Source History of Jefferson County 1888 pages 263-266
The first class was formed in 1828, in an old barn, north of where Brookville now is, and David Butler appointed leader. A Sunday school was also started, with Cyrus Butler superintendent. These first members were David and Cyrus Butler, with their wives, and John Dixon.
In 1829 the following members were added to the little congregation: John Long and wife, John Monks and wife, William McKee, Elijah Heath, William Mendenhall, William Steel. Of those who composed the membership of the first class Mrs. David Butler and Mr. John Dixon alone survive; the former is now eighty-three years of age and the latter is in his eightieth year. The next place of worship is said to have been a school-house that stood near the site of the present jail. Mrs. A. J. Brady, who has been a member of this church for about ___ years, says that her first recollection of attending service in Brookville, was in a house occupied by her uncle, William Robinson, which stood in the rear of the lot upon which is now the residence or T. L. Templeton. One lady says that shoes were in those days a luxury, to be cared for carefully, and she was wont to carry hers with her when she came to church from her father's house in Pine Creek township until she came to the place now occupied by the grist mill of T. K. Litch & Sons, when she would put them on, and after the service, on her way home, she would again remove them. The members of this little congregation were obliged to come on foot for long distances to attend these meetings, and these incidents show the self-denial practiced by those who founded this church.
As soon as the old court-house was erected, the congregation took its turn with others in worshipping there, until in 1850, when through the exertions of Rev. G. F. Reeser, the pastor in charge of Brookville Mission, as it was then called, aided by Judge Heath, C. Fogle and others, the first church was built. The difficulties encountered in this first building enterprise have already been given by Mr. Reeser, in a former chapter.
In May, 1856, this church was destroyed in the disastrous fire that visited Brookville. It was a frame building, and in the list of losses published at the time, the loss to the congregation is given at $2,500. On this there was an insurance almost covering the loss, but owing to some technicality the insurance company, the Lycoming Mutual, refused to pay it, and though the matter was taken into the courts the church recovered nothing on the loss. The trustees immediately went to work and during the fall of 1856 and spring of 1857, the church was rebuilt. During the building of the new church, services were held in the Lutheran Church and court-house until the basement was ready for use, and then services were held in the Sunday- school room until the audience room was completed. This church, the one now owned and occupied by the United Presbyterians, who purchased it from the Methodist congregation in 1885, was built at a cost of $6,ooo, D. S. Johnson being the builder This church becoming inadequate to the wants of the congregation, a new building was begun in the summer of 1885, on Pickering street, on property purchased from Mrs. E. R. Brady and Dr. M. B. Lowry. The new church, which is of brick, built in Gothic style, was finished in the following spring, being dedicated April 4, 1886. The entire cost of the building, gas fixtures, furniture, etc., was $18,250. Of this $10,414.19 was realized from the estate of the late Paul Darling, who had in his will bequeathed to the church $4,000 towards the building of a new church and also named it as one of the residuary legatees. The balance of the cost of the building was raised by subscription and the church was dedicated free of debt. The building committee were J. E. Long, John Startzell, I. F. Steiner, David Eason, F. H. Darrah; treasurer of church fund, Frank X. Kreitler, secretary David Eason. The contractor and builder was Martin Sadler, of Brookville.
The bell, the deep tones of which call the people to worship in the new church, was the gift of F. H. Darrah, and his wife Jane Darrah, and F. X. Kreitler and cost $500. The magnificent front window of the church was put in as a memorial to Paul Darling, by the trustees. The beautiful circular window, back of the minister's pulpit, was the gift of James F. Long as a memorial to his parents, John and Jane Long, two of the first members of the Brookville Congregation.
This church is the largest and handsomest church edifice in Jefferson county. It is so constructed that the Sunday-school room and class rooms can be thrown into the auditorium. While all worked with a will to erect this fine new church, much of the praise is due to the hard-working pastor, at the time, Rev. P. W. Scofield, on whom much of the burden fell, he not only aiding in soliciting, but in collecting subscriptions. He was only able to enjoy the new church a short time as his allotted term of three years expired with the end of the conference year in September. To Mr. Scofield was also due the arranging for and maintaining of the Erie Conference, which was held in the new church in September, 1887. The Church Furnishing Society, which was started when the church was building, raised Over $1,100, which was applied to the furnishing of the edifice. During the present year the trustees have purchased at a cost of $2,850 the property of John Matson, Sr, on the corner of Jefferson and Pickering streets, to be used as a parsonage.
The present organization of the church is Rev. John Lusher, preacher in charge, (appointed at last conference), David Eason, local preacher. Trustees, E. H. Darrah, A. C. White, David Eason, J. E. Long, Frank X. Kreitler, Andrew Craig, H. H. Brocius, S. H. Whitehill, John Startzell. Stewards, C. C. Benscoter, W. A. Thompson, William L. Sansom, M. H. Hall, John Startzell, J.A. Scott Frank Rankin, Jonathan Harp, Lafayette Schnell, Laurence Snyder. Class Leaders, William L. Sansom, Edward Blakeney, Dr. J. E. Hall, Frank Rankin, W. P. Steele, M. B. Lowry, Mrs. David Eason, Miss Amelia Clark.
The membership of the church, including probationers, is three hundred and twelve. A large, well-conducted and flourishing Sunday-school is attached to this church; S. H. Whitehill being the present superintendent.
David Butler, Cyrus and Nathaniel Butler with their wives, John Long and wife, William Mendenhall and wife, William Steel, Christopher Fogle arid wife, James C. Matson and wife, D. S. Johnson and wife, all pioneers of Methodism in Brookville, have left the church militant.
The Brookville Church has been on three occasions honored by having the Erie Conference meet within its walls. The first session held in Brookville was in June, 1859, at which Bishop Mathew Simpson presided, and on Sunday, the people having gathered from "far and wide" to hear that most eminent exponent of Methodism, the church was far too small to hold the crowd in attendance, and the services were held in the grove on Church street, the papers of the day giving the number assembled as fully five thousand. The next conference held here was in September, 1872, Bishop Gilbert Haven presiding, and the last session was held in the new church September, 1886, Bishop E. G. Andrews presiding.
The Brookville charge was first attached to the Shippenville Circuit, in the Erie District, Pittsburgh Conference, and in 1828 Rev. Wilder B. Mack was presiding elder and Nathaniel Callender, preacher in charge. Brookville is now the most prominent appointment in the Clarion District of the Erie Conference. Since 1828 the following ministers have been appointed by conference to this church: 1829, John Johnson, John C. Ayers; 1830-31, Job Wilson; 1832, Abner Jackson, A. C. Barnes; 1833 (Brookville and Ridgeway Mission), Abner Jackson; 1834, A. Kellar; 1835, John Scott, Charles C. Best; 1836, J. A. Hallock, J. K. Locke; 1837, J. A. Hallock; 1838, L. Whipple 1839, H. S. Hitchcock; 1840, D. Pritchard; 1844, T. Benn; from 1844 to 1847 there is no record of the ministers who supplied Brookville mission; 1847, I. C. T. MeClelland; 1848-49, Dean C. Wright; 1850, George F. Reeser, J. J. McArthur; '85', George F. Reeser; 1852, John K. Lyon; 1853-54, J. T. Boyle; 1855, John Crum; 1856-57, Thomas Graham; 1858-59, E. H. Yingling; 1860-61, D. S. Steadman. In October, 1861, Mr. Steadman resigned as pastor to accept the appointment of chaplain of the One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Regiment, and David Eason filled the balance of the time until the next Conference. 1862, A. M. Coons; 1863-65, J. C. Scofield; 1866, W. Hollister; 1867-68, J. A. Starrett; 1869-71, David Latshaw; 1872, B. F. Delo; 1873-75, K. B. Boyd. Mr. Boyd died during the last year of his pastorate, and J. M. Zeile filled the unexpired time. 1876, A. U Kellogg; 1877-79,John O'Neil; 1880-81. O.G. McIntyre; 1882, R. S. Borland; 1883-85, P. W. Scofield; 1886, John Lasher.
The following ministers have occupied the position of presiding elder in this (now the Clarion District): 1828-31, Wilder B. Mack; 1832, Joseph S. Barns; 1833-4, Zerah P. Coston; 1835, Joshua Monroe; 1836, Joseph S. Barris; 1837-39, William Carroll; 1840-2, John Bain: 1843-44, John Robinson; 1845-46, Horatio N. Stearns; 1847, William H. Hunter; 1848-49, E. J. L. Baker; 1850-51, William F. Wilson; 1852-54, Moses Hill; 1855-57, Joseph Flower; 1858-59, J. E. Chapin; 1860-63, K. A. Carruthers; 1864-67, K. H. Hurlburt; 1868-71, O. L. Mead; 1872-75, JR. Lyon; 1876-79, B. F. Delo; 1880-83, P.P. Piney; 1884-87, David Latshaw.
The local preachers of the Brookville Church have been Christopher Fogle, J. K. Mendenhall, William P. Steele, and David Eason.
Quite a number of those who have ministered to the Brookville Church have been called hence by the Master they served; Rev. Robert Boyd being the only one to fall while in the service here. He was an able and godly man, and his death was deeply mourned by his people and all who knew him. The next to obey the summons was that noble man of God, Rev. John O'Neil, who died just after he had gone from a successful pastorate of three years to a new charge at Fredonia, N. Y. No one who has filled this pulpit was ever more beloved by the citizens of Brookville. Closely following him was Rev. J.K. Lyon. Mr. Lyon had been closely identified with the church both as pastor and elder. An able minister, and an excellent man, he had won a deep place in the affections of the people.
Rev. Thomas Graham, one of the oldest ministers in the Erie Conference, which he entered in 1834, and one of the ablest and strongest in argument within the bounds of the church, has also been called away. Mr. Graham helped to build up the church in Brookville, when it had just emerged from a baptism of fire, and he was endeared to the people both spiritually and socially.
Of the local preachers, no one was so closely identified with the Brookville church as Rev. Christopher Fogle. He had passed through its most trying days with it, and proved a pillar of strength, both spiritually and financially. He died "full of years" in 18__. Many of those who have ministered unto the Brookville Church have become prominent in this and other conferences.
John R. Lyon and B. F. Delo, were presiding elders, and J. C. Scofield, R. S. Borland, and D. Latshaw, are now serving in the same capacity. When the Erie Conference was divided a few years ago a number of its members were transferred to the East Ohio Conference, among whom were E. H. Yingling, and J. A. Starrett.
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