Church And School Edifices
The first church erected in the village of Bath was by the Old School Presbyterians, in the lower part of the town, assisted by all "sects, kindred and tongues," with the understanding that it was to be free to all denominations. But no sooner was it finished than the doors were shut against them. This denomination, however, at no time was very strong, and finally became almost extinct by removals and death, when the church was sold to the authorities, moved into the public square, and converted into a town hall. The Methodist Church was built soon after the Presbyterian, on a lot donated by Gatton for the purpose. It is a frame building, and cost about $1,500. The membership is twenty-five, and Rev. Mr. Lowe is Pastor. A flourishing Sunday school is maintained, under the superintendence of Warren Heberling. About sixty-five is the average attendance of the school.|
A few years later, the Christian Church was built, at a cost of about $1,500. It is also a frame building, and was built on lots donated for the purpose by Gen. Ruggles. The membership is small, and no regular pastor is in attendance. Rev. J. A. Daniels, a local minister of the Baptist denomination, fills the pulpit occasionally, with now and then a visiting brother of their own creed from some neighboring diocese. A Sunday school, somewhat limited in attendance, is carried on, of which Stephen Brown is Superintendent.
The name of the first pedagogue in the village of Bath is not now remembered. The first schoolhouse was the building erected for a Court House, when Bath was the seat of justice of the county, and which reverted to the proprietors of the town when the county seat was moved back to Havana. They sold the building to the School Board, and thus it became a temple of learning instead of a temple of justice. It was used as a schoolhouse until the erection of the present elegant brick, which stands in the old Court House Square, and was built in 1872, at a cost of $8,000. It is a handsome structure, and an ornament to the town. Prof. McKean was Principal for the term just closed, with Mrs. McKean, Miss Norbury and Mrs. Hudnall as teachers.
Freemasonry and Odd Fellowship, those benevolent organizations that follow close in the footsteps of civilization, are represented by flourishing Lodges in Bath. The Odd Fellows were the first to establish a Lodge here. From B. F. Rochester, Secretary, we received the following facts in regard to it: "Bath Lodge, No. 125, I. O. O. F., was instituted July 29, 1853, by M. H. L. Schooley, D. G. M., assisted by the following gentlemen, who represented the Grand Lodge: J. W. Naylor, Grand Marshal; V. G. Sims, Grand Secretary; L. H. Doss, Grand Treasurer; S. P. Guin, Grand Warden; Zachariah Gatton, G. G., and P. O. Brien, G. C. The charter members were Harvey Oneal, R. P. Gatton, J. J. Taylor, Goerge W. Pettitt, U. B. Lindsley, G. H. Havighorst and John H. Havighorst. The first officers were: Harvey Oneal, Noble Grand; J. J. Taylor, Vice Grand; G. H. Havighorst, Secretary; R. P. Gatton, Treasurer; John H. Havighorst, Conductor; G. W. Pettitt, Warden, and U. B. Lindsley, Inside Guard. A list of 138 signatures are attached to the roll of membership, and, at present, there are 15 active members, among whom is J. A. Burlingame, who was initiated August 15, 1853, and has ever retained his membership, is a Past Grand, and, we presume, the oldest member of the Order in the county. Within the past five years, the Lodge and its members have contributed nearly $800 for the relief of the members and their families. It owns real estate and lodge-fixtures valued at $1,000, and its warrants are regarded as cash. The officers-elect for the term commencing July 1, 1879, are as follows, viz.: John F. Bond, N. G.; John L. Ashurst, V. G.; John M. Martin, Treasurer, and B. F. Rochester, Secretary. The meetings of the Lodge are on the Monday evenings of each week."
Bath Lodge, A., F. & A. Masons, was organized under dispensation in June, 1866, issued by Jerome B. Gorin, Acting Grand Master. The charter members were William W. Turner, Charles Reichman, Charles W. Houghton, John P. Foland, John H. Johnson, Thomas Webb and J. M. Beesley, of whom Charles W. Houghton was named in the dispensation as Master, Charles Reichman, Senior Warden, and John H. Johnson, Junior Warden. October 3, 1866, it was chartered as Bath Lodge, No. 494, and its charter signed by Most Worshipful H. P. H. Bromwell, Grand Master. The first officers elected under the charter were: Charles W. Houghton, Master; Charles Reichman, Senior Warden; J. C. Wright, Junior Warden; J. H. Johnson, Treasurer; J. M. Beesley, Secretary; Warren Heberling, Senior Deacon; T. P. Renshaw, Junior Deacon, and W. W. Turner, Tiler. The present officers are: Warren Heberling, Master; J. H. Dierker, Senior Warden; M. Frank, Junior Warden; B. H. Gatton, Treasurer; J. S. Duncan, Secretary; G. W. Moore, Senior Deacon; J. S. Allen, Junior Deacon, and F. E. Shirtcliff, Tiler, with forty-four names on the roll of membership. The Lodge is in a flourishing condition, owns the elegant and handsomely furnished hall in which it meets, and its affairs are conducted by an efficient corps of officers.