Early Church Histories

From History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron, and Potter, Pennsylvania published by J. H. Beers, Chicago, 1890.

In 1867 the first church organization took place in Abbot, at Germania - Lutheran. The first preacher was Rev. Fred. Quensch.

Allegheny Township

On May 15, 1867, the Presbyterian Church of Raymond was opened, J.L. Swain being principal in urging the building. The house stands on a lot donated by Mr. Cobb. Prior to this time the old school-house was used by all Protestant denominations for worship. Since 1867 they have been permitted to use the church building, but in May, 1887, the question of joint ownership was raised.

The Union Church society of Allegheny was incorporated in 1888, with B.F. Bishop, C.E. Tucker and W.A. Gardner, managers. The object was to build a house of worship for the use of the Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Universalists of Andrews Settlement, to be controlled by the Methodists. There were fifteen members at organization in March, 1888. The building was dedicated January 24, 1889, B.F. Bishop, C.E. Tucker and W.A. Gardner being the managing committee.

Bingham Township

The first religious services were held in a log school-house, a little west of the North Bingham Cemetery, in 1833, by the Baptists. In 1836 a Baptist society existed at North Bingham, the Kibbes, John Rooks, Cornelius Ives, Deacon J.H. Lee, William G. Raymond, Joel Raymond and others, holding meetings in the school-houses. Messrs. Chase, Newlon and Scott were early preachers. Benjamin Capron preached about thirty-one years ago. The first church-house in the township was completed in June, 1881, on land donated by N.W. Lewis. The building committee comprised Joel Raymond, N.W. Lewis, David T. Hauber, A.N. Clark, P.W. Lawrence and John H. Chase. The cost was about $2,000. Prior to this time meetings were held in school buildings, but since 1881, Baptists and Methodists have worshiped in the union house. In 1837 Deacon Raymond joined this church, was with it when it disbanded in 1853, and, on its reorganization in 1857, was ordained deacon.

In 1836 a Methodist class, of which Marshal Robbins was leader, existed, and meetings held with some regularity. Mr. Crandall was preacher in 1839, Hiram Niles' house being the place of meeting. Mr. Crandall got into some social difficulty, which broke up the society here, but recently some members of this denomination formed a class and worshiped in the union church.

Eulalia Township - Borough of Coudersport

Written by Mrs. Mary A. Ross, a 65-year resident of the borough of Coudersport:

"In 1831 a Mr. Babcock, from the Smethport Methodist circuit, came to Coudersport on missionary work, continuing through the summer, and, when Conference met, itinerant ministers were sent here.

"The first church built in Coudersport was Presbyterian house of worship, in about 1850, erected mainly through the persevering energy of the pastor, Rev. David Brown, who had been with the people several years. The first Presbyterian clergyman in the place was Rev. Mr. Bliss, who came here in 1832, remaining, however, only a few months.

"The Protestant Episcopalians commenced as early as 1842-43, when they formed a small communion of members under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Pratt, but he soon became discouraged and left. One or two other attempts were made to support a clergyman, but failed after a short trial. Rev. William Marshall, the present rector, has been here some seven or eight years, during which time the congregation have succeeded in building a stone church. Other church organizations in Coudersport were formed later, and the Episcopal, Lutheran and Catholic Church buildings have been put up within the past ten years."

James B. Roach, of the Tennessee Methodist Conference, was sent to Coudersport in 1823, his circuit extending 18 miles down the Allegheny river to Canoe Place; thence up the Allegheny portage 10 miles to the dividing ridge; thence to the Portage settlement, 14 miles down the Sinnemahoning portage to its confluence with the main creek, an unbroken wilderness of 24 miles, if we except the primitive houses of Hiram Sizer and Brewster Freeman, 6 miles up the portage. (Mr. Chadwick tells that the road was very rough, with 27 fordings, some of them troublesome when the water was high, wild animals very abundant, and it was not uncommon to meet a pack of hungry wolves in close pursuit of a tired deer, or to find the carcass of a deer covered up in the leaves after a panther had killed and taken a meal out of it.) From the portage 3 miles to the mouth of North creek, back 2 miles to the mouth of West creek; thence by bridle-path 7 miles up West creek to the mouth of Big run; thence by bridle-path over the mountains, 23 miles to the Kersey settlement, now Centreville - in all 30 miles by bridle-path, through an unbroken wilderness; thence 12 miles to Brockway's settlement, near Bennett's branch; thence 23 miles to the confluence of Bennett's and Driftwood branches; thence 16 miles to the mouth of the Sinnemahoning; thence 15 miles to Young-woman's Town (North Point); returning to Bennett's and Driftwood branches, up the Driftwood 18 miles to Portage (Emporium) settlement; thence by North creek bridle-path 17 miles to Potato creek; thence 10 miles to Smethport; thence over the mountains 10 miles to Canoe Place, and thence to Coudersport, or 249 miles. James Hazen succeeded Roach on the circuit in 1824; Nathan Mills (succeeded by John Bowen) came in 1825. There were no appointments from 1826 to 1830, when John P. Kent came. In 1831 Samuel E. Babcock, and, in 1832, William Butt and Samuel Gregg were the circuit preachers. The circuit was extended to Farrandsville, on the Susquehanna, in 1833, with T.J. Jennings, B. Preston and Joseph Hallock, preachers. They were succeeded, in 1834, by J.H. Tackitt, S. Hill, Bryan Auren and Gazee Smith. John Dunning, of Erie Conference, had sole charge in 1835, but in 1836 L. Whipple and John Hanna assisted him. During this year the class of the old school-house at Smethport claimed 150 members, the revival of that year being the cause. This class at once entered in church-building, but, undertaking a house much larger than their subscriptions, the building could not then be finished, and many fell away from the church. The Rev. Burrows was the first presiding elder, and the first quarterly meeting of this denomination was held in Lymansville in 1832, and this year (1832) saw the regular organization of both the Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal Churches. In 1839 Mr. Crandall came here, since which time the following named have had charge of the circuit.

In 1845-46 Coudersport was detached from Smethport, and Rev. Horace Harris, the former circuit preacher, appointed preacher in charge of the new station. He was followed, in 1847, by E.B. Pratt; in 1848, by B. Williams; in 1849, by Joseph Latham, and in 1850 by W.B. Slaughter, then principal of academy. In 1851-52 S.Y. Hammond was here, and presided at the dedication of the church, February 21, 1855. In 1852 J.B. Wentworth, principal of the academy, had charge, followed by J.H. Delamater in 1853; S.C. Smith, in 1854, and W.H. Shaw, in 1855. The preachers in and since 1857 were as follows: A.M. McIntyre, 1857; M.H. Rice, 1858; Charles Strong, 1860; H.H. Lyman, (L.P.), 1861; J.J. Roberts, 1862; L.A. Stevens, 1864; T.S. Hartley, 1867; Edwin Wildman, 1868; C.B. Sparrow, 1869; E. Williams, 1870; O.M. Leggett, 1872; S. Milward, 1875; Elijah Wood, 1876; T.R. Stratton, 1879; Cornelius Dillenbeck, 1881; A.A. Craw, 1882; J.W. Wright, 1884, and Mr. Jervis, 1887-89.

The Presbyterian society built the first church edifice at Coudersport, in 1850, on the side-hill on West street, south of the academy, where George Olmsted now resides. Rev. David Brown, who recently resided near Ceres, was the pastor at the time, and for some years before and after presided here. This is said to be the first church building in the county. The Presbyterian society was incorporated February 28, 1854, on petition of P.A. Stebbins, A.G. Olmsted, F.W. Knox, H.J. Olmsted, N.L. Dike, M.R. Gage, F.L. Jones, C.W. Ellis, D.F. Ellsworth, L.T. Maynard, Charles S. Jones, A.F. Jones, A.L. Bird, William H. Metzger and William Crosby, presented in December, 1853. The trustees elected in 1853 were William H. Metzger, C.S. Jones, H.L. Bird, O.H. Butterworth and W.W. McDougall. Rev. Mr. Crumrine has served this church for some time.

Christ Church, English Protestant Episcopal, was reorganized under act of incorporation of February 22, 1855, on April 18, 1881. The vestrymen then elected were Miles White, Isaac Benson, A.P. Stebbins, Jr., W.K. Jones, M.S. Thompson, Charles A. Stebbins, A.G. Olmsted, W.E. Womelsdorf, John S. Ross, James L. Knox and H.R. Whittaker, some of whom were members. On May 1, services were held in the Knights of Honor hall. In 1883 the question of building a house of worship was considered, work commenced, and the present house was opened November 9, 1881. Rev. William Marshall is rector.

The Baptist Church was erected upon the south side of the river, on Allegheny avenue over forty years ago. The chief promoter of the erection of this edifice was John M. Hamilton, who died here in 1887. Mr. Hamilton was a man of fine mental endowments and of good education; a strong supporter of liquor prohibition, and promoter of morality in general. Although some what eccentric, he was a good citizen, whose loss was felt. He was for a number of years a clerk in the land office of Fox & Ross.

The Allegheny River Baptist Association was organized in October, 1887, with A.D. Bush, of Coudersport, moderator; C.H. Dodd, clerk; D. Simpson, of Turtle Point, treasurer; A.N. Peck, of Coudersport, C.S.; and E.H. Hovey, of Annin Creek, J. Jack, of Eldred, and the moderator, missionary committee; Annin creek, Coudersport, Port Allegany, Roulette and Turtle Point, regular Baptist Churches, were represented.

The Roman Catholic Church dates back to the "forties." Among the early members prior to 1858, were John Sullivan and son, Thomas Lenahan, James and M. Sullivan, John Ryan, Widow Scholard (now Mrs. Shannon, of Roulette), Patrick Carey, J.J. Carey, Calahan and Jerry McCarthy, Michael Fitzpatrick and several others, who are not remembered by Mark Gillon, who came that year. Rev. John L. Madigan, who then resided at Sartwell creek, in McKean county, visited the village occasionally, and also attended the church in Genesee township, taking in Bradford, Kane, Alton, Emporium and other old settlements, having been a resident priest at Coudersport during the building of the church, and, until succeeded by Father Flood, who is a resident priest at Genesee. The congregation numbers 200. In May, 1883, it was resolved to erect a church building on the lands donated by the Keatings years ago. The plan adopted was that of the church at Port Allegany (which was dedicated August 26, that year). Not, however, until August 9, 1885, was the building dedicated by Bishop Mullen.

The Universalists of Coudersport were attended by Rev. L.F. Porter, in 1856.

St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized, May 16, 1886, with seventy-one communicant members under the Rev. Grossman, the work of ingathering having been done mostly by the Rev. J. Sanders, of Ridgway, Penn. Services were held in a hall, and conducted in the German and English languages. After a pastorate of six months (April to November, 1886), Rev. Grossman resigned. The present incumbent, the Rev. E.J. Meissner took charge of the field, composed of Coudersport, Olmsted and Roulette, in May, 1887. A lot was purchased on Allegheny avenue, and September 18, 1887, the corner-stone was laid for a chapel; the neat edifice, semi-gothic in style, was dedicated the year following, August 5, with solemn ceremonies, the pastor being assisted by the Rev. L.M.C. Weichsel, of Renovo, Penn.

Genesee Township

The Catholic Church of Genesee township (St. Mary's) was founded in 144, when Bishop O'Connor, Rev. Smith and Rev. Gallaher visited this point. Rev. John Burns came next, followed by Father J.P. Cody. In 1848-49 Patrick Burke donated one acre for church building, and the old church building, still standing, was erected. Rev. J.R. Madigan succeeded Father Cody, and remained eleven years, attending all the churches of McKean and Potter counties, or the district now attended by five priests. The present large church was commenced in 1879, and dedicated by Bishop Mullen June 28, 1881. Rev. Madigan and Rev. Pue were here after the war; Rev. Martin Meagher came in March, 1871; Rev. J.L. Madigan, in March, and Rev. P. Cosgrove in June, 1874. The same year Father Madigan returned, and on his removal to Coudersport, in 1883, Rev. M.R. Flood, the present pastor, was appointed.

Harrison Township

The Baptist Church of Harrison Valley was incorporated September 22, 1855, on petition of J.C. Thompson, Isaac Thompson, J.B. Watrous, Thomas A. Watrous, Kelsey Stevens, O. Watt, B.W. Stillson, Lewis S. Robertson, P.W. Griffin, S.S. Rasco, S.K. Stevens and George Hurlbut, the trustees, and other members, but prior to this the Baptists of the district were Lewis Manning, William Gill and Elder Thomas. In 1837 John Rooks, the clerk of the society here, reported thirty-five members. In 1850 the society was received into the Canisteo Association, and in 1862 the association assembled at Harrison Valley. The Methodist Church of Harrison township was incorporated in December, 1855, with Thomas Statham, Edwin Statham, Henry Clark, Merrill Sackett and Nelson Gill, trustees. A church house was built by the society at North Fork, which is still in use.

Harrison Township - Harrison Valley

The Methodist Church of the township, noticed hitherto, embraced the members residing in the village. The society here was incorporated March 14, 1881, with N.W. Hubbard, James Predmore, H. Harrison, C. Rawson, D.B. Whitney and W.B. Fox, trustees. Among other names on the petition were Burt. Richardson, Jacob Burtis, C. Predmore, Amos King and D.D. Chapin. From this time until the completion of the house of worship, in the summer of 1883, services were held in the Baptist Church. The Baptist Church was built about 1859-60, during the pastorate of L.S. Robinson, at a cost of $1,500, Nelson & Sylvanus Gardner being the contractors. This was the first church building here. Elder Ben. Thomas, who came to Harrison Valley in 1851, pastor of the Baptist Church there for twenty years, died in February, 1888. Rev. L.V. Bovier was here in 1887.

Hebron Township

Dr. Mattison, in his history of this township writes, "The Seventh Day Baptists organized their church in Hebron in 1833. Their first pastor was Rev. N.V. Hull."

The Seventh Day Baptists of Hebron was incorporated September 23, 1869, with J.M. Greenman, J.H.R. Greenman, W.C. Reynolds, W.H. Hydron, G.W. Stillman and S. Greenman, officials.

Hector Township

Dr. Mattison states that the first religious society in Hector township was the Methodist Episcopal, organized by C.P. Kilbourne. The first preacher was Rev. McEllheny.

Keating Township

There was a Methodist class organized in Keating in 1869; but the first church organization was that of the United Brethren in Christ, in 1887. Jason Lewis was the first preacher in the township. He was a Universalist in doctrine.

Oswayo Township

Walter Wells, in his reminiscences of Oswayo, is inclined to think that the Seventh Day Baptists were the first regular preachers; Hiram Burdick, W.J. Gillette and others were among the preachers. The Baptists organized a building society in 1877, and had the frame of a church-house complete, when, for want of funds, the building was abandoned. The frame was remodeled by Reynolds Bros., and now forms part of the building occupied by Hiram Cheeseboro. Rev. Mr. Hart was the preacher at this time. Prior to 1834 a Mr. Avery preached Baptist doctrine here. The Methodist class dates back many years. The land, on which the Methodist Church of Oswayo was built, was leased May 23, 1859, by Noah Crittenden to the trustees, H.H. Lyman, Joel Haskins, C.H. Simmons, Samuel Everett, J.C. Wilkinson and Franklin Gale, and the building commenced that year. The Catholic congregation proposes to erect a large church during the year 1890. The members now worship in one or other of their residences.

St. Paul's Catholic Church dates back to 1886. A very neat church building was erected that year, at a cost of about $4,000 - the Messrs. Costello donating the lots and a cash contribution, all estimated at $1,000. Father Patterson served this part of the large parish of St. Mary's until his death. Father Cosgrove is now pastor.

Pike Township

The Catholic Church of Galeton is attended by Dr. Brennan, of Driftwood, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, by Mr. Peterson, of Gaines.

The Methodist society of Galeton was incorporated in June, 1888, with R.L. Clark, A. Clinton, H.M. Tice, William Gale, A.W. Clinton, H.R. Coatright, J.M. Carpenter, E.E. Hyer, R.W. Clinton and A.G. Lyman, members.

Portage Township - Borough of Austin

The Methodist Church of Austin was incorporated in November, 1888, with J.W. Thorne, John Brownlee, A.S. Heck, C.H. Hartman, S.C. Bush, Robert Leech and R.J. Gaffney, members. The society was organized in 1887 by Elder W.A. Stephens, and Rev. J. Emory Weeks commenced his duties as preacher in charge April 3, 1887. On June 5, that year, a Sunday-school was organized. On November 21, 1888, the church building was dedicated, and in 1889 Rev. H.H. Crotsley took charge. The proposed Catholic and United Brethren Church buildings are not yet begun.

Roulette Township - Village of Roulette

The Union Church Association of Roulette was organized March 7, 1882, with Laroy Lyman, C. Knowlton, R.L. White, R.C. Fessenden and L.B. Yentzer, trustees.

The Baptist Church was erected in 1889-90, and dedicated January 19, 1890, Rev. Mr. Conard, of Philadelphia, officiating as preacher at the dedication. Subsequently, the Allegheny River Baptist Association assembled here.

Sharon Township

The United Brethren Association of Millport was incorporated April 29, 1886, with L.W. Dibble, P.C. Witter, R.C. Witter, Emma E. Densmore, W.A. Bennett, J.L. Lockwood, Orrin Cook, Estella Witter, George Hatch, H.T. Weaver and J.G. Torry, subscribers; Rev. W.A. Bennett was secretary. They meet for worship in Liberty Hall.

Rev. Mr. Scott is said by Mrs. A.A. Newton to have been the first preacher who visited Sharon. He preached in the school-house near Shinglehouse. The First Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shinglehouse was incorporated in September, 1883, on petition of Edson Warner, J.J. Kenyon and B.O. Burdick. They completed a house the same year. Since that time the Seventh Day Adventists built a house.

The Methodist Church Society of Shinglehouse was incorporated in November, 1885, with L.C. Perry, Zalmon Barnes, W.T. Lane, Mrs. Laura Newton and A.J. Remington, trustees. This society contributed toward the building of the Seventh Day Baptist house. The Horse Run Methodist house was completed in 1886, under the superintendence of Rev. Mr. Nye. Among the members are M.A. Nichols and George Day. The membership is large. The Lane Methodist Church was completed in 1889.

The Methodist Episcopal Church building of Honeoye was dedicated March 2, 1890. The building is 26x44, with a tower 8x8 and 50 feet in height. The total cost was $1,462.

Stewardson Township

The first church organization in Stewardson were the Methodists, and the society was taken in charge by the Conference, Rev. A.S. Chandler being the first preacher.

Sweden Township

The Sweden Valley Methodist Church was incorporated September 3, 1883, with C.C. Chase, W. White, M.E. White, Louis Angenne, Orlando Kaple, A.G.Lyman, John R. Dodd, B.F. Kaple and Abram Chase, subscribers. A church building was completed June 20, 1884, at a cost of $2,000, of which A.G. Lyman contributed half.

Sylvania Township

In 1835 the first church was organized in Sylvania, Methodist Episcopal in creed. Rev. Butt and Rev. Gregg preached alternately once every four weeks at the house of Eli Rees, Sr. But the first prayer meeting was held two years before by Isaac Rees, in William Crosby's log-house near where the church stands now. Soon after this preachers came and held services in the house of Widow Hamilton, and formed a class of six or seven members. Isaac Rees was appointed class leader, and used to walk eight miles on Sunday to meet with his class.

Ulysses Township

In 1871 a Sunday-school class was organized at this point, the Dent family being members. A temporary building for worship was occupied in August, 1875, and in 1878 Rev. Mr. Sterritt was engaged to preach here occasionally. In October, 1880, Rev. William Marshall came, and continued to serve the church here until June, 1889.

All Saints Protestant Episcopal Society of Brookland was incorporated in January, 1885, with Thomas G. Hull, George and Henry Bartlett, H.T. Reynolds, F. Jacobs and William Dent, wardens. In 1888 the present stone church was erected, the stone being quarried in the vicinity, and in the fall of 1889 the rectory was finished. The number of communicants is thirty-eight. Thomas G. Hull is senior warden and treasurer, and John Leach and John Jacobs, members of the vestry, with others named above. The building was dedicated September 19, 1889, by the assistant Protestant Episcopal bishop of Central Pennsylvania, and Rev. W.E. Wright, the rector.

Ulysses Township - Borough of Lewisville

The Baptist Church is mentioned in the minutes of the Canisteo Association of 1837. At that time Gardner H. Olmsted, the clerk, reported thirty-seven members. In 1839 there was no report made, but Harrison township reported through Deacon W.G. Raymond, the successor of John Rooks, as clerk at that point in 1887. The first association meeting held within the Ulysses Church was that of 1871, and the second in 1885. The first Baptist society of Ulysses was incorporated January 6, 1849, with Daniel Olmsted, Leavitt Cushing, Barney Hicks, G.H. Olmsted, Lucas Cushing and Erastus Merrill, trustees. Among the members were Seth C. Parker, Eph. R. Slade, L.L. Robertson, C.F. Parker, Judson Brown and Delos Eason. In 1858 the society completed a church building.

The Methodist Church dates back to 1842-43, when C. Graham was sent to preach here, holding services in the old school-house, which stood where Lewis Bros.' meat market now is. In 1844 or 1845 E. Hudson came, and during his time a parsonage was built on what is now the R.H. Young farm. In this house Messrs. W.K. Runner, W. Jones, W. Shaffer, W. Statham and E.P. Huntington, the successive incumbents of the circuit, resided. In 1858 S.P. Guernsey came, and deserted the old house for rooms in the old O.A. Lewis House, within the village. At that time the Baptists had completed their house, and in it the Methodists worshiped on alternate Sundays. H.O. Abbott, J. Easter and F.M. Smith were stationed here successively, while H. Rowland had charge during the last two years of the war.

In September, 1887, an effort to organize a Universalist society and build a house of worship at Lewisville was made. Mrs. Kate Parker, Thomas E. Gridley, John F. Stone, F.M. Wagner and A.S. Burt were chosen trustees.

West Branch Township

The first church organization in West Branch township took place in 1862, by the Free Will Baptists. Rev. Stillwell was the first preacher.

Transcribed and Submitted by Maureen M. Lee



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