olive-branch-church-shinboneShadrack Montgomery purchased from the State of Ohio 80 acres, on April 13th, 1832 for $1.25 per acre. This purchase was made at the Piqua land Office and was part of the Piqua Land District.

In 1832 Shadrack Montgomery was elected a trustee of Duchesne township and reelected in 1835 with 20 votes.

In 1835 Washington township was organized from part of Shelby County. In this early history Shadrack is listed as being the first settler in Washington Township, having settled on the border of the old Indian reservation.

In 1841, 1/2-acre was deeded to J. Spray, Henry Waltz and Shadrach Montgomery, trustees of Olive Branch, United Brethren in Christ, for a meeting house. The first church was a log structure and was located across the road from the present church. This log structure was used for 13 years and in 1854 a frame church was built on land across the road deeded from Shadrack Montgomery to the Olive Branch trustees on the same location of the present day brick church which was built in 1896.

1846 saw a great influx of settlers to this Washington Township area. Most coming from Germany to a vast forest needing to be cleared and as they cleared small tracts, agriculture flourished and beautiful farms emerged.

shinbone_churchWhat awaited them when they got here was a small clearing with a church because the few that were here had made the commitment to have a place to worship the one true God who had blessed them with this beautiful land. Their lives were built on the foundation of their faith.

The Auglaize Conference of the United Brethren Church was formed in the early 1850s and included all of northern Ohio to as far south as Piqua. This later became known as Sandusky United Brethren Conference in the early 1900s.

In 1857 their annual conference was held at Olive Branch with 37 preachers in attendance, and again in 1880 with 55 preachers attending.

The average money paid to the church at this 1880s period was 78 cents per member and the average preacher’s salary was $131.00 per year.

shinbone_church2In the late 1880s there was disagreement in the conference regarding lodges and secret organizations. This was reflected in the local church being divided, when in 1892 Fred Wellman broke away and built a frame church about the same size as the present day Olive Branch directly across the road. It was called the Radical United Brethren Church. The story is told that when the doors were open in the summer the preachers could look at each other as they stood in their pulpits. The Radical United Brethren Church closed around 1920 and in 1930 was sold to Ferd Montgomery and he used it for materials to build his house.

In 1946 the United Brethren merged with the Evangelical to form the Evangelical United Brethren.

In 1968 they formed with the Methodist to form the present United Methodist Church.

At one time this little community had four churches. This little community that was never platted or formally organized. The only one to remain was Olive Branch.
The records also show that four ministers came from these early churches – J. Spray, W.J. Spray, J.C. Montgomery and R.J. Montgomery. All of these people and most of the other leaders of the early churches of this community are buried in the cemetery that now surrounds the church on three sides.

The Olive Branch church was continuously open from its first conception in 1841 until December 30, 2001, the congregation having disbanded with their last service on that day.

It was the wishes of the remaining congregational members to give the church to the Auglaize County Historical Society and they made their wishes known to both the United Methodist Church Lima District office and the Historical Society. After much consideration on both sides the church was formally deeded to the ACHS in 2003.

It is today as it always has been, a church with pews, altar, organ, piano and hymnals, ready for services.

shinbone_church3The Olive Branch church is surrounded on three sides with the cemetery that remains in the care of the Washington Township Trustees. In the cemetery are buried many early pioneers and veterans. On June 29th, 2003, the church was officially placed in the hands of the ACHS with a rededication and memorial service. Two veterans from the War of 1812 and twenty-two Civil War veterans were honored.

The church is available now for historic services, baptisms, weddings and special meetings. Contact Jim McCullough, and ACHS trustee, for more information.