Clay Chapel

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Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI





The Beginning

   On a certain day in May of the year 1832, Rev. Sheldon Parker, a young man, a member of the Ohio Conference, and junior preacher for Burlington circuit, found his


way to the settlement in what is now the Clay Chapel neighborhood. Here in the humble homes of the people he received a royal welcome, and in a small log schoolhouse which stood about two hundred yards from the present warehouse of a Mr. Jacob Riggs (Riggs’ Landing,) he preached what was probably the first Methodist sermon ever delivered in that locality. And in the humble home of James and Mary Riggs, in the September following the first sermon by Parker, the first Methodist class in this part of Gallia County was organized by Rev. Samuel Harvey. The original members of this class mere James and Mary Riggs, Philip and Catherine Cubbage, Samuel and Matilda Patterson, Henry and Mary Kinder, Mrs. Lucinda Welch, better known as “Grandma Welch.” James Riggs and wife were the parents of Mr. Jacob Riggs. Philip Cubbage and wife were the parents of Mrs. Mary Pierce. Samuel Patterson and wife were parents of Messrs. Robert and John Patterson and Mrs. J. Cottrell. Henry Kinder and wife were the parents of Mr. Alfred Kinder deceased. “Grandma” Welch was the mother of Mrs. Matilda Patterson. She lived to almost a centenarian, and is yet mentioned by our old people as “a spry old lady.”
    Of this class, Samuel Patterson had the honor of being the first class leader. The services were held in the homes of the various members, but chiefly at the Cubbage, Riggs, and Patterson homesteads. The exercises were of the fervent order of that day, and the germs of truth planted in the hearts of those early pioneers has blossomed and fruited from generation to generation, until children’s children even to the third generation now sing the praises of the same blessed Savior as did those of old.
   In the fall of 1832, the noble band of heroic souls were so fully confirmed in their faith, and so earnest in their desire to further the cause of their Master, that they made application to the Legislature of Ohio for a charter. Their petition was granted either late in1832 or early in 1833, and then they planned and labored for larger things. It would not just to the fair names of these heroic dead not to say more of some of them.


   The year 1781 is noted as the date of the surrender of a fine English army by Cornwallis at Yorktown, VA. It also marks an important event in the history of Clay Chapel. On the 27th of December following the surrender of Cornwallis, in Caroline county, Maryland, which is about 120 miles north of Yorktown, was born Philip Cubbage who was to take an active part in the work planting Christianity on the bank of the Ohio in years to come. When twenty-one years of age he started west, landing at Marietta in 1802. Here he remained during a period of nineteen years, when he followed the “beautiful Ohio” towards its mouth, stopping in Gallia county in 1821, where he spent the remainder of the years allotted to him by a generous Creator in which to build a Character such as would stand God’s testing time at the judgment day.
   While living in Marietta he became a member of the Presbyterian church; but upon the first organization of the Methodist class Clay Chapel, he became a member of that denomination, and continued in active service until the Father called him home,


May 6, 1860. He was a physician, and in the day of his judgmentmany who were his poor neighbors here on earth will testify gladly of his good deeds to them, and all who came in touch with him will bear witness to the fact that he not only said, “I am Christ’s,” but proved his faith by his works.
    His companion, Catherine Jeffers, gladdened the hearts of her parents in their Allegheny County, ( Pa.) home in the same year that our beloved first President breathed his last, 1799. In course of time she became the wife of Philip Cubbage, and with him came to Gallia County in 1821. Here they built a home, the brick part of the residence now occupied by Mr. Friend Thornily, standing about one-fourth mile above the mouth of Teen’s Run and about one-eighth mile back from the river. And here they dispensed with free hearts and open hands, a portion of the gift which God permitted them to glean from his own fields by earnest toil, to those more needy than themselves. Mrs. Cubbage survived her noble husband as many years as he was her senior, dying July 9, 1879, and being buried by the side of her “sharer of earth’s toils,” in the beautiful cemetery Clay Chapel, where their sleeping dust awaits the archangel’s trumpet, when time on earth shall be no more.
    It will be of interest to many to know that their home was frequently used as the place of worship by the small class, and that on quarterly meeting occasions, Bro. Cubbage and his good wife cared for many of their fellow members who came from a distance, dozens of people and horses as well falling to their lot according to the generous hospitality of days.


   James Riggs was born in Washington, D. C, in 1797.When quite young his parents came across the Allegheny Mountains to the west, as the present north- central states were then called. No railroads threaded the narrow winding valleys and crossed the summit of the mountains, and so they took the best conveyance at hand. This consisted of a single horse. On this animal the wife and mother rode, holding upon her lap an older sister of James, while he was placed in one end of a large bag thrown across the horse’s back and balanced on the other side by a Wooly-headed little colored Girl named Sally. To prevent the urchins from smothering, an opening was made for each at the proper place; and the grotesque outfit drew many a villager from his work as the travelers passed along, the father trudging on afoot carrying his gun.
    The Marylander first settled in Washington County, on the farm which is now occupied by the town of New Matamoras, in the extreme northeastern corner of the county. There he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Bare in December 1820. The newly married couple removed to Monroe County in the same year, where they remained until 1832, when they came to Gallia County. Here he found a small buckeye cabin about 10x12 feet, located a little below the present Riggs’ landing. The next year a more commodious structure was added to the cabin, the latter being then used as a kitchen. In the course time he built the present comfortable brick building now occupied by his son, Jacob. After many years of usefulness he passed


into the great beyond, July 14, 1870, and his body was laid away in Clay Chapel cemetery, the funeral sermon being preached by his pastor, Rev. Daniel Tracy.
    It was good that such a man had a wife who was capable of sharing with her husband the cares and responsibilities of life. That such was the case will appear from the following excellent account of her career, written soon after her death, by one who knew her well, Mrs. M. Marshall, now of Columbus, Ohio, and published in a Gallipolis paper:
    “Mary, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bare, was born in Hagerstown Md., January 8, 1802, and died at the house of her son, Jacob Riggs, in Gallia county, Ohio, June 24, 1888. Her father was from Germany, and was a second cousin to William I, the late lamented emperor. When twelve years of age her parents moved to Monroe County, Ohio, there in December 1820, she was married to James Riggs.
    She and her husband were two, and she the last of nine members who, in 1833, formed the first, class on what is now known in Ohio Conference as Eureka charge. Mother Riggs’s home was the preaching-place and the stopping-place of the itinerant minister.
    She was a subscriber and reader of the Western Christian Advocate from its first issue. Her Bible, church periodicals, and other good books, were her daily companions, and rare spiritual and intellectual attainments were the result. Being industrious, large-hearted, possessed of ample means, and ever ready for every good word and work, for one in the quiet walks of life, she exerted a wide influence. Many besides her own rise up and call her blessed.
    Modesty, humility, a deep reverence for holy things, added to her zeal and unflinching loyalty, made up a symmetrical Christian character which commanded and won universal admiration from all about her. In her home she was patient, pleasant, and cheerful.
    She was the mother of eleven children. Two died in infancy, and two in mature years. Four sons and two daughters are left. Of her father’s family, one sister and three brothers still live.
    Her last sickness was of something more than two week’s in duration; the last few days were full of extreme suffering; at one time when her daughter, Mrs. Hanley, expressed a desire that she might live, her reply was, “I am fully resigned to the wi11 of the Lord,” and while suffering great pain she was heard to plead: “Dear Savior, my Savior come in mercy and take me.” The only regret she expressed was that she had not done more good in the wor1d. In the final hours wooing angels seemed hovering about her. At one time looking up in glad surprise she exclaimed: “Oh, Mamma! Why mamma !” Subdued voices about her bed were singing “Palms of Victory,” when suddenly she extended her bands to the angelic throng and when out from among us.”


   The state of Pennsylvania has honor of being the birth- place of Clay Chapel’s first class leader, Mr. Samuel Patterson, who first saw the light of day about the year


1800. From his native state he went in course of time, and fina1ly settled in Clay Township, Gallia County. One of the charter members, he was chosen as the first leader of the small class of nine, holding that honored position for some years, thus showing the high regard in which he was held by his pastors and also by his fellow-members. After serving his church and fulfilling his Master’s will for over twenty-one years, he was called from labor to refreshment in the year 1854. His remains rest in the Cottrell graveyard, a burial place a little over a mile from the mouth of Raccoon creek and situated on the creek bank of the same. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Herman Newman.
    It was in the ordering of God’s providence that such a servant of the Master should have a fitting helpmeet. This Brother Patterson found in the person of Miss Matilda Welch, who was horn about 1795, and to whom he was united in marriage in the year----
    In early life she united with M. E, church, of which she continued a consistent member until in 1872. At that time, becoming dissatisfied with her baptism, she was immersed and became a member of the Christian church. She continued a faithful and worthy member of that body till God released her from her toils, and she was taken to be forever with the Lord, on the 15 day of November 1877. The funeral services mere conducted Rev. W. H. DeVore, after which her body was laid to rest in Cottrell cemetery, by the side of her departed husband.
    Their home was often the preaching-place as well as the temporary home of the itinerants and their liberal hands dispensed the hospitality of generous hearts to the multitudes who gathered at times for the worship of God. One of his sons tells me he remembers of one gathering at which sixty-one persons took dinner at his father’s house. Those days had their drawbacks, but verily they also had a hospitality to which the present generation is almost a total stranger.


Eastern Virginia was the births place and early home of these two pioneers. When young in life they came to Gallia County and spent the rest of their earthly life near Clay Chapel. As before noted they were among the charter members of Clay Chapel, and tradition tells us that they performed their part well. The husband died about 1855, and was interred in the Cottrell burial ground. The wife died at St. Albans, W. V. in 1878, and an attempt was made to put her remains by those of her deceased husband, but the Ohio being very much swollen, they were compelled to place her body to rest in the old cemetery of Gallipolis.
    Five daughters and three sons were the result of their union, all of whom have passed into the great beyond, except one daughter, Mrs. Sarah Whitaker, of Winfield, Putnam county, W. V. There are now thirty-three grand children living, most of whom are members of the Methodist church.  One of their grandsons,


Thos. Lasley, is a minister in the Baptist church. Mrs. Kinder was a daughter of “Grandma” Welch, and a sister of Mrs. Sarah Patterson.


   Of the nine charter members so bravely faced the odds in order to begin the class at Clay Chapel, possibly none was wider known nor more highly esteemed than “Grandma” Welch as the subject of this sketch was familiarly called.
    She was born in the year 1755, and rounded out a full Century ere the Master said, “Tis enough, come up higher.” She was the mother of Mrs. Samuel Patterson and Mrs. Henry Kinder. Her strong Christian faith resulted in a well-developed character and enabled her to 1eave her imprint on her descendants to the fourth generation, who now are proud to be known as among the direct offspring of so noble a Christian woman. Mrs. Julia Plymale has given me the following story, which shows the heroic element in the faith of this early Christian woman:
    “My parents at one time lived near the mouth of Raccoon creek and great-grandmother Welch lived about two miles up the creek. One day mother took the skiff and rowed up to the home of “Grandma” Welch, intending to bring the old lady home for a visit. When she had made her preparations, both entered the boat and started on the return trip. Soon a terrific storm overtook them. The thunder rolled, the lightning flashed, the wind roared among the branches of the trees bordering the stream and seemed to weave a canopy of limbs and leaves above their heads, and every moment it was feared by mother the rain would come in torrents thro the slight canopy of leaves and branches. But “Grandma” Welch said, “Be calm, child we will pray for the storm of rain to hold off until we get home.” She prayed. It was like Elisha’s prayer of old, fervent and earnest. Somehow the rain did not begin at once to fall as mother had feared. The boat sped on. The landing was reached. The aged saint, led by her granddaughter, walked up the bank to the house. Just as their feet touched the porch floor the rain fell in torrents on the roof. “There child,” said the confident believer, “the Lord has heard my prayer.”
    Modern skepticism may smile at the credulity of this dear, old saint, but it remains true, that just such faith has been possessed by almost all who have subdued the forest and made the desert blossom as a rose, from the beginning of history even unto this present day.
    So closes the account of the original nine “who planted the seeds of Christianity deep in their own hearts, and in the hearts of their children, and whose careers better enable us to understand the words of John: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follows him.’’


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