History of Silver Grove Christian Church
About the year of 1911 or 1912, people in the community of Silver Grove met for a Union Sunday School in the schoolhouse of the town. This schoolhouse had, incidentally, formerly housed the town saloon, but having been remodeled into a storeroom for education, it properly served the spiritual as well as educational needs of the community.
At the time the first members were coming to a Union Sunday School, the town of Silver Grove itself was having its actual birth and dedication. From R. O. Nolan, the General Real Estate Agent of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company, a letter was received February 14, 19852, stating:
“The Silver Grove Land and Building Company was incorporated on October 18, 1911, for the purpose of buying, owning, selling, trading, and renting land; erecting, selling and renting residences and buildings of all kinds and descriptions. The subdivision was laid off at the same time and the Building Company had now disposed of all of its property in Silver Grove.”
So Silver Grove was a railroad town - a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company and from that time on, the problems of the church and the railroad were often the same. Why were there so few men in the church? On Sunday they worked different "tricks" at the railroad yard. The death of one of the most dedicated church workers? Yes, it was an accident on the railroad. But those were situations and problems which grew up later, and yet it was at this time of 1912 to 1916 that they had their roots and their beginnings.
Because of a split in the Union Sunday School, Mrs. Ida Alexander and the Baptists met in the home of Mrs. Alexander on Four Mile Pike, while others remained in the old schoolhouse. In the spring of 1914, a Methodist preacher, Rev. I. Jones held a revival for the Union Church and Sunday School, which strengthened interest in this work and gave impetus to the Union movement.
At this time the town was growing. In the letter formerly quoted from R. O. Nolan, the information is also related that, "Our records show that the Building Company, by deed dated January 31, 1912, conveyed Lot No. 116 to the Silver Grove Baptist Church, and by deed dated November 9, 1916, conveyed lot No. 130 to the Silver Grove Christian Church."
In 1916, Rev. R. D. Harding came down to Silver Grove from a Christian Church in Dayton, Kentucky, and urged that interested members of the Union Church and Sunday School form a Christian Church. The Building Committee was set up at about this time with the following members as a result of Rev. Harding's enthusiasm: G. A. DeLong, Roy D. Winters, George J. Carwile, Mrs. Stanley Mitchell, and Mrs. Geroge Bireley, Secretary.
In March, 1917, the cornerstone of the Silver Grove Christian Church and the Union Sunday School was laid. The following deed was recorded in that same month on March 9, 1917 at 10:30 A.M. on p. 190 of Deed Book Number 67 for the fee of Two dollars:
“This deed of conveyance witnesseth: That the Silver Grove Land and Building Company of Covington, Kentucky, a corporation under the laws of Kentucky, in consideration of One Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($150.00) paid to it byG. A. DeLong, R. D. Winters, and G. J. Carwile as Trustees of Silver Grove Christian Church of Silver Grove, Campbell County, Kentucky, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, does hereby bargain, sell and convey to said G. A. DeLong, R. D. Winters, and G. J. Carwile as Trustees of said church, their successors, and assigns, for the purpose of subject to the conditions hereinafter specified, the following described real estate.”
As so on. The deed continued with the fo9llowiung rules for the use of the building:
“Said real estate shall be held by said Trustees, and by their successors in trust and shall be used by said church, as a place for religious services and worship, the teaching of the doctrines of the Christian religion, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the promotion of Christianity, the cultivation of virtue and the upbuilding of character.”
Among the rather interesting limitations set up for the church, the deed records the following:
“2. No liquor, spirituous, vinous, fermented, or intoxicating drinks shall be manufactured or sold upon the property herein conveyed or any part thereof.
“3. The premises herein conveyed shall be kept clean and free from debris and unsightly articles and offensively odorous substances by the grantees, their successors and assigns, and no nuisance, or any business act or performance of any kind constituting a nuisance shall be created, done , or suffered therein.”
The Silver Grove Christian Church and the Union Sunday School was thus dedicated in May of 1918, but the mortgage was not burned until May of 1923. The building had cost a total of eight thousand, five hundred dollars, ($8500). Money had been received from various churches, lodges, and individuals. The Masonic Lodge and Odd Fellows gave generously, but at one time when funds ran low, the three Trustees of the church, George J. Carwile, G. A. DeLong, and Roy D. Winters signed a note for two thousand dollars for the church. No collections were taken during these early years, but the trustees paid twenty-five dollars a month to keep the organization going.
Dana B. Jolly of Mentor, Kentucky was the contractor for the church and his name as well as those of the trustees was placed in the cornerstone. At the dedication in May, 1918, Rev. R. D. Harding presided as first minister of the Silver Grove Christian Church. Harding had first preached only one Sunday a month at Silver Grove until he was released from his charge in Dayton, Kentucky.
From 1923 to 1925 there was a series of various ministers, about ten in all who went as quickly as they came. Then in 1925, Harding sent the Reverend Newton Cloe, who stayed for two years.
Always baptism by immersion was practiced and communion was held every Sunday. From the setting up of the church, two Sundays a month were to be left open to other denominations since it was a Union rathe5r than a Christian Sunday School. However, when no one took advantage of this opportunity, the Christian Church used all of the month.
From 1927 to 1930, three other ministers appeared upon the scene briefly. There was F. A. Keeling who came in 1927 and he was a former Lutheran man who was also sent by Harding. R. F. Fansteel from Augusta, Kentucky arrived in 1929 and stayed buy a short time. A schoolteacher by profession, he had given of his time to serve as a minister. Again in 1929, Harding sent another man, Davis from New York, who remained with the church about six months. There was never a minister who lived in town.
Then there came the years of no minister, and according to reports, the years of 1930 and 1931 were indeed “dead numbers.” Mrs. Warner and Mr. Carwile served as superintendents of the Sunday School at different periods, but no real advance was made.
Finally in 1932, a Brother True arrived and offered to preach for the collection taken. This was well and good, but gradually the collection dwindled to nothing…
Then from across the river at Cincinnati Bible Seminary came a young man and his wife who wanted to hold a Revival. So the revival was scheduled for October 1932, and in one afternoon Paul E. Osborne baptized forty-five people. Members still remember him as “a strong preacher.”
After his revival, Osborne sent Ray Davis from Cincinnati to serve the church from 1932 to 1933. Then in 1933, Osborne himself came as minister to the church. Since he lived in Cincinnati, he was able to come over for weekly Wednesday evening prayer meetings, and thus served the church more actively than had any other minister.
But in 1937 came the flood, and the church as well as the homes of the community suffered. No pews and no piano remained, but Osborne worked diligently during the flood and afterwards too, try8ing to build up the church. Pictures were taken of the damage and Osborne sent out these pictures with please for help. Churches in the area responded with one thousand dollars and with Mr. Weaver, the carpenter in the town donating his work, the church was remodeled. Late in 1937 Osborne left, and the church turned to Cincinnati preachers-Wetzel and Young, respectively for another several years. Kendrick Anderson then came for the College of the Bible in Lexington and served for some time. In July of 19465 Roy Martin, while still a student at Transylvania College served as minister of the church until September 1949 when he took over a full time pastorate elsewhere in the state.
It was then that William Keller sent to Silver Grove, and from his background of preparation for the mission field, emphasized the importance of foreign missions. In June of 1951, Keller left for further work at Cornell and Donald Hogan became the minister of the church in 1951.
The church of Silver Grove has grown in the past three decades, but much work still needs to be done in the community. With only two Protestant Churches to serve the town, both churches should have their pews crowded. Such, however, is not the case. The Baptist Church has prospered during the past several years as a result of having a minister in residence in the town. A full-time minister for the Christian Church could do much to help the congregation grow. The student minister continues to be limited in his time with the people.
All available facts were used in the writing of this paper, but nevertheless, much of the material gathered still remains "hearsay." Members of the congregation were interviewed and their stories "pieced together." It is hoped that this information is accurate, but for an authoritative history, much is still to be desired. I wish to acknowledge the work of Mrs. Iola Parker in helping with this history, for her letters and fine interest; the kindness of Beattie de Long for the loan of the church deed; and the cooperation of Mrs. R. Winters and Mr. G. A. Carwile for their “remembering” of these former days.
by Donald T. Hogan, as edited by W. Jack Smith