Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 71 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 71 of 193)
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January, 1835.
1836.— John Dawson, A. L. Littell, William Roddick, James

Baylis, Hugh Espey, William Wilson.
1837-42.— No return.
18-13.— James F. Cannon, Wilson Swain.
1844.-E. Brownfield, K. G. Ilopwood.
1845.— William Gaddis, H. F. Roberts.
II 1846-4S.—NO return.

1849.— R. T. Galloway, A. Hadden.

1850.— William Gaddis, Daniel Kaine.

1851.— James F. Cnnnon, William Thorndell.

1S.J3.— AVilliam Gaddis, Daniel Kaine.

1854.— Joshua B. Iloucell, Ellis Bailey.

1855.— Eleazer Robinson, William A. Donaldson.

1856.— William Gaddis, E. W. Power.

1857. — Ellis Bailey, James McKean.

1858.— Eleazer Robinson, Everard Bierer.

1859.— Smith Fuller, E. W. Power.

1861.— Everard Bierer, Amos JoUiff.

1862.- Edward G. Roddy, Benjamin Courtney.

1863.— Henry White, C. S. Seaton.

1864.— James Darby, Anderson Jolliff.

1865.— William Doran, Alexander Chisholm.

1867. — James H. Springer, Frederick C. Robinson.

1872.— Adam C. Nutt, Alfred Howell.

1875.— Adam C. Nutt, Henry M. Clay.

1876.— Joseph Beatty, William H. B.ailey.

1877.— Smith Fuller, Daniel Kaine.

1878.— William H. Bowman, Jacob D. Moore.

1880.— Daniel Kaine, George W. K. Minor.

1881.— Alfred Howell, Joseph White.


The Union Academy was incorporated by an act
of the Legislature passed Feb. 4, 1808,' which pro-
vided " That there shall be, and hereby is, established
in the borough of Uniontown, in the county of Fay-
ette, an academy or public school for the education of
youth in the useful arts, sciences, and literature, by
the name and style of ' The Union Academy.' " The
trustees appointed by the act of incorporation were
James Guthrie, Thomas Hadden, Presley Carr Lane,
James W. Nicholson, Christian Tarr, Charles Porter,
Thomas Mason, John Kennedy, Zadoc Walker, James
Allen, Maurice Freeman, Jesse Pennell, and James

The sum of two thousand dollars was granted by
the act, out of any unappropriated money in the
State treasury, in aid of the academy, to be applied
under the direction of the trustees ; and it was fur-
ther provided by the act that " there shall be ad-
mitted into the academy any number of poor children
who may at any time be offered, in order to be taught
gratis ; provided the number so admitted shall at no
time be greater than four, and that none of said poor

1 The academy, however, was in operation some time before its incor-
poration. In an advertisement diited in March, 1807, the name of John
St. Clair, "teacher of the Languages and Mathematics in the Union
Academy" at Uniontown, is given in recommendation of the superior
quality of the surveying instruments manufactured by Alexander Simp-
son, of Brownsville; and in the act of incorporation it is directed that
the trustees appointed by it should hold their first meeting in the acad-
emy, showing that it existed prior to the passage of the act.

children shall continue to be taught gratis in said
academy longer than two years."

The academy was continued with varying
for many years. Finally it was taken under charge
of the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church, and under these auspices was incorpo-
rated March 2, 1827, as Madison College. By the act
of incorporation thirty-eight trustees were appointed,
of whom the following named were residents of
Uniontown, viz.: Thomas Irwin, John Kennedy,
Thornton Fleming, John M. Austin, H. B. Bascom,
Samuel Evans, Henry Ebbert, Nathaniel Ewing,
Robert Skiles, and Isaac Beeson.

H. B. Bascom was appointed president and Pro-
fessor of Moral Science; Charles Elliot, Professor of
Languages ; and J. H. Fielding, Professor of Mathe-
matics. One of the professors had pastoral charge of
the Methodist Episcopal Church in Uniontown. In
1829, Dr. Bascom resigned the presidency to become
agent for the American Colonization Society. In
1831, J. H. Fielding was appointed president, and
Homer J. Clark professor. In 1832 the institution
suspended, as propositions had been made to the Con-
ference to accept Allegheny College, at Meadville, in
its stead, the buildings, library, and apparatus of
which were greatly preferable. During the few years
of its existence, however, a number of promising
young men were educated, and a great impulse was
given to ministerial study throughout Western Penn-

After the college passed from the charge of the
Methodist Conference it was continued under the
auspices of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
and in charge of Dr. J. P. Wethee. He was suc-
ceeded about 1841 by Dr. Andrew Ferrier, who was
in turn succeeded by Dr. Cox. In May, 1852, the
college was mentioned in the Genius of Liberty as
being then " in a very flourishing condition." About
1854 it passed under the charge of the Methodist Prot-
estant Church, and was at different times under the
principalship of Drs. Cox, Ball, and Brown. About
1858 the property was sold at sheriff's sale, after
which the building was used for a private school, of
which the first principal was William McDowell. He
remained two or three years, and was succeeded by
Levi S. Lewis, who became principal in September,
1861, and continued in charge till February, 1864,
when the school was taken by two young men named
Reed, who taught one season, and then the school
passed to the charge of S. B. Mercer, who continued
it till 1866, when the buildings were taken for the use
of the Soldiers' Orphans' School, which continued to
be taught there until 1875, when it was removed to
the new buildings erected for its use at "Dunbar's

The old Madison College buildings, now in disuse
are located on the north side of Main Street (or the
National road), on the high land just east of the east-
ern bridge over Redstone Creek.



This organization was formed in the year 1770, and
is evidently one of the first religious societies estab-
lished within the boundaries of Fayette County, and
as it can be traced by its own records as a distinct or-
ganization down to the present time, it becomes one
(if the important parts of our present history.

In the oldest book of records now in the possession
of the church the following entry is made on the first
],age: "The Regular Baptist Church of .Tesus Christ
at Uniontown, I'a.. unwilling that tlieir origin should
be lost in obscurity, and apprchciidiiig, IVoni the de-
cayed state of tlie aiuials respecting ihc institution
and progress thereof, that they will shortly become
unintelligible, have by an unanimous resolution
passed oii this 12th day of November, 1822, ordered
that the first book of said church should be transcribed
in line in the same words and the same manner in
which it was written, and that our brother, Samuel
King, be appointed for this service." From the
transcript made by Mr. King, in pursuance of tluit
resolution, the following letter is copied verbatim.

of Jesus Christ at Great Bethel, Con-
iposed in Province of Pennsylvania,

•^ The Church
stituted as is sii
holding Believers, Baptism, .^c, .'\:c., sindcth greeting.

"To^iU Christian People to whom thoe may Con-
cern, Know- ye that Isaac Sutton is in full (_'ommunion
with us, and is of a Regular and of a Christian Con-
versation, and for aught we know is approved of by
us in L'cneral as a Liilted Brotiic r. and we do unitedly
agree that hr-hoiiM liii|ii-ovc hi- i.iifts as a Candidate
for the niiiiist. rv win re I'.ver god in his Providence
shall Call him. sign'.l by lis tlii- Eigth day of No-
vember, in the vear^of our lord Christ^l770.

" Witness our hands,
" x.B. Jacob Vasmetee.

" That this Church was Richard Hall.
Constituted by me, Nov" Zepheniah Blackford.
7"', 1770, and that the Because we are few in

Bearer was licensed to
Preach before me, or in
my Presence, as witness
mv hand th
Nov', 1770.

number our Si.sters are
allowed to sign.
Rachel Suttox.
day of Lettice Vaxmetee.
Sarah Hall."

" Henry Crosbye."

From the latter part of this letter it ajipears that
the church was constituted by Henry Crosby, but
nothing further is said of him in the minutes which
follow, and we have been unable to ascertain anytliing
further with regard to hi.s personal history or his sub-
sequent connection with the church. lu Benedict's
" History of the Baptists," page 614, it is stated that
this church "was gathered in 1770, under the ministry
of elder John Sutton," but as we do not find the name

of John Sutton mentioned anywhere in connection
with the church records, while that of Isaac is fre-
quently referred to, we are disposed to think that he
w-as the successor of Henry Crosby, and although not
the founder of the church, the first pastor after its
organization. The oldest book of record has the fol-
lowing title-page:

" Isaac Sutton,
Great Bethel
Church Book,
for the use of Inserting Minutes of Business trans-
acted by the Church."
This certainly is evidence that Sutton was pastor
when that book was procured, and it contains minutes
beginning with 177^. This church has frequently
been calhil •'Tlie Uniontown Church," "Uniontown
Baptist ( hunli.' etc., owing to its location. But
there was a church, known as the Uniontown Church,
organized some time previous to the year 1790, the
exact date of which we are unable to ascertain. On
the (5th of November of that year is the following en-
try in Great Bethel rliurch-book : "The Church of
Christ called Great Bethel met the Church of Christ
of Union Town according to appointment. After
prayer proceeded to business. 1st, Appointed Dea-
con Gaddis to receive them. 2d, The Church of
T'nion dissolved their constitution and were received
into tiUowship with us." Then follows a series of
rnles adopted for the government of the church.
This was the only Uniontown Baptist Church prop-
erly called by that tiauie until the division in 1867,
when one portion of the church took upon itself the
name and was chartered as the Uniontown Regu-
lar Baptist Church. The other branch still retained
the name and kept up the organization as Great Bethel,
more reference to which will hereafter be made.

BuiLDlXGS. — There is as much uncertainty with
regard to the site of the first house of worship as to
the name of the first pastor. The earliest reference
to this subject in the records of the church is found
in the minutes of the monthly meeting held March

18, 17Sn, as loUow-: " Resolved, that a meeting-house
be built lor pulilic worship by the church. Resolved,
that brethren Jas. McCoy, Owen Davis, Moses Carr
view the ground and pitch upon the place for build-
ing, the dimensions of the house to be thirty feet and
twenty-five." In July following we find this entry:
'■ Residved, tliat two meeting-houses be built, that
Owen Davis, Phili|i Pierce, Joseph Thomas, Jos.
I'xiutridioust-, and Pliilip Jenkins, to meet on Tues-
day, ci-hlli day ol Augu-t, to council what is needful
to carrv on thr building and what place." On May

19, 1781, " In order to carry on the building of the
meeting-house, Bros. Owen Davis and Philip Jenkins
are appointed overseers of the work ; Bro. Bolten-
house, collector of the subscription." June 19, 1784,
" Resolved, that the members shall work at the meet-
ing-house every day that is appointed by Richard

I Reed, Thomas Bowel, and Philip Jenkins, under



penalty of five shillings for neglect." On Sept. 15,
1787, a resolution was passed " that a meeting-house
be built on the Great Road, about a quarter of a mile
from Uniontown, and Thomas Gaddis and Moses
Carr and James Little trustees to carry it on." We
have been unable to reconcile these different resolu-
tions so as to either fix the time when the first house
was erected or ascertain the place where it was
located. The first reference to a house as having
been built is in September, 1789, as follows : " The
whole of the land where the meeting-house stands ,
belongs to the church for four pounds. Thomas Gad- j
dis appointed to receive tlie Deed in the name of the
church of Great Bethel against our meeting of busi- !
ness, etc." And again, June 18, 1790 : " The church '
acknowledges that when Thos. Gaddis makes them a
Deed for the acre of land that the meeting-house
stands on, that they stand indebted to him nineteen
pounds one shilling and ten pence, all errors ex- [
cepted." This would indicate that the land was pur-
chased from Thomas Gaddis, but immediately follow-
ing it was resolved " that the trustees, Thomas Gaddis
and Moses Carr, get the deed in their names in behalf
of the church of Great Bethel." It was just at this
time that the contention arose among the members
elsewhere referred to, and as Thomas Gaddis appears
to have been a leading member of the Loofborrow
party, it was decided by the other party that he was
not a proper person to receive the deed, and from
this time there is nothing further said about a deed
until the year 1804, when one acre of land was con- I
veyed to the Great Bethel Church by Henry Beeson
and wife. This lot of ground was located on the j
" Great Road" leading from Uniontown to Cheat
River, and though it is now within the borough
limits, it doubtless would at that early day have been
very properly described as " about a quarter of a mile '
from Uniontown." In the old burying-ground on a
part of this lot are found tombstones dating back to
1796, and some whose dates are no longer legible.
Many of our citizens still living distinctly remember
when an old house stood on this lot, previous to the
building of the brick structure which still occupies
it. And as no further reference is made to building
until the year 1831, when this house was begun, we i
may conclude almost, if not to an entire certainty,
that the house directed to be built in 1787 was located
upon the same site where the old brick church now
stands, and that it was occupied by the congregation
up to the completion of that church, about the year
1833. This is a large building, with ample room be-
low and gallery above. It was occupied by the Great
Bethel Church until the division in 1867, when pro-
ceedings were begun for the erection of a new build- !
ing, which was located on Fayette Street, in the
borough of Uniontown. It was begun in the year
1868, but owing to the financial difliculties in which
they were then placed was not finally completed
until 1879, it being dedicated in August of that year, i

This is a fine two-story brick building, forty-two by
sixty-five feet in dimensions, with spire about one
hundred and ten feet high. It is provided with lec-
ture-room below, in which is a baptistery and well-
furnished room, with frescoed walls for the main
chapel above. The whole building was completed,
owing to the high prices of all material when it was
begun, at a total cost of about $11,000.

BiiANCHES.— From Great Bethel Regular Baptist
Church there were established from time to time
numerous branches, all of which were afterwards
formed into distinct organizations, and most of them
still exist as flourishing churches-. As those of them
which are situated within the boundaries of this
county will each be more particularly described in
their proper places, it is only necessary here to briefly
mention the time at which they were separated from
the mother-church. On March 19, 1773, the mem-
bers convenient to Muddy Creek were dismissed by
letter to that church, which is- situated in Greene
County, Pa., and is still in a flourishing condition.
On Sept. 21, 177.5, the brethren in the Forks of Cheat
were granted a constitution. This church now has
its place of worship near Stewarttown, W. Va., and
has quite a large membership. A branch church was
organized in " the Glades" on the 15th of November,
1778. It is still kept up as an independent organi-
zation, known as Big Crossings. At the same meet-
ing a constitution was granted to the branch on Red-
stone, situated in Fayette County, and Isaac Sutton
appointed " to constitute them." Also James Sutton,
James McCoy, Charles McDonald, and Philip Jen-
kins were appointed a committee to meet them on the
third Saturday of December following, " in order to
see that they be an unanimous body fit for a consti-
tution, and to settle matters of difficulty if there is

The members belonging to Great Bethel Church
living near and beyond the Youghiogheny were per-
mitted to organize as a branch of the church on the
20th of September, 1783, but the history of this or-
ganization cannot be traced further.

Oct. 16, 1784, the church at Georges Creek was
dismissed by request, and Isaac and James Sutton
appointed to constitute them on the 30th of the same
month. This church has since become one of the
leading members of the Monongahela Association,
and its history will appear as that of Mount Moriah
Regular Baptist Church.

In the year 1830 a branch was organized at or near
McClellantown, Fayette Co., but has since become

Thus it is seen that either directly or indirectly
many of the churches of this county and adjoining
counties have sprung from the Great Bethel Church,
and truly she may be termed the mother of Baptist
churches in this section of Pennsylvania.

Membership. — Beginning as this church did, when
the inhabitants of the county were settled here and



there in little gn>ii|is, its membership must have been
small. From the i>l(li -t list uf members on record we
find from Septeinhir. 17711, to November of the same
year, when the chureh was formally organized, there
were received by baptism eight members ; these, in ad-
dition to the six whose signatures are affixed to the
letter already quoted, quite probably constituted the
full membershi]! at the time of its organization. The
names of the members received by baptism during
the time mentioned were John Carr, Elizabeth Carr,

Sarah Baccus, David Morgan, Wm. Murphy,

Van Meter, James McOloy, and Mary Anderson. The
list of membershiji wliich follows is so incomplete
with regard t" dates that it is impossible to follow the
progress of the chureh in tliis respect as closely as we
should like to do. It appears that up to July, 1773,
there had been received by baptism thirty-two mem-
bers, and up to 1780 twenty-two l)y letter. Consider-
ing, therefore, the sparsely-settled condition of the
country, their increase of membershi]i was very fair.
During this time, however, there had been a number
dismissed by letter, and also a few excommunicated,
but as the dates of their dismission are not recorded
we are unable to ascertain the exact membership of
the church at either of the dates mentioned. Se]>t.
24, 1791, the report of membership to the Association
shows a total of 40; in 1795, 42; INOO, liH; ls]-2, 4:.
(during this year nineteen were reciiv.d l,y Lapti-iii
and eleven by letter). In 1817 the iii.inli.'i-lii|. Ii;pI
again decreased to 80. Although other lists ol' lueui-
bers are given at difierent times they are without
dates, and we have therefore been unable to ascertain
the exact number of enrolled names until what was
known as the great revival in 1855. On Nov. 24,
1855, a series of meetings was begun by Rev. William
Wood, assisted by Rev. Israel D. King, which re-
sulted in upwards of ninety additions liy bajitisiu.
The following postscript, added to the minutes of Jan.
26, 1856, by R. H. Austin, church clerk ;jro fern., ex-
plaius the condition at that time: "The church is
certainly in a better state of health than it has been
since its infiincy, our membership larger, our purses
heavier, and our hearts lighter. God be praised for
His much mercy in dispelling the winter of our
church and spreading before us prospects so flatter-
ing." A few pages farther on, under date of May 24,
185G, he makes the followini; entry: " Our ehurcli is
fast increasing in menilicrs, Cjiristian zeal, and, we
trust, holiness, our meniliership now lieing 229. ilay
God continue to build us up until called to join the
church triumphant is our prayer." From this time
until 1867 the church continued in a more or
prosperous condition, holding, as nearly as we can
ascertain, about the same total membership from year
to year. At the beginning of that year, however,
opened the darkest hour of her history. Difficulties
witli the pa.stor had occurred, which will be more
fully stated elsewhere, until they resulted in an open
disruption of the church, and compelled a large por-

tion of the members to leave the building in which
they worshiped and erect a new house in a different
locality. The portion of members thus going ofl" were
recognized, upon a full explanation of the difficulty
to the Association at their next meeting, as the Regular
Baptist Church, and began at once to carry on the
work of its original organization. The membership,
however, by this disruption had been greatly reduced,
and the bitter feelings engendered were slow to wear
away. But gradually many of those who at first ad-
hered to their former pastor, and even formed a dis-
tinct organization under his control, began one by
one to return to the church ; baptisms also became
more numerous, until from a report of eighty-two
members at the Association in the autumn of 1867
there are now enrolled on the church record one hun-
dred and ninety-three members, there having been an
increase by letter and baptism of twenty-four during
the present year. The greatest harmony now pre-
vails, both among the members themselves and be-
tween them and their pastor. The great burden of
debt which since the erection of their new building
had been weighing them down has within the past
two years been almost removed, and once more may
her members truly exclaim, "Our membership is
larger, our purses heavier, and our hearts lighter.
Gin\ lie [iraisrd for His niiieh mercy!"

:^i \-iiim: AMI Shaimiws, — It is the duty of the
historian to irpreseiit truly the subject which he at-
tempts to describe. We shall not therefore presume
to present the bright side of this church and leave con-
cealed from view the dark, for Great Bethel, like almost
all other churches, has had her shadows as well as
sunshine, and while it may not be so pleasant a duty
to write that which now lies before us, yet in doing
so we hope that by thus showing the comparatively
insignificant causes, for such most of them were which
led to these difliculties, the present membership may
be warned by the past to avoid similar disasters in
the future.

The first of these difficulties occurred about the
beginning of the year 1790. Some time previous the
church had called Rev. Isaac Sutton as regular minis-
ter and Rev. David Loof borrow as an assistant. Soon
afterwards we find frequent accusations brought first
against one member and then another until a com-
plete separation occurred, one part of the church
meetinL;- at the house of Rev. Sutton and transacting
business there as Great Bethel Church, the other
[ holding their sessions on the same day at the church
] building. This unhappy state of aflairs continued
{ until Oct. 4, 1791, when a special meeting was called,
"in order to tiinii a plan by which our aggrieved
I brethren mi-lit Ina^ain united with us in the bonds of
love and Clirisiian lellowshi|)." This result appeared
to have been accomplished by passing a resolution to
permit both preachers to officiate in their ministerial
capacity in the church, for we find no further diffi-
I cultv recorded in connection with this matter. From


that time forward harmony appears to have prevailed
until during the pastorate of Rev. William Brown-
field. About the year 18&2 there arose a difficulty be-
tween Rev. Brownfield and other ministers of the Bap-
tist denomination. Rev. Brownfield adhered strictly
to the " Old School" or Anti-Mission Baptists, while
Rev. .John Thomas, Rev. Dr. James Estep, Rev.
William Penny, and others who were occasionally
invited to preach for the Great Bethel Church, were
more liberal in their views and favored missionary
and other benevolent societies. This soon caused a
contention among the preachers themselves, and the
members naturally fell in with one side or the other,
until again a separation was brought about.

This contention continued and grew more serious
until April, 1836, when the party favoring the New
School ministers purchased a new book for keeping
their records, and though they still permitted Rev.
Brownfield to preach in the church one-half the time,

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 71 of 193)