We Celebrated 200 Years in 2021
On the 15th of June, 1821, two men appointed by the Presbytery met with the congregation and formally organized the First Presbyterian Church.
In 2021 We Celebrated 200 Years of Ministry by this Congregation!
According to the June, 1956 history of Cranston Memorial Presbyterian Church, written by Mary Rudd Cochran, the first worship services in this vicinity were conducted by itinerant Methodist preachers from far-off Virginia. The meetings were held at the homes of Jacob Light, who had moved to the Ohio Valley in 1797, Daniel Light and Nathan Lycock, in the neighborhood of Mount Pisgah, “soon after 1805.”
In 1813 Jacob Light built a “large brick house” on the river bank in what is now New Richmond. In September, 1814, he laid out streets and in May, 1816, there seem to have been “two cabins, seven hewed-log houses and several frames” completed.
Exactly where and when the Methodist Church was formed is uncertain but it had thirty members in 1817. In 1822 it built a “small brick house of worship” on a lot on Market Street, given by Jacob Light.
In February, 1816, Thomas Ashburn secured land lying immediately south of New Richmond and laid out the village he named in honor of his wife, Susanna. The two settlements joined at Union Street.
More is known about the forming of the Presbyterian Church. “Public Notice” having been given, a number of men and women assembled on the 11th of March, 1821. After reading from the Scriptures, singing a hymn, and offering a prayer for Divine guidance, they proceeded to elect a Moderator, a Clerk and three Ruling Elders. One of these Elders was chosen to represent the group at the next meeting of the Presbytery, to receive authorization to organize a Presbyterian Church. Permission was granted.
On the 15th of June, 1821, accordingly, two men appointed by the Presbytery of Washington (The Presbytery of Cincinnati was formed in 1822) met with the congregation and formally organized the First Presbyterian Church. There were twenty-three charter members, including Thomas and Susanna Ashburn.
On the 20th of May, 1822, Thomas Ashburn transferred, as a gift, the property at Washington and Union Streets to the Trustees of the new church “for promoting the Christian religion . . . in Susanna.” The cornerstone was laid on the 14th of June; the sermon was preached by the Rev. Joshua L. Wilson, a prominent minister in Cincinnati.
In 1851 the Methodists replaced their first church building with “an attractive two-story brick” and named it Trimble chapel, in honor of one who had served faithfully as Presiding Elder.
In 1855 the Presbyterians raised funds to replace their edifice. The building was completed in 1856 but the steeple was not added until 1871.
In 1916 Bishop Earl Cranston retired from his responsibilities in Washington, D.C., and came to live on a farm near New Richmond. He was greatly interested in church unity and hoped to see all the Protestant churches in New Richmond combine to form one strong, influential church. In January, 1929 the Methodist and Presbyterian churches appointed members to serve on a committee to consider affiliation.
Bishop Cranston did not live to see his dream fulfilled. He died in 1932. But the flood of 1937 forced the decision. Many families lost their personal possessions, some lost their homes. The Presbyterian Church was badly damaged. The Methodist Church was ruined. The whole community was crippled.
“The first meeting of Session after the flood” was held on the 6th of June, 1937. The plan had been perfected in advance. The Session met and all the Elders tendered their resignations. Then a joint meeting of both congregations was held. There was a sermon by the Methodist Bishop. The Moderator was a Presbyterian.
The church adopted the name of the Cranston Memorial Presbyterian Church, in honor of Bishop Cranston. Members on the rolls of the Methodist Church were duly admitted and a minister of the Methodist Church was named to fill the pulpit until Conference convened. Officers were elected from both groups. The Elders coming from the Methodist Church were ordained as Presbyterian Elders. And so began the new era.
On June 27, 2021, we will gather to begin a Season of Celebration remembering our past, celebrating our present, and seeking God’s inspiration and guidance as we consider the future of Cranston Memorial Presbyterian Church! Stay tuned for more details.