Smithville Methodist Church History

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Smithville Methodist Church History, June 27, 1937

Just 62 years ago today the first Methodist church was dedicated in Smithville. It stood where the present one now stands. From Historical notes that my uncle Rev. J. J. Lutz gathered and from his diary, I obtained this history.

The minutes of the Western Conference show that the Reverend John Summerville was appointed to Tuscarawars Circuit to serve from October 1812-1813. It was he who organized the class of six member in the cabin of Michael Smith, located near the spring on the Orr farm, where Mr. Babb now lives. They continued to meet at the Thomas cabin until 1818 when they held their service at the Thomas Winkler home, until he moved away. He was the great grandfather of John Winkler. they then met at a school house near where number 9 now stands. A Camp Meeting was held in 1822 on the farm occupied by A. Wm. McFadden.

Methodist services must have continued in the township, in and near Smithville from that first organization, from the references we found of the appointments the early preacher had. In 1841 another organization was effected in the town but the members were scattered through removals, so the organization was abandoned in about a year, and Smithville was continued as a mission, meeting for a time at the Lutz home. Later on in the old Presbyterian church located where the burying ground is back of J. W. Wirth|Wirth's, then in the Lutheran Church, in the Church of God, as well as in the School house.

The present society was organized in the spring of 1856, largely through the efforts of the mother of our own oldest member, J. W. Bricker by Reverend G. A. Reeder Sr. Later fiver more were added to the first three members. By 1869 the records show that there were 69 members. By 1871 90 members. They continued to meet at other churches or the school building, but "being driven" as Mr. Bricker expressed it "from pillar to post they decided to build and on June 27, 1875 just 62 years from this day the church was dedicated". We were on the Orrville Circuit with Rev. J. L. Sanford as pastor. I have often seen in my Uncle's diary, who preached the sermon and from where his text was taken, but at this moment I am unable to locate his 1875 diary. If I recall rightly the one who preached the dedicatory sermon was Reverend W. H. Painter, then the Presiding Elder of our Wooster District. The church was valued at $3,000. The numbers of members was given as 112.

The Conference minutes of 1875 gives Rev. Andrew McCulloch as the preacher appointed at Smithville alone. In the same minutes the indebtedness on the building is recorded as $350. Sunday school scholars of all ages 87. Conversions 65.

We hear people speak of the good old times. it was about this time that I found the ministerial support promised was $500. Reported paid $300. This must have been the time my father often told about, "when two of the sisters of the church, got one of the brothers to give enough money to buy enough material for two shirts for the preacher, which they mad. And with $200 short on salary, a great ado was made in the presentation of two shirts to the preacher.

Converts from the revival meetings in this church have gone as workers in practically every church in the community. Because of the many students attending the Academy and Normal school here, the influence of the church has reached much beyond the immediate vicinity. Many of the 65 converts under Rev. MCulloch|McCulloch were students. If you were to go out over the country to meet with other churches, you would find among the earnest lay workers former students of the school conducted by Rev. C. Z. English, who was also our pastor. He often spoke of the winter meeting held here when all but 2 of the students were Christians being converted at the meeting.