Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-402
Location: LH-402

(Description ID: 595746)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Bellevue St. Paul’s United Church of Christ


Agency History
Scope and Content

The records of the Bellevue, Ohio St. Paul’s United Church of Christ were donated in 2014.

Agency History
In 1974, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Bellevue, Ohio, was joined by the congregation of the Bellevue Congregational Church of Christ.  Until 1961, St. Paul’s had been St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed, but was usually called St. Paul’s Reformed Church.   For the purpose of distinguishing the two congregations here, the term St. Paul’s or St. Paul’s Reformed is used. 

The Bellevue Congregational Church of Christ was, for most of its existence, called Bellevue Congregational Church, and that is the title used here to distinguish the church before 1974.  This church was also referred to as the “Harkness Church”, so named for its building’s benefactor.

Bellevue, Ohio, lies within the Firelands on the western edge of the Connecticut Western Reserve in four Ohio counties, viz.: Huron, Erie, Sandusky and Seneca.  By 1835, a substantial population of Germans had settled in the area, many having come from Union and Snyder Counties in Pennsylvania.  St. Paul’s Reformed Church was founded in 1863 with services in German,a key to attracting and consolidating German congregations in and around Bellevue, including many from Adams and Thompson Townships of Seneca County.

The Bellevue Congregational Church was founded in 1836 as a Presbyterian church.  But by 1846, the congregation was influenced by nearby Oberlin College and the concept of congregational governance.  Among early members of note were members of the Harkness family, whose entrepreneurial pursuits parallel the American dream of hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity, leading to wealth beyond the imagination. 

The church forbade alcoholic beverages but, in 1888, managed to accept a new building from Daniel Harkness, whose deceased wife had been a devoted member.  Daniel made much of his fortune as a distiller.  He was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Bellevue and it was his half-brother, Steven Harkness, who gave $100,000 to John D. Rockefeller for founding Standard Oil.  In addition to stock in the company, Steven Harkness stipulated that yet another half-brother, Henry Flagler, would be a full partner and company treasurer.  Henry had served as church treasurer while his father, a Presbyterian minister, served on church council.  Rockefeller later credited Henry with much of Standard Oil’s success.  Henry moved on to Florida where he’s credited with building railroads and hotels, opening Florida to tourism.   Along with Rockefeller, he became one of the world’s richest men.

The Congregational Church building built by Daniel Harkness is today [2014] a private residence near the railroad museum.  St. Paul’s United Church of Christ has an active congregation and has always had the same location, at Kilbourne and Gardner Streets in Bellevue.  A day care mission and adjacent cemetery are associated with the church.  Will Harkness, Daniel’s son gave an extraordinary organ to the Congregational Church which was later enlarged and moved to St. Paul’s UCC. 

Scope and Content
This collection of records is contained in six boxes (A through F), comprising 81/2 linear feet.  The first three boxes (A, B, C) relate to the Congregational Church followed by three boxes (D, E, F) with materials from St. Paul's Reformed and St. Paul's United Church of Christ.

Fourteen ledger books, five from the Congregational Church and nine from St. Paul’s Reformed Church, were microfilmed on three rolls by the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University,  Levis Commons Campus, in January, 2014.  The cost was born by the Genealogical Society of Utah.  Three copies of the three rolls were produced, with the sets being distributed among GSU, BGSU CAC, and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.  St. Paul’s donated its set to the Hayes Presidential Center. Those at the Hayes Presidential Center are located in the Research Room.

The original ledgers that were microfilmed, are contained in Box A, Folders 1-5 (Congregational), and Box D, Folders 1-8 (St. Paul’s Reformed & St. Paul's UCC).  They contain sacramental records (marriages, baptisms, deaths, and communions) for both churches and the union of the two churches.

Additionally, ledgers contain records of church officials, meetings, letters, histories, newspaper clippings, and/or other miscellaneous materials.  Some records appear to have been copied from earlier ledgers and their entries are sometimes duplicated in later ledgers.

The records, spanning the years from 1836 to 2013, also contain annual reports, council minutes, contracts, membership registers, confirmands, merger agreements, treasurer reports, records of various organizations within the church, photographs, periodicals, anniversary and program booklets, Christian educational materials, scrapbooks, pamphlets, church bulletins, and newspaper articles relating activities and events.

Ac. 5872
8 ½ linear ft.

Box A

Earliest membership ledgers from the Bellevue Congregational Church.

A1 – Congregational Church “Docket Book”, 1836–1890, 60 sacramental pages.  Page 243 is a program connected with the laying of a cornerstone for a new church building (Harkness Memorial).  Pages 244–249 is a newspaper account of the history, 50th anniversary, and letters from former pastors.  Page 295 is a program of the October 14, 1888, dedication exercises for the new church building.

A2 – Congregational Church “Church Register”, 1890–1933, 100+ pages of sacramental information.  Membership notes quite often list geographical location of origin and destination. 

A3 – Congregational Church “The Pilgrim, Church Registry & Records”, 1929–1939, 3 pp.

A4 – Congregational Church, “ The Pilgrim Register”, 1948–1954, 24 pp.sacramental information

A5 – Congregational Church, “Pilgrim Register”, 1959–1974, 40 pp, baptisms, marriages, & deaths

A6 – Five (5) baptism receipts (1941–1960), Certificates of Transfer 1972–74, Dismissals 1963–70.

A7 – Manila envelope of pastoral letters, memorial fund information, membership information, and other miscellany information.

A8 – Congregational Church, program pamphlet, Exercises at the Dedication of the Harkness Memorial Church (First Congregational) of Bellevue, Ohio, held Sunday, Oct. 14, 1888. This pamphlet includes remarks regarding Daniel Harkness and Henry Flagler and their families, the dedication sermon, and an alphabetical list of membership.  (Pages missing.)

A9 – Two (2) pamphlets, “First Congregational Church, Bellevue, Ohio, 1836 – 1961, Our 125th Anniversary, Oct. 8th – 15th, 1961”.

A10 – Congregational Church, Creed-Covenant-Constitution-Amendments-Minutes of Meetings 1900 – Jan. 3, 1952 … Annual meetings for 1950, 1951 included.

A11 – Congregational Church “1955, Termination Letters & New Memberships”, A-J

A12 – Congregational Church “1955, Termination Letters & New Memberships”, K-Z

A13 – Complete history, Bellevue Congregational Church, “Bellevue Gazette,” 15 May 1911

Box B

Congregational Church Index Cards for Ledgers, 1836-1953, in five post binders and, Deacon's Index Card File with membership dates ranging from 1879 to 1974

Box C

Congregational Church Records

C1 - Congregational Church histories, newspaper clippings

C2 - Congregational Church Constitution, 1836-1846

C3 - Congregational Church Officers, beginning 1836

C4 - Congregational Church 1854 Deed Copy, 1971 Mortgage, 1972 Name, 1974 Safe Inventory

C5 - Congregational Church Women's Missionary Society, Local Reports, Writings beginning 1875

C6 - Congregational Church Women's Missionary Society, Ledgers, beginning 2 March 1878

C7 - Congregational Church Women's Missionary Society, State/National Publications

C8 - Congregational Church Treasurer's Record beginning May, 1885

C9 - Congregational Church Anniversary and Program Booklets beginning 1911

C10 - Congregational Church reports, 1926, 1931-1945, 1947, 1948, 1972, 1973

C11 - Congregational Church records, 1938-1946

C12 - Congregational Church council, 1963-1974

C13 - Congregational Church 1963 Self Study, A Look Into Our Church

C14 - Congregational Church 1972 pastor's contract

C15 - Congregational Church, “The Link”, Final Edition, 15 February 1974

C16 - Congregational Church Stewardship Letters 1941, 1942, 1949, Annual Reports 1952-1973

Box D

Ledgers from St. Paul’s Reformed and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.

D1 – St. Paul's “Membership and Communion Record”, 1865–1892, 106 pp sacramental information

D2 – St. Paul's “Church Register”, 1893-1922, 249 pages sacramental information

D3 – St. Paul's 1903-1920 “Roll Book”, 150 pages sacramental information

D4 – St. Paul's 1916-1939 “An Up-To-Date Church Register”, 320 pages sacramental information

D5 – St. Paul's 1940-1953 “Church Register”

D6 – St. Paul's 1951-1968 “Church Register”

D7 – St. Paul's 1959-1963 “Church Membership Record”

D8 – St. Paul's 1921-1977 “Church Register”

D9 – St. Paul's 1968-1984 “Membership and Confirmation Records”

Box E

St. Paul's Reformed and St. Paul's UCC 

E1 – Pictures of pastors and families 

E2 – 1864 Article of Agreement (Reformed), 1937 article re Evangelical & Reformed Merger 

E3 – Members of St. Paul's, 1891 and pamphlets, Woman's Missionary Society 

E4 – 1891 Reformed Church Monthly 

E5 – Reformed Church Quarterly, 1890 

E6 - Ohio Synod, Reformed Church, 1891 

E7 – Anniversary celebrations, 1905, 1923, 1938, 1953, 1963, 1996, 2013 

E8 – 1907 organist agreement 

E9 – Photo, 1918 Reformed Church Brotherhood Class 

E10 – Interiors of Congregational and old St. Paul’s Evangelical Church; Picture of "Woman's Guild" Presidents 


     Picture of Women's Group in 1923"3"
     Pictures of Mrs. Schwantes' Jr. Choirs (1958 & 1960)
     Pictures of Ray & Bertha Smith's 50th Wedding Anniversary
     Picture of Rev. Walter Leis with Chapel Choir
     Picture of Rev. Robert Bottoms with Confirmation Class at UCC Offices in Cleveland
     Picture of St. Paul's Mass Choir in 1957
     Picture of Canvassing Stewards for new sanctuary (1976)
     Pictures of outside of St. Paul's UCC
     Pictures of Women's Guild Christmas Tea in 1985
     Pictures of Congregational Retreat (Sept. 1984)
     Pictures of Dedication of Educational Wing
     Pictures of Anna Hoch's church school classes
     Wedding picture of Charles and Helen Stokes 

E12 – Children's lesson books, 1926, 1957 

E13 – 1957 educational wing dedication photos, pamplets, articles 

E14 – 1957 basketball church league champs 

E15 – Building of St. Paul's UCC, c. 1975-76 

E16 – 1981 mortgage burning 

E17 – St. Paul's UCC Building Dedication, 1978 (pamphlets, clippings, stewardship, etc) 

E18 –St. Paul's UCC Cornerstone Contents & Congregational History, 1961- 1974 

E19 – Articles, pictures re daycare mission 

E20 – Photos of confirmation classes 1939,40,41,44,46,48,49,50,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,63,93 

E21 – Sunday School classes, 1880, 1932, 1953 & miscellaneous photos

E22 – St. Paul's UCC Merger (letters, photos, studies, reports)

E23 – St. Paul's UCC Merger History by Wilfred “Willie” Siegel

E24 – St. Paul's UCC 25th/40th Anniversary of the (national) United Church of Christ

E25 – St. Paul's UCC Brief Summary of histoies including a 1905 re-dedication

E26 – St. Paul's UCC 160th Anniversary, 1996 (letters, history, activities, bulletin)


     Bulletin of Lenten Service, n.d.
     Advent booklet - year not shown
     Lenten Devotions - 1944 and 1945
     Devotional booklet - July/Aug. 1959
     Generous Givers Program - 1972 & 1974 Sunday Bulletin - Palm Sunday - 4/10/38
     Sunday Bulletin – Mother’s Day - 5/8/38
     Sunday Bulletin - Easter - 4/9/44
     Sunday Bulletin - Easter - 4/6/58
     Sunday Bulletin - 4/20/58 and 6/8/58
     Sunday Bulletin - Palm Sunday - 4/10/60
     Sunday Bulletins - 11/19/61, 1/14/62, 3-4-62, 5-6-62, 6-17-62
     Sunday Bulletin - Rural Life Sunday - 6-19-63
     Sunday Bulletin - Rev. Walter Leis is guest minister - 9-22-63
     Sunday Bulletin - Kennedy Memorial - 11-24-63
     Booklet - "Our Mission Helper" - Dec. 1900
     List of church leaders in 1942
     Home Coming Invite for 100th Anniversary
     Bulletin - Lenten Musical Service - 3/17/55
     Bulletin - World Day of Prayer - 2/21/58
     St. Paul's information sheet for 1963
     Tape of church service with Becky Cotterill solo
     Bulletin - J.F. Kennedy Memorial Service - 11/25/63
     Distribution of Christian World Mission - 1967-1969
     Booklet of May Fellowship Day - 1975
     Personal Testimonies from St. Paul's members - date not shown
     Constitution of St. Paul's UCC - 1968
     Constitution and By-laws of the E&R church - 1959
     Booklets on History of the UCC 


     St Paul's E&R Lenten Program - 1938
     Booklet of St Paul's E&R Church 75th Anniversary
     Booklet of St Paul's E&R Church 90th Anniversary
     Books on St. Paul's UCC Sanctuary Dedication Service
     Book on Historical Sketches of the Congregational Christian Churches and The E&R Church - 1955    
     Book on United Church of Christ History and Program


     Newspaper articles (List of contents enclosed) 


     Magazine - "The Messenger" - contains the beginning of our church - 6-20-50
     Magazine - "The Messenger" - contains info on the beginning of the UCC - 9-24-57
     Magazine - "The Messenger" - info on the first anniversary of the UCC - 6-17-58
     Magazine - "The Messenger" - last issue. Name changes to "United Church Herald" - 9-23-58
     Magazine - "United Church Herald" - first issue - 10-6-58
     Magazine - "United Church Herald" - 10-23-58
     Magazine - "United Church Herald" Glass Ministry issue - 11-6-58
     Magazines - "United Church Herald" 12-4-58, 10-19-61
     Magazine - "United Church Herald" last issue. Name changed to "A.D." - July/Aug. 1972
     Magazine - "A.D. 1972" First issue - Sept. 1972 


     A History of the present St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Bellevue, Ohio (Corollary to Centennial Booklet)
         as compiled and written by Miss Mary F. Ihle, Miss Freda J. Zieber, in observance of the 100th Anniversary,
         1863 – 1963, 65 pp., including photo of authors 


     Scrapbook, St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed UCC, C.O.I Sunday School Class, 1921-1971, by Mary Ihle,
          finished 1982, with photos, pamphlets, letters, programs, etc, 90 pp. 

E33 – 1930s, 40s Mary Ihle picture album 

E34 – Mary Ihle picture album 

E35 – 1959, Our Venture in Faith, 3 copies 

Box F

F3 – Unknown dates, snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F4 – 1963, snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F5 – 1976 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F6 – 1977 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F7 – 1978 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F8 – 1980 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC

F9 – 1981 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F10 – 1983 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F11 – 1984 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F12 – 1985 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F13 – 1986 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F14 – 1987 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F15 – 1988 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F16 – 1989 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F17 – 1991 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F18 – 2002 snapshot photos, St. Paul's UCC 

F19 – St. Paul's Reformed, Old Deeds, 1864-1899 

F20 – St. Paul's UCC Directories 2010, 2013 

Transferred to Museum:

1. OneCane / Walking Stick, presented by the Bellevue Congregational Church to each senior deacon, 1886-1952.  Top inscription: “Presented to N.A. Barnes by the Congr Church Choir, Bellevue, Ohio, July, 1850, July, 1886”.  Three side inscriptions: “J. Greenslade, Oct. 6, 1920,
J. Kaiser, Jan. 6, 1922, Kingsley, Feb. 8, 1952”. 

2. Printer’sPlates: 100th Anniversary 

3. Pastor’sCommunion Set