, W. P. Wolf, Miss Carrie Browning, Miss J. Davis, Miss E. A. Keyt, Miss C. Wiseman, and Miss A. L. Hitch.
1856. - Officers: President, J. A. Sloane; Vice-President, T. Miller; Secretary, George B. Nichols; Treasurer, George W. Hulick; Librarian, R. C. Patterson. Spring term met in Batavia, April 14th, and lectures were delivered by State School Commissioner H. H. Barney, Dr. Allen, and Thomas Q. Ashburn. The fall term began in Felicity, September 29th, and continued six days. Lectures were delivered by Rev. Anson Smyth, editor of Ohio Journal of Education, and J. W. Andrews, President of Marietta College, Rev. J. S. Campbell, and Mr. C. S. Royce. The names of the following new teachers appear: Frank Browning, O. S. Frambes, S. A. Fitch, Z. W. Fagin, Miss E. Hadley, Miss Virginia Clarke, Miss Georgia Harvey.
1857. - Officers: President, George B. Nichols; Vice-President, J. W. Mahan; Secretary, Frank Browning; Treasurer, J. C. Morris; Librarian, G. W. Hulick. The spring term assembled at Felicity the last Monday in March, and the fall session at Goshen, on October 5th. Lectures were delivered by L. D. Manning, on American National Literature, and by John Hancock and J. W. Foster on various topics; and addresses were made by Judge George L. Swing and Rev. G. P. Riley. Of the new teachers for first time taking part as instructors there were Miss Applegate, Mrs. S. A. Morris, L. D. Manning, Messrs. Teetor, Flinn, Goodell, and G. P. Riley.
1858. - Officers: President, Frank Browning; Vice-Presidents, D. W. Stevens, William Carter; Secretary, Geo. H. Hill; Treasurer, J. C. Morris; Librarian, G. W. Halick. The spring term met at Batavia, March 29th. Lectures were delivered by Professors John Ogden, of Columbus, and J. C. Zachos, of Cincinnati, and addresses by Rev. J. C. Maddy, Rev. Luther Fee, and Rev. W. G. W. Lewis. Of the new teachers taking conspicuous parts there were: Miss S. E. Flinn, William Nichols, E. A. Baker, M. A. Leeds, Samuel Belts, William T. Cramer, L. Miller, J. Dunlap, P. Behymer, N. G. Buff, George Rogers, E. T. Ware, Orin Temple, W. H. Mead, H. B. Tector, and Mrs. E. B. H. Needham. Resolutions were passed that the educational interests of the county demanded the establishment of a Normal Institute in the county; also a model school in connection with the institute for the education of teachers in the practice of teaching; and J. C. Morris, J. W. Mahan, William Carter, George H. Hill, and G. W. Hulick were appointed as five trustees, to have supervision of the same, make the necessary arrangements for procuring a principal, teachers, and all matters pertaining to its success. Prof. John Ogden was made president of said Normal school, which had a four weeks' session in Batavia, beginning on the first Monday in August, and another like session in the summer of 1859, when the project terminated. The fall session convened at Williamsburgh, at which time the library numbered one hundred and twenty-seven volumes.
1859. - Officers: President, Frank Browning; Secretary, George H. Hill. The fall session met at Williamsburgh on March 28th, and continued five days. The following was the programme: Reading, J. A. Sloane; Elocution, Charles S. Royce; Arithmetic, H. Smethurst; English Grammar, William Carter; Geography, Miss Victoria Moore; Lecture on Physical Geography, John Ferguson; Astronomy, William Carter; Algebra, George H. Hill; Music, W. F. Stein. Rev. Cartelyon, of Williamsburgh, Rev. W. G. W. Lewis, of Batavia, and Prof. Royce, of Lebanon State Normal School, lectured. Essays were read by L. D. Manning, E. A. Parker, William McHenry, G. P. Riley, Miss Victoria M. Moore, Martha J. Simmons, Miss Mellie Stone, Miss Caroline Armstrong, and Miss Martha Sutton. The days were devoted to the various recitations, interspersed with music, general exercises, and the transaction of necessary business, and the evenings to lectures, addresses, and concerts.
For the years 1860-64 the names of the officers are not found, owing to the record book of the institute for that period having been lost, and being the years of hot Presidential elections and of the rebellion that followed, the files of the newspapers were full of politics and of war, and failed to notice regularly the institute's proceedings. It held its annual sessions regularly, however (its meetings having been changed from semi-annual to annual), and though the Clermont teachers contributed more than their complement to fill the quotas for volunteers, the educational spirit of progress and development was borne aloft and to still greater heights and success than before. It held its session of 1864 at New Richmond on August 1st, and continued some ten days. In 1865 it assembled at Batavia, and had lectures and instructions by Professors Kidd and O. N. Stoddard, of Miami University.
In 1866 the officers were: President, George W. Felter; Vice-President, John H. Laycock; Secretary, Z. W. Fagin; Corresponding Secretary, J. C. Morris; Treasurer, Miss Carrie Browning; and Librarian, Z. F. Riley.
1867. - President, John H. Laycock; Secretary, Randolph S. Swing; and Treasurer, J. C. Morris.
1868. - President, J. C. Morris; Vice-President, G. W. Felter; Secretary, F. M. Robinson; Treasurer, W. O. Hopkins; Librarian, O. H. Hadley. Meeting held in courthouse.
1869. - President, J. C. Morris; Vice-President, M. A. Leeds; Secretary, Marcellus A. Wood; Treasurer, W. B. Applegate. Session at Batavia.
1870. - President, J. K. Parker; Vice-President, R. S. Swing; Secretary, F. C. Harvey; Treasurer, W. E. Shaw. Met at New Richmond, July 25th. Lectures and addresses by Professor O. W. Stoddard, Rev. E. R. Hera, W. D. Henkle, the efficient State school commissioner, Professor De Wolf, Dr. Talbott, and John Hancock, superintendent of the Cincinnati schools. Seventy teachers present first day, and term lasted fifteen days.
1871. - President, J. C. Morris; Vice-President, George H. Hill; Secretary, George W. Felter; Treasurer, J. D. Collins. The twenty-second annual session convened at New Richmond, July 24th. Lectures and addresses by Professors Thomas W. Harvey, John Hancock, Rev. J. H. Lockwood. Professor Edward Orton, State Geologist, Professors Kidd and Venable, and Dr. Johnson, President of Miami Valley Teachers' Association. Fourteen days' term.
1872. - President, G. W. Felter; Vice-President, F. C. Harvey; Secretary, G. W. Irwin; Treasurer, George H. Hill. Met July 29th, at New Richmond. Lectures and addresses by Professors Mendenhall, Hall, R. W. Stevenson, Venable, and Rev. Ketchum.
1873. - President, G. W. Felter; Vice-President, John S. Parrott; Secretary, T. D. Scott; Treasurer, George H. Hill. Met at Felicity, July 28th, when W. B. Applegate was elected secretary, vice T. D. Scott, resigned. Addresses and lectures by Professors John Hancock, J. H. Laycock, W. Watkins, Revs. Weeks and Harris.
1874. - President, J. K. Parker; Vice-President, W. O. Hopkins; Secretary, W. H. Ulrey; Treasurer, W. B. Applegate. Convened at Felicity, August 10th. Lectures and addresses by Dr. McClung, of Sardinia; Professor Curran, of Cincinnati; John Akels, J. K. Parker, and others.
1875. - President, William H. Straight; Vice-President, J. G. Moorehead; Secretary, H. J. Buntin; Treasurer, W. H. Ulrey. Assembled August 9th, at Felicity. Instructions by Professor John Ogden, Professor J. R. Conner, Rev. S. S. Newhouse, J. S. Parrot, and G. W. Felter, with others from abroad.
1876. - President, W. H. Ulrey; Vice-President, C. M. Riggs; Secretary, J. G. Moorehead; Treasurer, G. W. Felter. Met August 7th, at Williamsburgh. Lectures and addresses by S. D. Shepherd, of Newport, Ky.; Rev. J. B. Smith, of Farmers' College; Professors John Ogden, L. A. Knight, of Madisonville; John Hancock, and J. C. Morris.
1877. - President, Carter M. Riggs; Vice-President, J. G. Moorehead; Secretary, W. R. Page; Treasurer, W. H. Straight. Convened July 30th, at Williamsburgh. Instructions and lectures by Professor Watkins, of Dayton, State School Commissioner Charles S. Smart, Professor George H. Hill, L. D. Manning, Barwell Britton, William Reeder, and others.
1878. - President, George W. Felter; Vice-President, J. G. Moorehead; Secretary, A. B. Jones; Treasurer, C. M. Riggs. Assembled at Bethel, July 29th. Addresses, lectures, and instructions by Professors Watkins, of Dayton High School; Rev. David Swing, of Chicago; Professor Byron Williams, of Williamsburgh; Revs. A. D. Maddox and E. A. Lockwood, of Bethel; Professor L. A. Knight of Madisonville; and Professor Thaddeus Reamy, of Ohio Medical College. One hundred and fifty teachers were present. The following persons and teachers were awarded diplomas for scholarship, having received, on the standard of one hundred the percentage opposite their respective names: Mollie E. Blythe, 96; Anna Halse, 94 ½; Nellie Titus, 94; W. P. Marsh, 95; C. F. Malsbury, 92 ½; E. S. Gatch, 92 ½; D. S. Thompson, 92 ½; A. M. Altman, 92 ½; R. A. Boys, 92; Georgia Page, 92; Cita Beck, 92; Viola E. Johnson, 91; Florence Donaldson, 91; and Laura A. Rice, 90 ½.
1879. - President, J. G. Moorehead; Vice-President, T. M. Idea; Secretary, A. M. West; Treasurer, W. H. Ulrey. Assembled at Bethel, July 29th. Addresses, lectures, and instructions by Professors J. C. Morris, J. C. Kinney, W. D. Gibson, Watkins, Zeinz, McVay and other able educators. At this session the constitution was revised, as a means of strengthening the institute, and for the improvement of the profession of teaching.
1880. - President, W. D. Gibson; Vice-President, A. M. West; Secretary, E. A. Lockwood; Treasurer, T. M. Idea. Assembled the last Monday of July, in Milford, in thirty-first regular annual session, with an unusually large attendance.
No institute in Ohio equals that of Clermont in the interest taken by teachers, or in the thoroughness of its instructions or ability of its teachers, and it occupies a proud position in the State for its deserved success and enviable distinction.
Perhaps no greater eacomium was ever deserved in the literary world than that passed upon Goldsmith by Dr. Johnson, "He touched nothing that he did not adorn"; and the teachers of Clermont are not only becoming desirous of such worthy and well-known renown, but are achieving it by their eminent abilities and painstaking, steady application. They are seeking for certificates of higher grade, and sparing neither time nor expense to win laurels, and at the same time make themselves useful citizens of society and ornaments to the progressive age in which they live. The institute has done much to improve the teachers and schools of the county, and has ever exerted a wholesome influence upon the educational spirit of the people. When we reflect that the institute is almost the sole means of reaching the mass of the teachers, the importance and benefit of its annual session is easily seen; and its instructions being sound, pervasive, and practical, and giving all possible instruction in the branches as a substratam for a discussion of methods, its radiating and happy influences for good and awakening annually a new and better feeling for scholastic advancement are plainly visible.
This institution is located in the village of Clermontville, Monroe township, Ohio, near the Ohio River, twenty miles above Cincinnati, and accessible by good turnpike-roads and by the river.
The school building is situated in the pleasant valley of Boat Run, less than one-fourth of a mile from the steamboat landing, but the boarding-house and residence of the principal is upon a gentle eminence, commanding a delightful view of the river and surrounding hills and valleys.
The school was originated in the year 1839, by Rev. Daniel Parker and his wife, to be conducted by their eldest son, James K. Parker, and chiefly designed to educate their other five sons and youngest daughter. Other pupils, however, were admitted, and very soon the number of them was largely increased.
For several years the school was accommodated in a single room, 20 by 40 feet in size, but increasing patronage in time demanded more room and better facilities, and rendered a permanent establishment desirable and practicable. The building has been twice enlarged, and auxiliary buildings have been from time to time erected, until now there are three school-rooms, eleven rooms for self-boarding, and a commodious boarding-house of twenty-two rooms, conducted by the principal.
In the years 1866-67 an effort was made to erect a larger and more commodious school building, but the financial pressure which ensued arrested the work, and it has not yet been resumed. The hope is still entertained that at some time in the near future the desired object may be attained, and the institution placed upon a more permanent basis. To this end an incorporation has been effected under the general law of Ohio, and the present proprietor, the principal, who, assisted by his wife, son, and daughters, with occasionally other teachers, has conducted the school for more than forty years, proposes to put it, with its present facilities, into the hands of a board of trustees so soon as larger grounds can be secured, and such other measures adopted as shall justify a reasonable expectation of success.
It is confidently believed that the wants of our growing community demand a school of higher learning than the public schools can afford. Moreover, there is need of first-class academics in all sections of the State, as feeders to our colleges, and but few localities are more desirable or convenient for such an institution than the site selected for the new academy building.
The patronage for the first fifteen or twenty years varied from twenty to sixty students; in later years, from fifty to eighty, in the general way, but at one time, after the close of the war of Rebellion, the register numbered as high as one hundred and three in attendance.
The patrons of the school have been of all grades and classes of society, from the poor to the wealthy; from the rude to the refined. By far the larger part, however, are what may be called the middle class, those engaged in the various industries of life, - the "bone and sinew" of our country; hence their sons and daughters have been earnest, orderly, and diligent students, giving tone and character to the institution. The exceptions have constituted a very small percentage of the whole.
One peculiar feature of this school which perhaps ought not to be overlooked in this historical sketch is that it was begun, and has continued to stand, upon the basis of "no respect of persons." Colored pupils have always been admitted to its privileges on equal terms with the white. This feature being, in the former years especially, a rare one, and obnoxious to many in Southern Ohio, along the border between slavery and freedom, where prejudice against color prevailed largely, it was for many years a cause of unpopularity and even odium; but an unswerving adherence to the principle, for conscience' sake, has in a very large measure overcome the prejudice, and established for the school a solid reputation.
A regular and liberal course of academic studies, occupying four years, was adopted some eighteen years ago, and has since been twice revised and enlarged. Nine young gentlemen and six young ladies have pursued the whole course and taken diplomas: four of these have also graduated from higher institutions of learning, two attaining the degree of A. M. A large number of undergraduate students of both sexes have also entered various colleges in Ohio and other States, and graduated with honor. In several instances students have come back from those colleges, after a term or two, to prosecute their studies under their old preceptor in the academy.
The following institutions have registered students who have pursued, either wholly or in part, their preparatory studies in Clermont Academy: Dennison University, Marietta College, Wooster University, Antioch College, Oberlin College, Delaware College, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, Kenyon College, Farmers' College, Lebanon Normal School, Ohio; Georgetown College, Berea College, Kentucky; South Hanover College, Butler University, Indiana; Michigan State University, Michigan; Cornell University, New York; Newton Centre Theological Seminary, Massachusetts; Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey; besides several schools of law and of medicine and commercial colleges.
A large portion of these had their desires for a higher course of scholastic training awakened in the academy, and there received their first impulses in that direction.
Among those who have gone out from this unostentatious school may be numbered, so far as known, thirteen ministers of the gospel, twenty-three physicians, surgeons, and dentists, thirty-five lawyers, eleven county officers, seven legislators, seven professors, three judges, two government officials at Washington (one of them for a time private secretary to President Hayes), eight editors, five civil engineers, and one professional chemist, besides hundreds of teachers, and a large number of merchants, druggists, news correspondents, musicians, artists, and hosts of intelligent farmers and artisans, and army officers not a few.
It has always been the constant aim of the principal and his subordinate teachers to secure in their pupils thorough scholarship, rather than to make a display. Earnest attention has also been always given to moral and religious instruction as of paramount importance. Bible study and devotional exercises are made a part of the daily programme, under the conviction that the highest and purest morality has its foundation in the Christian religion.
The principal and his family are members of the Baptist Church, and the new academy is to be put in charge of trustees belonging to that denomination; but the articles of incorporation expressly provide that the privileges of the school shall be forever accessible to all, without distinction of sex, age, sect, or race.
Among the facilities afforded may be mentioned a good library, a reading-room, a cabinet of natural specimens, maps, charts, globes, chemical and philosophical apparatus, and, last but not least, a flourishing literary society, entitled Clermont Lyceum, as old as the academy itself. In this are studied and practiced the arts of composition, declamation, debate, public reading, criticism, editorship, parliamentary rules, and the various duties of a full corps of officers needed in any organization or any deliberative assembly.
Many interesting and significant facts and incidents might be related in connection with the history of this only permanent high school in the county, but it would extend this article to too great length. One fact, perhaps, ought not to be omitted, and that is, the young ladies who have been educated in this school have, on the average, maintained a standing in their classes fully equal to that of the young men, - in many instances above, - while their moral grade has been decidedly higher.
Although we have in the United States no religious establishment, we certainly have an established religion, and that religion is Christianity. The existence of Christianity, and its binding force as the religion of the land, is recognized by the constitutions and the laws of nearly or quite all the States in the Union; and they all recognize the Old and New Testaments of Scripture as containing the doctrines and precepts of this religion. But here they stop. They do not attempt to define the doctrines which these Scriptures inculcate, or to give preference to any one of the various sects into which Christians are divided. Having established the Bible as the religious charter, individuals are left to interpret it according to the dictates of their own judgments and consciences, provided they do not disturb or interfere with the rights and privileges of others.
When all the Western country was a vast howling wilderness, untenanted in many places, except by the savage who roamed over its broad prairies or through its dense forests, or sped his light canoe over the surface of its mighty rivers, the pioneer preacher might have been seen urging his way along the war-path of the Indian, the trail of the hunter, or the blazed track of the backwoodsman, seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel in these far-off wilds. Before the sun of civilization shone into these vales, or over these prairies, or on these rivers, the herald of the cross, with his messages of mercy, was seen wending his course to the desolate haunts of savage man. The heroic deeds of the pioneer preachers, amid toils, hardships, and privations, in bringing to the cabins of the sturdy settler, as well as the wigwams of the savage, the blessings and benefits of religion, will be treasured up in memory and recorded upon the page of history, to live as long as generations shall be born to read them in future ages.
The first church organized in Clermont was in the year 1797, when Francis McCormick, the pioneer preacher, made up a class of eight or ten Methodists near where now is the prosperous town of Milford; and the next year came Philip Gatch, of hallowed memory, who strengthened and formed the little class into a larger and stronger band of professed communicants. The first meeting-house in Clermont was that used by the "Ten-Mile Baptist Church," and was built at Withamsville in 1802. The second in the county, and the third of that denomination in the State, was the old Hopewell log meeting-house, erected in 1805, about a mile west of Felicity. At its dedication it was blessed with the labors of the beloved pioneer preacher, McKendree, of precious memory, and of William Burke, then presiding elder of the Ohio district, together with the aid of Brothers Amos and Patterson. Elder Burke preached from 2 Corinthians, iii. 18: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord;" and McKendree followed with the preceding verse: "Now the Lord is that spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." One sole survivor to that dedication and hearer of those eloquent sermons yet tarries on earth in Mrs. Anna Sargent, that same year married, in her nineteenth year, to her cousin, Edward Sargent. "The anointing of the Holy Spirit appeared to be upon that pioneer congregation at the dedication of its rustic temple; the power of God was present to heal, the slain of the Lord were many, and the cry of the wounded and the shout of them that were made whole was heard afar off." Those were the happiest days of the pioneer ministers, - log cabins to preach in, puncheon floors to sleep on, corn-bread and milk to eat, a constant succession of kind friends to make welcome, and the love of God in their souls, a home high up in heaven in prospect, and the blessed promise of "Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," gave their minds a most pleasing variety, and caused their time to pass away most agreeably.
The round and hewed log and frame churches which were early erected and dedicated to the worship of God answered the purpose for which they were built, and were suited to the times. Some of these yet stand as mementoes of the past, and though they may be unoccupied or devoted to other purposes, or have fallen into decay and no longer resound with the clear, full voice of the early pioneer itinerant, or echo the sound of praise and prayer, still their memory is endearing, and a thousand hallowed associations gather around their fallen timbers and dilapidated walls.
Rev. Henry Smith was one of the earliest preachers in Clermont, and in 1799 was sent to the Miami Circuit to take the place of Rev. Lewis Hunt, broken down by sickness and exposure; but finding preacher Hunt recovered sufficiently to go on with his work, Rev. Smith's instructions were to go up the Scioto and form a circuit there. On September 18th he left brother Hunt, and returned to Rev. Francis McCormick's, and on Sunday, the 22d, he heard for the first time Rev. Philip Gatch preach, who, Smith says, was truly a fine sample of primitive Methodist preachers, - simple, plain, and powerful, his reliance for success appearing to be wholly upon power from above; and he found him a meek-spirited, agreeable old man, always willing to give counsel when asked, but never intruding it. On the 24th Smith pursued his journey up the Ohio River, and put up with James Sargent (just back of Chilo), an old Maryland Methodist friend, who received and treated him with exceeding great kindness and hospitality, and here he left two appointments for his next round. Fortunate for Clermont County was it to have two such Christian gentlemen of rare intelligence and staunch anti-slavery ideas as Philip Gatch and James Sargent as its members of the Constitutional Convention in 1802.
Before any meeting-houses were built, and even when there were a few, meetings were generally held at the houses of some devoted brothers, in barns or sheds, and in the summer season always in the woods; hence arose in early days the grand and historical old-fashioned "camp-meetings," attended by thousands, old and young, from one to thirty miles around, and where the conversions were by hundreds, and the grace of God was made manifest in reclaiming sinners for whose repentance loving mothers had prayed for years. The old camp-meeting grounds at Gregg's, Teal's, Williamsburgh, Shiloh, and other places have a rich history, rich in religious reminiscences of personal experience, but richer in developing a zeal and love for Christian grace and strengthening the foundations of the noble Christian work began and carried on fourscore years ago by the early Clermont fathers and mothers in Israel. The oldest Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in the whole valley of the Mississippi are found in Clermont. Here are men and women, many of them, who have gone to hear circuit preaching, to class- and prayer-meeting, for fifty, sixty, and seventy years, and who have an estimate of religion and of its power to sustain the same as they had when, in the woods and in the cabin, the Spirit from above first whispered, "Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee." The most memorable and spiritually successful meeting ever held at Gregg's camp-ground, near Moscow, was in the year 1858, when there were present a large number of pioneer Methodist worthies. Among them was George Gregg, then in his sixty-ninth year; Obadiah Winans, in his seventy-fourth; Peter Fisher, in his seventieth; Robert Brown, in his eightieth; Christopher Armacost, in his ninetieth; Rev. John Meek, in his seventy-eighth, and actively preaching; and Rev. William J. Thompson, over ninety-one years old, but who at that meeting preached a good discourse, and who had no quiver on his lips or his hands, and who walked as sprightly as a man of fifty. He was born in 1767, came to Ohio in 1808, preached seventy-two years, and died at his residence near Point Isabel, in January, 1862. The pioneer preachers were singularly gifted men, of powerful eloquence and robust frames, and among them who labored or preached in Clermont were Francis McCormick, Lewis Hunt, Henry Smith, Philip Gatch, William J. Thompson, William Burke, John Kobler, Benjamin Lakin (home at Point Pleasant), John Sale, John Collins (home in Clermont, near the Old Bethel Chapel, midway between Bethel and Batavia), Learner Blackman, John Strange, William H. Raper (home in the county), George W. Maley, Bishop Bascom, George C. Light, the eloquent Christie, and others of radiant remembrance. Lorenzo Dow several times visited the county and preached to vast congregations at Millford, New Richmond, Point Pleasant, and at the site of what is now Batavia. Bishop Asbury spent several months with Philip Gatch, and preached at Milford, and at several other points in the county, at the houses of the faithful.
The different churches and organizations of professed Christians are well represented in the county, but the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians are the strongest, numerically. A full account of each church is given at an appropriate place in the several township histories, and further mention is here omitted to avoid repetition.
The stronghold the cause of Christianity so early secured in the county, and which it has ever since so nobly maintained, was largely due to the devotion of our noble pioneers, and especially the mothers, whose zeal, courage, and self-sacrificing love for the sacred cause afford us specimens of moral sublimity greater than was ever witnessed in the heroic age of olden times. History will be searched in vain to find examples of better Christian women than lived in Clermont at an early day, and their teachings prompt their posterity to be as devoted as they were zealous in the observance of the principles of the Scriptures, which will ever properly direct them in the performance of their duties.
CLERMONT COUNTY SABBATH SCHOOL UNION.
This organization was perfected in the year 1867, and its object is to unite all evangelical Christians in the county in earnest efforts to promote the cause of Sabbath-schools, in co-operation with the State Sabbath-School Union, encouraging and aiding in the establishing of new schools where they may be needed, and awakening an increased interest and efficiency in Sabbath-school work generally. The conventions of this union have been held on the fourth Thursday of May, every year, at different towns, and continued in two days' sessions. At its annual meetings, attended largely by clergyman, Sunday-school officers, and teachers, as well as Sabbath-school scholars and others interested in the noble cause, the exercises consist of sermons, lectures, discussions, criticisms, reports from all the schools in the county, singing and music, interspersed with impromptu speeches and felicitous talks. The officers for 1879 were: President, John R. Woodlief; Secretary, Carter M. Riggs; with the following townships: Vice-Presidents, Batavia, Dr. L. W. Bishop; Williamsburgh, George B. Beacham; Franklin, John H. Higgins; Ohio, Edwin House; Jackson, H. Wilson; Pierce, Mrs. A. P. Felter; Union, N. S. Fisher; Tate, Rev. G. W. Fee; Goshen, Marion Myers; Miami, Rev. S. Bennett. The convention met at Felicity, May 22d, and the opening address of its able president, John R. Woodlief, reviewed its origin in 1867 (when it was organized, with Charles H. Kain as its first president) and its successful advancement and progress up to that time.
The following number of schools were reported in each township: Batavia, 7; Franklin, 14; Goshen, 7; Jackson, 7; Miami, 3; Monroe, 6; Ohio, 6; Pierce, 5; Stonelick, 2; Tate, 9; Union, 7; Washington, 7; Williamsburgh, 3; total in the county, 83. Number under the control of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 38; Presbyterian, 10; Baptist, 7; Christian, 12; Universalist, 1; Wesleyan, 1; United Brethren, 2; union schools, 9; unreported denomination, 2. Number of scholars enrolled in county, 6514; and average attendance, 4293. Number of officers and teachers, 1027; conversions, 258; volumes in libraries, 6160; schools that take papers, 60; that use the blackboard, 35; that take the "Lesson Helps," 74; that hold teachers' meetings, 29; and amount of school collections, $1684.04.
The following are the officers for 1880: President, Prof. J. A. I. Lowes; Secretary, Rev. George W. Fee; Treasurer, Horace Beck; Township Vice-Presidents, Batavia, M. Jamieson; Franklin, John Walker; Goshen, S. W. Shane; Jackson, H. McNutt; Miami, F. B. Clark; Monroe, D. H. Nichols; Ohio, James Hill; Pierce, Mrs. A. P. Felter; Stonelick, Abram Hulick; Tate, W. A. Lockwood; Union, George Brooks; Washington, Joseph Marriott; Wayne, B. F. Clark; and Williamsburgh, E. B. Holmes; Executive Committee, William Pease, of Batavia, Marion Myers, of Goshen, and Samuel W. McKinney, of Chilo. The convention last year was held at Bethel, and its proceedings were unusually interesting and productive of great good in the Lord's vineyard.
It would be impossible to speak in the terms of praise of what the zeal and earnestness of the workers in this union demand. As early impressions are the most lasting, these laborers in the cause are implanting in the minds of their pupils the great truths as given in the Sacred Word, and in a manner and method to give them powerful force, and therefore a most happy effect.