County West Virginia
In 1800 Shadrack Tappan, a Methodist minister of the Baltimore
conference, ventured into the settlement and proclaimed the mission of
the Master. His sermon was delivered in the home of Abram Carper, whose
anxiety for the church was second only to his love and knowledge of the
word upon which the church was superstructed. This service caused a
ripple of excitement and speculation which waned with procrastination.
No class was formed. No church house was built. The devout satisfied
their religious cravings in the sacred halls of home for ten more long
years or until 1810. This year witnessed the formation of the first
society at the house of John Reger. Steps were then and there taken to
provide a home for the society. This particular society can have no
more significance in the annals of church chronology than it was the
parent church after and to which the multitude of succeeding Methodist
churches should follow and look. As if by accident, mayhaps by
Providence, the number of members of this first Methodist class
corresponded with the number of the commandments and agreed with the
casting of the characters in which all
computations must be
expressed. The names of this holy band were Abram Carper and wife,
Anthony Rohrbough, John Strader, Henry Reger, George Bush, Joseph Hall
and wife, Catherine Hall. John Reger and Nancy Bennett. From the good
works of this first Methodist class of ten went out great constructive
influences. Here and there whenever a few could assemble regularly
other classes were organized and churches were built. Nothing impeded
this building up process, and today the Methodist Episcopal church has
thirty-five hundred communicants, forty working classes and as many
edifices in the limits of tlie county. With so many forts at which
spiritual ammunition may be had and with such an army properly using
these exhaust less supplies, this division of God's church ought to
see, meet and conquer "with the sword of the spirit," not only its own
land, but others as well. But the Methodist alone has not grown and
worked here for the religious man. Other demonetizations have found
this a good field of labor.
Third denomination in
point of time to establish and conduct religious exercises was the
Presbyterian. Rev. Thomas Hunt, once pastor of the Second Presbyterian
church of Pittsburgh, delivered the first sermon on Calvinistic
theology. The second minister of the gospel to visit the settlement on
French creek was Rev. Moses Allen, for many years pastor of the church
at Raccoon, Pa. These two divines delivered an address each in the home
of Aaron Gould, where for years a few families met every Sabbath for
worship, especially reading sermons. The first reader of these sermons
was Robert Young, esq. Jonathan Alden, Pascal P. Young, Augustus
W.Sexton, William Phillips, succeeded him in this commendable practice.
The first resident
minister of the Presbyterian church was Rev. Asa Brooks, who was sent
out as a missionary by the Hampshire County Missionary Society of
Massachusetts in the fall of 1816. This society promised to make good
his salary of $400.00, or as much of it as the settlers failed to pay.
He established missions at French Creek, Buckhannon and Beverly, where
he expounded the Word on every third Sunday. During the week he
ofttimes would have appointments at points between these places. The
mid-week visit at Philippi was successful and did much good. Rev.
Brooks labored hard for one year before he went back East. On this
first visit home he married Miss Polly Sumner, a woman of strong mind
and great excellence, and returned to Virginia in 1818. The next year
he became a member of the Presbytery of Redstone and was immediately
asked Jo accept a call from French Creek and Buckhannon congregations.
Without hesitancy or delay heassumed the work.
The Presbyterian church at French Creek was really organized on
September lo, 1819. The first minutes of the Sessional Records contain
these important words: "French Creek, Lewis county, Virginia. There
being in this settlement a number, both male and female, having letters
of recommendation from different congregational churches in
Massachusetts, with which they were united previous to their emigrating
to this place, and wishing again to be favored with church privileges,
a time was appointed for the election of Ruling Elders." Time set for
the election of Ruling Elders was July 5, 1819. Aaron Gould and Robert
Young were chosen without opposition to be the responsible dignitaries.
The organization of
the church was not completed until September 10 of this year, when
several of the grace-full worshipers met at the house of Samuel Gould,
close to the present residence of Alva Brooks, and finished the noble
preliminary work by receiving on certificate Nathan Gould and wife,
Esther, Mrs. Lydia Gould, wife of Aaron, Mrs. Lydia Young, wife of
Robert Young, Zedekiah Morgan's wife, Rebecca, Samuel Gould, Aaron
Gould, jr., and Mrs. Polly Brooks, wife of Rev. Asa Brooks ; and on
examination David Phillips and Anna Phillips, his wife. Captain Gilbert
Gould's wife, Mehitabel Gould, and Mrs. Lucy Alden, wife of Jonathan
Alden. The next year the membership increased more than
100 per cent and
Captain Gilbert Gould, Jonathan Alden, Daniel Gould and wife, Margaret,
Pascal P. Young and wife, Cynthia, the wives of James and Samuel and
Aaron, jr., Gould, Rhoda and Esther, and niece, Mrs. Mary Knowlton,
wife of Warren, Chloe Conkey, Anna Young, Misses Sallie, Nancy, Martha
and Elizabeth Gould and Sarah Peebles and Roswell Knowlton and
Prudence, his wife, joined the church. A Presbyterian class was
organized on the river some miles below the present county seat of
Upshur county, at the home of Martin Root, in 1819. Dr. Loyal Young
spells the new missionary station "Buchanon," and says it was thus
spelled at that time, before the town of Buckhannon was in existence.
Martin Root and Dr. Elisha D. Barrett were chosen as Ruling Elders. The
class afterwards made the town its center of activity, building a
church on a lot near the present residence of Captain A. M. Poundstone.
Revs. A. J. Fairchilds, Ezekiel Quillin, Edward Brooks, Ebenezer
Orr Lawson, C. P.
French, administered the Lord's Supper and expounded the Word at French
Creek and Buckhannon until after the civil war.
The first house of
Presbyterian worship at French Creek was near where the present one
stands, and was built of logs, and in 1823 or '24. The three things
peculiar about this building was the ladies' contribution of linen
sufficient when sold by Augustus W. Sexton at Frazier's store, to pay
for the nails and window glass for the house ; second, the then common
act of some one on the completion of the roof of new building to stand
on the ridge-pool thereof and christen to its proper use the new house,
not by breaking the bottle filled with sparkling champaign, but by
drinking its contents to the health and prosperity of the church, and
third, the high pulpit, such as prevailed in those days, and were
reached only by flights of stairs.
Today the Presbyterian
denomination has three churches in the county, Buckhannon, French Creek
and McCue. Rev. Elisha Thomas carried a petition to the Greenbrier
presbytery, signed by Robert Coyner, Elizabeth Coyner, Mary Cooper, T.
E. Janney, Caroline A. Janney, Ann Little, Caroline McFadden, David
Little, W. A. Patrick, Sarah
Trimble and Abbey
D. Wood, which gave creation to the local church on November 6, 1849.
Source: History of Upshur County West
Virginia, by W. B. Cutright
1907 Transcribed by:
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