A UU Butler County Timeline
by Carol Sroczynski
1826 First Universalist conference in the Miami country was held at Jacksonburg; attending were James Alfred, Jonathan Kidwell, and Daniel St. John.
1829 Universalist conference held at Phalanthropy (Scipio) in Morgan Township.
1820-‘s-1830 Bunker Hill (Dog Town) an important preaching stop on the Universalist circuit. Reverends Kidwell, Rogers, Pingree and Manford spoke and debated on the doctrines of Universal Salvation at Obadiah Welliver’s tavern or hog-stand.
1829 Oxford Universalist Society formed.
1835 Rev. Robert Smith of Philadelphia, Universalist, preached in Hamilton in the old Methodist chapel, then used as a schoolroom. At various times, public lectures were given on Universalism. As strongly as the other churches were opposed to the Universalists, they allowed the use of their churches for disucssions.
1836 Jacob Matthias of the Hamilton Church is Hamilton’s postmaster.
1837 Oxford Fellowship established. The first church located on East Walnut Street. It was afterwards moved to the southwest corner of Poplar and Walnut Streets. The Hamilton Universalist Fellowship established. The Society met in the lower room of the old court house. These people were considered “friends of liberal thought”. Services were always characterized by “most excellent music.”
1840 Fairfield (Indiana) Universalist Society formed.
1842 Union Universalist Society formed (near Contreras). One hundred people regularly attend the Hamilton services.
1845 Bunker Hill Universalist Society formed. Met in homes.
1847 Union Church Fellowship formed.
1850 Mt. Carmel, Indiana Fellowship formed.
1852 Hamilton Universalists built one of the largest churches in town (“an imposing edifice”) at the southwest corner of High and Front Streets, presently the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church. The ground floor, or basement as it was called, was rented out for business purposes. Bunker Hill Congregation met in Schoolhouse No. 10 built to meet the needs of the Universalist families in the Bunker Hill area who felt that the children could obtain a better education under the watchful eyes of a teacher of their own faith. The Hamilton Church organizes a Sunday School.
1853 The Hamilton Post Office is moved to the basement of the new Universalist Church; a controversial move – regarded as inconvenient and too near Rossville.
1854 Bunker Hill Universalist Fellowship established.
1856 Bunker Hill Church, with the cemetary, built and dedicated. It is the “most modern church in the area” and seats 300.
1857 The Hamilton Society is incorporated under the name of the First Universalist Society of the City of Hamilton. The Hamilton Church calls its first pastor.
1859 Bunker Hill Church has a membership of 134 adults.
1861 The Hamilton Church suspends services.
1863 Mary Ross, Mary J. Bressler and Minerva Welliver of Bunker Hill are the first women to attend the meeting of the Miami Association of Universalist churches as full voting delegates.
Brothers, Jonathan and Mathias Bressler, who fight on opposing sides during the Civil War probably met during battle.
John Cregmile, a founding member of Bunker Hill becomes a charter member of “The Butler County Mutual Protection Company” formed by those who were opposed to the Federal draft and to President Lincoln’s overall handling of the war, a short lived effort at effective means of political protest.
1867 The Hamilton Church resumes services.
1869 Rev. Prudy Haskell of Oxford Fellowship is the first woman ordained in Ohio.
Bunker Hill is the site of a “Union” Sunday School.
1878 Butler County archeologist and Universalist minister, John P. MacLean, reports that Indian graves appear very near the Universalist Church.
1882 The Hamilton Church property is involved in litigation. The case is appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Various influential citizens of the County attend this church.
1884 Rev. John P. MacLean of the Hamilton Church and a Baptist minister hold a two day debate at the Reily Baptist Church on “sin and salvation.” People bring their lunches.
1885 The Hamilton Church sells the building it erected at the corner of Front and High Streets.
1887 Hamilton Universalist bought what had been Hamilton’s first brick school house, erected in 1818, at Third and Dayton Streets. (The present YWCA location.)
Bunker Hill Sunday School was the first school in the area to have a Christmas tree and singing at the church.
1889 Methodists increase evangelical activity in Reily and Bunker Hill membership declines
Hamilton Church sells Dayton Street property and purchases property on North Seventh Street. The church built on this site was dedicated in 1891 and is currently being occupied by the North Seventh Street Church of God.
1894 Bunker Hill Sunday School closes.
1895 Last sermon preached at Bunker Hill and Society is dropped from membership in Ohio Universalist Church.
1899 Bunker Hill resumes services. A new “Union” Sunday School is founded.
1900 Bunker Hill readmitted into active membership in the Ohio Universalist Association.
1902 Mary Andrews of the Hamilton Fellowship is ordained.
First motion picture show seen in western Butler County shown at the Bunker Hill Church.
1912 Bunker Hill Church closed. Sunday school closed.
1914-1915 Bunker Hill Union Sunday School closes.
1918 Mrs. Rebecca Davis is the last person laid to rest in the Bunker Hill Pioneer Universalist Cemetery.
1924 Bunker Hill building is destroyed by fire.
1952 The “Murray-Channing Club” is organized at Miami University as a response to the lack of opportunity to discuss liberal religion and philosophy.
The Hamilton North Seventh Street property is sold to a Church of God congregation.
1953 The “Murray-Channing Club” changes its name to “Liberal Religious Fellowship” in order to generalize the appeal beyond Universalist-Unitarian preferences and to identify the club with religious concerns.
1955 The “Liberal Religious Fellowship” has 34 university and town members. They affiliate with the “Eastern Midwest College Conference on Religion” and participate in meetings of the “Miami University Inter-Religious Council.” Opposition arose to what was considered a “liberal-radical” group. After a presentation from John Eicher, the Miami University Council of Dean approves the organization.
1956 The “Liberal Religious Fellowship” affiliates with the “American Humanist Association” and joins the Religious Workers Sub-committee of the “Miami University Committee on Religious Life.”
A public meeting is held in Ogden Hall at Miami University which is attended by about 50 people and the Oxford Unitarian Fellowship is established with 12 resident members plus several children and a few college students.
The Executive Director of the American Humanist Association leads a panel discussion on “Religious Ethics as Related to Modern Society” at Miami University that is jointly sponsored by the University, Western College for Women and the Oxford Unitarian Fellowship. Sixty people attended.
The Hamilton Unitarian Fellowship is established.
1958 The Oxford Fellowship merges with the larger Hamilton fellowship
1960 – 1973 The Hamilton Church is very active in te movement against the war in Vietnam. They take an active role in counseling young men who do no want to fight.
1973 The Hamilton church dissolves. There is no church in Butler County but many members continue as members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship and others join Cincinnnati churches.
1990 The UU Congregation of Butler County is organized.
1998 The UUCBC name changes to the Hopedale UU Community
1999 HUUC purchases property and building on US 27 (3870 Millville Oxford Road) from Dr. David McGrew. Plans begin for renovation begin.
2001, September Hopedale UU Community moves into their new home at 3870 Millville Oxford Road.
2001 November 11 HUUC celebrates new home with a Open House.
A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio, 1882.
Notes on the Early History of UU Activities in Oxford, Ohio, John Eicher, 1991.
The Making of Hamilton , Alta Harvey Heiser, 1941.
The Ohio Historical Review , Vol 11, No 13, p. 18-20.
The Universalist Saga of Bunker Hill , Thomas R. Stander, 1974.