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Early History of the Borough of Warren

Home > History > Early History of the Borough of Warren (Page 6)

Religious Societies: The Methodist Episcopal Church | First Baptist Church of Christ


Edited by J.S. Schenck, assisted by W.S. Rann; Syracuse, N.Y.; D Mason & Co., Publishers; 1887


The Methodist Episcopal Church. — In 1806 Rev. R. R. Roberts, afterward
elected bishop, visited Warren and other portions of Warren county, and was
without doubt the first Methodist minister that preached the gospel in this
county. In 1812 Rev. Jacob Young, presiding elder of the Ohio District, held a
quarterly meeting on the banks of the Conewango, a short distance above the
village of Warren ; at this meeting Bishop McKendrie was present, and preached
with great eloquence and power. In 1817 Rev. Ira Eddy preached a sermon
on the banks of the Allegheny River, two or three miles below Warren, and
quite a revival of religion took place, and a class was formed consisting of Joseph
and wife, Mr. Owen and wife, Martin Reese, wife and mother, Benjamin
and David Mead. Soon after this class was increased to twenty
six members. Of this number the venerable Benjamin Mead is the sole survivor;
a hale man of ninety-one years, who through all these years has led an
exemplary Christian life. In 1830 the Rev. James Gilmore was appointed to
Youngsville charge, and, coming to Warren, found the small class spoken of
above still worshiping below the village; but there was no Methodist preaching
in the village. During the year an extensive reformation occurred in Warren
and the class, numbering some seventy members, was transferred to the
village; and this was the first organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church
in the new borough of Warren. Until the church was built they held divine
worship in the village school-house. The charter of the present church is dated
in January, 1836, and recites that at a meeting of the male members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church at Warren Station, borough of Warren, Pa., pursuant
to notice, in the east wing of the court-house on Monday, the 5th of October,
1835, Rev. Samuel Ayres in the chair and John P. Osmer secretary, it
was resolved, on motion, to appoint a committee to draw up a charter to be
submitted for approval to the attorney-general of Pennsylvania, according to
the provisions of an act of the Assembly of April 6, 1791, and that the committee
consisted of Rev. Samuel Ayres, William L. Snyder, and Benjamin Bartholomew.
The style of the charter is "the Methodist Episcopal Church of
Warren Station, borough of Warren, Pennsylvania." By its provisions the
trustees of the church—viz., John Andrews, Albinus Stebbins, Joseph Mead,
James Morrison, Robert Arthurs, Martin Reese, and Judah L. Spencer, and
their successors—were to have all the care and management of all the property
of the church, real and personal. The early history of the church, subsequent
to the dedication of the first building in 1833, cannot better be given than in
the words of the recent pastor, Rev. W. W. Painter, as they appeared in a sermon
which he preached upon the occasion of the removal from that church
fifty-two years later (May 24, 1885), and with a few introductory remarks in
the Warren Mail of the following week. This article reads as follows:

"Another old landmark is gone, or is going. The old M. E. Church edifice
was vacated last week, and will soon be torn down to give place to a new and
larger house of worship. It has done its work, and now goes into the past
after a service of half a century. On Sunday of last week, May 24, Rev. W.
W. Painter
preached the last sermon in the old church and reviewed the history
of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Warren, most of which was published
in the Ledger. He showed when this church was dedicated, fifty-two
years ago, the M. E. Church in the United States had 2,265 ministers, and
638,787 members. In 1884 it had 12,900 ministers, and 1,800,000 members.

The original First Methodist Church
Methodist Episcopal church
Photograph courtesy of the Warren Library Association
Built in 1833, it was replaced by a second Methodist church building on the same site on Third Avenue in 1885.
Upon completion of a third Methodist church on Market Street in 1925,
the second building was sold to the Evangelical United Brethren congregation.

Of this church he said :

" 'Great are the changes in any church in a period of fifty-two years.
Probably not in many churches have the changes been so great as in this church
in Warren. Not one of those who were members of this society when this
church edifice was dedicated in 1833 is a member of this society to-day. Mrs.
Jane Waters
, the oldest member of the society at present, united with it four
years subsequent to 1833, when S. Gregg was the pastor. Benjamin Mead,
for many years a member of this church, and one of the first members of the
M. E. Church in Warren county, at the time this house was built was a member
of a society organized a few miles west of Warren at a place then known
by the name of Brokenstraw. E. P. Steadman was the pastor, and Joseph
, James Morrison, and Martin Reese were the trustees who superintended
the erection of this house of worship.

"From what we can learn, the little band who composed this society when
this edifice was erected, toiled hard and sacrificed nobly, some of them giving
more than one-tenth of what they had of this world's goods. Even then they
could not have succeeded had it not been for the liberal assistance of those
outside of the church membership. They labored nobly and well, and we have
entered into their labors. The time has come for us to show ourselves worthy
to be their successors in the erection of a new church edifice; a house of worship
not only for ourselves, but for our children and all who shall come after
us to worship within its walls. A precious privilege I trust we shall esteem it,
to bring to a speedy and successful completion this now prospective house of
worship. May the same spirit of self-sacrifice that actuated that little society
fifty-two years ago prompt us to give and work and pray until we shall together
rejoice in the success that God gives to every self-sacrificing, believing
worker in his vineyard !

"It is a source of regret to me that I have been unable to find the names or
the number of members who composed this society in 1833; we trust their names
are all written in heaven. In 1833 this region of country was a part of what
was known as Pittsburg Conference. In 1836 the Erie Conference was organized.
The following is a list of the names of the pastors stationed in the
M. E. Church in Warren since the date of the dedication of the church edifice :
1834, A. Plimpton; 1835, S. Ayres; 1836-37, S. Gregg; 1838-39, B. S.
; 1839, in part, L. Kendall; 1840, A. Barnes and B. S. Hill; 1841,
A. Barnes; 1841-42, E. J. L. Baker ; 1843, John F. Hill; 1844-45, J. E. Chapin,
1946-47, N. Norton; 1848, J. K. Hallock; 1849, J. O. Rich; 1850-51,
R.J. Edwards; 1852, R. S. Moran; 1853-54, H. H. Moore; 1855, A. C. Tibbitts;
1856, E. B. Lane; 1857, D. C. Osborne; 1858-59, J. Robinson;
1860-61, J. S. Lytle; 1862-63, O. L. Mead ; 1864-65, P. Pinney; 1866, T. Stubbs;
1867, C. R. Pattee; 1868-69, R. W. Scott; 1870-71, E. J. L. Baker; 1872-
73-74, A. J. Merchant; 1875, O. G. McEntire; 1876-77-78, R. M. Warren;
1879, W. F.Wilson; 1880-81-82, J. M.Thoburn; 1883-84-85, W.W. Painter.'"

About five years ago, or more, a project for the building of a new house
of worship was set on foot, which culminated in the present structure, the finest
in this part of the State or country. So successful were the sacrifices and
labors of those who contributed time and labor and money to the accomplishment
of this object, that we deem it worth while to describe the movement and
the building in nearly the words of a writer in the Mail, in an article which
appeared in that sheet on the 21st of September, 1886. (1.)

(1.) This article, we believe, was written by W. H. Hinckley, of the firm of Wetmore, Noyes &

"In 1881 it became apparent that the needs of the society, which was rapidly
growing with the prosperity of our town and surrounding towns, required
additional room to accommodate the church with its various departments of
Sunday-school, social and other work. The official board that year, or in
early winter of 1881-82, seriously considered the question. It was finally resolved
to enter upon the work of remodeling the old church by erecting in
front an auditorium connecting with the old building, provided a certain subscription
could be realized. Plans were drafted by Jacob Snyder, of Akron, O.,
and a canvass made in the church by Rev. J. M. Thoburn, resulting in a
handsome amount—over $6,000 being subscribed. After further consideration
it was proposed to build entirely anew an edifice costing $15,000— the
board rigidly acting in a conservative manner. At that time a church costing
$20,000 was deemed to be out of the question. After the change was determined
upon, Rev. Mr. Thoburn commenced the canvass anew, increasing the
former amount, it all being subscribed within the membership of the church.
Owing to local causes and those unaccountable reasons that often occur, the
work, after this subscription was raised, was laid aside—not buried, but postponed.

"When Rev. J. M. Thoburn reads these lines in his present home, Calcutta,
India, we trust that he will feel, what we believe to be the fact, that the church
society to-day have to thank him for really founding the new church project
upon a sure basis, and for planting the seed which has richly brought forth fruit.

"When Rev. W. W. Painter succeeded Mr. Thoburn, he found the society
still quartered in the old church, more crowded than ever, and still firm in the
belief that a new church must be provided. The church records show that on
March 25, 1884, it was resolved to tear down the church and erect a new one.
The question then of the location of the church was actively discussed. It was
generally thought best to build on a larger lot and dispose of the old property,
by which means the society would have a place to worship during the
process of building. On April 5, 1884, O. C. Allen was appointed a committee
to investigate and report in regard to lots which might be obtained.
The school board thought it possible the church lot and building would be
profitable and valuable for them, and the society was willing to exchange the
building and lot for a lot suited to their purposes. Negotiations during the
summer of 1884 toward obtaining a different location for church building were
fruitless, and the old church lot was decided upon as location for a new church.

"Rev. W. W. Painter in the mean time proceeded with the subscriptions
and secured the required subscription list of $12,000. Early in 1885, as the
list grew, the problem of actual work began to loom up, and the style of church
to be erected was the next question to be decided. After consultation with
various architects, the plan offered by Aaron Hall, of Jamestown, known as
the Akron church plan, was adopted and Mr. Hall instructed to prepare necessary
plans. On March 25, 1886, the building committee, M. B. Dunham,
B. Nesmith, and A. Fisher, was duly elected.

"The court-house, through the courtesy of J. Clinton, T. L. Putnam, and
M. Crocker, the county commissioners, was secured as the place for holding

"May 23, 1885, resolutions were passed to commence active operations at
once. This was the decisive step toward which all previous efforts had been
directed, and this dates the commencement of the work. On May 31, 1885,
the last service was conducted in the old church by Rev. W. W. Painter, and
on Monday, June 1, 1885, under the direction of A. Fisher, the first blow was
struck toward demolishing the old church, which rapidly followed.

"The corner-stone was laid August 18, 1885. Rev. John Peate presided at
the exercises, delivering an appropriate address and depositing beneath the
corner-stone the box of records described at that time.

"The burden of the work almost from the beginning fell upon Benjamin
, of the building committee. He assumed charge with his accustomed
vigor, and from the date of the commencement, June 1, 1885, down
to September 19, 1886, there was no cessation of operations. The debris of
the old church was properly cared for and removed, the excavation for found-
dation [sic] walls dug, and the stone work was contracted to Charles Ott, who laid
the foundation walls completely. A. B. McKain superintended the frame
work and erection of the trusses, rafters and towers. John Beebe, of Jamestown,
was placed in charge of interior carpenter work when work was commenced
inside. The brick work was contracted to Benjamin Jones, of Jamestown.

"Delays in securing plans carried the work late into the fall and winter of
1885 and 1886, which fortunately proved open long enough for completion of
the brick work before frosty weather. The cut-stone work was under direction
of Joshua Yerden, and the Ohio sandstone used, the native stone being
used for steps and balance of stone work. Brick were furnished by Mecusker,
of Jamestown; the front, including the towers, being finished in pressed
brick and the balance in selected brick. The slating and galvanized iron work
and spouting were furnished by Machwirth Bros., of Buffalo. The outside
painting and sanding was done by N. K. Wendleboe, of Warren.

"The method of heating and ventilation is what is known as the Ruttan
heating and ventilating process—the same employed in the new school-house
in the West End, and insures distribution of heat and a constant change of air,
which may be regulated to almost any temperature. The windows are made
of rolled cathedral glass throughout, and put in by S. S. Marshall & Bro.,
and are of remarkable beauty in tint and design. The three large circular windows,
fourteen feet in diameter, being especially attractive when lighted at night.
The doors throughout, with the exception of eight hard wood doors, are from
the factory of L. D. Wetmore & Co., Warren. The ceiling of the auditorium
is of corrugated iron, furnished by A. Northrup & Company, of Pittsburgh.
This ceiling is simple, durable, safe and handsome. Beck & Allen, of Warren,
have made a lasting record for themselves in the plastering job. Tunstall &
Thompson built the elaborate staircases and have also done themselves credit.

"No pews are used in the church ; but in both auditorium and gallery chairs
will be used, which are constructed with folding seats, provided also with footrest,
book-rack, number-plate, hat-protector, and umbrella-rack. The woodwork
is of deep, rich cherry or mahogany color. They are furnished by A. H. Andrews & Co.,
of New York.

"The inside graining and finishing has been principally done by B. M. Slayton,
of Warren, and the work speaks for itself. All of the halls and the
kitchen are floored in hard woods. The entire building is finished in oak and
ash and wainscoated throughout, the natural grain of the wood being left untouched,
except by the polishing, filling and varnishing, making the appearance
delightfully substantial and handsome.

"The ladies of the church deserve the highest encomiums. They have never
faltered a single moment. Their subscription of $1,000, increased to $1,500,
was paid promptly, adding another round $800 for carpets and chairs in the
Sunday-school rooms. They have sewed all the carpeting from gallery top to
kitchen. They have labored in.hot and cold, wet and dry, pleasant and unpleasant
times, and as they have continued to do what they could, have given time,
labor, money, everything, for the cause they loved. During the various
changes of the church in the past fifteen months the utmost harmony has
prevailed, and under the careful and sacrificing attention of Rev. W. W.
the congregation has remained intact and all current expenditures of
the church provided for. Other churches and the Good Templar Lodge and
order of A. O. U. W. kindly tendered them the use of their edifices and halls,
and the congregation greatly appreciate their courtesy and interest. Rev. W.
W. Painter
will ever be held by church, congregation, and the citizens of the
community in the highest esteem, for the highest measure of Christian fellowship
and untiring zeal in promoting, fostering, and at last successfully terminating
the work of erecting this building, from which Christian influence will go forth
through all the coming generations. He has received no extra compensation,,
and mere temporal reward would be trivial; but the affection of his people and
the blessing of God will surely attend him.

"The new pipe organ is a fine instrument. It was manufactured by Johnson
& Son, at Westfield, Mass., and cost about $2,000. What is called the
great organ has 406 metal pipes. The swell organ has 290 metal pipes, and
the pedal organ has twenty-seven wooden pipes, with numerous accessory
stops, pedal movements, and wind indicator. The descriptive list of stops, etc.,
would hardly be interesting to the general reader.

"The dedication took place last Sunday, September 19. The sermon of
Dr. Sims Sunday morning was a very eloquent and earnest appeal for the Christian
Church, from the 137th Psalm, 5th and 6th verses: 'If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee let
my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above
my chief joy.' The doctor is a silver-tongued talker, and held the crowded
audience in close attention for nearly an hour. When he closed Dr. Boyle, of
Pittsburgh, read the treasurer's statement showing the cost of the new structure,
including sidewalks, seating, lighting, heating, carpeting, furnishing, and
new pipe-organ, is about $35,000. After deducting the amount subscribed
and paid they found themselves in debt $20,000; and then commenced a
zealous appeal for the money to be pledged then and there. The subscriptions
were taken, payable in four annual installments. First they called for $500
promises. Mr. Thomas Keelor responded first, quickly followed by B. Nesmith,
M. B. Dunham, and the other heavy men of the church. Mr. Dunham
is the largest contributor, having paid nearly $7,000, besides giving his time
and attention freely. Then came the $300 call. This dragged a little, but
several responded; then the $200, $100, $50, and $25 subscribers made up the
sum of $16,000, before adjournment. At the evening session the whole balance
was pledged, making a splendid offering of $20,413.47 in a single day.
The Methodist society entertain the deepest feelings of gratitude toward the
citizens and friends who generously subscribed. It was a great success, and
the members and managers have a right to feel very thankful to the liberal
subscribers, as well as to God from whom all blessings flow.

"The formal ceremony of dedication in the evening, after Dr. Boyle's sermon,
was beautifully impressive. Dr. Sims called up the trustees and solemnly
charged them to guard carefully the sacred trust placed in their keeping."

Rev. W. P. Bignell, the present pastor, succeeded Mr. Painter in the fall
of 1886.

First Baptist Church of Christ. —On Friday, the 2d day of May, 1834, in
response to a request from a number of communicants of the Baptist Church
who had previously united in conference, a council representing churches at
Pine Grove, Ashville, and Carroll, and partly composed of delegates from the
New York Baptist State Convention, convened at the court-house in Warren,
for the purpose of organizing a church. The ministers present were Revs.
Foot, Fuller, Coleman, and Gildersleve
. After being accepted by the conference
as their council they proceeded to organize, choosing Isaac Fuller, moderator,
and James McClellen, clerk. This body of believers was then recognized
as a church — a member of the Baptist denomination. There were sixteen
persons who thus composed the first germ of the present Baptist Church
in Warren, viz. — Mrs. P. Curtis, Miss F. Curtis, Mrs. H. Gier, Mrs. P. Doty,
Mrs. M. Shaw, Miss Elizabeth Morse, Mrs. P. Waters, Mrs. P. Strong, Miss
Louisa Wheeler
, Mrs. Mary Comstock, Mr. O. W. Shaw, Mr. W. M. Morse,
W. M. Gildersleve, Mr. E. Doty, and Mr. Curtis Pond, who was soon after
elected deacon.

The "articles of faith," though not recorded in the church book, were of
that character, at least, that a Baptist council regarded them Baptistic. Hence
public exercises were observed as follows: Sermon was preached by Rev. Coleman,
right hand of fellowship by Rev. Fuller, and concluding prayer by Rev.

For eight years this society held services without the aid of a regular pastor,
and only occasionally listened to sermons from the missionaries, Revs. King,
Williams, Gildersleve, Wilson, and Gill
. All this time, and afterward, from
1842 to 1857, they worshiped in the old court-house, on the ground now
occupied by the new court-house. In 1844 a committee was appointed to consider
the feasibility of building a church edifice. Ground was purchased and
some of the materials were drawn upon it, but unforeseen hindrances prevented
the consummation of the project at that time. The pastors through this period
were Revs. Handy, Everetts, and Smith, and the deacons were Messrs. Winchester
and William Snyder
. At this time the Sabbath-school was organized.
In the summer of 1859 the present church edifice was commenced, on the Miner
lot, near the then residence of Chapin Hall. It was completed in
the summer of 1860. A part of "the subsequent history of this church is given
in the language of Rev. E. D. Hammond, as reported in the Evening Paragraph
on December 1, 1884:

"Commencing with 1857, we find this church still worshiping in the courthouse.
In answer to a pressing call from the little church, Rev. B. C. Willoughby
became pastor, remaining until 1860. As a result of his wise management
and persistent efforts, the church building in which we congregate to-day
was built and dedicated to the worship of God in 1860. Too much praise cannot
be given to the self-sacrificing pastor and little band at that time. During
the same pastorate the church improved spiritually and increased in membership.
It was during this period that two brothers were taken into this church
who have proved to be ambassadors for Christ and an honor to the church. I
speak now of John S. Hutson, received in April, 1858. Believing himself to
be called to the work of the ministry, and the church discerning in him gifts and
graces fitting for the work, he was licensed to preach the gospel. He soon
afterward took a letter from the church and went to fully prepare himself for the work.
After completing a college course and graduating from the theological
department of Lewisburgh University, he was ordained in 1868 to the regular
work of the gospel ministry, and has since served as pastor of the churches
at Stockton, N. Y., Allegheny City, Pa., and Warren, O.

"Rev. G. W. Snyder was converted during the winter of 1857 and 1858 and
at once began active work for the Master at Sheffield, where he was teaching
school. A number of his pupils were converted. He united with the church
in May, 1858. He pursued his studies in Allegheny College and Crozier Theological
Seminary, graduating from the former in 1863, and from the latter in
1869. After this he became pastor of the church at Columbus, N. J., removing
from there to Lock Haven, Pa., where he died in the summer of 1874, and
in the summer of his life, being at the age of thirty-seven. He was a devoted
minister of the gospel, an earnest student of the gospel, and loved learning for
its own sake. His early struggles for a thorough education no doubt aided
in taking him away.

"The church may well cherish the memory of these two sons. They are
noble sons of their mother church, and may the church live to conceive and
bear for the gospel many such men !

"In 1864 we find another era in the history of the church. Norman Snyder
and Deacon Gerould are deacons. In the fall of 1866 Rev. George Balcom
came to hold revival meetings; he was here four weeks, and as a result several
were taken into the church. From 1866 to 1869 Revs. Hastings and Evens
were pastors. In 1869 Rev. Trowbridge became pastor, remaining two years,
during which time the church worked hard. This baptistry was then put in,
the bell was placed in the place where it now is, and some members were added
to the church.

"In December, 1876, Rev. Mr. Hulbert commenced meetings. A great
revival spirit was then seen in the community, and the membership of the
church was doubled.

"In May, 1877, Rev. E. F. Crane became pastor. In the month of July
Brother A. J. Hazeltine, Mr. Waid, and Mr. Lorie were appointed deacons.

"In the summer and fall of 1877 the church underwent thorough repairs,
costing $3,350, and was rededicated December 20, 1877. Thus we are enabled
to see from this time a continuous growth along all the lines of church
work and spiritual development.

"In January, 1879, Rev. H. H. Leamy became pastor, lasting two years,
and some members were added to the church during the time.

"In the spring of 1881 Rev. Mr. Rea, a graduate from Rochester Theological
Seminary, commenced his labors with this church. During his pastorate
the church had a healthful growth and the membership grew from sixty five
to one hundred and seventeen. His pastorate ended in May, 1884. Within
a year or more this church has lost by removal some efficient church workers.
The Great Shepherd, however, has kept watch over the flock, and has filled
the vacancies by others. Let us believe in the providence of God."

The following are the names and dates of service of the respective pastors
of this church from the beginning to the present:

Church served by missionaries, 1834-42; Alfred Handy, Nov., 1842-June,
1845; Rev. W. R. Northrop, supply, March, 1847-Sept, 1848; Wm. Everet,
Sept., 1848-June, 1852; Wm. Smith, April, 1857-Sept, 1857; B. C. Willoughly,
Oct., 1857-60; A.J. Hastings, Oct., 1865-Oct, 1866; Thos. Evans,
Feb., 1867-Oct, 1867; I. Trowbridge, March, 1870-Aug., 1871; J. Harrington,
Oct., 1875-Jan., 1876; E. F. Crane, April, 1877-Oct, 1878; H. H. Leamy,
Jan., 1879-March, 1881; James Rea, April, 1881-May, 1884; E. D.
, Sept., 1884-July, 1886; Wm. J. Coulston, Aug., 1886.

The present membership of this church is 144, of which number one-third
are male members. During the past year $103.63 was expended for benevolent
objects. The estimated value of the church property is now $6,000. The
present officers are Rev. William J. Coulston, pastor; A. J. Hazeltine, clerk;
D. L. Gerould, treasurer; and H. E. Davis, secretary of the board of directors.

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