Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 131 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 131 of 193)
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project took definite shape, and in 1856 the court at
March sessions granted a cliarter to the Georges
Creek Academy, and constituted the following per-
sons a body politic to carry into effect the object for
which it was founded, viz., "A seminary of learn-
ing." The original trustees were Enos Sturgis, Rev.
Isreal D. King, Hon. John Brownfield, Dr. H. B.
Mathiot, Benjamin F. Brown, William Conn, Isaac
Franks, John Summers, Gideon G. Clemmer, A. J.
Patton, Luther W. Burchinal, William P. Griffin,
James Hess, John Downey, Rev. Caleb Russel, John

E. Taylor, Aaron W. Ross. In 1856 the contract was
awarded to Luther W. Burchinal & Co. to build the
necessary, school-house. In the spring of 1857 the
academy was ready for occupancy. Since then the
Georges Creek Academy has been one of the sources
of knowledge for that whole community. Sometimes
during its most prosperous sessions there have been
more than one hundred students attending. The
professors who have had charge of this academy are
as follows, viz. : C. A. Gilbert, Mrs. C. A. Gilbert,
Aaron Ross, Joseph Smith, H. H. Blis^ J. B. Solo-


moil, A. L. Puriuton, Fannie Gerard, Miss Bryce,
Carrie Mathiot.

Gen. Alexander McClellan had built an academy
upon Ills farm long previous to the erection of the
Georges Creek Academy. He used it for school pur-
poses and also for preaching, but we will not refer to
it here at length, as it belongs to the portion of
Georges townshi]) which was given to Nicholson
when it was formed in 184-5.

After the passage of the act of 1834 establishing
public schools, the January term of court of Fayette
County in 183-5 appointed Squire Avers and James
Eobinson school directors. The amount of State ap-
propriation for this township for 1835 was 8124.4(3',,
and county appropriation 8248. 93^. The township
reported to the ci.uiity 1 1( a-iirer Jan. 5, 1836, in com-
pliance with the n iiiiiiLniciils of the law.

The subsequent school directors of this townshiii
have been Stejihen Eichards, William :\bis,..r, Wil-
liam Miller, Henry Bowell, James Franks. Frfdi-rirk
Roderick, Daniel Smith, Nathaniel (i. Hui-t, Jona-
than Custer, Henry Brownfield, Jaml, llaMenian.
Henry Hayden, Isaac Harvey. .la.-,, 1, Kyi,-, .T,,hn L.
Patton, Saaniel Vance, James Hii-li, r;ru!;en Hague,
Teagle TnuU-r, William MrC'l.-aiv, J,,-ri.h Swaney,
Ethelbert Sutton, Jnhii A. Saiigstn,,, J.>lin A. Patton,
Humphrey Humphries, William Vance, Hugh De-
yariMon, U. L. Clemmer, Joseph Moser, John N.
Freeman, Moses Nixon. Alexander Swaney, John
First, Win. Sturi;i~, (4roigc D. Moore, Solomon
Smith, Pobert liritt, t^vv-v T. Paull, Joel Leather-
man, Henry B. .^Iathi..t, William Hague, John M.
Clark, Alexander Deyarmon, Peter S. Haldeman,
Isaac Franks, Abraham Hibbs, John Swaney, Abra-
ham Brown, William Custer, William Rhoades, Jack-
-11 Wilson, William D. Nixon, Warner Hugh, Otho
Virtor, S. A. Fouch, William Trader, H. J." Dough-
erty, William Shoof, Henry Kyle.


Cnc of the earliest churches of the county was on
the Philip Rogers farm, in the township, the property
being now owned by the Fairchance Iron Company.
The log church was built upon the summit of a hill, j
near the Morgautown road and the old Cherokee '
trail. The site commanded a view of the country
eastward to the mountain, and westward over the
valley then owned by the Carrs, now in the posses-
.sion of the Colliers. This church was built before
the Revolution. It was a German Baptist Church.
Nothing is left to mark the location but a very an-
cient graveyard. When the Corbly family was mur-
dered by the Indians in Greene County a messenger
came to tliis church and informed them of that ter-
rible slaughter. When the news was brouglit they
were at worship.

Among the ministers who cared for this frontier
church we may mention John Corbly, the father of
the ill-fated familv, Thomas Stone, Mavberry, David

Lovebcrry. It was the custom to gather in tlie morn-
ing and remain nearly all day at the church ; the
people invariably carried their trusty old flint-lock
rifles with them, and were ever on the alert for their
red foe. This building was eventually destroyed by
fire, which originated in the forest. A few logs were
left to mark the site of the ancient temple of wor-
ship. In 1820 these logs were visible, but within the
space inclosed within the logs were walnut-trees of
thirty years' growth apparently. One feature of the
pioneers of this section evidently was their religious
zeal, and it was handed down to their descendants,
thus founding the Christian religion, and lending to
this community all the prosperity attendant upon the
worshipers of God.

Mount Moriah Baptist Church was originally a
branch of Great Bethel Baptist Church of Uiiior.-
town. On the 30th of October, 1784, it was consti-
tuted an independent church, with twenty-seven
members, viz.: William We Is, Rebecca Wells, Jo-

spidi Th a<, Jane Jenkins, Owen Davis, Hannah

Davis, Joseph Brown, Abigail Brown, David Morgan,

Robert Hanna, Ann Griliin, Jeremiah Becks, Dinah

Becks, Thomas Bowell, Ann B.iwell, Richard Reed,

Sarah Reed, Ann Coombs, Eliza Carr, Eliza Ash-

I craft, Sarah Hardin, Jonathan Pane, Balthazcr

, Drago, Margaret Wood, Philip Jenkins, Jesse

i Coombs, Abraham Hardin.

After the church had been organized the first pastor
to preside over the congregation and minister to their
spiritual needs was James Suttou, a brother of Isaac, tluii ]. reaching lor the Great Bethel Church.
The im-MD-ers to the Association, Sept. 10, 1785,
were Philip Pearce, Thomas Bowell, and Rev. James
Sntton. At a lui-iii.-:- in.cting held on Sept. 9, 1786,
the following-naiiud ]nT.-ons were appointed to meet
at the house of William Archer, each one being re-
quested to bring a horse, in order to draw logs to the
saw-mill to make seats for the meeting-house: David
.Morgan, William Wells, Richard Reed, Jeremiah
Beck, Charles Griffin, Philip Jenkins, Joseph Brown,
and John Taylor.

Rev. James Sutton acted as pastor until May 12,
1787, at which time he was dismissed at his own re-
quest, to accept a call to the Mount Pleasant Church,
Monongalia County, Va. Rev. Samuel Woodbridge
was the second preacher for this congregation, ac-
cepting a call as early as March 1, 1786. At that
time it seems to have been quite common for the
churches to have two or more preachers at the same
time. One would preach twice in each month, and
the other minister would alternate with him. On
the 3d of November, 1788, Rev. George Guthrie was
chosen pastor. At this meeting it was decided to
meet during the winter at the house of John Griffith ;
this was necessary on account of the church needing
some repairs. Dec. 13, 1788, Philip Jenkins was ap-
pointed to assist William 'Wells in settling the ac-



count for repairing the church. Rev. John Corbly
was the next minister, liaving received his call Dee.
13, 1788. On the 13th of June, 1789, David Love-
borrow was called and accepted, becoming their fifth
preacher. At the monthly meeting Oct. 10, 1789, it
was decided to complete the carpenter-work on the
meeting-house, and to meet the ne.xt Friday to plaster
the house. Dec. 10, 1791, Ovven Davis was appointed
to lay out the grounds where the meeting-house and
graveyard were, so that the graveyard could be fenced.
At the monthly meeting, Sept. 8, 1792, Robert Han-
nah and David Morgan were appointed "to select
men to put in joice at the meeting-house." At this
same meeting a call was extended to Rev. Benjamin
Stone, of Hampshire County, Va., who became their
next minister. Rev. John Patton assumed the pas-
torate in 1811, and continued for many years in charge
of this church.

It was decided Feb. 10, 1816, that " the congregation
must have a new church." The old church had served
its purpose well, and now the movement was to replace
it with a more commodious brick church. Accord-
ingly Richard Patton and Robert Hannah, Jr., were
appointed to procure a lot for the same. Subsequently
Michael Franks and Robert Britt were appointed to
receive from Charles Brownfield a deed for the buiy-
ing-ground and lot for the new church. The new
church building was erected by Gideon Way as
contractor and builder, and was completed in 1825.
About this time Rev. James Frey was called to the
charge, and remained pastor until 1831, al which time
Rev. George J. Miles, of Miles.burg, Centre Co., Pa.,
was called to preach for this people. On the 13th of
February, 1832, Rev. Benoni Allen succeeded G. J.
Miles, at a salary of SloO per year. Jan. 12, 1832,
Rev. John Thomas was chosen to preach once a month.
In 1833, Eliel Freeman was granted permission to
hold a singing school in the church.

Oct. 10, 1835, Rev. David Thomas was called to
preach once a month, at a salary of $50 per year. In
March, 183G, a Mr. Gould was permitted to talk upon
the subject, "The Abolition of Slavery," in the
church. He proceeded to lecture, and considerable
controversy springing up, it was thought best that he
should not speak again in the church. When he
could no longer secure the church for his lecture
against slavery he procured a room in the house at
present occupied by William Campbell as a hotel,
and would have spoken there but for the timely
knowledge received from a friend that a plan had
been perfected whereby he was to be kidnapped and
handed over into the hands of the Virginians, who
were anxious to lay hands upon him.

In 1837 it was decided that the members of the
church should hand in their valuation of property,
and support the preacher accoriliiiL,' tn tluir means.
May 12, 1838, Joseph Grover, ni;,i» William F. Mis-
sildine, of Medina County, Ohio, wa> call.d, and ac-
cepted the call at §150 per year. After acting as

pastor for a time he became popular and married into
one of the most highly respectable families in the
church. Soon there came a report injurious to his
character; upon inquiry it was found to be true.
Upon finding that his true character was known he
left the country and never returned. The succeed-
ing preacher was Rev. J. W. B. Tisdale, who came
Dec. 8, 1838, at a salary of $200 per year. At the
meeting of Feb. 9, 1839, an Auxiliary Mission So-
ciety was organized in conjunction with the " Monon-
gahela Home Missionary Society." In this society
Squire Ayers was made president ; Enos Sturgis, vice-
president; N. R. Walker, secretary; and D. Patton,
treasurer. In 1843, Rev. A. J. Penny was called as
pastor, at a salary of $200 a year. The next minister
was Rev. Caleb Rossel, who was called March 7,
1846. He was followed by Rev. J. M. Purinton,
March 8, 1851. At the monthly meeting Feb. 7,
1852, it was resolved to open a Sabbath-school in the
church April 1, 1852.

On the 13th of May, 1854, Rev. Israel King was
chosen pastor. In 1855, John Sutton was appointed
to take charge of the singing. April 12, 1856, Rev.
D. B. Purinton was called to minister to the church,
and he served until Sept. 12, 1857, at which time
he was succeeded by Rev. A. J. Collins. In 1858,
John E. Patton took charge of the choir. In 1859
the church purchased a house from William Hannah
for four hundred and fifty dollars, which they con-
verted into a parsonage.

For a number of years the church building, which
had been completed in 1825, had been considered un-
safe; accordingly the ciiurch concluded to erect a
new house of worship. Tlie followijig building com-
mittee was appointed : Phineas G. Sturgis, Jeremiah
Burchinal, Luther AV. Burchinal, Samuel Anderson,
and William Conn. In 1862-63 the present large
brick church was built at a cost of about four thou-
sand dollars, one hundred thousand brick being re-
quired in its construction. The lot upon which it was
built was bought of William Parshall, Esq. The new
church was dedicated in January, 1864. During the
two years required for the erection of their new house
of worship the Methodists kindly gave them permis-
sion to hold service in their church.

This church has had since its organization in 1784
the following ministers: James Sutton, Samuel Wood-
bridge, George Guthrie, John Corbly, David Love-
borrow, Benjamin Stone, James Estep, John Patton,
James Frey, George J. Miles, BenOni Allen, John
Thomas, David Thomas, Joseph Grover, J. W. B.
Tisdale, A. J. Penny, Caleb Rossel, J. M. Purinton,
Israel King, A. J. Collins, D. B. Purinton, J. M.
Hall, Jonathan Smith, J. Moffatt, and William Wood.
This church has licen.sed the following persons to
preach, viz.: James Patton, Nov. 12, 1809; William
French, Sept. 13, 1823; Jeremiah Burchinal, Sept.
13, 1823; William Wood, Sept. 30, 1830; Levi Grif-
fith, Sept. 30, 1830; David Evans, Sept. 30, 1830;



John Eockafellow, Aug. 24, 1832 ; Abraham Bow-
man, June 8, 1833; Garret Patton, Jan. 13, 1S39; S.
Kendall, April 9, 1842; W. W. Hickman, Nov. 11,
1843 ; Lewis Sammons, Feb. 8, 1851 ; Benjamin F.
Brown, Aug. 12, 1854; Phineas G. Sturgis, Oct. 7,
1854; George W. Hertzog, Jan. 13. 1855. Some of
the secretaries have been Philip Jenkins, Jeremiah
Sutton, Richard Patton, Moses .lellrics, Pu.liert Han-
nah, Reuben Sutton, David Evans, W. Miller, Eu-
gene Sturgis, D. P. Smith, Phineas G. Sturgis, T. J.
Conn. Some of tlie treasurers have been A. J. Sut-
ton, T. Biirchinal, and Gideon G. Clemmer. The fol-
lowing were among the early deacons : Owen Davis,
Feb. 12, 1785 ; Robert Hannah, Sept. 8, 1792 ; Jere-
miah Kendall, Jan. 13, 1798 ; Michael Franks, Feb.
9, 1822.

This church was organized a number of years be-
fore the present century. As early as Nov. 14, 1792,
David Smith was licensed liy the Redstone Presbytery
to preach, and at once settled at the Tent and at
Georges Creek. These two ap]iointments he contin-
ued to fill until shortly before his death, which oc-
cuiicd Aug. 24, 1S03. He was the father of the Rev.
J(.-i|ili Smith, who has in his "Old Redstone" done
Ml much to embalm the history of the Presbyterian
Church. At the time when Rev. Smith was pastor
over this congregation it is most likely that they
worshiped in an old log house; but previous to 1792
this ilmrch had derived its name from the fact, it is
-aid. that tliey w<.r>hiped in a tent. In 1805 the
Union Presbyterian Church of Georges township
bought from Daniel Dimond a lot of ground u])on
which to build a house of worship. They immedi-
ately proceeded to erect their church building, which
was a large log structure. In this church they wor-
shiped for a considerable Icngtli of time. About this
time ElKtie/er Jeniiiii-s was their ]iast<ir. Rev. Jen-

this county, ami was a lirotlier of the noted attorney
from Steubenville, Ohio, who defended Philip Rogers,
and was successful in clearing him in the Polly
Williams murder trial.

John Adams was preaching for the Tent Church
during the war of 1812. Then came William
Wiley, who was pastor about 1820. Rev. Ashbel
Fairchild took charge of the church in 1827, and re-
mained its pastor for a great many years, during
which time there was great prosperity. The church
had decided to build a new church. In tearing down
the log structure a melancholy accident occurred,
which resulted in the death of Thomas Heddy and
Henry Dimond. The weather-hoarding on the west-
ern gable had not been taken ofF, and the rafters
having been stripped of all the boards a pufF of wind
struck the gable and blew the rafters against one an-
other, there being nothing to stay them, and before
they had warning sufficient to save themselves they
were can 'lit between the rafters and were crushed to

death, and it was with considerable difficulty that
their bodies were extricated. Mr. Dimond's residence
was near b}', almost opposite the present residence of
William James. The pulpit taken from the old log
church is at present used by a Presbyterian Church
near Elliot's Mill, in Wharton township.

The brick building, the walls of which are yet
standing, took the place of the former rude building,
and met with no accident until April 14, 1878, when, as
the sexton was kindling a fire for the morning service,
the building was fired from a defective flue and was
soon destroyed. The members of the church imme-
diately set about rebuilding, and the contract was
soon thereafter let to Fuller, Laughead & Co., of
Uniontown, who soon had the new church ready for
the dedicatory ceremonies, which occurred Aug. 4,

^ 1878, Rev. S. S. Gilson, of Uniontown Presbyterian
Church, preacbini:- the sermon, and Rev. S. L. Bergen
l>eing in-tallr.l pa-tur. In addition to the names of
the mini^ti rs already mentioned the following have
preached for this church : Revs. Rogers, J. C. Hench,
and J. B. Dickey.

The Rev. Ashbel Green Fairchild, D.D., was born
at Hanover, N. J., May 1, 1795, and graduated at
Princeton College in the class of 1813. He was
licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Jersey
in April, 181G, and was ordained an evangelist by the
Redstone Presbytery, July 1, 1818. He commenced
preaching at Georges Creek in 1822. In 1827 he re-
signed from that charge, which was connected with
Greensboro' and Morgantown, and was installed pas-
tor of the Tent Church. Ho was the author of the
" Great Supper," " Baptism," " Unpopular Doc-
trines," and " What Presbyterians Believe." He
died June 30, 1864, after a long and useful life, and
left a lasting iiifluen<'e for God and the right.

I The Rev. David Smith, tlie first pastor of the Tent
Prasbyterian Church of whom we have any knowl-
edge, was born in 1772, and after graduating at
Hampden Sydney College he came West, and was li-
censed by the Redstone Presbytery to preach, Nov.
14, 1792, and settled at Georges Creek and the Tent

' Churches. He was the father of Rev. Joseph Smith,
the historian of " Old Redstone." He died Aug. 24,


This society was organized about 1819, by Dennis

Batty and a Mr. Stevenson. Tlie place of their

I meeting was at Dr. Sackett's residence, one mile

south of Smithfield. James Smith applied to the

' preacher on the Redstone Circuit to organize a church,

and a sufficient number of members having been se-

i cured the society was organized. At that time Red-

! stone Circuit included all of Fayette County. The

original members of this church were as follows :

I James Smith, Candacy Smith, Rachel Smith, Martha

I Smith, Freeman Smith, Stephen Smith, Mary Smith,

Hannah Smith, Benoni Freeman, Mary Freeman,

Lydia Dunliam, Eve Sackett, Rebecca Cooley, Nancy



Griffin, Gen. Alexander McClellan, and, soon after,
Dr. Sackett.

Tlie preaching was continued at the house of Dr.
Sacl:ett for two or three years, after which it was
changed to the house of James McCormick, who had
iu the mean time connected himself with the church.
At sundry times they had service at Benoni Free-
man's and James Smitli's. The church had the ser-
vice of a minister every two weeks. Henry B. Bas-

com, Poole, John Watterman, Simon Lauck,

and Thornton Fleming were some of the eminent
ministers who preached for this church in its infancy.
Occasionally the presiding elder would come to
Smithfield. The most prominent of these elders was
the Rev. Thomas M. Hudson. He was considered
the most eloquent divine that ever preached in this
part of the county. When it was announced that
Rev. Hudson would preach the church would not
hold the congregation, and hundreds would stand
on the outside and listen to his eloquence. He not
only possessed remarkahle power and magnetism .as a
speaker, hut was one of the hest singers west of the

In 1833 a camp-meeting was held in the grove on
Gen. Alexander McClellan's place, on the hill above
where Georges Creek Academy now stands. Gen.
McClellan advertised that he would keep all of the
preachers who came to the camp-meeting. This
proved to be a great meeting, and thoroughly built
up and established Methodism in the vicinity of
Smithfield. Among the ministers who were present
and preached were Revs. Drummond, George Holmes,
W. Stevens. On Sabbath there were about three
thousand people present.

Jan. 27, 1834, the trustees of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church bought from Thomas Gaddis a lot in
Smithfield, containing nine thousand six hundred
square feet, the consideration having been fifty^dol-
lars. The names of the trustees were Benoni Free-
man, James McCormick, Stephen Smith, Thomas
Batt, and Alexander Brownfleld.

The preachers in this church have been, in addition
to those already named, as follows, viz. : J. K. Miller,
John Martin, John J. White, David L. Dempsey, David
Hess, William Tipton, Hamilton Cree, Warner Long,
Ebenezer Hays, Henry Kerns, Richard Jordan, Jolm

L. Irwin, Samuel Wakefield, Gorden, M. Ruter,

McClaig, John S. Lemon, L. A. Beacom, Joseph

Horner, Henry Long, William K. Foutch, William

C. P. Hamilton, W. K. Brown, H. Snyder, Isaac P.
Sadler, John Mclntire, E. B. Griffin, Thomas H.
Wilkinson, A. L. Ch.apman, J. L. Stifl'y, Charles Mc-
Caslin, J. Momyer, D. J. Davis, Sylvanus Lane, M.

D. Lichliter, R. J. White, John T.Stiffy, and W. L.
McGrew, who is the present pastor. Under the pas-
torate of John T. Stiffy, in 1878, a substantial brick
parsonage was erected at a cost of about fifteen hun-
dred dollars.

This church has produced the following-named

persons for the local ministry: Henry B. Mathiot,
James H. Green, S. E. Feather, and W. Richards.

The leaders of classes have been William McClcary,
John Downey, R. C. Baily, William P. Green, Jolm
L. Whetstone, and Wesley Laken. At an early date
there were others.

The stewards of the church have been Henry B.
Mathiot, Ignatius Feather, Thornton F. Farmer,
William E. Reynolds, James McCormick, Aaron
Ross, J. H. Stumm, William MeCleary, and P. S.


This church was built jointly with the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, about the year 1840. About
1855 the Cumberland Presbyterians sold their interest
in the house of worship to the Methodists, and the
latter church has nntil the last few years used this
church building for their meetings. Recently the
building has become so thoroughly unfit for meeting,
on account of want of repairs, that the house has
been abandoned. The congregation thought that it
was not worth repairing, and have now collected
sufficient money to erect a commodious house of wor-
ship, which has been already let to the enntractors,
and will be completed in the present se:isnri ( ls,si ,.

Among those who organized this cluiich the fol-
lowing members may be mentioned: Elias Mclntire,
Theophilus Ellsworth, John Means, Jacob Waid,
John Pugh, Samuel Colley, Isaac Harvey, John
Carr, Abram Hayden, and their several wives.

The ministers who have preached to this congre-
gation are as follows: Denton Hughes, Peter T.
Laishley, Amos Hutton, William Betts, F. H. Davis,
Isaac Francis, Henry Palmer, Jesse Hull, James
Phipps, John Tygert, John Rutledge, Milton Still-
well, Peter T. Conaway, Henry Lucas, George G. Con-
way, William Wallace, and Edward A. Brindley.


This society was organized about 1840. Among the
first members were A. J. Osborn, William Campbell,
Solomon Smith, Joel Leatherman, Mrs. John Hay-
den, and Adam Canan. As early as 1830 there were
some members of this branch of Presbyterianism in
Georges township. Prominent among them were
William Nixon, Isaac Nixon, and Judge Samuel

On the property of W^illiam Nixon, now owned by
Col. J. Robinson, there was a Cumberland Presby-
terian camp-meeting held in 1833, and for several
years subsequent. There wore a number of substan-
tial tents erected, and the arrangements were com-
plete for camp-meeting. The Revs. Donnell, Bryan,
Sparks, Bird, and John Morgan were i)rescnt during
the exercises, and preached to the large concourse
of people that gathered to attend something new in
that region. The church was much strengthened by
the additions from the camp-meeting. Afterwards
the members succeeded in building a church in union



with the Methodist Protestants, and had {^reaching
for some fifteen years. During the time while the
society flourished Eevs. Andrew J. Osborn, James
I'ower Baird, William Hannah, and J. Henderson
were pastors over tlie flock.


This church was a log structure, and was built by

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 131 of 193)