Editor’s note — This is the first of a multi-part series on the history of some of Highland County’s churches.
People started moving into the Highland County area and started churches in log cabins and the homes of property owners. The first actual church building in Highland County was not built until about 1810.
The First Presbyterian Church of Highland County was started in 1806. It originated in a log home along Rattlesnake Creek and was originally known as Rocky Spring Church.
David Jolly and Colonel William Keyes came to the area with a clear idea of their mission as religious leaders. The Rev. Hoge came from Columbus and started services at Clear Creek. A small church was erected there and became known as Nazareth. The church was used until 1816, when it was decided to move services to Hillsboro. The first service in Hillsboro was at the courthouse. In 1830, a lot at the corner of Main and East streets was purchased and a church was built there. The building was used until 1846 and then demolished.
Another church was built on the same site. It became known as the Crusade Church in December of 1873. The women of the community planned and executed a plan to stop liquor sales in Hillsboro. The movement expanded throughout the country, making Hillsboro the place where some say the temperance movement started.
The membership of the Presbyterian church continued to grow. In 1890, arrangements were made to add additional space. The cornerstone of the present church was laid in 1895 and the church was dedicated on May 14, 1899.
In 1784, the American Revolution and John Wesley opened the roads to establish the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.
In 1805, the Rev. James Quinn preached the first Methodist sermon in Hillsboro. In 1810, the first frame church was built on Church Street. It was used until 1815, when a larger church was built on Walnut Street. In 1822, a one-story brick building was built, and another building was built in 1853.
In 1804, approximately 20 years after John Wesley established the Methodist church in the U.S., it came to Greenfield. The first Methodist church was at a farm on Buckskin Creek in 1822. Church services were held in various places including a log school house.
In 1828, a Methodist church was built of brick on East Mirabeau Street. Then another church was erected in 1833, made of stone. In 1860, the Methodists were building a church at the corner of Mirabeau and Second streets when a tornado destroyed the building. The church was rebuilt in 1863. That church was destroyed by fire in 1880. Another church was built in 1882.
By 1900, a larger church was needed. Land was purchased on the corner of Fourth and South streets. On Nov. 11, 1902, a cornerstone was laid for the church. Edward Lee McClain had an idea for an institutionalized church, which featured reading rooms, two fully equipped bathing departments and a gymnasium. It was the first institution church in Ohio. The church was dedicated on June 6, 1904. It burnt down on May 1, 1910.
The present church was built on the foundation of the that was destroyed by fire. Construction begin in 1911 and was completed in October of 1912. A memorial room was added in 1937 for learning and social purposes.
The church has gone through several remodeling and improvements. In 1941, the sanctuary was remodeled, and in 1951, more remodeling was completed. Improvements and remodeling were completed again in 2011, thanks to a bequest from George M. Waddell.
On April 23, 1968, the Methodist church joined with the the Evangelical United Brethren Church becoming the United Methodist Church of Greenfield.
There are two Presbyterian churches in Highland County and eight Methodist churches.
Sources for this story included the First Presbyterian Church of Hillsboro and Greenfield Methodist Church websites, archives.gcah.org and askanydifference.com.
Jackie Wolgamott is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.