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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND BIBLE SOCIETY

CLEVELAND BIBLE SOCIETY

The CLEVELAND BIBLE SOCIETY was a mid-19th century organization that aimed to provide morally needy Clevelanders with copies of the Bible, and generally to promote Christianity and an orderly society through missionary work. A branch of the American Bible Society (est. 1816), the CBS was formed on 15 July 1854 at a meeting in the chapel of the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and it remained active into the early 1880s. Throughout its history, the society was led by leading Cleveland citizens, with the ministers of participating churches serving as vice-presidents. JOSEPH PERKINS was elected president of the society at its first meeting; DANIEL P. EELLS, treasurer; and Ransom F. Humiston, secretary. The initial executive committee included Samuel Mather, Seth H. Sheldon, Horace Benton, and Samuel Foljambe. By distributing Bibles and through its missionary work, the CBS sought to provide ready access to the Gospel for Cleveland area families, a quarter of whom were without copies of the Bible, according to an 1855 report to the society. By 1873 the society had grown to include 19 branch societies in the area; by then, however, it had ceased its missionary work but continued to distribute Bibles and religious texts to Sunday schools, families, and individuals. It made grants of books to the YMCA to continue its canvassing and in 1871 began the practice of placing racks of religious tracts in railway stations and putting books on all railway cars entering Cleveland. The society does not appear in the city directories after 1881.