Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 101 of 193)
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a vestige of the congregation remains. A second log
church was erected twelve miles west of Brownsville,
on the main road leading to Washington. The lot,
containing about an acre, was given originally by a
Col. Crooks, and belonged to the church as late as
1848. The building, like the former, has nearly gone
to decay, and the families who once worshiped in it
have either removed or lost their attachment to the i
church.

Another church was built at Carmichaeltown,
twelve miles south of Brownsville. The grounds,
however, have been taken possession of and held for
many years by the county (probably with the consent
of the owners) and an academy built thereon. The
building was erected mainly by Col. Kicard and
Charles Swan. Tlicse individuals have long since
died, and their families have become diverted to other
forms of worship. A fuurth church building of the
same material as the others was erected about half-
way between Uniontowu and Brownsville, on the
farm of Eobert Jackson. The old building was re-
moved, however, a few years since, and a small
though comfortable brick church erected in its place.
This church, known by the name of Grace Church,
in Menallen township, has Inn;: been recoi;nizeil by
the convention as a iiii~si.>nai v >tutiiiii, ami services
have been held in it with c..n-i.lenible regularity by
clergvmen officiating at Brownsville and Uniontowu.

About eight miles north of Brownsville, on the
road to Pittsburgh, there was erected still another log
building, known by the name of " St, I'eterV ( 'Imieh,
Pike Kun." At the first settlement of this neiulil.or-
hood there were here many Episcoiialiuns friiiii Ire-
land, and among them several families by the name
of West, Gregg, and Hopkins. Their descendants
have manifested, however, in later years but feeble
interest in the church of their fathers. Considerable
exertions were made by the Rev.L. N. Freeman,
formerly rector of Christ Church, Brownsville, in be-
half of the station. The building was repaired and
religious services frequently held, but without much
permanent utility, as there seemed to be a lack of co-
operation on the i)art of the people. The Rt. Rev.
Bishop Onderdonk made the first visit to this station
in 18;>>i, enntiniiiiig the following persons: Mrs.
Miirdv, Mrs. Nix. Ill, aii<l Miss Mary West. The
failure in the estalilisliinent of the church at these
several stations is mainly to be attributed to the want

of missionary services a ng tliem. Years would

pass during which no Kpiseupal services were held
and no minister appeared to call the people together.
Could the ground have been occupied by some regu-
lar itinerating missionary no doubt influential par-
islics might have been formed.

With regard to tlie church in Brownsville the case
appears to have been rather more favorable. Services
were held from time to time with more frequency, and



the temporal interests of the church especially sus-
tained with more ability and zeal, though many un-
toward circumstances have in time past retarded ma-
terially the progress of the church. Among these the
resemblances of her forms and ceremonies to those
of the Church of England excited great prejudice
against her in Revolutionary times, a prejudice which
the lapse of years could not wholly eradicate.

The first episcopally ordained clergyman we have
any notice of as officiating in what is now Browns-
ville was a certain Mr. Allison, who, in 1759, came as
chaplain to the soldiers under the command of Capt.
James Burd, wdio came to erect the fort of that name.
Brownsville was at that period but a frontier post,
and known by the name of "Redstone Old Fort."
Of the itinerating ministers who officiated in Browns-
ville and parts adjacent prior to any important move-
ment in the parish were the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, the
Rev. Robert Davis, the Rev. Robert Ayres, and
the Rev. Jackson Kemper, afterwards Bishop of In-
diana. The first of these officiated in Brownsville in
the year 1785. Little else is known re.speeting him.
The second officiated in this place immediately pre-
ceding and after the commencement of the present
century, viz., from 1795 to 1805. He was an Irishman
by birth, and originally a Methodist minister by pro-
fession. His ministry, however, was far from being
useful or profitable to the people. So inconsistent
was his life and conduct with the words which fell
from his lips that religion was thrown into reproach
and the princiiiles of the church into abandonment.

The next was as unworthy of the sacred ministry
as his predecessor. Whimsical in character and va-
cillating in principle, he proved himself untrue to
the cliurch, as the subsequent and final preference
which he gave for the delusions of Swedenborg will
abundantly testify. This gentleman was ordained by
Bishop White for Brownsville, and officiated about
the same time with Mr. Davis; but so feeble was his
character, and so blameworthy were his principles,
that the people would not attend on his ministry.
Jackson Kemper officiated in the parish of Browns-
ville in the fall of 1811. He was the first missionary
of the Advancement Society to this part of the coun-
try, having voluntarily assumed the responsibility of
the office. His stay in Brownsville was short, as
there were several other places to be visited in his
itineracy; but although short, it was no doubt fruit-
ful of good. He made a subsequent visit in the
year 1814, baptizing sundry individuals, as follows:
William Hogg, Ann Bowman, Harriet E. Bowman,
Louisa Bowman, Matilda Bowman, William Bowman,
Goodloe H. Bowman, and Nelson B. Bowman.

The above-named gentlemen, acting as itinerant
missionaries, preceded any attempt towards the or-
ganization of the parish or the erection of a church
edifice A successful effort, however, had been made
as early as 1796 towards the securing of a church lot
in Brownsville. Many of the original settlers of



BROWNSVILLE BOROUGH AND TOWNSHIP.



445



Brownsville, as we have intimated, were Episcopa-
lians. But in the laying out of the town they ne-
glected to set apart a suitable spot for a church edi-
fice and grounds. This negligence was, however,
abundantly compensated by the judgment and fore-
sight of three gentlemen, who volunteered to purchase
a lot of ground at their own expense for the benefit
of the church. The lot, being the eligible and beau-
tiful site upon which the present edifice now stands,
was bought from Samuel Jackson for the sum of
twenty pounds. A copy of the receipt for the pur-
chase-money is herewith given :

"Brownsville, the 27th August, 1790.

" Then received of Charles Wheeler the sum of
twenty pounds, seven shillings, and sixpence, being
in full of the consideration money for a certain lot of
ground sold for the use of the Protestant Episcopal
Church by me.

" Samuel Jackson."

This receipt for the purchase-money was considered
by the purchasers as a sufficient bill of sale. The
three purchasers of the ground were Dr. Charles
Wheeler, William Hogg, and Jacob Bowman. Dr.
Wheeler was an Englishman and a surgeon by pro-
fession, who, after serving in Dunmore's war, settled
on a farm about four miles west of Brownsville. He
was warmly attached to the church, and when dis-
posing of his worldly effects bequeathed to the same
one hundred pounds, to be paid at the death of his
wife. Mrs. Wheeler lived many years after her hus-
band's death, having reached the advanced age of
ninety-four years, a fact which seems to have been
much to the advantage of the church, inasmuch as
his landed estate had greatly increased in value during
her life, so that the church at the time of her death
received as a residuary legatee about six hundred
dollars.

William Hogg was also an Englishman by birth,
and warmly attached to the church of his fathers.
During his residence in Brownsville he acquired a
large property, but as he contributed largely to the
church during his lifetime, and especially towards the
erection of the edifice and the subsequent improve-
ment of it, and also towards the preached gospel, he
left no final bequest to the parish. His nephew,
however, George Hogg, formerly a communicant of
Christ Church, subsequently gave out of his uncle's
estate five hundred dollars towards the erection of the
parsonage, additional to five hundred dollars of his
own. William Hogg died in 1840, and was buried in
the churchyard.

Jacob Bowman was born in the State of Maryland,
and was raised a member of the Lutheran Church.
Upon his settlement in Brownsville, however, he gave
his preferences to the Episcopal Church, and con-
nected himself therewith. For thirty years he was
the senior warden, and in this, his ofiicial capacity,
his conduct was ever marked by an undeviating at-
29



tachment to the church, and also uniform and con-
sistent piety. He accumulated a large estate during
his life, out of which he was very liberal in the be-
stowal of his charities. Both the church edifice and
the parsonage received a very liberal subscription at
his hands. Moreover, at his death he bequeathed two
thousand dollars to the parish, appropriating the same
towards the support of public worship. Long will
the church have occasion to remember with gratitude
this its munificent patron. He died in 1847, and lies
buried in the churchyard.

Such and so praiseworthy were these three gentle-
men, who originally purchased the church property,
and who, from their individual ability no less than
from their attachment to the church, were mainly
instrumental, under the wise providence of God, in
its preservation in early years, mainly instrumental
in the transmission of the same, a precious heritage
to posterity.

In the year 1814 the Rev. Mr. Clay succeeded Mr.
Kemper as missionary of the Advancement Society in
Western Pennsylvania. He arrived in Brownsville
the 20th of July, and shortly after urged the people
to build a church upon the lot of ground which al-
ready they had in possession. They received the sug-
gestion most favorably, and on the 27th met to arrange
measures to accomplish the object. At this meeting
seven trustees were appointed, viz.: Jacob Bowman,
Charles Wheeler, William Hogg, Michael Sowers,
Robert Clarke, John Nin, and George Hogg. The
sum of S500 was subscribed upon the spot, and a com-
mittee of two appointed for the purpose of procuring
the names of others. Before Mr. Clay left Browns-
ville the sum of twelve hundred dollars had been sub-
scribed, and the promise given on the part of some to
add fifty per cent, to their subscriptions should it be



Among the most active were the three trustees first
named, still it is to the Rev. Dr. Clay, of Gloria
Dei Ciiurch, Philadelphia, that we are to accord the
principal merit. It was through his missionary zeal
and pious exertions that dormant energies were
aroused into action among the people, and a right
spirit awakened in behalf of the church. Of course
there was material in the parish on which to act, but
years had already passed and no progress had been
made, and time was fast obliterating the sympathies
of former years. It was through his missionary ex-
ertions, therefore, that the right spirit was awakened
among the people, as the subsequent movements of
the parish abundantly testify.

On the 2Gth of August, 1814, the first vestry was
duly organized, the following gentlemen consenting
to act as its constituent members : Jacob Bowman,
William Hogg, Robert Clarke, Charles Wheeler, John
Nin, Basil Brashear, Basil Brown, Charles Ford,
Geoge Hogg, Henry Stump, Thomas Brown, and
Henry B. Goe. At a subsequent meeting of the vestry,
held upon the 15th of April, 181-5, William Hogg and



446



IIISTOEY OF FAYETTE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA.



Robert Clarke were appointed a committee to make
an estimate as to the expense of a church building, |
and to give out proposals for the erection of the same.
They did so, both publishing their advertisement in
the Fayetfe and Greene Spectator, then published at
Uniontown, and also posting it up in the public
places of the neighborhood. Proposals being handed
in, there was a meeting of the vestry upon the 6th of
June following, whereon a contract was duly made
with Isaac Linn for the erection of the church. This
contract was in substance as follows : The church was
to be built of stone, fifty-five feet long by thirty-
eight feet wide. It was to have a substantial roof, but
no joiner-work in the interior. The cost of the same
to be 81700.

The work on the part of the bull 'er was duly per-
formed, and paid for by the vestry. But after the
walls were raised the condition of things appears to
have been at a stand for many years. No further
efforts appear to have been made towards the comple-
tion of the building, and no important movement was
undertaken by the church and people. Undoubtedly
this ])eriod of lethargy originated in tlie fact that the
parish was destitute of the ministrations of a settled
clergyman. Few epi.scopally ordained clergymen
came at that time west of the mountains, unless it
was to some important parishes, or for the purpose of
itinerating for a while on missionary ground. And
with respect to those who might be termed "sons of
the soil," they were so fe\y in number and so far be-
tween as to be altogether inadequate to meet the mis-
sionary demand. It is a matter of notice, indeed, that
between the erection of the church and the settle-
ment of the first minister occasional visits were made
by certain clergymen, as is evident from the entries
of ba]itisms made upon the records of private families
and transferred to tlie chnrch records. P.iit beyond
these occasional visits on thepartof the above clergy-
men, no opportunities were afforded the parish either
of enjoying the services of the church or being in-
structed in her principles.

During this period it afipearsthat Samuel Jackson, I
the original grantor of the land, died, and hence it
became necessary for the vestry to petition the court
at Uniontown, held on the first IMonday in ilarch,
1819, to authorize the executors of Samuel Jackson to
make a deed in conformity with the contract made in
his liletime. The evidence of the existing contract
being considered sufficient by the court, the executors
were accordingly authorized to comply with the peti-
tion of the vestry, and on tlie 2'2d day of May, 1820, !
a deed in proper form was executed and delivered to
the vestry. On the 20th of March, 1821, an arrange-
ment was made between the vestry and Henry Bark-
man for the completion of the church edifice. Ac-
cordingly the building was finished, and was used
for public services immediately upon its completion.

Upon the 24th of September, 1822, the vestry in-
vited the Rev. Mr. Phifl'er, of Baltimore, to become



their minister. The terms of the invitation were,
however, somewhat conditional, the parish proposing
to occupy his services for one-half of the time, in the
expectation that the neighboring stations at Connells-
ville and Union would employ the remainder. But
it appears the Rev. Mr. Phiflfer declined the invita-
tion, recommending, however, the Rev. John Baus-
man, his brother-in-law, to supply his place. The
vestry accordingly invited the Rev. Mr. Bausman
upon the same terms as the other. He accepted the
invitation, and commenced his labors in the parisli
upon the 22d of March, 1823. As the church edifice
was not completed at this time, divine services were
held at the Presbyterian meeting-house of the place.
By the 30th of November of the same year the build-
ing was completed and ready to be opened. It was
occupied from that day forth by the Rev. Mr. Baus-
man for the public worship of the congregation. But
although it was thus used for the first time, it was not
duly consecrated until the 22d of June, 1825. It was
then that the Right Rev. Bishop White, the first
bishop of the diocese, made his first visit to the West,
and several persons were confirmed according to the
rites and institutions of the church, and the church
building consecrated to the worship and service of
Almighty God.

The Rev. Mr. Bausman continued his labors in the
parish for the space of about four years, then handing
in his resignation, which was accepted upon the 8th
of March, 1827. The church was greatly strength-
ened by his faithful and efficient ministry. Upon the
8th of March, 1827, the same day of Mr. Bausman's
resignation, the Rev. Mr. Phiffer was elected in his
stead. His resignation was accepted by the vestry
on the 1st of August, 1829. The parish continued
without a rector until the following spring, when,
upon the 4th of April, 1830, the Rev. L. N. Freeman
was duly elected rector. He commenced his labors
iu July of the same year, and labored with diligence
in his vocation and ministry. During the rectorship
of Mr. Freeman (April 19, 1841) it was resolved by
the vestry to take measures for the erection of a suit-
able parsonage. Contract was made with John John-
ston and Thomas Butcher for the sum of $2200. At
the same time a part of the land belonging to the
church was exchanged for a certain piece of land be-
longing to George Hogg, in order that the lot might
have a rectangular shape. Upon it the parsonage
now stands.

On the 20th of September, 1841, the Rev. L. N.
Freeman tendered his resignation to the vestry, which
was accepted. LTpon the 11th of Decemberof the same
year the Rev. Enos Woodward was invited to become
therectorof the church. The invitation was accepted,
and he shortly after entered upon his duties. During
his rectorship, as appears from the minutes of the
vestry, the church was, for the first time, regularly
incorporated by the name and style of " The Rector,
Church Wardens, and Vestrymen of Christ Church,



BROWNSVILLE BOROUGH AND TOWNSHIP.



447



of Brownsville." The Rev. Mr. Woodward remained
in the parish for about three years. He tendered his
resignation March 24, 1845, whicli was accepted by
the vestry. Upon the 6th of June following, the Rev.
Samuel Cowell took charge of the parish.

The church was thoroughly repaired during the
months of June and July, J 845, through the exer-
tions chiefly of the ladies of the parish. About the
same time a vestry-room was also erected on the rear of
the cliurch. At this time the congregation numbered
forty-eight families. Adults, 125 ; children, 58 ; total,
183.

The Rev. Samuel Cowell, who was called to the
rectorship of the parish in June, 1845, and took
charge in the following July, resigned on the 6tli of
October, 1852, his resiguation taking eftect the 1st
of November of the same year. During the years
1851 and 1852 an effort was made to build a house
for the sexton, which effort was successful, the
Messrs. J. L. Bowman and William Dean being the
committee to raise funds, and the Messrs. G. H. and
N. B. Bowman being the building committee. The
house cost about twelve hundred dollars, which
amount was in part raised by the ladies of the parish,
and the balance by subscription.

In November, 1853, the Rev. J. A. Jerome was
called to the rectorship of the parish, which call,
after some delay, was declined. In February, 1853,
the Rev. James Lee Maxwell was called, which call
was also declined.

In April, 1853, the Rev. Richard Temple was in-
vited to be rector of the parish. The call was ac-
cepted, Mr. Temple taking charge April 29, 1853.
On July 12, 1854, Mr. Temple offered his resignation
on account of ill health. The resignation was ac-
cepted by the vestry, and the parish was again de-
clared vacant. On the 9th of December of the same
year a unanimous call was extended to the Rev.
James J. Page of Virginia. After some deliberation
Mr. Page accepted the call, and took charge the 19th
of January, 1S55.

The winter of 1855 and 1856 was a very cold one,
and the church building then occupied being very
open, many of the people suffered severely from the
cold. It seemed impossible to get the church warm
enough for comfort. Much complaint was made, and
the parish was greatly disturbed by the matter. One
evening during the winter two ladies of the congre-
gation, Mrs. Adam Jacobs and Mrs. Mary M. Gum-
mert, were visiting the family of Mr. James L. Bow-
man. The subject of a new church was introduced.
Mrs. Jacobs asked Mr. Bowman how much he would
give towards it? He replied immediately three
thousand dollars for myself and one thousand dollars
for Mrs. Bowman. The two ladies above mentioned
procured a subscription paper at once and secured
five thousand dollars in a few hours, and in a few
days had upon their paper about eight thousand
dollars.



At a meeting of the vestry held on April 11, 1856,
the Messrs. N. B. Bowman, G. H. Bowman, and John
Johnston were appointed a building committee to act
as an executive body for the vestry in the matter of
the new church, and Mr. J. L. Bowman was appointed
treasurer. The contract for the new building was
awarded to Messrs. William H. Johnston and Jona-
than Wilson. The church as it now stands cost
about twenty thousand dollars. It was consecrated
by the Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, D.D., LL.D.

The Rev. Mr. Page resigned the charge of the
parish in the winter of 1861 and 1862, after a rector-
ship of six years.

On May 19, 1862, a unanimous call was by the vestry
extended to the Rev. J. F. Ohl, of New Castle, Pa.,
who accepted the call and took charge of the parish
'Jan. 1, 1863. On Feb. 5, 1866, Mr. Ohl tendered
his resignation, to take effect the second Sunday in
April of same year. The resignation was accepted,
and at the specified time the parish was again vacant
after a rectorshij) of over three years.

On the 3d day of May, 1866, a call was extended
by the vestry to the Rev. S. E. Arnold, who declined
the invitation. Then the Rev. O. Permchief was
called, and also declined.

In June of the same year the Rev. H. H. Loring,
of Olean, N. Y., was called to the rectorship of the
parish, which call was accepted, the rector taking
charge shortly after.

On the 29th day of January, 1872, Mr. Loring ten-
dered his resignation to the vestry, to take effect
at Easter of same year, viz., March 31st. The vestry
accepted the resignation, to .take_ effect at the time
specified, and on the 1st day of April of the same
year the parish was again declared vacant after a
rectorship of nearly six years.

On the 14th of May of the same year the vestry
tendered to the Rev. J. F. Ohl an invitation to again
become their rector. The call was declined. In June
of the same year a call was extended to the Rev. S.
D. Day, of Rockford, 111. The call was declined at
this tinie. It was renewed in September of the same
year, and then accepted, the rector taking charge
Jan. 16, 1873, and is now in charge. At the present
time there is a chapel in the course of erection. It is
to be built of stone with open timbered roof. The
walls are completed, and the contract for the wood-
work has been awarded to Messrs. Gibbons, Wood &
Cromlow. The cost of building when completed will
be about three thousand dollars.

The statistics of the parish, according to the rec-
tor's report, are as follows for the year ending June
1, 1881: Families, 50; present number of confirmed
members, 105 ; contributions for parish purpose.",
$2783.06; for diocesan work, $261.50; for missions
and other charitable work outside the diocese, $400 ;
total, $3444.56. The present members of the vestry
are Messrs. Nelson Blair Bowman, John Wallace,
John Johnson, James Witherington Jeffries, John



418



HISTORY OF FAYETTE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA.



Nelson Snowdon, James Lowry Bowman, William
Chatland, Charles Leifla Snowden, Samuel Page
Knox; Church Wardens, Messrs. N. B. Bowman,
John Wallace. The building committee on the chapel
are Messrs. N. B. Bowman, J. W. Jeffries, J. L.
Bowman, and the rector, Mr. C. L. Snowdon, being
treasurer of the chapel fund.

The parish has suffered much during the past eight
years by removals, and especially by death. Two of
the most valuable and liberal supporters of the church
have gone to rest,вАФ Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Bowman, j
These were untiring in their good work for the church,
and their places cannot be tilled.



The history of Catholicity in this mission prior to
the year 1800 is involved in obscurity. After this
date we find that the Rev. F. X. O'Brien had this
town as the centre of his mission, which comprised
the southwestern counties of the State, viz.: Greene,
Washington, Fayette, Allegheny, Westmoreland,
Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, Armstrong, and
part of Somerset. In 1S07 he fixed his residence at



Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 101 of 193)