Upshur County West Virginia
Church Histories/Records


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 Churchill,
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: Debbie Oberst

Copyright © Genealogy Trails