Wesley Chapel Church History
This article is found in the Churches files at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria.
Brief Historical Review of the Wesley Chapel Church on the occasion of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the present brick building.
By Charles Edward Rouse
July 29, 1956
I want first to explain that I am not the oldest member of the church. To my best knowledge Hiram Nagel is the oldest member being some three years older than I am, but I have, so far as I know been a member of this church longer than any person now living. I am probably the second oldest member. I should like also to explain that we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the erection of this building. The actual organization of the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church in this community took place some years earlier as I shall try to explain a little later.
I have been permitted to see three groups of members of this church, most of whom have been removed by death. I can recall only a few of the FIRST group who were the original members, according to my best estimation of time. I distinctly recall hearing the Rev T J Daniel Sr. grandfather of Jack Daniel, whom most of us know, telling in Sunday School when I was about 15 years of age, about making the clap boards and helping to build the old log church which preceded this building, and which was the original building following the organization.
According to my best estimate the original organization of the Methodist Church in this community took place somewhere around the 1830s. I am basing this estimate on Uncle Tom's age at the time I heard him tell of his work on the original church. Others of this generation were Rev Lockey Lancaster and Sally, his wife, who was the grandmother of the late Aus Ellis of Peach Grove, my grandparents, Mike J and Amanda Rouse, George Daniel, brother of my grandmother, Amanda and Josiah Baynum.
The SECOND group were the ones who built this church, sons and daughters of the first group. I understand that it was the Rev J M Jolly who was given the contract for the building of this church in the year 1856. However there is no record of this. Individuals are too numerous to mention, but leading families at this time, were the Lancasters, Barkers, Fossetts, Daniels, Baynums, Phillips, Rouses, Poes, Maines, Fletchers and Bradburys.
The recorded membership in the year 1873 was 102 and the amount paid the preacher, the Rev W B Godbey was $106. You will note that 1873 is the first year we have any record of the membership and the pastor in charge. This leaves a period of 17 years that we have no written record. It is reasonable to conclude that such local preachers as the Rev Lockey Lancaster and the Rev T J Daniel were active in proclaiming the gospel during these years.
The THIRD group includes those member around my age. My birthday was on the 23 of May and I was born in 1871. I can think of no one now living who was a member of the church when I joined in 1882. Those who have most recently passed on who were nearest to my age were Bill and Mintie Barker and Harvey Lancaster. The membership in 1880 under the pastorate of the Rev George Frogh was 198.
In 1874 the record shows that the membership paid Rev Taliaferro $134.87. I found this interesting comment, dated August 23, 1874, signed by Rev Taliaferro and C W Miller. "Remember the Friday next preceding each quarterly meeting is to be observed as a day of fasting and prayer. Pray for the prosperity of our beloved Zion and for us, your servants. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy."
In looking over the Sunday School record book, I found a few interesting comments. In the year 1877, this record is found: "Election of officers for the Wesley Chapel School opened with reading and prayer: Mr. Dunbar, Superintendent, George Daniel, Assistant Superintendent, G W Shaw, Secretary, Nellie Fletcher, Assistant Secretary, Nellie Rouse, Treasurer, L Ihrig, Librarian, William Bradbury, Penny Collector (it seems that a penny was the usual amount given in Sunday School in those days) George Shaw, elected to teach FIRST class; Ed Fletcher SECOND Class; Jim Ward THIRD class.
MINUTES FOR NOVEMBER 18, 1883
"The school met at the appointed time with L J Rouse, Superintendent. The school was opened in regular order and the roll was called and 27 responded. The school took up the lesson in regular order. The lessons were over. There was a motion made to draw an order on the Treasurer to procure 4 spelling books for the school. There being no further business the school proceeded to close to meet November 26. Receipts for the morning .16 cents." E J Rouse, Supt. Wm R Daniel, Secy.
MINUTES FOR DECEMBER 16, 1883
"The school met at the appointed hour with L J Rouse as Superintendent. The school was opened in regular order after which there was a motion to send by brother Minor to obtain the literature for next year. The motion carried after which W J Rouse was appointed to attend to the same. There was a public collection taken and .91 cents were reported. There was an order drawn on the Treasurer for the literature for $6.00 and the sum was paid. After the lessons were over the school proceeded to close to meet again December 23. L J Rouse, Supt. William R Daniel, Secy.
An interesting document, written in long hand is filed in the old church record book recording the deed to a piece of ground which I think is the cemetery, which my grandfather Michael J Rouse and Amanda F Rouse, sold to the Trustees of the Church for the sum of $25.00. It was dated September 18, 1860. The record of the years 1906 and 1907, during the pastorate of the Rev F A Savage reveals that the church put forth quite a strenuous effort to collect money to redecorate the church and install the seats in which you are sitting. Judging by the names of those solicited and the contributions, the community seems to have been pretty well covered in an effort to raise some $500 or $600 for this endeavor.
CHURCH CONFERENCES 1880s & 1890s
The records of the Church Conferences, which were held once a month, in those days reveal some interesting events. During this period one frequently finds a comment in the minutes such as "Brother so and so, contacted and promises to do better." These comments seem to refer generally to non support of the church financially. "Brother so and so promises to do better and wants his name left on the roll of membership." Church Conference for July 18, 1891, we find this comment, "The Stewards report the church one half behind with the preacher's salary. The preacher reports benevolent collections behind, and our literature tolerably well distributed. The following committee was appointed to see some of the members as regards their relation with the church: T J Daniel, Jr. H N Rouse and W L Daniel."
AUGUST 16, 1890: we find these interesting comments: "Sunday School prospering, attendance good and our own literature used (indicating that they had a problem about the use of Methodist literature just as we sometimes have now). NOTE THIS: the literature of the church is read to some extent. The prayer meeting is prospering."
DECEMBER 20, 1891: Minutes: (Rev Kendall, Minister) L J Rouse, Sunday School Supt. reports school not prospering as it should but school going to go on through the winter. The Stewards not much done; the members refuse to pay because the concert was allowed in the church house. Blame is laid on the Pastor and the Trustees. The Pastor and Trustees all acknowledge that it was wrong but say they were ignorant of what was going on. They further say the like shall not occur again. Acknowledgement received and the poor looked after. Missions-not much done. Committee report: H N Rouse and Charlie Rouse, cleared. W L Daniel talked to Robert Baynum no satisfaction. T J Daniel talked to several obtained no satisfaction. Brother Kendall reports that the Cincinnati Bell Company will furnish a new bell for .18 cents per pound and they will give .13 cents per pound for the old bell. Mike Rouse appointed committee to solicit funds for the bell.
MARCH 23, 1882: The next Church Conference did not meet until March 1882 and the following brief report is found; "Mike Rouse reports between $58 and $60, subscribed for the bell and $6.00 paid. Moved and carried that we purchase a 300 pound bell and that it be put on the front top of the church. The proposition to furnish a bell by the Buckeye Bell Foundry and presented by Rev T J Daniel is accepted and Rev T J Daniel elected to purchase the bell on their terms.
JUNE 9, 1892: Minutes of Church Conference: Rev Kendall presiding. Building Committee for belfry report the following:
Cost of belfry C C Hagemeyer for lumber; $24.00
L J Rouse for hauling lumber 3.00
D A White for shingles and nails 1.10
Ed Sellers for nails and paint 3.54
R S Condit for carpenter work 15.00
W R Fee for 18 sheets of tin 2.70
Total cost of belfry $49.34
Paid on belfry 45.35
Leaving a balance of 4.00
Report received and order granted for balance and committee retained W L Daniel, L J Rouse and T J Daniel Committee to purchase a bell reports that he purchased a bell of:
316 pounds at .18 1/2 cents per pound.
$58.46 Hanging of bell
$23.00 less 50% $11.50
Paid on new bell with old bell 172 pounds at .13 cents per pound $22.36
Leaving a balance due of 49.10
Report received and order granted for balance and committee retained. Rev T J Daniel, Committee
AUGUST 21, 1892; Conference minutes, Rev Kendall residing; Conference met to employ a Sexton for the church. Moved and carried that we employ Mrs. Bell Fletcher to keep the house for one year at a compensation of $20.00 to be paid quarterly. Reports of the committee to purchase the bell received and the committee discharged.
OCTOBER 15, 1922: Rev Kendal, Pastor presiding; I close my comments from the Church Conference with this date and the following excerpt from those minutes: The question is asked, can anything be done to extend the cause of Christ? Yes, by bringing in new ones to take part and Ben Pribble suggested that cottage prayer meetings be held in addition to that at the church."
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