While the Methodist preachers were actively at work in this township in 1818, a meeting- house was built exactly in the south-east corner of Section 32, known as the Mt. Tabor Church. Previous to 1818 services were held in a school-house where the Marsh district now is. The land on which the church stood was given by Mr. BARNES, who, with Joseph BOGGETT & his wife, old Mr. McKEE & wife, Jonathan VANTREES and wife, Elizabeth COGLE, Isaac FROST, & others, were among the early members. A grave-yard was connected with the church, containing about one-fourth of an acre. Some of the persons buried here are Andrew ELLIOTT, James & Robert McKANE, Johnathan VANTREES & wife, & a number of others, who were founders of the Church.
The Lutheran Fairview Church stands in the south-west corner of Section 32. Solomon BIDDINGER gave the land--one acre--for church & burying purposes. Like the Mt. Tabor Church, the first services were held at the MARSH school-house. As members this Church had Frederic & Solomon BIDDINGER, with their wives; Martin SHUPP, wife, & daughter; Enoch McHENRY, & others. This Church was organized in 1832, & the house, a frame, was built in 1844. John SHROYER, who for nearly 50 years made his own coffins & acted as undertaker for the citizens of this & adjoining counties, perhaps burying as many as one thousand persons, was the contractor & builder. The subscription list amounted to $500. The Rev. B. W. CHIDLAW delivered the dedication sermon, assisted in part by the Rev. John SURFACE & neighboring pastors. There are now no regular services held here; sometimes the United Brethren & Methodist ministers use the house. Mr. Solomon BIDDINGER still keeps the church in repairs, & says he intends to do so until his death.
One of the oldest churches in the township stood on the county line in the middle of Section 34. In 1817 it was an old church, & was fast going into decay. It was built of round logs. Connected with it was a burying-ground. Among those buried here are Nancy WARD; Polly, wife of Jeremiah DUNN, one of the pioneers of this county; Nancy STORY; Polly McKANCE, sister of Jeremiah DUNN; & two children of Elizabeth WHITEHEAD. These latter burials were made in 1827. At that time there were some 50 interments; the last were made in 1827. It is said that the renowned Indian fighter, Adam POE, who fought with Big Foot, lies here. If true, this grave-yard is what is claimed for it, the oldest in the south side of the county. There is nothing left to mark the church site or the burying-ground. The highway from New Haven to Okeana passes over a portion of the old yard. The remainder is under a state of cultivation.
Dr. William THOMAS, a native of Wales, died October 29, 1831; aged 36--leaving wife and infant daughter. William GWILYM, a native of South Wales, died November 8, 1848; aged 82. Ann, wife of William GWILYM, a native of North Wales, died November 17, 1838, in the 74th year of her age. The grave of Hannah GWILYM, the wife of the Rev. B. W. CHIDLAW, A.M., born August 14, 1816; died June 16, 1841. Two large white marble tombstones, without dates of any kind, bear the following simple but significant notices: "Edward & Margaret BEBB;" the other, "Evan R. BEEB." In memory of Humphrey EVANS, of North Wales, G.B., who departed this life September 1, 1821, in the 45th year of his age. Susan, relict of Humphrey EVANS, died July 5, 1849; aged 65. Elizabeth HUMPHREYS, of North Wales; born March 12, 1783; died August 26, 1821. John VAUGHN, died September 4, 1848, in the 84th year of his age. Ruth CROSBY, wife of John VAUGHN, died August 5, 1825; aged 60. Hezekiah SHAW, born July 1, 1783; died July 22 1860. Abel APPLETON departed this live July 19, 1834; aged 62. Elizabeth APPLETON, died June 13, 1862; aged 89. A large sandstone slab reads, "Here lies the remains of Evan JONES, a native of North Wales, G.B., who died November 28, 1840; aged 30." Arthur MULLEN, died April 20, 1851; aged 73. To the memory of Jane MULLEN, who departed this life July 18, A.D. 1855; aged 78. William BEBB, died October, 1852, in the 72d year of his age. Ann, wife of William BEBB, died March 30, 1849; aged 69.
This yard is now but seldom used. Among others buried here are the WILKINSes, BROWNs, EVANSes, and others. William EVANS died July, 1821. He was a native of North Wales. Maurice JONES & wife died in 1834.
The present fine New London Cemetery was bought in 1867 of Richard MANUEL, at a cost of $128.25 per acre, containing very nearly ten acres. It is nicely fenced, and has a very strong stone vault, which was erected two or three years ago by some gentlemen from Venice, costing about $1,000.
Among the inscriptions are: Peter YOUMANS, who died March 5, 1837; aged 60. The part Mr. YOUMANS played in this vicinity will be found in the Church history of Okeana. Sarah YOUMANS, died March 23, 1873; aged 94. Derran YOUMANS, died July 5, 1835; aged 20. Andrew YOUMANS, died March 15, 1873; aged 53. Robert PATTERSON, born March 8, 1792; died May 14, 1876. Jane, wife of James D. SALISBURY, died August 8, 1873; aged 75. John Henderson SCOTT, died July 13, 1872; aged 52. Henry OTTO, died December 31, 1878; aged 68. Joseph FOSTER, born March 1, 1841; died June 10, 1871. Charles ENT, died June 20, 1847; aged 80. Mary, wife of Major Charles ENT, died April 15, 1859; aged 90. The Rev. A. F. JONES, died August 12, 1864; aged 31. John B. DAVIES, died April 2, 1877; in the 53d year of his age. G. W. SHAW, M.D., died August 25, 1863; aged 46. Sarah, wife of John EVANS, died April 8, 1870; aged 64. John DAVIES, died August 17, 1866; aged 59. Also, Jane, his wife, who died August 18, 1866; aged 58; both natives of South Wales. Hannah, wife of Samuel ROBINSON, died October 12, 1869; aged 76.
This cemetery is one of the finest in the county, outside of Hamilton, Oxford, & Middletown.
On the hill, north-west of Okeana one mile, is the old GEORGE burying-ground, on the south side of the original Scipio road, on Section 17. This yard was originated as a private ground. Quite recently an addition of three acres has been made to it. The inscriptions will tell the rest.
Christopher ARMSTRONG, died August 5, 1835; aged 38. John McLAIN, Sen., born in 1768; died June 18, 1842. In memory of Rachel DAVIS, who died February 13, 1839; aged 39. In memory of Meshach DAVIS, born September 4, 1764; died October 11, 1845. In memory of Elizabeth, consort of Madison CONGLE, who departed this life August 20, 1839; aged 23. Joshua GEORGE, died February 25, 1836; aged 35. A cedar tree ten inches in diameter has grown over this grave. In memory of Isabelle, wife of Evan JENKINS, who died November 14, 1832; aged 37. Jemima, wife of Thomas JOLLIFFE, born November 17, 1790; departed this life March 31, 1847. Archey HANDLEY, departed this life August 7, 1842; aged 53. In memory of Rebecca, wife of Archey HANDLEY, who departed this life November 14, 1839; aged 50. Catherine, wife of Joshua GEORGE, died October 29, 1862; aged 61. Samuel PATTERSON, died December 5, 1853; aged 84. John BROWN died August 6, 1865; aged 50.
The Hickory Chapel Church, which enters so largely into the religious history of the township, was a place of worship in 1820. The Rev. Rees LLOYD, who was pastor of the Congregational Church, now of New London, wanting the house built on a particular site, bought the land, erected a peeled hickory log-house, & began his work. It was from these significant logs that the Church took its name. The inscriptions in the grave-yard are:
To the memory of the Rev. Rees LLOYD, who departed this life May 21, 1838, in the 80th year of his age. Sacred to the memory of Rachel, wife of Rees LLOYD, who departed this life April 25, 1847, in the 91st year of her age. Fanny GRIFFIS, daughter of Rees & Rachel LLOYD, departed this life July 8, 1837, in the 54th year of her age. Sacred to the memory of David, son of Rees & Rachel LLOYD, who departed this life November 1, 1849, in the 61st year of his age. In memory of George DRYBREAD, who died November 5, A.D. 1832, aged 79. Susanna, wife of George DRYBREAD, departed this life October 7, 1839; aged 79. In memory of Robert MAHAFFEY, who departed this life August 26, 1833; aged 67. Nancy, wife of Robert MAHAFFEY, died March 21, 1852; aged 77. Jane, wife of James MAHAFFEY, born January 1, 1800, died September 1, 1855.
There are as many as 25 graves here unmarked. Briers, locust trees, & bushes have overgrown the yard.
Among the other burial places in the township is the MARSH on the California free turnpike; about 50 interments were made here, mostly relations. On the farm of Warner WYNN is a private burying-ground, which has buried in it Nellie WATKINS, a woman who figured as a witch in this region in early times. This witch was but three and a half feet in height. Martin SIMMONS, an old settler, lies here also. In the same yard is Chester AGNEW, a little boy. All these interments were made over 60 years ago. The DAVIS grave-yard, midway between Okeana & Scipio, has been thrown into the field by taking up the remains.
In 1818 the following families, chiefly from Montgomeryshire, North Wales, made this valley their home: John C. JONES & Jane, his wife; Evan & Jane MORRIS; John & Jane BREESE; Richard JONES & wife; William DAVIS & wife, the parents of the distinguished physicians, now in Cincinnati; George & Catherine WILLIAMS; Evan & Mary HUMPHREYS; Griffith BREESE & wife; and Humphrey EVANS & wife. Connected with these families were a number of adult unmarried persons,--among them Francis JONES, who married Elizabeth FRANCIS; John EVANS, who married Sarah NICHOLAS; Deacon David JONES, who married Mrs. Mary HUMPHREYS; John SWANCOTT, who married Miss Mary JONES; David DAVIES, who married Miss Rachel GWILYM. The families of Evan OWENS, Evan DAVIES, & Tubal JONES, from Cardiganshire, South Wales, were added to the families of this valley at this time.
From 1820 to 1830 many families from Wales found their way to Paddy's Run, adding to the general wealth of the community. Among them were Deacon Hugh WILLIAMS, from Anglesea, North Wales, who married Mrs. Eliza GWILYM FRANCIS; Joseph GRIFFITHS & Jane, his wife, with a large family of sons & daughters, from Carno, North Wales, who in 1837 removed to Allen Co., OH; Henry DAVIS from Ebensburg, PA, who married Miss Mary EVANS; Thomas WATKINS, who married Miss Jane EVANS; David ROBERTS, who married Miss Annie NICHOLAS; Rowland JONES & wife, & John JONES, who married Miss Jane GWILYM. In 1832 these families became the pioneer settlers of the large & prosperous Welsh community now found in Allen Co., OH.
The first minister who preached in the settlement was the Rev. John W. BROWNE, of Cincinnati, a Congregationalist from England. He preached at the house of Edward BEBB, on Dry Fork; at Andrew SCOTT's, at the mouth of Paddy's Run; at John VAUGHN's, on Paddy's Run; & David LEE's, on Lee's Creek. All the settlers through the country attended these meetings.
In July, 1803, at the house of David LEE, a committee, consisting of Mr. BROWNE, Asa KITCHEL, Andrew SCOTT, Joab COMSTOCK, & David CUNNINGHAM, was appointed to draft a constitution & articles of faith for the proposed religious society, and present it before the people. On September 3, 1803, at the house of John TEMPLETON, on Dry Fork, near New Haven, the report of the committee was adopted. The society was called the Whitewater Congregational Church. The first members were Benjamin McCARTY, Asa KITCHEL, Joab COMSTOCK, Andrew SCOTT, Margaret BEBB, Ezekiel HUGHES, William & Ann GWILYM, David & Mary FRANCIS.
In 1804, at the house of John BENNEFIELD, in Crosby Township, Hamilton Co., OH, Mr. BROWNE was ordained to preach the Gospel & administer the ordinances of the Church. The record shows that the Church appointed a committee of its own members to set apart this brother to the sacred office of the ministry. The flock thus folded met from Sabbath to Sabbath in the cabins of the members, & often under the shade of the forest trees. Mr. BROWNE lost his life in the Little Miami River, while on his way to fill an appointment in Clermont Co., in 1812.
From 1810 to 1817 the records of the Church are lost. In 1817 the Rev. Rees LLOYD, of Ebensburg, PA, who came from Wales in 1795, was invited to accept the pastorate of the Church & preach in Welsh & English. In 1820 the Rev. Thomas THOMAS, of Welsh parentage, but a native of England, emigrated to this country with his family, & was invited to act as co-pastor with Mr. LLOYD. He was a good scholar, & his efforts in this section greatly advanced the cause of religion. Mr. LLOYD gave up the pastorate of the Church; Mr. THOMAS continued, & also established a school, which gained much celebrity. In 1823 Matthias OLLIS & Roger SARGENT were chosen deacons. Mr. THOMAS preached in his school-room, in dwelling-houses and in the wagon-shop of David JONES; and, when the weather was favorable, in the open air, beneath a grove of sugar trees, where Mrs. Eliza WILLIAMS now lives.
In 1823 the old meeting-house was commenced thirty by forty-three feet, John VAUGHN, a brother-in-law to Governor BEBB, burning the brick for the house just east of the village. Mr. VAUGHN also burned most of the brick for the houses in New London, & many in the country at a distance. The Church was inclosed in 1824, & in 1825 the furniture was added. The first service within its walls was the funeral of Mrs. Ruth VAUGHN.
In 1827 Mr. THOMAS gave up the call & accepted the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church of Venice. He labored here until his death in 1831. In the mean time Mr. LLOYD had retired from active work in the ministry. July, 1828, Rev. Thomas G. ROBERTS, of Ebensburg, PA, entered the pastorate & took charge of the Church, preaching in both languages. Failing health caused him to return to his home in 1831. The Rev. Evan ROBERTS came to the neighborhood, preached several months, when he returned to Steuben, NY, & died there in 1834.
In 1836 the Rev. B. W. CHIDLAW, who had preached in the neighborhood for over a year, a resident of Radnor, OH, but at that time a student of Miami University, was called to the pastorate. He was ordained in May, 1836. Mr. CHIDLAW continued his work for seven years, advancing the cause of the Church and establishing a fine system of Sunday-schools through out the country. He entered the American Sunday-school Union and continues in it to this day.
In 1843 the Rev. Ellis HOWELL, from England, entered the work and continued for several years. He was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Riley, OH, in 1876. Mr. HOWELL was followed by the Rev. Joseph H. JONES, from South Wales. In 1876 he was spending his old age at his home, in Randolph Co., IN. Since that time the pastors have been James M. PRYSE, now of Minnesota; D. W. WILSON, now of TN; J. M. THOMAS, now of Pomeroy, OH; H. R. PRICE, who died in 1876; J. C. THOMPSON & George CANDEE, both in Northern Ohio; & John L. DAVIES, a graduate of Marietta College and a student of Lane Seminary, who was ordained by the Southern Ohio Conference, in Gallia County, & who entered upon his work in 1876, but who left in 1881. At present the Church has no regular pastor.
The deacons of the Church have been Joab COMSTOCK, Asa KITCHEL, Matthias OLLIS, Roger SARGENT, David FRANCIS, David JONES, John MERRING, Hugh WILLIAMS, David DAVIES, William JONES, John GIBBON, Thomas F. JONES, Abner FRANCIS, & Robert REESE. The membership numbers about 150. Liberal bequests have been made to the American Bible Society and the American Missionary Society by Deacons Hugh WILLIAMS & William JONES. Miss Ann EVANS, Deacon David FRANCIS, & Mrs. Elizabeth GWILYM have bequeathed a generous sum for the support of their Church. The fund is safely invested and the interest available for the purpose designed.
The first Sunday-school was organized in 1819, in a private house, & superintended by Benjamin LLOYD. In 1821 a supply of books, published by the American Sunday-school Union, was secured. The school has continued ever since, & now numbers about one hundred and fifty scholars. For many years a school was held in the old church, conducted in the Welsh language, which the old people greatly enjoyed. There are weekly prayer meetings. From the beginning a monthly meeting for the transaction of business has been held.
Church clerks have been, in 1804, James SCOTT; from 1820-1827, the Rev. Thomas THOMAS; from 1828-40, Evan DAVIES; in 1840, Thomas F. JONES, who was followed in 1871 by Griffith MORRIS. The Church is under a healthy administration.
The St. Aloysius Catholic Church of New London was built in 1878. It is a handsome brick building, capable of seating 300 people. Its history begins in 1873 or 1874, & extends, with variations, to the present time. The membership numbers about twenty families. The church is 30 x 60 feet, & cost $4,000, all of which is paid. The money by which it was built was contributed mostly at Hamilton, the members here hauling the stone, brick, & lumber.
The first school in the township, says Prof. James A. CLARK, was in a log school-house, built in 1807, on the land now owned by Thomas SHIELDS, & taught by Miss Polly WILLEY. Her salary was 75 cents a week, boarding around. She taught 20 scholars reading and spelling. Mr. JENKINS succeeded her in 1808, & was noted for his method of teaching morals and manners. Before dismissing his scholars at noon he collected them around a large table in the center of the room, and, after asking a blessing, acted as "autocrat of the dinner table," requiring silent attention from all. In 1809 another school was opened in a rented log cabin on Dry Fork, in the western part of the township. Here Adam MOW taught a subscription school, at $1.50 per scholar for a term of three months. In 1810 the people in the vicinity of Paddy's Run met together and built a log-house, with a cat-and-clay chimney, wooden latch, slab benches, board roof, & two small windows, but provided with no blackboards, maps, or globes. Here children were taught to read in the New Testament, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, & American Preceptor, and to write and cipher in Bennett's & Pike's Arithmetics, graduating at the "rule of three." This school was kept going until 1819, when David LLOYD, a graduate from Philadelphia, was employed to teach. He introduced grammar & geography, & classified his scholars in these branches and in arithmetic. Before this each pupil recited by himself. Before 1819 the general government had made some provision to help the schools by appropriating Section 16 in every township for this purpose. The land was finally sold, & the money divided, pro rata, among the schools.
In 1821 the Rev. Thomas THOMAS, father of the late T. E. THOMAS, D.D., established a high school, in which he taught, for a number of years, advanced students in grammar, geography, arithmetic, algebra, & geometry. In 1821 the Union Library Association of Morgan & Crosby Townships was formed. In 1826, when the schools were organized under the new State law, the people were eager to avail themselves of its advantages. A new school-house was built, & William BEBB, who became Governor in 1846, was the first teacher employed under the State law.
As early as 1825 there were township examiners to decide upon the qualifications of teachers. The Hon. James SHIELDS was the first examiner. Excepting Prof. McGUFFEY, he was perhaps the best educated man in the county, taking a leading part in al educational enterprises. He was educated at Glasgow, Scotland. He examined Governor BEBB, Evan DAVIES, & other noted teachers. From 1828 to 1832 Governor BEBB was township examiner. Evan DAVIES taught here for six or seven years, commencing in 1830. He was for 40 years one of the most prominent educators in Butler County, being county examiner from 1840 to 1869. After Mr. BEBB, the Rev. Benjamin LLOYD & the Rev. B. W. CHIDLAW were township examiners. From 1837 to 1840 Mr. CHIDLAW taught high school here with great success.
These eminent teachers gave a good education to those who have since furnished pupils and teachers for their schools. Among the most noted in the Rev. Thomas THOMAS's school were Charles SHELDON, author of SHELDON's book-keeping, and the late T. E. THOMAS, D. D., of Lane Seminary. Mr. Evan DAVIES built up & popularized the common schools, & prepared pupils for the high school. He taught more on the modern plan, preparing some eminently successful teachers. We mention T. F. JONES, Griffith MORRIS, Evan MORRIS, & M. R. SHIELDS. These gentlemen conducted the schools here and in the neighboring villages with great success for many years. Mr. M. R. SHIELDS afterwards filled the office of Surveyor in this county for a number of years. Mr. Evan MORRIS graduated in civil engineering in the College of Cincinnati, under Prof. MITCHEL, the distinguished mathematician & astronomer. Some distinguished editors attended Mr. CHIDLAW's school, the best known of whom is Murat HALSTEAD, of the Cincinnati Commercial, whose father, Colonel Griffin HALSTEAD, still lives here.
In 1852 or 1853 a new library association was formed and about 1,000 volumes of standard literature purchased for it, free to all people to read.
In 1858 the academy, or high school, was organized on a more permanent basis. Twelve of the most prominent citizens were appointed as directors. They employed David W. McCLUNG as principal, at a salary of three dollars per day. The public school was also at this time divided into two departments. The Misses ATHERTON were teachers for several years. Of the noted teachers in the high school we might mention the Rev. David WILSON & the Rev. Mark WILLIAMS. A large number of the principals of the high school who have been here are now filling high professional positions as preachers, lawyers, & doctors elsewhere.
In 1865 James A. CLARK was employed as principal of the high school.
On December 10, 1869, the New London special school was organized, and Messrs. Joab SCHEEL, Evan EVANS, & Thomas APPLETON were appointed the first board of directors. They employed as principal Samuel McCLELLAND, a former pupil of the high school, & a graduate of the Miami University. In 1871 a large and beautiful lot of about three acres was purchased, and a commodious brick school-house erected, containing four departments & costing about $13,000.
Miss Florence SHAFER was the only lady teacher ever employed in the high school. In 1872 Professor CLARK was again employed as principal, & remained so until his death in 1880. He was a man of fine ability.
The Masonic Lodge, No. 264, of New London was chartered October 25, 1855, with the following members: M. R. SHIELDS, John G. VAUGHN, Edward JONES, Edward MORGAN, Wm. S. BRANDENBURG, George ATHERTON, Josiah GWALTNEY, John L. EVANS, James BRUNDAGE, Henry SEFTON, R. W. GRIFFITHS. At that time William B. DODDS was M.W. G.M. of Ohio, & John D. CALDWELL, R.W.G. Sec'y. The hall was built in 1856 , being an addition over Dr. SHAW's store-room, costing $865. At present there are 30 active members.
Edward JONES and George ATHERTON built the New London saw-mill in 1854. Richard M. EVANS was the second proprietor; then A. H. GUTHRIE and George GROOMS. The present owner is John L. JONES.
In 1838 Charles LYLE erected a brewery in the village, which continued to run until 1842. A portion of the machinery was bought by the Shakers, who about 1835 brewed at the Center village.
There was a tan-yard one -fourth of a mile below the village at one time, owned by the SHIELDS brothers. Another occupied a site on Buck Run, on the north-east corner of Section 15, owned by Abram CONWELL.
Probably the first tavern-keeper in New London was John G. RANDALL, in 1830; his place of business was where Mrs. James T. DeARMOND now resides. Hamilton BLACKBURN followed from 1830 to 1835 in the same house. Then came Charles LYLE, who left in 1842. From 1842 to 1860 Job WOOLEY had a tavern in the house where the post-office now is. Part of the house was of logs. Since 1848 Henry ROBINSON has been the village tavern- keeper, in the lower end of the town, in a brick house.