Darke County Genealogical Researchers > Church Records > Old Chapel

The Old Chapel in Wayne Township

The United Brethren in Christ Church at "The Old Chapel" or "Bethel Chapel" just west of Webster existed for less than 25 years, from the early 1850s to the early 1870s, and the congregation didn't last much longer, but this congregation played an important part in the lives of my early Bayman and Huddle ancestors, so I have tried to trace its history. An 1851 deed lists Jacob Shire and Jonathan Byrd as trustees and an 1876 deed lists George Sellers, James Bayman, and David Warvel as trustees, so they must have been members of this congregation. I would be delighted to correspond with any of their descendants. Below, is a summary of the history of the U. B. Church, the involvement of the Huddle and Byrd families in that church in Virginia, and the rise and fall of the United Brethren congregation at the Old Chapel.

Bruce McCrea  bmccrea@lcc.edu

The Huddle and Byrd Families and the United Brethren Church

The Church of the United Brethren in Christ traces its beginnings to a meeting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1767 between its two founders, Martin Boehm, a Mennonite preacher and Philip William Otterbein, a German Reformed preacher. The theology of the United Brethren Church was very similar to that of the Methodist Church, but the Methodist Church of that period only held services in English and Boehm and Otterbein felt the need or a German language church. The United Brethren denomination grew to include a number of German speaking churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. The United Brethren influence in the part of Rockingham County, Virginia, where Frederick Huddle and Magdalena Byrd and their parents lived was so great that the nearest town to their homes, the small crossroads town of Ottobine, Virginia, was named after Philip William Otterbein.

One significant difference between the early United Brethren Church and the early Methodist Church in the United States was that the early United Brethren Church took a very strong anti-slavery stance. Page 501 of the 1930 book, HISTORY OF THE DESCENDANTS OF JOHN HOTTEL by Rev. W. D. Huddle and Lulu May Huddle, states of Frederick Huddle, "At first Frederick occupied his father's homestead near Dayton, Va., and was a slave holder. According to tradition, the slavery question became a troublesome one with him. While he was affiliating with the U. B. Church at Baltimore, Md., he was taught that slavery was wrong whereupon he freed his slaves and in 1833 emigrated with his family to Ohio where slavery, by act of Congress, never could exist. He settled in Montgomery Co., for a while, then in Darke Co. near Versailles, where he and his wife died. They were pioneers in the wilds of Ohio and were members of the U. B. Church." Frederick and Magdalena Huddle and their children, Levi and Katharine, were active in the United Brethren community near Webster in Darke County. After Magdalena Huddle's two brothers, Abraham Byrd and Jonathan Byrd, emigrated to Darke County, Jonathan and his family joined the Huddles as members of the United Brethren Church while Abraham Byrd and his family were Lutherans.

On June 3, 1976, the VERSAILLES POLICY reprinted an article that first appeared in the late 1800s about "District No. 10 or Buzzard's Glory," the area just west of the homes of Frederick and Magdalena Huddle and their children. That article stated, "The first and only church building within this District was the one which stood on land now owned by Samuel Marker. It is remembered as the Old Chapel. It was torn down a few years since.... The United Brethren held preaching services at private houses until in 1852 they built the Chapel - a long structure. The first ordained preacher in this house was Robert Norris. Then came Rev. Birch, Geo. Warvel, John Letterill, Henry Snell, Rev. Mr. Farber, Samuel Holden, John Park, Rev. Mr. Wildes, Rev. Mr. Ogle, Tobias Heston and Robert Ross. When in 1872, the M. E. Church was built at Webster, the Old Chapel was abandoned and the Rev. Mr. Fields preached for them at Webster. Also Shannon Fields, son of the above. Rev. Fairchild and Jacob Cost; since which there has been no organized body and only occasional preaching." By the time of the building of The Old Chapel, Frederick Huddle had died, but his widow, Magdalena Huddle, their son and daughter-in-law, Levi and Lucinda Huddle, and their daughter and son-in-law, Katharine and James Bayman, were active members of the congregation. The Old Chapel was on the Stillwater Circuit of the United Brethren Church and the ministers listed above were shared with other churches on that circuit.

Darke County deed records confirm this history of the Old Chapel. Jonathan Byrd, brother of Magdalena Huddle, was one of the two trustees of the United Brethren Church listed in the June 14, 1851 deed for the land on which the Old Chapel was built (Darke County Deed Book W-1 Page 338). "Know all men by these presents that Zachariah Marker of the County of Darke and in consideration of five dollars in hand paid by Jacob Shire and Jonathan Byrd, as Trustees of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, hath bargained and sold and doth herby grant, bargain, sell, and convey unto the said Jacob Shire & Jonathan Bird as such trustees and to their associates and successors in office, forever, for the use of the said church, the following premises. Situate in said county of Darke and described as follows: a part of the south half of the southwest quarter of the SE quarter of Section No. thirty six (36) of Township eleven (11), Range three (3) E, beginning on the Township line between Adams & Wayne at the corner of the road leading from Ithaca to Jacksonville. Then east five rods, thence north five rods, thence west then rods, thence south five rods, thence east five rods to the beginning, making fifty square rods. To have and hold the said premises with the appurtenances unto the said trustees, their associates and successors in office forever, for the use and benefit of the said Church of the United Brethren in Christ." James Bayman and Levi Huddle were both involved in the sale of the land after the Old Chapel was abandoned. On March 9, 1876, "George Sellers, James Bayman, and David Warvel, Trustees of the United Brethren Church in Christ called the Bethel Chapel" sold the land to Levi Huddle for $21 (Darke County Deed Book 71 Page 282).

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Levi Huddle's two daughters attended Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, which was founded in 1847 as the first United Brethren college in the country and later became the first college in the country to admit women on an equal basis with men. Mary Huddle (later Jamison) had to drop out of college before graduating because of ill health but Jennie Huddle (later Martz) graduated from Otterbein in 1881. They must have been among the first women from rural Darke County to attend college. On March 19, 1881, "Mary S. S. Huddle and S. Jennie R. Huddle, heirs of Levi Huddle decd." sold the land on which the Old Chapel had stood to Samuel Marker for $75 (Darke County Deed Book 82 Page 425).

With the end of United Brethren services in the Webster area, most members of the Bayman and Huddle families joined the Methodist Church at Webster. As one example, Ora Belle Bayman McCrea's November 1939, obituary stated, "She was born in Wayne Township, one mile west of Webster, where she spent her girlhood. She was raised in a Christian home, and in young womanhood joined the United Brethren Church at "The Old Chapel". Few people remain who remember where this church stood. After the Methodist Church was built at Webster, she transferred her membership to that church."

One branch of the Huddle family reconnected with the United Brethren Church on August 26, 1939, when Paul Martin McCrea, great, great grandson of Levi and Katharine Huddle, married Mary Elizabeth Arnold, daughter of Orrie Orlando Arnold, a United Brethren minister.

On a national level, in 1946, the United Brethren in Christ Church united with the Evangelical Association to form the Evangelical United Brethren (E.U.B.) Church, and, in 1968, the E.U.B. Church united with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church.