(Written by Sue Guy, edited by Flora L. VerStraten.) While doing research on my maternal grandmother’s family, I soon realized that both her mother’s and father’s ancestors were all members of the First Christian Church of Steubenville. This fact became of great interest to me and soon it was apparent that this church was a key to unlocking the mysteries and movements of my family ancestors. I started to delve into the beginnings of the church history, first known as the Disciples of Christ.
The church was built in 1830 located on Dock St. The present church building was constructed in 1897-8. My uncle, Cyrus McNeely Yocum Sr. was paid $50.00 to draw up the plans for the church.
Thomas Campbell, born in County Down, Ireland on Feb. 1, 1763, came to American in 1807 from Scotland. He landed in Philly and made his way to western PA to present day Washington Co., PA. He was chastised by PA church authorities for refusing to use Presbyterian creeds as terms of communion. In 1808, he and others founded the Christian Assoc. of Washington, PA. That group adopted the motto well known by Disciples, “Where the Scriptures Speak, We Speak; Where the Scriptures are Silent, We are Silent.”
Campbell and others were called “Reformers” for their desire to restore the church’s 1st Century roots. This way of life became known as the Restoration Movement. Near Washington, PA, Campbell and his son, Alexander and the Christian Assoc. established the Brush Run Church; which in 1815, became part of the nearly Redstone Baptist Assn. (in Beaver Co., PA)
Alexander Campbell was born in County of Antrim in Ireland on Sept. 12, 1788 and was raised Presbyterian. In 1809, Alexander joined his father Thomas in Western PA. He and his father bought land in Washington, PA extending into Virginia (now WV). Alexander was a prolific writer. In 1823, he founded the periodical, “The Christian Baptist” and later founded the “Millennial Harbinger.”
In 1829, Alexander showed off his talents as a great debater and drew attention to the Restoration Movement in a widely known debate with social reformer, Robert Owen. In 1837, he engaged the Roman Catholic John B. Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati, in a widely publicized debate, lasting eight days, on the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
In 1832, the Christians lead by Minister Barton W. Stone of Kentucky, and the Disciples of Christ, under leadership of Alexander Campbell, agreed on basic beliefs and complied with a formal handshake. In 1840 Alexander founded Bethany College in Bethany, Virginia (now WV) and served as the school’s first president. He built his mansion a mile from the college and lived there until he died. He and his father are buried in the family cemetery across the road from his mansion. The cemetery is known as God’s Acre. It is completely surrounded by a 7 foot high stone wall, 3 ft. of which is buried in the ground. The only way to get into the cemetery is to climb one of the two sets of stone steps on either side of the cemetery. Alexander constructed the wall according to his father’s wishes to keep straying cattle from grazing in the cemetery and destroying it. (Boy, I wish all of our ancestors had been that insightful!)
Alexander Campbell, in his first memoirs, states that Steubenville was the first place visited on his missionary tour, and that he preached in the courthouse in June 16, 1811. He also said that Walter Scott lived here in 1826. Members met in the Baptist Church on Church St., previous to the records reflecting the first baptism in Jan. 4, 1824. The following names appear on the earliest records as memberships: Rachel Johnston, Ebe Huston, Deliliah Cummins, Mary Cable, Thos Weir, Jean Weir, Lydia Wise, Janet Kennedy, John Johnston, Mary Cable, Susan Walker, Elizabeth Dillon, John White, Elizabeth White, James Dougherty, Jacob Cable, John Rogers, Elizabeth Rogers, Jas. Dillon, -----Anderson, Anna Wise, ----Hazlett, James Sidebottom, Henry Phillips, Maria Phillips, ---Doughtery.
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