Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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298 WELi-SBOKO (continued).

were elected as follows: Benjamin B. Smith, Leyi I. Nichols, Dr. Otis L. Gibson,
Joshua Sweet (afterward a clergyman of the church), James Lowrey, and John L.
Eobinson. On application to the legislature the parish was duly incorporated under
the name of the rector, wardens and vestrymen of St. Paul's Church, Wellsboro.

A thorough organization having been efEected, the next step was to erect a church
building. The work was undertaken and such good progress was made that on
April 15, 1839, the corner stone was laid, and on the first of the following December
the building was occupied for the first time as a place of worship. It was consecrated
September 12, 1841, Bishop Onderdonk officiating. It was a modest building, cost-
ing only $3,000, but it answered the purpose. The organ, blinds and chairs cost
about $400. Galleries were afterward erected at an expense of $667. Including the
cost of the bell, the sum total for completing the church edifice, furnishing, etc., was
about $4,065.

This was a great triumph for the young rector, who had commenced his labors
under discouraging conditions. Mr. Breck continued as rector for ten years, resign-
ing in 1848. When he terminated his labors with the parish the names of the vestry-
men were: James Lowrey, Samuel Dickinson, William Bache, and James P. MagUl;
and of the wardens: Dr. Otis L. Gibson and John L. Eobinson. During the rector-
ship of Mr. Breck, Judge Samuel W. Morris generously donated the parish
the site of the present rectory. At the time of Mr. Breck's resignation the number
of communicants was ninety. Of these twelve were originally Episcopalians, eight
came from the Methodists, fifteen from the Quakers, thirty-one from the Presbyte-
rians, ten from the Congregationalists, eight from the Baptists, and six from the
Unitarians. Mr. Breck took charge of the Sunday-schools himself, and when he
retired there were three, numbering 150 scholars.

After the retirement of Mr. Breck in 1848 he was succeeded by the Eev. A. A.
Marple, who was called by the vestry and took charge of the parish October 1st, of that
year. The rectory was built in 1850 and occupied in July of that year. It cost $1,300
and afforded a comfortable residence for the rector and his family.

After a ministry of more than fourteen years, Mr. Marple resigned and removed
from Wellsboro in 1863. Between the years 1863 and 1873 the parish was in charge of
Eevs. George H. Jenks, Henry J. Van Allen, J. B. Calhoun, John A. Bowman, and
S. K. Karcher. Then, at the earnest solicitation of the parish, Eev. Charles Breck,
D. D., returned and took charge in December, 1873. He had been gone twenty-four
years, almost a quarter of a century! His return to the church he had founded
nearly thirty-five years before was the cause of a happy reunion — a reunion in which
rector and communicants joined in the most refreshing and loving manner.

During the year 1873 the old rectory, built in 1850, was sold and removed and a
new one erected at a cost of $7,000. It was much more comfortable than the old
one, as well as a credit to the parish. Sheds were put up at the rear of the church
and a new bell purchased. Dr. Breck remained as rector until 1884, when he again
resigned and made a trip to Europe, having in the meantime lost his wife by death.
After his return from abroad he officiated for a short time at Scranton and then at
Wilmington, Delaware, when he retired from active work. His death occurred at
Barrytown, on the Hudson, June 12, 1891. His second wife, Mai-y, daughter of
Judge Williston, survived him and resides in Wellsboro.


When Dr. Breck resigned in 1848 he took charge of a church at Eockdale, Dela-
ware, where he remained seYeral years. He was then called to the rectorship of
Trinity Church, Wilmington, which he held for twelve years, and then went to
Cleyeland, where he remined three years, returning to Wellshoro in 1873.

The ancestors of Dr. Breck belonged in New England and were identified with
the Eevolution. His parents having settled in or near Philadelphia our subject was
born there. He received a good education, entered the ministry, as already stated,
and commenced his career at Wellsboro by founding the Episcopal church in 1838.
His exact age is unknown, but is supposed to have been between seventy-five and
seventy-seven years. He had four children by his first marriage, but they are all de-

Eev. W. G. Ware succeeded Dr. Breck, taking charge of the parish September 1,
1884. He remained as rector until April 30, 1889, when he resigned to accept a
call elsewhere. He was succeeded by the Eev. A. W. Snyder August 1, 1890, who re-
mained until February 15, 1894. .The present rector, Eev. William Heakes, came
June 15, 1894.

St. Paul's is steadily gaining in strength. The communicants number about 300;
the Sunday-school comprises 135 scholars. The rector serves as superintendent.
There are about 500 volumes in the library.

As the old church had become too small, the vestry, in December, 1895, purchased
part of the Bingham lot, on the corner of Pearl and Charles streets, near the
present church edifice. The price paid was $3,000. In January, 1897, from eight
bids submitted, for erecting the new church edifice, the vestry accepted that of
the Wellsboro Building and Manufacturing Company. The new church will stand
on the corner of Pearl and Charles streets, facing the public square, and is to be con-
structed of Antrim stone. The main building will consist of a nave and transepts
with two vestibules in front and a broad choir and chancel at the rear. The west cor-
ner will be marked by a large battlemented tower 69 feet high, and at the south-
western side will be clustered the vestry, sacristy, two choir rooms and a chapel or
assembly room. The style of the edifice will be what is known as Eomanesque, all the
arches being semi-circular, and the walls are to be laid in random courses, there being
few horizontal lines. It is expected that the building will be completed before the
close of 1897. The cost will be about $30,000. The Bingham office, which occupied
the lot for many years, has been removed immediately north of its old site. Besides
affording the congregation a comfortable and commodious house of worship, the new
edifice will be a notable addition to the architecture of the borough.


This church was organized February 11, 1843. There was no church edifice at
that time and meetings were held in the court house. Eev. Thomas Foster supplied
the pulpit a year and gathered a membership in Wellsboro and at Pine Creek, now
Ansonia, of about thirty persons. Mr, Foster was a son of General Foster, of Harris-
burg, and was received into the church September 4, 1834. He was a graduate of
Dickinson College, Carlisle.

After Mr. Poster's retirement, in 1844, the members of the Wellsboro church
requested Eev. S. J. McCuUough, of Lawrenceville, to write to the faculty of Auburn
Theological Seminary to send them one of their young men of the class that was


to graduate that year to fill their pulpit. In accordance with that request Eev. J. F.
Calkins came to Wellsboro in May, 1844. He had graduated from Union College in
1841 and then had become a student at Auburn Theological Seminary. During the
summer vacation he preached in Wellsboro, and so well pleased were the members of
the church with him, that, after his graduation in August, they extended a call to him
and he was duly installed pastor in September, haying charge of the church in Wells-
boro and at what is now Ansonia.

Mr. Calkins was a zealous and hard working minister. For nine years he held
services in the court house and steadily increased the membership. As the congrega-
tion was small, sufficient means could, not be secured for several years to build a
church. The pastor, however, labored zealously to raise funds to erect a building. A
lot was secured at the comer of Main and Norris streets and preparations made to
build. Lumber and other materials were collected, but disaster overtook them. The
lumber was destroyed by fire, the outlook became discouraging, and for a time all work
was suspended. But that great philanthropist, William E. Dodge, of New York,
learning of the misfortune, promptly telegraphed the officials of the church: "Buy
10,000 feet of seasoned lumber and send me the bill." They at once took courage,
lumber was procured, the work went on and the building was completed and dedicated
in 1854. It cost $4,600 and was regarded as a great improvement for the-time. Mr.
Dodge donated the bell and it is still doing service. His lumbering interests were
great in Tioga county in early times, but he was ever the friend and patron of church
organizations and aided more than any other person in this section of the State.

The first elders of the church — those who shared in the trials and tribulations
of Mr. Calkins — were S. P. Scoville, Chauncey Austin and W. W. McDougall. They
were devout men and their memories are fondly cherished. On February 18, 1847,
the Presbyterian church and congregation of Wellsboro was incorporated by act of
the legislature.

Under the fostering care of Mr. Calkins the church steadily grew in strength,
and in 1872 the congregation felt able to enlarge and otherwise improve the building.
This was done at an expense of about $2,500. With these improvements the congre-
gation were content for many years. Mr. Calkins resigned in 1879, after having been
in continuous service as pastor for the long period of over thirty-five years.

The church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary February 11, 1893. The occasion
was unusually interesting and the ceremonies were deeply impressive; made more
so, perhaps, by the presence of Mr. Calkins, and the historical address which he
read while seated in a chair. As that address gives a full history of how the church
was founded, and relates his trials and tribulations during his long pastorate, the
material portions are given herewith:

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, we believe, have the honor of holding the first
public religious services in this village at the advent of the Morris, Bache and Norris
families. About this same time that missionary hero. Elder Sheardown, made excur-
sions here and down Babb's creek and up and down Pine creek, and left his disciples
behind him. The Methodists gathered a little band, inspired by the mother of the
Coolidges, and were the first to organize and claim the regular services of a minister.
The Protestant Episcopalians, in 1838, came next with their zelous rector, Rev. Charles
Breck, who came to stay ten years.

The church buildings at Ansonia erected by Phelps, Dodge & Company, and at Wells-


boro, by the Episcopal and Methodist churches, were all built within the same five years,
preceding 1841, I think.

The history of the Presbyterian church may, for the convenience of this narrative,
be divided into periods of ten years each — five in all. With these decades I am connected
with only about three and a half.

The Ansonia house of worship was for three or four years literally a church without
a bishop. Dr. Breck preached there occasionally. So did a Mr. Pinkham, whom I never
saw. Meanwhile Mr. Dodge, of New York City, and Eev. S. J. McCullough, of Lawrence-
ville, had been looking for a minister.

How came this church to organize fifty years ago ? Some one on the ground and
not far away must move in the matter. Who gathered the nucleus here ? It was a
woman, of course, and that woman was Mrs. Dr. Curtis Parkhurst, of Lawrenceville. He
resided here temporarily as the sheriff of the county. She gathered the names of those
preferring our type of worship in this town and Ansonia, and sent for her minister in
LavsTenceville to weld them into a church. The next thing was a minister, and how did
they get him ?

The sheriff had to report quite often to the capital of the State, and so he reported
there the want of a minister for the Presby1;erian church of Wellsboro. The result was
the coming of a young man, son of an elder of the Market Square church, of Harris-
burg, a Eev. Mr. Foster. He stayed less than a year and left before I came. I never saw
him. * * * How came they by their second minister? I was at the time a, senior
in Auburn Theological Seminary. The spring vacation of 1844 was soon to commence.
Dr. Dickinson, one of the professors, came to my room one day with a letter asking him
to send a minister to Wellsboro. I hailed from Corning, the nearest town to Wellsboro
of any of the undergraduates — hence his application to me. He directed me to call on
Eev. Mr. McCullough, of Lawrenceville, for an introduction to Wellsboro. I did so, and
he brought me up, twenty-five miles, to Wellsboro. W^e arrived after dark on a Friday
night and found lodgings in a little old house and a little seven by nine bedroom, aban-
doned by Dr. Gibson and rented by Israel Eichards, on the corner where Hon. Jerome B.
Niles now lives.

On awakening the next morning I reviewed the landscape o'er and wondered how
we got into this tunnel at the foot of these hills. After breakfast I told him to take me
out as quick as he could. He would not do it, but introduced me to a few families and
then went back to tend his own sheep. I was taken over to Ansonia Saturday night, and
preached there Sabbath morning and in the court house here in the afternoon, and so
continued for four weeks, going back to Auburn $50 richer than when I came. * * »
So when a call reached me in the course of my last term in the Seminary, engineered by
Eev. Mr. McCullough, I accepted it. Began services September 8, 1844; was soon or-
dained and installed, and on the 8th of October was married and brought my wife from
Geneva here the same week, not losing a Sabbath for such business as that.

Then Wellsboro had a population of 400. There was a mail twice a week via stage
from Covington, and once a week via horseback from Coudersport. * * * When
we came it was a difficult question where we could live. We boarded a few weeks in two
different places. Commenced keeping house in the front part of what is now the Ens-
worth house. The parlor was our kitchen and dining room; the hall our pantry and
cellar way; the front chamber was our bed room, study and reception room; the little
bed room over the hall was our guest chamber. We, after the first year, rented a little
house on Main street not far from the present Converse block. That was owned by Mary
Gorrie, a milliner, before she married Peter Green. Then we moved to a little house on
the corner of the lot where Mr. Converse now lives, then owned by Mr. Norris; and we
shall never forget the formidable document drawn up as a lease in a most beautiful hand-
writing with all the provisos and guards against injuring the rickety shanty.

Here we began to agitate the question of a parsonage. From the four points of the
compass I pressed the subscriptions, scarcely $50 in cash, but in work, digging, hauling,
timber, boards, plank, carpenter and mason work. The lime was hauled from near
Williamsport. Mr. Bache gave the lot, and all the subscriptions of different kinds were


estimated at $600. But the parsonage I would have, and I built it. When, six years after
this, we began to agitate the question of a church, I bought the society's half of the
parsonage and secured the lot upon which the church stands, paying $700 for it.

The services during the whole of the first decade were held in the court house. The
order was, in the morning at Ansonia; 2 o'clock p. m., preaching in the court house; 3
p. m., Sunday-school; evening, some school house in the country. The amount of secular
and missionary work I undertook this first decade seems to me at this period of life the
height of imprudence. « * » My parish extended west to Coudersport, east to
Covington, north to the Cowanesque, south to Williamsport; and when I got there I
challenged Drs. Sterling, of Williamsport, and Stevens, of Jersey Shore, to meet me half
way, for there were souls perishing all along the line.

It was, I think, the last year of this decade that I rode over to Pine Creek through
a deep snow one Sabbath morning to preach. There were not half a dozen at church.
Once before there were but two. My horse was blanketed and tied to the fence. I prayed
and preached and shut the Bible. I knew there vrere probably within two miles of me
two hundred persons in houses and lumber camps. I told the few that were before me,
I could not stand it. I then said, "I will preach in this house every night this week."
There were three times as many there Monday evening as there were on the Sabbath.
Soon the house was full. The next Sabbath I gave the same notice. And so it continued
for six weeks. I always drove home every night, sometimes not reaching it till 12 o'clock,
and it was one of the coldest winters I ever knew. Some of the incidents of that series
of meetings I shall never forget. The church there took on a new life that lasted for

Mr. .Ensworth had frequently suggested the practicability of building a church. But
one thing is sure; if I had not had a, friend at court in UTew York City, the attempt
would have been an utter failure. I dreaded again making myself a hewer of wood and
a drawer of water, as I had done in the building of the parsonage. I began with pushing
subscriptions for the purpose. In the church there was but one man that could subscribe
$100. In applying to Mr. Clymer, he said: "If you can get five men to subscribe $100 each,
I^will be the sixth." Peter Green and Robert Campbell were the last two men to make
up the five; and so I had the six hundred to storm the MalakhofE. The other subscrip-
tions were in smaller amounts and for materials and work.

There were then no such plans available for churches as are now so abundant. I
visited far and near to find such a church as I thought we wanted. I turned myself into
an architect, and have often since said if the Lord would forgive me for planning this
church I would never do so again. But the sin of it, like the sin of the older fathers,
must be laid at the doors of the age in which we lived as well as on the head of the
builder. Nevertheless, I built as well, if not better, than I knew. Every dollar that went
into it, every foot of lumber, every contract for work, the burning of the kiln of our best
lumber just as the carpenters had the frame enclosed — if I do not know how much brain
and brawn it cost, who does ?

The next morning after our lumber was burned, I do not know whether Tatnai and
Shethar-boznai, the Apharsachites, rejoiced, but I do know our feeble folk were sad. I
preached on the following Sabbath on the text, "Though I fall sometimes, I shall rise
again," and Monday morning I wrote Mr. Dodge of the sermon and the occasion lor it.
The answer came, "Purchase 10,000 feet of seasoned lumber anywhere you can find it,
and send the bill to me." It was done and our faces were glad. * » * Mr. Dodge
gave us the bell. Who rang it? * * *

In the previous decade, unknown to myself, I had been chosen by the board of school
directors of Tioga county, at a meeting held at the court house, to inaugurate the county
superintendency of schools for three years. I was afterwards appointed by the governor
of the State to supplement the term of a superintendent whose health had failed — mak-
ing five years of service in this direction. This sent me galloping all over the county to
every school house, and landing in Wellsboro on Saturday to occupy the pulpit on the
Sabbath. Do you wonder at the patience of this people with their pastor ? Yet this par
tience was to be more severely tried.


In the winter of 1863 there was an epidemic of diphtheria throughout this region. In
two months I had attended the funerals of more than thirty persons. I waked up one
morning'with the disease fastened on myself. I had two funeral engagements that day,
and I sent a boy on my horse to notify the afQicted families.

I arose from that sickness weak and worthless. I had held from Governor Curtin for
several months a commission as chaplain of the One Hundred and Forty-ninth Pennsyl-
vania Volunteers. As soon as I was able to preach I occupied the pulpit, resigned the pas-
torate, told them that I should start that week for the Army of the Potomac. The
church protested, said I would die if I went. I was more afraid I would die if I stayed.
I went in May and stayed till the end of the war.

A Eev. Mr. Boggs, who was engaged to supply the pulpit, had left home before my
return. My resignation was not accepted. By solicitation of the ofScers of the church
I resumed the service with increased love of pastor and people for each other and the
name of Christ. * * » The outside work of the pastor in the care and labor for
other churches had grown very much for years past. This must be attributed mainly to
the unusual continuance of the pastorate. Calls to funerals and to settle difficulties in
churches; and more agreeable but not less laborious ones — weddings, and to assist pas-
tors in and outside the Presbytery on occasions of more than usual religious in-

Only seven years of this period [1873-83] did I remain in Wellsboro. It had become
the custom in this place, and quite generally throughout our country, to manifest the
irenic disposition of Christian churches, to unite in union services every night for the
first week in January. If the occasion warranted it, these services were continued in
very happy Christian fellowship for a longer time. The Evangelical Alliance, interna-
tional, had first suggested this good way. * * * It was the union services of this
year that issued in the largest ingathering at any one time in the history of the church
— eighty persons joined. * * *

In November, 1877, our home was again sadly shadowed by the death of the pastor's
wife. It was after a most painful sickness of over two years, under the care of many
physicians. She was taken to the seashore and returned as far as Brooklyn, whence I
received a telegram to come to her. There, alone with her husband in the dark watches
of the night, her sufferings ceased, we trust, forever. » * * But the shock to the
pastor's nervous system, the insomnia that preceded and followed this dark day, doubt-
less tinged his ministry and judgment more than he knew. And to the parish this was
probably more apparent than to himself; and they with all the memories of his ministry
before them were better judges than himself. It was only two years after this the clock
struck and the pastorate ended in its thirty-sixth year.

There is a tinge of pathos in the closing sentences of this grand old minister's
story of his long pastorate in Wellsboro, which brings to mind many pleasant memo-
ries of his long and useful career. After bidding farewell to the scenes of his years
of labor he was not forgotten. To use his own language: "The same kind provi-
dence, through a classmate in Auburn Theological Seminary, sent the old minister
to a church and people and a country so beautiful and restful that he could sleep all
his worries away." This was at the beautiful village of Avon, Livingston county,
New York, where he labored nearly ten years longer, and "there by the blessing of
God his ministry still bore fruit in his old age." He then retired to Geneva, where
fifty years before he commenced his studies for the ministry, and resided there with
his two daughters — Mrs. Clara Meigs and Mrs. Stella Torrence — until his death,
November 7, 1893. As he was born March 37, 1816, he passed away in the seventy-
eighth year of his age. His remains were brought to Wellsboro and laid by the
side of his wife, who died in November, 1877. Visitors to the Wellsboro Cemetery
will find in the eastern part a rough, undressed sandstone rock, standing on end.


with the name, "Calkins/' carved upon it, which marks his resting place. This
rough stone was selected by himself in life, and is typical of his rugged Christian
character. In the same lot is a finely polished gi-anite tablet which not only bears
his name and the dates and places of his ministry, but the names of his wife and
child. The dates of their birth and death are also inscribed thereon.


In 1880 the congregation united in a call to the Eev. A. C. Shaw, D. D., to
succeed Mr. Calkins. Dr. Shaw was born in the city of Eochester. His collegiate

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 39 of 163)