Organized in 1797 by early pioneers, the First Presbyterian Church is the oldest congregations in Chillicothe. The first minister and organizing pastor was Reverend William Speer. As a young man, Reverend Speer left his home in Pennsylvania and crossed mountains to preach in the wilderness of the Northwest Territory. When first organized, the church was called “New Hope Church,” and then in 1811, it became the First Presbyterian Church of Chillicothe. The congregation worshipped for several years in the log church on Market Street near the river.
Reverend Speer’s lead the church for four years. After his pastorate expired, several eloquent and zealous pastors occupied the pulpit of this church during its early years. One of these pastors was Reverend Hugh S. Fullerton an avowed abolitionist who encouraged his congregation to aid fugitive slaves as they made their way to Canada. Members of the church also hired a teacher to educate African American children in Chillicothe.
A replica of this congregation’s earliest church building is now nestled within the beautiful wooded refuge of Scioto Trail State Park. This plain log structure gives testimony to the simple lifestyle of early Ohioans.