Going to Church in the early 1800s

Going to Church in the early 1800s

Did you know…

by Sandra Merville Hart

Pioneers attended village and neighborhood churches. Church meetings were not held as often as today.

Men sat on one side with women on the other

Women sat on one side with men on the other at church.

Traveling ministers

The Methodists had a circuit system for ministers. Each minister traveled on horseback to his list of churches, but not all on the same day. He stayed with a church member living near the location of the preaching.

Camp meetings

Special church gatherings called camp meetings lasted a week. Thousands traveled from miles around to attend services held in a shady grove near a public road.

Preachers spoke all day

The best preachers spoke at camp meetings during the day and evening. Log huts were built for families traveling too far to return home each day.

Fun times at camp meetings

Powerful sermons touched listeners at these happy occasions. People gathered to worship and sing. They spent time with old friends and met new ones. Many people found a new relationship with Jesus as their Savior during these special weeks.

Night meetings lit by lamp and torches illuminated the woods. The preaching and congregational singing inspired true worship that people never forgot.



“Camp Meeting,” New World Encyclopedia, 2015/06/15 http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Camp_meeting.

Welker, Martin. 1830’s Farm Life in Central Ohio, Clapper’s Print, 2005.



  1. Cass Wessel
    Apr 12, 2016

    When I was in active ministry preaching occurred first in an early service at one church, then later at a second church some twenty miles away. The following week, services occurred at the other two points of the four point charge, again miles between them over snow belt roads. Each church, built centuries ago, had a men’s door leading to the men’s side of the church and a women’s door providing access to their side. Outhouse behind the building had old hitching rail posts nearby. At one church, next door was a Sunday School building. Of course, graveyards surrounded many of them.

    • Sandy
      Apr 12, 2016

      Thank you, Cass, for sharing these fascinating details. It sounds like Sundays were very busy days for you! I’ve seen old churches with separate entrances for men and women. Nice details about hitching rails. Thank you for commenting! Sandy Hart

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