The following is a transcription of a newsparer article from the Rittman Press discussing the history of Sts Peter and Paul parish in Doylestown, Ohio. My cousin, Bill Shondel, of Gallipolis, Ohio, sent a copy of the original newspaper clipping to me in January of 1996. Since the Rittman Press appears to no longer be published, and since it has been nearly 48 years since the article was originally published, it is assumed that any copyrights have expired.
In researching my family history I've found one minor discrepency regarding the story of the founding of Sts. Peter and Pauls parish. Most accounts describe George Whitman arriving in the fall of 1826 from Adams County, Pennsylvania, followed shortly by the Peter Marshall family and other Catholic families. My research indicates that Peter Marshall (my ggg-grandfather) and George Whitman both arrived in Chippewa township in the spring of 1827. The other Catholic families appear to have arrived slightly later (the Shondels in the 1830's for example). The Marshalls and the Whitmans both left the "Old Church on the Hill" parish in the fall of 1826. This parish was located at Mount Saint Mary's College near Emmittsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, across the state line from Adams County, Pennsylvania. Peter Marshall was a son of Joseph Marshall of Adams County. The Whitman's spent the winter of 1826-27 at Myer's lake near Canton, while the Marshall's wintered on a Shorb family farm nearby. In the spring both families finished the trip to Chippewa township. I have located original records at Mount Saint Mary's noting their departure.
Ed Marshall, Atlanta
From The Rittman Press, Thursday, June 19, 1952, pages 16 and 17:
Doylestown Church to Observe 125th Year With Town
History of Sts. Peter and Pauls Church
by Mrs. Joseph M. O'Conner:
The history of Sts. Peter and Paul Church is full of color and romance. The first Mass was said in 1827, the same year in which the Village of Doylestown was laid out. This pioneer Catholic parish of northern Ohio, the oldest in the Diocese of Cleveland, numbered but eight families, when the first church of logs was built, and was without a resident pastor for some years.
The early Catholics made great sacrifices for their faith in those years, when the nearest church was St. John's in Canton, a distance of twenty-three miles. In the intervals when the priest did not come frequently, the people made the journey to Canton, on foot, to attend Mass and for instruction in Christian Doctrine preparatory to reception of the Sacraments. Young people walked to Canton to be married at the altar. In this way they preserved for posterity, that precious heritage, received from their forebears their Catholic faith and tradition, enhancing it by the contribution of their own lives.
Like all pioneer parishes of the country, the beginning of Sts. Peter and Paul was very humble. In September of 1826, German-Swiss Catholic settlers arrived in the locality of Chippewa Township, from Pennsylvania, in the hope of obtaining a livelihood in the fertile fields of northern Ohio.
The first to come here were George Whitman, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children: Joseph, Michael, Catherine, Christian, Andrew and Elizabeth. They made the long journey from Adams County, Pennsylvania, in a covered wagon, drawn by four horses, in which they fearfully forded the Ohio river, and experienced all the hardships of pioneers. They wintered near Canton on a portion of the Andrew Myer farm, near Myer's Lake, helping to clear his land and split rails. In April 1827, they moved to Chippewa township, where they settled in section 9, about a mile southwest of Doylestown.
Very soon after that, they were joined by another son, Jacob, his family, and the following Catholics and their families: Peter Marshall and Henry Cole, both veterans of the War of 1812. Henry Cole fought in the battle of Lundy's Lane, near Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, in which young Captain Winfield Scott, later General, distinguished himself, and is buried in the parish cemetery near the church. Philip Patton, who settled at Fox Lake, southwest of Marshallville; Joseph Bartley, Louis Stuhlmiller, Nicholas Link, Christ Hummel, Benedict Street, Michael Hoplinger, a soldier under Napoleon in the Moscow campaign, and a Mr. Frizpatrick, who for some years taught Sunday School to the children of the Catholic settlers.
Gardner Brothers Arrive
There also arrived in 1829, two Gardner brothers: Michael, who settled at Luna Lake, near Clinton, and Anthony, who after some years, moved to Danville. Anthony Gardner had an inn at Erswieler, Alsace-Lorraine, and when it burned down, both he and his brother and their families came to America, and along the newly-opened Erie Canal to Buffalo, from whence they all walked via Cleveland to Chippewa township. In the '80's, a grandson of Anthony Gardner, Dr. Germanus Gardner, just out of medical college, settled in Doylestown and remained until 1905, then moved to Barberton.
Within these first few years the following single men arrived: Fidelis Hugel, who later married Catherine, and Benjamin Kindig, who was a convert to Catholicity and married Elizabeth, daughter of George Whitman; also Nicholas Mutters, who married Barbara, the daughter of Michael Hopplinger. All of these first settlers helped to build or to furnish the first church of the parish.
The first Catholic priest who visited Doylestown was Father Francis Xavier Marshall of French and Pennsylvania German parentage. He was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, and with his twin brother Joseph, educated at St. Mary's Seminary at Emmittsburg, Maryland. Ohio's first Catholic Archbishop, the Right Reverend John B. Purcell of Cincinnati, matriculated at the same school and was acquainted, prior to his ordination, with Peter Marshall, brother of Father Marshall.
Father Marshall came to visit Peter, whose 80 acres ran along the south side of Portage Road (state route 5) in section 16 of Chippewa township, and faced the George Whitman farm, which lay across and north of the same road, in section 9. Early on a Sunday morning in June, 1827, Father Marshall read the first Mass in Chippewa to the little group of Catholics gathered in the one room log-cabin of George Whitman.
After this, the parish was occasionally visited by Catholic missionaries and priests, who, on foot or by horse, traveled the dim paths of the then almost unbroken wilderness, serving the spiritual needs of the people scattered throughout the vast new "North-west Territory", recently opened for settlement by the United States Government. The missionary orders whose members served in the parish and the surrounding countryside in those early days were: the Dominican, the Redemptorist and the Sanguinist, as well as the secular clergy of the Catholic Church. A number of them came from European countries; from Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Ireland, Austria-Hungary and Italy to labor in the settlements of their own people.
The Whitman log cabin home served until 1834 as a chapel for these bearers of the gospel of Christ, and for the little backwoods parish. In this year Andrew Whitman, married since 1829 to Margaret, a daughter of Peter Marshall, built the present Whitman homestead, upon the their log cabin home, and in a room in this house mass was read until 1836. This home is now occupied by Fred Whitman and his family. Whitman is a grandson of Andrew, and a great-grandson of both George Whitman and Peter Marshall.
The Old Whitman Home
The fire of their faith was strongly enkindled in the hearts of these early settlers. While they came into this unknown country with material hopes, they placed their trust in God that they would not be denied the means of eternal salvation.
Need Church Building
This beautiful new land, with its rich soil, yielding in abundance to their willing labor with it, their first thought was to offer to God the loving gratitude and worship of children singularly blessed by His Providence.
Practical Christians in the true sense, from the very beginning of their arrival, both the Whitmans and Marshalls said: "We must have a church near us!" and they, in their zeal, instilled this desire into all newcomers, and plans were made to build a church.
George Whitman, his children, Christian, Andrew, Elizabeth and Catherine, and Peter Marshall, gave the land on which the first church was built in 1836, to Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati. The territory which comprises the present Diocese of Cleveland then belonged in the Cincinnati Diocese. In 1847 Cleveland became an Episcopal See and Doylestown was from then on within its Ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
The first church of the parish, built of logs , 40 feet long, 28 feet wide and 16 feet high, was placed under the patronage of St. Francis Xavior. It was the first church built in Chippewa township and the first Catholic Church in Wayne County. It stood on the hill across the road from the Whitman home on the 80 acres originally belonging to Peter Marshall, who then moved about four miles south to the town of Bristol, which later became known as Marshallville.
After a number of years, he and his family moved to Danville in Knox County and in the years that followed members of the family often visited with their kin in Doylestown, the Stuhlmillers, the Rechs, the Whitmans, and the Deibels. Sometime in the 1850's, the Marshalls once more took up residence in the persons of Joseph and Henry Marshall, grandsons of Peter. Charles Marshall, son of Joseph, was the first priest ordained from the Parish.
St. Francis Xavier Church
First Church in Wayne County - Built 1836
First Resident Pastor
The first resident pastor of the parish was Rev. Basil Shorb, who came here immediately after his ordination, May 20, 1837, by Bishop Purcell. As there was no rectory, he lived in a room in Peter Marshall's home in Marshallville. He walked the distance of four miles from there to the church and back for one year, when a rectory was built near the church.
Father Shorb also attended the Catholic missions at Canal Fulton, Massilion, Wooster, Middlebury (Akron of today), East Liverpool, Randolph, Peru and Shelby settlement. He was beloved by the parishioners and a zealous worker for Christ, and often gave prayer books to the children whom he instructed in their religion. When near her 70th year, Mrs. Catherine Whitman Evey was visited by Father Lindersmith, on her deathbed in 1895, she was still using the prayer book Father Shorb gave her, upon the day of her first Communion.
On June 9, 1840, Bishop Purcell made his first visit to Chippewa, riding from St. Martins, East Liverpool, on horseback, with an escort of six men. That he was quite impressed with what he found was evident, for he praised the congregation for the church they had built and on his return to Cincinnati, he wrote in the "Cincinnati Telegraph": "In no other part of the Diocese have I witnessed more zeal, humility and fervor, than in this sequestered and delightful spot. Surely the Divine mercies are for such people." Bishop Purcell returned to Chippewa in the following year for the dedication of the Church.
From 1847 to 1852 the parish was without a resident pastor. Missionaries stopped on their journeys, said Mass and administered the Sacraments.
From the visit of Father Marshall to 1837 the following missionaries visited Doylestown: Rev. N. C. Young and J. J. Mullon in August 1827; Rev. Thomas H. Martin in 1830; Rev. John Martin Henni, later Archbishop of Milwaukee, 1830-34; Rev. Vincent de Raymacher 1835; Rev. Simon Saenderl, Superior of the Redemptorist order; Rev. O'Bairne and Rev. D. D. Max Hoffman 1836-37.
Build Brick Church
In January 1848, the Rt. Rev. Louis Amadeus Rappe, the first Bishop of the newly established Diocese of Cleveland, visited the parish, which had by then increased to 25 families and out-grown the log church. As the parish had been without a pastor since 1847, he appointed Father August Champion of Wooster to care for it and during this time the second church, a brick structure, was built about a mile from the first church, in Doylestown proper.
Christian, a son of Christian Whitman, purchased land in Doylestown which he gave as the site for the new church. He, his brother Andrew, and Benjamin Kindig, husband of their sister Elizabeth, each donated $500 towards the new structure. This second church of the parish was placed under the patronage of Sts. Peter and Paul and was dedicated on July 8, 1850, by Bishop Rappe. When in 1877 it was torn down to make room for the present one, the inscription in the cornerstone, which was enclosed in a bottle, was found to be so well preserved, and the signature of Bishop Rappe so bold and clear, that the document was again placed in the cornerstone of the new church, with other items.
In June of 1855 Rev. E. Washington John Lindesmith, newly ordained by Bishop Rappe in the just completed Cathedral of St. John in Cleveland, became pastor and remained until 1858. He was again pastor from 1893 to 1901 and it was he who preserved the history of the early days of the parish. He was U. S. Army chaplain in the west during the Indian trouble for 11 years.
During the pastorate of Father Joseph Lais of Navarre, the first parochial school was established in the old rectory, in 1862. It served the parish as a school until 1871 when the increased registration necessitated the building of a new one. This was done by Rev. Joseph Flamang, who was an uncle of Mr. Edward N. Koehler, a member of the parish today, and Henry Koehler of Silver Creek. The present rectory was built by Father Peter Kolopp, pastor from 1866 to 1870.
Build Present Church in 1877
Father Charles Selzer, pastor from 1871 to 1881 and again 1882 to 1893, built the present church, which for 75 years has formed a landmark on Doylestown hill, know to all residents of this part of the state. Bishop Gilmour laid the cornerstone in 1877 and the first mass was sung within its walls on Christmas Day, 1878.
Francis Whitman, father of Fred Whitman, cut five acres of timber and gave it for the baking of the bricks that is in the church. They were baked at the Baysinger Brickyard where the Speicher place is today, south of town on Route 5.
Present Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
It was Father Selzer who brought in the first teaching sisters, in 1883. They were Sisters Peter, Ursuline and Rose, of the Humility of Mary Order from Villa Marie College, Pennsylvania.
There are still living in the parish today, several pupils of these first teaching Sisters, all in their 80's, who speak affectionately of them and their teaching ability. They are: Mrs. William Stuhlmiller, Mrs. Elizabeth Whitman, Mrs. Emma Nichter, Mrs. Abby Diebel, Mr. Albert Rech and Mr. Charles Whitman.
In those days German language was taught in the school, one morning each week, and many of the older folks of the parish are bi-linguists, capable of reading and writing in German and English; and several of them in French as well.
Friday afternoon was devoted to the teaching of "fancy work" in which every young lady of that period was expected to be accomplished. This included, crocheting, needle work, drawn work, painting and millinery.
New School Built
Rev. A. G. Herman, pastor from 1901-11, built the present school which was dedicated in 1909 by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Koudelka, auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland. Father Herman attended to the congrgation of St. Ann's Church in the "French Settlement" located (since the arrival of French immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine in the 1830's) in section 16 of Milton Township, directly west of Easton on route 604, about two miles west of its intersection with route 94.
Father Herman built the present St. Ann's Church in Rittman, to which the parish then moved. The Catholic Cemetery is still in the old location on route 604. Father John Farrel is at present pastor of St. Ann's Church.
Rev. Fasnacht To Return
On June 12, 1915, the Very Rev. Monsignor Edward A. Fasnacht, who will give the Jubilee sermon on July 4, came to Doylestown on his first pastoral assignment. Monsignor Fasnacht labored unceasingly for the parish and endeared himself to the people by his zeal and earnestness. He enlarged the rectory and landscaped the grounds along with other improvements. Respected and liked by all the people of Doylestown, it was he who gave the patriotic address at the unveiling of the monument in the square of Doylestown in 1921, erected to the memory of the men who fought in the first World War.
Rev. Anthony V. Mechler, currently pastor of St. Boniface's Parish in Cleveland, was in
Doylestown from 1927 to 1933. During this time the parish celebrated its Centenary with the late Bishop Schrembs of Cleveland officiating at the Pontifical Mass.
Father John H. Frey has enjoyed the longest term as pastor, coming here from St. Joseph's in Jefferson in 1933. In 1943 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination. He has enlarged the school and installed new heating systems in both the church and school.
Families Remain in Parish
In many parishes of the age of Sts. Peter and Paul, it would be difficult to find more than two or three families whose ancestors were its original organizers. In this parish there is a large group which can make this claim. Some of them are:
Fred Whitman, children and grandchildren; Mrs. Emma Nichter, Misses Cornelia and Esther Whitman; Mrs. N. J. Lieberth, children and grandchildren; Joseph Whitman, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; Mrs. Edward Ganter; Mrs. Thomas Doyle, children and grandchildren; Leo H, Whitman; Mrs. Philip Davis, son and grandchildren; Mrs. Wm. Deibel, children and grandchildren; Mrs. Emmett Petit, children and grandchildren.
Mrs. Oscar Lindeman, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; Augustus Diebel, children and grandchildren; Oliver Deibel; Mrs. Arthur Bowman and daughter; Mrs. George Nichter, son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; Charles Whitman; William Stuhlmiller; Mrs. Frank Deibel, children and grandchildren; Albert Rech, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Some of the other families prominent in the parish in 1895 were: Walsh, Roth, Gardner, Petit, Paul, Paridon, McDermott, Dannemiller, Bidinger, Herwick, Burger, Berger, Burg, Steinmetz, Degenhardt, Shondel, Miner, Henry, Busson, Gallagher, Rupp, Hammer, Werner, Steiner, Anfang, Dietry and Weinsheimer.
With a basis of American, Irish, German and French, the ancestry of the members of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish today emanates from a dozen different nationalities, forming a composite that is truly American; a composite which, on a small scale, exemplifies the ideal "brotherhood of man" sought by the international family of nations today. The parish today numbers more than 200 families.
The outstanding organizations of the parish are the Men's Holy Name Society and the Ladies' Altar Society.
John White is president of the Holy Name Society and Nicholas Lieberth is the oldest active member.
Mrs. A. J. Paridon is president of the Altar Society and Mrs. Elizabeth Whitman is the oldest active member.
The oldest member of the parish is Joseph Whitman, aged 86 years.
In the past seven years the St. Francis Xavior Mission group has shipped six tons of clothing and food to the needy people of the war-ridden countries of Europe, as well as financial aid. They have made and supplied several hundred complete layettes for infants of the Catholic missions in India and elsewhere, including our own country. Mrs. Alvin Dannemiller is president of this Mission Circle.
Sts. Peter and Paul School
In September 1906 Father Herman engaged the Sisters of St. Dominic to teach and supervise the school. For more than 50 years the Sisters of this community have zealously labored among the children of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The school children are taught to love their religion, but at no expenses or loss to their academic endeavor. The school is entirely under the government of the Diocesan School Board regulations with their rigorous requirements and Diocesan supervisors. There are at present 162 pupils in the school. The Sister-teachers have all acquired their college degrees and continue to attend summer sessions for higher education in a variety of universities.
The following Sisters teach in the school at the present time: Sister M. Romaine, first and second grades; Sister M. Louis, third and fourth grades; Sister M. Richard, fifth and sixth grades; Sister M. Dolorosa, seventh and eighth grades, and Sister M. Madeline, housekeeper of the convent.
Sons and daughters of the parish who have entered the Priesthood and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church are:
Rev. Charles Marshall, ordained in 1915, was a great-grandson of the pioneer Peter Marshall, and son of a Civil War veteran, Joseph Marshall and his wife Catherine (Reilly) Marshall, and a nephew of Henry Marshall, one time town clerk in Doylestown and recorder in Wooster for a number of years. Father Marshall died in 1947 and rests besides his parents in the church cemetery.
Rev. John Werner, son of the late John Werner and his wife of Cuyahoga Falls, after completing his studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Worthington, Ohio, was ordained in May 1951, by Amleto G. Cicogni, Apostolic Delegate at Washington, D.C. He returned to the parish of his birth to sing his first mass and at present is stationed at Newport, Kentucky.
Sisters of the Humility of Mary: Laura Deibel, Sister M. Peter; Sadie Rech, Sister M. Coletta.
Sisters of St. Joseph: Augusta Whitman, Sister M. Jermone.
Sisters of St. Dominic: Mary Paridon, Sister M. Florentine; Bertha Moine, Sister M. Elizabeth; Gertrude Werner, Sister M. Louise; Dolores Werner, Sister Mary Jane; Viola Rech, Sister M. Virginia; Margaret Rabatin, Sister M. Michael, and Rita Werner, Sister M. Loretta.
Holy Cross Order of Brothers; Willis Ott, Brother Raymond, and Eugene Petit, Brother Maximus.
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