History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
[p. 82] This township forms a part of what was one of the original townships of Mercer county, of the same name, in 1805. The territory at that time included at least three of the present townships in both Mercer and Lawrence counties, embracing over one hundred square miles. It was one of the thirteen original townships of Lawrence county, and then included the whole of Hickory township, with portions of Union and Pollock townships, the latter now included in the city of New Castle. The present township includes an area of about eighteen square miles, or 11,520 acres. It is bounded on the north by Wilmington and Pulaski townships; on the west by Pulaski, Mahoning and Union; on the east by Hickory township, and on the south by the city of New Castle and Union township. It is comparatively level in the central and northern portions, but more broken and abrupt as it approaches the Shenango and Neshannock rivers. There are Fisher's and Camp runs, and on the east are two small creeks flowing into the Neshannock. There are considerable bottom-lands on the Shenango and Neshannock rivers, which are rich and productive. Numerous springs abound in all parts of the township, and the water is excellent. Of minerals it has a large share. The greater portion of the township is underlaid with coal, which is extensively mined in the central portions, particularly in the neighborhood of Coal Centre. Fisher's run rises in the coal region, and its waters are colored red by oxides from its source to its mouth.
Potter's clay abounds, and on the Watson property a pottery has been successfully worked form any years. Sandstone is very abundant along the valleys of the two rivers, and a stratum of limestone is found in the southern portion of the township. Iron ore is also abundant. Brick clay is found in many places. The workable coal lies about fifty feet below the surface, and is about four feet in thickness The northern margin of the coal lies under a stratum of slate rock about twenty feet thick, while the south end of the basin underlies a stratum of sandstone of about the same thickness.
A second stratum of coal lies about sixty feet below the first, and has a thickness of some three feet. This has been worked very little. Lying between the two is a very pure vein of coal, but only about eighteen inches in thickness.
The limestone formation lies at about the same elevation as the coal. A thin stratum of this stone at the bottom underlies the iron ore.
The coal lies in a nearly horizontal position with a slight declination to the southwest. The bottom of the workable vein is somewhat undulating. A narrow-gauge railway runs from New Castle into the center of this township.* It is used exclusively for the transportation of coal. The township produces about 35,000 tons annually. The iron is known as "blue ore," and the vein is from six to eighteen inches in thickness.
*See history of New Castle.
There is fine water-power up the Neshannock at Jordan's mills, perhaps the best on that stream. This is all the water-power within the bounds of the township, the smaller ones in the lesser streams having been abandoned. There are no towns or villages of any considerable importance, with the exception of the mining town of Coal Centre, of which notice will be found on another page.
[p. 83] The improvements are generally good, and there are some very fine residences. Two of the main roads from New Castle to Mercer pass through this township; one by way of the Old Shenango Church, and the other a mile and a-half east, passing through the village of Fayetteville, in Wilmington township. The last mentioned was the first one opened, and was extensively traveled until the other was opened, which, being somewhat shorter, took off much of the travel.
There are three church organizations in the township; United Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal and Primitive Methodist, a history of which is given elsewhere.
One of the first settlers in Neshannock township was Thomas Fisher, who came from Westmoreland county, according to the statements of Rev. Thomas Greer, in November, 1798,* in company with David Riley, a young man then living with Fisher. Each man had a gun and an axe, and a couple of dogs accompanied them. They encamped the first night in the present Lawrence county, at a point about four miles above where New Castle now stands, on Camp run, near the Shenango river. They constructed a cabin of poles, and built a fire outside, using the cabin to sleep in, for fear of the wolves, which were so plenty they were obliged to take their dogs inside to save them from destruction by the ravenous beasts. It would appear that after selecting lands in the neighborhood, Fisher and Riley returned to Westmoreland county, where they staid over Winter, and in the Spring of 1799 removed to the valley of the Shenango. They came by way of the Youghiogheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, and thence up the Beaver river in canoes, bringing a few effects with them. Mr. Fisher was married, but had no children. A young woman by the name of Rebecca Carroll lived with the family, and came with them. Mr. Fisher also had a sister, who either came at the same time or some time afterwards, and remained with them until her death. Mr. Fisher purchased several farms in the vicinity, and improved them more or less, raising several crops without fencing. He brought along quite a number of fruit trees, which he planted, and some of them are still alive and bearing fruit. The Indians were quite plenty in those days, but they were peaceable, and disturbed no one. About 1808 or 1810 Mr. Fisher sold his property on "Camp run," where he first settled, to Rev. Wm. Young, and purchased land about three miles above New Castle, on a small stream now known as "Fisher's run," and erected a saw-mill, and afterwards a grist-mill, about forty rods from the Shenango river, at the place where the "Harbor" road crosses the run. The exact date of the building of these mills is not known, but it was somewhere from 1806 to 1810.
*Rev. Thomas Greer married a daughter of David Riley, and received it from his lips. The dates do not exactly correspond with Thomas Fisher 3rd's recollection.
Mr. Fisher and his wife started on a journey to visit friends in Westmoreland county some years after their settlement, and Mrs. Fisher died suddenly on the road. They were alone, and Mr. Fisher "waked" the corpse in a waste-house by the roadside all night. After his wife's death two nieces kept house for him. Their names were McDowell. He lived on this place until his death, which occurred February 28, 1848, at the age of eighty-four years. He was found dead in his bed, and was buried in the little cemetry [sic] at King's Chapel. He was a very pleasant and affable man, and a general favorite in the community. Before his death he gave David Riley and Rebecca Carroll, the latter of whom afterwards married Samuel Farrer, each one hundred acres of land.
John Fisher, a nephew of Thomas, was born at Ligonier, Westmoreland county, Pa. In 1788. In 1809 he removed to what is now Lawrence county. He took charge of his uncle's saw-mill, and operated it for some years. His son, Thomas Fisher the 3d, named for his grand uncle, was born at the mills in 1809, a short time after he came. He is now living in New Castle. Mr. Fisher is a practical surveyor, and has set his compass and planted his "Jacob's staff" in all parts of Lawrence county. John Fisher raised a company and took it to the field during the war of 1812-15. About the year 1817 he and his uncle Thomas erected a fulling and carding-mill at Eastbrook, now in Hickory township, on the "Hettenbaugh run," which was operated until about 1827. Capt. John Fisher lived at Eastbrook until his death in 1841.*
*See history of Hickory township
The Pearsons were early settlers in this township. The family is a very extensive one, and were originally Quakers, who came over from England with the celebrated William Penn in 1682. John Pearson, grandfather of James, Thomas, Charles, Johnson and George Pearson, together with his son George, made a visit to the West in the Fall of 1803, coming all the way from Darby, seven miles from Philadelphia, in Delaware county, where they resided, on horseback, through Washington, Beaver and Mercer counties, and returning by way of Pittsburgh. The old gentleman purchased altogether, in what is now Neshannock township, about one thousand acres of land. On this trip they visited the Fishers, who had been here a number of years. Thomas Pearson, Esq., of New Castle, has the journal kept by them on this trip. It was most probably during this visit that the old gentleman donated about two acres of land for church and burial purposes where the United Presbyterian Church stands. He granted the land upon conditions that it should be well kept and substantially fenced. The old gentleman never resided in Lawrence county, but made frequent visits to his lands, which included the coal lands on the Peebles' farm and a two-hundred-acre tract some two miles farther north, where Bevan Pearson first settled about 1804. The latter afterwards removed to Mercer, where he held several offices in the new county.
George Pearson at first settled on two hundred acres of his father's land. He soon afterwards purchased a tract containing one hundred acres of one McClaren, and soon after purchased another tract of the same amount of another McClaren. The McClarens were from Ireland, and settled here at an early day. Subsequently, George Pearson left this section and lived in Charleston, South Carolina, for several years. After his return he married Miss Sarah Reynolds, daughter of James Reynolds, who was also a Quaker.
It is customary among these people to publish the intentions of a couple wishing to marry, in the "Meeting," for some time previous to the marriage. In this instance there was no Quaker "Meeting" within many miles, and the only roads were bridle paths, and so the young couple made a virtue of necessity and employed Ezekiel Sankey, Esq., father of E. and D. Sankey, to perform the ceremony, without waiting for preliminaries, and the necessary arrangements were soon made and the "twain were made one flesh" at the house of Jesse DuShane, in New Castle. This was about the year 1810.
The Quakers in the eastern part of the State, hearing of this violation of their rules, sent a deputation to the new settlement to persuade them that they had done a great wrong, and must confess before "Meeting" and have the ceremony performed a second time, according to Quaker usage. But the young people concluded they had done nothing very seriously out of character, and so refused to comply. They were accordingly solemnly read out of the society.
Mr. Pearson lived on his farm in this township until about 1855, when he came to New Castle, where he afterwards died at the age of ninety-three years. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was out in Captain John Junkin's Company--"Mercer Blues"--who were with Harrison on Maumee and Sandusky rivers. After his return he was twice called out to Erie. It is not now known whether he held a commission or not, but it is probable. He went once as a substitute for his brother Thomas. He afterwards received a land-warrant for his services, which he located in Hancock county, Illinois.
Thomas Pearson tells of an old man named Robb, who used to wander over the country many years ago. He disappeared suddenly, but as he was supposed to have gone to some other part of the country, nobody took notice of his absence, or made any inquiry for him. Thomas Falls, then a young man, was out hunting sometime after, on what was known as the five-hundred-acre tract, when he found the old man's remains on a high hill. His body was buried on the spot, which has ever since been known as "Robb's Knob."
Mr. Pearson tells of getting lost one night when a boy, and wandering around in the darkness until he became tired, when he sat down to rest, and, carefully extending his hands, felt the two stones set up at either end of old Robb's grave!
Marinus* King and his family, from Bellefonte, Centre county, Pa., settled in the Fisher neighborhood about 1803. "King's Chapel" was named in his honor, he being one of the prominent members. He raised a family of seven sons and two daughters.
*Spelled Merines on an old subscription paper. We follow the spelling on his tombstone.
David Riley, heretofore spoken of, lived with Thomas Fisher until 1807, when he married Sarah Richards, and improved the farm adjoining Fisher's.
Mr. Riley raised two children--a son and daughter. The latter afterwards became the wife of Rev. Thomas Green. Mr. Riley died September 18, 1870, aged eighty-five years, and Mr.[sic] Riley on the 20th of February, 1872, aged ninety-one years. They had lived together sixty-three years. In their old age they were taken care of by their son-in-law, Mr. Greer. Both their children are dead.
Samuel Ferver came to this location from Beaver Falls in 1806. He was a millwright by trade, and erected one or both of Thomas Fisher's mills. He married Rebecca Carroll in 1808, and lived on the farm adjoining those of David Riley and Thomas Fisher until his death, March 15, 1862. His [p. 84] wife was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for over fifty years. She died August, 1870, aged eighty-seven years. They raised a family of seven children--six boys and a girl. They lived together over sixty years. One of their son's lives on the old farm; the others have moved away. Rev. William Young came at an early day, probably from 1806-07. He was a native of Ireland, and came from Centre county to this township. He was a great preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a man of talent and a very acceptable minister among the people. Mr. Young died in 1829, aged seventy-four years. His wife died shortly afterwards. All these early settlers are interred in the little cemetery at King's Chapel. Robert McGeary, from Virginia, settled in the township about 1803, and remained until his death, at the age of ninety-two years. He left a large and respectable family. Lot and William Watson, brothers, came from Centre county, Pa., and settled in this township about 1806-08, on lots numbers 1854 and 1855. William built a large stone house about 1810-12, and Lot put up a good brick residence some years later upon his farm adjoining on the south. For some years after their arrival they lived in log cabins. They were both out in the war of 1812.
Lot Watson held a State appointment on the Philadelphia and Columbia railway in 1856. He died a few years ago. Both the Watsons raised large and respectable families. William Richards, before mentioned, came, according to Mr. Green, in 1802, from Centre county, Pa., with his family, consisting of his wife and seven children, three sons and four daughters, and two sons-in-law, and located in the King's Chapel neighborhood, where the family settled near each other.
Mr. Richards was a Revolutionary War soldier, and an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a large and commanding man, and possessed of more than ordinary talent. They are both buried in the King's Chapel cemetery. His children are all dead, but some of his grand-children live in the vicinity.
His son-in-law, Robert Simonton, came with him and lived in the township some twenty years, when he removed to Neshannock Falls, now in Wilmington township, or near there, where he lived until his death, at the age of about eighty years. He raised a family of five children.
John Rea, another son-in-law of Mr. Richards, who also came with him, was a blacksmith by trade, and settled in the neighborhood, where he raised the premium family of twenty children, and died at the age of eighty years. Many of his children moved away, several died, and a few remain in the vicinity.
Hance Greer, father of Rev. Thomas and John Greer, came originally from county Fermanagh, Ireland, to America in 1804, and first settled at Noblestown, Allegheny county, about twelve miles from Pittsburgh, on Chartier's creek. In 1810 he removed to Sewickley bottom, where he resided until 1826, when he again removed to Zelienople, Butler county, Pa., where he died in 1848.
John Greer, his second son, settled in Neshannock township in the Fall of 1821, with his wife and two children. He built a house and moved into it in March, 1822.
Mr. Greer, being a man of good ability and an energetic business man, acquired a handsome property. He was quite a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and filled the office of steward at King's Chapel for many years. He lives at present with his son, William Y. Greer, a well-known citizen and business man. His daughter, Mrs. Ferver, lives near him. She raised a family of six children, four sons and two daughters.
Thomas Greer, the youngest son , came in 1830, and settled in a small farm near his brother. He was a blacksmith by trade, and a man of energy and great industry, and soon began to acquire property. At this time he owns nearly six hundred acres of finely-improved land, with his children, three daughters and one son, settled around him. He has not forgotten the Divine command, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." He has held several positions of honor and trust in the Methodist Episcopal Church--was one of the early class leaders, and has been local preacher for twenty-seven years. His only son is a licensed preacher in the same church. His oldest brother, Robert, settled in Johnson, Ohio, about 1850. In 1865 he removed to Hubbard, Ohio, where he now resides, at the age of eighty-five. Frederick Reinholdt, from Germany, settled in the township in 1828. He was a shrewd son of the "Fatherland," and accumulated property with the proverbial thrift of the Teuton. He died March 30, 1874, aged seventy-four years. He raised a family of three sons and five daughters. His remains lie in the cemetery at King's Chapel.
James Stackhouse and family, accompanied his son-in-law, Andrus Chapin and wife, settled in the township in 1834. They were all members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Stackhouse died in 1868, aged ninety-five years. His wife died a short time before. They are also buried at King's Chapel. Mr. Chapin raised a large family of children, who settled near him. The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Chapin died September 24, 1870, aged sixty-six years. He was twice married, but his wives are both dead, also, and are all buried at King's Chapel. William Hunt settled in 1830, bringing his aged mother with him. He raised a family of four sons and two daughters, and gathered a handsome property around him. Two of his children are in the West. The others live near where they first settled. Mr. Hunt died in 1851, and is buried at King's Chapel. His family were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Ebenezer Donaldson settled in the township in March, 1819, just after the "big snow" of that Winter (1818-19). He made the first improvements on the place now owned by his son, John W. Donaldson. His cousin, Isaac Donaldson, came some time previous to the war of 1812, and settled the tract adjoining to the east. He was out at Erie during the war of 1812. Both the Donaldsons were from Westmoreland county, Pa.
Robert Reynolds, from near Hagerstown, Maryland, came to what is now Taylor township, Lawrence county, in 1804, and located near what is now Lawrence junction, where he remained about one year, when he removed to Neshannock township, and settled on the Neshannock creek, about four miles above New Castle, in 1805. The land is now owned by James Reynolds.
He bought a claim of 200 acres. Some time previous to 1811 he purchased the two-hundred-acre tract where the village of Eastbrook now is, and about 1813 sold it to Thomas Fisher, 1st. He served in the war of 1812, most probably in Captain John Fisher's company. He returned from the army quite sick and broken in health. About 1819 he purchased a farm on the old county line, two miles east of New Castle, and removed his family to it. He lived upon this place until his death, in 1873, at the age of ninety years. His wife died about five years previously. This couple raised twelve children--eight sons and four daughters--all of them now living except one. When Mr. Reynolds left the old place in Neshannock township he rented it for a few years, and then his sons, John F. and Wm. F., purchased it, paying the old gentlemen ten dollars per acre for it. John F. Reynolds built a "still-house" about 1824, and carried on the business for six or seven years, when he gave it up. He afterwards, about 1835, sold his interest in the property to his brother, and removed to New Castle, and engaged in the business of tanning with his brother Robert, but after a short partnership, finding it less profitable than he anticipated, he sold to Robert and purchased his present farm, then in Shenango township, afterwards in Pollock township, and now in the Fourth Ward the city of New Castle. This farm consisted of ninety-four acres. Robert lives on Pittsburgh street in the same ward. Joseph has always lived in New Castle, where he holds the office of Justice of the Peace. He is a bachelor. Isaac lives on his father's place, east of New Castle. Michael, the twin brother of Joseph, also lives in New Castle, and, as a curious co-incidence, is also a bachelor.
Peter studied medicine, and is practicing on the eastern shore of Maryland. The sisters, Nancy, Betsey, Mary Ann and Christy Ann, are all living, the two last-named in New Castle, and Betsey and Nancy a few miles east.
John Moore, from near New Castle, in the State of Delaware, settled on a portion of tract No. 1859, now owned by his son, Jesse Moore, about the year 1804. He had a wife and two children at the time of his settlement. Altogether he raised a family of seven children--three sons and four daughters, all but one of whom lived to maturity.
John Moore was a Revolutionary soldier in the American army. He was a drummer, and had a brother in the service who was a fifer. Their father was also an officer in the army, and served through the war. The sons received warrants fro their services, and John sold his warrant and located his brother's on the land where he settled. He lived on the place until his death, August 15, 1842. He went with Captain John Fisher's company to Erie during the war of 1812, and received a land warrant of one hundred and sixty acres for his services, which he afterwards sold.
The land where he located in 1804 was a fine tract, gently sloping towards the southwest, well timbered, and having a great number of copious springs in various parts of it. We mention it as a curiosity that one of these springs is soft water, while most of the others are hard, and some are impregnated with iron, which mineral is found on the tract in the shape of nodular or "kidney ore."
Alexander Hawthorne purchased the tract No. 1825, next north of Mr. Moore, about 1805-6. He lived for some years at New Castle, but built a house and barn on the land, and put on a tenant. Some years late he [p. 85] removed to his farm, and lived upon it until his death, in 1864. The heirs soon after sold the place and removed to Illinois or some other Western State.
David Adams settled on tract No. 1852, about 1825. He had purchased the tract some time before, and leased it to one Robert Sankey. Adams sold and removed to the neighborhood of Petersburg, Ohio, somewhere between 1835 and 1840.
Martin Hardin, from the Eastern Shore, Maryland, settled on tract No. 1836, about 1811-12, and made the first improvements, though he never owned the land. One S. R. Smith was the owner, and he allowed Hardin to cultivate it and make what he could, provided he kept up repairs and paid the taxes. Hardin was industrious, and succeeded in accumulating the wherewith to purchase a farm, to which he removed, and remained upon it until his death. He bought of a man named McComb.
John Maitland, from east of the mountains, came into the township at an early day, and leased or rented land for several years. He finally bought tract No. 1870, which had been occupied by one "Billy" Hosier, a sort of squatter for a number of years. "Billy" had put up a cabin, and "destroyed considerable timber." Maitland moved upon the tract about 1830, and remained there until his death, about 1865.
The first settler on tract No. 1853 was a man named Cunningham who soon after died. His heirs sold to Wm. Sankey the north part of it, and Robert Cochran purchased a portion of the south end from Mrs. Lot Watson, one of the heirs. Wm. Sankey was the father of Robert Sankey.
Henry Falls purchased the two tracts, Nos. 1854 and 1855, at a very early date, and afterwards, about 1806-8, sold them to the Watson brothers, William and Lot, the latter taking 1854 and William 1855.
John Young settled on tract No. 1763 as early as 1810. The east half of this tract was owned by Dr. Wm. Shaw, of New Castle.
Young sold out afterwards, and removed to Hickory township.
James Mitchell, from Franklin county, Pa., settled with his family in this township about one mile north of the old Associate Reformed Church, in 1806. He had three sons, William, Peter and Thomas. Williams was married before he came here. Both the old gentleman and his son William died soon after they settled. Their remains lie in the old cemetery of the United Presbyterian Church. The old gentleman purchased a farm for each of his sons, and they settled near him.
Peter, the second, was married about 1815 to Sarah Wilson, daughter of Samuel Wilson, who settled near New Wilmington, about 1806. Peter lived on his place until his death, in 1843. He was a prominent member of the United Presbyterian Church, and filled several township offices. He had four sons, James, Wilson, William and John.
James is living in Outagamie county, Wisconsin.
Wilson and John live in New castle, and William is on the old farm.
Thomas, third son of James, lived and died on a farm in the township, where his family still reside. James (the old gentleman) owned and operated a distillery when he lived in Franklin county, and wagoned his liquor to Baltimore, where he sold it for gold.
Traveling was somewhat dangerous in those days, and he took the precaution to bore an auger-hole in his wagon-axel, into which he put his gold, and then plugged up the hole. This he considered a "safe operation."
John Pomeroy, father of Judge Pomeroy, from Derry township, Westmoreland county, settled in the township in 1815.
The McGearys, McCrearys and Gibsons were all early settlers.
William, the oldest son of James Mitchell, had three sons, Wilson, James and Joseph. Wilson and James live in New Castle. Joseph died on the old farm about 1870.
Peter Mitchell built his second house of hewn logs about 1826. It had the first, or one of the first, shingle-roofs in the township. All others were made of clap-boards.
These shingles were of shaved pine, and were laid in what was called "joint-shingle" style--laid on lath without boarding the roof. It lasted in good condition some forty-five years.
James Reynolds, who had been connected with Joseph Townsend in the erection of a grist-mill at the Narrows, on the Neshannock, as early as 1803, sold his interest to John Carlyle Stewart, about 1811, and removed to the place now occupied by Jordan's mill, where he purchased a tract of two hundred acres, covering the water-power, it being a part of Donation tracts Nos. 1897 and 1898--patented by the State, October 18th, 1786 to John Sullivan, a soldier of the Revolutionary army, who assigned his patent to Richard North, in September, 1795. North deeded to James Reynolds, March 31st, 1812. At this point, which is probably the finest water-power on the creek, Reynolds erected a grist and saw-mill. The gearing was mostly of wood.
The grist-mill contained two run of stone, made from material found in the vicinity. The bolt was a primitive affair, and was turned by hand by means of a crank. The mill was driven by a large breast-wheel. Mr. Reynolds carried on the milling business until his death, which took place about 1831-32. His heirs, by different deeds dated from 1833 to 1839, transferred the property to Frederick Ziegler, who tore away the old grist-mill and built a new one, still standing. He also built the large stone house on the hill, now owned by George Reynolds. The new grist-mill contained three run of burrs.
In addition to his other work, Ziegler built a distillery (the same building now occupied by Mr. Jordan as a dwelling), which was in operation a good many years, in connection with the grist-mill. The business was finally abandoned about 1855-56. Ziegler sold the property, September 3, 1850, to Wm. F. Reynolds, who built a new dam and tore down and rebuilt the sawmill in 1857. In May, 1868, he sold the John G. and Peter Reynolds the mills and water-power and forty-four acres of land. These parties deeded the property to James Robinson, April 3, 1871. This transfer probably included about seven acres of land, and the total consideration was about $5,200. Henry Jordan, the present owner, purchased the property of Robinson, May 1, 1875. Mr. Jordan has rebuilt the dam in a most substantial manner, and made extensive alterations and improvements in the grist and saw-mills at an expense of over $2,000. The mill is now one of the best in the country, and is doing a good business in both merchant and custom work.
The market for merchant flour and feed is mostly at New Castle. At this time, February, 1877, the mill is furnishing a large amount of its products to the oil regions. The fall at this point is about nine feet, and the power is a very permanent one.
The New Castle and Franklin railway crosses the creek at this place (where the company has a station), on a truss bridge constructed of wood and iron, and the creek is also spanned by a fine iron road-bridge near the mills. The creek flows here in a deep, narrow gorge worn through the rock, whose precipitous cliffs are overhung by a dense growth of hemlock and other trees, making a most picturesque and enchanting locality.
POTTERY.--Johnston Watson, son of Wm. Watson, started a pottery on his farm near the United Presbyterian Church about 1825, before his marriage. He had learned the potter's trade of one White in Mercer county, and had also worked at the business in Beaver county. It has been continued to the present time. The clay is found on Isaac Gibson's place. The "slip clay" is brought from near Pulaski.
A coal bank on the Watson place is worked for domestic purposes. A mine was opened on Thomas Falls' land as early as 1845. At the present time it is being worked by Charles Sheriff, who opened a new "slope" about 1873. Three other mines have been worked-out in this vicinity. It is calculated, from careful observation, that the Falls mine underlies about three hundred acres.
A small mining town called Coal Centre has sprung up around the shafts of the New Castle Railroad and Mining Company. It has one religious society--the Primitive Methodists--one Justice of the Peace, Wm. L. Pyle, Esq., two or three groceries, several blacksmith and wagon shops, and some fifty or sixty dwellings. The business of the people is almost exclusively mining.
Some of the earliest schools in the township were taught on the Watson and Barker farms, most probably in the dwellings, from 1812 to 1815. The first teacher was Miss Sarah De Wolf, who taught in many parts of the country, and was very popular, if we may judge from her record. Miss Tidball was also one of the earliest teachers. A school afterwards opened in an empty house on the King farm, now owned by Thomas Greer. This was taught by John Galbreath, in the years 1816-17-19. A man named Andrews succeeded Galbreath, and taught in the years 1820, 1821 and 1822.
A school building was erected on the Barker farm, about forty rods east of King's Chapel, where a school was taught by Samuel Richards in the years 1823, 1824, 1825. This building was unfortunately burned, but the people soon managed to build another, in which James Watson taught in 1826, and John Maitland in 1827. Mrs. Mary Maitland taught a select school for young ladies, where they learned needle-work in addition to other things. Mrs. Maitland was a very successful teacher. Specimens of the work of her scholars still remain in the neighborhood in the shape of "samplers," which are still preserved.
[p. 86] About 1829-30, the school-building near by was moved upon the church lot at King's Chapel, where one Gillespie taught in 1831 and 1832. In 1833 and 1834 William Lockhart was the teacher, and John Mitchell also taught.
A school was taught in the Pomeroy neighborhood about 1820, by Thomas Gillespie, whom the scholars of those days remember as a terrible fellow with the rod. He was in the habit of coming around among the boys regularly, and hitting them a good cut over the shoulders with a big switch, saying: "Boys, I'll line, and you may sing!" One Holloway and Robert Madge were also early teachers.
About 1810-12, a log school-house was built in the eastern part of the township, near where John Graham now lives. The first teacher was a man named Stoops. At this time (1877) there are five schools in the township, with five good buildings, three of brick and two of stone, costing an average $1,000 each. The total number of scholars is 264, with an average attendance of 159. The total receipts for 1875 were $1,828.29, and the total expenditures $1,795.22.
*By Rev. Thomas Greer
The Methodist Episcopal society known as "King's Chapel," claims the honor of having the first organization of this denomination in Lawrence county. In 1802* William Richards came with his family from Centre county Pa., accompanied by John Rea and Robert Simonton, his sons-in-law, and their wives, and settled in the neighborhood of King's Chapel. Mr. Richards was a soldier in the American army during the Revolutionary war. At the close of the war he had engaged in the iron business at Bellefonte. He had been licensed as an exhorter in the church previous to settlement in what is now the county of Lawrence, and soon after his settlement commenced holding religious meetings in his own house.
*According to Hon. David Sankey, in 1804.
At that time Rev. Asa Shinn was the preacher of Shenango circuit, and often preached in Mr. Richards' cabin. In 1803 George Askin was on the circuit, and under his superintendence a class was formed in the Richards neighborhood, consisting of the following persons: William Richards and wife, Mary Rea, Robert Simonton and wife, Rachel Fisher, Rebecca Carroll (afterwards Mrs. Ferver), and Mrs. Warner. Several persons from Edenburg joined the class, and, according to Hon. David Sankey, several others from New Castle.
According to Rev. Mr. Greer's information, a class was soon after formed by Mr. Richards at New Castle, and meetings were held alternately at that place and at King's Chapel.* The following are the names of those constituting the class in New Castle, according to Mr. Greer: Arthur Chenowith and wife, John Bevin and wife, William Underwood and wife, Robert Wallace and wife, and Philip Painter and wife. Soon after, they were joined by Michael Carman and wife, and Mr. Carman was appointed leader.
*Mr. Sankey's information places the first of these meetings in 1810, at New Castle.
Marinus King and family, from Center county, settled at King's Chapel in 1804, and joined the class. The meetings were held both at the house of Richards and Mr. King, in 1806 and 1807.
William Young and family joined the settlement at an early day, and united with the church. Mr. Young was also a licensed preacher and a man of more than ordinary talents. Others came to the settlement, and soon quite a large community were gathered here. The meetings were now held at three places--Rev. Young's, Richards' and King's.
In 1821 John Greer and wife joined the settlement, from Sewickley, Allegheny county. Mr. Greer had married a daughter of Rev. William Young. He was appointed steward soon after his arrival, and has held the office ever since. His house was made a preaching-station alternately with the three first mentioned. Some time afterwards a small building was erected on the ground where King's Chapel now stands, which was used both for church and school purposes.
Thomas Greer and wife came to this locality from Zelienople, Butler county, 1830. They had certificates from the church at that place, and were received into the church at their new home. Mr. Greer was soon after appointed class-leader and exhorter, which positions he held with great success until 1852, when he was licensed as a local preacher, which position he still occupies. He has also held the office of ordained local elder for some years.
In 1835 a new and neat frame church was erected in the place of the old one, 30 by 40 feet in size, which was occupied until 1856. During this period of twenty-one years the church experienced a revival of religion every year, with one or two exceptions. During the first session of the Erie Conference, Rev. Bishop Hamlin preached at King's Chapel. The session was held in New Castle, and Major Ezekiel Sankey brought the Bishop out in a two-horse carriage, accompanied by quite a number of the brethren from New Castle.
A large number were added to the church during the period between 1835 and 1856, and the house became too small to accommodate the wants of the society. In 1856 the frame church was removed, and the present brick structure erected in its stead. The new church is 40 by 50 in dimensions, and in its erection the altar was placed as near as possible upon the sacred spot occupied by the old one. It was in this house that Ira D. Sankey, the famous singer, made a public confession of the Christian religion, and untied with the society. Mr. Sankey was converted under the labors of Rev. J. T. Boyles.
The following list gives the names of the various preachers who have been located at this place:
In 1802 this was in the Shenango district of the Pittsburgh district, and Baltimore Conference. Rev. Thorton Fleming, presiding elder, and Rev. Asa Shinn, circuit preacher.
Itinerant Ministers: 1803, George Askins; 1804, Joseph Hall; 1805, Robert R. Roberts; 1806, James Reed; 1807, James Watts and Thomas Church; 1808, James Charles; 1809, Jacob Dowell and Eli Towne; 1810, James Watts and James Rheuark; 1811, Abel R. Hooper; 1812, William Knox; 1813, Jacob Gurwell; 1814, John Elliott; 1815, John Summerville; 1816, Robert C. Hatten and _____ Cecil; 1818, D. D. Davidson and Samuel Adams; 1819, Philip Green; 1820, Ira Eddy and Charles Elliott; 1821, Samuel R. Brockaneer; 1822, Thomas Carr; 1823, Thomas Carr and Job Wilson; 1824, Henry Knapp and Joseph S. Barris; 1825, Samuel Adams and James Babcock; 1826, Alfred Brunson; 1827, Charles Thorn and J. Nott; 1828, Samuel Adams and William C. Henderson; 1829, Joseph W. Davis and Jacob Jenks; 1830, Richard Armstrong and Jacob Jenks; 1831, John Scott and Richard Armstrong; 1832, D. C. Richie and Ahab Keller; 1833, Thomas Thompson; 1834, R. B. Gardner; 1835, William Carroll and Thomas Thompson; 1836, Ensign B. Hill and Thomas Graham; 1837, Ensign B. Hill, L. Barton, Rufus Parker and Samuel Heustead; 1838, Samuel Ingraham; 1839, John Luccock and Samuel Ingraham; 1840, D. W. Vorce, Thomas Stubbs; 1841, David Vorce and Thomas Stubbs; 1842, M. H. Bettis and Foster Morse; 1843, Caleb Brown and Henry S. Winans; 1844, John Robison and John McClane; 1845, B. S. Hill and M. Luce; 1846, B. S. Hill and John W. Hill; 1847, J. W. Hill and J. R. Lyon; 1848, Henry L. Winans and J. Lyon; 1849, J. Crum and R. Norton; 1850, J. Crum and S. Hubbard; 1851, J. W. Hammond and P. W. Sherwood; 1852, John Graham and A. S. Dobbs; 1853, John Graham and David Roberts; 1854, R. A. Carothers and S. Wilkinson; 1855, R. A. Carothers; 1856, H. H. Moore; 1857, J. T. Boyles, S. K. Paden and ______ Chapman; 1858, J. T. Boyles; 1859, R. M. Bear, E. Bennett, S. K. Paden and J. C. Ault; 1860, S. K. Paden and J. C. Ault; 1861, R. M. Bear; 1862, N. M. Shurick; 1863, N. M. Shurick; 1864, J. G. Thompson; 1865, J. G. Thompson; 1866 and 1867, T. G. McCreary; 1868, R. Beatty and S. K. Paden; 1869, A. P. Colton; 1870, J. S. Card; 1871 and 1872, J. K. Mendenhall; 1873, L. E. Beardsley; 1874, J. Crum; 1875, J. Crum; 1876, A. M. Lockwood.
The present membership is about seventy. The society supports a Sabbath-school with twelve officers and teachers. It has a small library.
The church-building is plainly and substantially finished, and is furnished with a fine organ, presented to the society by William Y. Green, and a fine communion service, the gift of Mrs. R. A. David and Mrs. Thomas Greer.
The society also owns a very neat parsonage, well fitted up and comfortable, situated nearly opposite the church-building on the west side of the road. A fine little cemetery, beautifully shaded with evergreens, lies in the rear of the church, and here many of the pioneer settlers of the region are buried. The cost of the church-building was about $3,000, and the parsonage about $1,600. The latter was erected in 1870. Rev. A. M. Lockwood, the present pastor, resides in Edinburgh.
It is worthy of especial notice that this society has not had a church trial in the past fifty years.
The Primitive Methodists first began to have meetings at Coal Centre, about 1866. The first local preachers were William Borle, Henry Blews, Edward Blews, Jr., and Samuel Simon. The original society consisted of about ten members. These preachers have officiated monthly. Rev. Thomas Dodd was the first itinerant who preached here, about 1870. He staid only a short time. The second itinerant preacher was Benjamin Barrar, who staid with the society for two years, when he was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Bateman, who is located at New Castle, and has charge of several congregations in this [p. 87] and other counties. He preaches at Coal Centre once a month. The local preacher holds service every alternate Sabbath. The present number of members is about twelve and a small Sunday-school is assembled through the summer months.
The society has numbered as high as twenty members, but hard times and the consequent removal of some of the people to other localities has reduced it to the present comparatively small number.
The history of Shenango congregation is, for about a quarter of a century, the history of almost the entire Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in the boundaries of what is now Lawrence county. With the exception that the Mahoning congregation, near the Ohio line, is of cotemporary origin, all the other Associate Reformed congregations in these bounds are of later date. To most of them Shenango stood in the relation of a mother church.
The white frame house of worship stands three and one-fourth miles north of New Castle, on the road to Mercer via New Wilmington. Around it stand primeval oaks, and behind it slumber many of the dead that once worshipped within its walls. The lot was donated for church and burial purposes by John Pearson, of the Society of Friends, who had obtained titles among the earliest to a large tract of land lying between the Shenango and Neshannock creeks, on a portion of which long resided his son, George Pearson, who died a few years ago in New Castle at a very venerable age.
Of those who organized Shenango Church, and constituted its early membership, none, perhaps, settled in the wilderness earlier that 1805-6. The names of James Mitchell, Hugh Brahan, John Cunningham, William S. Rankin (afterwards of Mercer), Jean Sankey (wife of Ezekiel Sankey, and grandmother of Ira D. Sankey, Mr. D. L. Moody's celebrated evangelistic co-laborer), George Kelso, Dr. Alexander Gilfillan,* Robert McGeary, Mrs. Jane Cubbison, wife of James Cubbison, with others, seem to have settled in 1806, or soon after, and to have been from the first supporters, and then, or even after, communicants in the new organization. An occasional minister of the Monongahela Presbytery, from the neighborhood of Fort Pitt, as the new borough of Pittsburgh was still called throughout the country, rode through these and other opening settlements in Northwest Pennsylvania, giving them an occasional Sabbath's or week-day's preaching. Among these were Rev. John Riddell, D. D., and Rev. Mungo Dick, who were men of great ability and learning. But it was not till 1811 that this community of Associate Reform people received a pastor, and then his labors divided equally with Mercer and Mahoning congregations. How long before this date the congregation was regularly organized, is not known. Their first pastor, James Galloway, first preached to them and other new stations in the Northwest, in the Summer of 1810. His first records extant show that in 1813 the session consisted of Hugh Braham, John Cunningham and Wm. S. Rankin; but James Mitchell, who died in 1812, had been an elder in Franklin county before his arrival, in 1806, and was from the first an earnest friend of the Shenango enterprise. The next record of the eldership shows that in 1821 Rev. J. L. Dinwiddie ordained as elders, Peter Mitchell, son of James Mitchell, and Walter Oliver, who had immigrated some years before to Shenango Valley.
*Dr. Gilfillan settled in New Castle in 1813.
James Galloway, the first pastor, and the earliest Associate Reformed minister settled in Northwestern Pennsylvania, was born August 4, 1786. His family removed that year from Big Cove, Bedford county, to Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland county. He was born in the latter place. He had graduated at Jefferson College in 1805, had entered for a legal course in Greensburgh, but upon the death of his legal preceptor, had placed himself as a candidate for the ministry under the Monongahela Presbytery, and afterwards had enjoyed the excellent training for four years of that distinguished theologian and pulpit orator, John M. Mason, D. D., in the Associate Reformed Seminary in New York City. He was licensed to preach, June 28, 1810. He was eminently social in his qualities, of lively wit, of tender sensibilities; in the pulpit earnest, grave and edifying. His visit to the new settlements was most acceptable. December 17 a call was made out for him by the three congregations of Mercer, Shenango and Mahoning. The Presbytery placed it in his hands February, 1811. An appointment was made for his ordination and installation for April 10, in the Shenango settlement. There was as yet not church. The preaching had mostly been conducted hitherto in Peter Mitchell's house or barn, four and a-half miles north of New Castle. It was a raw, cold morning. The Presbytery, whose members had ridden through from Fort Pitt, or its vicinity, had hoped the exercises would be at a near point, perhaps in New Castle itself. They arrived late, and found the appointment in the barn, which was already crowded with people, many of the audience being from Mercer, fourteen miles north, and Mahoning, thirteen miles west. Thus was ordained the first of a long line of pastors in the Associate Reformed Church of this region, and placed officially by the Presbytery over their people in what now comprises territorially the entire counties of Mercer and Lawrence. The barn still stands; but since then it has been taken down and put up again a rod or two distant from its former site.
Under Mr. Galloway's ministry, the lot donated by John Pearson was occupied by a small, log building, put up by the sturdy settlers in the Spring of 1812, and first used for worship before it was yet floored. On this ground, in that year, the Lord's Supper was first dispensed. The corners of this log building were four large boulders, which can still be seen just north of the present church. When the latter was erected the logs were removed to the northeast corner of the lot, and did humbler service for years as a school-house, which at last fell into disuse and decay.
Mr. Galloway had hard service in so extensive a charge. He had to fill his appointments often by crossing the Neshannock, Shenango and other streams when they were swollen with rains; and not unfrequently did his horse swim the Shenango, while his master, seated in a canoe, held the bridle-reins. A deep-seated cold followed his preaching in wet clothes upon one occasion after such exposure. He never got well, though he continued his labors for months while gradually growing worse, till, in April, 1818, he resigned his charge. The 21st of May he died. His home had been in Mercer, and there he lies buried. His wife was Agnes Junkin, whose father, Joseph Junkin, was one of the earliest members of his Mercer congregation. They were married March 12, 1812, by his brother-in-law, Rev. George Buchanan, Associate Reformed pastor in Steubenville, Ohio. They had three sons, two of whom survived him, and one of whom, nineteen years later, succeeded him in the pastorate of Shenango. Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. Galloway were sisters of Dr. D. X. Junkin, present pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Castle.
The second pastor, Rev. James L. Dinwiddie, D. D., was ordained and installed over the Shenango and Mercer congregation, at Mercer, November 22, 1820. He also resided in Mercer. He was born in Adams county, February 23, 1796, and had pursued his college studies, but without being graduated, at Washington College. After Dr. Matthew Brown, President of Washington, became President of Jefferson College, the board of the latter conferred the honorary degree of A. B. upon him, and at a later date the degree of D. D. These honors were well bestowed. He was one of the most finished scholars of his church. He was a man of brilliant mind, of perfect address socially, and in the pulpit eloquent. It was a sad day in Shenango Church when, after a ministry of thirteen and a-half years, he preached his last sermon preparatory to the acceptance of a call in Philadelphia (Sixth Presbyterian Church.) The Philadelphia charge he resigned seven years afterwards, rejoined the Presbytery by which he was ordained, and became pastor of the Second Associate Reformed Church, of Pittsburgh, and Professor of Biblical Literature and Sacred Criticism in the Theological Seminary, Allegheny. His pastorate in Pittsburgh, after a term of two years, was relinquished in April, 1844, to devote himself more entirely to his professorship, to which he had been elected September 13, 1843. In the midst of his labors, when he was just fifty years of age, he was struck with paralysis of the brain, February, 1846. He never recovered his splendid powers. He died in Baltimore suddenly, from a second stroke, February 11, 1849.
Mr. Dinwiddie, soon after his settlement in Mercer, had married Miss Rachel Cochran, in Allegheny county, whose brother, Robert Cochran, has long been a prominent citizen of New Castle. Mrs. Dinwiddie was the mother of one son and two daughters. She died six years after her marriage. The son died in infancy, in Mercer. Mary died in her early womanhood, in Pittsburgh. The other daughter, Mrs. Frances Smith, wife of Henry M. Smith, Esq., now of New York, still lives. In 1849 she and her husband lived in Baltimore. In their home in that city her father died.
Mr. Galloway's pastorate in Shenango ended in 1818, and Mr. Dinwiddie's in 1834. Important changes had meanwhile taken place in the northwest. The country had greatly developed and the churches had gained by this growth. The Associate Reformed Church, as well as the others, had made decided progress. A pastor had been settled in Erie, in 1812--Rev. Robert Reed--who died in that city after a pastorate of thirty-two years.
In Butler, Rev. Isaiah Niblock, D. D., had commenced in 1819 a long pastorate of forty-five years. In 1820 two congregations were formed on the borders of Shenango: one at Mount Jackson, five miles southwest of New Castle; the other at Slippery Rock, now called Centre, five miles southeast. At Centre and Harmony a pastor settled--Rev. James Ferguson, and [p. 88] an arrangement was made for him to preach part of his time in New Castle, but his pastorate only lasted from September, 1823, to April, 1824. Rev. David Norwood was afterwards settled as pastor over Center, Mount Jackson and Mahoning. He resigned his charge October 16, 1833. In Crawford county Rev. S. F. Smith had been settled as pastor, in 1828, over the congregation of Sugar creek and Crooked creek, a relation which continued till his death, March 10, 1846.
Out of these five pastorates, with several other congregations (the whole number being fourteen), a new Presbytery was formed. It was constituted in Mercer on the first Wednesday of January, 1829, called the Presbytery of the Lakes, and territorially occupied six counties. Of all the original congregations in these bounds, not one has been the mother-church of so many new congregations as Shenango. Up till the union of 1858, seven congregations had been formed on its borders or within its original territory. In addition to Center and Mount Jackson, already mentioned, in the year 1840 Eastbrook was organized to accommodate those members who lived across the Neshannock, and in the same year was also formed the Deer Creek or Beulah congregation, west of the Shenango, from which locality attendance at Shenango Church had become very difficult, owing to the fact that the completion of the Erie Extension canal had, by means of the dam at New Castle, made a pool or level extending for seven miles up the stream, that destroyed all the original fords for this distance.
Later, namely, 1849-51, during the pastorate of Rev. R. A. Browne, three more congregations--New Castle, New Wilmington and the Harbor--were also struck off from Shenango, as will be seen further on in this article. And so far had the church grown in these six counties of the northwest that in 1852 an act of Synod provided for the erection of two more new Presbyteries, called the Presbyteries of Lawrence and Butler. The Presbytery of Lawrence was organized at New Castle, in the Associate Reformed Church, on Jefferson street, April 20, 1853. Rev. John Neil, pastor of Mount Jackson and Center, preached the opening sermon from Heb. xiii, 17, and constituted the Presbytery with prayer. Mr. Neil was elected moderator, and Mr. Browne, clerk. Three other ministers, with these, constituted the Presbytery, namely, Robt. Wm. Oliver, pastor of Beulah and Bethel (Mercer county); Wm. Mehard, pastor of Eastbrook and New Wilmington, and John P. Chambers, without charge. The Presbytery included thirteen congregations, four of which, however, were located outside of the county. At the union of 1858 the Lawrence Presbytery was merged into the United Presbyterian Presbytery of Mercer; and still later, Shenango and all the congregations south of that latitude to the Ohio river, were merged again in a new Presbytery, called Beaver Valley, which was erected November 7, 1871.
This episode gives a brief view of the history of Shenango Church in its surroundings and relations. What remains to add has reference to its own spectal [sic] history. From the resignation of Rev. James L. Dinwiddie, 1834, till 1841, with the exception of one brief pastorate of a year and a-half, the congregation of Shenango was a vacancy, its pulpit filled only by supplies from the Presbytery of the Lakes. The pastorate referred to was that of Rev. John Mason Galloway, who has already been mentioned. He was born in Mercer, January 8th, 1813, and was five years old when his father, the first pastor of Shenango, died. His uncle, George Junkin, D. D., who was long eminent in the Presbyterian Church, took early charge of his education, the collegiate part of which he completed in Jefferson, graduating there in 1832. His theological course was begun at Princeton Seminary, Allegheny. He was licensed April 13th, 1836, by the Presbytery of the Lakes, and by the same Presbytery ordained and installed pastor of Shenango Church, May 23d, 1837. New Castle, in the pastoral arrangement, was taken of the following year, he married Eleanor J., daughter of Rev. George Buchanan, of Steubenville, Ohio, and in the following August demitted his charge to the Presbytery, and accepted a call from Paris, Va., near Steubenville. He remained pastor till 1855, and for the four last of these years was also Associate Principal of the Steubenville High School. He afterwards, in 1857, became pastor of the Presbyterian congregation of Clearfield, remaining in charge till ill health induced him to force his resignation on his unwilling congregation, in 1835. His wife and six out of ten children survive him. As a man he was quiet and unobtrusive, of great kindness of disposition, and courteous and dignified in his social relations. He was a good scholar and careful student, and in his pulpit ministrations faithful and instructive. His sudden resignation of his Shenango charge dampened the rising hopes of his people; and his term of pastoral service was too brief to leave many fruits.
He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Mehard (the fourth pastor) who was ordained and installed June 30, 1841, in Shenango Church, over the united charge of Shenango, Eastbrook and Beulah, the two latter, as already stated, having been organized the previous year. Beulah was first known as Deer Creek. Some years later the congregation decided to change their place of worship to West Middlesex, three miles distant, but a portion of the members remained to worship in the old building, and are now the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation of Beulah. Mr. Mehard was a graduate of the Western University, Pittsburgh, and of the Associate Reformed Theological Seminary, Allegheny. He was genial in his disposition, agreeable in his address, and pleasing and edifying in the pulpit. His ministry was full of labors and fruits, with large promise of future usefulness, when, suddenly, at the close of his fourth year of pastoral duty, he was called away by death. The stroke startled the entire community as well as his congregations and his wife, who was left with two infant daughters to mourn his loss. He died at his home in New Castle, July 16, 1845. His remains, alone all of all the pastors, lie interred in Shenango grave-yard. A neat obelisk marks the grave. He died aged twenty-nine years.
The ruling elders prior to this, in addition to those already mentioned, were Joseph Kissick, of New Castle; James A. McLaury, of New Wilmington; James Hutchison, James Mitchell and James Neal. These constituted the session at the close of Mr. Mehard's ministry and during the next pastorate, with the exception of James Neal, who had removed to New Castle, where he held his membership in the Reformed Presbyterian congregation, and afterwards in the United Presbyterian, in which he died.
The fifth pastor of Shenango, succeeding Mr. Mehard a year after his death, was Robert Audley Browne. Mr. Browne was born in Steubenville, Ohio, December 3, 1821; was graduated at the Western University, 1839, and the Associate Reformed Seminary, Allegheny, 1843; licensed by the Monongahela Presbytery in his twenty-first year, and ordained without charge by the same presbytery, December 31, 1844. He was at that time stated supply in the Second Associate Reformed, now Third United Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. A fuller notice of Mr. Browne will be found in another part of this history. He visited the congregations of Eastbrook three and a-half years, and of Shenango over thirteen years, demitting that congregation to the Presbytery, January 9, 1859. The last ten of these years his pastoral charge included the congregation of New Castle nearly all the intervening period. When he entered on his pastoral work in this part of what was then Mercer county, it was evident that the growth of population and change of its business centers had left the Associate Reformed Church with-out organizations at several desirable points. Of these, New Castle, a growing town, was the most important. An organization was effected here by order of the Presbytery (Lakes), December 25, 1849. The same Winter one was similarly formed in New Wilmington. By these organizations the session of Shenango was reduced to two elders, Messrs. Mitchell and Hutchison, and its membership diminished from over one hundred to forty-nine. From having one-half of their pastor's time they were able to retain him only for one-fourth. They were still further weakened a year or two later by the organization of the Harbor congregation, four miles distant, on the other side of the Shenango pool or slackwater, though in general their number during the years before 1859 ranged at about fifty communicants.
The union of the Associate and Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches, agreed upon in 1858, occurred during Mr. Browne's pastorate. It brought Shenango into closer relations with a number of Associate congregations in this region, though it added but little strength to the membership.
The sixth pastor was Rev. William Findley, D. D., born in Mercer and reared under the ministry of Rev. James Galloway and Rev. James L. Dinwiddie. He was a graduate of Jefferson College and of the Associate Reformed Seminary, Allegheny; was licensed by the Lakes Presbytery, 16th May, 1832, and after visiting the churches in South Carolina and elsewhere, was ordained by the same Presbytery, and installed pastor over White Oak Spring and Prospect congregations in Butler county, at White Oak Spring Church, May 25, 1837. In 1857 he became Professor of Latin Literature in Westminster College, and resigned his charge and removed to New Wilmington. In 1867 he was transferred to the office of General Agent of the College. This office he resigned in 1871, and after supplying the churches by Presbyterial appointment for some years, settled, in 1876, at Chesley, Ontario, where a new and active congregation in the United Presbyterian Presbytery in Stamford have erected for him a church and parsonage. He is in [p. 89] the vigorous use of his powers, clear and forcible as a thinker and reasoner, and strong as an expounder of the Scriptures.
During his term as Professor in Westminster College, he held for over six years, conjointly, the pastorate of Shenango congregation, namely from July, 1859, till April, 1866.
The seventh pastor was Rev. R. T. McCrea, a student of Westminster College, from Blacklick station, Indiana county, who graduated from the college in 1863, and from the United Presbyterian Seminary, Allegheny, in 1866. He was ordained by the United Presbyterian Presbytery of Mercer, at Shenango church, and installed pastor of Shenango and Lebanon congregations, November 9, 1869. He resided near his Lebanon Church, Worth, Mercer county. August 26, 1873, he resigned his Shenango congregation, and afterwards Lebanon also. He is now laboring in the ministry in Iowa. He is a young man in the vigor of his powers. During his pastorate of four years, the roll of Shenango was increased to seventy members, a point it has not again reached, after the necessary decrease consequent upon an intermission of regular pastoral care.
Since July 4, 1875, the congregation have been happy in having secured and retained, in connection with the Harbor, the services of Rev. A. Y. Houston, who, however, has not been formally called or installed as pastor. Mr. Houston is a man of experience, prudence and fidelity. He was ordained and installed in his first pastorate, that of Peter's Creek, Allegheny county, February 17, 1858. Since that time he has been pastor successively of the United congregations of Palestine and Clarkson, Ohio, and of Ryegate, Vermont. Shenango numbers at present about fifty members.
A few changes remain to be recorded in the Session. In 1855 James Mitchell removed, and was received into membership in the New Castle congregation, June 24, 1865. Previous to this date, the only other remaining elder, as yet recorded in this notice, James Hutchison, had transferred his connection to the First United Presbyterian Church of New Wilmington. But, meanwhile, John Graham, Matthew Irvin and Thomas McCreary had been ordained elders, and still later, Alexander F. Shaw and William Mitchell. Death and removals have reduced this number, till Thomas McCreary and William Mitchell only remain to constitute this Session. Mr. Irving is living in New Castle; Mr. Shaw removed to New Wilmington. Mr. Graham died in 1875, having apparently fallen dead suddenly in one of his own fields, where, some time after, his body was found, with his cattle surrounding it.
The history of the first church edifice has already been given. The second still remains. It was built in 1826, in the midst of Mr. Dinwiddie's ministry. The builder was Hugh Bingham, who, by his first marriage, was the father of Hon. John A. Bingham (at present minister for the United States at the court of Japan), and by his second marriage became the husband of the widow of Rev. James Galloway. He was an elder of the Mercer congregation, and an estimable man. The contract, as illustrative of the hardships of the times and the scarcity of money, provided that the builder, for enclosing and flooring the house, forty-two by fifty-three feet square, was to receive in payment "good and sufficient subscription lists" to the amount of $518, and that, instead of cash, wheat, at 66 2/3 cents per bushel, and other products of the county at proportionate rates, should be a legal tender. This building, thus contracted and paid for, with its small windows and eight-by-ten glass, has an antiquated look today. Its pulpit was located in front, between the doors, a style of church architecture preferred by Mr. Dinwiddie, but not always by his hearers, who, if they entered late, were thus forced to face all who were in their seats before them. Now, however, the pulpit is in the rear, and the seats have been faced about. The contract for building did not include the pews, and therefore, at the opening for service, families provided their own seats according to their preferences as to style and material, and without regard to uniformity, which made the interior present an odd appearance till one became accustomed to it. In one case, the head of a household, who had located his seat well up toward the pulpit, and furnished it with legs too long for convenient range of vision to those who sat behind him, afforded some amusement to his fellow worshipers by his change of countenance when he entered the meeting house one Sabbath morning and found his seat had been lowered to a level with its neighbors. Few of the many who travel the Mercer road past this modest country church, know why a finer building has not taken its place. The congregation has been many times depleted and shorn of its strength. Prior to the union of 1858, seven communities, in whole or part from its membership, had formed new colonies and built ten houses of worship, leaving their parent congregation too weak to renovate and modernize their sanctuary or erect a new one in its place. But to many, near and far, who have worshipped there in the quiet Sabbaths of more than half a century, pleasant and sacred memories cluster around the old.
From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.
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