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Vienna Presbyterian Church

The Vienna Presbyterian Church, established in 1805, is housed in the westernmost building on the Township Green, located on the northwest corner of Vienna Center (the intersection of Warren-Sharon and Youngstown-Kingsville roads).

Establishment
The Vienna Presbyterian Church was originally organized as a Congregationalist Church of Christ. On September 22, 1805, thirteen persons met at the home of Samuel Clinton. With the help of the Reverend Thomas Robbins, an itinerant minister sent to the Western Reserve by the Connecticut Missionary Society, these individuals were formed into an ecclesiastical society, the legal body of Congregationalism that oversees the temporal concerns of a church.

Reverend Robbins wrote of this meeting in his diary:

[September] 20. Visited several families. Rode to Vienna. Afternoon after preaching from 1 John iv: 11, conversed with several persons who presented letters and certificates of good standing in different Christian churches, on the subject of forming a Christian church. Concluded to proceed further on the subject tomorrow.

[September] 21. Wrote. Afternoon preached from Matt. xvi: 18. After which proceeded in the examination of those who wished to be organized into a church. Having obtained satisfaction, concluded to constitute them publicly tomorrow. Mr. Matthews, committee of the church at Smithfield, was present and assisted.

[September] 22. Preached from Matt. xvii: 5 and Gen. v: 24. After sermon in the afternoon publicly organized thirteen persons--seven men and six women--as a church of Christ, charged them to keep covenant with God and one another, and endeavored to commit them to the care and grace of the great head of the Church. Several people attended from the neighboring towns. Rainy.[1]

The first thirteen members were Isaac Flower, Rosanna Williams, Samuel Clinton, Anna Wheeler, Joseph and Sylvia Bartholomew, John and Lois Clark, Robert Hughes and Margaret Hughes, James Montgomery, Jane Montgomery, and Isaac Woodford.[2]

Reverend Robbins continued his work with the congregation:

[October] 11. Visited. Rode to Vienna. My horse quite lame. Had appointed to preach a sacramental lecture, but the lameness of my horse hindered me so that I did not arrive in time. Quite warm. Wrote to Col. Perry, of Pittsburgh.

[October] 12. Wrote records for the church here. Afternoon the church chose me for their standing moderator, and chose a committee and clerk. Preached preparatory to the sacrament from Rev. xv: 15. Some people from Pennsylvania came to attend the sacrament.

[October] 13. Preached from Matt. x: 32 and Esther iv: 16. Administered the sacrament. The first time in this place. A very agreeable and solemn season. A full meeting, appeared solemn and attentive.

[October] 14. Preached in the forenoon from Rev. xx: 15. Rode to Smithfield. A man has lately died of the prevailing fever in Gustavus. Received a letter from my cousin, S. P. Robbins.[3]

Though Reverend Robbins and Reverend Joseph Badger, who had preached at Vienna in 1800 and 1801, were Congregational ministers, they were united with Presbyterians in their efforts to bring organized religion to the Connecticut Western Reserve. As missionaries of the Connecticut Missionary Society they heeded what was called the Plan of Union, instituted in 1801. Some churches in the Western Reserve attempted to combine both denominations, but this practice was eventually abandoned. According to a published history of the church, the Vienna congregation resolved on May 34, 1854, to adopt Presbyterianism, merely formalizing longstanding practice. Yet, according to an 1882 history, church members unanimously adopted a resolution to adopt “the Presbyterian form of government and discipline” on March 2, 1871.[4]

Building a Church
On June 20, 1810, eight acres on the northwest corner of Vienna Center was purchased by the ecclesiastical society for $20.00. Nevertheless, no church building was constructed until 1837. From 1805 to 1837, church services were held in congregants' homes and in schoolhouses.

The timber for the 1837 church building was cut from the land of George Alderman. On January 18, 1853, this building and all its contents were destroyed by fire.

The new church building was dedicated on May 3, 1854, and is still in use today. In June 1963 the church was remodeled to enlarge the sanctuary and to add a vestibule. The mortgage was burned on June 24, 1973.

Ministers
Thomas Robbins (1805-1810)
Nathan B. Derrow (1810-1815; 1819-1830)
John Core (1817-1819)[5]
Chester Birge (1830-1835)
F. B. Chamberlain (1839-1841)
Xenophon Betts (1843-1871)
Daniel Williams (1871-1872)
Joseph R. Stockton (1873-1883)
Wesley M. Hyde (1884-1886)
Wilson W. Tait (1888-1889)
Joseph R. Stockton (1891-1895)
D. Herbert Deets (1896-1898)[6]
Elmer Aukerman (1899-1901)[7]
Frank Armstrong (1902-1903)
A. M. Reed (1905-1908)

Published Account
From Harriet Taylor Upton, A Twentieth Century History of Trumbull County, Ohio: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1909), Volume 1, pp. 597-598:

The Presbyterian church existed early in Vienna. It was organized in 1805 by Thomas Robbins, under the “plan of union.” Isaac Flower, Rosannah Williams, Samuel Clinton, Anne Wheeler, Joseph and Sylvia Bartholomew, John and Lois Clark, Robert and Montgomery Hughes, James and Jane Montgomery, and Isaac Woodford were the original members. At first services were held largely in private residences, and sometimes in schoolhouses. In 1810 they had a regular minister, the Rev. Nathan Darrow [Derrow]. He stayed four years, and entered the missionary field. Later he returned to Vienna, where he taught school and preached until 1828. Rev. John Core was made pastor over the church at Youngstown, Vienna and Brookfield. In 1830 Rev. Bierge [Birge] had charge and stayed five years, when Rev. E. [F] B. Chamberlain succeeded him. Zenaphon [Xenophon] Betts above referred to was installed as pastor in 1843, and continued in that capacity until his death, twenty-eight years. The church was for some little time without a minister, and in 1873 Rev. J. R. Stockton was given charge of the congregations of Vienna and Brookfield. In 1835 Isaac Woodford was deacon; in 1837, Samuel Hutchins; in 1835, Dexter Clinton. In 1853 the church building was burned and everything destroyed. The next year the new church was dedicated. Just before the death of the Rev. Mr. Betts, the form was changed from Congregational to Presbyterian.

Sources and Links
History of Vienna Presbyterian Church, Vienna, Ohio: Sesquicentennial Issue, September 22, 1805-1955 (1955).
"Presbyterian Church." Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005.


This article is adapted from Fred L. Martin, "Places of Worship," in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 145-147. Additional material added by Shirley T. Wajda, February and June 2012; December 2013.

[1] Thomas Robbins, Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D., 1796-1854. Printed for his Nephew. Owned by the Connecticut Historical Society, In Two Volumes, ed. Increase N. Tarbox (Boston: Thomas Todd, Printer, 1887), Volume 1, pp. 266, 268.
[2] Historical Collections of the Mahoning Valley: Containing an Account of the Two Pioneer Reunions: Together with a Selection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, Etc., Relating to the Sale and Settlement of the Lands Belonging to the Connecticut Land Company, and History and Reminiscences, Both General and Local (Youngstown: Mahoning Valley Historical Society, 1876), Volume 1, pp. 463-464.
[3] Thomas Robbins, Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D., 1796-1854. Printed for his Nephew. Owned by the Connecticut Historical Society, In Two Volumes, ed. Increase N. Tarbox (Boston: Thomas Todd, Printer, 1887), Volume 1, p. 268.
[4] History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (Cleveland, Ohio: H. Z. Williams & Bros., 1882), Volume 2, p. 452.
[5] At the same time Reverend John Core was minister of the Vienna Presbyterian Church, he was also installed as minister of the Youngstown Presbyterian Church and the Brookfield Presbyterian Church. Reverend Core was born in 1786, licensed in 1816, and installed pastor of these congregations on June 25, 1817. He died in Clarion, Clarion County, Pennsylvania, on May 17, 1851: Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America: Including the Northern and Southern Assemblies, ed. Albert Nevin (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Encyclopaedia Publishing Co., 1884), Volume 3, page 1218.
[6] David Herbert Deets is listed in an 1898 ministerial directory. He was born in Canal, Pennsylvania, and earned his bachelor's (1890) and master's (1893) degrees from Wooster College, in Wooster, Ohio. He received his divinity training from the McCormick Theological School in Chicago in 1893. He was licensed on May 1, 1893 and ordained on June 6, 1893. He served in pulpits in Lima and Findlay, Ohio, before coming to Vienna in 1896: The Ministerial Directory of the Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States... ed. Edgar Sutton Robinson, D.D. (Cincinnati: Press of Armstrong & Fillmore, 1898), Volume 1, p. 235.
[7] Elmer Aukerman was born in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1862. Before he served in the pulpit at Vienna, he served at churches in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Upper Buffalo, Pennsylvania.He left Vienna in 1901 to serve in Millersburg, Ohio.He later served in a number of churches in Iowa. See: General Biographical Catalogue: The Western Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1827-1927.

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