Central Methodist Church

A new church is usually created out of some major disagreement or a change in religious doctrine in which a portion of the congregation does not agree.  This doesn’t appear to be the case when the Central Methodist Church was created in 1905.  Methodism had been growing so fast that it was necessary for a second church to be erected in Mansfield.  The only hint of unhappiness is mentioned on March 8, 1905, in which a small article in the News Journal mentions a second meeting at the home of Edward S. Nail, being called for the First Methodist Church. “The meeting is said to have been precipitated at this time by the passing of resolutions at a recent meeting of the church trustees to expend a large amount of money in completely remodeling the present church edifice.”[1]

First United Methodist Church Before Renovation

Things moved quickly after this initial meeting at the Nail home.  On March 21, 1905, organizers for the new church attended a school board meeting and arranged for the use of the high school auditorium, for $17.50 a month,[2] to conduct devotional services.[3]  On March 23, the members leaving First Methodist met for the last time at a Thursday evening prayer meeting.  It appears there were no hard feelings. Towards the end of the meeting, the members leaving were asked to stand and L. A. Palmer was called upon to offer a prayer to them. Next, those staying were asked to stand and Mr. C. L. Van Cleve prayed for those individuals.  The meeting came to a close with the two groups singing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”[4]

Van Cleve, also superintendent of the Mansfield Public Schools, took charge of the new congregation. At a meeting on May 25, 1905, members decided to purchase the lot in the corner of Park Avenue West and Sycamore Street for $7,420.[5]  The lot was once part of the recently razed John Sherman estate.  In October of 1905, the North Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in Shelby, Ohio.  The Rev. Stephon K. Mahon, from Massillon, was appointed pastor of the young congregation.[6]  Vernon Redding, local architect, was hired and plans were accepted in February of 1907.[7]  On June 3, 1907, the Cotter Transfer Company began excavation of the site[8] and, on September 22, 1907, the cornerstone was laid.[9]

On April 5, 1908, three years since the church held its first service, enough of the church was completed to move from the high school auditorium to their new home on the corner of Park Avenue West and Sycamore.  Despite not having a proper building in which to worship, the congregation had nearly doubled in size in three years, now having nearly 300 members.[10]  The church was dedicated on August 27, 1911. The total cost of the building, including land, was $55,000 and church membership had grown to 352 persons.  The church is constructed “of Sandusky limestone with trimmings of Bedford white stone, in the old English style of architecture.  The roof is of dark red Spanish tile.”[11]  The church served Mansfield for nearly 100 years until dwindling membership forced the church to disband in the summer of 2003.[12]  Today the church is home to the Bethesda Fellowship Ministry Center.


[1] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 08 March 1905, p. 3.

[2] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 May 1905, p. 3.

[3] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 22 March 1905, p. 6.

[4] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 24 March 1905, p. 5.

[5] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 May 1905, p. 12.

[6] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 16 October 1905, p. 2.

[7] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 07 February 1907, p. 7.

[8] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 June 1907, p. 10.

[9] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 23 September 1907, p. 3.

[10] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 06 April 1908, p. 7.

[11] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 28 August 1911, p. 5.

[12] The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 September 2003, p. 1C

Mansfield Athletes: Wilbur “Pete” Henry

Mansfield Senior High has had many great athletes in its history.  Wilbur Henry left his mark on the football world 100 years ago.  Wilbur Frank Henry was born on October 31, 1897 to Ulysses Sherman Henry and Bertha Frank.  His father, Ulysses, was born in Lucas, Ohio and was a lifelong resident of the area.  Ulysses worked at the Ohio State Reformatory for 32 years and was once attacked with a hammer by inmate Thomas Wardell.  Wardell was reportedly associated with the Chicago Car Barn Bandits, a group of young men who shocked Chicago in 1903 with their criminal exploits and was a known troublemaker.  Despite this, Wardell was employed as a carpenter at the institution and one day attacked Ulysses as he walked through the carpenter shop. Ulysses survived serious injury and was back to work the next day, only because he was so much larger than his assailant.  Ulysses retired from the Reformatory on January 1, 1938 and died a short time later on January 30, 1938 at the age of 72.  Wilbur’s mother was a German immigrant who came to America as a child.  She died on July 31, 1949.


1912 MHS Football, Henry is second from left in the first row.

Wilbur Henry, or “Pete” or “Fat” as he was referenced in his senior yearbook, got his father’s size and used it to dominate on the field.  He began playing football in the 1912 season as a sophomore.  Only one player returned from the previous year: senior and Captain, Arno Kalmerten, and the young team had a horrendous start to the season being outscored 332-6 in the first 5 games, including an 87-0 loss to Massillon and a 99-6 loss to Akron Central.  Mansfield earned their first win against Marion on November 2, 1912, 13-0 with touchdowns by Henry and junior, Percy Pecht.  The team finished strong winning three out of their last four games.  Henry and eleven others received their letter at the end of the season.


1913 MHS Football, Henry is seated with “M” on his sweater.


1913-14 MHS Basketball team, Henry is Second from left in back row.

The 1913 season didn’t end much better.  Captain Percy Pecht and the Mansfield eleven only won 2 games, but the defense played well,  with the only exception being an 88-0 loss to Toledo.  Mansfield’s two wins would come against Galion (45-0) and Medina (46-0), unfortunately, these would be some of the only points scored that season.  Mansfield scored a total of 104 points, while their opponents garnered 187.  There was also a new addition to the team: Henry’s classmate, John Tressel.  Tressel would prove to be a companion to Henry for many years.  It was also in Henry’s junior year that he first participated in basketball.  His size once again proved a valuable asset.  With his 190 lbs. frame, he was a “tower of strength on defense and broke up play after play.”  The team won the Championship of Northern Ohio, losing the state championship game against Marietta.


1914 MHS Football, Henry in back row fourth from left.


Henry for 1914-15 MHS basketball

The 1914 football season would be more successful under the new head coach, Harry R. Patton.  Henry was moved to full back under Patton.   The team finished 8-1, their only loss coming from Wooster (9-0).  Wilbur Henry led the team as captain and the defense only allowed 30 points in nine games played, 8 of them played at home, the only away game hosted by Bucyrus.  Henry must have been quite a site stepping onto the field, weighing well over 200 lbs. his senior year when others on the field averaged around 150 lbs.  At the finish of the season, players were given a solid gold pin instead of the traditional sweater with an “M” on it.


1915 senior photo


1915 senior photo

In October of 1915, it was announced that Wilbur Henry and his teammate, John Tressel, had made the football team at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.  The successful football program was started in 1890 and had a winning season every year except 1910.  In the three seasons before Henry and Tressel’s arrival, the team had gone 28-4 under Coach Bob Folwell.  Henry played and lettered his freshmen year, but was forced to leave school after contracting scarlet fever.  Folwell’s last year at Washington and Jefferson was in 1915, going 8-1-1, and it was rumored that Henry would follow him to the University of Pennsylvania.  Henry and Tressel returned to Washington and Jefferson for the 1916 season putting those rumors to rest.  The team would go 8-2 under new coach Sol Metzger.  1917 brought more success when Henry was elected captain and was named an All-American.  The 1918 season was cut short because of World War I.  Washington and Jefferson only played 4 games, going 2-2.  Henry only played in two of these.  Despite this, however, both Henry and Tressel won All-American honors.

1918 would be Tressel’s final college season.  He and Henry would team up to coach and prepare the team from the Mansfield Sheet and Tin Plate Company before Tressel left to play his only season of professional football for the Massillon Tigers and Henry returned to Washington and Jefferson for his senior year.  Henry’s eligibility was in question for the 1919 season, but colleges agreed to grant students a fifth year due to the shortened season and the Student Army Training Corps requirements, in which all able-bodied men were required to participate.  The University of Pittsburgh was not happy with Henry’s eligibility, even though they played other teams with fifth-year seniors and Henry agreed to sit out the game.  Pitt won the contest 7-6.  Henry would once again be named an All-American.

Wilbur “Pete” Henry would go on to play nine seasons of professional football with the Canton Bulldogs, New York Giants and Pottsville Maroons between 1920 and 1928.  He also served as coach of the Canton Bulldogs in 1926 and the Pottsville Maroons in 1928.  After retiring from his professional career, Henry returned to his alma mater and served as the freshman coach of the football team and head coach of the basketball and track teams.  He served as head coach of the football team in 1942 and 1945 and was the athletic director from 1932 until his death in 1952.  Henry was only 54 at the time of his death which was caused by sepsis due to gangrene in his left foot.  In 1949, his right leg was amputated due to the same ailment.  He was returned to Mansfield for burial and today the gym at Mansfield Senior High School is named in his honor.

Mansfield High School – A Model Structure in 1892

When the Mansfield High School was built in 1891-92 it wasn’t without controversy.  A May 31 1891 article from The Mansfield Evening News reported the new structure was the subject of “street gossip.”  The gossip concerned irregularities and possible favoritism in the selection of the site for the new school, as well as the price paid for the site and manner of payment.   It was also said that favoritism was shown in the selection of architects for the school.  Kramer & Zoll, from Findlay, were selected and much was said about the heating and ventilation system they chose for the school.  The Smead System, as it was called, was reported to reverse the flow of air at times, endangering the health of the students.

Despite this, the school was completed in 1892 and the first class graduated in 1893.  There were six teachers and 19 students in the first graduating class.  The teachers were Miss Martha Barrett (principal), Miss Mary Conrath, Miss Abigail Hill, Mrs. Anna M. Mills, Miss Rossina O. Phillips and Mrs. Helen Campbell.  A June 30, 1892 article from The Weekly News referred to the building as “a model structure”.  There were four floors, including the basement which contained six furnaces, the dry closet system, and the “latest and best improvements for ventilation.”  The laboratory was also located in the basement.  Located on the first floor were five school rooms, the superintendent’s room, which included speaking tubes that were connected to all rooms, and a teacher’s assembly room.  The second floor was roughly the same.  The top floor consisted of an auditorium which seated 532 people, but on special occasions folding doors enclosing four rooms could be opened to accommodate 1000 people.  The bell was the largest in the city at the time, weighing over 40,000 pounds and the clock measured 7 ¾ feet in diameter.  A west wing was added in 1904 and a north wing with a gymnasium in 1923.  The structure was demolished in 1939 to make room for John Simpson Junior High School.  Below are images of the school in 1907 and a video of its demolition.

Class of 1893:

Mary L. DeCamp
Cora Englebrecht
Jessie M. French
Rebecca Grubaugh
Helen Jameson
Grace Jenner
Bessie I. Jones
Lily E McIlvaine
Jessie Mckay
Harriet Martin
Elizabeth Scott
Lida Smith
Anna L. Snyder
Mae Webber
John H. Bristor
Albert S Brumbaugh
Oliver L. Cunningham
John DeCamp
Willis T. Parsons

Below is a video from Prelinger Archives showing the demolition of Mansfield High School, the laying to the corner stone of John Simpson Junior High School, and a track meet.

The Below Images are from the 1907 Mansfield Senior High School yearbook, click on image for a larger view.

The 1893 Commencement Program from Mansfield High School.






Fankhauser, J. L. (1977). History of the Mansfield, Ohio Public Schools (1808-1974).
Mansfield Evening News, 31 MAY 1891, p4.
Mansfield High School Annual, Vol. 2, 1909.
The Oracle, 1907, Mansfield High School Yearbook.
The Weekly News, 30 JUN 1902, p2.

Mansfield High School: Class of 1904


The Class as it appeared on graduation day, June 10, 1904

First Row (Seated – left to right): Edna Lantz, Clara Miller, Florence Sawhill, May Fidler, Eleanor Douglass, Angeline Brucker, Katherine Dirlam, Margaret Post.

Second Row (seated – center): Jacob Old, Marie Bromfield, Mabel Felger, Adrian V. Shaw.

Third Row (seated): Helen Wise, Inez Kagey, Pluma Buckmaster, Leila Finney, Etta Pfeifer, Helen Endley, Madge Courtney, Marguerite Hurst.

Fourth Row (standing – girls): Bernette Stewart, Florence Myers, Bessie Byerly, Gertrude Wherry.

Fifth Row (standing – boys): Seymour Cline, Ralph Yardley, Thomas Hall, Malcolm Platt, Edward Caldwell, Carl Sattler, Irwin Priest, Raymond Cahall (below), Medary Stark (above), Wilson Tanner, Clarence Angle, LeRoy Poole, Roy Carl, Howard Everly, Walter Jelliffe, Cecil Rainey.


The M.H.S. Track Team, 1903

First Row (seated): Osborne Meese, Otha McCormack (Coach), Charles Barton, Charles Berry.

Second Row (standing): Jacob Old, Thomas Hall, Malcolm Platt, LeRoy Poole, Medary Stark, Charles Jelliffe, Walter Jelliffe, Frank McCullough.


The M.H.S. Track Team, 1904

First Row: LeRoy Poole, Medary Stark, Albert Twichell, Charles Barton.

Second Row: Charles Berry, Walter Jelliffe, Wilson Tanner, Thomas Hall, Fred Greisinger, Malcom Platt (below).

Third Row: Jacob Old, Osborne Meese


The Football Team, fall of 1902

First Row: Henry Moore, Lee Davidson, Bert Brown, Lynn Cunningham (Captain), Medary Stark, Thomas Hall (manager).

Second Row: Charles Berry, Albert Twichell, Clarence Moffett (behind), Fred Herring, Malcolm Platt (behind), Raleigh Keltner, Carl Sattler.


The Football Team, Fall of 1903

Thomas Hall, Right end (manager); Malcolm Platt, Right Tackle; Ray Culp, Right Guard; Fred Fox, Center; Carl Sattler, Left Guard; Seymour Cline, Left Tackle; Charles Berry, Left End.

Osbourne Meese, Quarterback (Captain)

Henry Moore, Right Halfback; Albert Twichell, Fullback; Grant Cooke, Left Halfback.


Below is the 1904 Commencement Program: