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The Early History of the Presbyterian Church

     What is now known as the "First Presbyterian Church of Gallipolis," was the first religious society organized in this city. This organization having occurred sixty-three years ago, a brief reference to the men and incidents connected therewith may be of interest to the readers of the Journal at this time. Thus believing we proceed to their narrative. For the facts of this history we are indebted to a paper found among the effects of the late Gen. Lewis Newsom.
     In the year 1811, Dr. Jonas Safford having located here, and desiring to promote religious instruction among the people, took steps for the organization of regular Sabbath day services. His efforts met with a hearty response from the people of the town. The first services took place in the old Court House, then situated on the Public Square. The paper to which we have referred gives the following statement of the exercises: "Dr. Safford opened the exercises with prayer; a hymn was then sung, when he read in a clear, emphatic voice a selected sermon, after which the exercises were closed by an address to the throne of grace, the singing of a hymn and the benediction." On each Sabbath during the summer of 1811 the same services were observed. These we understand, were the first religious Sabbath day services held in Gallipolis. Says the paper from which we compile our history: "As soon as it was known generally that religious exercises were kept up in the Court House, free for all, the people in the country began to attend."
During this year, 1811, the first sacrament of the Lord's supper was administered, Rev. Mr. Lindley, of Athens, officiating. At the meeting on that day there were present as follows: Dr. Safford, wife and family, Gen. Tupper and wife, Mrs. Gleason, Mary Gleason, Judge Rodgers and wife, John Rodgers and wife, Nathaniel Gates, Gen. Steenbergen and wife, James Beck and wife, Lewis Newsom and wife, Judge Safford, John Booton and wife, Elijah Knight, Brewster Higley, Charles Mills and wife, Michael Koontz and wife, Luther Shepard and wife, John Atchinson and wife, and others. Rev. Lindley administered the sacrament to some nine persons, consisting of Dr. Safford, wife and son, Mrs. D. Reese, William Morrison and wife, Mrs. Gleason, Mrs. Thomas Rodgers, and Mrs. John Rodgers.
     From this time forward Sabbath day services were kept up. In the latter part of the same year the organization of the "First religious society of Gallipolis" took place. A constitution reported by Gen. Tupper was adopted, and signed by Dr. Jonas Safford, Gen. E. W. Tupper, Thomas Rodgers, Nathaniel Gates, Lewis Newsom, John Booton, David Reese, Samuel Reese, and others.
     This was the beginning of what is now the "First Presbyterian Church of Gallipolis." Its first settled pastor was the Rev. W. R. Gould, which settlement took place in 1815. It is now a prosperous church, and an efficient agent for good to this people.

The Gallipolis Journal
November 26, 1874
Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes

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