Rev. Prescott B. Smith, the third member of the Presbyterial Commitee and noble Triumvirate, became our very first Pastor. He was a native of Vermont, was educated at Middlebury College, and ordained at Newark in 1818. He began preaching in 1818 soon after his ordination, lived in Irville. He so continued until his death in 1823, aged only twenty-nine.
Though only twenty-nine at his death, Rev. Prescott B. Smith was the Nestor of our Pastors. Some of our honored guests this evening are his grandchildren, viz., the familie of the late Mr. Horace Smith, of Adams Mills, faithful, active members of the Adams Mills Presbyterian Church. His works do follow him and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are amoung us, a blessing today.
The Church records give the Charter members in the following order: Daniel Stillwell, Esq., Joseph F. Munro, John C. Stockton, Mrs Mary Smith, (wife of pastor), Mary Munro, (wife of J.F.), Mrs. Sohpie Cass, (wife of G.W.), Mrs. Mary Cass, (wife of Major Jonathan), and Rev. Hildreth adds Major Jonathan Cass. As Mrs. Munro was the daughter of Major Jonathan Cass, and Rev. and Mrs. Hildreth made their home with Mrs. Munro, Mrs. Hildreth's mother, Rev. Hildreth's testimony is accurate.
Major Jonathan Cass was the great-grandfather of Mrs. J.W.P. Ried, Zanesville; Miss Mary Munro, Granville; Mrs. Rhoda Dunmead, Newark; Mrs. Minnie Dunmead, of the Old Munro Home; former members of the Dresden chruch and now active Presbyterians in their home towns, with one exception, and we welcome them to this Centennial reunion as we look in their faces.
Mrs. Sophie Cass, wife of George W. Cass, another Charter member, is represented in Dresden today by the widow of Dr. Edward Cass and their two sons, Dr. Edward McDowell Cass and George Cass, both soldiers in the Great War. Dr. Edward attained the title of his ancestor, "Major" overseas, and George, a non-Com on this side.
Daniel Stillwell, Esq., was great-grandfather to the Scott families, of Adams Mills, as well as to the Horace Smith families, and wonder of wonders, Hamilton Scott's daughter, great-great-grandaughter, is present tonight helping us to celebrate and to keep the ideas of Daniel Stillwell, Esq., in the Church active. The Scotts are also grandchildren of another of our Charter members, John C. Stockton. John F. Munro, the very first elder of this Church, and his wife, Mary G. Munro, both Charter members, were also represented by here Mrs. Ried, Miss Munro and Mrs. R. Drunmead, her grandchildren. Was ever a church so blessed?
Think of it! The descendants of every single one of the Founders of this Church gathered together to help celebrate its Centennial, and all still faithful workers in the Presbyterian Church. We heartily welcome you all to this, our "Home-coming."
Rev. James Parmele surely had a vision of the future of our Church, for he arranged to preach in the town of Dresden. He obtained the town log school house located where the Union School Building now stands, and there held his preaching services. Rev. Parmele had faith in the increase and prosperity of the town and the Church must needs be in the center of the town and grow with it. He remains only a little over a year.
Before the close of 1825 came the Rev. Ebenezer Churchill to care for our Zion. He ministered to the three Churches, Dresden, Adams Mills and Irville, where he lived, and gave each Church one-third of his time. He was a man of great energy, physically, mentally and spiritually. He frequently walked to his appointments, even all the way from Irville to Adams Mills, twelve miles.
The Church had then only one elder, Mr. Joseph F. Munro. There was always harmony in the session. At the suggestion of Rev. Churchill two more were added viz., Daniel Stillwell and John C. Stockton, by the choice of the congregation and session. Rev. Churchill labored with the Chruch from 1825 to 1829. During his pastorate there were received into the Church (1829) by examination, Mr. Gilbert Shaw, and Phoebe, the wife of William F. Compton, of Dresden. Received also, by letter, George Smith and his wife Polly. He also received into the Church by Baptism, three infants, viz., Henry Munro, son of J.F. and Mary G. Munro; Mary Selden, daughter of G.W. and Sophie Cass; and Samuel Shaw, son of Gilbert and Phoebe Shaw.
Very soon after the departure of Rev. Churchill, Rev. John Pitkin began his labors with the Dresden Church. By this time the school house was brick and was built on the mound in what is now the Cemetery. That sounds strange, but then it was not "Gods Acre." That was then east of the canal bridge as you go down to Old Town. When the canal was dug the cemetery was removed to its present location and the school house was returned to its former and present situation.
Rev. Pitkin was a graduate of the Ohio University at Athens, (then under Presbyterian supervision). Mrs. Pitkin was a daughter of President Wilson of that University. For a while Rev. Pitkin lived in Irville. Very soon he came back to Dresden and built a house of his own. We are glad to know that house still stands. It was the former residence of Mrs. Michael Carter, was from Main Stree back to the alley and new house errected on the site where Mr. Joshua Stump now lives, and Rev. Pitkin's house is Mr. Stump's garage. Another Presbyterian minister lived in Rev. Pitkin's house, viz., Rev. William Wallace. He and his eldest son had the Dresden paper. His second son, James Wallace, was a musician and a jeweler, and he married Miss Amelia Ingalls, daughter of Major J.N. Ingalls, one of the ruling elder of our Church. Rev. Wallace has also a little daughter, Amelia, and a little son, Chalmers. Amelia later married Joames White, who was principle of the high school when the Stevenson brother, Thos. M. and Robert W., his successor, were superintendents. James White is now D. D., and their son is now a successful pastor in Ohio, both in the United Presbyterian Church. Rev. Wallace lived and died in Rev. Pitkin's house. It was a good house of seven rooms, five below and a center hall, and two above.
Mrs. Pitkin deserves special attention. She had ideals and carried them out. She organized the First Female Prayer Meeting in Dresden, which met at her home. Then she had a vison of the Church of the future and organized the First Sabbath School ever held in Dresden and conducted it regulary, every Sabbath, in her own home. She had no helpers at first. What ever did she do with the restless little ones? How did she teach the adults at the same time? The Female Prayer Meeting soon developed worker to assist her. From that Sabbath School in 1829 to 1919-these ninety years-the Presbyterian Chruch has kept up faithfully its Sabbath School, though started by a woman.
One out come of Mrs. Pitkin's Sabbath School was that of Ainlab S. Armenia, gathered together by Mrs. Josephine Lemert Coffing and her husband, Rev. Jackson Coffing. It was then-1860-the largest Sabbath School in the world and numbered 1600. Mrs. Pitkin has had efficient, untiring successors as Sabbath School Superintendents ever since, down to the present incumbent, S.F. Spencer.
When Rev. Hilderth was pastor the Catechism and Bible verse were recited. Elmira Rambo led with 963 verses and the School recited 1496 texts, in one month. Miss Rambo later became a faithful teacher, and though unable to hear the sermon, was always in her place in Church, and said Dr. Macleod , an inspiration to him as pastor, faithful till called up higher. Today the Christian word studies the same lesson. Is not this an answer to Christ's prayer?-"That they may be one." Never before were so many adults in the Sabbath School, but we can only say, "all were faithful workers and we are thankful for them."
The Church was growing steadily. Rev. Pitkin so inspired the people that they began to talk of a Church Building. This culminated in a meeting of the Session at one o'clock, December 1, 1833. It was resolved "That a subscription paper be opened for the purpose of construction a Presbyterian Meeting House in the town of Dresden." Later, September10, 1835, John C. Stockton, one of the ruling elders, was appointed to solicit and recieve donation for the Building of this "Meeting House."
In 1835 Rev. James Harrison took charge of the Church of Irville. Rev. Pitkin was still pastor in Dresden and that winter-1835-Rev. Harrions assisted him in a series of meetings. Many were added to this Church. In the spring of 1836 Rev. Pitkin had another revival. There are among those names that will interest some of you, viz., Laban Lemert and Lucy Ann, his wife; Mrs. Webb; Mrs Alloways; Mrs. Caroline Brice; Mrs. Catherine Wolf; Miss Julia Stockton; Frances B. Stockton; and Archibald Blackburn Brice, who later became D.D., the first Minister of the Gospel sent out from the Dresden Presbyterian Church. He studied at Meadville College and was some years ago the consecrated Pastor of the Nelsonville Presbyterian Church of Athens Presbytery.
An interesting Sessions Record occured April 27, 1833, which throw light upon the Presbytery to which we belonged. We quote: "On motion, Resolved, That this Session apply to the Lancaster Presbytery, in this State, for a continuance of the yearly sum, heretofore allowed, to the Rev. John Pitkin by the Assembly Board of Missions; his places of preaching to be designated as Dresden, Muskingum, Stillwell and Wachatomaka Settlement." " Also, on motion, Resolved, That this Session apply to the Lancaster Presbytery for the ministeral labors of Rev. John Pitkin as 'Stated Supply' form that first of May, (this was April 27), for one year for half his time."(Church growing before we only had one -third)
Following this action was another revival and increase in membership. The Rev. Pitkin enthused the people to "rise up speedily and build." In May, 1836, the Building Committee for the Presbyterian Church of Dresden was appointed. God's House is so dear to us we would remember these names.
Building Committee for the Presbyterian Church of Dresden: Laban Lemert, George W. Cass, W.W. Brice, Thomsa M. Barson, and Dr. A.H. Brown.
The building was begun in 1836 and by the summer of 1837 it was finished with rough seats for temporary use. In the spring of 1838 it was completed, at a cost of $1,500, and God's people rejoiced.
Rev. Pitkin had resigned his pulpit in the late spring of 1836, after faithful, notable service of seven years. His departure was much regretted by all. Then the Church called one they already knew and loved for our Fifth Pastor.