The flourishing and enterprising town bearing the above name is prettily situated, in a basin as it were, on a very high elevation of ground. It was named after the metropolis of France by David Huffman, who laid it out in 1831. On learning of a “New, Paris ” in this State, he prefixed to it the Saint, to avoid any difficulty that might occur in mail matter.
The lots were surveyed by the old pioneer surveyor, John Arrowsmith. The first house in the town was built by David Huffman ; a hewed-log house, standing on the northwest corner of Springfield and Main streets. It was a very neat piece of work, carefully made by Huffman himself, and was the pride of the neighborhood.
The first frame house of any note was built by John Falkner, soon after the town had been laid out. It is now the American Hotel, on Main street. Huffman was the first merchant, inn-keeper and Postmaster. William Rosebro was one of the early tavern-keepers, occupying the house known as the old La Rue Tavern. Jacob Protsman was the first blacksmith, and occupied a log shop on Main street. Dan Putman was an early grocer, located on West Main street.
The town grew quite rapidly, and in the year 1845 it numbered nearly 20 houses. In 1846 or 1847, the Columbus & Piqua Railroad was built through St. Paris, which gave it great advantages over neighboring villages, and it began steadily to increase, until it is now known as one of the live towns of Champaign County, and bids fair to rival others, its seniors in years. Some twenty-odd additions have been made since the original plat, and through the efforts of its many enterprising citizens it has become a town of fair population, studded with numerous churches, fine residences, business houses, banks and a good school. It also supports several manufacturing interests, among them carriage manufacturing, a tile factory, steam saw-mill, grist-mill, etc., and with its railroads and telegraph facilities, is in daily communication with the world at large. It has its three grain ware rooms, where 300,000 bushels of grain are annually shipped to the markets of the country. The American House and “U. S. ” are the hotels of the town. The proprietor of the former is Joe A. Hellings. We were unable to get at the exact date of its incorporation as a town, but the year 1858 will not miss it far.
Its first and present Mayor was and is John F. Riker, but many others have served in that capacity. The present council are E. V. Rhoads. Ezra Pretzman, David Strock, Joseph Bownfield, J. C. Tomlin and T. F. Woods. The Postmasters have been as follows, and in the order named: David Huffman, Jesse Long, Francis Wert, B. W. Perrine, J. Q. Baird, Mrs, Henrietta Scott and the present incumbent, G. W. Kelly. It was made a money-order office in the fall of 1875. There are now some 6 practicing physicians in the town ; but few lawyers. The town and township have been heard from in public affair, having been represented in the State Legislature by Solomon G. Brecount, Dr. J. J. Musson and S. T. McMorran.
Probably the greatest production of the township is Gen. John Jones, of Delaware, now in the State Senate, and formerly a member of Congress from the Ninth District, Johnson has also been twice favored in county offices, namely, E. V. Rhoads in the Treasurer’s office, and M. A. Jordan, the present Recorder. The population, as shown by the census of 1880, is 1,068. In politic, the St. Paris precinct is Democratic.
The public schools of St. Paris are excellent. The school building is a three-story structure, built of brick, in 1867, containing five rooms, two on the first and second, and one on the third floor, the latter used as a chapel. James Davis, Samuel Bowersock and Dr. J. J. Musson were the School Directors and acted as a building committee at the time the’ building was erected. The first school was opened in it September 5, 1868, under the following corps of teachers’: Principal, J. G. Blair ; Grammar School, Miss Mary Woods; other rooms, Miss Sarah Armstrong and Miss Drury. Present Instructors-Arthur Powell, Principal; Miss Clara Harrison, Grammar Department; other grades, W. A. Gibbs, Mrs, M. A. Owens and Mrs, A. A. Roberts. Total enrollment, 312-males, 159; females, 143 ; colored, 10-four males and six females. Prior to the opening of the schoolhouse above mentioned, school was held in the old Odd Fellows building. The first school of the town was kept in the house of David Huffman, then in a log schoolhouse standing in the old graveyard on the east side of the road, just north of town. Next in a frame schoolhouse now used as a dwelling.
The First Methodist Church of St. Paris was organized in a frame schoolhouse that stood on Springfield street, by Rev. J. G. Black, of Addison Circuit, in the year 1851, Benjamin F. Kizer, Jacob Rhoads and wife, Samuel Overhulz and wife, Malab Malan and wife and Daniel Wert were the original members.
For several months prior to this time, the preacher from Addison Circuit would hold services in private houses and in the schoolhouse. In 1852, the church, as a society, was attached to Tremont Circuit, and in the fall of the same year, the erection of a church-building was commenced, which was completed at a cost of $1,000, and dedicated in June, 1853, Rev. Granville Moody officiating.
At this time, George W. Harris was the minister of the circuit. He superintended the building of the church, and became the first regular minister after it was built. He was followed by W. N. Williams, and he by E. H. Field. In 1855, the society was changed to Fletcher Circuit. In the fall of 1870, Revs, W. F. Wolf and J. B. Sullivan were preachers on this circuit.
The old church was sold in February, 1880. A new one was built in 1875-76 at a cost of $10,500. S. Hanneford, of Cincinnati, was employed to draw the plans and oversee the building. It is a one-story brick building, built in Gothic style, and so constructed within that it can be thrown into one vast auditorium, or divided by folding doors into class-rooms, etc. It was dedicated by Bishop Bowman, February 11, 1876. The audience room proper has a seating capacity for about 500 people. The bell, which was taken from the old church, is suspended in a cupola 115 feet high. The church now numbers about 152 members, The present Pastor, Rev. Frank Leever, succeeded F. S. Davis, and he was preceded by M. Dustin.
The First Baptist Church – This church is the result of a meeting held in the old Methodist Church building August 13, 1874, of which Elder William R. Thomas was Moderator, and J. F. Riker, Clerk. Nineteen members pre sented their letters from other churches, and with these the church was organized. Tho first minister called was Elder E. B. Smith, who served until 1879, when the present Pastor, J. W. Scott, was called. As soon as the church was organized, they set about building a church. The present site was purchased of Samuel Bowersock, and a two-story brick of imposing appearance built thereon for $6,000. It contains the usual small rooms on the first floor, which is not yet finished, and an audience-room upstairs capable of seating 400 people. The church has a tower seventy feet high, in which there is a town clock and an excellent bell, the gift of Isaac Brubaker, which was cast in Baltimore at a cost of $335. It weighs 1,009 pounds, and has the date of presentation and the donor’s name cast in it. There is now a membership of one hundred in the church.
Reformed Church – This congregation worshiped in the jointly-built church known as the Salem Church (a history of which is given in the township matter proper) until their present church was erected in St. Paris, in the year 1852, when Jesse Steiner served as Pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. Jesse Richard, who served nearly twenty years. Both served the church the second time. The last minister was Rev. W. M. Andrews, The church is now without a Pastor.
Lutheran Church – The organization and early history of this church is that of Salem Church, contained in the township history, In 1865, the present Lutheran Church was erected on the corner of Elm and Church streets. It is a frame structure with spire and bell, and the ground upon which it is built was donated by Henry Apple. There is a parsonage to the church, built in 1868. Rev. Enoch Smith was the Pastor at the building of the church, and his successors have been Rev. H. A. Becker, Rev. J. O. Hoffman, Rev. J. Manning and Rev. J. O. Miller, the present incumbent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church (Zion’s Church) is a split from the Lutheran Church, taking place under Rev. Hursh, it going to the General Synod, and was the origin of the General Synodism in this part of the country. Organized by Rev. George Klapp in 1844 or 1845, with twenty-eight members.. Prior to the building of the church they now occupy, built in 1854, they worshiped in an old frame church which stood in the Lutheran and Baptist graveyard. The church was re-organized in 1848 by Ezra Keller, D. D., first President of Wittenberg College, Prior to this date, the church was known as the German Lutheran denomination, At the re-organization it adopted the constitution of the General Synod.Present membership, 124; Pastor, Rev. E. D. Smith.
A Universalist Church was organized here in March, 1880, by residents ,and members of the Millerstown Church, the latter having sold their church for the purpose of starting one here. They purchased the old Methodist Church for $400, and called Rev. James Lower to the pulpit. on the 12th of May, 1880, the dedication services were. held, Rev. S. P. Carrolton, officiating. Rev. Lower served but a short time, when he was succeeded by Rev. B. Blackford, the present Pastor. he church is still small, but much interest is manifested, and with the growth of the town it promises to increase in membership.
The Catholics of St. Paris have no regularly organized church. They hold meetings on the last Sabbath of each month, in Bowersock’s Hall, with the priests of this diocese, Father Henry and Father Donahue, officiating. They first commenced meeting thus about 20 years ago. There are between 70-80 of them in all. They have a lot purchased and paid for, in the southern part of town, and contemplate building them a church as soon as the state of their finances will permit.
THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK
This bank was organized July 15, 1880, with the following board of officers:
Lambert Pond, President; E. V. Rhoads, Cashier; Henry Sayler, Vice President; John Poorman, G. W. Kite, William Michael, H. Sayler and L. Pond, Directors. The charter bears date of August 2, 1880. Paid-up `stock, $52,100. They commenced doing business in their handsome new building; on Springfield street, November 8, 1880.
A private bank was opened in 1866, by Isaac Brubaker and S. T. McMorran, which was succeeded, in the year 1877, by the private bank of Bowersock & Son, now in operation.
The first newspaper started in the town was the St. Paris Independent, a weekly, published by Vaughn Brothers for fourteen months, from the spring of 1870, after which the office and materials were removed from the town, The village was then without a local paper until June, 1872, when O’Haver & Stawn commenced the publication of the St. Paris Informant, In December of the same year, they sold it to Mussen & Taylor, the name, in the meantime, having been changed to The New Era, and, in the month of April following, Taylor took entire control and continued the publication until November, when he sold it to Mussen & Co., who, in their turn, sold it to H. H. Hall, in January, 1877. In May, 1880, the present proprietor, C. R. Mussen, took charge of it for the third time. The files and records were all destroyed by a fire on October 28, 1879. The paper has always been Democratic in politic, with the exception of the time Mr. Hall had control, when it was Independent. Another Democratic weekly, called the St. Paris Enterprise, was started August 9, 1878, by C. R. Carlow; but, in the January following, the publication was discontinued.
ST. PARIS LODGE, NO. I. O. O. F.
This lodge was instituted May 10, 1854, by Especial Deputy C. F. Waite, with eleven members and the following officers: E. Pretzman, N. G.; W. Overhulz, V. G.; G. W. Flowers; See.; E. A. Stockton, Per. Sec.; I. Batdorf, Treas. The present number of members is seventy-three active and sixty-four dormant. Their officers now are; F. E. Bull, N. G.; Jacob Judy, V. G.; A. E. Pond, Sec.; J. Huffman, Treas. The lodge owns a fine two-story brick, which they built at a cost of $5,000, their lodge-room occupying the second story.
RUSSELL ENCAMPMENT, NO. 141, I. O. O. F.
This lodge was organized July 19, 1871, with a board of officers consisting of E. Pretzman, C. P.; D. H. McDaniels, H. P.; E. Va Rhoads, S. W.; Ira Wiant, J. W.; J. F. Riker, Scribe, and Jacob Huffman, Treas.,. and 16 charter members.
There are now 44 active and eight dormant members. The officers now are; C. A. Robinson, C. P.; Caleb Jones, H. P.; L. W. Gibbs, S. W.; E. D. Hasok, J. W.; H. C. Gibbs, Scribe; Jacob Huffman, Treas. They meet in the hall of the lodge, No. 246.
PHAROS LODGE, No. 355, A., F. & A. M.,
was instituted October 16, 1865, with 16 members and the following board of officers: John E. Finneman, W. M.; G. T. McMorran, S. W.; E. R. Northcutt, J. W.; E. H. Furrow, Treasurer; H. H. Long, Secretary; J. J. Musson, S. D.; W. F. Furrow, J. D.; Joseph Comer, Tiler; John Slonaker, Jacob McMorran, Stewards, The present officers are: E. V. Rhoads, W. M.; S. T. McMorran, S. W.; John Poorman, J. W.; J. K. Furrow, Treasurer; E. D.. Hawk, Secretary; J. T. Kite, S. D.; J. N. Smith, Tiler; T. J. Kite and J. B. Kizer, Stewards,The lodge has a nicely furnished hall in Bowersock Building, where their meetings are held.
ST. PARIS CHAPTER, N0. 132, R. A. M.,
was constituted by Companion James Nesbit, Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter, R. A. M., of Ohio, October 30, 1872, with 11 charter members, The first officers elected were; S. T. McMorran, H. P.; W. S. Cox, King; G. R. Kizer, Scribe. The chapter now numbers 22 members. They occupy the hall with Pharos Lodge. The following are the present officers : Emmet V. Rhoads, H. P.; G. D. Graham, King; W. F. Furrow, Scribe; B. F. Baker, Captain of H.; S. T. McMorran, P. S.; John Poorman, Treasurer; A. S. Brecount, Secretary ; W. S. Hunt, Guard.
YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
The Young Men’s Christian Association of St. Paris is the result of a meeting held for that purpose in the Baptist Church, November 7, 1876, F. M. Porch acting as President of the meeting and G. W. Kelley as Secretary. November 7, 1876, one week later, the association was regularly organized with a board of officers consisting of E. S. Faucett, President ; G. W. Kelley, Vice President; John McMorran, Secretary; William Henderson, Treasurer. They rented a room, held their stated meetings, and for a time promised to become a body of some power in the community, but the members began to tire of it and one by one dropped from the ranks, until, in July, 1880, they were obliged to relinquish their room from lack of funds. This seems rather strange, when their books are seen showing a membership of forty-three, originally, increased to one hundred and four, which was the number at disbandment. But of these one hundred and four, only seven were active members. The last board of officers were; W. N. Reinhard, President; James Brokaw, Vice President; J. N. McAllister, Secretary ; Augustus Leedom, Treasurer.
There are two of these ancient hallowed spots in the northern part of the town, and a beautifully laid out cemetery comprising eight acres of ground. The latter is known as Evergreen Cemetery and was laid out in 1877, the ground having been purchased by John McMorran for the sum of $200. Few interments have as yet been made. The grounds are being improved and beautified, and will doubtless soon be in keeping with the cemeteries of the day. The other two are situated opposite each other, the one on the west side of the road, known as the Methodist and Reform, was never laid out into lots. People began burying there on account of the high elevation of the ground. The other, known as the Lutheran and Baptist, had its origin in the same manner, but in later years was regularly laid out in family lots. We have been unable to fix the dates when these yards were first used for burying purposes.