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Darlene E. Kelley
donkeyskid@webtv.net                              
May 6, 1999
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Historical Collections of Ohio
The Kelley Family Book compiled by Hermon Alfred Kelley   1897   
And Then They Went West
by Darlene E. Kelley    1998  
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In 1862 a Protestant
Sunday School was organized by some of the ladies who were spending the
summer at the Island House.  It was originally intended for the benefit
of their own children.  This was immediately recognized by many of the
islanders as a step in the right direction and they sent their own
children to it.  When the visitors left, their places were filled by
island people and the school was continued.  It was formally organized
in 1863 with a set of officers and teachers.  M.K. Holbrook was chosen
to be the Superintendant of the " Union Sunday School" as it was called.
He held this position until 1868, when he was ordained and installed
pastor of the Congregational Church.  Mr.George P. Bristol succeeding
him as Superintendant and continued as Superintendant with on short
intermission until a short time before his death in1910  The next church
to be organized was the German Reformed Congregation in 1865.  They
began at once quarrying stone on their own property on Division
Street.and erected a stone church which was dedicated in 1867.  This
congregatin was served in the order named by Rev. Kness, Rev.
Merchikens, Rev. J.G. Kuhl, Rev W. Renter and Rev. Wm. Friebolin and
others.  A few English speaking Protestants who were earnest Christains
, formed a little group and pledged themselves for a sum large enough to
justify them in asking the Rev. Robert McCune to consider it and to come
to the island and minister to their spiritual needs.  He accepted the
call,  actuated no doubt by a true Missionary spirit.  During the Civil
War Rev.McCune had been the Army Chaplain at Johnson's Island and had
visited Kelley's Island on many occasions to preach to the people and to
officiate at marriages and funrals.  He began preaching on September
10th, 1865.  He met with much sucess, that before six months had
elapsed, steps were taken to organize a church.  This was a unique
church.  It was undenominational and because there were many divergent
views on religious subjects, it was formed on the broadest kind of a
basis as will be seen from the curiously worded report of the meeting
which is as follows; " A meeting was held at Kelley's Hall in the
evening of Monday Feburary 26th,1866 of those friendly to the
organization of a christian church on  protestant or evangelical
Platform.  A large number being in attedance, Rev.R. McCune presiding
and M.K. Holbrook acting as secretary. A Doctrinal basis  and Convent,
with rules and regulations were presented by the chairman.  A free and
full discussion was had, in which a general desire was expressed for a
church so constituted, as to embrace all Evangelical believers on the
island.  The subject was referred to a committee consisting of Rev. R.
McCune, Messrs.Julius Kelley. M.K. Holbrook, A. Cameron,L.Titus,
L.Beattie and F. Gehrkens.  On Wedesday Feb.28th,1866 the church meeting
which was adjourned and on Monday evening, met at the Hall again.  The
Committee preseted a preamble setting forth the objects desired by the
organization, announcing the Liberty of each member to maintain involate
his individual convictions on Ecclesiatical polity, or minor questions
of Theology, and the purpose of the new organization, while maintaining
an independant position,to fraternize and co-operate with all Christians
in every good work.  This report was unanimously accepted.  The name of
the church is to be " The Union Evangelical Church." The church was
formally organized on March 4th, 1866 with the following officers;
Pastor--Rev. Robert McCune; Lay assistants, M.K.Holbrook and Julius
Kelley; Treasurer, Andrew Cameron; Secretary,George P. Bristol. It is
not known how the election was made, but it could not have been by
popular vote of its members, for they were admitted after the
organization had been accomplished, if the report in the Islander is
correct. Local news items by Wm Hamilton, Junior Editor Islander, Vol 6,
No. 11;  Sunday, March 4,1866, the people assembled at the Hall as usual
for public worship.  After the reular service, it was announced tha a
new church entitled the Union Evanelical Church of Kelley's Island, O.,
had been duly established.  Thirty-five persns were admitted to
membership, eight of whom were baptized in accordance with the
ordinances of the church. Many on the island had never before witnessed
the celebration of the solemn rites performed on such occasions, and the
effect was a very marked on the unaccustomed spectators.  The entire
ceremony was very impressive and cannot fail to make the day one that
will long be remembered by the Island people.  The establishment of the
first English Protestant church invests it with a solemn interest that
demands more than passing notice.  Such an event in the History of the
Island will show to future generations that we are not behind other
nationalities in our zeal  for the promotion of the Protestant religion.
What record could leave no posterity that will shine with equal luster
or clothe with more dignity the memory of the present generation?
Future generations will trace this page and their hearts will glow with
purer emotions as they learn that morality and piety found root and sap
among their ancestors on this island spot.  It has always been the boast
of the American people that, unlike all other nations, they were the
descendants of an enlightened and pious race.  Then let us aim to leave
undying institutions behind us that will awaken that reverence to our
memory that has always been paid to our Puritan ancestry.  This makes a
new epoch in the religious history of the island and one hailed with joy
by all interested in the promotion of religion."  There were three
religious organizations on the island , One Catholic, one German
Reformed, and one Union Independant at this time.

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