Wyandot Mission Church

200 East Church Street
Upper Sandusky, Ohio 43351

419-294-2867   |  www.johnstewarumc.com/wyandot-mission.html
June - August; Friday - Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Weekly Sunday worship at 8 a.m. Other times by appointment.
Free

The Wyandots and the Methodists

The last Native Americans to be removed from Ohio, the Wyandots farmed their Grand Reserve on the plains around Upper Sandusky until 1843. As the Wyandot converted to Christianity, the Methodist Church built a mission on the reservation.

The first officially recognized American mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Wyandot Indian Mission began unofficially when John Stewart, a free black from Virginia, began preaching the Gospel to tribal leaders in the Wyandot council house in 1816. By 1819, the Methodist Church accepted his mission and sent additional ministers to help. In 1824, the Rev. James B. Finley convinced the U.S. War Department to contribute $1,331 to build a stone church to serve the mission. Finley designed the building, assisted by John Owens and Benjamin Herbert, stonemasons from Delaware, Ohio. Many Wyandot contributed labor to the construction project, quarrying local limestone or milling wood for the structure. The church was used by the Wyandot until 1843. Despite Finley’s belief that the “long disputed question about civilizing the savages was settled” and that the Wyandot were “well prepared to be admitted as citizens of the State of Ohio,” white neighbors resented the Indians who owned fertile land along the Sandusky River. Furthermore, the congregation was suspected of harboring runaway slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad. Thus in 1843, the Wyandot Indians were forced to leave their homes in Upper Sandusky for a reservation west of the Mississippi River. Their beloved church fell into disrepair; it was rebuilt in 1889 using the original stones. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

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Notes for Travelers

Between 1843 and 1889, many Wyandot returned to Upper Sandusky and are buried in the mission church yard. John Stewart did not live to see the church built; he died in 1823 at the age of 37. His grave marker can be found near the church. Each Sunday at 8 a.m., the John Stewart United Methodist Church holds worship services at the Wyandot Mission.



Credits

Curated by Pat Williamsen

Additional Resources

Charles C. Cole, Jr., Lion of the Forest: James B. Finley, Frontier Reformer, 1994