Centenial - page12

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1954 Centennial Book

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Page 12


One of the features of American life that foreigners find so hard to understand is the vast scope of the work being done by our voluntary organizations. Many of these groups are affiliated with the various churches and render invaluable assistance to the work of the Church. Others are only indirectly connected with the churches, but nevertheless render services to the community for which it and many of its citizens are deeply appreciative. In this limited space, one can do no more than name them. Among them are The American Red Cross; The Senior Hospital Guild; The Junior Hospital Guild; the numerous Parent-Teacher Associations; the Child's Conservation League; the YMCA and the YWCA and their high school affiliates and advisors - the Hi-Y Groups and the Y-Teens, and the younger groups; the sponsors and advisors of the many Boy Scout and Cub Pack groups, the Camp Fire Girls, from Blue Birds to Horizon Clubs; The South Side Club and the Anchor; the many King's Daughters groups; The Mental Health Organization; the local chapters of the American Polio Foundation; Heart Society; Cerebral Palsy Society; Association for the Blind; The Woman's Club, with its many divisions; the Business and Professional Women's Clubs; the Rotary, Kiwanis, Exchange, Lions, Pontiac, Presidents' Club; the WCTU; the Mother-Child Study League; Beta Sigma Phi; and of course, the many, many, working groups which do the Mary and Martha work of each of the Churches. In addition to these named organizations, there are the various lodges and their affiliates, all doing some particular work to make the world a little better place for someone to live in; someone, who otherwise, might find it a pretty rough and maybe, impossible task.


An old town plat of 1870, shows that the town extended to Jackson Street on the north with an extension to Culbertson between Union and Main, to Town Street on the east, to Lytle Street on the south, and to Vine Street on the west. The population was given as 1,733.

The first newspaper in Fostoria was started in 1860, and called the Fostoria News. It was started by J. H. Thomas. After having had several owners, it was renamed The Fostoria Review in 1871.

Fostoria's first store, started in 1832 by Chas. Crocker, St., started with a capital of about $2,000.00 and did about $3,000.00 worth of business, with furs and skins the chief medium of trade. By 1873, the capital had increased to $75,000.00 with the store doing $175,000.00 business across the counter, while the business of buying and selling, grain, wool, etc., amounted to over $1,000,000.00.

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Railroads, factories, and business concerns are important to the economy of Fostoria, but most important of all is the fact that the City lies in the midst of one of the finest farming areas in Ohio. From the earliest days of the community, when Foster and Co. handled more than one million dollars worth of farm crops annually, the value of these products have steadily increased.

Without going into figures, which are often not very meaningful, one needs only to view the skyline of the city to read and answers. The Mennel Mill, one of the greatest inland flour milling plants for nearly seventy years, uses millions of bushels of local and trucked in winter red wheat. The great concrete storage silos of the Farmers Grain Co., receive and store wheat and other grains, corn, oats, barley and rye, by the millions of bushels annually. A little farther out the towers of the Swift Soy Bean Plant, tell the world that a new crop, one unknown to Americans a half-century ago, has become an important cash crop. Two meatpacking plants operate continuously to prepare the beef and pork from the many farms which spread away across the old Black Swamp. In turn the trucks from these plants are kept busy distributing steaks, chops, and "Hot dogs" to the towns and homes all over northwest Ohio. The location of two large fertilizer plants on the edge of the city, indicates that the farmers are aware of the necessity for conservation and rebuilding of the soil. (Maybe a method could be worked out whereby the organic matter from the City Sewage system could be returned to the soil of the farms from which most of it originally came). Herds of cattle provide milk for our tables, and flocks of fine sheep tell the story that this is one of the chief wool producing centers in the state.

Town and country are mutually interdependent. They form a unit which is the real strength of the nation.

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PIX#9 Bethel Evangelical United Brethren Church

PIX#10 The Pilgrim Holiness Church

PIX#11 The First Baptist Church

PIX#12 The Fostoria Baptist Church

PIX#13 The Church of God


The first church in Fostoria was the Methodist, organized in Risdon, in 1833. That same year, this congregation built the first church building, a hewed log structure north of Summit Street, near the Portage. This was used until 1852, sometimes as a schoolhouse. Then a new frame church building was erected just south of the present Methodist Episcopal Church. (Note: The old histories are rather obscure as to just where it was.) This was sold in 1885, when the present brick edifice was erected, at a total cost of $30,000.00.

We cannot in this short account, name all the worthy men who served this and the other congregations in the community through these years, but that each did his part to make Fostoria a better place to live in, is undeniable. Just by way of comparison, along with the cost of the church, just mentioned, was the salary of one of the early preachers, Rev. J.H. Shannon, who in 1859, received a salary of $200 with $275.00 for incidentals. The first grave in the Fountain Cemetery was for the two daughters of Rev. C.W. Collier, one of these pioneer Methodist preachers.


The United Brethren Church now the First Evangelical United Brethren Church, was organized in Fostoria in 1864, although circuit riders had been visiting the town and holding services at various homes for more than thirty years. It was incorporated in 1876 and the present church was built in 1888.


The Church was organized on the 25th of February, 1856, in the home of Mr. Edwin Bement, with nine members, led by the Reverend W. C. Turner, then Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at West Millgrove, and who later became the First Pastor of the church in Fostoria. At the time of the organization, Caleb Munger, John Milligan, and James Hill were elected the first Elders in the congregation. The first Communion Service of the new church was held on August 31, 1856, and at that service six new members were received.

The Methodist Church very graciously offered use of its house of worship to the young congregation, and with the exception of a few services held in homes, meetings were held in the Methodist Church until the completion of the small brick edifice on West Fremont Street, where the beautiful Andes home now stands, it appearing that the first service was held in the new church in July, 1859. Early records indicate that the membership of the church at this time was around thirty-five.

The Civil War came on and worked havoc with the little church. Enlistment in the service deprived the little body of three-fourths of its male members and it was questioned for a time whether the church could continue. The Pastor resigned to accept a Commission in the Army.

For more than thirty years the church worshiped in the little brick structure, then the growing congregation purchased the site and built the commodious church that now stands at the corner of Perry and West Fremont Streets, costing $50,000.00 including the organ. In 1911, during the pastorate of the much beloved Dr. Clement G. Martin, the Manse was built at the corner of Wood and Fremont Streets, and has been the home of those ministering to the church since that time.

During its ninety-eight years, the church has been served by twenty-five ministers, some of them however, merely as Stated Supplies, for only short periods.

PIX#14 The First Methodist Episcopal Church

PIX#15 The Church of the Brethren

PIX#16 St. Wendelin Church

PIX#17 The Four Square Tabernacle

PIX#18 The Church of Jesus Christ


St. Wendelin Parish originated more than one hundred years ago with the settlement of a group of German Catholics in the village then known as "Rome" In 1844 the Rev. Joseph McNamee of Tiffin administered to their spiritual needs. From 1847-1959 the Sanguinist Fathers from New Riegel directed the parish.

In 1849 the first church was erected on land deeded to the parish by Charles Foster. Ground for a parish cemetery opposite Fountain Cemetery was purchased in 1890. From 1850-1869 the parish consisting of 18 families was considered a mission of Findlay. The Rev. Matthias Arnoldi became the first resident pastor in 1875.

Between the years 1875-1904 the parish developed very rapidly. These years witnessed the ministrations of five pastors; the renovation and enlargement of the church; addition to both pastoral and convent residences; the installation of a pipe organ; and the liquidation of the parish debt.

During the Rev. Ambrose Weber's pastorate of 37 years (1904-1941), the present elementary, high school, and convent were erected. Numerous minor improvements and additions were made to the parish plant.

From 1942-1953 the Rev. Raymond Kirsch, successor to Father Weber, contributed much to the development of the parish especially in regard to the decoration of the church, the addition to the grade school, the enlarging and modernization of the rectory and the acquisition of extensive property to be used in the future growth of the plant.

Since January 1953, the parish of 3,700 souls has been in the care of the Rev. Robert H. Ruffing. Father Ruffing is assisted at present by the Rev. Donald Hunter and the Rev. David Van Horn, C.P.P.S., successor to the Rev. Gerald Pelletier, C.P.P.S., recently appointed to Sacred Heart Parish, Sedalia, Missouri.


The local congregation of the Church of Christ had its beginning at a yearly meeting held in Gibsonburg, Ohio in September, 1889. However, no organization was completed until 1890 when "Brother W.L. Neal of Marion, Ohio held a series of meetings in the M.P. Church House.'

On April 20, 1890 a "Covenant of Membership" was signed by forty men and wemen, constituting the Charter Members of the Fostoria Church.

Services were held in a hall on W. Center Street (located near the present site of the Town House and Service Laundry) and later in the Foster Block on Tiffin Street.

As many of the Charter Members were employed in the glass industry and some of the glass factories left Fostoria when the supply of natural gas was depleted, the membership of the new Church decreased and services were not held regularly.

In October, 1894 a re-organization is recorded and services were held in the "Good Templer's Hall". In 1895, the "school house on Summit Street" was rented for the use of the congregation.

The present Church edifice at the corner of W. Center and Union Streets was constructed in 1896, and on March 1, 1903 the interior of the building was destroyed by fire.

While repairs were being made, Sunday School and Worship services were held in the afternoon in the Sunday School room of the First Presbyterian Church.

Dedication services for the restored sanctuary were conducted on May 10, 1903.

Following the fire, the congregation became more firmly established and has enjoyed a steady growth from the original forty members to the present membership of 350.

PIX#19 The First Presbyterian Church

PIX#20 The Church of the Nazarene

PIX#21 The First Lutheran Church

PIX#22 The First Church of Christ

PIX#23 The First Evangelical and Reformed Church


The First Evangelical and Reformed Church had its beginning, when, back in 1879, its congregation dedicated its first church, a frame structure on East North Street. The auditorium of the present church was dedicated in 1901, and the Sunday school room was added in 1913. Its membership has grown from about twenty-five to over five hundred. In 1934, the E. & R. Church was formed by the merging of the former Evangelical Synod of North America and the Reformed Churches in the United States.


For some time Lutheran pastors residing in Findlay, Ohio, served citizens of Fostoria who adhered to the Lutheran faith. At that time they worshiped in a room in the building, owned at that time by George Lemp, and now occupied by the Ohio Savings and Loan Association on the corner of Main and North Streets. On the 14th of April 1868, the first congregation was organized with the Rev. T.M. Buerkle, the first pastor.

There were only 10 heads of families who signed the Constitution, and yet, before the close of the year this little flock adopted the bold resolution to build a church of their own, and in September, 1869, they had the joy and satisfaction of dedicating their own house of worship, located on the corner of West Center and Countyline Streets, now occupied by the Mrs. Fred Gerlinger residence.

With the growth of the congregation the original church had to be enlarged, which took place in 1885.

In the year 1903 the congregation purchased two lots on the corner of Wood and Center Streets and here erected the church where the congregation is now worshiping. The building was dedicated May 29, 1904. After 50 years of steady growth we again feel the necessity of a larger building. The new church building and planning committees are active in their work of furthering the project of building a new church and also an educational unit.

The old parsonage on Center Street is being used for Sunday School class rooms, Boy Scout meetings and social gatherings. The congregation has a membership today of nearly 1200 baptized members and over 800 confirmed members.

Knowing the need of a lot for further building, the congregation in 1949 purchased the Newson property adjacent to the parsonage and which in 1953 was leased to the A. & P. Company for a parking lot.

At a recent meeting of the congregation it was decided by ballot vote that the new church and Educational unit will be built on the present location.

In 1952, eighteen baptized members and 49 confirmed members of Zion Lutheran Church transferred their membership to First Hope Church. At the same time Zion Lutheran property, consisting of church and parsonage was transferred to First Hope Church. The Zion congregation also contributed about $900 to the First Hope Church Building Fund.

An outstanding feature in the history of this congregation is the fact that during the 86 years of its existence, the congregation has had only seven pastors.

Information courtesy of Joan Fleming

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