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100 Years Ago

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Religious services were held in the county before any churches were established. Because Shelby County was in the old circuit rider’s territory from Bellefontaine and Piqua, it is likely that services were conducted once every month. They would be held wherever it was convenient, probably outdoors.  The first church to hold regular Sunday services in Shelby County, Ohio, was the Hardin Methodist-Episcopal Church. It was organized before 1819 by the Rev. Goddard at Cephas Carey’s house. This church would continue to meet in member’s homes for the next 13 years until enough funds were collected to build a permanent place of worship.

"The frontier circuit rider was very courageous and determined. He carved out congregations in these scattered settlements and did as much to bring civilization to the wilderness as the woodsmen’s ax."

The first two churches in Sidney were the Presbyterians (1825, Reverend Joseph Stevenson) and Methodists. (1825, Rev. Levi White). They met in homes or under trees on the river bank. In 1829, the organizing committee paid $16 for the lot to construct the Methodist church’s first building which was opened in 1831.

Religion played a very strong part in many pioneer’s lives. After all, it was the religious persecution of the Puritans that caused the English to come to America in the 1600s and the persecution of the Mormons that resulted in their mass exodus out west to Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1840s.

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'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge


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