The Sunday School
In this day, when our Sunday schools,
well-organized, and officered by some of the very best minds our country
affords, well- equipped with many modern conveniences and a variety of
helps never before equaled, numbering in our country alone about 11,000,000
members, it is difficult for us to believe that this vast and energetic
movement is really less than a century old.
Form the very first, Christians began the instruction
of the young, in this following the example of the Jews. The study of these
early schools is a very interesting one, but does not need our attention
During the period of the religious reformation in Europe,
Luther founded schools akin to our modern Sunday schools as ear1y as 1529,
and this idea and practice spread wherever the Reformation gained a start.
From 1560-84, Charles Borromeo Arch-bishop of Milan had
a system of schools introduced into his diocese, which were almost identical
in form to our modern Sunday school.
In 1560 Sunday schools were introduced into the churches of
Scotland by the celebrated John Knox; in Bath, England, in the same year; and
in 1674 into Roxbury, Massachusetts; in 1789 into Pennsylvania by Ludwig Blacker.
But the movement was not general, and did not become so until
after Robert Raikes of Gloucester, England, started the first Sunday school in
that place in 1780. The work soon spread, many eminent and wealthy people aiding
it. Much opposition was met in places even from church members; but the tide
of popular favor overwhelmed all opposition. At first the teachers were paid,
but in course of time this custom gradually gave way to that of free instruction.
To any who desire a full but brief account of the Sunday school movement, let
them be directed to the article “Sunday Schools” in the Schaff-Herzog
So much of the origin of Sunday schools has been given
to show that the movement was only in youth, when our early church workers
at Clay Chapel began to worship God in their little buckeye cabin on the
bank of the Ohio.
The worshipers were but settled in their new brick church
when the Sunday school wave struck them, for in 1834 the first organization
was made with Samuel Patterson as Superintendent. The school was organized
into classes, the teacher of each selecting such Scripture lesson as he might
deem best and presenting in his own way.
The younger scholars who were unable to read received instruction
from “Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book,” but few copies of
which are now in existence, and they are mostly in the hands of those who are
fond of antiquities.
One exercise soon became general not only here but elsewhere;
viz., committing to memory verses of the Bible and repeating them before
the school or the class.
At a certain session of the Annual Conference Clay Chapel
was highly complimented by the Bishop on the report of the number of verses committed
by its members. Bro. Samuel Lasley was the bearer of the report, and was able
to state that five persons at least had committed almost the entire New Testament
to memory. These five persons
were Robert Patterson, Phidelia McClellan, Wm.
Riggs, Andrew Cubbage and Mary Riggs. It will not be amiss here to say that this
enables us to understand and to believe that much of the early portions of Scripture
may have been handed down for generations without its sense being marred by any
No records of any value appear until 1860, after which
they are only “poor” for some years, finally reaching the state
of “fair” about 1866, and that of “good” in 1869.
In 1869 the officers were Wm. Ashley, superintendent, Grasson Davis, secretary,
E A. Riggs, librarian, T. A. Roberts, treasurer.
Previous to 1872 the school adjourned late in the fall
until spring, but on November 10 of that year they decided by a close vote
to continue through the entire year.
This was not the first innovation, however, for in 1870
an organ was introduced, and as was the case almost everywhere upon similar
attempts, it created considerable feeling which threatened the welfare of
the class for some time. Finally a compromise was effected by using the organ
only at Sunday school and omitting its use at the regular church services.
Happily that opposition long ago vanished, and now no service is lessened
by the silence of one of the sweetest musical instruments God ever gave to
the inventor’s brain.
The second innovation came soon after the date of the
reorganization of the school for the spring work, April 20, 1871. This was
the introduction of the “Berean Lesson Leaf,” containing the
International Lessons. Since then the school is satisfied only with the best,
and is now one of the best equipped schools in country places in southern
Until 1875 but one or two collections were taken each
year for the support of the school. At that time weekly collections became
the order, the first being given to the cause of missions, the others being
devoted to current expenses, any surplus to be used for the purchase of new
books for the library. After a considerable fund had been saved for the latter,
it was diverted from its use to the church expenses. This gave rise to the
custom of inviolably setting apart the collection of the third Sunday of
each month as a “Library Fund,” And this seems a fitting place
to give a brief account of one of the most powerful agencies of the Sunday
school work in these modern days.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL LIBRARY.
Some of us who are not so young as we used to be,
can remember When the Sunday school Library Was a prominent factor only
in the town or city. But those days have gone by forever, for now in
many of the smaller towns and even in some country places, the library
is being introduced, and is meeting with well-deserved success.
Just when the pioneers of Clay Chapel began a Sunday school
library, cannot now be definitely determined. The first records at hand give
us the report of the librarian for 1860, which is as follows:
|Lesson Books on N. T.......
|Old Spellers (Webster's)....
|Old $5.00 Library..............
|Class Books ....................
In July 1867, the Sunday school at Sardis (a school-house
about half way between C1ay Chapel and Ohio Chapel) was discontinued,
and its library of 320 volumes was equally divided between the latter.
In the same year $39.16 was expended for new books, and $11,80
was devoted to supplying the little folks with attractive papers.
But as there was no system of keeping the records of books
loaned, the library was constantly beings depleted by those who were careless.
After due consideration a system of records was adopted and the books were
better cared for. That plan was further improved by the writer, and is comprehended
in the following scheme, a copy of which, with the blanks properly filled,
is pasted on the first inside cover of each volume:
Rules of Clay Chapel Sunday School Library
1. Only one book at a time can be taken by any member.
2. The member who takes a book, is responsible for it until credited with the
and if lost, or if seriously damaged, must pay back an amount as the Superintendent
may deem just.
3. Books must not be retained for a longer time than three weeks. A penalty
of 5 cents per week must be paid, by any who retain a book longer.
4. Books may be borrowed or returned at any session of the school
5. No member who refuses to comply with these rules can use this library.
6. N. B. Let all parents encourage their children to read the volumes of this
library, and assist in maintaining it.
7. See that they do not violate the rules, and thus teach then to regard all
Each volume has a special receptacle in the bookcase.
A large card having blank places for dates of taking out and returning
the book, together with space for the name of the borrower opposite dates,
is kept inside the first cover when the book is in the case. When the
book is taken out, the name of the borrower and the date are placed on
the card, which is then put in the place occupied by that volume. When
the book is returned, the proper date is put on the card, which is then
placed in the book, and latter put in its proper receptacle in the case.
An added space at the right enables the librarian to record the penalties,
when there are such.
Other Sunday schools may be profited by a list of the modern
books now in this library; hence the titles are here given.
IN CLAY CHAPEL SUNDAY SCHOOL LIBRARY.
New Life of Christ, for Old and young, How to Win,
Young Folk’s Life of Christ, Stepping Heavenward, Who Shall Serve,
The Flower of the Family, The Gates of Eden, When the War Broke Out,
Ringing Bells, At Brown’s, An Adirondack Story, His Cousin the
Doctor, A Galahad of Now-a-days, Around Bronton, General Gordon, The
Schonberg Cotta Family, Plucky Boys, Counting the Cost, Four Girls, Poor
Boys Who Became Famous, Jed, Guides And Guards in Character Building,
Her Husband’s Home, Stephen Lyle, The South Ward, Rockton, Across
Her Path, The Thread of Gold. Young Folks’ Bible History, Dean
Stanley with the Children, Young Folks’ History of Eng- land, The
Struggle for Immortality, Chaff and Wheat, Amusements, Helen The Historian,
Ben-Hur, The Mystery of Metropolisville, “ Ruth Erskine’s
Crosses, Barriers Burned Away, Abraham; or the Obedience of Faith, Old
Town Folks, Without a Home, The Minister’s Wooing, Aunt Jane’s
Hero, Chautauqua Girls at Home, Katrina, The Home at Greylocks, Pilgrim’s
Progress, The Sabbath, Daniel Quorum and His Religious Notions, Marion,
or Safe in the Shadow of the Rock, The Nine Blessings, The Hoosier Schoolmaster,
Judge Burnham’s Daughters, Lessons in Life, Her Ben, Growing Up;
His Way and Hers, St, Rockwell’s Little Brother, In His Own Way,
Forty Witnesses, A Troublesome Name, Arlie’s Mission, Gates of
Eden, Comrades, The Little Corporal, One Woman’s Way, An Odd Fellow,
She Holy War, Gems without Polish, Comfort For the Bereaved, Don’t
Worry. My Strange Rescue, The Royal Road, Ragweed, Endeavor Chris, College
Library, A Great Appointment, A Great Emergency, Cash, The Friendly Five,
A Lone Woman in Africa, Three Old Maids in Hawaii, Oowikapum, By Canoe
and Dog Train, Reuben, A Prince in Disguise, Three of Us, The Picket
Line of Missions, The Ministry of Art, Life on High Levels, Champions
of Christianity, George Washington, the Ideal Patriot, A Loyal Little
Maid, His Little Mother, A Boy and The Christ, Big Brother, Black Beauty,
A Child’s History of England, Faith, Hope, Love and Duty, Frozen
Seas, Ten Nights in a Bar Room, Sailor Boy Bob, The Land We Live In,
Notable Events of the Nineteenth Century, The Secret of a Happy Home,
Winter Evening Tales, Many Thoughts of Many Minds, The Fairy Land of
Science, How to Succeed, Holiday Stories for Young people, The Wedding
Ring, Recitations for the Social Circle, Vox Dei, Bible and Modern Thought,
of the World, Life Among the Indians, Autobiography of Granville
Moody, Sybilla, Seamstress of Stettin, Galilean Gospel.
E. A. Riggs
Much credit is due Mr. E. A. Riggs, who has served
as superintendent almost continuously since 1875, for the present condition
of the library as well as for the use of the blackboard, and for numerous
other improvements in this line of Christian work. He also gathered most
of the facts set forth in the historical account of the school as presented
in this chapter.
Others have served with credit to themselves as superintendents
among whom are Perry Davis, Truman Guthrie, Jacob Riggs, Samuel Lasley, Mrs.
M. Marshal, J. L. McDaniel, and the present. Par many years, the school been
organized as a Missionary Society, and has contributed liberally to carry
out the Saviour’s command: “Go ye into all the world and preach
Children’s Day has been observed almost continuously
since it was authorized by the General Conference of 1872. Many of the programs
have been of a very high order and the work of the school along this line
has been a credit to both church and Sunday school.
In addition to this the school has many times rendered
a fitting program on Easter and also on Christmas.
And in numerous ways, it may truthfully be said, has Clay
Chapel Sunday school proven its right to exist by the good, which it has been
able to accomplish in the community.
The spirit of progress still lives and because there is
now need of a few innovations, it is hoped that the historian of the future
may have abundant material for faithfully recording the facts of the constant
improvement of the Sunday school at Clay Chapel.
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