Archive for May 23rd, 2010

Rev. Joseph Badger

I saw this tombstone and assumed that it would be easy to find out more information about Reverend Joseph Badger – after all, how many men named Joseph Badger could be running around the Western Reserve preaching in its early days? (I had originally phrased that question as “how many Badgers could be running around the Western Reserve in the early 19th centuries?”, but I thought better of it.)

The answer to my revised question turned out to be two. No, I am not kidding. There were two Rev. Joseph Badgers who were both preachers in the Western Reserve in the first half of the 19th century.

The Reverend Badger that this tombstone commemorates is likely to be the first missionary in the Western Reserve, although historians are not as willing to state that as definitively as the memorial is. Born in Massachusetts in 1757, Badger had already served in the American Revolution and been a teacher and weaver before he became a preacher. Badger studied at Yale University and was ordained in Massachusetts. In 1800 Badger traveled as a missionary into the Western Reserve under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society. Badger’s initial duty was to serve the religious needs of the settlers, but he also attempted to convert Native Americans. He established churches, including the first one in the Western Reserve (second in what would become Ohio) in Austinburg in 1801, and served as chaplain and postmaster for soldiers during the War of 1812. By the time Badger died in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1846, he had traversed nearly the entirety of northern Ohio in his missionary duties. He also left his memoirs behind.

There is a chapter in this book on Badger and a photo of his tombstone from the early 20th century.

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