First United Methodist Church

Salem, Ohio

The First Methodists

Thomas Kelly and family, coming from the state of Delaware, were the first Methodists in Salem. Their home was on the southeast corner of State and Ellsworth. It is not known exactly when they arrived here. 

On Feb. 20, 1820, John Flitcraft, a native of New Jersey and a devout Methodist, came to the Kelly home for a prayer meeting. Edmund Rinear and Thomas Wood, a class leader, were also in attendance.  Rev. McClennin, a local minister, happened to be in Salem and attended, giving a short sermon.

A class of nine persons was formed following Camp Meeting near Laughin's Mill on the Mahoning River, attended by Thomas Webb and several Salem residents. Thomas Kelly was the appointed leader.  Salem was then made part of the Columbiana Circuit and Baltimore Conference. Salem later became part of the Hanover Circuit. The Pittsburgh Conference was formed in 1825 and Salem was included there until 1876 when the East Ohio Conference was formed. 

Meetings were held in shops and homes. When the Baptists built their first building, the Methodists gave some assistance in return for the chance to use it occasionally.

In 1824, a lot on Green Street, now Second Street was purchased and a hewn-log house erected.  Thomas Webb furnished the timber. The Baptists repaid the help they had received by furnishing nails, glass and materials. One account says, "In this building, old-fashioned Methodism flourished with great vigor. Some grand and glorious revivals occurred." This building was sold to the Second Baptist Church in 1840.

In 1836, a frame building was built on North Ellsworth Avenue, now a part of Broadway plaza.  Attendance increased and the building was enlarged.  This building was later sold to the Christian Church.  In those days, it was customary to have a burial ground near the place of worship. On June 12, 1838, a one and a half acre plot was purchased at the corner of Howard and Fourth. In 1904, the trustees decided to sell the ground to the city in order to extend Fourth Street from Howard to Jennings, which was done much later. There are no records of burials on the lot.  However, today a large boulder at Grandview Cemetery marks the grave of 117 people originally buried at the Howard Street Methodist Cemetery.

Sunday Schools were established in 1834 and this church had many active workers.  

Our History