REV. WILLIAM J. HUTCHISON, D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Kittanning, has been in the active ministry since 1898 and at his present location since 1909.
The Hutchison family is of Scotch-Irish origin and was early settled in Pennsylvania, and the branch to which Dr. Hutchison belongs was established in Belmont county, Ohio, by his grandfather, Joseph C. Hutchison. The early ancestors located in Chester county, Pa., about 1754. Robert Hutchison, great-great-grandfather of William J., located in 1765 at Fort Ligonier, and his son, Joseph Hutchison, the great-grandfather, lived in Fayette county, this State. The home place near Dawson, that county, is still owned by the family.
Joseph H. Hutchison, father of Dr. Hutchison, was born at Warnock, Belmont Co., Ohio, where he has passed all his life, still making his home there. Like his forefathers, he ahs made farming his life occupation. He married Mary Foster, also a native of Belmont county, Ohio, and to this union were born three sons, all of whom are Presbyterian ministers.
William J. Hutchison was born Dec. 27, 1871, at Warnock, Belmont, Ohio, and there received his early education, taking his high school course at Belmont. Then he taught school for one year before entering Franklin College, at New Athens, Ohio, where he was graduated in 1895, with the degree of A.B. He prepared for the ministry at the Western Theological Seminary (Allegheny, Pa.), graduating in May, 1898, was ordained by the Clarion Presbytery June 18, 1898, and at once took up the duties of his first pastorate, having charge of the Callensburg and Concord Presbyterian Churches until November, 1901.He was then made pastor of the Westminister Memorial Church at Washington, D.C., where he was stationed until called to Wellsville, Ohio in November, 1904, remaining there for five years. On Nov. 3, 1909, he was installed as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Kittanning, Pa., whose membership has increased fifty per cent during the four years of his work there, and which has the largest Sunday school roll of any church in Armstrong county. His position has been by no means a sinecure, as the present church, at the corner of Arch and North Jefferson Streets, has been erected since his coming, and the burden of the work of planning for the new building and gathering the necessary hands fell to him. His ability and devotion have been well rewarded in the thriving condtion of the church, both spiritually and materially, and he is a recognized force for progress in the community. He is a Mason, belonging to the Royal Arch Chapter, No. 180, of Wellsville, Ohio, but in politics pledges his support to no party, acting as his principles dictate. On Jan. 8, 1906, Dr. Hutchison married Elizabeth Rosenburg Shimer, a native of Phillipsburg, N. J., daughter of J. R. M. And Sarah (Stephenson) Shimer. Mrs. Hutchison is a graduate of Kee-Mar College, Hagerstown, Md. One child has been born to this union, Elizabeth Shimer. The family reside at No. 12 North Jefferson street, Kittanning.
The First Presbyterian Church of Kittanning was organized Aug. 31, 1822, by Rev. Thomas Davis, of the Presbytery of Redstone, preaching services had been conducted from time to time in the courthouse, then located on the southeast corner of Jefferson and Market streets, for something over sixteen years, by supplies appointed by the Presbytery. The first of these services was conducted by Rev. Joseph Henderson, on the second Sabbath in June (the 8th), 1806, whose discourse is supposed to be the first gospel sermon ever delivered in the town. He was appointed to conduct services by the Presbytery on request of the people of the town. Other ministers, also supplies, who followed him were: Rev. Robert Lee, Rev. Mr. Porter, Rev. Mr. Galbraith, Rev. Thomas Hunt, Rev. J. Stockton, Rev. James Graham, Rev. James Coe, Rev. John Reed, Rev. David Barclay, Rev. Thomas Davis. In organizing the church Mr. Davis was assisted by Rev. John Andrews, and the work of organizing included the election, organization and installation of three ruling elders, namely: John Patrick, David Johnston and Thomas Hamilton. Then next day being Sabbath, the sacrament of the Lord�s Supper was observed. The twenty-two original members of the church were: James Monteith, Thomas Hamilton, John Patrick, Samuel McMasters, David Maxwell, Phebe B. Brown, Mary Patrick, Barbara Patrick, Anna Pinks, Mary Matthews, Lydia Robinson, David Johnston, Susanna Johnston, Samuel Matthews, Susanna McMasters, Agnes Robinson, Mrs. Patton, Sarah Harrison, Mary Robinson, Maria McKee, Mrs. Coulter, Mary Johnston.
The congregation depended for preaching on supplies sent from time to time by Presbytery until April, 1825, when Rev. Nathanael Snowden was engaged as a stated supply for a term of two years. He remained with the church until December, 1827, after which the preaching was done by occasional supplies sent by Presbytery until August, 1830, when Rev. James Campbell accepted a call from the congregation and became the first regular pastor of the church. The meeting of Presbytery on Aug. 11, 1830, for Mr. Campbell�s installation, was without doubt the first meeting of Presbytery held in the town. Mr. Campbell�s pastorate ended Oct. 4, 1831, and the church fell back upon Presbytery for supplies. It was during his stay that the first church of the congregation was erected, on the east side of South Jefferson street, this building serving until April, 1856, when it was damaged by a windstorm and had to be taken down. It was replaced with a larger building on the same location, which is now used as quarters of the First ward fire department.
Rev. Dr. Joseph Painter was installed Nov. 14, 1834, and continued his active labors for nearly thirty years, giving up the work to some extent soon after Dr. T. D. Ewing became assistant pastor, in 1864. He sustained the relation of pastor of the church, however, up to the date of his death, which occurred June 1, 1873.
Rev. Henry L. Mayers, fourth pastor of the church, was installed May 11, 1881, and served faithfully for a period of almost twenty-eight years. During the last year of his ministry he was assisted by Rev. W. A. Roulston, who after one year�s service here was called to Vandergrift, Pa. The death of Dr. Mayers left the church without a pastor, and five weeks later the congregation was left without a church, the stone edifice erected under the supervision and untiring attention and aid of Dr. Mayers being totally destroyed by fire March 7, 1909. Rev. William J. Hutchison, D. D., was called by the congregation as Dr. Mayers� successor, and having accepted the call was on Nov. 3, 1909, installed and placed in charge of its affairs, a responsibility which at that time carried more than the ordinary burdens by reason of the calamity which had recently befallen the congregation. The task of planning a new building and gathering the necessary funds fell largely to him, and although these elements much complicated the proposition before him he went to work heartily, with a vigor which promised will and which has not disappointed his congregation. It is worthy of note that the work of taking down the stone walls left standing by the fire began March 7, 1910, a year after the fire, and the work of rebuilding started April 2, 1910, just a year to the day before the dedication. The laying of the corner-stone took place June 5, 1910, nearly twenty years after the dedication of the former building. The cost of the present church, $110,000, exclusive of the material saved from the old church, and the expensive memorial windows, was all pledged and paid on the day of the dedication. The six hundred members on the roll when Dr. Hutchison came have been augmented fifty per cent, there being now nine hundred, and the Sabbath school membership is the largest in the county. The present officers of the church are: Elders, Findley P. Wolff, John D. Galbraith, Paul L. McKenrick, E. Taylor Hutchison, A. L. Ivory, O. N. Wilson, James G. McCullough, Andrew Brymer, William H. Leard, R. A. McCullough, Dr. Russell Rudolph, M.L. Bowser, Frank M. Shubert. Trustees: E. E. Kinter, J. P. Culbertson, Harry R. Gault, John S. Porter, E. S. Hutchison, H. G. Gates, H. A. Arnold, Boyd S. Henry, Samuel H. McCain. Deacons: Harry McClure, Boyd S. Henry, Roland B. Simpson, James M. Stone, Lamont Bixler, Charles Dargue. Treasurer: Chris. K. Leard.
Source: Pages 398-400, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed July 1998 by Joyce Sherry for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)
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