Church celebrating 200 years


Much of Gilead Friends Church history is linked with Mount Gilead and Morrow County history.

The following account of the church by Walter R. Furbay highlights its beginning in 1824, which is the same year the first lots were laid out in Mount Gilead, then called Whetstone. More early history of Mount Gilead, Cardington and Morrow County can be found in the 1880 “History of Morrow County and Ohio” illustrated edition.

“In 1816 the first Friends (Quaker) families settled on farms in an area south of Mount Gilead. Jonathan Wood, wife Rachel and their 13 children and Asa Mosher, wife and 11 children came to the area and other Quaker families came soon thereafter. Their names were Bunker, Peasley, Stanley, Vaughan, Jackson, and others. Gilead Preparative Meeting was set up on June 23, 1824.

Reliable information states that the present Friends Meeting House was built in 1841. Previously they worshiped in a log house with a fireplace at each end.

In those early days of the 1800’s settlers were fast coming into the territory, many being Quakers from Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. All travel was by horse drawn wagons, and since this section was heavily timbered, they had to spend considerable time cutting trees, felling logs, and burning them in order to get through the forest. Wild animals were plentiful for food, and as soon as they could get a spot cleared, they planted various grains. Shoes and all clothing were made by hand from animal skins, flax, cotton, and wool. It was difficult to keep many sheep however because of the wolves. All homes were log houses in those early days.

Johnny Appleseed frequently visited this section, planting his seeds and caring for the trees already growing. In 1816 the early settlers reported snow or ice every month of the year, creating hardship for their crops.

At the time Friends Church was set up neither Mount Gilead nor Cardington existed as such; only small settlements, but they weren’t named. What is now Cardington was first settled in 1822, but it wasn’t called Cardington until 1836. Mount Gilead, then called Whetstone was set up in 1824, but the name changed in 1832 and it was incorporated in 1839.

Asa Mosher, a Quaker, set up the first grist mill in 1821 and soon added a sawmill. The first road laid out was the Delaware-Mansfield road, now U.S. Hwy. 42. Next was the Worthington-New Haven road running south from Mount Gilead. The first railroad came through in 1851 going through Cardington and Gilead Station, which was later named Edison. In 1880 the Ohio Central Railroad started operations through the county.

The first houses in Whetstone, (now Mount Gilead) were built in 1824 and 1825. The first store opened in 1827 and the first resident preacher located here in 1829. The first mail route through the county was carried by horseback from Mount Vernon to Marion once a week. The first school in Gilead Township was organized in the Quaker settlement near the present location. The earliest marriages also were here among the Moshers and the Woods.

Alum Creek Meeting the parent meeting, had been set up in 1817, and as part of Alum Creek Quarter. It was a part of Indiana Yearly Meeting until December 1856 when it was transferred to the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, now Evangelical Friends Eastern Region. In February 1829, a representative of American Sunday School Union started the first Sunday School in the history of Gilead Township.

Since the Gilead Friends Church was established as a meeting place for public worship in 1824, services have been kept up regularly. Until 1882 men and women held separate meetings for worship and transaction of business. No business was complete until both groups were united on a subject and consensus was reached.

In 1925 an all -day anniversary program was held at Gilead Friends Church honoring one hundred years of service for Christ. The first parsonage was built sixty-eight years ago with Ida and Guerney Lee as pastors.

The first electric lights were presented to the church by the late Frank B. McMillan, then President of Hydraulic Press Manufacturing Company (HPM). This was a plant, powered by gasoline motor, and was considered wonderful at that time.

The first piano in the church was a gift of Mrs. Caroline Wood Furbay about 1924.

The first missionaries going out were Thad Vaughan, going to India and Sada Stanley to Jamaica. Over forty persons have gone out to full time missionary or pastoral service from the church. Many revivals have been held in which 50 to 75 have been led to a saving knowledge of Christ,” wrote Furbay in 1982.

The history by Furbay was given to the Sentinel on April 4 by Brad Mosher. He noted that the history was written by Furbay, who was a lifelong member of Gilead Friends Church. Furbay was born May 11, 1897, and passed away May 15, 1991.

His daughter, Esther Hudnell, just had her 101st birthday in April 2024 and is living at Woodside Village. She was church organist at Gilead Friends for many years. His son Harold was also a lifelong member of the church and lived to be 98, passing away in January of this year. His son Walter M. Furbay passed away in 2016 at 95 years of age.

Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent for The Morrow County Sentinel. She can be reached at [email protected].

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