Just four years after the founding of what was then known as New Lisbon, Ohio, Lisbon’s First Presbyterian Church was established in 1807 by its founding Pastor, Clement Vallandigham and has been serving the needs of Lisbon and it’s surrounding area for more than 200 years.
For many years Lisbon required the services of two Presbyterian Churches, but in 1996 a Merger Study Committee was formed and after long deliberation the First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Presbyterian Church combined to form “New Lisbon” on January 1st 1998. The local newspaper, The Morning Journal carried a story headlined “Lisbon Presbyterian Churches combining as one” and citied the beginning of a marriage ceremony: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and of this congregation to join these two…”
Rev. Spear explained at the time of the merger, “We feel since the original name of Lisbon was New Lisbon, and since this is a new church, it is a tie to the history of the town and precursor to the future.”
The congregation accepted the name “New Lisbon” and a new church was formed. Since its merger, New Lisbon continues to expand its mission to help provide food and clothing not only for its community but surrounding communities and less fortunate countries around the world.
New Lisbon Presbyterian Church has had many pastors throughout its history but most recently Rev. Mark Wilds, a graduate of Penn State and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was installed as Pastor of NLPC in 2002 where he served the church and community with distinction until his retirement in 2014.
Special thanks to Ruth Gerrard Cole for her dedication to preserving the history of NLPC.
A history of Lisbon, Ohio
The village of New Lisbon in northeastern Ohio, Columbiana County, was platted in 1803 by Lewis Kinney. Almost immediately, many settlers of Scottish, English, and German descent started pouring into the area. Most came from Pennsylvania and Maryland, hoping to take advantage of the promise of fertile land and orchards.
Businesses that supported new settlements and agricultural endeavors also sprang up.
By 1807, a stone tavern was erected along the travel route from Pittsburgh west. When the War of 1812 threatened this fledging country, many local militias went to fight in the Lake Erie campaign. Soon, stores, mills, tanneries, and even an iron blast furnace were opened. By the late 1820’s, more agricultural and industrial products were being produced than could be consumed locally.
In 1834, construction began on the Sandy and Beaver Canal to provide cheap transportation for excess goods to markets in faraway places. The Canal was only profitable for about four years before railroad construction was begun. Also, there was early salt production and coal mining.
These early pioneers were not only economically minded, but also religiously, educationally, and socially inclined. In 1807, the Presbyterian Church of New Lisbon was opened under the leadership of Reverend Clement S. Vallandigham, along with the Long Runs Church, the other half of the yoked parish. Reverend Vallandigham not only worked hard to satisfy the moral needs of the village but also the educational ones. He taught not only his own children, but also the children of others, who subscribed his services. He was also instrumental in opening a Sunday school.
There were other private schools springing up as well as a public one. By 1859, log cabin schools became a thing of the past as a new three story brick building, containing grades one through twelve, opened.
By 1860, there were several churches, civic organizations, and educational opportunities available in this village. None of these, however, was enough to hold the young men in the village when in April 1861, President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 men to defend the Union. Many of our locals had been active in the Underground Railroad (1830s – 1850s) and had deep convictions against one man owning another. It was, therefore, not much of a leap from anti-slavery activity to ending slavery in the United States.
For four years, the local young men continued to support the war effort. When the war ended in April 1865, while most of the soldiers returned home to rejoin family farms and businesses, a few struck out for Kansas, Missouri, and points west, many of them becoming well known.
A patriotic group by nature, Lisbonites also participated in the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War; they have continued to volunteer for military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our village cemetery is the final resting- place for veterans from the Revolutionary War to the modern engagements in the Middle East.
There was an ebb and flow in the village economy for the next 100 years following the Civil War. Industry came and went, but the base of our economy was always agriculture.
Through all conditions, we obtained electricity, telephone (1880s) and indoor plumbing. We produced everything from the drinking straw (a local man held the US patent) to the electric insulators (R. Thomas an Sons) to brass shell casings (National Brass Manufacturing).
After World War II, Lisbon experienced a brief period of prosperity based on the stripping of coal and selling it to steel mills and electricity plants in northeastern Ohio for fuel.
Unfortunately, the prosperity ended when the Environmental Protection Agency outlawed high sulfur coal as an air pollutant. Unemployment and its attending poverty have been problems we’ve struggled with for the last 30 to 40 years. Despite the fact that our most promising young people leave Lisbon to go to college, they do not return home with their talents. Nonetheless, many have become famous doctors, scientists, politicians, and entrepreneurs.
The list of those born and educated in New Lisbon / Lisbon who went on to make their mark in the world include: Industrialist Marcus Hanna, Associate Supreme Court Justice John Clarke, Politician Clement Vallandigham, US Senator John Thompson, notable Civil War General McCook, and nationally known Newspaperman Richardson Arter.