Chapter XXI
The Churches in Jefferson County - continued 

The Baptist Churches - Dr. Nichols the Pioneer Baptist - The Evangelical Association next Proclaim the Word of God in the County - The Lutheran Churches at Brookville - St. Johns and St. Michaels - The Episcopal Church of the Intercessor - The United Brethren in Christ - M.E. Steiner the Founder of the Church in Jefferson County - The Early and Present Pastors of these Denominations - Struggles and Efforts to Establish the Different Churches - Membership - Statistics.


The constant efforts put forth by the sturdy pioneer Baptist preachers of this region of country to plant the church, and the many prayers offered for the success of the preached word, have had their influence and are felt to-day by all the Baptist Churches in Jefferson county, as well as in the neighboring counties of Clearfield, Clarion and Indiana. The privations of pioneer life and the sparsely settled communities, together with the dangers from wild beasts, and the absence of good roads, and very frequently the fording of streams in winter, or swimming the currents in summer time, to say nothing of the non-receipt of pay for their labors, conspired to make the visits of these devoted men of God few and far between. Laying their all upon the altar of God, they were ready for either sacrifice or service, and went forth to do and to dare for the cause of truth, feeling "that all things shall work together for good to them that love God." Winters snows and summers rains never deterred them from their regular visits, when at all possible to go to the scattered settlements of our region.

In 1818 Rev. Jonathan Nichols settled on the Brandy Camp. He was the first clergyman who settled in the county, and spent his life in the service of the people. He was also the first physician, and his visits extended over a large extent of country. His ministry was well received by the people of all religious beliefs, who all attended his meetings. His is the first record of any minister, who was a pioneer preacher, holding views at all approximating to those held by the regular Baptist Church. After him came Rev. Samuel Miles, who preached in Brookville in 1833, and again a half century later, at the dedication of the Baptist Church in 1883. He is still living at Ansonville, Clearfield county, enjoying the "Indian summer" of his life, among a people who love him for his past relation to them. His memory is precious in the Baptist brotherhood of Jefferson county, and also of all the old settlers, who venerate the name of this man of God.

Revs. Stoughton, Kiel, Thomas E. and B.H. Thomas - father and son - Harding, Todd, Dobbs, Telford, McFarland and Wilson were among those who worked early and late to call the people to a knowledge of God and his truth. The first Baptist organization was effected in June, 1834, with thirteen members in the Beechwoods now Washington township. Henry Keys and James McConnell were elected deacons, Rev. Samuel Miles in September, 1834, their first pastor. Since that time he has been succeeded by Revs. Thomas Wilson, Jacob Kiel, John Sallade, James Johnston, H.B. Fish, J.A. Metz, S.P. Barr, and J.E. Dean.

Mrs. Eliza Haney, of Clearfield county, was among the first Baptists to locate in the county. She, with Mrs. Wier, of Centre county, who also located in this county, Robert McIntosh, sr., and Betty Keys started the first Sunday-school in the Beechwoods in 1828. This school was held from house to house until 1832, when the first school-house near the old Beechwoods graveyard was built, in which it then held its sessions. Robert McIntosh was the first superintendent, Mathew Keys assistant superintendent, and James Smith treasurer. Betty Keys and Fannie McConnell were among the teachers. The names McConnell and Keys are still to be found in the membership of the Gethsemane Baptist Church, which stands just back of the old church building. Near the present Beechwoods graveyard is the grave of Betty Keys. For some time prior to her death she was a confined invalid, and during this bed-ridden period of her existence she collected enough money from visitors and friends to put the church in good repair. She was a Christian woman of royal stamp.

During the early history of the Baptist cause in this region, Henry Keys, Robert McIntosh, and others would leave their homes in the Beechwoods before daylight on Sunday morning, and go to church at old Zion meeting-house in Clarion county, making a distance of about thirty miles. These men would walk there and back the same day. Rev. Mr. Stoughton of Butler county preached occasionally for the Baptists of the Beechwoods in 1833. In June, 1834, the Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Mr. Brown, in Henry Keys’s barn, with the following members: Mrs. Eliza Haney, Miss Betty Keys, Henry Keys and his wife, Mrs. Catharine Keys, Mary Ann McConnell, afterwards Mrs. McClelland, Margaret McConnell, and Mrs. Nancy McGhee, Mrs. McClelland, and Miss Hall. The society met in Keys’s barn.

The second organization was held in Brookville in 1836. The pastors since then have been Samuel Miles, Thomas Wilson, Thomas E. Thomas, and John Hunt followed by Professor Lane, J.S. Wrightnour, and Theodore Henderson the present pastor. In 1883 under the pastorate of Rev. T. Henderson, the present handsome church edifice costing about six thousand dollars, was erected. The ground upon which it is built, valued at not less than one thousand dollars, was donated by Mrs. D.E. Taylor. The location is on the corner of Main and Mill streets.

Third in the order of organization came that of the Punxsutawney Church in 1840, under the pastorate of of Rev. Thomas Wilson. They have now a good comfortable brick meeting-house. Rev. D.W.C. Hervey and S.L. Parcell were the devoted pastors of later years. Rev. H.H. Leamy is the present pastor.

About the same time, as the result of the labors of Rev. Thomas Wilson at Corsica, the Mount Pleasant Church was organized. Many of the members of this church live in Clarion county. The church fence at the front is the line between Jefferson and Clarion. Revs. S.P. Barr, D.W. Swigert, A.J. King, R. Dunlap, and W.B. Purdy have been among the successive pastors.

Rev. R. Dunlap, one of the grandest and best friends of Jesus and his truth, was found dead in his buggy while entering Corsica, March 21, 1885. He was going to fill his appointment. Kind hearts and willing hands did everything that possibly could be done to show veneration for the memory of this beloved man of God.

This church owns a good frame house which stands on the site of the one destroyed by fire some years ago.

Next came the Warsaw Church at Richardsville, which was at first composed of members dismissed by letter from the Gethsemane and Brookville Churches.

This church was constituted April 22, 1865, with six constituent members, viz.: William Humphreys, Peter Rickard, Margaret Rickard, Andrew Rickard, Galbraith Wilson, Nancy Wilson; two of whom still survive. Since the organization the church has been served by the following pastors: Thomas Wilson, John Sallade, R.S. Hunt, W.M. Thompson, Daniel Webster, D.W. Swigart, Howell Jeffries, H.W. Boyer, T.J. Collins, R. Dunlap, S.P. Barr, and W.B. Purdy. William Humphreys was ordained deacon at the organization, Joshua Long the following September; at a later date John Chamberlain and J.F. Snyder; E.A. Bartlett and Thomas Brownell, June 8, 1885. The four last named still serve the church in that capacity, the two former being dead. Three ministers have been ordained: John Sallade, Thomas Evans, and T.P. Collins, (Thomas Evans being licensed by the church). Two of the pastors have died and are buried in the cemetery, viz.: W.M. Thompson and R. Dunlap. The present membership is one hundred and forty-four.

Shortly after the organization the congregation made an effort to build a meeting-house about one mile north of Hazen, using round logs; but they did not succeed in getting it under roof. They continued to worship in school-houses, private houses, and barns, when the weather would permit until 1859. About 1856 the congregation secured from Mr. N. Carrier, sr., for twenty-five dollars, the beautiful location near Richardsville which is now occupied by the church buildings and cemetery. Mr. Carrier donated seven dollars of the twenty-five. During the winter of 1857-58 they commenced preparations in earnest for the erection of a meeting-house. Messrs. A.S. Rhines, R. Bedell, and H.R. Moore, were the building committee. During 1858 the present church was completed and dedicated in May, 1859. The building will seat about four hundred, is well preserved, and will not suffer in comparison with many buildings of more recent construction. In 1882, the congregation built a neat parsonage of eight rooms and cellar, on the lot near the church. The property at present is worth about $4,000. After the erection of the meeting-house a Sabbath-school was organized which for the last fifteen years has been an "evergreen" school.


Rev. Samuel Miles, of Clearfield county, and Thomas Wilson of Punxsutawney, had preached in the neighborhood occasionally previous to the year 1853, when C.H. Prescott moved to Reynoldsville. He found there one Baptist in the town, and another individual holding a letter from a Baptist church who had intended to join the Methodists, but soon after changed his mind. Six other Baptists were in the country within three miles of where the church now stands. And very soon talk commenced about starting a church, but it was said Reynoldsville was too hard a place for a church. But the one who most urged forward the enterprise would insist that it was not harder than Jerusalem where God was able to convert thousands in a day. It was not long until Rev. Thomas Wilson was hired to preach one-fourth of his time. Opposition to religion was very strong and he labored but one year. After this two brethren failing in an attempt to sustain a union prayer-meeting made a covenant with each other to meet every Wednesday evening for prayer whether any others were present or not. And frequently in bad weather only the two would be present. But trusting in God they persevered.

In the summer of 1858 the church was organized with eighteen constituent members. Rev. James Johnston acted as pastor for several months after the organization. He was followed by Rev. A.B. Runyan, whose home was in Brush Valley, Indiana county. He was pastor when the first and only house of worship was raised, but not completed till about two years after. The frame was a most substantial one put up by the lamented Captain Conser, and about the last work of the kind he did before he joined the army in 1861. The next pastor was Rev. B.H. Fish; who was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Miles. His pastorate continued about nine years, and the church was generally very prosperous during his ministry. He was followed by Rev. W.A. Ridge, who supplied the church a few months before Rev. Z.E. Dean was chosen pastor. He labored quite successfully several years, and was followed by D.W.C. Hervey and Rev. W. Cattell, until the present pastor came, Rev. J.N. Williams. The most of the constituent members of the West Liberty and Sykesville Churches had been members of "Soldier Run" Church. For the last ten or twelve years they have had services part of the day at Centennial Hall in Reynoldsville, which was built by C.H. Prescott and John H. Corbett, and furnished free of rent.

A contract has recently been made with parties to erect a good, commodious house of worship - to be of brick, and completed in 1887. The location of the new house is on Main street between Centennial Hall and the Presbyterian Church. For many years the Soldier Run meeting-house was the only house of worship from Brookville to Luthersburgh and from the Beechwoods to Punxsutawney. Though they never received fifty dollars from other denominations to help build the church when all the members were comparatively poor, their generosity has seldom been excelled towards others while they continued to hold most rigidly to that which they believed the Lord requires of all his followers. Methodists have held services in their church, and both the United and Old School Presbyterians had the use of it for years when not occupied by the Baptists. The Presbyterian Church was organized in that house. When the site was selected it was surrounded on all sides by woods. It was presented to the church by C.H. Prescott, who helped grub out the trees with his own hands, and bore about half the expense of erecting the whole house. This was so soon after the panic of 1857, and finished at the beginning of the war, that it required such sacrifices as are seldom made now for a place to worship God unmolested. The only man they ever licensed to preach was C.H. Prescott, in 1870.

The Bethel Church at Sykesville in McCalmont township, was organized in June, 1886, with twenty or more members. Rev. J.N. Williams was the first pastor. Rev. H.H. Leamy, of Du Bois has Sykesville in pastoral charge now, in connection with the church at Du Bois in Clearfield county. The aggregate membership of all these churches when organized was about one hundred and forty.

The Clarion Baptist Association composed of regular Baptist Churches of Clarion county, and portions of Jefferson, Armstrong and Butler counties, was organized in the old court-house in Brookville, about fifty years ago. Three generations of Baptist preachers have been given from one family - so highly honored in this region of country. These are Thomas E. Thomas, for many years pastor of old Zion Church in Clarion county, now deceased, and whose body lies in Zion Church cemetery, within a few feet of the pulpit, where he used to stand and proclaim the truth of God. He was succeeded by his son Rev. B.H. Thomas, D.D., who for a number of years has been pastor of Zion Church in connection with his two other churches in Clarion county. Rev. B.H., Thomas, jr., now pastor of a Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, is the third preacher in the family. Thus, have father, son, and grandson, been honored servants of God.

Each church now worships in a good meeting-house of its own, and literally sits under "its own vine and fig tree." The new church building, now under contract, in Reynoldsville, will be one more in the list of good meeting-houses owned by the Baptists.

When we attend service in any one of those neat and comfortable modern houses, and find the bright glow of the sunlight mellowed by the stained glass or frosted windows, or even with windows protected by window-shades; or listen to the notes of the soft pealing organ, and watch the well-dressed congregation rise to sing, or unite in the devotions, and see the minister stand behind a modern pulpit, we find the surroundings totally different to what they were when the first Baptist Church in Jefferson county met to worship in Henry Keys’s barn, in the Beechwoods.

The singing may be more artistic now, and the sermons may be shorter, and the intermission altogether obsolete; but the royal, hearty grasp of the hand, and good old-fashioned sermon, which went straight home to the hearts and consciences of the hearers, and the good old "Dundee" or "Dennis" or "Coronation" sung from full hearts, made the old-time worship a wonderful factor in the soul development of our fathers and mothers in Israel, whose worship is now before the Saviour in the "Upper Glory."

In the great fight for soul-liberty and loyalty to law, and a "thus saith the Lord" for each act of worship, or proclamation of the Divine message, and holding out the truth that "nothing is settled till it is settled right," and that that standard of "right" must be according to the Divine idea of equity and justice, and that individual responsibility must be felt and acted out, and that God deals with the intelligence and reason of man in the matter of soul’s salvation, the Baptists have stood in the very front of the battle, and have struck sturdy and telling blows, which have left their influence upon this whole region of country in the victory achieved.

Rev. Theodore Henderson, who prepared the data for the history of the Baptist Churches, deserves more than a passing notice in this connection. He was born at Saltsburg, Indiana county, December 14, 1841, and was the fifth of eleven children born to David and Abby Henderson nee Geer. His mother died in 1864, but his father is still living. Theodore’s great-grandfather was in one of the Irish rebellions prior to 1798, and not long after migrated to America.

His father was a blacksmith and young Theodore learned his father’s trade. He attended the common schools and had two terms at the Saltsburg and Indiana Academies. He then entered the office of the Indiana Register as an apprentice, and had worked there nine months when the war broke out, and he entered the army in Company B, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves, and served three years and three days. He participated in the Second Bull Run, First Fredericksburg, South Mountain, and all the subsequent engagements in which his regiment was engaged. He was so severely wounded at Fredericksburg that he was disabled, and for a time transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.

In August, 1864, he entered the office of the Pittsburgh Post to complete his apprenticeship as a printer and remained three months, being obliged to quit on account of ill-health. He then resumed his old occupation as a blacksmith, at his home in Saltsburg, until February, 1865, when he went to Washington, D.C., and was engaged in the government shops there and at Alexandria, Va.

While at Washington, he was at Ford’s Theatre, on the memorable 13th of April, 1865, and witnessed the assassination of President Lincoln. In 1867 he was again at home working at his old trade, and in 1868 was engaged in the Pennsylvania Railroad shops at Blairsville. He then entered the preparatory department of the University at Lewisburg, and graduated in two years. He was then admitted to the college proper, and obtained his degree as a member of the class of 1876. On the 29th of November, 1876, he was married to Miss Ella S. Shurick, daughter of Adam and Margaret Shurick, of Blairsville. He received a call to the Baptist Church at Brookville, in October, 1876, and was ordained as its pastor November 23d, of the same year.

During the years subsequent to the war he has been, more or less, a sufferer from a growing difficulty of locomotion, caused by an injury at the battle of South Mountain, Md., September 14, 1862. During the fight, while his company was engaged with the enemy on the right of the Union line at the open field skirted by a stone wall, his gun became disabled by reason of the pivot being filled with some hard substance which prevented the use of the gun. Knowing that all the guns of his regiment were of the same calibre, he threw his gun aside, and drew to his side the gun of his rear-rank man. This man was unable to use his fire-arm because of illness. In the heat of the fight Henderson never thought of the gun being already loaded, and so proceeded to load with the regulation cartridge and one ounce ball and three buckshot, and then rose to fire over the stone-wall at the enemy in the field. The concussion of the gun owing to the double load, was so great as to hurl Henderson with violent force upon his back, and falling upon the stony ground he received such injury at the junction of the ischiatic nerves where they join the spine, in the lumbar region, as to seriously imperil his usefulness, and also to threaten a cessation of his active work in the ministry. During these years he has gone on duty in many ways even when better judgment would dictate a rest; but his motto has ever been "forward," and "The Lord will provide." At present writing, 1887, he still has the flag up, and will be found at his post of duty as long as able. He still remains pastor of the church of his first settlement, where he was ordained in 1876.


The first efforts of the Evangelical Association in Jefferson county was in the year of 1832, by Revs. Elias Stoever and A. Frey, who were appointed to Indiana Circuit, then belonging to the Eastern Conference. Indiana Circuit embraced parts of Indiana, Armstrong, Clarion, Clearfield, and Jefferson counties. At this (1832) date, the church consisted of but two annual conferences - the Eastern and Western. The eastern embraced parts of the States of Pennsylvania and New York. The western included Ohio only. The conference that sent the above named missionaries to Indiana Circuit convened that year in the town of New Berlin, Union county, June 4, 1832.

The following is a list of the ministers and also the time they served "Indiana Circuit," 1833, Revs. S.G. Miller and J. Boas; 1834, J. Lutz, and P. Gates; 1835, S. Altimos and J. Boas; 1836, Peter Wiest and D.N. Long; 1837, Henry Heis and John Heis; 1838, George Rishel and Joseph Truby; 1839, Rev. Daniel Kerr. From 1840 to 1844 we have no report and therefore cannot say who served the work, but at the conference session of 1844.

At the Seventh General Conference held in Millheim, Centre county, Pa., beginning March 25, 1839, the Eastern Conference was divided into two, called the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania Conferences, and Indiana Circuit becoming a part of the Western Pennsylvania Conference. At the session of the Western Pennsylvania Conference held in Millheim, Centre county, convening on March 3, 1844, Indiana Circuit was divided, and that portion containing parts of Jefferson, Armstrong and Clarion counties was called Clarion circuit. And the following ministers were appointed to Clarion circuit: 1844, Revs. Jacob Rank and McLahn; 1845, Jacob Rank and George Cupp; 1846, Daniel Sill and Charles Lindiman; 1847, Daniel Sill and — - Kelley; 1848, George Dellinger. From 1849 to 1852 there is no report to be found stating who served as pastors for Clarion circuit.

The Tenth General Conference held in 1851 divided the Western Pennsylvania Conference, and all of that part of Pennsylvania lying west of the Allegheny Mountains, and Western Virginia was constituted a new conference district, called Pittsburgh. Conference, which held its first session in the Zion Church on Sixth street, Pittsburgh, convening March 3, 1852; and Clarion circuit becoming a part of Pittsburgh Conference, and Revs. Jacob Rank and Jacob Weikel were appointed pastors for the conference year of 1852; 1853, Revs. H.H. Bucher and J. Rosenberger; 1854, H.H. Bucher and G.W. Risinger; 1855-56, J.M. Zerkel and W.H. Stull; 1857, John Pfeifer and John Shaffer. At the annual conference session in 1858 all the appointments lying within the bounds of Jefferson county were taken from Clarion circuit and constituted a new circuit called Jefferson circuit, and the following ministers were appointed as pastors for the following years: 1858, A.R. Teats and A. Weaver; 1859, Henry Pfeifer and J.G. Pfeifer; 1860, J.G. Pfeifer and G.S. Domer; 1861, G.S. Domer; 1862, A.R. Teats; 1863, Jacob Weikel and Joseph Monismith; 1864, J. Rank and L.L. Buchman; 1865-66, W.H. Stull; 1867, Henry Rhodes and P.W. Plotts; 1868-69, E. Beaty; 1870, S. Varner and A.J. Myers; 1871, J. Woodhull and Amos W. Platt; 1872, J. Woodhull; 1873, D.K. Lavan and L.I. Baumgardner; 1874, Levi Ross; 1875-77, M.H. Shannon; 1878-79, E.B. Arthur; 1880, J. Dick; 1881-83, Samuel Milliron; 1884, F.P. Hummull; 1885, J.H. Shimp; 1886-87, George Focht.


At the annual session of the Pittsburgh Conference March, 1872, Brookville, the county seat, was taken up as an appointment and called Brookville Mission, and supplied with the following ministers the ensuing years; 1872, J.J. Carmony; 1873, L.I. Baumgardner; 1874, Joseph Porch; 1875-77, J.A. Dunlap; 1878, J.W. Domer; 1879, L.H. Hetrick;. 1880-81, C.C. Poling; 1882-83, I.A. Rohland; 1884, Amos W. Platt, whose health failed at the expiration of three months and he was succeeded the remaining part of the conference year by Rev. L. Schobert, of Kossuth, Clarion county; 1885, J.B. Ward; 1886-87, F.P. Hummull.


The appointments, Heathville, Zion, Ringgold, Ebenezer and St. Jacobs were taken from Jefferson circuit by annual conference, in its session of 1873, and constituted a new circuit called Ringgold circuit and the following ministers appointed as pastors for the ensuing years; 1873, J.S. Seip; 1874-75, W. Houpt; 1876-77, Levi Ross; 1878-79, M.H. Shannon; 1880-82, George Focht; 1883-84, L.H. Hetrick; 1885, J.G. Coleman; 1886-87, A.W. Brickley.


At the conference session April, 1885, the appointments Worthville, Wonderlings, Chapel and Bethesda Church, near Belleview, were taken from Jefferson circuit and constituted a new field of labor called Worthville circuit and Rev. F.P. Hummull appointed pastor for 1885; and Rev. F.D. Ellenberger; for 1886-87.

The above named four fields of labor occupy the southern portion or the county with a membership of five hundred and ninety-four communicants and seven hundred and fifty Sunday school scholars, ninety-four officers and teachers, and twelve Sunday-schools, ten church buildings and three parsonages. The Annual Conference is divided into four presiding elder districts - Allegheny, Franklin, Pittsburgh, and Somerset. The interests of the church in Jefferson county belong to Allegheny District and the present presiding elder is Rev. I.A. Rohland, M.A. whose residence is in the town of Brookville, Pa.

Names of the first families that were members of the Evangelical Church in Jefferson county: George Weise, George Milliron, Samuel Michel, Daniel Enterline, Samuel Lerch, John Motter, Isaac Motter, sr., Daniel Motter, Abraham Milliron, Abraham Funk. The first representatives of the church settled along Redbank Creek in Beaver township. Jacob Startzell and his wife, Christina Startzell, are among the first members of the church in Ringgold township. At the homes of the above-named persons the Evangelical preachers first preached, also in school-houses, one of which stood in Coon Valley one mile north of the town of Ringgold.


In the early history of the church the ministry preached in the German language exclusively in this county, but by western emigration, and removals by death, and the free schools being English, the preaching of the present (1887) is entirely English.


The first church building was erected on the land of Mr. Samuel Lerch, about the year 1848. The contract was given to Mr. Samuel Lerch, and when completed was dedicated as the Zion Church of the Evangelical Association, and in March, 1853, the Pittsburgh Conference held the second annual session in the above named church, Bishop Joseph Long presiding. The second church was built in Ringgold, Ringgold township. The church has a camp-ground at North Freedom, leased for twenty years from 1876, and have erected seventy-five cottages thereon, and hold an annual meeting attended by from five to eight thousand people.


Among the first settlers in the county were members of the Lutheran faith, but for many years they had no church or pastor. The first Lutheran minister that penetrated into this county was Rev. George Young, who organized a congregation about three and a half miles south of Brookville, in Rose township, in 1838, and erected a log church. This has ever since been known as St. John’s. The next of whom we find any record is Rev. John Rengan, who was conducted in 1844 through the forests from Indiana, by Mr. John Boucher, or as he was familiarly known to the Lutherans throughout the county in later years as Father Boucher, to the place now known as Sprankle’s Mills, and from which point he came on to Brookville, where he held service up stairs in the old jail. He remained but a short time, and effected no organization. Rev. John Nemer came next, but the length of the stay of these two first ministers is unknown.

In 1846 Rev. J.B. Breckenridge was sent to Brookville, which in connection with a few surrounding places, was made into a "mission field." But owing to ill-health, which disqualified him for the arduous duties of the position, he was soon obliged to retire from the field, and was succeeded February 1, 1849, by Rev. P. Sheeder, who September 4, 1850, organized the congregation, and held the first recorded communion service. The membership numbered thirteen, viz.: John Boucher, Elizabeth Boucher, Jacob S. Steck, Christiana Steck, Mrs. Caroline Shackleford, Jacob Burket, Catharine Burket, Mrs. Maria Clark, Mrs. Catharine Smith, Daniel Coder, Catharine Coder, Hannah McKinley and Mary A. Yeomans. Daniel Coder was elected elder, and John Boucher deacon. The first who received the ordinance of baptism were Norman and Griffith, sons of William F. and Mrs. Maria Clark. All of those who composed this little congregation with the exception of Mrs. Caroline Shackleford (now of Kittanning), have gone to join the heavenly congregation, even those two young boys received into the church by baptism, have "passed over the river."

At the first recorded communion at St. John’s Church, there were present fifteen members and twelve catechumen. These first members were Thomas Holt, Peter Thrush, Elizabeth Thrush, Samuel Johns, Magdalena Johns, Mattie Chesley, Armenia Grove, Charles Merriman, Susannah Merriman, Hannah Himes, Mary Johnston, Jacob Wolfgong, Sarah Wolfgong, Mary Spiker, Joseph Kaylor. These, too, have all passed away, leaving their children to take their places in the church.

In 1850 these two congregations united, and in the same year the contract for the building of the present church in Brookville was let for one thousand dollars, the builder to furnish the materials. The contractor failed and the contract was re-let at fourteen hundred and fifty dollars. The church was dedicated in 1852, with a balance due the builder of seven hundred dollars unprovided for. Previous to the building of this church the Brookville congregation had worshiped in the court-house. Rev. Sheeder served the congregation for four years, in which the membership had increased to nineteen.

Rev. J. Wright took charge of the two congregations, and also of a new organization which had been founded in the Grube settlement in Bell township, in 1854. He resigned the pastorate August 24, 1856, and during the next two years they were only occasionally supplied by Revs. J.B. Young and J.B. Lawson. October 3, 1858, Rev. Jacob Singer became the pastor, but remained only one year. During the year 1861 the charge was vacant with only occasional supplies; but in this time St. John’s congregation built a commodious frame church.

In March, 1862, Rev. Joseph Welker accepted a call and labored in these churches for two years, when owing to the saddest affliction that could have befallen him - insanity - he was obliged to retire from the work of the ministry. This was a trying time for the mission, and again during three years it was without a pastor. The membership, which had been greatly augmented, was again reduced, the Brookville Church to eighteen. Then Rev. G.F. Ehrenfeldt was pastor for one year, and then after another lapse of a year, in which the membership of the Brookville Church had been reduced to its original thirteen, Rev. I.J. Delo took charge of the congregations October 27, 1869, and remained until March 3, 1872. He served very acceptably, but after he left a vacancy again occurred of fifteen months. There had up to this time been one hundred and twenty-one members enrolled in twenty-two years, and of these but twenty-four remained as members of the church.

Rev. J.M. Wonders accepted a call as pastor of Zion Church, March 12, 1873. When Mr. Wonders took charge of the church he found the building in a ruinous condition, but during his pastorate of five years the congregation was made self-sustaining, and removed from the care of Home Missions, the church was also remodeled, and refitted at a cost of over two thousand dollars, and was re-dedicated free of debt - a tribute to the zeal and benevolence of its few but faithful worshipers, and the kindness of its friends. One of the improvements added was a bell to call the people together, and this bell, purchased for two hundred dollars from the commissioners of the county, when the new court-house was erected, has a history that links it to the past, it being the first bell in the county, and which for so many years not only summoned the citizens to the temple of justice, but which, in turn, called the people of the different denominations to hear the gospel dispensed within the walls of the old court-house.

The membership of the church and Sunday-school increased more than five fold, the church having a membership of one hundred and five. In February, 1878, Mr. Wonders resigned to take charge of the Lutheran Church at Shippenville, Clarion county, where he is yet actively engaged in the ministry. He was succeeded by Rev. S.S. Miller, May 12, 1878, who remained until May, 1879.

Rev. Lewis Hay came as a supply to these churches in November, 1879, and January 7, 1880, was installed as pastor. He resigned in April, 1881. He was succeeded by Rev. W. Selner, who remained just one year, and was succeeded by Rev. D.W. Leitzell, September 24, 1882. Mr. Leitzell remained pastor until May 18, 1886, when he resigned, and Rev. J.E. Zerger succeeded to the pastorate September 16, 1886. There is also a Lutheran Church, Saint Matthew’s, in Knox township, which since 1870 has been supplied by the Brookville pastor.

The churches at Emerickville and Reynoldsville have no pastors, and are occasionally supplied by the Lutheran minister at Du Bois. Emerickville was supplied from Brookville from 1869 until 18——.

The Brookville and St. John’s Churches are still united under the same pastor. The membership of Zion Church is now seventy-seven, and that of Saint John’s forty-five. These churches maintain flourishing Sunday-schools. The Brookville school having first been started under the superintendency of Mr. John Boucher, who for over twenty years was identified with the school, and when he removed to a farm near Saint Matthew’s Church, he became a worker in the Sunday-school of that church, and was found surrounded by the children of the school on each succeeding Sabbath day, until a few months before his death. Mr. Boucher was a member of the Lutheran Church for sixty-five years, and was identified with the church in Jefferson county for thirty-six years, having removed to Brookville in 1850. He was the last of the original members of Zion Church (except Mrs. Shackleford) when he died October 10, 1886, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. His family, all of whom (except his second wife and youngest daughter, who died before him), were members of Zion Church, in which his daughter, Mrs. Parker P. Blood, is now a prominent member and zealous worker.

The Lutheran Church (old school) at Punxsutawney was organized in 1856, and has had services at intervals ever since. These services were at first held in the Lutheran Reformed Church on the hill. Rev. William Engelbach was the first pastor, and preached for about one year. Rev. Henneman succeeded him, and preached for some time in a school-house that stood in the center of the public square. In 1867 Rev. C.C. Brandt became the pastor, and that year, the church the congregation now occupies was erected. The pastors of the church since then have been Revs. Jacob Rasig, Peter Engers, — - Greenmiller, F.W. Spindle, K. Waltz, Julius Bauch, John M. Meissner. Rev. C. Engelder has been the pastor for the past ten years.

The parsonage owned by this congregation and by Mr. Engelder was destroyed in the fire of October 9, 1886, with a loss of $1,500, with an insurance of $650. Mr. Engelder lost about $500 in household goods.

Among the prominent members of this church are Henry Ernst, John Long, William Zeitler, George Weiss.


Rise and progress of the First Protestant Episcopal Church in Jefferson county, now known as the Church of the Intercessor, Sugar Hill.

1850. Mr. John Robinson and his wife, Hannah Leigh, natives of Cheshire, England, residents of Philadelphia, with their family, settled in this, then, almost uninhabited part of Pennsylvania. Like a loyal son of the church, as he was, he gathered his family around and commenced lay services of the Protestant Episcopal Church and Sunday-school every Lord’s day, one or two neighbors joining with them.

1853. On invitation of Mr. John Robinson, Rev. B.B. Killeykelly, of Kittanning visited them, administered the holy communion and baptized four children. This was the first visit of an Episcopal clergyman and the first administration of the sacraments of the church in Jefferson county. A little over one month after the visit of this man of God, Mr. Robinson was called from the service of God on earth to his service in heaven. John Hubbs Robinson, eldest son of Mr. John Robinson, had occasional lay services at his residence until the death of Mrs. Robinson which occurred in the spring of 1857.

August, 1863. On invitation of Mr. Thomas Brian, Rev. Mr. Hilton, of Kittanning, Pa., visited this place, preached, administered the sacraments of the church (twelve children baptized). Previous to this time I, the writer of this sketch, had public services in the school-house on Sundays during my visits to Mr. Robinson’s family.

June, 1865. With my family I settled in this place one and one-half miles from Sugar Hill. I found the people anxious to have the services of the church resumed, the love for the same had never died out but had lain smouldering, awaiting God’s time, when he would fan it into a flame again.

July 2d. Met for public service in my own house (having received before leaving Philadelphia authority to act as lay reader from the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, bishop of Pennsylvania, the whole State of Pennsylvania being at that time under his jurisdiction). There were thirty persons present, who with joy welcomed back the long absent services.

July 9th. Organized Sunday-school in the same place, with five teachers, and twenty scholars. Again the woods of Jefferson echoed with the psalms and hymns of our beloved church. We were much encouraged in our work by letters and gifts of books, cards, papers, etc., from the Rev. Samuel Durborrow, of the Church of the Evangelists, Philadelphia.

1866. Having obtained permission to use the school-house, we moved to that building and continued the services without interruption until the erection of the church building.

1867. Having heard of the division of the diocese, and of the consecration of the Rt. Rev. John Barrett Kerfoot, D.D., the first bishop of the diocese of Pittsburgh, I wrote to him making known how the work had begun and continued.

The following is a copy of his first letter:

PITTSBURGH, PA., January 24, 1867.


My Dear Sir - I found your letter here yesterday on my return from Clearfield.

"I was in Ridgway early in November and would then have gladly made my way to you, had I known of your efforts and wants. Your letter brings me my first information of these, and it interests me deeply. I cannot, myself, possibly get to you now, nor until late on in the spring, or early in the summer.

"But I have to-day written to the Rev. Mr. Parker, of Warren, asking him to correspond with you, and arrange to give you a Sunday as soon as he can.

"Please write to him, and let him know just where and how to find you, and whether you would like to have his visit for services, baptism and the holy communion.

"Mr. Parker goes every alternate Sunday to Ridgway, and I am sure that if he can, he will go to you soon; he will then write to me and I will try to plan further for you.

"If you and your fellow-churchmen can do it, it will be desirable and right that you should make a collection at such services to meet the expenses of any clergyman I can get to you.

"If you cannot, I will get his expenses met from other sources. Services you shall have sometimes.

"As soon as I can find more clergymen and the necessary means, you shall have stated visits, and God helping me, I will also come and see you at my earliest visitation anywhere near you. Go on, my dear brother, as you are doing, faithfully and diligently, in your Sunday-school, your services and your readings. You shall not be forgotten by your bishop and brethren. God will bless you and your efforts.

"Please write to me again; tell me all you know or can learn of church people anywhere in your region, and at Brookville.

"How near to you does any railroad come? And how shall any of us best get to you?

"What are the ages of your Sunday-school children?

"What Sunday-school books have you? How many prayer-books? and how many do you want?

"How can a package of books reach you?

"If Mr. Parker cannot soon get to you, I will find some other clergyman to visit you.

"Let me hear from you, and of your school and congregation every two months. Give my love and blessing to all your congregation and school, and assure them that, now that I know of them, I will keep them well in mind.

"Praying God to bless and prosper you—

"I am my dear sir faithfully your friend and bishop,


From this time to the organization of the church I received letters and visits from Rev. J.H. Spaulding (now bishop of Colorado), and Rev. C.C. Parker.

"July 10th. Organized the Church of the Intercessor, the first Protestant Episcopal Church in Jefferson county. Present the bishop and Rev. John H. Spaulding, who was elected rector. I to continue lay reader in charge. The following gentlemen were elected vestrymen: John Hubbs Robinson, Thomas Brian, J. Barber, John Brian, Henry Brian, Frederick Brown.

"1870, July 11th. The corner-stone of the church was laid by the Rev. R. Caswell.

"1871, May 25th. The church was consecrated by the bishop, assisted by the Revs. Spaulding, Rafter, Getz, Dooris, Caswell. The Bible and prayer-book were presented to the church by the bishop, the gift of Miss Draper, of Hartford, Conn. The stone font, the gift of Mrs. Vincent’s men’s bible-class of St. Paul’s, Erie. The altar linen was given by Mrs. Fisher’s ladies’ bible-class, of Emmanuel Church, Holmesburg, Pa. The communion set was the gift of Mr. J.E. Williams, of Xenia, O., through Rev. W.A. Snively, rector of Christ Church, Conn.

"1873. The lay reader in charge was ordained deacon in Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, June 10th, the eighth anniversary of the diocese of Pittsburgh. During this and the previous years the services morning and evening, also the Sunday-school were regular, and this continued until September, 1883, at which time I resigned my charge. Since that time the church has been in charge of Rev. G.B. Van Waters, and Rev. J.H. Burton, with the occasional visits of the general missionary of the diocese, and the annual visit of Rt. Rev. Cortlandt Whitehead, bishop of the diocese of Pittsburgh. The first baptized in the church building, Carrie M. Robinson. The first married, Sarah E. Robinson. The first buried in the church grounds upon which the church stands, John Robinson. Number baptized since 1865, sixty-one; number confirmed, thirty-two; number married, eight; number of deaths, fourteen; value of church and lot, $3,000."

The church at Sugar Hill, in Warsaw township, was the only place of worship for those holding the views and doctrines of the Episcopal Church until the spring of 1887, when missions were established at Brookville and Reynoldsville. These congregations are ministered unto twice each month by the missionary of the diocese of Pittsburgh, or other ministers of the diocese. The congregation at Brookville holds its services in the Lutheran Church on the second and fourth Sundays in each month.


Learning of the simplicity, yet fervent piety attending the form of worship prevailing in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, M.E. Steiner, of Knoxdale, in the year 1860, wrote to that body, asking that a missionary be sent into Jefferson county. They complied by sending a young minister, Rev. J.W. Owens, who at once commenced a revival effort at Knoxdale, which resulted in fifty conversions, and an organization of seventy members. M.E. Steiner was chosen as leader of the new society, which position he held for many years.

A house of worship was erected at Knoxdale in 1874, and Mr. Steiner was the chief contributor to the building fund. At present this society, which is in a very prosperous condition, is worshiping in the same church edifice, Rev. J.P. Truxell, being the present pastor. From this appointment missionary efforts extended throughout the county, resulting in different organizations, and the building of three houses of worship, situated at Mount Tabor in Bell township, Eldred and Dowlingville, and also in the establishing of many churches and congregations of the United Brethren in the adjoining counties of Clarion, Forest, Armstrong, Indiana and Clearfield.

It might be of interest to note that the United Brethren Church is not an offshoot of any one religious body, but traces its origin to a revival movement among the Germans of Pennsylvania and Maryland, during the last century. It was organized by men who had been members of different denominations, or of none, and the church was formally organized in 1800, by Revs. Phillip William Otterbein and Martin Boehne as bishops.

During the first half of the present century the church passed through a transition period in language, and is now almost entirely English, the German work composing only a small fraction of the whole. The names of the first society or class of this denomination, organized at Knoxville, were, Dr. J.G. Steiner and his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Steiner, M.E. Steiner and his wife, Mrs. Susannah Steiner, three children of M.E. Steiner, Rebecca E., J.G. jr., and Sarah S. (the two daughters died in 1861), George Horner, Susannah Horner, Peter Friedline, sr., Hannah Friedline, Daniel Friedline, Sevela Friedline, J.D. Rhoades, Christina Rhoades, Daniel Bailey, Elizabeth Bailey, John Strawcutter, Regina Strawcutter, W. Eckman, Peter Bailey, Mary Bailey, Hannah Strawcutter, Jesse Cravener, Philip Rhoades, S. Swineford, Daniel Rhoades, Daniel Friedline, jr., J.W. Strawcutter; David Lemmon, J. Mohney, Peter Wolf, Christina Wolf, Lydia Wolf, Miss Regina Strawcutter, Kate Eckman, Peter Friedline, jr., A. Harp, S.S. Wolf, H.J. Wolf, William Bailey, E. Mercer, Regina Friedline, George Friedline, M. Mercer, Miss M. Rhoades, Solomon Yoder, J.D. Mercer, John Wolf, E.B. Cavenore, Mrs. Cavenore, Elizabeth Chitester, Phebe Eckman, J.G. Gearheart, Eliza Gearheart, Eliza Eckman, J.N. Stine, W.S. Yoder, Catharine Stahlman, Lucinda Milliron, M.E. Kitchen, Phebe Wise, Hannah Yount, Sarah Yoder, Mrs. E. Yoder, J.H. Wise, Clara Wise, Mrs. Hannah Rhoades, Miss Hannah Rhoades, Louisa Harp.

This congregation was much reduced in membership the following year, as twenty-three of those named above enlisted in the service of their country in 1861, and of these but very few lived to return. Very few of the first members of this congregation are living. Mr. M.E. Steiner and wife were when the church was organized in the prime of life; now they are the oldest members, but as the elders have passed away the younger people have taken their places, and the Knoxdale church is in a prosperous condition.

Of the pastors who have served the church at Knoxdale those most generally known are Revs. J.B. Empheil, J.W. Woodward, W.K. Shimp, J.G. Steiner, J.N. Munden, G.A. Noden, David Steel, and the present pastor Rev. J.P. Truxell. J.G. Steiner, a son of M.E. Steiner, and one of the original members of the church is now a minister of this denomination, and is at present pastor of the United Brethren Church at Marietta, Pa.

* The history of the Baptist Churches in Jefferson county was prepared by Rev. T. Henderson, with the exception of that portion relating to the Richardsville Church, which was collected by Mr. S.M. Humphrey.
** Prepared by Rev. I.A. Rholand.
*** By Rev. I.A. Rohland.
[4*] By Rev. Joseph Barber.

Source:  Page(s) 276-293, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

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