Jamestown First Presbyterian Church

800 Ervin Terrace in Dayton


Information comes from a Church Centennial 1951 program at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria.  The Church is now First Presbyterian Church of Dayton.


In the pioneer days, the little hamlet of Jamestown Kentucky, later to be known as Dayton, was merely a crossroads along the banks of the Ohio. With a faith that was unshakable, the Bayliff family commenced with the aid of contributions from a few individuals, the venture of erecting a church.  The building was a one story brick structure, costing $1052.33, according to the Bayliff family diary.

On February 2, 1851, the Presbyterian Meeting House of Jamestown was dedicated.  Mr. Lyman Beecher of Lane Seminary, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, delivered the sermon. Though the weather was very bad, the house was well filled and a fine sermon was delivered. After the dedication of the meeting house, a series of meetings were commenced by the Reverend Wm Van Vieck

The building served the congregation until 1880 when a change in the center of population rendered it advisable to erect a new building and select a new site.

On March 26, 1851 P B Bayliff and James Blakely were elected ruling elders. After the dedication of the meeting house, a series of meetings were commenced by the Reverend Wm Van Vieck. On Nov 23, 1862, R Harris, Leonard Worcester and Samuel W Emerson were elected trustees. On Feb 10, 1874, Abner First, John Link and Samuel W Emerson were elected trustees with Mr. Emerson elected as Treasurer.  On the morning of May 23, 1875, the congregation was asked to consider extending a call to Rev George Coon as a supply minister for one year at a salary of $400 per year.

On June 6, 1875 W M Donaldson, chairman of the Board of Trustees, reported a possible site for a church to be considered: the Jones lot fronting 80' on Berry and extending 100' back with Monroe on the corner-$20 per foot fronting Berry Avenue.  Terms; $200 cash; balance to be paid within five years at 6% interest.  This report was fully sustained and the committee was instructed to procure said lot. Mr. McDonald immediately procured the lot, paying $10 to secure same from his own substance when he had until Oct 9, to raise the balance of the first payment.  On Oct 8, 1875 a motion was made and seconded that the Treasurer be authorized to endeavor to borrow the money necessary to complete the $200 payment on the lot from the Ladies Sewing Society.

On June 11, 1876 Rev H W Taylor, pastor of the Columbia Street Presbyterian Church of Newport was presented as Moderator by Samuel Emerson.  The Moderator stated the object of the meeting and the name of Rev O M Schultz was presented as a candidate for the pulpit.  Mr. Shultz was elected by a standing vote.  His salary was to be $600.  On July 26, 1876 another meeting of the congregation was held for the consideration of the pastor's salary. This vote failed.

On August 9, 1876 the Board met to provide for relieving the Rev Mr. Schulz of his furniture. The board moved to make a loan of their Building Fund sufficient to pay Mr. Schulz what they owed him, take the furniture at cost, dispose of it and return the proceeds to the Building Fund.  It is on record that a bookcase and three chairs were sold to Mr. Donaldson for $25.  On Sep 19 a call was issued to Rev M Thomas at a salary of $500.  On Oct 27 a motion was made to recommend that the church be placed in the hands of a real estate agent; the price listed at $1300 and the proceeds applied to the building of a new church.

On Nov 29 the Board announced that the Trustees of the German Baptist Church applied for use of the church for Sabbath School on Sunday afternoons and it was decided to rent the church to them. In July 1877 they again had difficulty in raising enough money to pay the pastor's salary.  On Aug 29 the Treasury appealed to the congregation for a special conscription to help cancel the indebtedness.  They were forced to settle with Rev Thomas at the time of his departure by giving him three notes for $41 each, bearing date August 29, payable in two, four and six months.

It is recorded on June 16, 1879 the church building on Third Street had been sold at public auction to Mr. P B Bayliff for $800.  None of the ministers up to this time were ordained ministers.  The first ordained minister the church had was Rev Dr. John Newton Ervin was called in 1879.  In Sep 1886 the Trustees and Building Committee were considering bids that had been made on a new chapel building.  William Jones of Bellevue submitted his bid of $1100 to build the chapel according to modified plans.  The bid was accepted.

The earliest record of the Sunday School shows that in 1885 John D Compton served as Superintendent.  Up to 1929 the following Superintendents served; H C Tibbitts, Adam Smyrl, Charles Hopper, C L Harrison, Charles Ervin, Humphrey Ervin, J D Bradford, J K Smith, George Perry Sr. Lawrence Bradford and Ervin S Twaddell.

In 1902 the objective of the Ladies Aid Society was to give financial aid to the church, to encourage sociality, aid the pastor in visiting the sick, calling on new people and making a church home for church people. They met weekly and quilted and made garments for Pikeville College and various missionary centers.  Generous cash contributions were made to be applied to the support of missionaries. During WWI and WWII this society worked diligently for the Red Cross, sewing and knitting.  They sponsored the only Red Cross Unit in Dayton.  They were disbanded in 1945.

September 12, 1893 The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor was organized.  Its object was to promote an earnest Christian life among its members to increase their mutual acquaintance and to make them more useful in the service of God.  This group disbanded in 1923.

For several years, the Board struggled with meeting the salary of the pastor continually calling on the members to contribute more.  After 1893 financial conditions improved greatly and in the fall of 1906 it was decided the greatest need of the church was to purchase a pipe organ. An organ committee was appointed to secure an option on the pipe organ cost not to exceed $1100.  The Choir was to raise $500 and the Board the remaining $600.

On April 12, 1907, President Donaldson called a meeting of the Board of Trustees at the residence of W M Spencer, at which time it was moved and seconded that the President and Secretary be authorized to sign a contract between the congregation and Robert Harris of Newport and said Robert Harris to furnish all material and labor to complete a ten room brick house on the northeast corner of Eighth and Terrace in Dayton.  The amount not to exceed $4200 when said house was to be completed.  The vote was unanimous.  The following committee was appointed.  Chairman-W M Donaldson; Secretary and Treasurer-C J Johns; Executive-W M Spencer, W G Wharton, F L Hill.

In April 1911, the annual meeting of the Ebenezer Presbyterian Missionary Society was held in our church for a two day meeting.  One day was reserved for Home Missions and the other for Foreign Missions, each having its own set of officers.  Our own Miss Phoebe Bayliff served at that time as Corresponding Secretary of Home Missions.

The Presbyterian Community Guild was organized Feb 15, 1923.  Their objective was to advance the cause of Christ and promote the general welfare of the church and community.  They adopted activities similar to those of the Aid Society and supported local missions.

In 1928 a group of men met to organize the Men's Brotherhood.  Their objective was to promote religious activities among the young people and to support a basketball team made up of the boys of the Sunday School.

On Feb 23, 1939 The Molyneaux Society was organized to perpetuate the memory of the wife of the pastor.

On Jan 21, 1948 the Lane Circle was organized to honor the pastor and to adopt a program of education, service and prayer.

Dr. John Newton Ervin was born and reared in Ohio, attending Wooster College in Wooster and Lane Seminary in Cincinnati.  He came to the Presbyterian Church in Dayton in 1879.  Hew as married to Lizzie Molyneaux, a school teacher in the Dayton Public Schools.  Four children were born to them; Colonel Dr. Humphrey Ervin of the United States Medical Corps; Dr. Dwight Ervin who practiced medicine on the West coast; Morris D Erwin, political correspondent at Washington DC for the Cincinnati Times-Star; and Gladys D Ervin, Art Instructor at Hughes High School in Cincinnati.

On Friday, August 25, 1944 Dr. Ervin died of a heart attack immediately after he had finished officiating at at a funeral at Spring Grove Cemetery.


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