Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 72 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 72 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and also allowed his adherents to hold business meet-
ings there, nevertheless kept the minutes of their
meetings entirely distinct. Contentions then began
to arise as to whom the church property belonged. A
petition by the Brownfield party and remonstrance
against it by the others were sent to the Legislature of
the State ; the matter was also referred to the Red-
stone Association. But nothing satisfactory could be
done, the breach was only widened, until in 1837 an at-
tempt was made by the Brownfield party to prevent the
others from using the house by fastening the doors
and windows with iron bars, and posting a notice on
the door to the eftect that should any one remove
these fastenings and enter he would be liable to a suit
at law for trespass. Nothing daunted, the new party
at once removed the bars and entered. This entry,
in accordance with the notice given, resulted in a suit,
which was tried before Judge Grier in a special court
held in the year 1843, and was terminated by a ver-
dict in favor of the defendants or New School party.
From that time there seems to have been but little
contention between them, though the Old School
party still continued to keep a separate record and
retained Rev. Brownfield to preach for them until
Oct. 31, 1846, when no further record is found of their
deliberations, and they appear to have gradually fallen
in with the other branch until they became entirely
absorbed by it, and from that time on the New
School party continued as the only organization and
the Great Bethel Church. This split, while it hin-
dered greatly the spiritual progress of the church
during its continuance, resulted in an entire change
of the working of the body, and evidently opened
for them many new fields of usefulness. From this
time there are frequent collections for mission-work
of various kinds, the church-doors were thrown open
for the privileges of Sabbath-school, and a new era of
progress dawned upon the whole society. Happier
would it have been had this result been brought about
without the contention and bitter feelings connected

with it. At last the storm was over, and though it had
dashed the waves of contention fiercely about her,
serenely from amidst the roar and tumult the old
ship of the church sailed out upon the placid waters;
and but a few years later it is with 2:)leasure we quote
from the record at the time of the famous meeting
elsewhere referred to. During its progress reference
is made to the preaching of Revs. Wood and King,
and as a result " fifty-six eternity-bound souls fol-
lowed the example of their master and elder brother,
buried with him in Christian baptism, and raised, we
trust, to newness of life. Fifty-four were received
into full fellowship with the church, and the work still
going on," Alas, that we must turn from this bright
part of the record to note another time of gloom.
Dr. John Boyd was called as pastor of the church
March 21, 1864. For some time afterward the usual
harmony continued, but about the close of the year
1866 disputes arose from various causes between the
pastor and part of the members. Though the writer
was not in any way connected with the church at that
time, having since become a member, it may be pos-
sible we are not sufficiently free from prejudice to im-
partially state these causes ; and as the parties con-
nected with the church at that time are almost all still
living, lest we should do injustice to some of them we
will leave that part of the church history for some one
who can look back with an impartial eye, and from
written records recount the true cause of this trouble
when those who participated in it shall all have passed
away. This dispute continued and grew so warm that
it became impossilile for both factions to remain to-
gether, and those who adhered to the pastor still con-
tinuing in the church building, the other party were
obliged to seek a place of worship elsewhere. For a
short time they obtained leave from the county offi-
cers to use the court-house, afterward they resorted
to what was formerly known as the town hall, in the
borough of Uniontown, and there remained until
their new house of worship, erected on Fayette Street,
was sufficiently completed to afford them a place for
assembling. This part of the members made appli-
cation to the Monongahela Association in the fall of
1867, the same year of the separation, and were recog-
nized as the regular church, as appears by the min-
utes of the Association for that year. They at once
upon leaving the old house discharged Dr. Boyd as
their pastor, and soon afterward called another. They
have since regularly continued the organization as
the ( ireat Bethel Regular Baptist Church, and on the
17th day of March, 1881, procured by application to
the court a charter under that name. Almost all the
members who at first remained with the Boyd party
have since left them and returned to this church, so
that the only visible part of the trouble that for a
time threatened to destroy the prosperity of the
church is a disagreeraeut between the church at
present and Dr. Boyd as to the right of property in
the old church building. In order to test this matter



a suit was brought a short time since by the trustees
of this church against Dr. Boyd, and when this suit
shall have been determined the last great disturbance
will be ended. May it be the last, with reference to
the future as well as the past. In standing off thus
at a distance and recounting the causes that have led
to all the dark days of this old pioneer church, how
simple they seem and how seemingly easy might they
have been averted. A learned judge once said in de-
livering the op'inion of the court in a church case
where the dispute arose about two ministers, " In
this case some appear to be for Paul and some for
Apollos, but none for Christ." With all due respect
to those members who through all these difficulties
still clung to the good work, and labored and nobly
succeeded for the cause of the Master, a review of
this history shows that it was only when the church
began to approach that condition referred to by the
learned judge, and in their zeal for their own choice
of men forg(it the great object of the church, that all

Pa>T' m;-.- I'Im- fust reference in any way to apastor
of tlie church othir than the letter previously referred
to is iu the minutes of March 14, 1778, as follows:
"Had under consideration whether I'.r. .Tas. Suttun
shall take the care of this church in place of Isaac
Sutton, to remain under consideration till another op-
portunity.'' Although this is nearly eight years after
the organization of the church, the records seem to
indicate that Isaac Sutton was the successor of Henry
Crosby, but at what time the pastorate of the latter
closed and that of the former began we are unable to
ascertain. May 16, 1778, a reference is made to Jas.
Sutton again as follows: "That Bro. Jas. Sutton take
the oversight of this church — a full conclusion re-
ferred till our next meeting." Nothing more is said
of a pastor in any way until Sept. 18, 1784, when it
was " Resolved that Bro. Jas Sutton shall act in every
respect as an assistant to Bro. Isaac Sutton." Dec.
18, 1784, James Sutton and wife were dismissed by
letter from the church, and the next reference to the
pastor is in the minutes of June 20, 1789, when a
resolution was passed that "Isaac Sutton, Sen.,
should stand minister in this church as usual," and
also called Wm. Loveberry as an assistant, to preach
once a month for one year. It appears also that
David Loof borrow had been called as an assistant
near the same time. Some months after this occurred
the difficulty previously mentioned, when Isaac Sutton
resigned, March 21, 1790, but was recalled by one
branch of the church on the 18th of September fol-
lowing, and continued with this part of the church,
while Rev. Loofborrow remained with the other
branch, until Oct. 5, 1793, when the two branches
were united, and both called to officiate as ministers.
Sutton, however, was granted a letter of dismission
on the 21st of the same month, and left the sole con-
trol to Loofborrow, who continued as pastor until
Oct. .5, 1793, when he too was granted a letter of dis-

mission. From this time until May 26, 1794, the
church was without a pastor, when Rev. Benjamin
Stone was called, first as a- supply and afterwards as
pastor, and continued as such up to Sept. 7, 1805, •
when he was granted a letter of dismission, but was
recalled on June 11, 1806, to preach once a month,
and continued as pastor until 1812. In the mean
time that remarkable man, William Brownfield, had
been licensed to preach, and Feb. 6, 1802, received a
call to preach the second and fourth Sundays in each
month. He thus continued until June 9, 1804, when
he was dismissed by letter, and we hear no more of
him until Feb. 12, 1812, when he received a call as
pastor of the church. This position he held uninter-
ruptedly and alone until April 6, 1833, when Rev.
Milton Sutton was invited to preach once a month.
On June 1st of the same year Wm. Wood was also
invited to preach once a month for six months. May
3, 1834, Isaac Wynn was procured to preach once a
month, and May 2, 1835, Milton Sutton was re-
quested to continue his services. During all this
time, however. Rev. Brownfield was still retained as
the pastor of the church. Soon afterwards occurred
i the second division, before referred to, and although
Rev. Brownfield was then, on April 30, 1836, dis-
missed by "a majority of the members present" from
the pastorate of the church, he was still allowed to
preath on his usual days, the first and third Sabbaths
of each month. This he continued to do until 1846,
except such times as his place was supplied by other
ministers, whom he frequently invited to assist him.
Among these were Revs. Frey, Avery, McClelland,
Whitlock, and others. On the 24th of December,
1836, the other branch of the church called Elder
James Seymour to preach once a month, and from
this time until the end of Rev. Brownfield's labors, if
the church did not succeed it certainly was not from
lack of preachers. June 24, 1837, Elder Milton Sut-
ton called once a month for one year, in connection
with Rev. Seymour. Feb. 24, 1836, Rev. John
Thomas called to preach once a month. June, 1838,
Elder Wra. Wood called once a month, and con-
tinued as pastor until April, 1841. Dec. 22, 1838,
Rev. Isaac Wynn was called to supply the place of
Rev. Thomas, who had been employed by the Penn-
sylvania Missionary Society. Rev. Wynn continued
in connection with Rev. ^\'ood until 1841, when Elder
E. M. Miles was called a> pastor, to preach twice a
month, and who continued his labors with the church
until SejJtember, 1842. October 29th of the same year
Rev. Isaac Wynn was again called as a supply, but
afterwards retained as pastor, preaching one-half his
time until April 1, 1854, with the following excep-
tions : Dr. James Estep, pastor for six months from
April, 1844: Dr. AVilliam Penny, from Dec. 26, 1846,
to April 1, 1848; S. H. Ruple, one year from April
26, 1851 ; and Rev. Milton Sutton, for one year from
April 24, 18.T2. From the time of his resignation as
pastor, Rev. Wynn was kcjit as a supply until June



24, 1855, when Rev. Wm. Wood was called as a sup-
ply, to preach once a month. On Jan. 24, 1855, Rev.
Israel D. King was called as pastor of the church, and
continued as such until March 1, 1860. On the 8th
of December following, Rev. B. P. Ferguson was
called to the pastorate of the church, which place he
retained until Sept. 12, 186.3. Dr. John Boyd was
called as pastor March 21, 1864, and continued until
March 2, 1867. Rev. C. E. Barto was next called,
Jan. 19, 1868, and continued until April 1, 1872.
Rev. W. W'. Hickman entered as pastor in May, 1872,
and remained until April 1, 1878. From that time
until June 6, 1879, the church was without a pastor,
when Rev. F. B. La Barrer assumed the duties as
such, and still continues in that position, July 1, 1881.

Preachers Licensed. — The following list shows
the licenses granted to young men by this church,
permitting them to enter the ministry :

Isaac Sutton, Nov. 8, 1770.

.Joseph Barnet, March 19, 1773 ; ordained June,

Isaac Morris, May 21, 1775.

John Wade Lovebery, Sept. 20, 1783.

John Hopwood, Aug. 20, 1791.

Sreve, Nov. 19, 1792.

William Brownfield, April 6, 1799 ; ordained Dec.
19, 1800. >

Milton Sutton, July 6, 1833; ordained May 4, -1834. |

Isaac Wynn, July 6, 1833.

Richard H. Austin, June 28, 1856; ordained Sept.
27, 1857.

Joseph Collins, Feb. 26, 1859.

John Batt, Jan. 19, 1868.

List of Clerks. — Isaac Morris, appointed July i
15, 1775. " I

Philip Jenkins, appointed Nov. 19, 1776.

Moses Sutton, appointed Oct. 16, 1784.

Isaac Sutton, Jr., appointed Sept. 15, 1787.

John Hopwood, appointed Feb. 19, 1791.

Anthony Swain, appointed Oct. 18, 1794.

John Ayers, appointed Sept. 8, 1804.

Simon Gard, appointed Aug. 12, 1809.

Charles King, appointed March 28, 1812.

Samuel Little, appointed Aug. 1, 1818.

William Bryson, appointed May, 1830.

Hamilton Abraham (O. S.), appointed Jan. 2, 1836.

William Bryson (N. S.), appointed April 30, 1836.

George A. Shallenberger, appointed May 21, 1853.

F. L. Hatfield, appointed March 22, 1856.

Isaac W. Bryson, appointed Aug. 22, 18.56.

Samuel Hatfield, Jr., appointed Sept. 26, 1857.

C. G. Turner, appointed Jan. 22, 1859.
R. Porter Craig, appointed Dec. 8, 1860.
Joseph Hayden, appointed Dec. 24, 1865.
Amos Bowlby, appointed Jan. 25, 1873.
S. W. Carter, appointed May 24, 1873.

D. M. Hertzog, appointed Sept. 27, 1879.

List of Deacons.— Elijah Barclay, June 8, 1776,
on trial ; ordained Mav 19, 1781.

Philip Pierce, May 17, 1779, on trial ; ordained
May 19, 1781.

William Wells, Jan. 20, 1782.

Thomas Gaddis, Feb. 14, 1784.

Moses Carr, Jan. 19, 1790.

Robert Jackway, Jan. 15, 1791.

Ker, Oct. 18, 1794.

David Conger, April 5, 1800.

John Gaddis, March 9, 1805.

Simon Gard, March 9, 1805.

Isaac Minor, May 1, 1812.

William Vance, Nov. 4, 1815.

Moses Nixon, May 4, 1822.

John Troutman, May 4, 1822.

William Bryson, July 6, 1833.

Isaac Hutchinson, April 1, 1837.

Squire Ayers, Dec. 24, 1842.

A. B. Bryson, March, 1851.

Elijah Jennings, March, 1851.

George A. Shallenberger, Jan. 27, 1855.

George W. Foulk, Jan. 19, 1868.

William Swearingen, Jan. 19, 1868.

Crawford Vance, Aug. 22, 1868.

Porter Craig.

John Collins.

James Nabor, April 24, 1875.

H. C. Diffenderfler, Feb. 22, 1879.

Robert Bryner.

Associations. — The Redstone Association, accord-
ing to Benedict's " History of the Baptists," was or-
ganized in 1776. In 1777 Great Bethel Church sent
the following messengers to that body, viz. : Isaac
Sutton, James Sutton, and Philip Jenkins. Owing
" to the difficulty of the times," it did not suit to hold
the Association that year at Muddy Creek, and it was
agreed that it should be held at the house of Isaac
Sutton. It is obvious from this that Great Bethel was
one of the original members of the Redstone Associ-
ation, with which it continued until 1836, and the
branch which still clung to Rev. Wm. Brownfield
continued to send delegates until 1846, when Wm.
Brownfield, I. Hutchinson, and S. Davis were sent to
Indian Creek Church, where it met that year. The
other branch of the church soon after their separation
sent messengers to the Pittsburgh Association, and
were admitted to that body, of which the church re-
mained a member until 1856. On the 26th of April,
1856, a letter was sent to the Pittsburgh Association
requesting dismission from them, with a view of unit-
ing with the Monongahela Association. Their request
was granted, and the same year, on applying to the
Monongahela Association for admission, they were
received into that body, with which they still con-

Sabbath-School. — The first Sunday-school in con-
nection with this church was organized in July, 1845,
on motion of Rev. Isaac Wynn. It has been main-
tained as an organization ever since. At first, for a
few years, it was conducted only during the winter


season, but since then it has been maintained regu-
larly throughout the year. At present it is under the
superintendency of D. M. Hertzog, and numbers in
full nearly one hundred and fifty members, with nine

Cosc'LUsiox. — We have now attempted to record
briefly the principal events in the history of this re-
markable church. Much that is interesting has no
d lubt been omitted, but enough is given to mark the
course along which she has passed. Dating her exist-
ence back to a time when the great Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania was a feeble province of the mother-
country, she has witnessed the birth, growth, and un-
precedented prosperity of a mighty nation. Some-
times disturbed by national or State convuKions IVmiii
without, and occasional contentions within, h. r r.,ui<i.-
lias not always been smooth as that of chiiiili lunthrr-
hood should be, yet upon the whole her members
have reason to rejoice that they belong to a body
which, by the grace of God, has been permitted to do
so much for the cause of the Master, and especially
to see the harmony that now prevails in all her parts,
and the glorious opportunity at present offered for the
successful advancement of that great work. May
peace continue within her walls and prosperity within
her palaces !


At the session of Conference held in Baltimore May
2S, 1784, Bedstone Circuit was formed, which included
all of Pennsylvania west of the Allegheny Mountains.
John Cooper and Samuel Breeze were appointed to
this circuit. They came to Uniontown, probably in
June, as Bishop Asbury preached in Uniontown July
7, 1784, to a congregation of seven hundred persons,
and it is probable that Cooper and Breeze came with
him. But the peculiar polity of Methodism in working
the laymen as local preachers and exhorters had fore-
stalled the appearance of the regular circuit preach-
ers, who found in the vicinity of Uniontown Eobert
Wooster, a local preacher from England. Wooster,
according to the best authority attainable, came to
America about the year 1771, and commenced preach-
ing in the neighborhood of Uniontown about 1780.
Many traditions have been handed down in Jleth-
odist families concerning Wooster and his work, from
which it is thought to be more than prohalile that
he organized classes at several points in uml aiDiiml
Uniontown. The early records of the society at Uiiiim-
town were not preserved, so that a correct list of the
persons forming the first class or society cannot be
furnished, although many of them are known. The
oldest record now in the possession of the church is a
treasurer's book opened in 1807.

Cooper and Breeze remained on Bedstone Circuit
but one year, under the ciistoiii of annual clianiies
which was then the riilr. fhry wrr ln|l,,wrd in 17>;.-.
by Peter Moriarity, John Fittlfr, and \Vils<,n 1,,'e. It

Dr. J. E. Muffitt, of Uniontown.

is probable that Bishop Asbury came to Uniontown
with the new preachers, as he writes that he exhorted
in Beesontown July 19, 1785. He also preached, July
1 and 2, 1786, in the new meeting-house in Beeson-
town. He says, "We had a feeling, gracious season;
the Sacrament was, I trust, attended with a blessing."
On July 20th, same year, he writes that he preached
to a congregation of six hundred persons in Beeson-
town during court. July 30th he writes that he was
at the Widow Murphy's. It is not known exactly
when the first meeting-house was erected, but as As-
bury preached in it July 1, 1786, it is probable that it
was built in 1785. The deed for the lots on which it
was built on Peter Street was not made, however,
until Aug. 6, 1791, and was made in the names of David
Jennings, Jacob Murphy, Samuel Stephens, Jonathan
Rowland, and Peter Hook, trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in Uniontown.

The first church or meeting-house was built of logs,
thirty-five by seventy feet, including the school-room
at the west end. It stood on what is now the grave-
yard, near the line of the Second Church lot, fronting
on Peter Street and flush with the street. There was
a hall separating the school-room and the meeting-
house, and a stairway in the hall leading to a room
over the school-room. There were doors in the hall
leading to the school-room on the left and into the
meetfug-house on the right.

Bishop Asbury commenced the annual session of
Conference at Uniontown, in the meeting-house, Aug.
22, 1788. There were in attendance seven regular
preachers and five others " on trial." Owing to some
inconvenience and at the invitation of Mrs. Ann
Murphy, Bishop Asbury changed the place of meet-
ing to her house, which stood opposite the present
residence of Henry Gaddis. Mrs. Murphy not only
furnished a place for the meetings of Conference but
entertained the whole body, including the bishop.
During the session of this Conference Michael Leard
was ordained. He was the first Methodist preacher
ordained west of the mountains. Mrs. Ann Murphy
was one of the original members of the church in
Uniontown, and often entertained Asbury and his
traveling companions, who always made it a point to
stop with "Mother Murphy" when their journeys
west and south brought them into the neighborhood.
Site came from Maryland during the Revolutionary
war (the exact date is not known), and bought what
is now the county farm and the Gaddis place, where
sh^ lived at the time of Conference in 1788. In Mary-
land she owned a tobacco plantation between Balti-
more and Harper's Ferry, and having several chil-
dren, she (at their solicitation) sold out and moved
west til I'niontown. The year before her son, Eli
^lurpliy, made a preliminary visit to the neighborhood
of I'niontown. He was murdered, it was supposed, for
Ills money. His traveling companion charged his
death to the Indians, while the settlers, although not
entertaining a verv high opinion of tlie red men,


sifuiod inclined to exonerate them from the charge.
."Mrs. Murphy was accompanied by all her children,
ixrrpt a married daughter, who remained in Mary-
land. She brought a considerable sum of money with
liui. and after buying the home-farm and the farm at
ildunt Braddock for Jacob, she had for those days a
large surplus, but as
it was in Continent il
notes it became w orth
less at the close ot the
war. Jacob M urph\
married a dauglmi ot
Col. Meason, and in
1791 his name appe ir-.
as one of the original
trustees. Ann Murph\
(the daughter) married
Samuel Stephen^ who
was also one ot the
original tru.stees. Tlu\
were the parents ot
Mrs. Priscilla Austin
and lived on their firm
near Upper Miaaie-
town. Sallie Murphy

married a Mr. Banning, and moved to Ohio. Eachel
Murphy married Rev. Roberts, a minister in the
Methodist Episcopal Church, and also moved to 'Ohio.
Nacca Murphy, the youngest, married James Gregg.
They were the grandparents of Dr. William and Miss
M. E. Sturgeon. Mrs. Murphy brought a number of
her slaves with her, and among them a Guinea negro
named Nero, of whom many laughable anecdotes are
related. Nero conceived a great dislike to the raw
edges of pioneer life in the West, and mourned over
the flesh-pots of Maryland, refusing in the bitterness
of his anguish to attend family worship. Bishop As-
bury on one occasion persuaded Nero to attend family
worship. He reluctantly consented, but during the
singing, reading, and praying he became so demon-
strative in his happiness as to break down his chair and
fall to the floor shouting, — a little too happy for the
occasion, — so that the good bishop never again asked
Nero to attend family worship. Bishop Asbury and
Richard Whatcoat preached a sermon each during the
session of the Conference of 1788, and Conference ad-
journed on the 25th of August. Asbury was again in
Uniontown July 2.5, 1789. Conference held its annual
session in Uniontown in 1790, commencing July 28th,
Wednesday, and continued over Sunday. Three elders
and four deacons were ordained by Asbury at this Con-
ference. In 1792, June 2d, Conference again met in
Uniontown, and Asbury writes in his journal, date June
10th: "We have founded a seminary of learning,
called Union School. Brother C. Conway is manager,
who also has charge of the District. The Establishment

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 72 of 193)