Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our Religious Roots in Ohio, July 25, 2015

We are often haunted
by relationships from the past.
As we work them through,
they go from haunting us
to becoming simply part of our history.
~Norman Doidge

Happy Birthday Logan! Yesterday was the second birthday of Logan Joseph Shepard of Bothell, Washington. Happy Birthday and best wishes to Logan and his parents Patrick and Nicole Shepard, his brother Mason, and his entire family! Thanks to Nicole for posting this picture of handsome Logan on Facebook yesterday.

Logan and his family will be hosting this summer's family reunion at his home on Saturday, August 22, 2015 in Bothell, Washington. Make your plans to join us!

Our Family's Religious Roots. I would like to follow up on my last post and discuss one aspect of our genealogical trek to Monroe County, Ohio last week. When my GGG Grandparents Alexander and Jane Davis settled in Indiana in 1852 they were among the first members of a new church start in Owen County called the New Union Church of Christ, a congregation of the Restoration Movement, also known as the Stone-Campbell movement. It is an historical connection that I have written about in this blog before and one that we can be proud of.

That movement had its beginnings in the early 19th century in the area around Monroe County, Ohio where both Alexander and Jane were born. Did they bring their affiliation with the Stone-Campbell movement with them when they and their young family traveled those 350+ dusty miles in horse drawn wagons and settled in Indiana? It is one of the questions I had in mind when we visited Monroe County last week.

Many of our Shepard, Davis and other family members -- including Cindy and me -- continue that affiliation with present day congregations of the Stone-Campbell tradition. Many of you who read this blog are connected to a congregation that traces its roots to the Stone-Campbell movement: congregations of the Churches of Christ, or the Christian Church or the Disciples of Christ.

There are church records in Spencer, Indiana that show our family's membership in the New Union Church of Christ (also known as a Christian Church in some records) as far back as the 1860s. Unfortunately I could not find such clear evidence of Alexander and Jane Davis' participation prior to that time in a church in Monroe County, Ohio where they made their home until 1852.

Sunfish Creek, Ohio
What I did find was very interesting however. The Davises lived in an area of Monroe County called Adams Township, which includes lovely Sunfish Creek (see picture). Amazingly, the population of Adams Township today is not too different from what it was 200 years ago when our ancestors settled there. Last week Cindy and I drove slowly on the dusty gravel road that winds along beautiful Sunfish Creek and through the verdant forests of these Ohio backwoods. As we did so it felt like stepping back in time. 

Along Sunfish Creek many settlers, including Alexander Davis' family and Jane Buskirk Davis' family, made their homes. A history of the area reports that 3 of the first 5 churches to be organized in Adams Township were congregations of the Stone-Campbell Movement. It was a time when this particular religious movement was spreading like wildfire across the American frontier, and was one of the fastest growing religious movements in our country. The very first Church of any kind built in Adams Township was a "Cambellite" congregation (as they were sometimes called) in the town of Cameron in 1825. Today, congregations of the Stone-Campbell tradition are still among the most numerous in all of Monroe County. 

In 1845, when Alexander and Jane Davis still lived in Ohio, a new Church was begun in the Monroe County Seat of Woodsville, just a few miles from the Sunfish Creek area. At the founding service of that congregation Alexander Campbell himself (considered the founder of the Restoration Movement) attended and delivered the inaugural sermon. Campbell's home, the historic Campbell Mansion (which you can still visit today) was in Bethany, West Virginia, only 50 miles away.

The search will continue for more specifics of our family roots in Monroe County, Ohio. But it seems clear at this point that our Davis ancestors may have actually been members of the Stone-Campbell movement back into their Ohio days of the early 19th century. If not actual members, they were certainly very familiar with it. They were familiar enough to make it their choice in Indiana, a choice that has continued for many of their descendants for some 7 generations now.
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Steve Shepard

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