Appalachia, Ben F. Donley, Cabell County, Claypool Chapel, Crump and Reardin, Dan Westfall, Giles County, Guyandotte, history, Huntington, J.S. Thornburg, Kanawha County, Kenova, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Orville, Pittsburgh, Tazewell County, W.T. Workman, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about Methodists in Logan County, WV. The story is dated April 26, 1927:
PLANS FOR SUNDAY’S DEDICATION OF FIRST M.E. CHURCH PROMPT REVIEW OF 100 YEARS OF METHODISM HERE
Methodists from all parts of Logan county and even more distant points are expected to attend the dedication next Sunday of the new First M.E. Church in this city. As previously announced, an impressive program for the day has been arranged. Dr. Daniel Westfall, of Pittsburgh, Rev. J.E. Bird, of Huntington, and Rev. J.S. Thornburg, of Kenova, will be here to assist the pastor, Rev. Ben F. Donley.
It is more than a century ago that Methodism took root in Logan county. There are authentic records telling of the activities of the followers of the Wesleys as far back as 1825, the year the county was carved out of Tazewell, Giles, Cabell and Kanawha. Students of local church history are convinced that Methodist ministers labored in this field prior to that date. Their first goings and comings antedate the West Virginia Conference, which was established by the General Conference while assembled in Pittsburgh in 1848.
For the following review of the history of Methodism in Logan, the Banner is indebted to an adherent of the church who has just been delving into the subject:
First Church Prepares for Dedication
Methodism had its beginning in what is now Logan county in the year 1825 of which we have record, but we feel sure that even before that there were Methodist preachers in the confines of the county.
The History of Methodism in Logan county beings even before we have a West Virginia Conference. It was established by the General Conference while assembled in Pittsburgh in 1848.
Methodism, like all other denominations in Logan county and elsewhere, has been intermittent, not always able to have ministers enough to supply all its work; but wherever possible having local men to exhort the people, and some of these men became great ministers of the church.
Logan County’s Methodism has fared somewhat like that. It has been intermittent in its work. They have had many ministers and many times they have been without a minister. Because of this a large portion of the history has been lost, so far as records are concerned, but in the heart and mind of Methodist people there remains the story of Methodism in Logan county which has been given to them by their ancestors.
At Guyandotte in 1804
We know from the general church history that Bishop Asbury preached in this section of the country before the year 1825 and the minister who was preaching in Guyandotte at the mouth of our river came into the county and preached as early as 1804.
The local church has within the jurisdiction property that was deeded to the church as early as the year 1844 and at this time is defending in the Circuit Court of Mingo county title to property that was deeded to the church in 1882.
The First Methodist Church has been using the old church building or 21 years. It was started by the Reverend J.W. Bedford, who is now living at Parsons, W.Va., and who is still active in serving a church. He began traveling this field in 1872. His circuit included these places as some of the appointments: Claypoool Chapel, Logan, Orville, Starr Chapel, and others that made a circuit of over a hundred miles in length. He walked most of the time and won for himself the name “Walking Joe,” which holds to this day.
The Rev. J.S. Thornburg, a brother of the Rev. Thornburg of this city, was the first preacher in the new church built in 1904. This building has served its people well, but now the needs of the present congregation are so great that they cannot be served in the old building.
In 1924 the Rev. Ben F. Donley was appointed pastor of the local congregation. Upon arrival he found a very much discouraged people, but that willingness that has characterized the Christian people from the beginning–a willingness to arise and work.
Without much ado, or even any shouting from the housetops as to what they were going to do, they set themselves to the task of doing what seemed the impossible.
Planning for Future
The church board made a survey of the community and of the church to find out its needs and to see if it were possible for them to supply them. The first one that arose was the need of a new church building, Sketches were drawn of a building that would care for the church for a number of years, but upon consideration it was decided that the coat was prohibitive. It was then decided to build a part now and complete the plans in the near future. This included departmental rooms and a modern parsonage.
Contract was let to the firm of Crump and Reardin, of Huntington, and ground was broken on November 23, 1926. The corner stone was laid January 13, this year by W.T. Workman, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the A.F. & A.M., of West Virginia.
The new edifice to be presented for dedication on Sunday, May 1, is of English architecture, a very beautiful structure.