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St. Matthew Lutheran Church

4411 Walter Alston Highway

Darrtown, Ohio 45056

(May 2012)

Early History of St. Matthew Lutheran Church

The "Jerico" Connection 

As noted in the Rootsweb Information section that appears at the right, there is evidence that the Darrtown Lutheran church originated in Jerico, Ohio.

The "Jerico" Location 

To this point in time (February, 2020), documentation of the Jerico community in Milford Township is sparse. However, persons who grew up in Darrtown and Milford township during the middle of the 20th century commonly referred to "Jerico" as the area surrounding the intersection of the Hamilton Richmond Road (State Route 177) and Somerville Road. Verbal history of Darrtown and vicinity verified the existence of the small community that known as "Jerico."

Rootsweb Information  

"The Lutheran Church in Darrtown was organized at Jericho, four miles north on the Hamilton and Richmond pike. The original place of worship has since been destroyed by fire. This resulted in the erection of the church in Darrtown. George KRAMER and wife Barbara, old Mr. KNAPP and wife, Daniel SHOLLENBERGER and wife were among the first and leading persons who gave the Church its present healthy constitution. There are now over sixty members in good standing. A Union Sunday-school is carried on, with alternate meetings at the Methodist and the Lutheran Church."

The quotation that appears above was taken from the history of Milford Township (Butler County, Ohio) section of the USGenWeb Project.

Recorded History of the St. Matthew Lutheran Church

Webmaster Note: Lisa (Thome) Niehaus, on November 15, 2011, contributed the following account of early history of the Darrtown Lutheran church. Lisa wrote the following in her email:


"I have enclosed a file of the history of St. Matthew that is printed inside the Church directory. My mother said that the pastor of the church did the research. If you have any other questions about the church, he might be able to help you. His name is Pastor Robert L. Heiliger..."

The phrase "…today (1954)" appears in the third paragraph below, indicates that the following account of the Darrtown Lutheran Church history was written in 1954.

A chronology of St. Matthew pastors appears below the following pastor research report.

Pastoral Research on the History of St. Matthew Church

Darrtown, Butler County, Ohio

"The forerunner of St. Mathew's Lutheran church was called Mt. Zion and was organized near Jericho, three miles northwest of Darrtown, by Rev. George Sill, pastor of Samuel's church in Hanover Township. He formed an organization on July 20, 1844, and on the next day the following officers were installed: George Kramer and George Rudisill, elders; George Stertzenbach and Samuel Smith, deacons; elected to serve two years.

The members of the new organization were: George Kramer, George Rudissill, George Stertzenbach, Samuel Smith, Barbara Kramer, Mary Ann Rudisill, Sarah Shaffer, Mary Copp, Michael Crull, Hester Crull, Elizabeth Stertzenbach, Mary George, Margaret Shaffer, Sarah E. Moor, Catharine Myers, William Moor, Margaret Tryan, Judith Kramer, Mahala Hawk, Samuel Shollenbarger, Jeremiah Tryan, Elizabeth Orin, Eli Copp, David Warner & Benjamin Hawk.

On the 30th day of July 1844, a constitution was adopted and signed, which, with a few minor changes, is the constitution of St. Matthew's church today (1954). The original copy is still in the old church record.

On May 24 and 25, 1845, the building, a frame structure, was dedicated. Rev. Keck of Cincinnati preached the dedicatory sermon and also administered the Lord’s Supper. Rev Sill served as pastor, at least till March 26, 1848, for there is an entry of a baptism on that date in his handwriting.

Rev. E.R. Guiney, on December 21, 1850, conducted an election for officers and served the congregation as pastor, but there is no record as to how long. Joseph Harris, secretary of council, in making records from the old book, says: "This building was burned about 1850. The congregation was then removed to Darrtown". Rev. W.C. Barnett as pastor of Mt. Zion’s records an election of officers, April 2, 1853, and the baptism of Catharine Kapp on the same date.

On September 25, 1858, Rev. Solomon Weils makes the next entry, when the name of Darrtown Lutheran Church first appears, and officers are elected. The Formula of Government and Discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (General Synod) was chosen as the form of government of this church and a new list of members was made out.

For several years, neither worship nor Sunday school was conducted, according to the testimony of persons then living in Darrtown. On October 20, 1868, Mr. and Mrs. Shollenbarger were confirmed by Rev. Geiger. He continued pastor from January 1867, till some time in 1870.

The south part of the present building was erected in 1869. Prior to that time they had worshipped in the town hall. There is no record of its dedication or of services held.

Rev. Jacob Steck was pastor in 1872, Rev. William H. Singley in 1874 and Rev. Shoup in 1875.

Rev. J.C. Zimmeran began work November 25, 1875. Here the name of St. Matthew's Lutheran first appears. He was called, while a student at Wittenberg Seminary.

On January 23, 1876 Dr. J.B. Helwig, president of Wittenberg college, conducted the communion.

On May 27, 1877, when Rev. S. B. Hyman, assisted by Rev. Geiger, held communion and the number of communicants at this time was much reduced and discouragement prevailed. Rev. Hyman agreed to act as supply upon a specified salary per year.

In February, 1880, St. Matthew's became a part of the Connersville charge, by unanimous vote. On the resignation of Rev. Hyman, Rev. J.J. West became pastor, June 1, 1884. In 1886, a revival of considerable power occurred in the community. Rev. West resigned, after a pastorate of five years and was succeeded by Rev. John L. Guard, November 15, 1899. During the pastorate of Rev. R.A. Halverstadt in 1897, the Sunday school room was added and basement constructed with other improvements. Rev. Halverstadt resigned in 1901, followed by a vacancy during which the pulpit was supplied from Wittenberg Seminary.

Up until 1903, pastors had lived in the parsonage owned by the Lyonsville congregation. For some time Rev. Harsh lived in a rented house at Oxford. After efforts to purchase a joint parsonage had failed, St. Matthew's bought the present parsonage, St. Paul's congregation loaning them the sale price of the Lyonsville parsonage for three years without interest. The parsonage was delivered March 1, 1905, and at once occupied by the pastor. Rev. Harsh resigned September 25, 1907.

In 1908 Rev. Heltzel accepted a second call to serve this charge, remaining till September 30, 1912. During this pastorate, the church was remodeled and the acetylene lights installed.

Rev. Oesterling supplied for the year of 1913.

Rev. W.J. Dentler became pastor in May 1914. During this pastorate, the name of the charge was changed from Connersville to the Darrtown-Lyonsville charge. Rev. Dentler's resignation took effect February 1, 1916. Rev. Turney supplied the remainder of the seminary year, accepted a call and became pastor in 1917. He resigned January 1, 1921. During this pastorate, a furnace was placed in the parsonage, electric lights were installed, and the roof was re-shingled.

S. L. Herzog kept the above history.


The following is by Rev. Frank Delo.

Rev. Frank S. Delo took charge May 1, 1921. The installation was conducted by Dr. L.E. Keyser of the Hamma Divinity School, the people of Lyonsville coming to Darrtown for the day. During these three years, the gains have kept up with the losses in membership, which have been heavy. The Tithe Gatherers, a missionary society of the young women, has been organized, showing much vitality. A bathroom, a range in the kitchen, and changes in the furnace has improved the parsonage. A fine new carpet was placed in the Sunday school room. All of these improvements have been financed by the Women's Aid Society.

1893: Communion membership - 45 and Sunday school enrollment - 50

1910: Communion membership - 82 and Sunday school enrollment - 45

1923: Communion membership - 49 and Sunday school enrolment - 80

This ends the article of history published in 1923 by Frank Delo.


The following was written for the One Hundred-Tenth Anniversary, in 1954.

The Rev. Delo resigned to accept the call of First Lutheran Church, Covington to take effect September 1, 1925.

Following a vacancy of two years three months, The Rev. J. B. Guiney took charge of St. Matthew Lutheran Church January 1, 1928.

September 1, 1931, the Rev. Walter W. Larson took charge Darrtown, combined with St. Paul's, Lynchburg and Dodsonville. Pastor lived at Lynchburg and served St Matthew's every two weeks with full pastoral work. He resigned November 1, 1935 to assume charge at Hope Church, Toledo. The parish lines outlined above were dissolved; Pastor Larson has been the honored speaker at both the One Hundred Tenth and the Centennial Celebrations at St. Matthew.

June 24, 1944 the ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY was held in the church. At this occasion certain memorial gifts were made:

1. The lumber for the chancel floor by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Teckman, in memory of his parents.

2. The Altar by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Glardon in memory of her mother, Mrs. George Nichol.

3. The Pulpit and Lectern by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schmnidt, Mr. and Mrs. John F. Schmidt, and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Schmidt.

4. The Cross and Candle Holders by Mr. Clem Pfaff, Miss Vema Pfaff, Mrs. Wallace Adachs, Mrs. M. Dockum, and Miss Hazel Pfaff.

5. The Vases by Mrs. H.C. TerVehn.

6. The Dossal and Hangings for Altar, Pulpit and Lectern by James R. Harris and family in memory of their wife and mother, Mrs. Nelle Harris.

7. The Fair Linen and Communion Linens by Ella Kolb and George Kolb.

8. The Missal Stand by the Rev. and Mrs. Walter Larson.

9. The Credence Stand by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Meith.

10. The Altar Copy of the Common Service Book by the Wyckoff family in memory of the mother, Mrs. Nettie F. Wyckoff.

11. The Chancel Chairs by the Gaiser family in memory of the husband and father, Jacob Gaiser.

12. Cash Donation by many that totaled more than $300.00 at the anniversary, which was held in the summer of 1944."

110th Anniversary (1954) Remembered in 1969.

Chronology of Pastors

that served the Darrtown

St. Matthew Lutheran Church

1845: Rev. George Sill


1850: Rev. E.R. Guiney


1858: Rev. Solomon Weils


1867: Rev. Geiger


1872: Rev. Jacob Steck


1874: Rev. William H. Singley


1875: Rev. Shoup


1875: Rev. J.C. Zimmeran


1877: Rev. S.B. Hyman


1880: Rev. J.J. West


1886: Rev. John L. Guard


1897: Rev. R.A. Halverstadt


1905: Rev. Harsh


1908: Rev. Heltzel


1913: Rev. Oesterling


1914: Rev. W.J. Dentler


1917: Rev. Turney


1921: Rev. Frank S. Delo


1928: Rev. J.B. Guiney


1931: Rev. Walter W. Larson


1933-34: Rev. F. D. Daubenbis


1936: Rev. Roger J. Imhoff, Roger

1941: Rev. Richard Rossmussen


mid-1950s: Rev. James Baldwin


early-1960s: Rev. Edw. Korte


1991 - 2014: Rev. Robert Lee Heilger


2015 to present: Robert L. Browning

> 1844: July 20: Rev. George Sill, (pastor of Samuel’s church in Hanover township) formed the Mt. Zion church in Jericho. 

> 1850: The Mt. Zion church at Jericho burned and the congregation moved to Darrown. Presumably, since they did not have a church building of their own, the members met in the Darrtown “Town Hall” (see photo below). 

> 1858: The name Darrtown Lutheran Church first appears in church records and officers were elected. 

> 1868: Rev. Geiger confirmed Mr. and Mrs. Schollenbarger on October 20. 

>1869: The south part of the present building was erected.

>1880: Darrtown became part of the Connersville charge.


>1897: Sunday School room and basement added.

> 1930: Death of Rev. Guiney reported (see MIller / 1930 diary)

> Mid-1930s: Rev. Daubenbis (presumably) appears in photo of church girls (below). Group includes Bernice Weiss. Her birth year (1919) plus, her assumed age in photo equals a time period of 1933-1934.

> 1936: Rev. Imhoff referenced in Anna Bell Wiley obituary, dated Oct. 26, 1936.

> 1941: Rev. Rassmussen referenced in obituary of Frances Brincefield

> Mid-1950's: Memory of webmaster

> Early-1960s: Rev. Korte officiated funeral service of Owen Kelly. 


> 1991-2014: Dates confirmed in Rev. Heilger's Jan. 19, 2014 obituary. 

2015: Date confirmed by R. L. Browning

The above list of pastors who served St. Matthew church is a work in progress. If and when additional info is acquired, it will be added. Much of the foregoing information was excerpted from the "Pastor Research" file that appears immediately above the list of ministers. Some of the information was acquired from obituaries and other public files. If you have info related to this topic, please use the link in the footer to inform the webmaster.

Lutherans met at Darrtown Town Hall

RIGHT: This is a reprint of an image that hangs in the Darrtown St. Matthew Church.

The handwritten note, visible on the foliage of the tree, reads "Town Hall Darrtown Ohio."

The typed caption reads, "Saint Matthews Congregation met here 1850-1868."

Related events

110th Anniversary (1954) remembered in 1969

The following reprint of the 110th anniversary of the Darrtown Lutheran church, which occurred in 1954, was donated to this website during the 2014 Darrtown Bicentennial.


This document was among several others that were compiled for the 125th anniversary of the church, which occurred in 1969.

1930's youth ceremony at church

ABOVE: Judging from their attire and from the documents in their hands, it appears that this group of girls may have participated in some type of program at the Darrtown Lutheran church. The man in the photo may have been Pastor F. D Daubenbis - as the Daubenbis name appears in the message board at the right. Unfortunately, only one girl is identified; Bernice Weiss is the second girl from the left. She appears to be her early teens. Since Bernice was born in 1919, this photo was probably taken in the mid-1930s.

If you have information about this event, please use the link in the footer to contact the webmaster.

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