St. James Episcopal Church history: 1823-present


PIQUA — In 1840 St. James was in its first Church, built at the corner of North and Spring Streets in Piqua, at the cost of $1,411. The Alvah Guion had been called as Rector, after the church’s first Rector, the Rev. Gideon McMillan left after his two years of service. Guion would be with the church from 1832 to 1841. He is the Priest who did so much missionary work in the surrounding area preaching and baptizing under the trees.

St. James at this time had set up a budget : Rector salary was $200, kerosene for church cost $7, cutting wood for the stove cost $2, the rector’s horse cost $10 and snow shoes cost $2.

In 1840, the women of the church decided it was time to come together as a group to do something about the indigent in the area. They decided to form a women’s organization. The introductory paper was written by Mrs. L.B. McCorcle. The McCorcle family was prominent in Piqua, active in business with a ‘carding and fulling’ mill on the bank of the river. They also had a flax seed grinding mill and a merchandising store, doing the most business in town.

McCorcle had beautiful hand writing.

The opening paragraph and several Articles of the Constitution below are verbatim because the language of the ladies of the 1800s is so different from our own.

“Taking into consideration the various claims upon the benevolence of our social institutions, and aware that combined effort always returns a greater degree of success than individual attention however earnestly employed ever effects. We do resolve to hereby form ourselves into a society the object of which shall be benevolency alleviating as far as practicable the wants of the indigent around us. For the benefit of the Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the furtherance of these objects the following Constitution is adopted,” wrote McCorcle.

Then follow the eight Articles of the Constitution:

Article one:

The Society shall be called The Female Episcopal Benevolent Society

Article two:

List the officers

Article three

Any person by paying the sum of 60 cents or devoting one afternoon in two weeks exclusive to the interest of the society shall be considered a member.

Article four

Income and funds to be decided by the membership.

Article five

The appropriating of the proceeds of work performed by this society shall be determined on three months, provisional to the work being done.

Article six

The members encouraged to be faithful in attending the meetings which were to be held in homes.

Article seven

One hour in every afternoon shall be devoted to reading aloud by some of the members. Such reading to be directed to religion and piety.

Article eight

Deals with keeping records, attendance, items made and funds raised from their sale.

The next report given in 1841 lists the officers. McCorcle remained secretary and there was a membership of 36. The book read was “The Female Repository ” written by Hamlin, advising the women to spend their many leisure hours reading as they had given up knitting and weaving like their grandmother’s. 14 members and one visitor attended.

What do you think of the book choice?

As submitted by Vi Das.

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