United Presbyterian Congregation

Source History of Jefferson County 1888 pages 248-253

Was organized in the Associate Reformed Church, and continued in that connection till the union of the Associate and Associate Reformed Church was consummated in the city of Pittsburgh, May, 1858.

Jefferson is perhaps the most recently settled of the counties in western Pennsylvania. The first of those who settled here and felt an interest in our cause, came about the year 1830; some earlier, some later. But no movement was made to have preaching here till 1836.

Isaac Temple, who was one of the first elders, went to Presbytery and solicited preaching for the place where he lived. Of course he was encouraged, hence a subscription was taken for service to be rendered during the year 1837.

The first name on the list is that of David McCormick. I think he was one of the elders of the congregation, but whether he was ordained here or in the place of his former residence, we have at present no means of knowing. Then follows, Thomas McCormick, Job McCreight, Job and W. Rodgers, Levi G. Clover, Benjamin McCreight, William Clark, C.A. Alexander, A. Vasbinder, Daniel Coder, Joseph Kerr, James M. Craig, Isaac Temple, Andrew Moor, John McClelland, William McCullough, David Dennison, William McDonald, Alexander Hutchison, John Hutchinson, Andrew McCormick, Charles Boner, Andrew Hunter.

This comes to my hands as the roll of honor. The first men who gave their names, and with their names their money, built up and sustain the Secession or Reformed Presbyterian cause in this county. Some of these were not then nor ever became members of the church which they chose to patronize. Some of them had perhaps little sympathy with Christianity at all, but I find them here signing their names and giving their support to a cause to which I have given the labor of my life. I honor them. Most of the names on that paper represent men of worth and weight of character. Known in the neighborhood in which they reside as such, and over all Jefferson county as it then was. It will be seen that the parties subscribing to this paper were widely scattered. From Brookville to the vicinity of Rockdale and Brockwayville. The amount of this first subscription is fifty-four dollars. The compensation agreed upon among these psalm-singing churches was six dollars per Sabbath.

This same paper upon which is the subscription, contains also the disbursement of the money. In this connection we find first of all the name of Joseph Osburn. With this brother I had no acquaintance. He belonged to the Associate Reformed branch of the United Presbyterian Church, and died several years before the union, while yet a young man.

The next name I that of Jonathan Fulton, of whom the same thing may be said. He died young. He is represented as a gifted in a very high degree, both as a reasoner and a pulpit orator. Many of you well remember him. His ministrations here did much to give respectability to our cause. Joseph H. Pressly also ministered here at an early day and with much acceptance. This brother who has now gone to his rest, represented to me when in the act of moving to this place, that it was the place of all the others he ever visited, the one where he wished to live. But a Providence shapes our ends differently from our anticipations, and even wishes and efforts to the contrary. This brother performed all his life work in the city of Erie, and there he ended his life.

I find also among those who rendered acceptable service in the name of M. H. Wilson. This brother labored in Jacksonville, Indiana county, Pa. The names of A.G. Wallace, Samuel Brown, William Jamison, and others. These services covered a space of about twenty years, and were the means of keeping the people together, and keeping up their sympathy with the cause.

Of the original signers of the subscription taken in 1837, only three are known to us as now living, viz.: William Rodgers and Benjamin McCreight. Mr. Andrew Hunter was long a member of this congregation; he died at his home in Knox township, at the beginning of the year 1875. David Dennison was a member of the Beechwoods congregation, and died some time during the winter of 1878.

William McCullough, the other survivor of these subscribers still lives, and has membership in the Beechwoods. His son, Boyd McCullough, entered the ministry in the Covenanter Church, and subsequently within the last year, by certificate, was received as a member of the U.P. Presbytery of Brookville.

Perhaps it is worthy of remark that he is the only one of the young men raised in the bounds of any of these congregations who entered the ministry in any connection.

The three McCormick brothers all died in this vicinity. Two daughters of Andrew McCormick live: one, Miss Mary, in Corsica; Sarah McCullough, in Jefferson.

Various supplies were sent, and at different times. As far as I have the means of judging, it appears the Rev. Joseph Osburn was the first Associate Reformed minister who visited this section of country, I suppose in 1837. After him the name N.C. Weed occurs as dispensing the Lord's Supper for the first time in this wilderness in 1842.

Shortly after this Rev. Alexander McCahan rendered service here as a stated supply for the space of four years.

The number of communing members at the first sacrament was thirteen. The communion was held in the barn of the elder before mentioned, Isaac Temple. David McCormick was also an elder officiating at the first communion, but whether either of these fathers, long since departed, was ordained here or had been in the exercise of that office previous to their coming here, does not appear from any record. Warsaw was the residence of these brethren, and the congregation up to this time went by that name. The place of worship was about eight miles to the northeast of Brookville.

In or about the year 1845 the congregation, in view of occupying a more central position and adding somewhat to their strength, removed the place of worship to the town of Brookville, and at once instituted measures for erecting a house of public worship. This was completed in 1849 or in 1850. The congregation then began to think of a regular pastoral settlement.

About the time that the congregation moved their place of worship to Brookville Matthew Dickey, younger brother of Rev. John Dickey, of Rich Hill, Armstrong county, was chosen to the eldership in this congregation. This brother still lives, at this writing, advanced in years and superannuated. His son, William Dickey, is now an elder and an efficient member in this congregation.

About the same time with Mr. Dickey, Mr. James Cochran was also elected. He represented another district, about equally distant as Warsaw but in a northwest direction. The place is known as Tabor, Haggerty, or Sigel. This brother was very useful in the church, raised a large family, and was publicly influential in other respects. He died suddenly of injuries received in escaping from a burning house on the bank of the Allegheny River in the year ___. Two of his daughters, Mrs. Euphema Smith and Mrs. Steven Oaks, are members of this congregation at this time.

In the year 1851 R.H. Graham and William Reed were elected elders. They both served with acceptance about the space of ten years, when Mr. Reed moved West. He has since died, and his family are not in the bounds of any of our congregations. Mr. Graham died in Brookville on the 27th of October, 1861. His widow still remains with us. His son and daughter are members in another branch of the church.

These brothers performed important service in keeping up the dispensation of ordinances under various discouragements. None of these original elders, save Mr. Dickey and Mr. Graham, lived to see a pastor settled in Brookville.

About the year 1863 Mr. Andrew Braden and Mr. George Trimble were elected to the eldership. They had both exercised this office before, Mr. Braden in Dr. Dale's church in Philadelphia, and Mr. Trimble in Jefferson. Mr. Trimble died some time last winter in Paxton, Ill.

In 1863 John Thompson, John Kirker, and Joseph Galbraith were elected to the eldership. Mr. Kirker now resides in New Brighton, and is a member of the Covenanter Church.

In the year 1869 James Braden and M.A. Calvin were elected members of this session.

In July, 1875, William Dickey and Samuel H. Croyle were elected elders, and Thomas B. Galbraith, Samuel Chambers, and Joseph Vasbinder were elected deacons, and ordained solemnly, by the laying on of hands, to that office.


Pastors and Pastoral Changes

As was before stated, Rev. Alexander McCahan was settled here a stated supply from 1846 to 1850. He was an able minister of the New Testament, and the cause was fairly presented by his instrumentality.

In the year 1854 a call was made for J.L. Fairly to become the pastor of this congregation. This call was declined.

During the same year a call was made on Robert N. Dick, licentiate. This young brother died before the meeting of Presbytery at which the call was to have been sustained and presented.

A call was next made on Rev. J.C. Greer, which was declined. This brother is now settle in Lumber City, in this Presbyter.

Some time in the year 1859 a call was made on Rev. J.C. Truesdale, which was accepted. This brother was introduced here under favorable auspices, labored with marked diligence and success about four years. These were years of trouble in the country. The agitations which preceded the war were in some sense prejudicial to the success of our cause as an anti-slavery church as truly as was the open conflict of arms. In all our congregations were some whose political connections led them to sympathize with the cause of the Rebellion. They, of course, were very uncomfortable under the preaching of men true to our principles and loyal to the country. In 1863 Mr. Truesdale resigned his pastoral charge and entered the service of his country as chaplain of the One Hundred and Fifth regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. After the close of the war he was several years pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Paxton, Ill. He is now in the Presbyterian Church, pastor of a congregation in Sharon, Mercer county. Mr. Truesdale's was the first pastorate of the United Presbyterian Church of Brookville.

It would have been in place to mention previous to this pastorate a call made on Mr. A. Lowman, a licentiate. This call was accepted and the young brother, under circumstances which inspired large hopes on the part of the people, came to this place, with his youthful companion, to make it his home. God's purpose proved to be otherwise than he and they all hoped. He was suddenly taken ill and died at the residence of Captain J.M. Steck in Brookville. Resolutions of sympathy and sorrow passed by the congregation are dated December 4, 1858.

In 1864 a call was made on Rev. J.L. Aten which was declined. He was subsequently settled at College Corners, Ohio, and within the last year called to Cleveland, where he is now rendering service.

About the year 1866 a call was made on Rev. A.Y. Houston which was also declined. This brother was settled some years in Palestine, Ohio; subsequently in Ryegate, Vt.

In the year 1868 a call was made on Rev. Samuel Taggart which was declined. His time has since been usefully employed as secretary of the Young Men's Christian Commission of this State.

In 1869 a call was made for Mr. A.B. Struthers who accepted and was settle over this charge, comprising the congregations of Brookville, Jefferson, and Beaver Run. He resigned his pastorate about the close of the year 1871. I have heard many regrets on the part of the people for his hasty departure. His influence was salutary and his name is savory among the people of his charge. Some absentation and some dispersion took place during the war, and the work of this young brother was in part a work of reconstruction. To a certain extent he was successful. Some, however, left during these troublous times who have not since returned, nor found a home in any other society.

In June, 1872, they made a call for their present pastor, who accepted, and was installed in the autumn of the same year. The present incumbent has ministered here now just four years.

In 1871 the membership of Brookville congregation was reported fifty-two. This year, 1876, it is reported on hundred and twenty; to this number ten have since been added, making the number of communicants one hundred and thirty. A Sabbath-school of upwards of a hundred scholars is in successful operation.

The church officers as now constituted are: Rev. G.C. Vincent, D.D., pastor; elders - Andrew Braden, John Thompson, Joseph Galbraith, James Braden, M.A. Calvin, William Dickey, Samuel H. Croyle; deacons - Thomas B. Galbraith, Joseph Vasbinder, Samuel Chambers.

After the formation of the union there was a reconstruction of Presbyteries, and in most instances a change of Presbyterial lines. The Presbytery of Conemaugh was then organized. The southern boundary of this Presbytery was the Conemaugh River; south of that stream the Westmoreland Presbytery. The western boundary of Conemaugh seems to have been the Allegheny River, and no northern limit was marked, as we had no congregations north of Brookville till we come to Caledonia, in the State of New York.

At a meeting of the Synod of Pittsburgh at Indiana in the year 1872, an order was given for the organization of a new Presbytery, from the northern part of the territory included in the Presbytery of Conemaugh. Accordingly, the Presbytery of Brookville was organized November 26, 1872. The Presbytery was small. Three ministerial members became settled in the respective charges about the time of the organization of the Presbytery, viz.: Rev. J.C. Greer, at Lumber city; Rev. M.S. Telford, at Beaver Run and Beachwoods; and Rev. G.C. Vincent, D.D., at Brookville and Jefferson.

This congregation has had an existence as a place of worship since the year 1836, now forty years. The greater part of that time it has with difficulty maintained itself. No other branch has in whole or in part been formed from it. During these forty years there has been no young man educated liberally from this congregation. None have entered the ministry nor any other of the learned professions.

A prayer meeting has for some years been kept up here, sometimes tolerably well attended, sometimes intermittent. During the past winter some better interest has been awakened than usual, and a greater number connected themselves with the church than at any one time previously.

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