‘The Crusade Church’


The First Presbyterian Church on East Main Street in Hillsboro was a key location during the Temperance Crusades of 1873-74, according to historians.

The church is the first church to be identified with the history of Highland County, according to its website. Originally known as Nazareth, it was organized by settlers on Clear Creek sometime between 1804 and 1807. According to the website, though the exact date is unknown, historians recollected that, “the first church building was a rough log structure (and) during the pastorate of Rev. Nicholas Pittenger,” the first pastor, “a new brick structure was built on the edge of town.”

Upon completion of the new building, which stood on the location of the former Main Street Primary School in Hillsboro, the church then assumed the name of The Presbyterian Church of Hillsboro, Ohio.

The church moved again in 1831, following the construction of a new building, located on East Street. While this building was demolished a few years later, a second church was built in the same location.

The new building was significant in that, according to historians, it was there on Dec. 23, 1873, that the women of the town, inspired by the speeches of temperance lecturers, planned, congregated “and executed a successful Crusade to halt the sale of intoxicating liquor in Hillsboro.”

From these beginnings, the temperance movement gained exponential momentum. Its tenets were disseminated all over the country.

“Hillsboro thus gained fame as the cradle of the temperance movement,” according to historians, and resultantly, “The First Presbyterian Church became known as, ‘The Crusade Church.’”

Since it was so well known for its use as a significant historical location pertaining to the temperance movement, the eventual building of the current iteration of the church, dedicated in 1899, was bittersweet, according to a statement on the church website.

“It was therefore with great sadness that the congregation recognized the need in 1894 to replace the historic structure with a more commodious building. The first block of the foundation for the present structure was laid in 1895, and in 1899, our beautiful Gothic style church was dedicated,” the website says.

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

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