In 1775, Patrick Henry said “I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” By looking back across the more than one hundred years of this- congregation’s witness in this community, we gain a better perspective for the future and a clearer Conception of our calling in living here for Christ today.
THE FOLLOWING HISTORY of The Louisville Evangel’cal United Brethren Church was written by Mrs. Donald Kimmel, a member of the congregation.
J. S. B.
The church of the United Brethren in Christ had its beginning in the “Great Meeting” held in Isaac Long’s barn in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1767. It was merged in 1946 with the Evangelical denomination and is known today as the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
At the time of the founding of the local .United Brethren congregation in 1856, the denomination had been in Ohio a little more than 50 years.
Louisville Ohio was a flourishing little town in 1856. The Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad had been completed four years before and Louisville had become an important shipping point for crops.
In addition to the industries common in almost all the towns of the time, Louisville was noted for the manufacture of bricks, cigars, leather boots, and wooden shoes. There were two doctors and five general stores serving this community of 300. The only Protestant congregation was of the French Baptist denomination, and services were held infrequently as the minister resided some distance away.
Louisville had been laid out and the plat recorded 22 years earlier, in 1834, but it had not yet been incorporated. There were three streets: Main, Gorgas, and Chapel—all dirt streets and as yet unlighted. Hogs bathed in the mud holes, and cows mowed the grass to the wheel tracks.
This was Louisville when the United Brethren Church was organized here shortly after the first of the year, 1856. The organization came about in this manner: A miller moved to Louisville from the East bringing his wife who was in poor health. He had hoped the change of climate would benefit her, but instead she grew worse and died. The grieving man wanted to have the service of some church used at her funeral so he asked a neighbor, Daniel M. Slusser, where he could find a preacher.
Mr. Slusser knew that a Protestant preacher held services occasionally in the Jacob Lesh barn in Fairhope, and he set out for Fairhope on horseback to learn where the minister resided. As he neared the Fairhope crossroads, he met a stranger riding in a two-wheeled sulky. As he passed the stranger a voice seemed to tell him, “There goes a preacher.”
Mr. Slusser turned his horse back and overtook the stranger. “Are you a Protestant minister?” he asked.
“I am a United Brethren preacher,” the stranger replied, and he agreed to return from Alliance to Louisville the following day to conduct the funeral.
At the close of the service Mr. Slusser, John Myers, Emanuel- Schoop, and Dr. John Shilling consulted the minister, Rev. John Demming, regarding his holding services here regularly. Mr. Slusser offered the use of his home.
Church records for March 20. 1856, list 29 members. Services were held in the French Baptist Church for several years, but when quarterly meeting time came the building was too small, and it was necessary to use a barn for the purpose, a common practice among all churches at that time.
By 1859 construction was begun on the first United Brethren building on the corner of East Gorgas and what is now Walnut Avenue. The entire block between East Gorgas and East Broad streets had been purchased for $150. The land lying on East Broad Street was used as a cemetery until June, 1929, when the cemetery was removed and the land sold.
When the first United Brethren Church was built, Louisville had a population of 350. There were three hotels. A list of businessmen included a wagon maker, tailor, gunsmith, tanner, cooper, brickmaker, auctioneer, and carpet weaver. The mining and hauling of iron ore was carried on here and a basket and ladder factory did a good business.