Leesburg Monthly Meeting ~ Fairfield (Highland County)
(FUM ~ Wilmington Yearly Meeting)
South & Church Streets
- 1802-1803 ~ Bathsheba Lupton, wife of William Lupton, rode on horseback from cabin to cabin encouraging Friends to meet for worship. These early meetings for worship alternated between the Lupton cabin at Fairfield and John Beals' cabin on Hardin's Creek.
- 1804 ~ A primitive pole and log cabin meetinghouse was built on the site of the Old Fairfield Meetinghouse, south of present Leesburg. It is the first house of worship of any kind in Fairfield township of Highland County. A second more substantial log cabin meetinghouse was later built by Jonathan Johnson.
- July 18th, 1807 ~ Fairfield Monthly Meeting established.
- 1822 or 1823 ~ The second cabin is replaced with the brick meetinghouse.
- 1914 ~ The new meetinghouse was built in Leesburg, Ohio.
- 1916 ~ The name of the monthly meeting was changed from Fairfield to Leesburg.
- 1924 ~ The present parsonage was bought.
- 1980 ~ An annex to the meetinghouse was added.
The earliest pioneers to settle in and about the area of Leesburg (then Ross County) were Quakers: Nathaniel Pope from Virginia, who had earlier traveled with Quaker preacher Thomas Beals ~ First Quaker Missionary in the Northwest Territory , John Walters and James Howard (or Hayworth). Before moving to this inland area, they had settled for a season or two at "Quaker Bottom", located on Paddy's Run about a mile above the mouth of the Guyandotte River on the north side of the Ohio River. This was the first settlement of Quakers in Ohio. Thomas Beals and others had settled here. They had planned on staying in southern Ohio but they were not able to purchase land at a reasonable price.
They traveled up the Scioto River on a flat boat and drove the cattle by land. The Popes and their companions eventually bought and settled on the site of Leesburg in 1801-2. According to the History of Ross & Highland Counties, Ohio with Illustrations & Biographical Sketches (Cleveland, Ohio: W.W. William, Printer, 1880), p. 406-407:
Nearly all of the first settlers in Fairfield (township) were Quakers or Friends, and the first religious meetings were held by them. Their simple faith is still predominant in the township and its neighborhood, and has always nurmbered among its adherents more than all other combined. Methodism did not have an early beginning in the township, and Presbyterianism never gained a regular foothold. . .
The Friends coming from Virginia and North Carolina, and some of the earliest with the fresh fervor, awakened by their meeting at Quaker Bottom~the first Friends' settlement in the Northwest Territory~were quick to effect the establishment of religious institutions in the new settlement. Else where we have given an account of the pioneers Quakers of Fairfield, Nathaniel Pope, the Beals, Evan Evans, the Luptons, and others. They began to hold meetings as soon as a sufficient number had arrived. Just precisely when the first Friends' meeting was held cannot be discovered, but it was probably late in 1802, or early in 1803. Bathsheba Lupton is accredit with being the founder of the Fairfield meeting. It is said that, noticing the tendency on the part of the young men and others to make Sunday visits to the Indian encampments, she resolved to effect a change in their habits and customs before they were so far perverted by their life in the wood as to make the return to godliness impossible. Acccordingly, this solemn mentor of morals in the wilderness, mounted a horse and road from cabin to cabin, exhorting in some, administering a stern rebuke in others, and proclaiming everywhere seemliness of piety and the exceeding wrong of leading worldly lives. The result of Mistress Lupton's zealous actions was a meeting, and a beginning having been made, meetings were thereafter regularly held. Up to the time of the build of the meetinghouse at Fairfield, the Sunday gatherings of Friends were held alternately at John Beals, on Hardin's Creek, and at the Lupton's in the Fairfield neighborhood. Bathsheba Lupton died in 1847, aged eighty-seven. . .
It is a matter of record that the first marriage in the township was that of Quakers. Enos Baldwin and Sarah Hunt, respectively the son and daughter of the first Friends (Jesse Baldwin and Phineas Hunt) who settled in the Northwest Territory. They were married at William Lupton's cabin on a Sunday, in the month of November 1804.
The first burial made at the little burying ground by the present Fairfield meetinghouse, was made in 1804, and was that of a woman named Ballard. The second was also a woman named Britton. The church was not built at that time, and the ground now so thickly studded with the long, low mounds and the simple memorial stones, was covered with a dense growth of hazel brush and spicewood. . .
Mildred Ratcliffe, the famous Quakeress preacher, who afterward traveled all over the Untied States, came to Fairfield . . . and on the removal of Jacob Jackson, succeeded him as the preacher to the large Society of Friends who gathered at the old meetinghouse. She left in 1816, and finally settled down for a permanent residence near Brownsville, Pennsylvania, where she died (Also see, Memoir of Mildred Ratcliffe, Philadelphia, 1890). . .
Fairfield monthly meeting had, before its division, upwards of one thousand members. During one period of four years it received more that five hundred members. The establishment of other meetings in the township, and the formation of several colonies from the Quaker element of Fairfield, made a large decrease in the number , but it is still a very strong society. Churches were built for the other meetings, one on Hardin's Creek, which is still in use; one of Lee's Creek, west of Lextingon, which has long since disappeared; one at Oak Grove, north of Lexington, on the Urbana Pike, and near the county line, and one in the village of Lexington built within the past few years.
Fairfield Monthly Meeting was divided into Hardin's Creek, Oak Grove and New Lexington (Highland) Meetings.