“OUR EARLY CHURCH”
Speech given by Ethel Hays at the Methodist Episcopal Church
Newport in about 1950
settlement in Newport
was in April, 1798. In 1799, Rev. Robert Manley, the first Methodist preacher
in Washington County, visited the Newport settlement. It was one of his
stopping places in his evangelistic tour. The ministers who followed him to Marietta did not neglect
this way station; consequently, it was not long before a Methodist Society was
organized. They first worshiped in the school house which stood near the
present Bleakley home.
In 1825, it
was deemed advisable to organize a regular church and this they did with less
than twenty members. However, it was not until 1829 that a house of worship was
ready for occupancy. This frame building was erected at a cost of $800.00 and
stood on the site of our old brick school building which was torn down just a
few years ago.
Young was the first preacher after the church was occupied and dedicated. From
a mere handful the membership of the church increased. Revivals were
experienced from time to time and many memories cluster around the old, but
never-to-be-forgotten mourner’s bench.
earliest records that have been preserved are the Book of Records of sessions
of the Quarterly Conference on the Newport Circuit in 1845. In those early days
Newport Circuit embraces many charges – namely, Newell’s Run, Upper Paw Paw,
Lebanon, Salem, Lowell, Moss Run, Cow Run, Rea’s Run, Yankeeburg, and Lynch. As
the years passed some of these charges were placed on other circuits and new
ones added to the Newport Circuit.
charges were taken care of largely by local preachers and exhorters. These
circuit stewards were carefully examined in respect to their character and
their ability to carry on the duties of a preacher. Records reveal that quite
often one would fail to meet the requirements.
available record of a Quarterly conference in the Newport circuit begins in 1862. Here we find
the pastor supported by the following churches; Brownsville, Cline, Mill Creek, Grandview, new Matamoras,
Centerview, Rea’s Run, Pleasant Ridge, Newport
and Bell. The
amount assessed to Newport
to meet the demands of that year was $215.00, and for New Matamoras it was
It was in
1866, that Rev. John W. Hamilton came to Newport Church.
This was his first appointment, and while here, he married Julia Elizabeth
Battelle the [grand] daughter of Ebenezer and Mary Greene Battelle. The Greenes
and the Battelles were among the first settlers of Newport and to Ebenezer Battelle goes the
credit of plotting this village. In later years after the death of his first
wife, Rev. Hamilton was married to her sister, Emma Battelle. Rev. Gordon
Battelle – to whose memory the Soldier’s Monument was erected wand whose statue
stands facing West Virginia,
the state from which he had a large part in forming its constitution – was a
brother-in-law of Rev. Hamilton.
John W. Hamilton had become Bishop Hamilton and he returned to Newport and made the dedicatory address when
the Soldier’s Monument was dedicated.
It was a
short time after Rev. Hamilton first came to Newport that Centenary Chapel, our present
church, was planned. No record is given for the selection of “Centenary Chapel”
as the name of the new church. The minutes of the Quarterly conference on Nov. 10, 1866, list the
following people elected as a Building Committee: Ebenezer Battelle, Sr., E. A.
Jones, Henry O’Blenness, Aaron Edgell and John Vorley. It was about this time
too that the records reveal the origin of the Ladies Sewing Circle. They, no
doubt, had a share in raising the funds for the erection of the new church. In
October, 1867, Rev. Hamilton reported to the Quarterly Conference (quote); “Newport’s new church is
on the way. The foundation is completed, the brick ready and both very nearly
paid for. All things thus far indicate success.”
was not complete until the spring of 1870, at a cost of $7000.00. Rev. D. C.
Knowles was the pastor then and for the dedication service, on May 15, 1870, Dr. C. A.
Holmes of the Pittsburgh Conference gave the dedicatory address.
Rev J. H.
Doan was the pastor to follow Rev. Knowles and records reveal this interesting
report by him (Quote): “I have catechized the children in the Newport school in
connection with their regular lesion two or three times, but not in the church
catechism. I have, however, supplied a considerable number of families with the
catechism,” (unquote.) In all of his reports, Rev. Doan went to great lengths
to list every detail of his work. In 1880, after several other pastors had
served this charge, Rev. Doan was returned to the Newport Circuit. In one of
his quarterly conference reports he states (Quote): “Brother William S Gano and
some of the other young men with several of the young women of the Newport
Society have undertaken to pay off the remaining debt on the Newport church, now amounting to $570.00, and
have prosecuted this work. It is due to the members of the Ladies Aid Society
that we say that Society is the largest subscriber to this fund, and that is in
addition to previous payments for the same purpose, amounting to about $397.00.
The truth appears to be that the women have saved the Newport Church.
Whether it would finally have been saved without their aid, I know not; but
feel it is clear that as the matter how stands, the credit is due to them and I
fell it is but just that this record
should be made. They have raised and applied to church purposes in fourteen
years about $1800.00, (unquote.) Respectfully submitted, J. H. Doan, P.C.
In another report – Feb. 1881 –
Rev. Doan says thus: “The debt on the church art Newport which so long embarrassed the society
there had been paid in full and the mortgage cancelled. Great credit is due to
the young man and the young women of the church through whose instrumentality
this has been effected.”
Starkey became pastor in 1883 and served four years. In the fourth year of his
pastorate, he died suddenly- the first pastor to die while serving our church.
Rev. J. D. Kaho finished the remaining part of the year.
T. I. McRae
became pastor in 1886 and it was during his pastorate, in 1888, that the church
was improved at a cost of $1700.00. At that time the front entrance, the
vestibule, with the large center steeple and two smaller cupolas were added.
The building committee was composed of Dr. J. H. McElhinney, Mrs. Lydia G. Rea.
W. S. Gano, James Kerr, and Richard Rea. On August 3, 1887, T. I. McRae was married to
Miss Ella R. Hays, a Newport
girl who was a great worker in the church. The wedding ceremony was performed
in this church presiding elder, W. L. Dixon. Probably this was the first
wedding ceremony to be culminized in this church.
Rev. R. W.
Gardiner was the next pastor given this appointment. He also married a prominent
young lady in the Newport
church, Miss Cora H. Rea. She was church organist for many years. She is still
living and at present is with her daughter at Geneva, Ohio.
Rev. B. E. Edgell, a native of Newport, entered the
ministry from this church. He was licensed to exhort at Newport in 1865, and was licensed to preach
in 1867. He served the Newport
charge from 1890 to 1892. Later, he and his wife went to China as
missionaries and remained three years. In his pastor’s report of 1891, we note
that an iron ceiling had been donated to the church at a cost of $125.00. This was a gift of the Battelles.
Another Newport man who entered
the ministry from this church was John W. Moore. He was born here and converted
in 1866. He was graduated from Mt.
and later received his Ph. D. degree from Alleghany College.
He did not hold a pastorate here at Newport
but frequently visited his mother Mrs. Susan Moore, and always would preach a
rousing sermon. His son, John N. Moore, was pastor of this church in later
under the pastorate of Rev. F. A. Domer, a chapel was added to the church at
the cost of $700.00. This chapel was built by Epworth League, a
flourishing young people’s society,
under the leadership of J. E. W. Greene.
During Rev. Domer’s pastorate, too,
we find that proceedings were undertaken to have a parsonage erected. Two lots
were purchased for $150.00; and, in 1900 the balance of $317.00 was paid on the
during the pastorate of Rev. A. N. Misel, in the early 1900’s, that much
material improvement was started on the church. He began the good work by
raising $700.00 and having the church re-roofed at a cost of $317.00.
improvement was continued under the pastorate of M. W. Bevington. The interior
was refreshed and revarnished at a cost of $315.00, with about $25.00 being
expended on the belfry. Beautiful stained glass windows costing nearly $400.00
were installed. The windows in the main auditorium cost about $31.50 each and
were furnished by friends and relatives of those whose names are inscribed on
the windows. The large front window in the vestibule cost $45.00 and was the
gift of the Epworth League. The building also was plumbed for gas and new gas
fixtures were purchased at a cost of about $50.00.
concludes the history of the church up until the turn of the century.
Miss M. Ethel Hays