Richwood is no stranger to the Christian faith. Many different churches and denominations have appeared throughout the years. In fact, a certain reverend by the name of Barkdull complained in 1888 that Richwood had too many church denominations. At that time, Richwood had 8 various congregations; The M.E., M.P., Presbyterian, two Baptist congregations, two Disciple, and the Adventist. The Rev.’s idea was to united the various churches so that their would be greater unity.
Richwood and York Township (5 miles west of Richwood) both had Presbyterian churches at one point in its history. The Richwood Presbyterian Church was organized in 1874. The York Presbyterian Church was known to have been even older. The church was organized in 1839 with Andrew McNeil, father of Samuel McNeil, being one of its Ruling Elders. Andrew was regarded as one of the early settlers of Union County and York Township.
The Presbyterian Church in Richwood began with preaching services in Court’s Hall by Rev. D.D. Waugh of Marion, Ohio starting on June 19th, 1874. The committee on church organization met on June 20th and organized and elected the proper officers. The committee consisted of Rev. D.D. Waugh, Rev. W.G. March, Rev. Henry Shedd, and Elder McNeil. Seventeen members constituted the organization of the church with a number of memberships added afterwards. Later that day, a session was started to receive members and attended to miscellaneous business. Preaching was done on Sunday mornings and evenings by Rev. Waugh.
Members of the church continued to meet at Court’s Hall, a large meeting hall that was located in Richwood. A year later, they moved to a new hall located on the second story above a clothing store named Burgner & Co. on Franklin St. where the current Richwood Bank building now stands. The building thankfully wasn’t harmed by the fire of 1875. The room was originally occupied by a physician and surgeon by the name of Dr. P.H. Bauer before the congregation moved in. This hall was later referred to as the Presbyterian Hall. The Gazette had this to say about the church, “The services at the Presbyterian Church on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last, were interesting and well attended. Rev. J.A. McGaw, of Urbana, and Rev. D.D. Waugh, of Marion, were in attendance. Both are able ministers. The pastor, Charles S. Wood, feels greatly encouraged with their prospects, and feels confident of building up a thriving church. Quite a number of additions were made to the church on Sunday. They will organize their Sunday School shortly. Their hall is very elegantly and comfortably finished and [so] far they are clear of debt. Undoubtedly they will prosper.”1Richwood Gazette, June 24, 1875.
The average attendance of the church was about 60 by the 1880s. On February 19, 1885, a Martha Washington Tea Party was held at the Presbyterian Hall. Supper was served to all who attended. The Martha Washington table was full of food from the olden days with old cutlery and candles served as lights. Admittance was 10 cents per person. George and Martha Washington and their friends appeared in costume to greet all guests. While Martha had a gracious smile and courtly bowed for each of her guests, George presided at the head of the table in silence ans was very attentive in helping his guests to his or her choice of food. At the oyster table, various oysters were served in every style. Also served was pork and beans, roasted turkey, dried fruit, country-made bread, chicken salad, cold meats, coffee, cake, and tea. Many other people were dressed in revolutionary era clothing with powered hair and wigs. The church raised about $75 for the whole affair.
The congregation continued meeting at the Presbyterian Hall for numerous years until they felt that having a dedicated church building would be very beneficial. A committee of the Presbyterian congregation canvassed the town of Richwood for a few days in June of 1888. They sought subscriptions to help aid them of building a church building. The response was very gracious and work soon began on a new building. The Richwood Gazette commended the committee for serving home interests by hiring local contractors and using local labor rather than an outside contractor. The committee consisted of John Landon, Milton Shipley, Josiah Shipley, J.L. Horn, James Edelman, and Wesley Tallman. They purchased a property of James Wilcox, on the corner of Blagrove and Clinton streets for $1,400 in March. The building began to take shape in September, 1888.
On September 27, 1888, H.L. Clark, a local marble dealer, presented the to the building committee a marble tablet to place in front of the church building once finished. It had upon the slab in raised letters, “Presbyterian Church, A.D. 1888.” The building was finished in January of 1889 with the dedication of the building being held on Sunday morning, January 20. A sermon was preached by Rev. A.D. Hawn of Delaware. He had this to say during the ceremony:
The church may not fit a man for heaven, but it makes him more decent and prosperous in this world.Rev. Hawn. 2Richwood Gazette, January 24, 1889.
The Presbyterian choir of Marysville provided music while Mrs. Rev. Ferguson presided at the organ. On the wall, in the rear of the pulpit, hung a banner in letters of gold which read, “Go up to the mountain and bring wood and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it and will be glorified, saith the Lord. Haggai 1:8”. There is some history connected with this. Nearly a year ago, in 1888, Rev. Tenney preached a thrilling sermon from the above text. The building committee, remembering what a wonderful influence the sermon had, decided it would be a deserved compliment to have their pastors words put onto a banner and hung onto the walls whose construction of which he gave the first effective start.
In the afternoon of that day, a meeting was held in which Revs. Barkdull and James, of the M.E. and Baptist churches respectively, delivered good addresses and gave words of encouragement. In the evening, Rev. Ferguson of the Marysville Presbyterian church, preached an excellent sermon. Afterward, Mr. John Landon, the energetic chairman of the building committee, read the financial report, from which the following figures were taken:
The amount subscribed by the Presbyterian society of Richwood..........................$2830 The ladies of the church gathered and paid over a fund.................................$444 The Sunday school, Sunday school classes and individuals belonging to the church society gave to the building and its equipment in memoriams and special gifts nearly....................................$309 Total..................................................................................$3574
Besides the contribution in money, the members of the church contributed a large amount of gratuitous labor:
Richwood and vicinity.....................$615 York church and vicinity..................$268 Marysville and friends....................$152 Mansfield friends.........................$75 Mt. Vernon friends........................$75 Urbana Friends............................$50 Marion Friends............................$32 Board of Church Erection..................$600
Below is a clipping from the Richwood Gazette that lists the various gifts and furnishings donated to the church by various people:
The building and lot on which it stands represented a value of $6,000. $241 was raised during the dedication ceremony. This was sufficient enough to cover all unpaid balances so that when the subscriptions were collected (amounting to almost $400), the church was entirely free of debt. Mr. M.M. Shipley and Mr. J.L. Horn did most of the financial work, especially in collecting subscriptions. John Landon managed most aspects of the construction of the building, from the beginning to its completion. He made estimates and contracted for the greater part of the materials and saw that contractors and workers alike kept up their work.
The building was constructed by the use of folding doors so that the large Sunday school room can be opened and made into a convenient annex to the auditorium which made the entire seating capacity near 500. The building is made of select brick with a complete heating system, at the time, of a hot air furnace. The windows were made of cathedral glass in bright and elegant colors. The inside wood was made of the most elegant grain of Georgia pine. The plastering was of a gray sand finish. The ends of the pews were of the finest white oak, all finished in hard oil varnish. The floors in all the rooms were covered in the same quality and pattern of wool carpet. The pulpit was made of black walnut upholstered with garnet plush. The suite of chairs at the communion table matched the pulpit in quality and color. Near the pulpit platform sat an Eslesey’s church organ. The room was lighted by a Bailey light that filled the entire auditorium with rays of light.
The church congregation had about 80 members by this time. The Richwood Presbyterian congregation dissolved sometime in the 1960s. The church building still stands to this day, although it now serves as a place of residence.
- 1Richwood Gazette, June 24, 1875.
- 2Richwood Gazette, January 24, 1889.