Dover Lake Shore Methodist Episcopal Church Bay Village, OH
written by Kay Rothaermel Laughlin, Historian Ohio Historical Society Marker Program
Which came first, the church or the settler? The Dover Lake Shore Methodist Episcopal Church was the only church for ninety years (1827-1917) continuously serving North Dover Township, which is now Bay Village. The church is located in lot #98, Township 7, Range 15 of Connecticut’s Western Reserve near the shores of Lake Erie. Christopher Saddler, a Revolutionary War soldier, and his son, William Sadler, a veteran of the War of 1812, settled on the land in 1814. The portion of Lot #98 where the church is located, was in Elizabeth Tryon Sadler’s name on the 1852 plot map of Dover Township. She was William Sadler’s wife. Elizabeth, looking to worship in her denomination, started the Methodist Episcopal Church in North Dover Township in 1827.
In the early 1820’s, Reverend Eliphalet Johnson, a Methodist minister, settled in the township. Elizabeth asked Reverend Johnson to be the pastor and start a Methodist Episcopal Church on the lake shore. In June, 1827, along with four other faithful inhabitants of North Dover a church of Elizabeth’s denomination was started with a service in her home. Attending and becoming charter members were: Reverend Eliphalet Johnson; his wife, Margaret; his daughter, Rebecca; his niece, Catherine Porter Foote and Elizabeth Sadler. The worshipers grew in numbers, William Sadler arranged to have a “raising bee” to build a black walnut log cabin at the corner of Bassett and Lake Roads using logs from trees grown on his property. The area grew, and membership increased to the point that a new meeting house was needed.
In 1841, William and Elizabeth Sadler transferred to the trustees of the church, 63 rods (4/10th of an acre) in Lot #98, on the southwest corner of Bassett and Lake Roads for $10.00 along with much of the materials for the construction of a wood frame church. This church faced east onto Bassett Road. Seventeen members shared the cost. We have William Sadler’s deed in our possession. The trustees of the new church were Eliphalet Johnson, William Sadler, Seth Johnson, Alvah McKinney and Jonathan Loomis. A circuit rider, the reverend Hough L. Parrish, officiated at the dedication service. The beloved Reverend Johnson remained the pastor and preached in the Dover Lake Shore Methodist Episcopal Church for fifteen years before moving to Wisconsin in 1842. Two pieces of furniture from this church have been preserved. The lectern, which is solid walnut, is in the meditation room and a secretary now stands in the Jeager Parlor. Elizabeth was a member of the church for 62 years. She died in 1872.
In 1903, North Dover separated from Dover Township and became the Village of Bay. At this time the word, Dover, was dropped from the name of the church, Lake Shore Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1908, a new brick church facing north onto Lake Road was built in the same location and the original church replaced. A new sanctuary addition was added in 1955. One hundred and ninety years later, this little church - started with the determination of Elizabeth to keep her faith strong - is still thriving. A friendly and caring congregation comes together to worship on Sundays and keeps Elizabeth’s faith true in Bay Village, Ohio.
First settlers names, members of the church, follow: Sadler, Johnson, McKinney, Loomis, Foote, Cahoon, Osborn, Pope, Liggett (Aldrich), Gleason, Aldrich, Drake, Strimple (Sadler), Dodd, Krumwiede, Seitz, Dranse (Hagedorn), Scott, Wolf, Whitney, Rumbaugh, LaVayea (Foote), Eddy, Hanson, Darby, Beach, Stevens, Mathews (Lawrence), Tuttle, Powell (Sadler), Wuebker (Peters/Powell), Braman (Aldrich), Dodd, Ellenwood, Holliday, Jenkins, Swanker, Eaton, Lilly, Atwell, Brown (Winsor). In 1952, for our 125th anniversary, Don Dunham expressed the following thoughts: “We and our children have profited immeasurably from the community and the church that these stalwart Americans of another day handed down to us. Our past is proud; our heritage is rich; our opportunity so great that it should stir the imagination and the hearts of us all. What of the future and tomorrow’s children? As we bow our heads in worship this anniversary week, may we give thanks that we were lucky enough to be born and raising our families in such a charming and wholesome community as Bay; and that our forebears handed on to us the organization and building of this Church. And ask God to bless us and our church and its leadership and to fill our hearts with the knowledge that “The Best Is Yet To Be.” Then , “Our Dream and Our Goal” in truth will be at hand.”