Ross County, Ohio
History of the Methodist Church
The pioneer church in Bainbridge and in Paxton was the Methodist. Almost as early as 1800 there was preaching in private houses and in school houses in various parts of the township. It was in 1818, however that John Meek and John Collins, who had been among these early preachers, formed the first church organization in Bainbridge. During that year a class was instituted, consisting of James Gaskill and wife *Sarah McCollum, Rebecca Turner, John Baird and Magdalen Gilmore, and placed under the leadership of Mr. Gaskill. The class met at Gaskill's house, which became and for some time continued to be, a regular "preaching place" of the denomination. In 1820 Mr. Gaskill gave to the church permission to build a meeting-house on his land and a small brick church was built there 24 by 30 feet in size. Mr. Gaskill used the adjacent land as a tan-yard. Afterward the tanning business together with the real estate, passed into the proprietorship of E. Rockhold and son, and the old meeting-house was turned into a slaughter house. There the members of the congregation continued to meet until 1834, when they erected the frame structure, occupied by them until the year 1868. At that date a fine lot was purchased by the society on the south side of main street of the village, and a church building erected at an expense of nearly $ 10,000 - a severe strain upon an organization of only about eighty members. On the second day of April, 1876, this building took fire, and the roof and woodwork were completely destroyed. Not to be discouraged by this however, repairs were at once begun, and in September of that year the congregation occupied the rebuilt edifice. In 1868, when the church erected its third house of worship, the frame building which had been constructed in 1834 was transferred to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is still alive.
In the early days of the Methodist Episcopal church at Bainbridge it was a part of the Hillsboro circuit, which embraced 23 appointments, all of which was attended by two clergymen. Each of these ministers had to traverse a territory 30 miles square in 20 days and preach 29 times during that period. Among the early preachers of the circuit were Revs. Robert W. Finley, James B. Finley, James Havens, G. W. Walker, George Maley and James Quinn. Later pastors were Revs. John Power, Henry Turner, W. P. Strickland, Joseph Brunner, Joseph Reeder, Mark Bonner, Thomas Lee, Leroy Swormstedt, Zachariah Wharton, Edward Estell, B. A. Cassett, I. W. Smith, henry Wharton, B. L. Jefferson, I. W. Stone, John Stewart, Alexander Mehaney, Phillip Nation, John W. Locke, J. A. Brown, David Reed, J. S. Brown, B. Mark, A. Morrow, A. Kite, J. W. Steele, James B. Austin, Joseph S. Morris, D. C. Howard, Samuel Bateman, Nathan Westerman, Eskridge H. Dixon, David H. Moore, now a bishop retired; I. B. Braddick, F. A. Timmons, W. H. McClintock, Richard Pitzer, William Morris, T. G. Wakefield, Ed T. Lane, J. P. A. Dickey, David mann, R. I. DeSelm, Frank Gillilan, M. W. Acton, Isaac Mackey, C. B. Longman, Carl G. Doney, at present head of Williamette University, on the Pacific coast; T. B. White, T. W. Locke, F. M. Swinehart, C. W. Sowers, W. E. Prior. W. L. Hickey, G. D. Clifford and the present incumbent, Rev. John M. Chandler. The church now numbers over 400 members. Altogether it has occupied five houses of worship- erected in 1820, 1834, 1868, 1897, and 1903.
[Transcriber's Note: *Should be Mary McCollum, Sarah was her sister.]
[Source: "A Standard history of Ross County, Ohio : an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, civic and social development. Chicago. Lewis Pub. Co.. 1917]
Most of the early preaching which the Presbyterians of Bainbridge enjoyed was furnished by clergymen from South Salem, who became established there in the pioneer times. There was no distinct organization at Bainbridge until 1841, when Rev. George G. Poe formed a church. In 1842 land was purchased and a meet-ing house erected. Among the early pastors were Revs. P. Irmiston and S. P. Durham. Rev. Kerns Preston is now in charge. [Source: "A Standard history of Ross County, Ohio : an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, civic and social development. Chicago. Lewis Pub. Co.. 1917]