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Early History of the Borough of Warren

Home > History > Early History of the Borough of Warren (Page 7)

Religious Societies: St. Joseph's Church | Trinity Memorial Church | Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church | The Evangelical Association


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


St. Joseph's Church (Roman Catholic).—There is strong probability that
the first religious services conducted by civilized men on the site of Warren
borough took place more than a hundred and thirty years ago. There is evidence
that during the progress of the French and Indian War an expedition
of French Catholics passed from Canada to Fort Du Quesne and New Orleans
by the way of Lake Erie, Lake Chautauqua, Conewango Creek, and the
Allegheny River. From their records it appears that they were accustomed
to land at various places on the route for the purpose of holding religious services
under the guidance of priests who accompanied the expedition (which
was military in its nature and object), and that they buried at such places
leaden plates inscribed with language revealing that they had thus taken possession
of the country in the name of France. The records show also that
they landed for such worship and formality at the junction of the Conewango
Creek and Allegheny River. The plates have been discovered at a number of
the places described in their records; but, from vagueness, the spot on which
they landed and in which they buried the plate at the mouth of the Conewango
has never been determined. It has thus become a matter rather of
conjecture than sober history, at least until the plate is unearthed and the
exact site located.

Among the first Roman Catholic families to settle in Warren county were
three brothers named Thomas, Patrick, and Joseph Archbold, who came from
Philadelphia in the early part of this century and took up about three hundred
acres of wild land each, about two and a half miles below Irvineton. They
were there previous to 1830. Other early families in the county were the
McGraws, of Triumph, the McGuires, of Tidioute, and William and Sylvester
, brothers, who came from Canada to Warren. The first bishop to visit
Warren county was Francis Patrick Kendrick, who came from Philadelphia on
horseback between fifty and sixty years ago, and held services at the house of
Joseph Archbold. He also held services in the court-house at Warren. From
this time the various places in the county were visited two or three times each
year by priests from away, generally from Erie. The first Catholic Church
edifice in the county was built at Warren about 1850, and has recently been
converted into a school-house for that denomination. Rev. Father de la
remembers with gratitude the unselfish assistance rendered at that time
by Protestants toward completing the house of worship. Orris Hall contributed
the lot on which the church now stands, and Mr. Summerton, the merchant,
gave two hundred dollars, which was increased by other contributions
from similar sources. This building has now been used for a school-house
about four years. When the first church was building, Warren was attended
by Father Deane, of Erie, and also by Father Thomas Smith, of Crawford
county, and Father McConnell, of Frenchtown, Crawford county. In 1854
Father John Berbiger, the present assistant rector here, made his first visit to
the church at Warren. The first resident priest was Father Thomas Lornagen,
now rector of the parish at Corry. He was here from about 1858 to 1866.
Father Voisar, now in the diocese of Toronto, was rector of this parish in 1867
and 1868. In 1869 the present rector, Rev. M. A. de la Roque, came here
from Meadville, Pa., and remained in charge ever since. His assistant, Father
, settled here in 1880.

The present house of worship was dedicated on the 6th of May, 1880,
after a period of building which lasted two years. The cost of the edifice and
site was about $20,000. There are now in the neighborhood of 150 families
in the parish. The next church in the county was built at Tidioute by Father
about 1864. There are there at present some forty or fifty families.
The church at Irvineton was erected in 1870, and is attended by Father James
, of Tidioute. At this place there are about fifty Catholic families. A
chapel was built on Quaker Hill in 1874, where about six families worship.
The church edifice at Clarendon was built in 1876, and is attended by Father
. At this place are about 100 families. The church in Sheffield
township was built in 1878, and is occupied by about fifty families, attended
by Father de la Roque. In Garland a church has just been completed, which
is under the care of the parish of Corry, and is occupied by some fifteen or
twenty families. A lot has been purchased for the erection of a church at
Kinzua, and this work will undoubtedly be completed in the near future.
The old church edifice at Warren was converted into a school-house in
September, 1883, and was divided into two departments. It was soon
discovered to be too small, however, and in the summer of 1886 it was
supplemented by an adjoining structure. The entire average attendance at
these schools at present is about 150. The school is taught by sisters of the
Benedictine order, five in number, who came from St. Mary's, in Elk county. They
are thoroughly efficient, and give lessons in music in addition to the common
branches of learning.

Trinity Memorial Church.—The beginnings of the Episcopal Church are
faintly indicated by the fact that a church called the Calvary Church, of Warren,
was incorporated by order of the court on the 8th of October, 1860, and
that the Trinity Memorial Church was incorporated on the 9th of March, 1867,
and was undoubtedly the successor of the Calvary. The circumstances attending
the organization of this church, and its subsequent history are given in the
following extract from the Warren Mail of October 26, 1886. It is taken
from an address written by M. Beecher, of Warren, and delivered upon the
occasion of the laying of the corner-stone of the St. Saviour's Church at
Youngsville, on the 21st of October, 1886. We reprint only so much as seems
to be pertinent in this place.

"An interesting event for Youngsville was the laying of the corner-stone
of its new Episcopal Church last Thursday, October 21, under the direction
of Dr. A. W. Ryan, of Warren, who was assisted by Rev. Henry Mitchell, the
new assistant to Dr. Ryan, Rev. H. L. Yewens, of Franklin, Rev. S. P. Kelly,
of Pittsburgh, and by the choir and vestry of the Warren church.

"Among the ceremonies, William Schnur read the following paper prepared
by Mr. Beecher, who was unable to be present. It was intended to be a correct
history of Trinity Memorial Church, of Warren, and its missions, and is
well worthy of being read and preserved.

" 'The part which has been assigned to me to-day in the exercises of this interesting,
and, to the people of Youngsville, memorable occasion, is a very simple
and prosaic one. It calls for no flights of fancy, flowers of rhetoric, or wellrounded
periods. It will deal simply with the leading events connected with
the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Warren county, which is in
reality but a history of Trinity Memorial Church, Warren; and may the ordeals
through which it has passed stimulate you to encounter and overcome
obstacles and difficulties which in the distance may appear unsurmountable,
but which grow smaller as you approach, and disappear when grappled with.

" 'It is only by earnest, persistent effort in any good work that success is
ensured, and that too, oftentimes, in the face of apparent failure. "Be ye therefore
steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch
as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

" 'Previous to the year 1858 there never had been but one service of the
church held in Warren county. But in July of that year Rev. Dr. Egar, now
of Rome, N. Y., who married a daughter of the late Judge Merrill, held one or
two services in the Presbyterian Church in Warren. In 1860 Bishop Bowman
made a visitation, accompanied by Rev. Mr. Abercrombie, of St. Paul's church,
Erie, and held services in Johnson's Hall. The only ones to read the responses
were Mr Struthers, Judge Johnson, Col. Curtis, Archibald Tanner (father of
Mrs. Scofield), Geo. A. Cobham and family, Mr. and Mrs. Hoskins, Miss Merrill,
Mr. and Mrs. M. Beecher.

" 'Although the little band of worshipers there assembled looked somewhat
lonesome in that large hall, it was an occasion of deep interest, and when the
service was opened with—"The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth
keep silence before Him," there was a feeling of solemnity pervading every
heart, and that even there might be realized the promise that" where (even)
two or three are gathered together in His name He would grant their requests."

" 'Two years later Bishop Potter, with his son Henry C, now assistant
bishop of New York, held services in the Baptist Church. After this Bishop
visited Warren and held services in the Presbyterian Church, and a
year later Bishop Lee, of Iowa, in the Methodist Church.

" 'On August 3, 1861, about a year after Bishop Bowman's first visitation
to Warren, he started from Pittsburgh to visit what was then known as the Oil
Regions of Pennsylvania, a region infinitely smaller than what is now embraced
in that name. When about twenty miles this side of Pittsburgh a landslide
was encountered, which made a walk of about two miles necessary to enable
the passengers to take a train awaiting them on the other side. In his then
enfeebled condition the bishop was unable to keep up with the rest, and was
missed when the train was about ready to start. On going back to look for
him he was found dead by the roadside—another example of that mysterious
dispensation of divine Providence which passeth man's understanding. So
useful a life and so sudden and remarkable a death seemed to demand more at
the hands of a bereaved people and diocese than was customary in ordinary
cases to bestow. To that end it was suggested that a memorial church should
be erected in the region he was about to visit when overtaken by death, and
that the whole diocese of Pennsylvania should be asked to contribute for that

" 'Accordingly collections were taken up in all the parishes of the State,
and the sum of $5,200 was realized. Then the question arose as to where the
money should be expended. Bishop Potter, as one of the trustees of the fund,
suggested that the site selected should be at some point on the Allegheny River
between Kittanning and Warren — probably at the latter point. To this end
he offered $4,000 of the fund, providing Warren would raise a like amount.
This was deemed at that time as impossible.

" 'A delegation of sixteen was sent from Titusville to Philadelphia to represent
the church interests there and to pledge a compliance with the conditions
imposed. Colonel Curtis was the only champion Warren had to represent her
interests, he having business in the Supreme Court, then sitting in Philadelphia.
He argued the case of his client ably and eloquently, but the odds were too
great against him, and Titusville was awarded the $4,000. But as Bishop
died on the banks of the Allegheny, Bishop Potter was anxious that
a church should be erected to his memory immediately upon its bank, and to
that end the balance of $1,200 was reserved for Warren whenever that amount
would be required to complete a church edifice. This fund was invested in
Philadelphia city 6 per cent, bonds, which afterward amounted to $1,800.

" 'In the spring of 1864 Bishop Potter made a visitation to Corry with the
rector of St. Paul's Church, Erie, Rev. John F. Spaulding, now bishop of Colorado,
fully impressed with the importance of at once occupying this region;
and through his solicitations and those of Bishop Stevens the Rev. C. C. Parker,
then a deacon, was sent in June, 1864, to this new and then uncultivated

" 'It was arranged that he should hold services at Warren and Corry on
alternate Sundays, with his home at Warren. The first regular services were
held in Warren in the Presbyterian Church, on the afternoon of June 26, 1864.
The next service was held in the Baptist Church, which had been secured until
the following December. In September of this year a Sunday-school was
organized. It opened with five scholars. During the Sundays Mr. Parker was
officiating in Corry the school was held in the dining-room of Mr. Beecher's
house on Liberty street.

" 'When compelled to vacate the Baptist Church, rector and vestry were in
a quandary what to do, as they were again thrown upon the charity of a cold
world without an abiding place. Finally they decided to apply to Judge
for the use of the east room in Johnson's Exchange. This application
was met in a most liberal and Christian-like spirit. The hall, with the requisite
number of settees, was at once set apart for the exclusive use and control of
the church, free of charge. It was neatly fitted up for church and Sunday school
purposes, and here services were held until the completion of Trinity
Memorial Church, in the summer of 1867. Soon after Mr. Parker's coming to
Warren much discussion was had relative to the building of a church edifice,
thereby enabling it to claim the Bishop Bowman fund reserved for that purpose.
After many vexatious delays and hindrances a subscription was finally

" 'During the winter the rector and his estimable wife taught the Sunday school
scholars an oratorio, with the aid of local talent, from which entertainment
was realized a sufficient amount to purchase a cabinet organ for the

" 'In the mean time, subscriptions having progressed satisfactorily, the
building of a church was decided upon. Matters were pushed as vigorously as
possible — some delays occurring as a matter of course—and on the 16th day
of July, 1867, the church was finished and furnished complete, at a total cost,
including the lot, of $11,375, ready for the first service, which was held that
P. M. at five o'clock.

" 'The day following, July 17, the time fixed for the consecration of the
church, the procession entered, preceded by J. H. Palmer, senior warden;
M. Beecher, junior warden; C. B. Curtis, L. L. Lowry, John T. McPherson,
John Sill, and Lewis F. Watson, and followed by Bishop Kerfoot, Rev. J. F. Spaulding,
rector of St. Paul's Church, Erie; Rev. Marison Byllesby, of Christ's
Church, Meadville; Rev. Henry Purdon, D. D., of St. James Memorial Church,
Titusville; Rev. R. D. Nevius, of Christ's Church, Oil City; Rev. George C.
, of Emmanuel Church, Emporium; Rev. John T. Protheroe, of Emmanuel
Church, Corry, and the rector, Rev. C. C. Parker. The sentence of
consecration was read by Rev. Mr. Billesby, and the sermon was preached
by the bishop. The services throughout were exceedingly interesting and
impressive, and all rejoiced that the labors of years had at last been rewarded
with full fruition. Mr. Parker continued his earnest work for nearly a year
afterwards, when he resigned his charge and removed to Greenburg, Pa. His
resignation took effect Easter Monday, 1868. To his self-sacrificing efforts
and untiring zeal, and a faith that though in darkest hours sometimes wavered
yet never forsook him, to him more than any one else is Trinity Memorial
Church of Warren indebted for its present existence. At this date there were
only sixteen names on the list of communicants, of which only three were
males; and of these for a long time the only one present to respond to the
invitation "Draw near in faith," was Isaac Ruff, a colored man.

" 'The next rector of this parish was the Rev. Henry S. Getz, of Mahonoy
City, Pa., now assistant rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles, Philadelphia.
He was a God-fearing, God-loving, faithful Christian worker, who was
beloved not only by his own congregation, but by all others with whom he
came in contact, for his many noble qualities of head and heart. He was dean
of this convocation until it was merged into the Erie deanery. He was also
rector of the church at Tidioute, holding week-day services there. His rectorship
covered a period of upwards of thirteen years, when he resigned, his resignation
taking effect on the 1st of October, 1882.

" 'No special effort was made to secure another rector for several months,
although many letters were received on the subject. It was not until the fall
of 1883 that matters assumed a definite shape and the Rev. Albert W. Ryan,
of Howell, Mich., was secured. Of his work in Warren, Clarendon, Youngsville,
and other points in the county it would be out of place to dwell upon on
this occasion. That he is peculiarly fitted for the work he has undertaken is
fully attested by his superior mental endowments, his sound and varied scholastic
attainments, and a push and vigor which stop at nothing short of success.
His present assistant, Rev. Mr. Mitchell, comes to us as a stranger, but with a
good record as an efficient and successful co-worker.' "

Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church.— This church was organized
on the 7th of June, 1871, some of the original members being Axel Carlson,
George P. Miller, Herman Greenlund, Lars Hanson, Erik Anderson, and
Adolf F. Larson. These with others, numbering in all about thirty-five, constituted
the first organization. The meetings both before and after this time were held
in the building still occupied, though it then belonged to the German Lutheran
Church. In this same year (1871), however, the Scandinavian Church
purchased the church building and lot, and now own it. The work of acquiring
this property should be accredited chiefly to a Miss Sara Carlson (now
Mrs. Larson), who distinguished herself by her Christian zeal at this time not
only, but later, when she and her husband removed to Rock Island, Ill., they
presented $125 to this church, a remarkably unselfish gift, considering that
they were and are by no means well to do. The price of the church building
was about $800. It has been greatly repaired within and without since the
last purchase was completed, and an addition erected in the front, surmounted
with a neat steeple.

The first Swedish preacher at this place was J. P. Loving, now living at
Chandler's Valley. He was not an ordained minister, but came with good
recommendations from the old country, and proved himself to be a man of
sound doctrine and profound faith. He remained here between three and four
years, preaching once or twice a month. J. Vender (who went from here to
Rock Island, Ill., was graduated from the Aug. College and Seminary, was ordained
a minister, and in 1882 died at his post on the Pacific coast), Axel
, Erik Anderson, and others were good members and deacons of the
church, who by their unwearied efforts in leading the Sabbath-school and
prayer meetings, etc., kept up the interest of the congregation during vacancies
in the pulpit. Several ministers of this conference who were stationed in this
vicinity gave such time and attention to the welfare of this church during its
feeble efforts at learning to walk, as their own congregations would permit. Rev.
J. Millander
, the first ordained minister who was given charge of this church,
began his labors here in July, 1874. He was well liked, and it was a great
blow to his flock when about eighteen months later he handed in his resignation.
For some time after this the society was under the protection of students
from the Aug. College and Seminary of Rock Island, Ill., especially under that
of L. G. Abrahamson. In 1879 Rev. M. U. Norbury was called to take charge
of the church; eight calls previous to this one had elicited negative answers,
but Mr. Norbury accepted. His stay here was but of a year's duration. Thus
far this congregation had been obliged to divide the services of their pastors
with several other congregations, as Kane, Titusville, Sheffield, etc. On the
14th of September, 1881, the present pastor, Rev. N. G. Johnson, took charge
of his labors here. Although he has had the care also of other charges, he has
devoted as much time, or more, as could be expected. In the spring of 1882
he was forced by ill health to visit Sweden. During his absence of some five
months a Danish minister named P. C. Fronberg, then a recent arrival from
Denmark, filled the vacancy. Although he was scholarly and zealous, his
ideas did not conform with the preconceived opinions of his congregation, and
a division arose in the church, which culminated in the separation from the
congregation of a number of members.

In 1883 a resolution was adopted that the church should build or buy
a new parsonage, and subscriptions soon amounted to about $1,100, with
which the present suitable and neat dwelling was purchased. The congregation,
although necessarily small in numbers, has indeed made wonderful progress,
considering the adverse circumstances which have conspired to retard
their growth. In 1885 the young people bought a fine pipe organ for the
church. The pastor has much to do, for besides his pastoral labors in Warren
he has charge over congregations, or missions, at North Warren, Glade Run,
Stoneham, Clarendon, Irvineton, Tidioute, Triumph, etc. As a rule the
Swedes are a religious people, and have a decided penchant for the Lutheran
persuasion. The church is an Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augustana
Synod, which synod has a membership of more than 100,000, and an ordained
ministry of about 230 members. There are not far from 140 members belonging
to this church in Warren. The present officers are George P. Miller,
Martin Nelson, Charles Peterson, J. Seyser, C. P. Anderson, Peter Holmes, and
Otto Marker. The church property is valued at about $3,500, while a small
indebtedness rests on the church of about $200.

The Evangelical Association, of Warren, was organized in 1833 by Rev.
John Seybert
. Its original members were H. D. Grunder, Mary E. Grunder,
Conrad Gross, Saloma Gross, Adam Knopf, Mary E. Knopf, Jacob Wise, Saloma
, Magdalene Martin, Philopena Martin, George Weiler, Barbara Weiler,
Martin Esher, J. J. Esher, George Esher, D. Gross, sr., D. Gross, jr., Jacob
, F. L. Arnett.

In 1852 a brick church edifice was built on Liberty street. In 1883 this
structure was extensively remodeled at a cost of $4,000. During the year 1876
a frame church was built at Mack's Corners, in Elk township, costing $1,200.
The pastors of this association, which extends into Conewango, Glade, and
Elk townships, have been, in the order of their coming, as follows: John Seybert,
J. K. Kring, E. Staver, J. Brickley, J. Honecker, J. Boas, J. Yambert,
H. Bucks, R. Miller, J. Lutz, H. Heis, J. Long, S. Heis, J. Rank, J. Truby,
J. C. Link, J. Edgar, J. Dick, A. Stable, S. B. Kring, A. Niebel, J. G. Pfeuffer,
A. Long, C. Lindaman, B. L. Miller, Jacob Honaker, C. G. Koch, R. Mott,
J. J. Barnhart, R. Mott, A. Rearick, B. L. Miller, W. Houpt, T. Bach, and
L. M. Boyer; the latter gentleman, a veteran of the late war and a native of Somerset
county, Pa., still being in charge.

For many years the Warren congregation was exclusively German, and
religious exercises were conducted in the language of the Fatherland. By
degrees, however, English was introduced, and in the spring of 1884 it was
wholly adopted.

The present members are two hundred and forty-seven in number, and the
church property owned by them (two churches and a parsonage) is valued at

We will conclude our remarks on church matters by saying that the first
preaching in the county, of which we have authentic data, was rendered by
the Rev. Jacob Cram, of Exeter, N. H., a missionary of the Congregational
Church. From his journal it appears that in 1805 he journeyed across Vermont
and New York States to Olean, preaching at many points along the
way. From the latter place he proceeded down the river to Warren. He
met the Cornplanter, and informs us that the Quakers had a mission near the
latter's settlement, which was established by them about 1798. They also
operated a small saw and grist-mill located near the mission. Cornplanter
was rather cool, and expressed his distrust and dislike of Yankee preachers.
He said he had seen and heard them at councils. They would preach and
talk very fair to the Indians, but immediately afterwards would be found trying
to cheat the poor Indians out of their lands. The missionary preached at
Kinzua and at the house of Daniel Jackson, on the Conewango. At this place
he said the people were very attentive, and he received more money from
them for missionary purposes than at any other place in the western country.
He also made note of the fact "that Warren had a beautiful situation for a
town, though there were but four or five houses in the town plot." From
Warren he journeyed northward (stopping to preach at the "Beech Woods
Settlement") to Buffalo and into Canada, and thence eastward to his home.

The first Methodist quarterly meeting ever held in the county was also
convened at the Jackson homestead, on the Conewango, in 1812. There were
present Bishop McKendrie, Rev. Jacob Young, the presiding elder of the Ohio
District, Rev. John P. Kent, of Chautauqua county, N. Y., and Rev. William
, of Venango county, Pa. Many people assembled from Kinzua,
Brokenstraw, and the Beech Woods, and numbers of them, being compelled to
stay all night, slept on the hay mow in the barn.

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