The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly called St. Mary's, is a Catholic Church located in Mattingly Settlement, Muskingum County, Ohio. It is the smallest Catholic church in the diocese of Columbus and is a mission of St. Ann Church in Dresden, Ohio.
The first Catholics to settle in Muskingum Township were William Mattingly and his wife Sarah in 1812. With the assistance of friendly Indians, William and Sarah Mattingly, their horse, and their trusty dog, Schneider, were ferried across the vast Ohio River. They soon found their way to a small village called Newcomerstown, and after a year traveled southwest to the Muskingum River. William purchased a 100 acre farm and began a prosperous career in farming.
William and his family were the only area Catholics until a few years later, when he joined with families in nearby Zanesville to form a small parish. For years, the Mattingly family traveled ten miles each way to Zanesville to attend Mass.
Inspired by his successes in farming, William wrote back home to Maryland and encouraged his family to join him. By 1834, there were enough Catholics in Muskingum Township to establish a mission congregation. The Dominican Fathers of Zanesville came monthly, and said Mass for these families in the home of William Mattingly.
Within the next several years, many relatives from Maryland joined William and the others in an area now being called Mattingly Settlement. By 1855, no house could hold everyone comfortably for Mass. It was then that Father Charles Montgomery, of St. Thomas Church in Zanesville, wrote to Bishop Purcell in Cincinnati asking for permission for the families to build their own church.
The next year, Bishop Purcell visited the settlement and “offered the sacrifice at the home of the aged and venerable William Mattingly.” “Mr. Mattingly,” the Bishop wrote, “is now engaged with the aid of his patriarchal family and Catholic neighbors in building a church on a beautiful site given by one of his nephews…” The tremendous task of building a church was accomplished completely through the efforts of these devout pioneers. Clay was dug in the fields and bricks were burnt on site. Soon after the Bishop’s visit, workmen set a stone over the church doors with the inscription: “St. Mary’s Church. Erected 1856.”
After 44 years, William's dream had become a reality. On Holy Thursday 1857, William passed from this life and met his eternal reward. His body was interred in the churchyard, it being the first burial in the new St. Mary’s cemetery.
The church was dedicated on November 14, 1861 by Archbishop Purcell under the title, “The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” He also blessed the cemetery, and the next day, confirmed a class of thirteen.