My 5th great-grandfather, Thomas P. Hitch was a member of Old Bethel Methodist Church in Bantam, Clermont County, Ohio.
Clermont County Genealogical Society
HISTORY OF OLD BETHEL CHURCH
The Church History, was taken from the original record with original spelling and punctuation as found in the record.The author of this historical record is not identjfied. Ed.
19 April, 1991
Rev. John Coliins came here from NJ. in the year 1803 and became the owner of a large tract of land on the east fork of the Little Miami River. In 1804 he donated enough ground on which to build a church, and one made of logs from the surrounding forest, and called "Collins Meeting House" was, in a few months, dedicated by him. Other churches were established in adjacent neighborhoods and ere long there was an extensive circuit embracing those churches and called "Collins Circuit" of which Rev. John Collins was the first pastor. Every two weeks, sometimes on Sabbath, sometimes on Wednesday, there was preaching in Collins Meeting House. Prayer and class meetings were held regularly. Most of the early settlers assembled at these services and respectfully and attentively heard the word. The little church was blessed with revivals of great power, and many true and steadfast members were added to iL After a few years, its members had so increased that they were enabled to substitute a frame church for the log church in which they had been worshiping. While it was in course of erection, Mrs. Collins, wife of Rev. John Collins brought victuals to the carpenters and other workman, and was so happy that they could hear her singing as she came and went through the woods. The frame church with its high inclosed pulpit and galleries around three sides was dedicated in 1818. Rev. Jno McLean, a local preacher, taught two summers in the log church which was not torn down for awhile.
After a time the circuit was given the name of Laurel and Mt. Carmel, Olive Branch. Bethel and other villages were placed in other circuits. Zoar and Concord societie were formed principally from the membership of Old Bethel.
Mrs. Sarah Clark, wife of Benj. Clark, a Methodist exhorter and class leader was the second person buried in Old Bethel cemetery. Mr. Chanler was the first.
One of the early Bishops of the M.E. Church delivered a sermon in Old Bethel church on a week day about the year 1821. The first 5.5. was organized about 1830. Daughter of Rev. Collins was one of the teachers. Quarterly Conferences were notable occasions. Tickets were given those who attended the love feasts. Presiding elders and pastors preached with tongues of fire while the people prayed and praised with fervor.
The preachers were entertained mostly by Rev. John Collins, Jas Blackman and Thos String. Among the very earliest pastors of the church were, Jno Strange, Augustus Eddye, Levi White, Greenbury R. Jones, Isaac C. Hunter, John Clark, las W. Finley, Win. Simmons, Jno Ulin, Arthur B. Elliott, James Smith, Leroy Swormstedt, Win. D. Barrett and ___ Leedom, Zacharial Connell, Jacob Young, Geo W Maley, Burns Westlake and ___ Wells Dunn,~ Hands ,Verhoof, ___Frazer ___Beasley, Goshorn, ____Baxter Hosinger, and ___Gasner. John Collins
v-.-, and William Simmons (his son-in-law) traveled the circuit together about the year 1832.
The next year John Collins was reappointed to the circuit with John lJIin as his calleagus. The last named, after a few months died. Rev___Verhoof having preached but once at each appointment on circuit was taken sick and died. Rev. Greenbury R. Jones was two or three times on the circuit.
Rev. Levi White lived on Rev. John Collins farm and always had class meeting at the church on Thursday. Jas Blackman (brother of Mrs Collins) was for a long time leader of this class.
Rev. John Collins died and was buried here in 1845 Rev George Light officiated at the funeral service. Rev. Agustus Eddy taught school at Afton and married Patsy Thomas of that place. In 1890 Mrs. Eddy celebrated her 90th birthday with her three surviving children one of them the wife of Rev. E. Edwards of Wisconsin. Often while teaching school at Aften Agustus Deey exhorted in Collins meeting house and when he entered the ministry and became the pastor of the society he conducted some remarkable meetings there. Rev Jno Eddy, a war chaplain who was shot in ambush, and Thos. C. Eddy D. D., the orator, editor, and missionary secretary were his sons. Between the years 1835 and 1858 the following were among the pastors of Old Bethel, Edward D. Rowe, Win. Perrish and David Whitcomb, Jno Barton, M.G. Purkiser, Jas M. Gatch, Wesley Rowe and ___ Estell,
- Chaney, Win. H. Lander, Win. H. Fyffer, Enoch G. West, Henry E. Purkiser, Jno Shinn, Win. B. Jackson, las Armstrong, Geo Pararott. Rev. Benj Lakin, after his location' at Laurel preached, many times at Old Bethel. las M. Trimble D.D, Rev. Sam'l Latty and other ministers preached here on some special occasions. Rev. las Armstrong resided here for a number of years before and after his superanuation. He did much for Old Bethel and in this cemetery his remains awaits the resurection of the just.
Under Rev. Welsly Rowe and his colleagus, there was a wonderful revival at Old Bethel, one of the memorable conversions at this time was that of a man who did not want to be converted and who after listening to part of a sermon from Rev. N. Daily on the miracles of healing wrought by the Saviour started homeward, declaring that the church should not catch him for he was no cripple. Before he could get to the top of the bill up which he was running he fell and could get no further and had to be carried home. Then he desired to be a new creature in Christ Jesus and he sought the Lord and was changed. Among the exhorters and local preachers who often preached at Old Bethel or assisted the early pastors in special meetings were Eli Daily, Jesse Justice, Christian Husong, Nathanal Daily, Stephen Washington Duly, Richard Short, George W. Mallick, Jno Brunaugh, Robt Nichols, Andrew McLean, John McLean,Fee, - Price, - Warden, Jay, - Grange, mo Smith, Edmund Burdsall, Jno Hill, Lewis Duckwall, JnoGest, - Thompson, David Lindsy, Judson Calhoun, Elshia Dole. Among the stewards and class leaders of the early days were las Blackman, John Blair, Joshua Dole, Benj
Clark, Dan'l Ogden, Jesse Branduff, Thos Jenkins, Jno Enan, Win Holliday, Win McDonald, Jno Offutt, Benj Jenkins, Elisha Dole. The following are a few of the members who worshiped in the log church, Thos Hitch Sr, Zephaniah Steelman, David White, Enos Smith, Jas Ware, Sam'l Strimple, las Dole, -Moss and their wives, Isaac Higbee, las Deal, Isiah Clark. Christopher Clark, Mrs. Sarah Jeffris. The following are a few of those who became members after the frame church was built, John Leeds, Thou Mull, Thos Scull, las Stewart, mo Caster, Edward Barton, Jno McColium, Leeds Douthty, Jno Wilson, Eben Risley, and their wives, Robt Burnett, Jno Compton, Brazier James, Richard Mace and Wm Higher. The first four of the local preachers mentioned were enrolled in the membership of Old BetheL Their wives as also the wives of all the stewards and class leaders afterwards named, lived excelent lives and did excelent work in the church. Many of the children of these pioneer christians and of others whose names are not given emulated their parents in piety and good deeds. Some of their sons received and obeyed the Devine call to preach Christ crucified, while some of their daughters became the wives of ministers of the Gospel. In the year 1868 the frame church was remodeled. While the work was being accomplished, Sunday school and prayer meetings were held in the Bantam school house. The Presbyterian church having been kindly offered for public worship and preaching, the people assembled there for these services. The new church was dedicated in October 1868 by J.W. Langley D.D. Revs, W.T. McMullen, R.E. Smith and 'M.A. Head being present.