Source History of Jefferson County 1888 pages 238-240
As nearly as can be ascertained from tradition and old records, the first Presbyterian Church in the county was organized near the last-named point in an old log school-house on the hill above the present site of the U.P. Church of Jefferson. This was known as the Bethel Church, and was organized in 1824.
Not long after the organization a dispute arose as to where the proposed house of worship should be built, and Mr. McGarrough was sent for to help decide it. Religious services were held and the text was "See that ye fall not out by the way," Gen. xlv, 24. At the conclusion of the services Mr. McGarrough said that he had understood at the time of the organization that is was the wish of the people to build a church as soon as they could, at or somewhere near the Four-mile spring on the State road. Then picking up his staff he said as he walked out, "All in favor of going to the State road will follow me." The whole congregation except one of the elders followed, and the matter was decided. The location was definitely settled and the church erected just a few rods north of the Susquehanna and Waterford turnpike, and about three miles west of Brookville, in close proximity to the present site of the brick residence belonging to the Widow Cowan.
This church, that first I presume in the county, was constructed of logs, small and closely notched together, and was seated with slabs and blocks of wood, resting upon a genuine earthen floor. There was no provision mad for heating, and the only pulpit was a board placed upon two posts. All traces of this primitive church have disappeared, but the old graveyard can still be seen as you pass along the pike. The number of members at the time of the organization is unknown, but the subsequent year the church is reported as having a membership of sixty-eight.
The first regular preaching that Bethel Church enjoyed was under the Rev. William Kennedy, who as stated supply from October, 1825, to April, 1827, for one-half of his time, the other half being given to the now extinct church of Redbank, located somewhere between Millville and New Bethlehem.
When Brookville was incorporated in 1830, the place of worship of the Bethel Church was removed from the log cabin church to the second story of the jail, and there is no evidence of the old log cabin being used as a place of worship after that time. In 1832 the first court-house was built, and this became the place of worship till 1842, when the first Presbyterian Church of the place was completed and dedicated. That building was superseded by the more modern and commodious structure which was dedicated January 16, 1870, and the first cost of which was about $11,000. An addition has since been made to the building in the shape of a gallery back of the pulpit in which has been built a large and elegant pipe organ.
May 13, 1842, the church was incorporated and the name changed from Bethel to Brookville. Almost one thousand members have been connected with it since its organization, and the report for 1886 shows a present membership of two hundred and forty-four. It has an excellent Sabbath-school, a prayer-meeting, and three good missionary societies and has done a grand work for Christianity.
The pastors and stated supplies of this church have been as follows, viz.:
- Mr. John Shoap, stated supply for half time from October, 1834, to the time of his death in March, 1835. On account of his failing health he was never ordained and installed.
- Rev. Gara Bishop, M.D., stated supply a good part of the time from June, 1835, until the early part of 1840.
- Rev. David Polk, stated supply for half time from June, 1840, to April 1841, and from the latter date pastor until December, 1845.
- Rev. C.P. Cummins, M.D., pastor for half time from June 15, 1847, to August 5, 1856. On this last date he was released and in just ten days from this date he was recalled, and on September 26 was reinstalled. The final dissolution of the relation took place June 10, 1862. Dr. Cummins's pastorate of fifteen years is the longest in the history of the church, and under his ministrations it grew to be self-supporting, his successors giving their whole time to the church.
- Rev. S.H. Holliday, pastor from June 16, 1863, to February 11, 1868.
- Rev. J.J. Marks, stated supply from August, 1868, to April, 1872, and from the latter date pastor until December of the same year.
- Rev. A.B. Fields, pastor from May, 1874, to April, 1880, having preached to the church one year regularly before being called and installed as pastor.
- Rev. T.J. Sherrard, pastor from November, 1880, to March, 1883.
- Rev. J.H. Stewart, pastor from June, 1883, to September, 1886.
- Rev. S.J. Glass took charge of the congregation April 1, 1887, preaching his first sermon as pastor April 4.
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