Location: Dresden, Ohio
Dresden Presbyterian Church History
Rev. Prescott B. Smith, the third member of the Presbyterial Committee and noble Triumvirate, became our very First Pastor. He was a native of Vermont, was educated at Middlebury College, and ordained at Newark in 1818. He began preaching in 1818 and son after his ordination, lived in Irville and preached to the Dresden organization. One-third of his time he preached at the log school house, and the rest of his time at Irville. He so continued until his death in 1823, aged only twenty-nine.
Though only twenty-nine at his death, Rev. Prescot B. Smith was the Nestor of our Pastors. Some of our honored guests this evening are his grandchildren, viz., the families of the late Mr. Horace Smith, of Adams Mills, faithful, active members of the Adams Mills Presbyterian Church. His works do follow him and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are among us, a blessing today.
The Church records give the Charter members in the following order: Daniel Stillwell, Esq., Joseph F. Munro, John C. Stockton, Mrs. Mary Smith (wife of pastor), Mary Munro (wife of J.F.), Mrs. Sophie Cass (wife of G.W.), Mrs. Mary Cass (wife of Major Jonathan), and Rev. Hildreth adds Major Jonathan Cass. As Mrs. Munro was the daughter of Major Jonathan Cass, and Rev. and Mrs. Hildreth made their home with Mrs. Munro, Mrs. Hildreth's mother, Rev. Hildreth's testimony is accurate.
Major Jonathan Cass was great-grandfather to Mrs. J.W.P. Reid, Zanesville; Miss Mary Munro, Granville; Mrs. Rhoda Dunmead, Newark; Mrs. Minnie Dunmead, of the Old Munro Home; former members of the Dresden Church and now active Presbyterians in their home towns, with one exception, and we welcome them to this Centennial reunion as we look in their faces.
Mrs. Sophie Cass, wife of George W. Cass, another Charter member, is represented in Dresden today by the widow of Dr. Edward Cass and their two sons, Dr. Edward McDowell Cass and George Cass, both soldiers in the Great War. Dr. Edward attained the title of his ancestor, "Major" overseas, and George, a non-Com on this side.
Daniel Stillwell, Esq., was great-grandfather to the Scott families, of Adams Mills, as well as to the Horace Smith families, and wonder of wonders, Hamilton Scott's daughter, great-great-granddaughter, is present tonight helping us to celebrate and to keep the ideals of Daniel Stillwell, Esq., in the Church active. The Scotts are also grandchildren of another of our Charter members, John C. Stockton, Joseph F. Munro, the very first elder of this Church, and his wife, Mary G. Munro, both Charter members, were also represented by here Mrs. Reid, Miss Munro and Mrs. R. Dunmead, her grandchildren. Was ever a church so blessed?
Think of it! The descendants of every single on of the Founders of this Church athered together to help celebrate its Centennial, and all still faithful workers in the Presbyterian Church. We heartily welcome you all to this, our "Home-coming."
Rev. James Parmele surely had a vision of the future of our Church, for he arranged to preach in the town of Dresden. He obtained the town log school house located where the Union School Building now stands, and there held his preaching services. Rev. Parmele had faith in the increase and prosperity of the town and the Church must needs be in the center of the town and grow with it. He remained only a little over a year.
Before the close of 1825 came the Rev. Ebenezer Churchill to care for our Zion. He ministered to the three churches, Dresden, Adams Mills and Irville, where he lived, and gave one-third of his time. He was a man of great energy, physically, mentally and spiritually. He frequently walked to his appointments, even all the way from Irville to Adams Mills, twelve miles.
The Church had then only one elder, Mr. Joseph F. Munro. There was always harmony in the session. At the suggestion of Rev. Churchill two more were added, viz., Daniel Stillwell and John C. Stockton, by the choice of congregation and session. Rev. Churchill labored with the Church from 1825 to 1829. During his pastorate there were received into the Church (1828) by examination, Mr. Gilbert Shaw, and Phoebe, the wife of William F. Compton. They were the grandparents of Jay Compton, now a member, and Mr. Ward Compton, of Dresden. Received also, by letter, George Smyth and his wife Polly. He also received into the Church by baptism, three infants, viz., Henry Munro, son of J.F. and Mary G. Munro; Mary Selden, daughter of G.W. and Sophie Cass; and Samuel Shaw, son of Gilbert and Phoebe Shaw.
Very soon after the departure of Rev. Churchill, Rev. John Pitkin began his labors with the Dresden Church. By this time the school house was brick and was built on the mound in what is now the Cemetery. That sounds strange, but then it was not "God's Acre." That was then east of the canal bridge as you go down to Old Town. When the canal was dug the cemetery was removed to its present location and the school house was returned to its former and present situation.
Rev. Pitkin was a graduate of the Ohio University at Athens, (then under Presbyterian supervision). Mrs. Pitkin was a daughter of President Wilson of that University. For a while Rev. Pitkin lived in Irville. Very soon he came back to Dresden and built a house of his own. We are glad to know that house still stands. It was the former residence of Mr. Michael Carter, was moved from Main Street back to the alley and a new house erected on the site where Mr. Joshua Stump now lives, and Rev. Pitkins' house is Mr. Stump's garage. Another Presbyterian minister later lived in Rev. Pitkins house, viz., Rev. William Wallace. He and his eldest son had the Dresden paper. His second son, James Wallace, was a musician and jeweler, and he married Miss Amelia Ingalls, daughter of Major J. N. Ingalls, one of the ruling elders of our Church. Rev. Wallace had also a little daughter, Amelia, and a little son, Chalmers. Amelia later married James White, who was principal o the high school when the Stevenson brothers, Thos. M. and Robert W., his successor, were superintendents. James White is now D.D., and their son is now a successful pastor in Ohio, both in the United Presbyterian Church. Rev. Wallace lived and died in Rev. Pitkin's house. It was a good house of seven rooms, five below and a center hall, and two above.
Mrs. Pitkin deserves special mention. She had ideals and carried them out. She organized the very First Sabbath School ever held in Dresden and conducted it regularly, every Sabbath, in her own home. She had no helpers at first. What ever did she do with the restless little ones? How did you teach the adults at the same time? The Female Prayer Meeting soon developed workers to assist her. From that Sabbath School in 1829 to 1919 - these ninety years - the Presbyterian Church has kept up faithfully its Sabbath School, though started by a woman.
One outcome of Mrs. Pitkin's Sabbath School was that of Ainlab S. Armenia, gathered together by Mrs. Josephine Lemert Coffing and her husband, Rev. Jackson Coffing. It was then-1860-the largest Sabbath School in the world and numbered 1600. Mrs. Pitkin has had efficient, untiring successors as Sabbath School Superintendents ever since, down to the present incumbent, S.F. Spencer.
When Rev. Hilbreth was pastor Catechism and Bible verses were recited. Elmira Rambo led with 963 verses and the School recited 1496 texts, in one month. Miss Rambo later became a faithful teacher, and though unable to hear the sermon, was always in her place in Church, and said Dr. Macleod, an inspiration to him as pastor, faithful till called up higher. Today the Christian world studies the same lesson. Is not his an answer to Christ's prayer? -- "That they may be one." Never before were so many adults in the Sabbath School, but we can only say, "all were faithful workers and we are thankful for them."
The Church was growing steadily. Rev. Pitkin so inspired the people that they began to talk of a Church Building. This culminated in a meeting of the Session at one o'clock, December 1, 1833. It was resolved "That a subscription paper be opened for the purpose of constructing a Presbyterian Meeting House in the town of Dresden." Later, September 10, 1835, John C. Stockton, one of the ruling elders, was appointed to solicit and receive donations for the Building of this "Meeting House."
In 1835 Rev. James Harrison took charge of the Church of Irville. Rev. Pitkin was still pastor in Dresden and that winter-1835-Rev. Harrison assisted him in a series of meetings. Many were added to this Church. In the spring of 1836 Rev. Pitkin had another revival. There are among these names that will interest some of you, viz., Laban Lemert and Lucy Ann, his wife; James Ford and Amy, his wife; Mrs. Webb; Mrs. Elizabeth Alloways; Mrs. Caroline Bice; Mrs. Catherine Wolf; Miss Julia Stockton; Frances B. Stockton; and Archibald Blackburn Brice, who later became D.D., the first Minister of the Gospel sent out from the Dresden Presbyterian Church. He studied at Meadville College and was some years ago the consecrated Pastor of the Nelsonville Presbyterian Church of Athens Presbytery.
An interesting Sessional Record occurred April 27, 1833, which throws light upon the Presbytery to which we then belonged. We quote: "On motion, Resolved, That this session apply to the Lancaster Presbytery, in this State, for a continuance of the yearly sum, heretofore allowed, to the Rev. John Pitkin by the Assembly Board of Missions; his places to be designated as Dresden, Muskingum, Stilllwell and Wachatomaka Settlement." "Also, on motion, Resolved, That this Session apply to the Lancaster Presbytery for the ministerial labors of Rev. John Pitkin as 'Stated Supply' from the first of May, (this was April 27), for one year for half his time." (Church growing before we only had one-third.)
Following this action was another revival and increase in membership. Then Rev. Pitkin enthused the people to "rise up speedily and build." In May, 1836, the Building Committee for the Presbyterian Church of Dresden was appointed. God's House is so dear to us we would remember these names.
Building Committee for the Presbyterian Church of Dresden: Laban Lemert, George W. Cass, W.W. Brice, Thomas M. Barson, and Dr. A.H. Brown.
The building was begun in 1836 and by the summer of 1837 it was finished with rough seats for temporary use. In the spring of 1838 it was completed, at a cost of $1,500, and God's people rejoiced.
Rev. Pitkin had resigned this pulpit in the late spring of 1836, after faithful, notable service of seven year. His departure was much regretted by all. Then the Church called one they already knew and loved for our Fifth Pastor.
That same fall-1836- Rev. Harrison held a series of meetings, with many additions, among whom was Nathaniel C. Charlott, who later became the second Gospel Minister sent out by the Dresden Church. He preached for some years in the Presbyterian Church and later in the Episcopal Church.
In 1842 the First Choir of Dresden was organized - a most important event. God wants the best music for His service. Rev. Harrison owned his own house, later the Dr. B.F. Lemert home, and there, under the leadership of a Mr. Stone and through his supervision, the music became of a very superior order and has so continued these seventy-six years, or ever since. Two public concerts were given by this Choir for Mr. Stone's benefit. Mr. Stone later taught music in the city of Wheeling, W. Va.
Mr. William Armstrong, a master musician of Cumberland, Md., later trained the choir. We hear now the echoes of some of the voices of that choir: Mrs. Margaret Bailey, a sweet alto too early translated to the heavenly choir, who left children to take her place there and elsewhere later; Mrs. Wm. Armstrong, soprano, all her life; Mrs. Amelia Ingalls Wallace; Mrs. Matilda Ingalls Cary; Messrs. James Wallace, Alfred Barson, and Patterson Hirst. Mr. Armstrong taught classes of the young people music. He was a gentle, sweet-spirited man whom we all loved, and who was full of harmony. He was uncle to Miss Jennie Bailey and sisters, and Mrs. Margaret Bailey was their dear mother.
After Mr. Armstrong's death Mr. Patterson Hirst was choir leader. He also had singing Schools which were very popular. Mr. Hirst went to war and later came Harry Shore and Samuel Spencer. All praise and honor should be given to these fine leaders, past and present, and to our always most efficient choir.
Rev. Harrison spent ten years of arduous labor here from 1836 to 1846. Mrs. Harrison was a very hospitable hostess and a good wife and mother. God blessed his work and now there were eighty-nine members enrolled.
Rev. Hildreth began his ministry of nearly a quarter of a century soon after Rev. Harrison left. He, too, owned his own house; later John Alloway's home just across from the Church, where he lived until it seemed necessary to remove to the Munro home, to be with Mrs. Munro, Mrs. Hildreth's mother, four miles up the Muskingum. Through winter's storms, high river and dark nights, Rev. Hildreth never failed to come down for the Wednesday evening prayer meeting and "the monthly Monday Concert of prayer for the Heathen, which will be held in this house on tomorrow evening," as he always gave the announcement on the first Sabbath of each month. These was a special collection taken these first Mondays for Missions, to which he always gave a greenback, after topical lecture on the Month's Mission Field.
There are a variety of gifts. Paul, Peter and John each had their special talents. Today it is so, and it is well. Some are good pastors, visit the poor and needy and draw the outsider, are what is called a "good mixer." Others are wonderful expositors of God's Word and the hearer grows stronger, mentally and spiritually. Rev. Hildreth combined these gifts with a quiet grace and dignity of manner, which drew even the tipplers to him, and the atheists. One obstacle confronted Rev. Hildreth which is now forever banished. Three distilleries and their natural fruitage of woe, then existed here. Vanished forever and also the one that sprang up later, to the joy of all good man and of many good and suffering women. Thank God for war prohibition and may He make us sing the Halleluliah Chorus all over the land in November.
When God took Rev. Hildreth the town mourned. During his funeral the business houses of saint and sinner, large and small, were all closed. He sleeps here, with his loving and beloved people and will rise again among them.
In June, 1847, the First Sewing Society of Dresden was organized by Mrs. Maria Force of Hagerstown, Md., a devoted member of our Church. They owned the house opposite the M.E. Church, where Mr. Rambo afterwards built another and lived and where Mrs. Rambo, another elect lady, labored for the W.C.T.U., Church, Missions and Sabbath School, assisted by "Mira", very faithfully. The purpose of Mrs. Force, in organizing this Sewing Society, was to raise funds to obtain a Church bell.
The movement was a great success. On Thanksgiving Day the bell, weighing 600 pounds, was received from Cincinnati, July 4, 1850, was an auspicious day. The first Church bell of Dresden was rung. We don't know why they waited from November to July. Perhaps, because the women couldn't hang it. But they could prepare a big, fine dinner for the town and give the proceeds for bell and Church, and so these Presbyterian ladies prepared the first public dinner for a Church ever given in Dresden. So this Presbyterian Church bell, July 4, 1850, sounded the Gospel message, first ever rung in Dresden. "Come, Come, Come." and it has been calling "Come" ever since. It could be heard seven miles. Its tones are music in our ears and we used to imagine its call extended beyond the Mississippi and across the prairies. Five days later, July 9, 1850, this bell was tolled half a day in sorrow, from a telegram announcing the death of our Hero President, General Zachary Taylor, of the War of 1812. He died from over-exertions celebrating the 4th.
In 1848 there was a Committee elected for the repairing of the Church, consisting of John N. Ingalls, Alfred Barson and Patterson Hirst. A new roof and a new front were added with four beautiful Corinthian columns. The ladies, too, were indefatigable and the sent to Philadelphia for a carpet and to New York for paper with the Corinthian columns. Then the new spire was seventy-five feet high and there were also new inside shutters as well as new windows. The cost amounted to $1,3000, or nearly as much as the cost of the Church at first. The hearts of the people were in the work. It as said to be, then, the most tasteful Church in the Presbytery of Zanesville. A great revival followed this beautifying the House of God.
In 1852 the First Pipe Organ ever in Dresden was installed in our Church. We always had had fine music and good instruments, but now! We wondered if David's Choir "of singing men and singing women," which could be heard from Jerusalem to Jericho-twenty miles- was superior to ours.
This choir was trained and led by the splendid musician, William Armstrong, before mentioned, till he died. For a time the organist, was Prof. Lihenthal (later of Zanesville). When he played his preludes, interludes and postludes, we forgot everything but - the Heavenly Harmony. Then Mr. James Wallace became organist. He went to Iowa. Other organists were John White, Jr., and Miss Lizzie Gilbert - all good.
- Stevenson, Mrs. T.M. (Mary Louise Cresap), "History of Dresden Presbyterian Church, 1819-1919."
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