IT’S PIONEERS, PASTORS AND PROGRESSIVE WORK
REV T. R. CRAWFORD, D.D.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE CONGREGATION
Rev. T. R. Crawford, D.D.,
Dear Pastor: The undersigned were appointed a Committee by the congregation of Nottingham to request a copy of the " Historical Narrative " delivered by you August 27th, with a view to its publication. You will please furnish us with a copy, and much oblige many friends.
I put at your disposal a copy of the Historical Sketch delivered on the occasion to which you refer, with some additional incidents.
Yours in the Pastorate,
T. R. Crawford.
September 26th, 1871
One quarter of a century has now closed since the present pastorale began. It was on the 19th day of October, A. D. 1846, that my first sermon was preached in this congregation from John 1, 29, " Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Then a stranger and a youth, I stood in your midst, only a few days after the Presbytery of Steubenville had licensed me to preach the Gospel; and not without fears and misgivings, undertook the oversight of this Church as an under shepherd and religious teacher; which has continued until the present, through a period of twenty-five years, of joy and sorrow, toil and study, of " sunny side " and " shady side." But the Lord hath kept both a people to serve him in this place, and the same Pastor to minister in word and doctrine. Yet how changed the surroundings. Few that heard me the first day I preached in this congregation, hear me this day. How many of the membership have either passed from time to eternity, or removed into some other section of country, leaving but here and there one that can say: "I gave you the right hand of fellowship and welcomed you as my pastor;" for of the three hundred and twenty names now on the roll of communicants, only seventeen that were in membership at the beginning of my ministry with you remain with us until the present. Still the divine promise is verified to us, " Instead of the fathers shall be their children to serve Me, saith the Lord."
In this sketch we propose some historical reminiscences of the Presbyterian Church of Nottingham—its pioneers, pastors, progressive work, and historical incidents. In the preparation of this narrative I was governed by my diary, old records, and, in some instances, by the recollections of the oldest citizens.
For several years the territory of this congregation was considered
within the limits of Crabapple Church, although eight to ten miles distant,
which was traveled by our forefathers, in hot and cold weather, and often
on foot, more regularly than do some of us who live but two and three miles
distant from the house of public worship. To remedy this inconvenience
and exposure a preaching point was established in this vicinity, and the
first sermon ever preached by a Presbyterian minister in this part of Harrison
county was by the Rev. John Rea, D.D., in the summer of 1806, at the root
of a large chestnut tree, standing on the
eastern slope of the hill, near where the barn now stands on the Cunningham farm and about one-half mile from this house.
The same element that settled Western Pennsylvania settled South-eastern Ohio, and gave to it, as to the former, the Presbyterianism which both possess to a very large extent. Those pioneers came into an unbroken wilderness, which required hard labor and much self-denial to gain a subsistence, and for a time many of them lived in rude and uncomfortable cabins, but were not disposed to leave their religion behind them, as is too frequently the case with many emigrating to a new country, for no sooner had they found a home for themselves in the western wilderness, than they sought a place where they might worship the Lord our God.
Seventy-five years ago this whole region was an unbroken forest, and over these hills and through these valleys roamed the wild beast of the wood, and the more savage men, with their implements of death. Near to this site passed the Indian trail to their hunting grounds in the Muskingum and Sciota countries. At the close of the revolutionary war peace was declared, but only established between Great Britain and the United States.
The Indians still continued hostilities on our frontier settlements, partly owing to the deceptions and frauds imposed upon them by the early traders. Scenes, however, began to change for the better, which opened up the way for a daring and enterprising population to come into the north-west territory and to settle in companies, even before Congress declared Ohio to be regularly constituted a State.
But those emigrating so early not only encountered the common hardships of a frontier life, but for a few years were continually exposed to attacks from savage warriors, under such cruel leaders as the renegade "Simon Girty," "()Id Cross-fire," and "Red Jacket," who, with their Indian forces, infested this whole region, and continued more or less for several years after the white population began to locate in communities near some garrison or block-house, into which they were often compelled to flee in times of alarm, both for defence and safety.
The first settlements in this vicinity were made from 1798 to 1803. Abraham Brokaw, John Glenn, William Ingles, George Laport, Thomas Wilson, Arthur Barrett, ----Jones, and ---- Moffitt, and perhaps others. These were but the advance of a great mass of people that in a few years scattered over a large tract of country, so, as by magic, the northwest territory was settled, and signs of civilization were evident, by subdued forests, newly erected dwellings, followed by the school house and church building.
So far as we can learn the first families that came into the bounds
and identified themselves with the congregation of Nottingham, were those
of Abraham Brokaw, John Glenn, Richard Baxter, Adam Dunlap, Samuel
Lafferty and John Price. These were the Pioneers of Presbyterianism in this region, and amid many trials and discouragements labored earnestly to establish a nucleus of a church, in which they finally succeeded.
The earliest visit of white men, (of which we have any account) into the territory of which this county was ultimately formed, was in the fall of 1793, when Capt. Wm. Boggs, Robert Maxwell, Joseph Daniels, Johnson and Miller were sent out from the old Block-house, located on the ground, afterward occupied by the City of Wheeling, Va. These men were Indian scouts and spies; they made their excursion from the mouth of Wheeling Creek up to the dividing ridge, and crossed over on the evening of the second day after they left the river, to the head waters of stillwater, venturing rather far into the interior with so small a force. This little band of daring men, struck up a fire, and camped at a spring on the banks of a stream, near to the place where the house of Mrs. Crawford now stands. The party prepared and ate their supper, and being much fatigued with the journey of two days through an unbroken wilderness, they lay down to rest around the burning embers of a camp fire, not expecting an enemy near, for they had seen no recent traces of the red man from the time they left the fort. Soon they were wrapped in sleep, only to be awakened and startled by the hidious yell of Indians, followed by a report of fire-arms; a ball took effect in the knee of Capt. Boggs, which so crippled him, that he was unable to flee. He called to his companions, " make your escape if possible and leave me to my fate," which they did, leaving their brave leader to perish in the hands of a terrible and cruel foe. Three out of the four that fled, arrived safely at the Block-house, reported the disaster that befell their expedition. Measures were immediately taken, and a company of men were sent out in a short time, to seek for the remains of Mr. Boggs. After much precaution in travel, the party found the place where the spies had camped on that fatal night, and soon discovered the mutilated body of their Captain, took up the remains, and buried them a few rods east from the above named spring, on one of the tributary streams of Big-Stillwater, which ever after has been called " Bogg's Fork," from the name of this adventuring but unfortunate man. It is to be regretted, that all traces of the grave of this brave and trustworthy soldier have disappeared. Shall it continue thus ? whilst monuments and marble shafts, are so often erected at public expense, to mark the resting place of some military chieftain, no more worthy than Captain Boggs.
When peace was ratified with the Indians, and Ohio admitted into the
Union of States, the tide of emigration began to flow strongly in this
direction. In 1802, the great Western Thoroughfare passed not more than
three quarters of a mile from this House, which was the route from Pittsburgh
by the way of Steubenville, and from Central Pennsylvania, by the
way of Charleston, [now Wellsburg,] forming a junction in this County, which induced the location of Cadiz; then running west nine or ten miles, forked on the lands of William Ingles, (now owned by James Roland.) The right branch of this road passed through the White Eye Plains, and on by " Fort Defiance," into the Sandusky region; the left branch running by the way of Zanesville into the Sciota and Miami Valleys. Howe, in his “Historical Collections" of this State, says, " that previous to the construction of the National Road through Ohio, this road was perhaps traveled more than any other route west of the Ohio River ? "
Mr. Ingles, then residing at the junction of the western division of this road, found it necessary to keep a Public House, for the accommodation of the unexpected rush of emigration into this and other settlements farther west. In the spring of 1802, he erected a large double log cabin, considered in those days a magnificent house; and supposed to be the first " hotel," ever kept in the bounds of this county. A part of the remains of this old tavern may still be seen, as a monument of the past, though vacated and in a retired and lonely spot, less than one mile north of this place, but deserted both by residents and roads.
Some award to our County Seat, the first public house, erected in the territory of Harrison County, which, according to History, is incorrect. Cadiz was laid out in 1804, by Messrs. Biggs and Beatty. In 1806 is the first record we have of a Hotel kept in that town by Jacob Arnold.
The county in which we live, was not struck off from Jefferson and Tuscarawas Counties, until June 12, 1814, and was named from General Harrison, of "North Bend." The territory of this, with the adjoining counties, was one great Battle Ground a few years ago, where might be seen the Indian Wigwam, and heard the savage war-whoop. These oppressed and abused owners of the country, only relinquished their homes and right to the soil, when driven off by the more powerful arms and greater numbers of the whites, and after that terrible battle of the "Fallen Timbers," and the great victory under the command of General Wayne, in 1794, the question of who should occupy the North West Territory was settled.
At this day of comparative ease and plenty, we know but little of the
self-denial, privations and hardships endured by the early settlers, who
came into the wilderness to find a home. They mostly emigrated from New
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and some of them soon sought
for a place where they might worship God, according to the dictates of
conscience, and after the order of their Puritan fathers. But few of the
first inhabitants were religiously educated, and, especially in the Presbyterian
faith; and that few were necessited for a time to travel some distance
to worship in the Church of their choice. In 1805, a Church was organized
at Crab-apple, by the Presbytery of Ohio, under the direc-
tion of Drs. Millen and Ralston, nine miles distant from our present house of worship. A committee was appointed to confer with Rev. John Rea, D.D., and the elders of Crabapple Church as to the propriety of establishing a mission station in the "Ball-Lick " Settlement. It was thought better, for the time being, that all in this vicinity should form a connection with that congregation, until further developments of divine providence, which soon indicated a change, because of the distance and inconvenience of travel, constraining those in this region to have a place for public service nearer home.
In 1806 a stand was erected in the forest at the base of a large tree, (before noted,) where Dr. Rea preached his first sermon in this part of the county. In six weeks after he returned and held religious service in the same place, encouraged by a much larger attendance than on the former occasion; a council was held by a few, in connection with the preacher, as to the propriety of an organization at this point; but on more mature reflection it was thought advisable to make this an out-post for missionary work, tributary to Crabapple Church, and that their pastor should continue to labor here part of his time, preaching and administering the sealing ordinances of the Church to such as desired them, to which all parties agreed. Although there was no formal organization of this Church until several years after, yet it was virtually organized under the ministry of Dr. Rea, who continued for five years to preach occasionally at this point, a part of the time in a private house, and, in suitable weather, in the grove.
In 1808 a tent was erected on the south side of the grave yard by Abraham Brokaw, Robert Baxter, John Glenn and Adam Dunlap. This tent was occupied in the summer season for eight or ten years, and the house of Robert Baxter in the winter and stormy days.
In the call that was made out in 1805 by the Church of Crabapple and
Vicinity for the labors Rev. John Rea the one-half of his time, the representatives
of Nottingham interest signed said call with the express understanding
that a part of the Pastor's services would be employed in this region if
desired. Fifty pounds per annum was the sum specified in the call, one-half
in cash and the other half in produce; the latter to be delivered at a
certain flouring mill near the mouth of Big Short Creek. In keeping with
these conditions the supplies of grain increased rapidly, at such prices
as 20 to 25 cents per bushel for wheat, and 12 to 20 cents for corn and
rye. It soon became necessary for the minister to have his large stock
of produce manufactured and put into market, that he might procure some
funds wherewith to replenish his library, and supply the wants of his household.
When a sufficient number of barrels and lading were ready to fill a flat
boat, a man of approved character and ability was employed to take the
oversight of the cargo, and ship it down the
Ohio and Mississippi rivers to some Southern port, make sale, and bring back the returns, which, after paying expenses, were often quite small.
Mr. Rea was the first minister of the Gospel of Christ to gather a group of worshippers in the western part of Harrison county, and amid great difficulties and much self-denial continued his mission to this people until the Beech Spring congregation presented a call for the whole of his time, with a salary of one hundred pounds sterling, payable semi-annually, which he was constrained to accept in 1810, and immediately occupied all his time in that church.
More than a mere passing notice of this pioneer servant of Christ— this laborious and successful preacher and pastor—appears necessary, and in keeping with the design of' this sketch. Dr. C. C. Beatty says of him, in an address before the semi-centenary meeting of Steubenville Presbytery in 1869: " Dr. John Rea,our most thorough theologian and closest student, * * * an able, truly animated, and acceptable preacher, making ample preparation for the pulpit, a diligent and instructive pastor."
Rev. John Rea, D.D., the son of Joseph and Isabel Rea, was born in the village of Tully, Ireland, in 1772, emigrated to the United States when eighteen years of age. After remaining at Philadelphia, Pa., a short time, " I left on foot," said he, " traveled mostly alone through the wilderness, sad, gloomy and dispirited, until after many days I arrived west of the Allegheny mountains, stopping at the house of Mr. Porter, a Presbyterian minister." He now prosecuted the study of Latin, privately, which he had begun in his native land. To procure temporary means of support, he taught, first a night school, and afterwards a day school. In 1793 he married Miss Elizabeth Christy, of Westmoreland county, Pa, which was well ordered in the providence of God, for in after years she proved to be the right woman in the right place, and, when necessary, able to conduct the secular and financial affairs of the household in the frequent absence of her husband. They had nine children, seven sons and two daughters, four of whom are still living, and one grand-son, Rev. David Thompson, is laboring in Jeddo, Empire of Japan, under the direction of the Presbyterian Board-of Foreign Missions.
Mr. Rea felt it his duty, even after marriage, to finish his education,
already commenced, and if it was the will of his divine master, to enter
the work of the Gospel ministry; for at his conversion and public profession
of religion, he secretly vowed to his God that if He spared his life, and
gave him strength and grace, he would dedicate himself to the work of preaching
the Gospel of Christ. With faith in Jesus, and his eye ever fixed upon
his future calling, he labored and struggled on amid many adverse circumstances,
with untiring zeal and more than ordinary industry,
he worked his way through a literary course of education teaching school, and studying alternately, until he graduated with honor at Jefferson College, when it was but a small school kept in a log-cabin near Canonsburg, Pa. Mr. Rea was among the first alumni of this College, and studied theology under the direction of Dr. John McMillen, was licensed to preach by the Ohio Presbytery, June 1803, and after some three months itinerancy in the wilderness of Central Ohio, among Indian Camps, and the few white settlements,he was appointed to supply the newly organized churches of Beech Springs, Crab-apple and vicinity; for included in the latter was the Nottingham appointment, then considered on the confines of civilization, but now in the midst of a well improved, and densely populated country.
After preaching for one year, as stated supply of these congregations, a united call was made out and carried up to Presbytery, from these Churches in the spring of 1805, for each one half of the labors of Mr. Rea, which was put Unto his hands, and accepted. He was immediately ordained and installed paster of said congregations by the Presbytery of Ohio.
The country settled up rapidly, and his charges grew as fast, so that it soon became necessary to have the relation between the two churches dissolved, that he might labor all his time at the Beech Springs, with the exception that a portion of his services, at discretion, might be occupied in fostering those vines springing up on his borders; and so untiring and devoted was this servant of Christ, that, besides ministering to the wants of so large a church, he found time to be instrumental in raising up some six or seven separate societies, that went out as colonies from the mother church, and are now self-sustaining and prominent congregations.
Dr. Rea died of decay of vital powers, Feb. 12, 1855, at his residence near Unionvale, Ohio, (among the people of his charge, with whom, in part he first settled; ) in the eighty-third year of his age, and fifty-second of his ministry, greatly and deservedly beloved and esteemed as a citizen, christian, and faithful preacher of " Christ and him crucified." Whatever else he omitted, he never neglected due preparation for the pulpit; his sermons evinced research, invention and original thought. It might be truly said of him that he was every where a living example of a christian minister—he taught both by precept and daily walk.
Mr. R. established the Nottingham Mission, in 1806, and served it at stated times from the beginning, until 1810, when all his labors were required at Beech Springs, where his pastorate continued forty-five years, and during all this time, he was much beloved and appreciated by the people. The older members of the congregation were enthusiastically attached to him, both as a preacher and spiritual adviser, and well they might be, for he was untiring in his exertions for their well-being.
The history of the Presbyterian Church in Eastern Ohio, is closely
connected with the biography of this man, as his manuscripts show. In the early part of his public work he was remote from his clerical brethren. In the whole region that now embraces the territory of four Presbyteries in the South Eastern part of the State, there were but six Ministers, where there are now over one hundred Ministers, and one hundred and sixty Churches. Hence, we infer that the work of a faithful shepherd in those days, was no easy task; and in the language of our deceased father, when speaking to the writer concerning his early toil and dreary travel; said he, " Wherever one was found, or wherever we heard of one in our communion, him we visited by day or by night, summer and winter—all seasons of the year—without roads in many places, save the mark of an axe on the bark of a tree, or the Indian trail." Such a man was destined to make and leave an impression behind him—an impression not easily erased from the minds of men, for we humbly believe that no one man has contributed more to mould the evangelical character of all this section of country, than the subject of this Narrative. He was an original thinker, independent in thought and expression, mild and winning in his exhortations, but pointed and scathing in his reproofs; no disorder in the house of God falling under his notice, went unreproved. Well do I recollect, when in my boyhood of accompanying my father to "Old Beech," on a sacramental occasion, some fourteen miles from our home, and during the afternoon service a young man, with what was called a loaded whip in those days, started up the aisle, immediately a second followed him. Mr. Rea paused, and with a significant glance of the eye, said: " It is very strange that young cubs of fellows can't sit still through one short exercise."
Dr. Rea was a close student, and to the end of his life was enthusiastically attached to his study, even after the cessation of his public ministry; and never did he finally leave that " banqueting room," as he was wont to call it, till after the death of his wife, which occurred but six months before his decease. At my last interview with him, he gave me his hand, and said " I am glad to see you, I am waiting till my change come." He died in full confidence of a blessed immortality.
Mr. Thomas B. Clark, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Hartford, came into this vicinity in the spring of 1811, and supplied the Mission Station every fourth Sabbath for six years; for there was no formal organization of a Church here yet, though often considered and desired by the scattered families of the " Ball Lick " settlement, but from some cause unknown to us, it was still postponed, perhaps from the pretext that regular preaching, and the Sealing ordinances were enjoyed at this place, as an out post of Crab-apple.
Mr. Clark was ordained and installed at C., by the Presbytery of Ohio,
June 1811, and continued to preach there, and fill this appointment until
he was dismissed in 1818. He had the credit of being quite punctual to his engagements, and rarely failed to meet his contracts for public worship although his labors were abundant, for his pastorale covered a territory of about fourteen miles square.
When coming to this place, his road passed a flouring mill, on a branch of Stillwater, (and being a conscientious and zealous man,) he was exceedingly annoyed by the running of this mill on the Sabbath, and was in the habit of reproving the miller (Mr. L.) for his desecration of the Lord's day. On one occasion, when coming to his preaching place at the "Old Tent," he passed on Sunday morning, near the hour of public service, discovering that the mill was in motion, he stopped his horse, paused for a moment, as if reflecting on what was his duty, he at length dismounted and tied up his bridle-strap, went into the mill to dissuade, if possible, his reckless friend from a continued violation of civil and divine law. But Mr. L evaded the Minister, for going out at the rear door, he locked it after him, and coming round he secured the other door, " making," as he said, " a prisoner of the parson," and keeping him confined, till the hour of public worship had expired.
Then Mr. C. for a few minutes directed his discourse to the transgressor, and kindly remonstrated with him, on what was his duty in reference to the claims of God, and the commonwealth, and in view of his family and himself in future. His exhortations were not lost, for the Lord succeeded these efforts to the reformation of Mr. Logan, who became the warm friend of Mr. Clark, changed his course of life, and in a few months, made a profession of religion under his ministry.
ORGANIZATION OF NOTTINGHAM CHURCH.
In the spring of 1821, Rev. William Wallace, an Evangelist, under the direction of Steubenville Presbytery, came into this neighborhood, and after preaching here and elsewhere for about six months, he made application to Presbytery, by request of the people for an organization of a Church at the Tent.
The request was granted, and Mr. Wallace was chairman of a Committee that organized the Church of Nottingham, Nov. 17,1821, with twenty-two names on the Roll, as follows: Archibald Todd, Nancy Todd, Thomas Morrow, Jane Morrow, Wm. Crawford, Adam Dunlap, Abraham Brokaw, Margaret Brokaw, Elizabeth Laferty, Samuel Laferty, John Glenn, Nancy Glenn, John Price, Mrs. Price, Wm. Hamilton, Elizabeth Hamilton, John Reed, Ann Reed, Robert Baxter, Margaret Baxter, Mary W. Wallace and Sarah McKibbon.
The following persons were elected Ruling Elders, and immediately ordained
and installed, namely: Archibald Todd, Wm. Crawford and Thomas Morrow.
In addition to these, there have been connected with
the Board of Eldership, to the present time, John Reed, James Ramage, Alexander Bell, Wm. Ramage, Nathan Taneyhill, Alexander Russell, John W. Milligan, William Kirkpatrick, Joseph Rea, Allen Wallace, A. ,J. Rea, S;. M. Wallace, Jacob Comphor, John W. Hilton and Wm. Scott.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP.
The first House of Worship erected by this Congregation, was a log cabin, which stood a short distance above the " Old Tent," and was built in 1821 by Abraham Brokaw, Thomas Morrow, Arch. Todd, Adam Dunlap and Samuel Laferty. The two last named men having good teams, were requested to draw in the logs, whilst the balance of the labor was divided according to choice. The Ladies by personal efforts, procured the nails and glass. It was a rude structure, but answered the purpose for the time being. In the winter season, a pile of logs was built on an earthen platform in the centre of the building, and fired up to warm the auditory, whilst the smoke escaped as best it could from the roof. This house corresponded in the main, with the improvements of those days, and was equal in architecture to the dwellings of the worshippers. There were no Boards of Home Missions and Church Erection in those times, to aid young and feeble congregations to build houses or sustain preaching in their midst. Money was scarce and hard to be got; and had there been convenient markets, there was not grain to sell, for the land was not yet cleared out, but crops were produced abundantly in proportion to the ground brought under cultivation.
The second House of Worship was a brick building, fifty by forty feet, and began to be constructed in 1828, but was not completed until 1833. The congregation worshipped in this edifice, twenty-nine years, until it became rather small for the people that desired to attend church, to be comfortably seated. It was deemed necessary to call a meeting to consider the propriety of erecting a larger house for the accommodation of the increased attendance on the preaching of the word.
According to previous notice, the people met in the month of August, 1859, to confer upon the subject, in relation to building a third house of worship. The books were opened at said meeting, and about the one half of the whole amount of money, necessary to complete the structure was subscribed on sight, in less than thirty minutes. Duplicate papers were prepared and sent around to the absentees, and in due time returned with the required sum of money pledged. A building committee was appointed at a meeting held Feb. 3d, 1860, and directed to erect a house seventy by forty-eight feet in the clear, with gallery in front, twenty-feet story in audience room, and tower one hundred feet high.
The committee, after receiving sealed proposals on a certain day, let
out the contract to Mr. John McGraw, of Wheeling, Va., who undertook
and finished the entire building ready for occupancy, in a satisfactory and workman-like manner. And this house was dedicated, free from debt, to the worship of Almighty God, April 18th, A D., 1861, and continues to this time.
We have now reviewed the progress of the congregation in their local habitations for public worship, from the stand erected at the base of the old chestnut tree and the summer tent up to the present edifice, which is large and comfortable, for the people were determined that the house of God should not be inferior to their private dwellings. The christian religion cannot long be maintained without the regular assemblage of God's people for public service. The outward form is an interesting part of the history of any church; for it is an account of the meeting place between them and their God, where we expect the power of His spirit, and where we participate in prayer and praise, and in the sealing ordinances of the Church; where the Lord our God manifests His grace and displays His glory in the conversion of sinners.
Some of the most hallowed and dearest associations of Christians are connected with the place where they heard the Gospel preached and first pledged themselves to be on the Lord's side, sealing their vows at the communion table. The humble Christian calls this his birth-place and says: " Here I was spiritually born, and here the light of truth first shone upon my pathway, and the word of God distilled as the dew and the fine rain upon my heart and conscience, opening my eyes to a proper conception of the divine claims; for it is in the use of the means of God's house that my affections were wholly won over to Christ and His Church, and our inmost feelings respond to the psalmist, and say with him, “Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good” or with the poet:
" Lord of Hosts, how lovely fair,
The early membership of Nottingham, and all other congregations. in this part of the State from fifty to seventy years ago, were generally in limited circumstances and poor in this world's goods, but rich in grace and piety, exercising, perhaps, more faith in the promises, and zeal in public worship, than do we, their favored successors.
It was then quite common for parishioners of one country church to visit
other churches in rural districts on special and sacramental meetings.
No difference how thronged the season or pressing the claims of the world,
all were freely given up for a few days to wait upon the Lord in religious service, in some grove or rude house of worship many miles from their homes. Even in the autumnal seeding time, which was an important event to the early settlers, men would take their horses from the plow and the harrow, and with their wives and children travel on horse-back ten to twenty miles, and remain at a religious meeting a whole week. And despite all this sacrifice to serve God, the Lord blessed them financially, and the people ultimately grew rich in earthly goods.
Rev. William Wallace, a member of the Presbytery of Steubenville, having spent a few months in this and other missionary points in the western part of the country, a call for one-half of his labors was made out by the congregation of Nottingham March 18,1822, signed by Arch. Todd, Robert Baxter, and fourteen others, moderated by Rev. Jno. Rea, and carried up to the April meeting of the Presbytery and put into the hands of Mr. Wallace, who signifying his acceptance, was duly installed Pastor.
The stipend was to be paid quarterly, one-fourth in cash and three fourths in produce. Money was scarce, and little to sell with which to procure it. The products of the ground were few, until the wilderness was subdued and turned into cultivated fields; and after a supply of grain was had, markets were so distant, the labor of shipping so tedious and costly, that when the expenses were paid the agriculturist had little left.
The whole amount of salary promised Mr. Wallace was but three hundred dollars per annum, paid equally by this and the Freeport Church. To us this appears like short allowance for the preacher, as it surely was. Yet it would go as far in those days toward supporting a family as more than double the amount would do with the prices of these times. One hundred and fifty dollars yearly to this infant congregation would, no doubt, be as much for them to bear as twenty-fire hundred dollars per annum would be to the people of Nottingham that worship in regular succession at this day.
Mr. Wallace and his session stood firm to what they considered the orthodox and fundamental doctrines of the Presbyterian Church. In vol. 1 of the Sessional Records, at a meeting of Session held Nov. 17, 1834, the following paper, on "doctrine and errors," was read and signed by the Pastor and Elders of the Church:
AS REGARDS DOCTRINE.
1. We do bear our solemn testimony against the right claimed by many
of interpreting the doctrines of our standards in a sense different from
the general sense of the Church for years peat, whilst they still continue in our communion. On the contrary, we aver that they who adopt our standards are bound by candor and the simplest integrity to hold them in their obvious accepted sense.
2. We testify against the unchristian subterfuge to which some have recourse, when they avow a general adherence to our standards as a system while they deny doctrines essential to the system, or hold doctrines at complete variance with the system.
3. We testify against the reprehensible conduct of those in our communion who hold, and preach, and publish Pelagian heresies, professing at the same time to embrace our creed, and pretending that these errors do consist therewith.
4. We testify against the conduct of those who, while they profess to believe and adopt our doctrine and order, do nevertheless speak and publish, in terms or by necessary implication, that which is derogatory to both, and which tends to bring both into disrepute.
5. We testify against the following as part of the errors which are held and taught by many persons in our Church:
ERRORS WE TESTIFY AGAINST
1. Our Relation to Adam.—That we have no more to do with the first sin of Adam than with the sins of any other parent.
2. Native Depravity.--That there is no such thing as original sin; that infants came into the world as perfectly free from corruption of nature as Adam was before he fell, or when he was first created; that by original sin nothing more is meant than the fact that all the posterity of Adam, though born entirely free from moral defilement, will always begin to sin when they begin to exercise moral agency.
3. Imputation.—That the doctrine of imputed sin and imputed righteousness is a novelty, and is nonsense.
4. Ability.—That the impenitent sinner is by nature, and independently of the aid of the Holy Spirit, in full possession of all the powers necessary to a compliance with the commands of God, and that if he labored under any kind of inability, natural or moral, which he could not remove himself, he would be excusable for not complying with God's will.
5. Regeneration.—That man's regeneration is his own act; that it consists merely in a change of our governing purpose, which change we must ourselves produce.
6. Atonenment.—That the sufferings of Christ were not truly and properly vicarious.
Which doctrines and statements are dangerous and heretical, contrary
to the Gospel of God, and inconsistent with the " Confession of Faith."
We are painfully alive to the conviction that unless a speedy remedy be
applied to these abuses our Theological Seminaries will soon be converted into nurseries,, to foster the noxious errors which are already so widely prevalent, and our church funds will be perverted from the design for which they were originally contributed.
Signed when in session, this 17th day of Nov., A. D., 1834.
WILLIAM WALLACE, Mod. of See.
Rev. William Wallace, son of John and Margaret (Anderson) Wallace, was born in Chester County, Pa., March 17, 1787. He finished his Academic education at Jefferson College, Pa.; studied Theology under the direction of James Hervey, D.D., and was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of Steubenville, in the Spring of 1821. He entered the service of his Divine Master as a domestic Missionary, going through the new settlements of Eastern Ohio, and hunting up families of the Presbyterian order, and when finding one or more such families in any destitute place, he would publish a notice for preaching at some convenient point, and in this way was instrumental in gathering up and forming nuclei from which have arisen some of our most prominent congregations.
After reporting progress to Presbytery, he was appointed chairman of a Committee that organized several churches in this territory, and among them the Churches of Nottingham and Freeport, and to each of the last named places he gave one half of his labors for eighteen years, until his health so failed, that he was compelled to resign his charge in 1839, and after two years of increasing infirmities, he died of heart disease, Dec. 18, 1841, in the 55th year of his age; having spent twenty years in the work of the ministry. His last moments were full of comfort, and his faith strong in Christ and the promises; thus he passed from earth with a holy calmness, and a full confidence of a blessed future.
Mr. Wallace had a reputation of being a man of ardent piety and practical worth. He was modest and retiring in his manners, cautious and reserved in expressing the convictions of his mind. His whole ministerial intercourse among his clerical brethren, as among the people of his charge, was but a verifi cation of the Scripture precepts; " Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath."
He was social in his habits, and never failed to win the hearts and
warmest regards of those with whom he mingled in daily walk. His strong
holds upon the affections and sympathies of the people, were in the family
circle, and at the bedside of the sick and dying. In this connection, his
name was still held in grateful remembrance by the older members of this congregation.
He was faithful and successful as a Pastor, mild and amiable as a man and Christian, tender and kind as a parent and husband. As a Preacher he was plain and textual; his sermons were rather expository than topical. He was diligent in his attendance upon the courts of the Church always taking a deep interest in Presbyterical business; although not disposed to be very officious in ecclesiastical meetings, still he was prompt in action, a wise and Judicious presbyter.
He married Miss Mary W., daughter of David McWilliams, who was among the very first of the pioneers on this side the Ohio river. He came from Pennsylvania, and settled on a farm, one-half mile west of St. Clairsville, Ohio, in 1797, where he resided until his death. Mr. McWilliams was one of the first members and elders of the Presbyterian Church of St. Clairsville. Mrs. Wallace survived her husband twenty-eight years. She was a woman of strong mind and great decision of character and energy of purpose, eminently fitted for her situation, both at home and among the people. She. was distinguished for her business tact, and together with her husband, were greatly blessed, and successful in their family discipline; they have eight children yet living, all of whom are good citizens, and influential members of the Church of Christ.
Rev. Gilbert M. Hair, was in charge of this Congregation two years. Mr. Hair graduated at Washington College, Pa., in 1838. Studied Theology, (while teaching an Academy in Martinsburg, Ohio,) with Henry Hervey, D.D., and was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of Richland, Oct., 1840. He received a call from the Congregation of Nottingham and was ordained and installed Pastor of this Church in the spring of 1841, by the Presbytery of St. Clairsville, and continued in this relation two years. Another opening offered itself more to his mind, he then asked and received a dismission in April, 1843, to the Church at Wellsburg, Va. Mr. Hair is now laboring successfully in the Church of McKeesport, Pa.
The present Pastor is the third in succession of the Church of Nottingham, and the nineteenth day of October, 1871, completes the quarter century of his Pastorate. He graduated at Franklin College, Ohio, in 1844, and whilst teaching as Professor of Mathematics in said College, he studied Theology under the direction of Dr. Rea, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Steubenville, Oct. 6th, 1846.
He was born near New Athens, Ohio, and when but a few months old, his parents and family removed to Jefferson county, near Steubenville At an early age he began his academic studies, preparatory to entering college, and in the nineteenth year of his age he united with the church under the ministry of Rev. Jacob Coon, during a revival of religion that occurred among the students in the winter of 1840. After he received authority to preach, he took a traveling recommendation to the Church of Marion, Ohio, but never reached the place, for when ready to start, Dr. Rea insisted on his filling one appointment at Nottingham which was vacant. Yielding to this request, Providence changed and controlled his future course. Beginning his ministry here in October, 1846, he was in due time dismissed to the Presbytery of St. Clairsville, ordained and installed as Pastor of this church, the Deersville Church employing the one-third of his labors as stated supply for a time.
This arrangement continued for nine years, and both congregations were prospered and became too large for a single charge, when, at your request, he withdrew from Deersville, and still continues to spend all his time in this church.
Whilst we have some things to mourn over, yet we have much to gladden and rejoice the heart, in reviewing the pastorale of the last twenty-five years. We have had our bright days and dark days—our joys and sorrows. I have ministered to you in your prosperities and adversities
I have visited your households socially and pastorally—I have married your sons and your daughters—have often talked with the inquiring— have bowed in prayer with the sick and dying—I have baptized your children and many of adult age--have conducted the funeral exercises of your dead, and have ministered at the reception of nearly all of you into the communion of the Church.
With all our unworthiness, God has not withheld the visitations of His Holy Spirit from us, for besides giving us a steady and permanent growth, the great Head of Zion has given us during the present pastorate four special seasons of reviving grace. In 1860, God sent the refreshing influence of His Spirit upon the people, encouraging and reviving His work, and for a time giving a new impulse to the energy and zeal of the membership, at which time forty persons were received to the church.
In the spring of 1854, another reviving came " from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power," and thirty persons were added to the church at the sacramental meeting.
In 1858 the Lord moved some of His people to secret and earnest prayer
for the return of His Holy Spirit, and although the answer was delayed
for a time, and our faith becoming weak, yet the Lord first humbled us,
and then showed many of us the plague of our own hearts, fol-
lowed with the blessings of His grace, and thirty-one individuals were received to the Church.
The fourth special season and the greatest revival that ever visited Us, was that of 1865, and '66, continuing about nine months. Few revivals have been more extensive, and, for months, to make a deeper impression on saint and sinner in the whole community, than did this visitation of divine power. The first evidence that the spirit of God was at work in our midst was with persons the least expected, who sought private interviews with the Pastor in his study, at their homes, by the way, in the shop, and in the field. Some months before this state of things was revealed, three of the elders and Pastor covenanted together, that by the aid of divine grace, they would at certain hours, when alone with their families, plead with God in concert for the reviving and converting power of the Holy Ghost. And whether this feeble effort moved the divine mind, is a matter that belongs to God alone, " for after we have done all we are unprofitable servants." Among many other blessings the result of this special work of grace was the addition of one hundred and forty-four persons to the communion of the church. Seventy-three were baptized, and the majority heads of families. It surely was a genuine work of God's power. If you tell us that some have turned back into the beggarly elements of the world, and have dishonored themselves and their profession, we can reply by pointing to more inconsistent ones, in proportion to their number, who have made a profession under ordinary circumstances. "But the hand of God is not shortened that it cannot save," equally as well at one time as at another.
From October, 1846, the present Pastor has preached 3,006 sermons; has made 137 public lectures here and elsewhere; has introduced and served in part, the Lord's Supper 158 times. He has conducted 310 funeral services, has made 3,048 pastoral visits, and 2,411 visits to the sick making in all 5,459 visits. He has administered baptism in his charge to 427 infants and 203 adults. There were 67 names of members on the roll at the beginning of his ministry with you, and there have been received into his entire charge during his pastorale 703 persons, nearly 600 on examination and the balance on certificate, making au average of 28 annually.
The following ministers have gone out from the membership of this communion
during the last twenty-four years (with one exception,) namely: Rev. William
Reed, of Trenton, Missouri; Rev. Hugh Reed, Scipio, Kansas; Rev. W. S.
Dool, the earnest and laborious pastor of Millersburgh, Illinois; Mr. D.
W. Lyons, of Iowa, who was licensed to preach but never ordained, and ceased
his ministry in 1859; Rev. T. G Scott, pastor of the church of Malden,
Illinois; Rev. S. H. Wallace the faithful and successful pastor of Concord,
Ohio; Rev. Christopher
Carrothers, is laboring in Yeddo, Empire of Japan, under the direction of the Board of Foreign Missions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. Mr. C. married Miss Julia, daughter of the Rev. Dr. R. V. Dodge, of Madison, Wisconsin, and together with his wife were among the first Protestant Missionaries to settle in the Empire of Japan. From this record it is seen that the congregation of Nottingham has its representatives in the work of the ministry, not only in five States of this Union, but in a heathen city second in size in the entire world. We should praise the Lord, and feel honored of God, as a church, that one of our sons was among the first to blow the Gospel trumpet in such a vast and populous city, as the Capital of Japan, in which the Emperor resides.
EXTRACTS FROM THE SKETCH BOOK OF THE PRESENT PASTOR.
It is recorded Sept. 28th, 1856. This day I preached my first sermon since the 6th day of last June, owing to a severe attack of typhoid fever, lasting three months. During this time I was brought near to death, both in the opinion of my family physician and in my own views, but the Lord had longer days and more work for me to do; and I trust that this afflictive dispensation was blessed of God to my soul, and taught me more lessons than one, which were used to practical advantage in future. Among other things learned was this important lesson, that all ministers should be exceedingly cautious as to length and character of their visits to the sick, especially to such as are very low and feeble by disease. There were days during my illness when it was utterly impossible not only to make the slightest physical exertion, but just as impossible to make any mental effort without the greatest pain and prostration. Whilst my ministerial brethren were kind in filling my pulpit, and attentively visiting me in sickness, yet there were times that I could not enjoy or be profited by bed-side conversation or prayer. And in reviewing my pastoral history in the light of practical experience, my serious conviction is, that before my long affliction I have made great mistakes in my visits to the sick, by not watching more closely the progress of disease, and thereby wearying the patient.
This should be a warning to all friends of the sick not to be too reluctant
in admitting a minister of the Gospel or a pious person to converse and
pray with the afflicted until they are mentally enfeebled and physically
in a helpless condition. Reasons are sometimes given for such a course
by the friends and endorsed by the physician, saying that the patient must
be kept quiet—must be free from all excitement—must have no prayer in his
hearing, for fear his prospects of recovery will be prejudiced. At times
the door is shut against the pastor till the sick man is almost gone, or
has lost his power of speech. Then, when it is evident
that he must die, if indeed death is not already close at hand, the pastor is now sent for, and met with this expression, " Mr.—is very ill—desires to see you—the Doctor has given him up. "
The dying man, with his few remaining moments, is turned over to the minister, as if he had some manipulations to perform—some supernatural power, by which to prepare the soul for its exchange of worlds. Then the sad and sorrowful "parson " is apparently expected by some priestly intervention, to fit the dying for future happiness and bliss, after the whole man is utterly prostrated, and entirely unable to listen calmly and understandingly to the merest primary principles of the Gospel, or to receive the plain teachings of religion, and make his peace with God.
A CASE OF DESPAIR.
It was in October 1852, that I was called to visit one of my parishioners who was taken ill and desired to see me. He was the head of a family, and of middle age, a moral and upright man, diligent in his attendance on public worship, but not in communion with the church. He frequently contended that “moral honesty and good works were all that God required of any man," and "that his conduct was more circumspect than many members of the church." He was a man I respected much, because of numerous good traits of character, united with an open and frank manner of expression.
I repaired to his house, found him quite unwell with a fatal disease, but composed and rational. After the common salutation, he sternly looked me in the face and said, "Three weeks ago last Sabbath I heard you preach from the text, " Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light. You said in that sermon that some moralists were only awakened to a sense of sin when about to go into eternity; now sir, that is my fix—I feel it—I know it; no salvation for me; I can't repent. "
I spoke tenderly, reminding him of the grace and love of Christ; calling his attention to divine ability, repeating the Scripture, " He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him," He suddenly interrupted me by saying:
"That may do for ordinary sinners—it is not for me. My day of grace is gone. I have sinned against light. I have grieved away the Holy Spirit."
Shall I pray with you? was my inquiry. "Yes you may," said he quickly. I offered up a short prayer on his behalf, and no sooner than we arose from our knees he said in a deliberate manner:
"No use to pray for me. Christ will not hear you. I am lost—I am lost—yes
forever lost—hell is my portion."
At two o'clock in the morning I left this distressing scene; walked down street to my home, retired to bed, but not to sleep or rest, for those terrible words, lost! lost!—forever lost! were all that I could hear and think about I visited this poor man several times during the remaining week of his life, but his mind did not seem to undergo any special change. He is in the hands of a holy, just and all-wise God.
Your pastor has perhaps had as large a share of sympathy and co-operation from the people of his charge as usually falls to the lot of ministers. Yet this pastorale has not been free from sources of discouragement and depression of spirits. We cannot always have clear sky, sunshine and constant success. There is a " shady side " in my ministry. A few brief extracts from my Sketch Book is to point.
October—, 1867—Three of the membership became remiss in religious duty, dishonoring themselves and breaking their professional vows, giving us trouble in order to reclaim them, but Demas like they went back into the service of Satan, " went out from us, for they were not of us, " and turned their wrath and hatred against Christ and His Church.
At the above date it is also recorded—A small class of parishioners have nothing cheering to say to their minister when he visits them in their homes, but always something evil, and calculated to produce sadness and despondency of heart. When in the work of pastoral visitation and meeting with much encouragement for a few days, it was my lot to call on a family in regular turn, and was met by the lady of the house and ushered into the presence of her husband and one child, she immediately addressed me thus: " You are certainly a stranger—I thought you had forgotten us—I have been looking for you so long, and then I was sick a few days, and thought you would surely come to see me. I was really bad for a day or two. " Then pausing, apparently to recover her breath, I took advantage of this providence and said: " Mrs.—my call upon you this afternoon is in regular order with other families in this quarter of my charge; and as for your sickness I knew nothing till now, I hope you are feeling better. "I am only tolerable," said she. "But have you not heard of Mr— 's bad doings; he gets drunk, they say. I have never seen him worse of liquor. But I do think that you and the session are not doing your duty, or you would attend to him." After a short armistice I called for the Bible, read a portion of Scripture, made a few practical remarks, and closed with prayer; bid good-by, and left to try my luck in another call. Several instances might be narrated similar to the above, but this is sufficient for a specimen.
Another source of discouragement is a want of interest on the part of
some in the business meetings of the church. It is a scripture truth, that
if we have any concern for the perpetuity of religious worship in our midst, we will be interested in its external work. When a Congregational Meeting is published from the pulpit to take place at the close of public worship, by order of the Trustees, to attend to secular and financial matters, how uniformly a few make it their practice to take their departure, showing a sad indifference and want of regard for the Church of' Christ in her secular affairs. If all would act thus here and elsewhere, the public ministrations of God's word must close, and the doors of His house be shut throughout the land.
In reviewing the antecedents and progress of this congregation, one of my chief objects was to place in a more permanent form, such historical events as would otherwise be lost to future generations. A degree of satisfaction results from an acquaintance with those things, however trivial at the time, that are intimately connected with our existence, either in church or state. Many circumstances in our past history, scarcely noticed by those in whose presence they occurred, have been big with important results, by the controlling providence of our God. " The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. "
From the spring of 1843, to the fall of 1846, was the most trying period through which this church passed. During those three and an half years she was without a pastor, and had a variety of candidates and supplies, mostly traveling men, who would preach for a few weeks or months, and then take their departure to some other vacancy, usually leaving the congregation in a much worse condition than they found it. In the absence of the pastorale events occurred that did great harm, and designs were set on foot, which, if they had been matured, would have done much violence to the unity and peace of this church. But the Lord guided and prevented some of those evil designs from having their desired results; and in the end honored the devotion and sacrifice of those fathers and mothers that first raised the banner of the covenant and planted the standard of the cross in this place, and maintained the preaching of the word, and the ordinances of the Gospel in days of trial. " For if God be for us who can be against us. "
Your history as people has been identified with the Strife and division of the Presbyterian Church in 1836 and '37. The pastor and eldership were no idle spectators of this sad but important conflict, which your records clearly show.
Our thanks are due to the God of Assemblies, that we have lived to see
the 'glory of divine grace, in the direction of a reunion between those
two great branches of the Presbyterian family, in whose future we have
high expectation, and for whose success we earnestly pray and contribute
of our benefactions. This re-united Church did devise largely in the "Five
Million Memorial Fund," which was called by our enemies "a trans--
parent sham," “a delusion;" and we confess that our faith was not so strong at first, as we were wont it should be, in the success of raising so large an offering. But the Lord's hand was in the work, and has dissipated all our fears, and, signally overthrew the hopes of our enemies by permitting the Church and the world to see instead of "Five Millions," near Eight Millions of dollars cast into the treasury of the Lord, to celebrate the divine mercy and grace, in bringing about such a harmonious union and reconstruction of our beloved Zion.