by Mike Roberts, Church Historian
Many of our early ministers had their roots in New England and came west to serve the spread of Universalism from its early eastern origins. Josiah Crosby Waldo, our first minister from 1828 to 1832 was an example of that direction. He was born in 1803 in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. He came to Cincinnati at a young age but was instrumental in establishing Universalist thought in our community.
As Reverend Gupton pointed out in a sermon last year, the welcome from other churches was at times quite stormy, and establishing Universalism was not always smooth sailing. Reverend Waldo took his training under famed Universalist, Hosea Ballou. While here, he established the weekly newspaper known as the “The Star in the West.” After numerous changes and consolidations, this paper eventually evolved into the Cincinnati Times Star. He was known to preach very controversial sermons and worked tirelessly in the Universalist cause throughout his entire life, which ended in 1890.
After leaving Cincinnati, he served as minister in Lynn, Massachusetts; opened the new Universalist church in West Cambridge, Massachusetts; and served Troy, New York and New London, Connecticut. This pattern of moving to Cincinnati then returning to New England was followed by many of our ministers during the first 100 years of our existence.
Mr. Waldo married Elmina Ruth Ballou, the daughter of Hosea Ballou and first cousin of Mrs. James A. Garfield. Their marriage resulted in the birth of four children. Mrs. Ballou was a highly regarded poet and writer. She passed away in 1856.