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(Sch: t. 240; 1. 113'8"; dph. 8'4"; cpl. 39; a. 1 13" M.,
2 32-pars., 2 12-pdr. how.)
John Griffith was purchased by the Navy at New York from B. F. Woolsey 16 September 1861; and commissioned at New York Navy Yard 20 January 1862, Lt. K. Randolph Breese in command.
The schooner was ordered to Key NVest, Fla., to join the Mortar Flotilla being organized by Comdr. David D. Porter for the decisive attack up the Mississippi River. The fiotilla sailed from Key West 6 March and on 11 March anchored at Ship Island, Miss., the staging area for Flag Officer Farragut's New Orleans campaign. A week
later John Griffith was towed across the bar at Pass a l'Outre with Porter's other mortar schooners. For the next month, while Farragut labored to move his deepdraft, sea-going ships across the bar and into the Mississippi, Porter's vessels drilled and prepared for the fight awaiting them.
The mortar boats moved into terminal position 18 April and opened fire on Forts Jackson and St. Philip. John John Griffith, now under Acting Master Henry Brown, was in the 3rd Division commanded by her old skiper, Lt. Breese, who placed his schooners along the western bank of the river just below the lower limit of Fort Jackson's fire. John Gripith pressed the attack with great vigor, leading the ships of her division on 4 days of the weeklong bombardment which continued until Farragut had succeeded in ffighting his mighty fleet past the forts to capture New Orleans in one of the war's most daring and strategically significant operations. This bold stroke deprived the South of her largest and wealthiest city, tightened the Union blockade, and gave promise of restoring the entire Mississippi Valley to the Union. When he was barely beyond the forts, Farragut paused to bury his dead, repair his ships, and dash off a note of thanks to Porter for the help of the mortars: "You supported us most nobly."
John Griffith's next major operation came on Farragut's second passage bp the Mississippi. The mortars rained their 8-inch shells on the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg while the heavy ships steamed by the forts to meet Flag Offlcer Davis and his Mississippi Flotilla. The schooners then waited for Farragut below Vicksburg, occasionally enlivening their vigil by hurling a few shells at the forts. On 15 July they resumed the bombardment in earnest when the sound of heavy firing announced Farragut's approach.
John Griffith continued to serve the West Gulf Blockading Squadron until ordered north 18 May 1864. The schooner decommissioned for repairs 1 Juno and she recommissioned 23 August 1864. The following day she received orders to sail to Port Royal for service in the South Atlantic Bloekading Sqadron. She arrived Port Royal 8 September and served on blockade duty and at the mouth of the Altamaha River, Gal, until ordered 12 December to the Savannah River, where General Sherman had just emerged at the end of his famous march to the sea. Five days later John Griffith shelled Fort Beaulieu, the Confederate fortress defending the mouths of the Vernon and Burnside Rivers. Wiith Sonoma she maintained her steady and deliberate fire until the defenders finally evacuated 21 December.
Thereafter John Griffith remained on blockade duty until after the end of the war. She decommissioned 21 August 1865 and was sold at public auction at Boston Navy Yard to C. Foster 8 September 1865.
John Griffith Sch - History
A Glance Backward- Pioneer Life- Characteristics of the Early Settlers- Early Mills and Manufactories- Sketches of Families- The Borough of St. Clairsville- First House- First Store- First Tavern- Osterburg- A Young but Growing Village- Churches- The Friends- Reformed, Lutheran, Etc.
ST. CLAIR township was organized in 1794. What remained of the territory included in its limits, then reduced by the successive formation of other townships from year to year, was divided into East and West St. Clair in 1875.
The early settlers of this township were generally native Pennsylvanians, either of Scotch-Irish or German descent, who came from the eastern part of the state. Among them were a number of Quakers, the descendants of whom still remain, retaining the customs and religion of their ancestors. The county has no more upright and worthy citizens than this class.
The pioneers were bold, upright and honest. Generally they were poor. Some, however, left comfortable homes and good properties behind them- left the privileges of home, society, churches and schools, and advanced fearlessly into the "western wilds," as they termed them, to prepare the way for the grand march of civilization throughout the length and breadth of our land. Whether they were conscious of it or not, the pioneers of Western Pennsylvania performed a great and noble work they not only developed the resources of territory hitherto worthless, but paved the way for the outspreading of population in the great and fertile valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi.
William Crisman was one of the first settlers of St. Clair township. He served two terms in the state legislature at the time when it was customary for members of that body to carry their outfits in knapsacks to the capital. He was justice of the peace a number of years. He died in 1843. He was the father of nine children, all of whom are dead- John, Mary (Wisegarver), Betsey E. (Wisegarver), William, George, Eve (Wisegarver), Daniel and Rebecca (Barnet). William Crisman, Jr., was born in St. Clair township in 1795, and followed farming. He died in 1849. His children were: Rebecca (Shimer), John W., Eva (Beegle), Eliza (Ickes), William, Andrew J., Samuel (deceased), Daniel, Moses, Miranda (Riddle), deceased, and Joseph. John W. Crisman lives on the old homestead. He owns a fine farm of three hundred acres, and also a store at Cessna. Mr. Crisman served a term as county auditor.
John Griffith was an early settler on the farm now owned by Joseph Griffith. He came from York county. Of his children, William and John lived in this county, William upon the old homestead. The children of William and Hannah (Messenheimer) Griffith were William, John (deceased), Samuel (deceased), Daniel, Josiah, Joseph, James (deceased), Abner, Mary A. (Jones), deceased, Hannah (Imler), Sarah (Ake), Maria (Oster) and Elizabeth (Miller), deceased.
William Griffith, Sr., made the first improvement on the Griffith farm. He erected a tannery in 1833, which was run by him and his sons until he died, in 1845. The tannery was then run by Joseph Griffith. It burned in 1864, but was rebuilt by Mr. Joseph Griffith, who then turned the business over to his son John, who still conducts it in connection with farming.
James Taylor, an early settler of Bedford township, moved to Napier township, where he died about 1817. Jacob Taylor his son, was born in Bedford township in 1786. He moved to Napier township when young, and there resided until his death in 1833. He married Susan Bushman, and reared eight children: Eliza (Vore), James, Henry, Jacob, Susan (Cuppett), John, Samuel and Achor. Of these, James, Henry and Samuel are still living. Henry Taylor lived in Napier until 1861, when he sold his farm there and moved to his present place in St. Clair. He has cleared up the farm, erected new buildings and made great improvements.
Jesse Blackburn came from Adams county to St. Clair township in 1818. In 1824 he married Edith Miller, and in 1828 he purchased a farm of George Berbeck in partnership with Jacob Miller. This farm was afterward divided, and Mr. Blackburn lived on his part of it until 1852, when he purchased and settled upon a farm near Oak Shade. Jesse Blackburn and his wife both died in 1872. Their children were Hiram, Israel (deceased), Mary (Mickle), Maria (Cleaver), Ruth (Cleaver), deceased, Uriah, Enoch, Angelina (deceased), and Jane (deceased).
Hiram Blackburn was born in this township. He followed school-teaching, surveying and farming until 1852, then married and settled on the farm where his father had formerly lived. He purchased the farm in 1857 and resided upon it until 1869. He then moved to his present residence. Mr. Blackburn is a well-known surveyor, having followed that occupation since 1847. In 1871 he was elected county surveyor, in which office he served three years.
Elias, son of Hiram Blackburn, is now managing one of his father's farms on Chestnut ridge. He has followed teaching for six terms.
The first gristmill in the township was built by Joseph Blackburn, at Spring Hope, very early. It is a log building, to which a frame addition was built in 1839. The Blackburn mill was largely patronized by the early settlers, and it still continues to receive a large custom. The owners of this mill have been Joseph Blackburn, Thomas W. Blackburn and George W. Blackburn.
J.E. Blackburn, born on the old Blackburn homestead, went west at the age of nineteen, and remained until 1869. He then engaged in milling, which he followed most of the time up to 1883. He now resides at the Point and is engaged in buying and selling stock.
Henry Horn, a revolutionary soldier, was a native of Germany. He was an early settler and lived and died in this township. One of his sons, Henry, is still living in the West.
An early gristmill, a small log structure, was built by Isaac Kenworthy, a Quaker, near the borough of St. Clairsville. Later (about 1828), it became the Bowser mill and was destroyed by fire. The present mill was then erected. It is now owned by Thomas Imler.
A discovery of pure alum was made at an early day on the farm then owned by Thomas Vickroy. The "Alum Bank farm," situated near Spring Meadow, is now subdivided and has several owners.
In 1810 there was a great flood on Bobb's creek, which caused much damage to crops. The event is still spoken of as the "pumpkin flood," from the fact that so many cornfields contributed their stock of pumpkins to it that the water was literally full of them. In 1847, on October 10, the "corn-flood" washed away great quantities of corn from fields situated on the creek.
The first houses were hastily constructed. Many of them had no floor, save the ground, and no doors or windows, except holes cut through the log walls. There was no sawed lumber- every timber in a building must be fashioned by the ax. Nails were almost unknown. A new settler was always welcome, and those who were already comfortably established gladly assisted him in erecting a cabin and making a small clearing for a field. There was hospitality, helpfulness and a fraternal spirit. A "frolic" instituted for the accomplishment of any piece of work brought together all the neighbors- and at that time a man who lived five miles away was regarded as a "near neighbor."
David Bowser was a native of Switzerland, who, prior to the revolutionary war, came to this county, took up land and began improving. Indian encroachments upon the settlers caused him to flee to Conococheague. After the danger had passed he returned to his farm, found his cabin still standing and his goods (which he had hidden) safe. He had two sons, David and John. The former went west. John died in Napier township. His son, John, lives on the old homestead of David Bowser.
Nathan H. Wolf was born in 1794, near Mount Smith Methodist Episcopal church, in the vicinity of Bedford. There his father, John Smith, one of the early surveyors of this county, lived. The family moved from Adams county at an early date. John Smith had but two children, Nathan H. and Elizabeth (Griffith). Nathan followed farming and died near Spring mill in 1868. He married Sarah Blackburn, by whom he had nine children. John, the oldest son, lives on the old homestead in East St. Clair township. Zachariah, another of the sons, has followed milling for thirty-seven years and is now miller at Hall's mill in Hopewell township.
Philip Albaugh, was born in Maryland, in 1786, and died in St. Clair township in 1824. He was a millwright, and worked at his trade in Bedford, Somerset and Cambria counties. His wife, also a native of Maryland, was born in 1798 and died in 1883. She married again in 1829. Philip Albaugh's children were John, Margaret, William and Henry. Henry Albaugh was brought up in Napier township. In 1848 he married and settled in St. Clair township. In 1869 he engaged in the mercantile business at Spring Hope. He succeeded in getting a postoffice established at that place and was postmaster from 1868 to 1883. In 1846 Mr. Albaugh was elected first lieutenant of militia, and in 1847 promoted to captain, in which office he served until the militia law was repealed.
Lewis Riseling moved from Napier township to East St. Clair in 1842, and purchased a small carding-mill of J.W. Sleek. In 1846 he enlarged his business, obtained new machinery and began the manufacture of cloth. He ran the mill until 1860, then rented it to his son Valentine. Mr. Riseling died in 1865. He was the father of eleven children, four of whom are living. Valentine, the oldest, was born in Bedford township. He worked for his father until 1860, when he began business for himself. Mr. Riseling has enlarged his factory, put in a new engine and is doing a good business. His factory is 34X60 feet and three stories high. It his a capacity for using fifteen thousand pounds of wool per year. Mr. Riseling manufactures all kinds of woolen goods and yarn, and keeps one team upon the road disposing of the products and purchasing wool. He also owns the home farm of two hundred and seven acres, which he bought in 1879.
Simon L. Hammaker, a native of Washington county, Maryland, and a carriage-maker by trade, came to this county in 1852 and followed his trade in Schellsburg until 1865. He then sold his shop and removed to East St. Clair township, where he has since been engaged in farming.
William Kirk came from York county to Fishertown in 1839, learned the potter's trade and worked at it several years in Fishertown and in other parts of the state. He was in partnership with Jacob Fisher in the manufacture of pottery from 1852 until 1855, when the pottery was burned. Mr. Kirk then purchased twenty-seven acres of land and erected a new pottery, which he still continues to run. He served in the army in the 149th regt. Penn. Vols. from February until May, 1865. Mr. Kirk was jury commissioner five years and mercantile appraiser two years. In 1862 he was United States deputy marshal of St. Clair township. In 1870 he took the census of several townships and boroughs. He has served as school director and in 1883 was elected justice of the peace.
John W. Miller moved from Shade township, Somerset county, in 1833, and settled on the farm which his son Joseph now owns. This property was originally settled by William Griffith, better known as "Long Bill." Mr. Miller died in 1878. Jane (Davis), Eli (deceased), Ruth (Jones), Joseph, Thomas, Sarah (Griffith), Armstrong, Charles, William and John S. (deceased), are his children. Joseph Miller enlisted in Co. H, 55th regt. Penn. Vols. in September, 1861 re-enlisted in January, 1864, and served until the close of the war. In 1879 he purchased the homestead farm on which he now lives.
James Way, a native of Union township, moved to St. Clair township in 1816 and bought of Thomas Griffith the farm on which his son Thomas Way now lives. Mr. Way died in 1832 his widow (nee Frances Miller) in 1883. They had two children- Thomas and Samuel. Thomas Way, Esq., learned the blacksmith's trade, but has never followed it. He resides on the old homestead. Mr. Way has been justice of the peace in this township ten years.
Hon. John Nelson, associate judge of Bedford county, moved from Centre county to Huntingdon county in 1840, and thence in 1856 to Hopewell, Bedford county, and engaged in milling. In 1852 he married Susan Cypher, of Bedford county. In 1858 he moved to Bedford and ran the almshouse mill. From October 1862, to May, 1864, he served in Col. K, 18th Penn. cav. He was commissioned first lieutenant December 16, 1862. February 25, 1863, he was shot by Mosby's men, necessitating the amputation of his right leg. At the same time he was wounded in the shoulder. In 1864 he purchased of Jacob Bowser seventy-three acres of land and mill property at Cessna station, and has since followed milling. His mill is 40x50 feet and four stories high, containing four runs of stones and having a capacity of two hundred barrels per day. In 1878 Mr. Nelson was elected associate judge of Bedford county, which office he is now filling very acceptably.
Thomas R. McLellan, son of Abraham McLellan, late of Colerain township, lived in that township until twenty-five years of age, and has since resided in Cumberland Valley and Dutch Corner. In 1882, he came to East St. Clair township, and purchased the far of two hundred and twenty-five acres on which he now lives. Mr. McLellan learned the tanner's trade, and followed it for two and one-half years.
Josiah McLellan lived in Colerain township and purchased a farm. In 1883, he sold out and purchased his present farm. Mr. McLellan enlisted in Co. K, 133d regt. Penn. Vols. in October, 1862 was wounded in the forehead at Fredericksburg, Virginia honorably discharged in June, 1863.
A.M. Pheasant is a native of Huntingdon county, and followed the mercantile business in that county from 1876 to 1883. He then moved to Spring Meadow, and in partnership with Josiah McLellan purchased the Spring Meadow property, known as the "Trout Home," embracing a farm of four hundred acres, a gristmill and a store. Messrs. Pheasant & McLellan are now engaged in farming, milling and dealing in general merchandise. The spring on their farm is widely known and is always filled with lively trout.
Robert P. McCormick came from Green county in 1881, purchased two hundred acres of land on Dunning's creek from Henry Taylor, and is now engaged in farming and stock-dealing.
Fishertown is a small village, deriving its name from Jacob Fisher, who owned the land on which it is built. Mr. Fisher built a blacksmith and wagon shop, and carried on the manufacture of pottery at this place a number of years and until 1862. Fishertown has one wagon-shop, two blacksmith's shops, one weaver's shop and one cabinetmaker's shop.
St. Clairsville is a small but attractive town, situated in the northeastern part of East St. Clair township. It was laid out about 1820, on land owned by Henry Beckley, who was an early settler here. The village was created a borough September 6, 1867. It now has two stores, one hotel, two saddlers' shops, one blacksmith and wagon shop, one cabinetmaker, one shoemaker, one tailor, one dentist and one physician. There are three fine churches near the borough.
The first house in St. Clairsville was built by Henry Beckley. The first hotel was Peter A. Amick's. The first store was started by Edwin Vickroy in a log building erected by George Bowser.
Peter A. Amick was commissioned the first postmaster of St. Clairsville June 5, 1832. The office has since been in the Amick family, with but few changes.
A substantial school-building was erected by the borough in 1882, at a cost of thirteen hundred dollars. The board of directors then consisted of John Beckley, Prest. T. Howard Beckley, Secy. John Roudabush, Treas. George B. Amick, James E. Over, Lewis H. Geisler. The number of scholars in attendance in 1883 was sixty-five. C.W. Karns was the first principal in the new building. G.W.L. Oster is the present principal.
James Sill is a son of Samuel Sill, an early settler of St. Clairsville. Samuel Sill was born at Dutch Corner in the year 1781, moved to the present site of St. Clairsville in 1811, and established the first tannery in 1812. He continued the business until his death in 1861. James Sill was the father of eleven children- George, Josiah, James, Samuel, David, Jacob, John, Joseph, Henry, Alexander and William. Of these, James, John, Henry and William are living. James learned the tanner's trade of his father, started in business for himself in 1837, and still continues to follow his trade.
George F. Sill, son of William Sill, of St. Clairsville, was born in this town. He at present follows farming in summer, and teaches school in winter.
Peter A. Amick came from Adams county in 1815. He afterward married Eve Bowser, of Dutch Corner, and settled in St. Clair township on land where the borough of St. Clairsville now stands. Mr. and Mrs. Amick moved into a log house which was without windows or doors. At first, they hung up bedquilts, which served in the place of doors. Shortly after settling here, Mr. Amick began keeping tavern, and, as his means permitted, built additions to his house and otherwise improved it. He followed hotelkeeping and worked at his trade, coopering, until 1877, when he died in the eighty-fifth year of his age. He was the father of eight children- George B., John, Margaret (Bean), Jacob, John B., Matilda, Sarah (Hite) and William - all dead except George B. and Sarah. William, who was a member of Co. E, 138th regt. Penn. Vols., was killed at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864.
George B. Amick engaged in the mercantile business in St. Clairsville in 1848, which he still follows. He married Mary P. Hammond, and is the father of eleven children, all living but three. He has been prominent in the Lutheran church since its organization in this place, and also a member of the school board for several years.
St. Clairsville Lodge, No. 922, I.O.O.F., was instituted December 4, 1875, with the following charter members: John H. Zinn, N.G. Joseph Hoenstine, V.G.D.A. Plank, Secy. Samuel R. Oster, Asst. Secy. Lewis H. Geisler, Treas. Alexander Ickes, Joseph Kirby, Thomas Steinman, Abraham Colebaugh, John H. Imler, A.B. Riddle, W.H. Imler, Dr. John A. Clark, A.H. Amick, E. Claycomb, F.B. Stambaugh and George H. Imler. Present membership, seventy-seven value of the lodge property, one thousand two hundred and forty-five dollars and eighty-nine cents.
Osterburg is a pretty and growing village situated in East St. Clair and King townships, containing one store, one hotel, two gristmills, one sawmill, one wagon and blacksmith shop, one shoeshop and one creamery.
John V. Oster came to this county in 1771 from Hagerstown, Maryland. He purchased, in 1789, a tract of land which had been warranted in 1763, paying one dollar and fifty cents per acre for the same. Mr. Oster followed farming and cabinetmaking. His children were Henry, Frederick, Magdalena (Garn) and Susan (Crisman). Frederick Oster, born in 1785, lived on the old homestead farm, and was a farmer and cabinetmaker. He died in 1870. His children were Samuel, Jacob, Josiah, George, John, Valentine, John F.J. and William. Jacob, Josiah, George and John are dead. William Oster, who succeeded his father in the ownership of the Oster homestead, lived on the farm until 1882, then moved to Osterburg. Mr. Oster is extensively engaged in business, and is constantly making improvements in the growing village of Osterburg.
The village was laid out by William Oster in 1876. He erected the first store- the building now occupied by Oster & Shaffer- and has also built a two-story band hall, a three-story brick dwelling, etc. Mr. Oster owns a store in Pavia, and a one-half interest in the store of Oster & Burns, Bedford. In 1871, he purchased the Oster mill and the site of the village, consisting of seventeen acres of land, for eight thousand five hundred and fifty dollars. The mill is four stories high, 42X48 feet, and contains four runs of stones. The first mill on this site was a log structure built by Philip Crisman, in 1798. The present mill was built by Jacob Oster, in 1852. Philip Crisman also built a sawmill, which Mr. William Oster rebuilt in 1876.
David M. Shaffer, of the firm of Oster & Shaffer, Osterburg, is a native of this county and a son of Samuel Shaffer, of Three Spring valley. David lived on the farm until twenty-three years old attended select school in Rainsburg and Everett. In 1870 he clerked at Sarah Furnace. In 1871 he married Sarah, daughter of William Oster, of Osterburg. In 1872 Mr. Shaffer began clerking for G.R. Oster & Co., of Bedford, with whom he remained five years. In 1878 he engaged in business for himself at Osterburg as a member of the firm of Oster & Shaffer.
The Friends.-The first meeting of the Orthodox Friends' church at Spring Meadow was held prior to 1793. A large number of the early settlers of this locality were Friends in religious belief. The early meetings were held in a log church, situated south of Spring Meadow. The next church, also log, was built at Spring Meadow. In 1829, under Elias Hicks, a portion of the church withdrew and formed the "Hicksite church," so called. This sect obtained possession of the meeting-house, and the orthodox members worshiped elsewhere. In 1832 the latter body erected a log church. They are now building a new house of worship near Fishertown. This church is now a subordinate branch of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting, held on Eutaw street, Baltimore. Monthly meetings were established in 1803.
The Hicksite Friends worshiped from 1829 until 1867 in the log church already mentioned. They then erected their present frame church on the same ground, at a cost of thirteen hundred dollars. Members, in 1867, seventy-six present membership, about one hundred. Monthly meetings were established in 1803. Dunning's Creek Monthly Meeting is a branch of Center Quarter Branch of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, held on Lombard street, Baltimore.
Reformed.- Bobb's Creek Reformed and Lutheran church was organized during the pastorate of Rev. Henry Gerhart, who began preaching in this county in 1812, and served about seventeen years as pastor of several congregations. A union church, of logs, was erected in 1824 under the direction of John Berkheimer and Philip Crisman (Reformed), and Jacob Berkheimer and Conrad Claycomb (Lutherans). Among the early members of the old log church were the Osters, Crismans, Berkheimers, Bowsers, Riddles, Imlers, Weisels and Mocks. In 1871 the Lutherans became a distinct organization. During the same year, under the pastorate of Rev. C.U. Heilman, the Reformed congregation erected a fine brick church, 42 X 70 feet, at a cost of six thousand six hundred and sixty-one dollars. The building was dedicated June 25, 1871. The building committee were William Oster, Henry Beckley and Thaddeus Hoenstine. Since the new church was built the pastors have been Rev. A.C. Gary, Rev. D.N. Dittmar and Rev. C.J. Musser. The present membership of the church is one hundred and seventy, and of the Sabbath school one hundred and seventy-five.
St. Luke's Reformed church, Fishertown, was organized in 1871, with twenty members. Prior to that date meetings had been held in schoolhouses and dwellings. In 1870-1 a brick church, 35X45 feet, was erected at a cost of twenty-two hundred dollars. The building committee were Michael Miller, Charles Miller and Valentine Fickes. The present membership is about fifty. The pastors have been Revs. C.U. Heilman, A.C. Garry, D.N. Dittmar, C.J. Musser and C.S. Slagle. The church is a part of Dunning's Creek charge.
Lutheran.- The organization of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran church, St. Clairsville, is cotemporary with that of the Reformed church, before mentioned. The congregation worshiped in the old log union church until 1871. Among the early Lutheran members were the Riddle, Amick, Ickes, Sill, Imler, Garn, and other families. The new brick church, commenced in 1869, was completed in 1871 and dedicated on the 1st of January. It is 32 X 40 feet in size and cost five thousand dollars. The building committee were Abraham Moses, John T. Ake, J.W. Berkheimer, Josiah Imler and T.W. Steiman. Board of trustees, Thomas Imler, George B. Amick, Mr. Amick being treasurer. The church was built during the pastorate of Rev. Jacob Peter, who has been succeeded by Revs. John H. Zinn and John H. Rice, the present pastor. At the time the church was built the membership was one hundred and forty present membership about the same number of Sabbath-school scholars, one hundred and twenty.
Center Evangelical Lutheran church at Fishertown was organized by Rev. D.S. Aultman in the year 1848. For a few years services were held in the United Brethren church, and afterward in private houses. In 1857 the present house of worship was erected at a cost of about one thousand dollars. Present membership: church, thirty-five Sabbath school, ninety. The pastors have been Revs. D.S. Altman, William Ruthrauf, J. Kast, William Kopp, J.A. Kunkleman, B.H. Hunt, J.H.A. Kitzmiller, J.F. Dietrich, Abel Thompson, C.B. Gruver and J.H. Walterick.
Methodist.- The Methodist Episcopal church of St. Clairsville was organized in 1881 by Rev. Mr. Pennington, of Pleasantville, with a small membership. The society purchased a small meeting-house from the Presbyterians for four hundred dollars. The membership is still small.
River Brethren.- This sect have had a small organization for several years. In 1879 they built a frame church thirty by forty feet, at a cost of eight hundred and fifty dollars. This church is in Morrison's Cove charge and has a membership of thirty-five. George Feighter, minister, and George Feighter and Philip Hoover, trustees.
United Brethren.- The United Brethren have a small society which worships in a church on Chestnut ridge, near Fishertown. We could ascertain no particulars concerning the congregation. The stone church in which the congregation worships is an old building.
SOURCE: Page(s) 282-287, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties
EARLY LOCAL COLLIERIES NEAR MAHANOY CITY, PA.
The following paper on collieries in this section was written by the late Thomas L. Thomas from personal knowledge and from information furnished by Reese T. Reese, Scranton, Pa. Fred Moyer, John Cleary John Feichtner Philip Bradbury, and Esau Rees, all deceased.
THE HARTFORD COLLIERY(#10 on map) operated by capitalist from Hartford, Connecticut, was located south of the 600 block on East Mahanoy St. The coal was mined in two drifts, located between Main and Catawissa Streets. The inside foreman was John Weber, and the outside foreman was Peter Malia - both Germans. The coal was hauled in mine cars, drawn by four mules, along the side of the mountain South of town, to a trestle leading to the breaker, and dumped. Michael Ryan who married Mary Ann Keegan, and his brother, Martin (driver for the Human Fire Co., for many years afterwards) drove the four mule teams from the Hartford drifts to the Hartford Breaker. The original company that opened and operated this breaker which was known as the "Hartford" was composed of Edward Gorman and friends from Port Carbon. Mr. Gorman was a brother of Patrick J. Campion's mother and was a first cousin of Peter, Thomas, and David Gorman, of Mahanoy City. They sold the breaker to some capitalist from New England.
The Gormans then opened and operated what was known as the "NEW GORMAN'S" COLLIERY (Webmasters Note: This is probably the Oak Hollow Colliery # 12 on map.on the same railroad tracks near the tunnel. )
What is now known as the "Hartford" drift (previously called Baldwin's), is directly south of the City Shirt Dressing Department, 108-110 West Maple Street. (Webmaster's Note This is probably the Webster Colliery # 11 on map.) John Holland, Sr., opened the Hartford drift but soon after it was operated by Philip Conrad and William Cowley. Conrad was formerly superintendent of Wiggan's and Treble Colliery and Cowley was also a former mine superintendent of a regional operation. George King, William Tyler, and John Bryant operated this plant at a later date (This was the Old Hartford Drift). They hauled the prepared coal over Catawissa Street to the Reading tracks and loaded it into railroad cars near the Gashouse (near Linden Street and Railroad Street). The famous riot of June 3, 1875 occurred at this operation. Sheriff Werner read the riot act. That afternoon two companies of the National Guard of Pennsylvania arrived from Pottsville and were stationed in Mahanoy City for several days when they were relieved by the Harrisburg Grays and the Wrightsville Zouaves. In the early 1880's Layton Baldwin operated this colliery which was then called Baldwin Drift. He constructed shutes at Fourth Street (the present location of the Mahanoy Township High School), to load coal from this point. This mine was later sold by Baldwin and he went to North Dakota and took up farming. While in Mahanoy City he resided at 34 West Mahanoy Street, in the same house in which Charles Conrad, Sr., his predecessor in the same mines, had lived.
COLE'S COLLIERY (now TUNNEL RIDGE # 24 on map ) was owned by George W. Cole, who built a breaker and commenced shipping coal in December 1863. In 1869 it became a colliery. Thomas Lewis, Sr., father of Dr. Thomas Lewis, was general superintendent and Thomas Williams was inside foreman. The latter was shot in the labor troubles of 1875. Williams resided at 539 East Center Street. John Shipman was outside foreman in 1878. Cole's Patch extended from the end of Stony Point to what is known as Seven Blocks (there were seven block houses at this point). This is now included in Cole's Patch. John Forster, son of Peter Forster, was a loader-boss at this colliery.
SUFFOLK COLLIERY ( # 32 on map ) was also known as Fisk's Colliery. A company of men from Boston, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Pliny Fisk of Suffolk County in that State, operated this mine in 1864. The following year it was sold to the Suffolk Coal Company. John Phillips was superintendent, and his son, Captain Edward Phillips, was outside foreman. The Village of Suffolk contained thirty houses and a Union Church. Smith and Krebs owned the first store in this Village
Drift Mine Entrance.
ST. NICHOLAS COLLIERY ( # 25 on map ) was also known as Cake's Colliery. Colonel Henry Cake and his partner, Mr. Guise, opened this mine in 1861 and operated it for many years. The colliery is not standing now, but was about seven hundred yards east of the Old Suffolk Breaker. The Village near the breaker was known as Cake's Patch or St. Nicholas. At present the village of St. Nicholas comprises the communites of Boston Run, Wiggan's, Suffolk, and Cake's.
Colliery Typical of the Anthracite Region
Fossil Fern Common in Anthracite Region Diggings
WIGGANS AND TREIBLES' COLLIERY( # 26 on map) stood at what is known as Upper Wiggans and the Village was known as Wiggans. Later this colliery was identified with Bear Run Colliery. George Wiggan (prounounced Wig-gan' accent on the last syllable), was an Englishman who resided at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where he had mining operations twenty years prior to coming into the Mahanoy Valley. He resided in a beautiful home which stood back in a yard surrounded by large shade trees at 130-138 West Center Street. George Wiggan was an Uncle to Mathilda Ellis, the second wife of Samuel Parmley. The opening of the Wiggan mining operation brought the Parmley family to Mahanoy City. Samuel Parmley conducted a general store at Center and Catawissa Street.
BOSTON RUN COLLIERY( # 27 on map ) was conducted by several men from Boston, Massachusetts. Focht and Allen operated it in 1862. Three years later it was operated by Althouse & Brother. Rees Tasker was superintendent at this operation for many years. John Skeath was inside foreman and John W. Madenforth was outside foreman in 1880.
Coal Stove with Hot Water Tank
HILL'S COLLIERY NOW KNOWN AS MAHANOY CITY COLLIERY ( # 1 on map )was owned by Hill and Harris. Charles Hill was superintendent as well as owner. He came from Pottsville and resided at 113 South Main Street in a very large and beautiful home for several years. The first coal was shipped in 1862. The veins operated were Primrose, Skidmore, and Mammoth. This is one of the earliest collieries in the Mahanoy Valley.
Miners of the 1800's
Digging at the Breast
SILLIMAN'S COLLIERY LATER KNOWN AS NORTH MAHANOY CITY COLLIERY( # 2 on map ) was the second mine to be opened in this vicinity. Samuel and Edward S. Silliman, Sr., came from Pottsville to the borough in 1861. Alexander S. Fister, cousin of Mr. Silliman, was outside foreman, he resided at Stony Point (the West end of Spruce Street). It was Mrs. Fister who gave the name to that section, suggesting it instead of Rock Town, which some of the men planned to call it. The first shipment of coal was made in 1861. The original breaker was destroyed by fire in 1869. That year, Mr. Silliman sold it to Hill, Harris, and Rumble, who built the present colliery
Explosion in Mine
BOWMAN'S COLLIERY LATER KNOWN AS COPLY COLLIERY( # 6 on map ) was opened in the Spring of 1862. The Bowman Brothers, Peter, Jonas, and David, came from Parryville, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, to operate this mine. Peter Bowman had been engaged in coal mining near Tamaqua since 1849, and was therefore an experienced operator. He "sunk" the Newkirk Slope, which was the second slope to be opened in Schuylkill County in 1849. The Village around Bowman's Colliery had fifteen houses. William Davidson was inside foreman Gottfried Reiding was blacksmith John Snyder was stable-boss. The original workings were six drifts. A shaft was "sunk" on the Buck Mountain Vein. Peter Bowman resided on East Center Street (site of the Domson and Elks Building), which his brother, Jonas, resided next door (site of Sherzinger's Jewelry Store property) and David resided at the Northwest Corner of Main and Mahanoy Streets.
ROBINSON'S COLLIERY( probably # 7 on map- West Lehigh ) was name for J. O. Robinson, a brother-in-law of the owner of the mine. He conducted a company store in conjunction with the colliery at 32 East Center Street.
PARK PLACE WAS KNOWN AS THE "WELSH" COLLIERY ( not on map - probably became part of Park#1 or Park # 2 when bought by Lentz, Lilly & Co. ) because it was owned and operated by Welshmen, David Reynolds, Joseph Roberts, and Richard Phillips. It was opened in 1872. In 1877 they sold it to Lentz, Lilly and Company
Miner's Safety Lantern
SHOEMAKER'S COLLIERY, LATER KNOWN AS WEST LEHIGH COLLIERY ( # 9 on map ) was operated by a man named Shoemaker from Trenton, New Jersey. It was located where the Village of Trenton now stands. This was in 1864. In 1870 he sold it to Bedford and Company. In 1874, Fisher Hazard became the owner. Mark D. Bowman was superintendent and Robert J. Bowman was outside foreman. There were twenty-four tenant houses connected with this Colliery.
FOCHT'S COLLIERY, LATER KNOWN AS SCHUYLKILL COLLIERY( # 5 on map ) was opened in 1863 by Abraham Focht, who commenced shipping coal in the Spring of 1864. The Colliery was sold in 1865 to the firm of Focht, Whittake, and Company who operated it until 1877 when it passed into the hands of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company. In the early days Rees Price was foreman and William Watkins was also a foreman at this Colliery.
19th Century Coal Miners
BUCK MOUNTAIN COLLIERY( # 16 on map )was opened in 1883 by William Spencer of Minersville, Pa., who was also superintendent of the mine. The employees came from "Old Buck Mountain", near Weatherly, Pa., to work in this newly opened mine. They called it Buck Mountain in memory of the old home and colliery from which they migrated. Those who came to this section when this mine was opened were the Lowe, Coll, Trimble, Gilsion, Ryan, Quinn, Hanlon, Breslin, Fowler, Herron, Bernard O'Donnel, Michael Myers, Charles Woodrow and William Welsh families. Later in the 1890's the Griffith, Kline, and Comley families resided at Buck Mountain.
History of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church
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New River Notes &mdash Complete
January 21, 2014
After about two years of work we have completed a major upgrade to New River Notes. On January 21, 2014 we switched in the last of the updated files and final page revisions.
In January 2013 we introduced the new site layout but because there were many pages left to do there was a big red Under Construction on the front page. A year later we've finished all of the pages that were on the original site. Construction is complete. We have a great looking site full of material to help you in your research and possibly entertain you.
New River Notes
January 6, 2013
New River Notes, a leading genealogy resource for the New River Valley of North Carolina and Virginia, launched its new look website today.
New River Notes was originally launched in 1998 by Jeffrey C. Weaver providing New River Valley researchers with a new wealth of information and that tradition is continued today by the Grayson County, Virginia Heritage Foundation, Inc.
Welcome and we hope you enjoy our new look.
History of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church
Pencander Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware
NOTE: This is the text of a published history of this church, prepared in 1952, no copyright claimed. The text was scanned, and hopefully errors of transcription are few if any.
In sending forth this short history of Welsh Tract Church, (The oldest Old School Baptist church in America) it is with the desire that our people may be better informed as to the early days of the church in this country.
The minutes, church covenant, rules, etc., that are republished are copied from the original, just as recorded in the early days.
In preparing this work we have been favored with the assistance of a number of good friends of the church. We mention here a few who have contributed to this work. Mr. Edward Cooch who furnished the names of a number of soldiers and Patriots of the Revolutionary War who are buried in the church cemetery Mr. O. R. Higman of Wilmington, Delaware who made the pictures of the meeting house Mrs. R. S. Jarman and Mrs. E. S. Shakespeare who also furnished much information.
May this book be of much interest, and a source of information to our readers is our humble desire.
CHAPTER I - OUR BEGINNING AS A CHURCH
In the year 1701 some of us (who were members of the churches of Jesus Christ in the countys of Pembroke and Caermarthen, South Wales in Great Britain, professing believers baptism laying- on-of-hands election and final perseverance in grace) were moved and encouraged in our own minds to come to these parts, viz. Pennsylvania and after obtaining leave of the churches it seemed goed to the Lord and to us, That we should be formed into church order, as we were a sufficient number: and as one of us was a minister: that was accomplished and, withal letters commendatory were given us, that if we should meet with any congregations or christian people, who held the same faith with us, we might be received by them as brethren in Christ.
Our number was sixteen: and, after bidding farewell to our brethren in Wales, we sailed from Milford-haven in the month of June, the year above mentioned, in a ship named James and Mary and landed in Philadelphia the eighth of September following:
After landing, we were received in a loving manner (on account of the gospel) by the congregation meeting in Philadelphia and Pennepek who held the same faith with us (excepting the ordinance of Laying-on-of-hands on every particular member) with whom we wished much to hold communion at the Lord's table but we could not be in fellowship with them in the Lord's supper because they bore not testimony for God touching the fore-mentioned ordinance.
There were some among them who believed in the ordinance: but it was neither preached up, nor practiced in that church: for which cause we kept separate from them for some years.
We had several meetings on this account, but could not come to any agreement yet were in union with them (except only in the Lord 's-supper, and some particulars relative to a church).
After our arrival we lived much scattered for about a year and a half, yet kept up our weekly and monthly meetings among ourselves: during which time it pleased God to add to our number about twenty members, in which time we, and many other Welsh people purchased a tract of land in New Castle County, on Delaware, which was called Welsh tract: in the year 1703 we began to get our living out of it, and to set our meetings in order, and build a place of worship which was commonly known by the name of, The Baptist meeting house by the Iron-hill.
In the year 1706 we, and the congregation (meeting in Philadelphia and Pennepek) appointed a meeting to come together once more, in order to try at union in the good ways of the Lord setting up our prayers and supplications on this great occasion and purposing to do as the Lord should give us light.
The following considerations induced us to come to the above appointment.
(1) Because they and we were desirous of union in the privileges of the Gospel.
(2) Because we were not like to gain them by keeping asunder from them.
(3) Because they without were taking occasion to mock because of so much variance among the Baptists.
(4) Because some of our members were far from us, and near them and some of theirs near us and far from them and that these members might sit down in the meetings next to them.
(5) Because, as we all came to the yearly meetings, we might have a general union at the Lord's-table.
In the said meeting (after seeking God by prayers and supplication) we came to the following conclusion. viz.: That they with us and we with them might hold transient or occasional communion but that we might not be obliged to receive into membership any that were not under laying-on-of-hands.
This agreement was set down in writing as follows:
"At the house of Richard Miles in Radnor, Chester County, and province of Pennsylvania, July 22, 1706.
The agreement of many persons met together from the congregation under the care of brother Thomas Griffith, and others, from the congregation (late under the care of our Church
[Two pages missing in the text at this point]
Communion and the truth of grace (as we hope) in some good measure upon one another spirits. We do solemnly join ourselves together in holy union and fellowship, humbly submitting to the Discipline of the Gospel and all holy duty required of people in such a spiritual relation.
We do promise & engage to walk in all holin'ss, godliness, humility and brotherly love, as much as in us lieth to render our communion delightful to God, and comfortable to ourselves and to the rest of the Lord's people.
We do promise to watch over each others conversation, and not to suffer sin upon one another so far as God shall discover it to us, or any of us, and to stir up one another to love and do good works, to warn, rebuke and admonish one another with meekness according to the rules left by Christ in that behalf, &c.
We do promise in an especial manner to pray for one another and for the glory and increase of His church and for the presence of God in it, and the pouring forth of His spirit on it, and His protection over it to His glory.
We do promise to bear one anothers burdens and infirmities, to cleave to one another and to have fellow feeling with one another in all conditions both outward and inward as God in His providence shall cast any of us into.
We do promise to bear with one anothers weakness and failings with much tenderness not discovering to any without the Church, nor within unless according to Christ's rule and the order of the Gospel provided in that cause.
We do promise to strive together for the truths of the Gospel and purity of God's ways and ordinances to avoid causes, occasions of divisions and endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:3.
We do promise to meet together on Lord's days, and at other times as the Lord shall give us opportunities to serve and glorify God in the way of his worship, to edifie one another and contrive the good of His Church, &c.
We do promise according to our ability, or as God shall bless us with the good things of this world to communicate to the necessity of the church.
These and all other Gospel duties we humbly submit unto promising and purposing to perform. Not in our own strength being conscious of our own weakness, but in the power and strength of the blessed God, whose we are, and whom we desire to serve, to whom be glory now and forevermore. Amen.
We whose names are under written, endeavored to adhere to the foregoing rules.
Thomas Griffith Thomas Wild Elisha Thomas Samuel Wild Enoch Morgan Thomas John James James Thomas John Evan Edmond Lewis Philip Griffith Nicholas John Devonald Edward Edwards Samuel Griffith Richard Owen David Thomas Hugh David Rees Jones, in all 30 John Griffith Mary Wallace John Philips Elinor John Antony Matthew Elinor Morris Rees David Hannah Mileher Thomas Evans Mary David Thomas Edmond Jane James Thomas Morris Elizabeth John Arther Mileher Luce Edmond Jenkin Jones Joan Morgan John Bolton Rebeka Edward John Edward Caterine Edward Hugh Morris Rebeka John, in all 12.
CHAPTER III - CHURCH DISCIPLINE - BY THOMAS JAMES
1 Tim., 5, 17. Let the Elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.
There is various opinions who these Elders were, but all agree that they were some officers in the Gospel Church, but we know who are the chief officers of the church in our days, that is, Pastors, Elders and Deacons, for these are the officers that do officiate in our church.
When can it be said that they rule well?
When they rule according to the direction of the word.
What is the duty of the Pastor?
The duty of the Pastor chiefly is to preach the word, Acts 6, and likewise the Pastor is chief moderator in the Church Discipline.
What is the duty of the ruling Elders in the church?
The duty of the Ruling Elder is to assist the Pastor in governing the church but not in preaching the word. Rom. 12, 7 1 Cor. 12, 28.
What is the duty of the Deacons?
The duty of the Deacon chiefly is to serve in the outward concerns of the church and to serve tables, and they are intrusted with the stock of the church, to provide all necessaries for the church and the poor thereof. And they are likewise by their office to assist the Elders in discipline. Therefore these three set of officers are the chief managers in the church, but all the members of the church have a voice and a vote in church affairs.
When are the Elders counted worthy of double honor?
When they act the part of faithful Shepherds over the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20, 20.
By taking special care of the affairs of the church and watch over members thereof--to see whether they walk answerable to the rules of the Gospel, and, if any member walk contrary to gospel rule, to deal with him in gospel manner according to the heinousness of his crime, when their case comes orderly before the church.
What faults ought they to take notice of if they find any of the members guilty?
For a more particular manner, the heinous sins that the apostle mentions in 1 Cor. 5, 11-6, 9, 10, & and Gal. 5, 20, 21. Fornication, Covetous, Idolaters, Railers, Drunkards, Witchcraft, hatred, variance, Emulation, Wrath, Strife, Sedition, Heresies, Envying Members reviling and such like, and many evil branches grow on the above heinous sins that ought to be taken notice of.
Ought not the Elders and Church to forgive their brethren their sins whatever they may be.-Matt. 6, 11 Eph. 4, 30.
We must distinguish between transgressions done to ourselves and sins that and more immediately against God. Sins against the first tables are greater than the sins against the second A man may and ought to lorgive injuries done to himself. but can not forgive sins that are more immediately against God.
It is the duty of every Christian to forgive his brother all transgression done to himself upon his real repentance and true sorrow for it, but it is not in the power of man to forgive and discharge a sinner from the justice of God. If any offers to forgive sinners in this respect, as it is a sin against God, doth take upon himself the prerogative of God which is a presumtious sin, for there is none that forgive and discharge a sinner from his sins but God alone. Mark. 2, 7.
Therefore the Elders of the Church ought to be wary and careful how to deal with transgressors that are members of the church, and not to act hastily, on either hand considering that they are to act for God. For they are intrusted as embassadors for Christ, to manage the affairs of His Church here in the world, and when any member falls into sin and his case comes orderly before the church, they ought to be very tender hearted towards him, but not to wink at his sin lest they be partakers of his sin. 1 Tim. 5, 22.
But they ought to examine narrowly the truth and reality of the affair and the heinousness of his crime and deal with him accordingly and when he confesseth his sin and profess repentance they ought to be wary in receiving him except some frults of repentance will appear because men cannot search the heart to know the reality of his repentance: The safest way is to give reasonable time to prove the sincerity of his repentance that the church may be in some measure satisfied of the reality of his repentance and they are to deal with every one according to the heinousness of their crime.
There is more danger in receiving too hastily than referring for a reasonable time especially sins committed publicly in the face of the open world least they bring reproach on the Church of Christ and disgrace to themselves. 1 Tim. 3, 7.
Therefore they ought to act wary and wisely and use the likeliest way to save the church from ill spoken of by any and they ought likewise to do their endeavors to have the consent of the whole Church especially in every weighty matter.
The duty of the rulers of the church of Christ is very weighty and those who ruleth well ought to be counted worthy of double honor 'especially those that labor in the word and doctrine.
Both officers and common members ought to strive to follow the advice that the apostle Paul gives to Timothy. 1 Tim. 3, 14, 15.
These things write I unto thee, that thou mayst know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God which is the church of the liviing God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
What is the duty of the common member of the House or Church of God!
Every member of the church ought to know how to behave in the House of God. There ought to be a strict order and solemn behavior in and among all the members of the family of the House of God.
Every one to behave in his own station as becometh the Gospel of Christ and if any of the members of the House of God walk disorderly the appointed officers of the house is to examine the affair when it comes orderly before them. 1 Cor. 14, 40. Let all things be done decently and in order.
The above instruction of St. Paul is to the officers of the Church, for Timothy was a minister, and not to the common member.
It is to be applied to every member, for every member of the church ought likewise to observe and know how he should walk and behave in the House and Church of God. It is the duty of every member to observe the Golden Rule given by Christ the Head of the Church. Matt. 1,18.
Is it not the duty of every private member to bring accusation to the Church against offending brothers when they cannot make it according to scripture rule without acquainting the Elders first?
No. For they ought to acquaint the Elders of the affair first and not declare it to the Church of their own heads, except they were requested by the Church to do so, otherwise it is irregular and disorderly and whoever be guilty of the like are guilty of church reproof. For God is a God of order and a strict order and decency ought to be in His house. Therefore if any private member hath anything in his mind to offer to the Church he ought to acquaint tile officers of the Church first, and the officers ought to consult with one another before they lay it before the Church that everything in the House of God might be carried on decently and in good order as becometh the affairs of the House of God, and this will be one means to keep peace unity and concord in the House and Church of God. For if any private member do take upon him the place and duty of any of the officers it is a great disorder. By so doing they take the duty of the officers in their own hands. When they see every private member intermeddling in the duties that they are set apart and ordained to officiate therein for it is vain to choose officers to rule and govern in the Church if every private member takes upon himself the government as well as they, for every one ought in his own station. Rom. 12, 9 6, 7-8.
The Church is a state or body politic in which a strict order ought to be kept or else it will soon run into confusion, divisions and schism. Every church bath a power of government within itself and the officers of tbe Church are of God's appointment in order to govern the same. 1 Cor. 12, 28.
And those that are Called and set apart to rule therein ought to exert their offices and govern in the name and fear of the Lord.
The officers of the Church of God ought to magnify their office that the Head of the Church Christ Jesus may have the glory and that the Lord Jesus may grant them the directions of His holy spirit shall be the prayer of an unworthy member of the Church of Christ.
The above is a true copy taken from a piece that Thomas James, Esqr., wrote concerning Church Discipline which I think ought to be read every monthly meeting day of business.
CHAPTER IV - WELSH TRACT BAPTIST CHURCH MARKS 250th ANNIVERSARY
Services in Meeting House at Iron Hill South of Newark Attended by 200 From Five States, Who Hear Elder Pastor Extol Religious Freedom
Described as a symbol of "religious freedom," the Welsh Tract Primitive Baptist Church south of Newark at the foot of Iron Hill celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding December 9, 1951.
"As we come together to celebrate," said Elder David V. Spangler of Annapolis, Md., who conducts aervices on the second Sunday of each month, "we are wonderfully blessed we have religious freedom-the privilege to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience."
More than 200 persons from five states attended the anniversary services. In addition to Delaware, there were residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia crowding the small meeting house in Bencader Hundred. Many of these former members of the church moved away.
Elder Spangler, present pastor, reviewed the history of the church, whieh was founded by a congregation formed in South Wales in 1701. Welsh Tract is the oldest of the old school Baptist congregations in America. The present meeting house was erected in 1746.
During the Sixtenth Century, according to the pastor, the Baptists were called Anabaptists by their enemies because they insisted on rebaptising all who came to them for membership. They were of their faith and practice but a continuation of the followers of Novation, who withdrew from the Catholic Church charging loose discipline, and Peter Waldo, Fourth Century Baptist leader.
PERSECUTION CAUSES SHIFT
Elder Spangler said persecution was a factor that led the Welsh to east their "'eyes to a new world, where they hoped to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience."
The founding fathers of Welsh Tract, the pastor recalled, were 16 in number, and this "body of believers" landed in Philadelphia Sept. 8, 1701.
Early in the Eighteenth Century William Penn granted to David Evans and William Davis a tract of 30,000 acres, since 'mown as the Welsh Tract. It was divided and deeded to the settlers from South Wales. The first meeting house occupied the same location as the present building.
The church itself is the mother church from which came churches in Wilmington, Kenton, and Mispillion. The present building was erected in 1746, but the first church bullding was erected in 1703.
Mr. Spangler also pointed out that the church kept re- markably accurate records, all of the earlier ones in Welsh, which have since been translated by the Historical Society of Delaware. The language of the services in the church was Welsh for the first 75 years or more.
Arrangements for the anniversary program were made by a group under the leadership of Edward W. Cooch of Cooch's Bridge.
TWO HUNDRED FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF WELSH TRACT CHURCH (SIGNS OF THE TIMES)
On Sunday, December the 9th, the "Welsh Tract," Old School Baptist Church, at Newark, Delaware, celebrated its two hundred and fiftieth Anniversary. The church was organized in Wales in 1701, and emigrated to this country as a regular constituted church.
This is the oldest Old School Baptist Church in America. I have been requested by several to give an account of the meeting through our paper, as it would be of interest to our readers.
In the Month of June, 1701, this body of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, later to be called The Welsh Tract Church, sailed from Milford-haven, South Wales, in Great Britain. The number was sixteen including their pastor. The names are as follows:
THOMAS GRIFFITH, Pastor
They landed in Philadelphia, September 8th of the same year, and continued in that vicinity for about a year and a half. They were received by a congregation meeting in Philadelphia in a loving manner, as both held the same faith There was a difference in belief about the ordinance of laying on of hands of newly Baptised persons. The Welsh Tract brethren held this as a gospel ordinance, the Church in Philadelphia did not. This caused some conflict between them for some time, but was finally settled to the extent that all could commune together at the bord's Table.
Early in the eighteenth century William Penn granted to David Evans and William Davis a tract of land of thirty thousand acres. This tract has since been know as "The Welsh Tract." This land was to be divided and deeded to settlers from South Wales.
To this place moved the Welsh Baptist church, and in 1703 built a log meeting house in which they worshiped until the present structure was erected in 1746. The first house occupied the same location as this present building.
The bricks in the present house were brought from England, and carried by mule-back from Newcastle to the present location. It is reported that these mules were led by women members of the congregation.
In 1680 representatives of over one hundred congregations of Baptists from England and Wales, meeting in London, put forth what is generally known as "The London Confession of Faith.," There articles of faith were adopted by this church in February 1716. It is mentioned in the original church records that this confession of faith held the following principles of Faith believers Baptism election and final perseverance of the Saints.
These Articles of faith were translated into the Welsh Language by Abel Morgan, to which was added an article relative to laying on of hands singing Psalms and church Covenant.
The first pastor died June 25th, 1725, living about twenty years after immigrating to these shores.
As the Church was composed of Welsh People, the preaching for about one hundred years was in the Welsh language.
This was one of the five original churches forming the Philadelphia Association in 1707, and according to history was for many years the most influential member of that body.
Ministers who have served this church as pastors are as follows in order:
Thomas Griffith, Elisha Thomas, M. E. Thomas, Enoch Morgan, Owen Thomas, David Davis, John Sutton, John Boggs. Also Gideon Farrell, Stephen M. Woolford, Samuel Trott, William K. Robinson, Thomas Barton, G. W. Staten, William Grafton, Joseph Staton, John Eubanks, H. H. Lefferts and D. V. Spangler, present pastor. There may have been others, but according to the information I have been able to obtain, this is the complete list.
This list includes eighteen names. These pastors served nearly two hundred and fifty years in all, and the average time of service of each would be about fourteen years.
Buried in the church cemetery are nine former pastors as follows: M. E. Thomas, David Davis, John Boggs, Gideon Farrell, Enoch Morgan, William K. Robinson, G. W. Staten, Joseph Staton and John Eubanks. There may be others.
Buried here are other noted ministers who did not serve here as pastors, among them is Elder B. F. Coulter.
On September the 3rd, 1777, the meeting house took part in a military engagment. The Americans after being driven from Cooch's bridge retreated along Christiana and made their last stand under the shelter of the church walls. At this time a cannon ball is said to have passed through the building.
A few of the prominent descendants of Welsh Tract include President Garfield of the Union, Davis of the Confederacy, Senator Chamerblain of Oregon and John Griffith McCullough former governor of Vermont. In 1894 he erected two of the large monuments in the cemetery in memory of his Griffith and McCullough ancestors.
Today as we come together to celebrate the two-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of this church we are wonderfully blessed We have religious freedom the privilege to worship God according to the dictates of each one's conscience.
Blessed to meet where the children of God have gathered to worship Him for over two hundred years. Here around this meeting house sleep many precious loved ones who continued steadfast in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and breaking bread, and prayer.
How thankful we should be to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. In the midst of rejoicing may we ever be mindful that we enjoy these things today through the tender mercies of God.
In reviewing the history of this church, we would do well to remember that the identity of a church, as the church of Jesus Christ cannot be claimed because of the age or length of time it has been in existence. Its identity is in the doctrine, faith and practice.
A church could be very old as an organized body have articles of faith that would be in accord with the Word of God, and hold fast to the ordinances as taught in the New Testament, and then not bear the mark altogether of the Apostolic Church.
Neither can a church or denomination lay claim to Apostolic Faith and practice, because of the name it bears, the number of members enrolled, or its success in the eyes of men. The name is only one of the marks.
PRESENT BOARD OF TRUSTEES
A. C. RITTENHOUSE, President
B. S. SHAKESPEARE, Treasurer
L. S. JARMAN, Secretary
C. H. JARMAN
B. W. COOCH
J. L. HOLLOWAY
HENRY TOWNSEND, Sr.
This hoard of trustees have shown much interest in managing the financial affairs of the church. The grounds are kept in good condition, and the buildings in good repair. They deserve much credit for their untiring efforts to carry on the work assigned to them.
NAMES OF MEMBERS 1952
Deacon CHARLES H. JARMAN
RUTH S. LUCHT
HENRY TOWNSEND, Sr.
HENRY TOWNSEND, Jr.
The first marriage in Welsh Tract Church was Miss Philo Goudy and Calvin Jones in 1850.
The second marriage was Miss Louise Staton and Everett C. Johnston June 10, 1902.
The third marriage was Miss Mildred Jarman and Edward C. Person October 3, 1942, by Elder H. H. Lefferts.
CHAPTER V - SOME SHORT MINUTES OF THE MEETING TOGETHER WITH THE SOLEMN CHURCH COVENANT ENTERED INTO IN 1710--AND THE NAMES OF THE SIGNERS TO THE COVENANT
Some short minutes of the Baptist Church at the Iron-hill, in the Welsh Tract in New Castle County, in Pencader Hundred, in its first beginning in Wales, as follows as you may see in the Church Book.
The Lord was pleased to incline some of us to come over to Pennsylvania and we consulted with our brethren, and they advised us to be constituted a church before we come over and it was done in the year 1701. And we sailed from Milford Haven in South Wales, and when we arrived in Philadelphia, Peulpack and Philadelphia Church received us with christian love on account of the gospel, &c.
The names of those that were constituted a church in the above mentioned year are as followeth. The Reverend Thomas Griffith was Pastor. M'embers, Griffith Nicholas, Evan Edmond, John Edward, Elisha Thomas, Enoch Morgan, Richard David, James David, Elizabeth Griffith, Lewis Edmond, Mary John, Mary Thomas, Elizabeth Griffith, Jane David, Margaret Matthias and a Jane Morris in all 16.
These people settled first about Penipack, but in the year 1703 they purchased land in New Castle County which was called the Welsh Tract. In the year 1706, they built a meeting bouse which was called by the publick the Baptist Meeting House at the Ironhill, &c.
CHAPTER VI - "THOSE WHO WERE EXCOMMUNICATED"
The names of those who were excommunicated from the church together with the various reasons therof:--
In the year 1714 Magdalen Morgan because she withstood the advice of the church relative to unscemingly dress which even the world thought to be unbecoming and which she wore and because the brethren learned that she neglected the church meeting and worship and because she refused to listen to the church through the messengers sent to her that she might not bring reproach on the church.
Joseph James because his associates are godless men and he spends his time with loud talkers and in the midst of disorderly nights carried to a great extreme. These two above mentioned were excommunicated by the decision of the church from its membership at the monthly meeting of the church Ap: 4, 1714.
In the year 1714 Evan Edmonds and Cathrine Edwards were excommunicated because they persisted in giving cause for men to judge and carry the scandal that they misbehaved themselves together in keeping company too often and too unseemiy, and because they withstood the advice of the church that they should not keep company together until they should be able to clear themselves from the scandal that they were bringing upon themselves: after waiting two years, without any change manifesting itself in their relations, it was determined in the monthly meeting of the church to excommunicate them from the church membership until such time as they should become blameless and should clear themselves of the scandal.
It was so announced July 3, 1714.
In the year 1716 Griffith Nicholas was turned out of the church for the following reasons:--
Hebroke his promise which he had made relative to a matter of business that existed between him and Brother Thomas John from Bryn. For this reason they both asked the church to arbitrate between them and they both promised to abide by the decision of the church in the settlement of the matter between them. Griffith Nicholas after making this compact broke it through disobedience of every single judgment of the church and not only that but he brought reproach on the church by asserting that the judgmen of the church was unrighteous. At this time in 1726 Griffith Nicholas, repenting his action, fulfilled his obligation.
In the year 1717 Richard Lewis was turned out of the church because he kept unseemly company with his neighbor's wife and because he withstood the counsel of the church in urging him to clear himself from a reproach such as he was under. He was excommunicated until he acquainted himself with his faults and cleared himself satisfactorily to the church.
On April 4, 1717 John Pain was turned out of the church for gross misconduct in his life and for disobeying the rules of the church. John Pain afterwards repented in 1723.
In the year 1720 Richard Scary was cast out of the church the crimes against him as followeth:
May 31st, 1713 there were laid to his charge by the church two things (1) that the said Richard fakely accused this congregation of charging him with asserting that he expected salvation by his works.
(2) Affirming that the signing the articles of this congregation was partly imposed on him, which two accusations were found to be scandalous and therefore he to be under the censure of the church till penitent.
(3) And after that in the time following absenting himself from the meeting and disorderly communing with other people without giving the least notice to the church of which he was a member.
(4) About a year and one-half after when called by the church he was examined again about the aforesaid things but he lightly regarded the church and its counsel.
(5) And again at the same time the church condescended for to consider and contrive (if so be he was desirous for conscience sake in regard to those things in which he differed from the church in judgment, to transplant himself to another particular church which he liked best)-the most and best regular way in order for to have dismission from us and our commendation to that church. This also he slighted and regarded not.
(6) In consideration of the aforesaid particulars he was deemed to be a covenant breaker in regard to the church covenant.
Philip Truax was dismembered January 6th, 1721, the reasons for which you will find on page 17 of this Book.
Mary Rees was dismembered January 5th, 1723 the reasons being as follows: She withstood the advice of the church namely that she should not be attracted to a man who sought to speak with her relative to her marrying him. Withstanding this advice she listened to this man and married him in opposition to the advice and warning of her christian brethren and of her natural father. In this the church looks upon her as having broken the church covenant and also having broken her marriage vows with her other husband because neither she nor we know but he is yet alive. This terminates only on the death of one or the other.
Relative to Thomas Jones and Elinor (Eleanor) his wife, complaint about them came to the ears of the church of improper conduct of the one towards the other, with regards to the obligation of the marriage vow and with regard to minor improprieties in other things. When the church had summoned them before it to question them in these matters, it seemed right that it should place them out of communion for a time of probation with a view of reforming them by words of counsel and advice. After a little while the church again took their case under consideration, and getting no testimony of their being better but rather one tending against them, it seemed proper to send for them to come before it and after thus sending for them several times for some years and patiently waiting for them, they yet would not come. The church then deemed it proper in its monthly meeting February 6, 1724, because of their improper life and their absolute disregard of the church meetings and their disobedience to the call of the church-to excommunicate them as fruitless branches and degenerate persons.
The Bill of excommunicate of Abigail Thatcher. In the first place there was a complaint brought against the church that she was guilty of speaking a lie and that proved upon (against) her before the magistrate, and she was called to an account for it before the church. She told the church that it was wrong and desired time to clear herself the church did grant her request and left her for a long time in order that she may clear herself from the said complaint and see how she should behave herself in the meanwhile, but instead of clearing herself therefrom she bought herself gullty of the same fact, as it was evidenced by creditable persons and behaved herself unworthy of the gospel as it is generally reported among her neighbors and also she forsook the meeting altogether.
Jacob John was restored May the fifth, 1770.
John Evans, Esq., was baptized June ye 30, 1770.
October ye 6th then was Martha Griffin received into full commum.on here being baptized in May last by Mr. Thomas Davies, then in Kent and came under Laying-on-of-hands before ye church in ye Welsh-tract where she was received.
November the third 1770, then was the Reverend John Sutton received into full communion by virtue of a letter from Scotch plains.
Novem: the third, 1771 then was David Miles and Levy Dungan taken into communion, at ye same was John Boggs baptized and received into full communion.
May ye second 1772 then was Enoch Morgan, Jr., baptized and received into full communion.
At ye same time was Joseph Griffith restored Sept. 1772 then was John Thomas bap. and received into communion.
CHAPTER VII - Revolutionary Soldiers and Patriots - Buried in New Castle County, Delaware
Boggs, Rev. John, b 1739, d 12-9-1802, age 63. Probably John Boggs of Whig Battalion.
Booth, Ebenezer, b 1732 or 1752, d 2-20-1904, age 52 or 72. Signed oath of fidelity at Elkton.
Cooch, Col. Thomas, d 11-16-1788. Col. of Lower Regiment of New Castle County.
Cooch, Thomas, Jr. Enlisted man in Col. Samuel Patterson's Battalion. d Feb. 1785.
Cooch, William, Served as privateer, b June 5, 1762, d 9-25-1837.
Coulter, Patrick, b 1764, d 6-9-1848.
Eceles, Samuel, b 1749, d 9-18-1800, age 51.
Gottier, Frances, b 1747, d 12-11-1826. Took oath of fidelity at Elkton, Md.
Goudy, John, b 1764, d 1846, age 82.
Griffith, John, b 1765, d 1837, age 72. Oath before Thomas James, June 29, 1778.
Hugg, Benjamin, b 1755, d 11-21-1800, age 45. Armorour to Capt. Kirkwood.
James, John, b 1752, d 1-19-1811, age 59. Captain Whig Battalion.
Jones, Morgan, b 1758, d 9-25-1820, age 62. Private Col. Cooch's Regiment.
Maxwell, Solomon, b 1742, d 4-19-1798, age 56. Issuing Commissary at Christiana Bridge.
McMullen, Samuel [crossed out and replaced with handwritten name Robert], b 1762, d 8-27-1813, age 51.
Menough, Isaac, b 1750, d 12-9-1826, age 76.
Middleton, Robert, b 1763, d 1-2-1805, age 42. Private McClary's Company. On delinquent list.
Miles, James, b 3-13-1746, d 6-14-1797.
Miller, Hance, b 1749, d 3-21-1779, age 30. Oath of fidelity before Thomas James.
Miller, Hance, b 1743 or 1745, d 5-17-1807 or 1809, age 62. Private Capt. Thomas Watson's Company. Oath of Fidelity.
Price, David, 1722.
Price, David, b 1693, d 9-20-1776, age 83.
Shakespeare, David, b 1732, d 9-29-1800, age 68.
Shields, Robert, b 1736, d 2-13-1792, age 56. Privat, Delaware Reg.
Simonton, John, b 1740, d 7-11-1797, age 57. Took oath of fidelity before James Black. Property damages by British.
Slack, Uriah, b 1759, d 9-10-1855, age 76.
Thomas, Thomas, b 1738, d 4-9-1781, age 43. Signed oath of fidelity.
Tyson, Mathias, Sr., b 1754, d 1829, age 75.
Underwood, Solomon, b 1740 or 1745, d Apr.28 1815 age 70. In Isaac Lewis Company. On delinquent list.
Wattson, John, b 1763, d 6-11-1791 or 10-21-1820 age 57. Private Carson's Company.
Wattson, Joseph, b 1734, d 2-28-1790, age 56. Treason.
Wattson, Lewis, b 1765, d 3-4-1805, age 46.
Wattson, Thomas, b 1737, d 12-16-1792. Capt. Whig Battalion.
BETHEL CEMETERY NEAR HARES CORNER
Angier, Rev. Theodore, b 1754, d 4-20-1797, age 43.
Britton, Richard, b 1730, d 7-9-1802, age 72.
Hixharvey, James, b 1767, d 5-12-1826, age 59.
Mitchbell Richard, b 3-15, d 8-2-1801.
Scout, Capt. Augustus, b 1757, d 1-14-1815, age 58.
Stoops, Benjamin, b 1749, d 1825, age 76.
Vaughn John, b 1775, d 3-25-1807, age 32.
Welsh, William, b 1724, d 10-1-1805, age 81. Took oath of fidelity.
CHAPTER VIII - COPIES OF WIILS
COPY OF WILL OF THOMAS EDMOND
In the name of God, amen, I, Thomas Edmond, of the hundred of Pencader County of New Castle, yeomn being of perfect mind and memory, but calling to mind the mortality of my body (knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die) do this sixth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight, make this my last Will and Testament.
First, I recommend my soul to Almighty God, who gave it me, nothing 4oubting but I shall receive the same again united to my body at the general resurrection of the great day thro Jesus Christ my Lord, and my body be buried in a christian and decent manner at the discretion of my Executor hereinafter named. And as touching such earthly goods as it hath pleased God to bless me with in this world, I dispose of in the manner following, viz.:
Imprimis I give and bequ'eath for the benefit and support of ye gospel in the Baptist congregation in the Welsh Tract of which David Davis is now minister, the sum of two hundred pounds current money of Pennsylvania, to be laid out in Bank by way of a "found the interest of which shall be paid yearly and every year to the minister for the time being, forever by William Eynon and David Evans, whom I appoint Trustees over the same during their lives and at their death such other Trustees as the said Baptist Congregation shall unanimously appoint.
I give and bequeath for the benefit of the Baptist Church of Montgomery in the County of Philadelphia of which Benjamin Griffith is now minister, the sum of two hundred pounds current money of Pennsylvania, to laid out in Bank by Abel Griffith and Joseph Griffith now members of s'd Church, whom I appoint trustees of the same during their lives for to pay the interest of s'd fund to the minister for the time being, forever and at their lives to such other trustees as the said Baptist Church shall unanimously appoint.
I also will that s'd Abel Griffith and Joseph Griffith or heirs, exc. or adm. do raise and levy as niuch out of my Estate which is in them parts as will amount to tile said sum of Two Hundred pounds, and what of my estate that remains in them parts over and above the s'd sum I give and bcqueath to s'd Abel Griffith and Jos. Griffith or heirs for their own use and behoof.
I give and bequeath to Mary Watson my daughter-in-law my chairs, my chests, horse and chairs and all my brason Vessels and my clock to her and her son Thomas Watson.
I give unto her daughter Hannah my chest of drawers.
I give unto Mary Price, daughter of Benjamin Price the sum of Twenty pounds.
I give unto Sarah Thomas daughter of Joseph Thomas the sum of Twenty pound current money of Pennsylvania.
I give and bequeath unto my well beloved friend William Eynon, whom I constitute and appoint my whole and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament, my bed and furniture, my books and wearing apparel, Linnin and woolen as also all and every of my estate that be and remain after my funeral charges, legecies & bequethmenta are paid in those parts for his and heirs only use and behoof, and I do hereby revoke, disanull and make void all other and former Wills and legacies by me, made or intended to be made, declaring and pronouncing this only as my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I, s'd Thomas Edmond have to this my last Will and Testament put my hand and seal the day and year first above written. Signed, Sealed and pronounced as his last Will and Testament. THOMAs EDMOND.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY,
July 21st, 1758.
Then personally appeared before me William Till, Esq., Register for the probate of Wills and granting letters of Administration in and for the County of New Castle on Delaware. Sam'l Platt, Zebulon Cantrell & Sarah Miles the witnesses to the foregoing Will and on their solemn oath declared they saw and heard the testator therein named sign, seal, publish and pronounce and declare the same Will for and as his last Will and Testament and that the doing thereof he was of sound mind, memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge. Wm. TILL, Register.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY.
(SEAL) I do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true copy of the Original of Thomas Edmonds remaining in my office at New Castle, in testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal of the County as s'd this Twenty-Pirst day of July 1758.
COPY OF WILL OF HUGH MORRIS
In the name of God, amen, I Hugh Morris, of Pencader Hundred, in the County of New Castle on Delaware, farmer, do make this, my last Will and Testament, in manner following, viz:
First, I recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it, hoping by the merits of Jesus Christ, my Redecmer, and at the resurrection of the Just shall be reunited to the same body again by the mighty power of God, and my body to be buried in a christian like manner after the discretion of my Executrix hereafter to be named.
I will that all my debts which in right of conscience I owe to any person or persons whatsoever to be paid by my Executrix in convenient time after my decease.
I give to my nephew, David Morgan, the sum of three pounds Pennsylvania currency. To be paid him within twelve months after my decease, together with my Welsh Bible.
I give and bequeath to my cousin, Hugh Evans, thirty shillings, to be paid him at the years end after my decease.
I give and bequeath to my servant maid Five pounds to be paid her as above said.
I give and bequeath to John Jones two shillings and six pence, if demanded.
I give and devise unto my well beloved wife, Margaret Morris, the plantation whereon I now live, during the term of her natural life only without any impeachment of waste, and after her decease my will and meaning is, that the said plantation be let out upon rent to the best advantage and afterward the rents thereof to he applied in manner following, viz.:
1. The sum of twenty shillings per annum to the Pastor of the Church at the foot of the Ironhill and to his successors and likewise twenty shillings for and toward the relief of any poor member or members of said church yearly, and likewise twenty shillings per annum for and towards needful repairs either on the meeting house or yard as long as it shall continue under the denomination of a Baptist meeting house, and further if any remainder or overplus may happen to be, my will is that the Elders and Deacons of said church shall distribute the same to pious uses as they shall think fit.
I give and bequeath to my good friend, Owen Thomas, forty shillings to be paid him as above.
All the rest of my goods and chattels and credits that I am now possessed of in and out I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Margaret Morris, whom I order in my soul Executrix of this my last Will and Testament, ratifying and confirming this and none other, and lastly I do hereby nominate, continue and ordain Richard Thomas and John Thomas to be my supervisors of this lastWill and Testament during their being members of the said church, and after their dicease to the inspection and discretion of the then Elders and Deacons of the said church successively forever.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this fourteenth day of November, Anno Domino, 1743.
Signed, sealed, published, pronouned and declared by said Hugh, as his last Will and Testament in the presence of the subscribers.
COPY OF WILL OF DAVID LEVELIN
I, David Levelin do make this my last Will and Testament in manner following:
I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife one-half of the Plantation that I flow live on during her natural life but when she dies her said share of the land shall be for the said use and purpose as rest of said land.
I likewise give to my wife one feather bed and furniture, and one horse of her own choice of all my hors:es and a good saddle and hridle, two cows, two calves and three hundred pounds in cash.
I give and bequeath to Ruth Davis my wife's brother's daughter the sum of One hundred pounds.
I give and bequeath to Isabel (blot in book) daughter of James McCoy the sum of (blot) shillings in cash if demanded (blot) person.
I give, bequeath and devise to my brother Thomas Levelin the other half of my ass 'd land and plantation where I now live (under the incumbrance of my wifes life time of her share as above said) to him heirs and assigns forever if he comes to demand them in his own person.
I give and bequeath and devise to by brother William Levelin the other half of my ass 'd lands and plantation to him his heirs and assigns forever under the incumbranee above said if he comes to demand the same in his own person but in case that one and only one of s'd brothers come to demand the said land and the other never comes to his said share that then my will that the one brother that comes shall have the whole land to him his heirs and assigns forever, under the above incumbrance upon condition that he will pay or cause to be paid the sum of one hundred pounds each in manner and form following that is to say, sum of fifty pounds of the same to the Presbyterian Congregation at the head of the Christiana Creek or New Castle (blot) be paid to the Deacons or Elders (blot) to be applied to the Ministry (blot) direction of the session thereof and (blot) pounds thereof to that of the Baptist Congregation near the Iron Hill in Pencader hundred in the county ass 'd to he paid to the Deacons or Elders of the same to be applied to the use of tbe Ministry thereof by the direction of s 'd Congregation.
But in case that neither of my s'd brothers come to demand s'd land that then the s'd land and plantation shall be for the use of the Ministry of the above named two Congregations in equal proportion and to be at the will of the s'd two congregations either to rent or sell the same.
And likewise I give and bequeath to the before mentioned Presbyterian Congregation the sum of one hundred pounds cash to he paid by my Exers. to one of the Deacons or Elders of s'd Congregation, to be applied to use the Ministry of s'd Congregation by the direction of the Session. And likewise I give and bequeath to the af 's 'd Baptist Congregation the sum of one hundred pounds Cash to be paid by Exers. to one of the Deacons or Elders of tlie s 'd Congregation to be applied to the use of the Ministry of s'd Congregation by the direction of the same.
I give and bequeath to my Step-mother Mary Wilson the sum of five pounds Cash, if the same be demanded by her in person.
I give and bequeath the remainder of my estate if any there be after paying the before mentioned Debts and legacies to my well beloved friend Thomas James.
Lastly I do make my and constitute my s 'd wife and Andrew Kerr Exers. of this last Will and Testament revoking all others and confirming this to be my last. In writing whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Twenty Third day of Jan'y A. D. 1777.
Signed, Sealed, and delivered in presence of us:
Personally appeared before me Nathaniel Chestnut and Elizabeth Edwards two of the subscribing evidences to the above and foregoing Will and being duly sworn do declare they did see, and hear David Levelin sign, seal, publish and pronounce and declare the above and foregoing instrument of writing to be his last Will and Testament and that at the time of so doing and saying he was to the best of their belief of sound and disposing mind (blot) that they did sign their names as evidences thereon and at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other, and they did see James Biays sign as one other evidence at the same time.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand at New Castle the 8th of Feb 'y, 1779.
I do certify the above and foregoing to be a true copy of the original Will of David Levelin late of the county afsd deceased as filed and recorded in the Registers Office in book L page 136.
In testimony where unto I have there unto set my hand at New Castle the Twenty Third day of April, A. D. 1782.
To thore of our readers who visit in the state of Delaware instruction is here given for finding the meeting house. The MEETING HOUSE IS LOCATED about one mile South of the town of Newark, Delaware. Follow the road leading due South from town for about one mile, and a sign will be on the right hand side of road marked Welsh Tract. This is a state marker. Turn right and the meeting house is only about three hundred yards away.
The regular meeting time is second Sunday in each month at 11 o'clock A. M.
This trip will be most interesting to all who are interested in the cause of truth, and historical places of interest in the United States.
The meeting house and cemetery are enclosed with a rock wall, with giant oaks in the background. The sexton's house is located in front of the meeting house.
On the hill behind the meeting house is the parsonage. This is constructed of rock. There is approximately thirty aeres of land now owned by the church.
An invitation is extended to all lovers of truth to visit the place, and attend our services.
BODURDA, Griffith (c.1621-77), of Westminster and Islington, Mdx.
b. c.1621, 3rd s. of John Bodurda of Bodwrda, Aberdaron, Caern. by Margaret, da. of John Griffith of Cefnamwlch, Lleyn, Caern. educ. Shrewsbury 1638 St. John’s, Camb. matric. 27 Oct. 1639, aged 18 L. Inn 1649. m. (1) 1648, Mary, da. of Arthur Squibb, Clarenceux King of Arms, of Henley Park, Ash, Surr., 1s. (2) lic. 23 July 1664, Katherine, da. of John Sisney of Thorpe, Rutland, wid. of Richard Shaxton, merchant and Fishmonger, of Silver Street, London, s.p.1
Clerk, wine licences 1646-53 keeper of records, common pleas 1656-June 1660 commr. for wine duties 1668-70 dep. commr. of Treasury [I] 1671-d.2
Commr. for assessment, Caern. 1647, Anglesey, Caern. and London 1657, Anglesey and Caern. Jan. 1660, Westminster and Anglesey Aug. 1660-1, Caern. Sept. 1660-1, 1663-d., Mdx. 1664-9, militia, Caern. 1648, Westminster and North Wales Mar. 1660 j.p. Caern. Mar. 1660-d. conservator, Bedford level 1665-6.3
Bodurda came of an old but minor North Wales family which took its name from its estate under Elizabeth. His father was arrested, with the brother of John Glynne, as ill-affected to the King at the outbreak of the Civil War, but later served on the commission of array while the Royalists had the upper hand. Bodurda himself played no known part in the war, but was appointed to office shortly after its close. He was court Member for Anglesey in 1656, but transferred to Beaumaris in 1659, no doubt with the support of the small coterie of local Puritans.4
Re-elected in 1660, Bodurda was listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. He signed the North Wales petition for justice on the regicides. He was moderately active in the Convention, serving on 25 committees, including the elections committee and those to prepare the bill abolishing the court of wards, to draft the assessment ordinance, to consider the indemnity bill, and to hear the petition from the intruded dons at Oxford. He made 14 recorded speeches, in the first of which on 4 July he opposed the proposal for obliging Cromwellian officials to refund their salaries. As an opponent of Anglicanism, he wished doctrine and discipline to be considered separately. He acted as teller for the motion to retain the duties on Irish cattle at their existing level. On 11 Sept. he reported on the defects in the poll-bill, and on the next day he was among those ordered to manage a conference on the subject.5
Bodurda was named with John Carter and William Griffith in the order for the demolition of Caernarvon Castle, but he was detained in Westminster during the recess to give evidence for the prosecution about the conduct of Cooke and Axtell at the trial of Charles I. When the House met again he seconded the motion of Richard Knightley for settling the militia. He proposed asking the King and the universities to endow vicarages out of their impropriate rectories. He supported the proposal for modified episcopacy in accordance with the Worcester House declaration:
When William Prynne proposed that those who had been temporarily raised to the rank of esquire by holding office during the Interregnum should be rated accordingly in the poll-tax, Bodurda described it as a breach of the Act of Indemnity, and the motion was dropped. He was teller with Thomas Bampfield against the bill to oblige Colonel John Hutchinson to repay £2,000 which he had obtained from the Nottinghamshire Cavaliers. The bill for settling wine licences found him in his element. He reported it on 22 Dec., and proposed an additional clause to forbid the addition of milk. But the great importer (Sir) John Frederick assured the House that a pottle of milk would do more good than harm. However, Bodurda helped to draft a new clause prohibiting more noxious adulterations. When the bill came up for discussion again, he resisted a proposal from (Sir) Thomas Clarges for price controls and was ordered to carry it to the Lords.6
Bodurda did not stand again. His second wife brought him City property, and he helped to maintain order in Islington during the Great Fire. In 1668 he applied for appointment as one of the London excise commissioners, but despite the support of Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet) he did not succeed. Instead, Lord Conway obtained for him a post in the Irish Treasury, which he was able to combine with property development in Dublin. He died intestate in Ireland in 1677, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.7
Griffith, Indiana, in Lake county, is 5 miles SE of Hammond, Indiana and 25 miles SE of Chicago, Illinois. The town is conveniently located inside the Gary metropolitan area.
Mathias and Anna Miller were among the first European settlers in the present day town of Griffith. Other settlers included Peter Govert, the Walters family, Peter Young, the Grimmer family, and the Beiriger family. Elmer and Jay Dwiggins are the two developers who are known as the town founders. The area was named after Benjamin Griffith, a railroad engineer. Griffith was incorporated as a town in 1904, and the first town board meeting was held on November 19, 1904. The Griffith Public school system was established in 1912.
Griffith and Nearby Attractions
- Lake Michigan
- Griffith Historical Society and Museum
- Balmoral Race Track
- Oak Ridge Prairie County Park
- Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
- Sears Tower
Things To Do In Griffith
Griffith has numerous public parks, including Central Park, Franklin Fields Park, Cheever Park and Sheppard Park. Golfers can enjoy a round at Griffith Golf Center. Those interested could visit the Griffith Branch Lake County Public Library and the Griffith Historical Society and Museum to explore the history of the town. A day of fun with family and friends may be spent at Shedd Aquarium, Deep River Waterpark, or Lincoln Park Zoo.
Gary/ Chicago Airport is nearby.
Griffith Higher Education
The closest colleges to Griffith include Calumet College of Saint Joseph, South Suburban College, Indiana University Northwest, and Purdue University Calumet.
John Griffith Sch - History
[Source: Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, pub. 1887]
Hawkins County lies in upper east Tennessee, and extends somewhat in the shape of a parallelogram from the Virginia line to the northern boundaries of Grainger and Hamblen Counties. It is divided into two almost equal parts by the Holston River, which traverses its entire length. It is one of the largest counties in the State, having an area of 570 square miles. The surface is much of it broken, but the uplands are more fertile than in many counties. Iron ore is found in some localities, but is not now worked. In marble Hawkins county surpasses any other county in the South. It is found in all tints from a pale pink to a dark, richly variegated chocolate color, and in inexhaustible quantities.
The first permanent settlements within the limits of Hawkins County were made in 1772, very soon after the settlements on the Watauga were begun. They were made in Carter's Valley, a short distance west of New Canton.
Among these pioneers were Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Love, Mr. Long and Rev. Mr. Mulkey. At about the same time Messrs. Carter & Parker established a store in the neighborhood. Soon after this store was robbed by a party of Cherokees, & when Henderson Co.'s treaty was held with the Indians the proprietors of the store demanded as compensation all the lands in Carter's Valley, extending from Cloud Creek to Chimney Top Mountain of Beech Creek. This was granted upon the payment of a small amount advanced by Robert Lucas, who then became a partner of Messrs. Parker & Carter. the firm leased their lands to the settlers much after the manner of the Patrons, in the early history of New York. This continued for a time, but when it because known that the lands lay in North Carolina instead of Virginia, the settlers refused to recognize the ownership of the firm, and the right and title to the territory acquired was denied by the former State. They were afterward included with the members of the Henderson Company, to whom a grant of 200,000 acres was given by the government of North Carolina as a compensation for the trouble they had been to in obtaining these lands.
The deeds obtained by Henderson & Co. from the Cherokees is recorded in the registers office of Hawkins county. It was given by "Oconistoto, the chief warrior and representative of the Cherokee Nation, and Attakullakulla and Savanocka, otherwise Coronoh, appointed by the warriors and other head men to convey for the whole nation." to Richard Henderson, Thomas and Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, John Luttrell, William Johnston, James Hogg, David Hart and Thomas H. Bullock.
The settlement in Hawkins County was confined chiefly to Carter's Valley until about 1780. Several stations or forts were built, and it is said that a Presbyterian Church was organized there as early as that date. At about the same time a fort was built at Big Creek. Not from this fort, about three and one-half miles above Rogersville, Thomas Amis in 1780 or 1781 erected a stone house, around which he built a palisade for protection against the Indians. The next year he opened a store, and erected a blacksmith shop and a distillery. Very soon after he also put into operation a saw and grist-mill, and from the first he kept a house of entertainment. A Baptist Church was organized, and a school established very soon after the settlement was made. The church was probably organized by Thomas Murrell, who located on the farm now owned by John A. Chestnut on the Holston River, some time prior to 1782. Among the school masters, who taught in the school at this place, were John Long in 1783 William Evans, 1784 James King, 1786 Robert Johnston---. and Samuel B. Hawkins in 1796.
Thomas Amis was twice married, and was the father of fourteen children. The stone house, in which he lived, is now occupied by his grandson, Thomas Amis, and is in a remarkable good state of preservation. In 1780 he represented Hawkins County in the Legislature of North Carolina, and took an active part in restoring Gen. Sevier to the rights of citizenship. He owned two or three large tracts of land, one of which included the site of Rogersville he died in 1798. In 1784 Joseph Rodgers, an Irishman, arrived at Amis', and for a short time was engaged in keeping store, but in 1785 or 1786, probably the latter year, he married Mary Amis. Mr. Amis then gave the newly married pair a tract of land, upon which, inn 1787, was established the seat of justice for Hawkins County. There they continued to reside until their death in November, 1833. Rachel, another daughter of Thomas Amis, married James Hagan, a countryman of Rodgers, with whom he was in partnership in merchandising for a time. He afterward removed to a farm above town. Of other early settlers of the county, only a few of the most prominent, will be located. Perhaps no Tennessean of his time ranked higher than William Cocke, who settled at what was known as Mullberry Grove about 1780. He was a lawyer by profession, and his name appears upon the records of all the older counties of East Tennessee, as a practicing attorney, but during the greater portion of his life was engaged in filling some official position. In 1783 he was elected attorney-general for Greene County, and the next year was sent to the convention, which met at Jonesboro. In 1785 he was made a member of the Council of State of the Franklin Government, was chosen brigadier-general of militia, and was sent as a delegate to the United States Congress. In 1786 he represented Spencer County in the Franklin Assembly. From the fall of the State of Franklin until 1794 he was actively engaged in his profession. In that year he was chosen a member of the Territorial Assembly, and in 1796 was a member of the Constitutional Convention. The first Legislature elected him as one of the members of the United States Senate, where he remained for twelve years. In 1810 he was elected judge of the First Judicial Circuit, but after serving one year he was impeached.**** Stung by the ingratitude of his countrymen, whom he had served so long and faithfully, he at once left for Mississippi, where he remained until his death.
Joseph McMinn located in the extreme upper end of Hawkins county about 1787, and soon took an active interest in the affairs of the county. In 1794 he was elected with William Cocke, to represent it in the Territorial Assembly, and two years later was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He then served two terms in the Upper House of the General Assembly. In 1815 he was elected governor of the State, a position he continued to hold until 1821. Soon after he was appointed Indian Agent at Calhoun, now in Bradley County, and was filling that position at the time of his death. The above named men were the most illustrious of the first settlers of the county. Among others who had settled prior to 1783 were Mordecai Haygood, who lived on the Holston, about eight miles above Rogersville Peter Cocke, who lived in the same neighborhood, and Rodham Kenner, who located about one mile above Spear's Mill. He was prominently connected with the affairs of the county, and was a member of the Legislature one or more terms. Capt. Thomas Caldwell lived ten miles above Rogersville on the north side of the river. John Saunders lived on the river opposite Kenner's. William Cox, Sr., Charles and William Payne, Obadiah and Elijah Chissom also lived south of the Holston, and the last named kept a ferry across that stream. Thomas Lee, Cornelius and John Carmack and Thomas Gibbons lived in Carter's Valley. William Armstrong settled at Stony Point. Among others who had located in the county prior to 1783 may be mentioned John Cox, Col. John Smith, William McGee, Peter Harris, James McCarty, Hutson Johnston, John Evans, George Ridley, James Blair, Thomas Brooks, Elisha Walling, William W. Brown, Capt. Thomas Hutchings, James Short, Abraham Rice, William Ingram, William Lawson, Reese Jones, Capt. Thomas English, James Berry, Benjamin Murrell, George and Littleton Brooks, Thomas Henderson, Thomas Caldwell, Robert King and Martin Shaner. Among those who came in during the next two or three years were Robert Gray, Richard Mitchell, Samuel Wilson, William Bell, John Horton, Robert Stephenson and John Gordon.
Some time about 1795 one of the most extensive iron works of those days was erected near the present town of Rotherwood, by Daniel Ross & Co., and a considerable business was done there for a number of years.
Hawkins county suffered much less from Indian depredations than some other sections of the State. A few instances of massacres and robberies are mention by Haywood, but most of these occurred in what is now Hancock County. the comparative immunity of this section from Indian attacks was due partly to the position of the county and partly to the vigilance of the settlers, who had taken every precaution for the protection of themselves and families. The Indians made several incursions into Carter's Valley, but finding the people in the forts and prepared for them they retreated without doing serious damage. On one occasion the families that had gathered into the fort at Big Creek, because greatly in need of salt, and a young man, Joab Mitchell, volunteered to go and procure a supply. While upon his return he was attacked by a part of Cherokees and mortally wounded. He succeeded, however, in reaching the fort, and his remains were interred in that depression which has since borne the name of Mitchell's Hollow. In December, 1787, William English was killed by the Indians, and two of his children carried into captivity. The county court records of 1790 contained the following entry: "Whereas it has been represented to the court by Thomas King, that Matthew English and Elizabeth English, orphan children of William English, who was taken and killed by the Indians in December, 1787, at which time the aforesaid children were carried into captivity by the Indians, supposed to be of the Wyandotte nation, and are yet in captivity. Thomas King therefore represents that the said orphans might be recovered if there was property sufficient for that purpose. Ordered by the court that James Blair and William Patterson do receive from the said Thomas King or from any other person the property belonging to the estate of the said William English, and the same apply as they shall think best for the redemption of the said orphans, and Thomas King was discharged thereupon of said property.
It is related that a boy, on one occasion, came suddenly upon a party of Indians not far from one of the forts. He turned and fled, with the savages in close pursuit. Before reaching the fort he was compelled to cross a small stream, and just as he reached the bank the foremost Indian caught him by the back of his loose hunting shirt. But the lad was not a captive. Straightening out his arms behind him he sped on to the fort in safety, leaving his pursuer holding the shirt.*****
In 1785 the State of Franklin organized Spencer County, including, besides other territory, the present Hawkins County. Thomas Henderson was chosen county court clerk and colonel of militia, and William Cocke and Thomas King representative to the Assembly. The remaining officers are unknown. In November, 1786, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act creating Hawkins County. It included within its limits all the territory between Bays Mountain and the Holston and Tennessee Rivers on the east to the Cumberland Mountains on the west. the county court was organized at the house of Thomas Gibbons, but as the early records were all destroyed during the late civil war nothing is known of its transactions. The circuit court for Hawkins county was organized on the first Monday in October, 1810, by William Cocke, judge of the first Judicial Circuit, who appointed Thomas Cocke, clerk. The first grand jury enpaneled was as follows: Joseph McMinn, foreman John Johnston, Hezekiah Hamblen, George Hale, John Critz, John Hamblen, Robert McMinn, John Remes, Jacob Miller, James Haygood, Joes Gillenwater, Gabriel McCraw, Samuel Smith, Rodham Kenner and David Bagler. Michael Rork, constable, was appointed to wait upon them. The first criminal case tried at this term was that of the State vs. Obediah Gents for horse stealing. A change of venue was applied for, but denied. He was found guilty and sentenced to receive thirty lashes, to stand in the pillory two hours per day for three successive days, to be branded upon the right hand with the letter H and on the left hand with the letter T, and to be imprisoned in the county jail for six months. during the first years of the court few criminals cases of importance were tried. A vigorously contested case, and one which created a general interest throughout this section of the State was begun in 1820. It was the trial upon a change of venue from Campbell County, of Robert Delap, indicted with being accessory to the murder of Eve Martin. The principal, Mitchell Marcum alias Marcom, was not tried in Hawkins County. Delap was convicted. He appealed to the supreme court, and the case was remanded for a second hearing. this was had in April, 1822, after an application for another change of venue had been denied. The defendant was again found guilty, and again took an appeal to the supreme court the decision of the lower court was confirmed and Delap was executed.
Another case which caused intense excitement was tried in May, 1861. Two slaves, John and Ned, the property of a Mr. Haynes, on the night of May 1, brutally murdered George R. Kite, Richard Kite, Mary Haynes and Louisa Haynes, and set fire to the house. When the deed was discovered excitement ran very high, as a general insurrection of the slaves was feared, and the lynching of the murderers was prevented with difficulty. a special term of the circuit court was called to meet on May 9, 1861, at which time Judge D. T. Patterosn presided. They were promptly convicted, and were hanged on the 12th of June following.
Since the close of the war two executions have taken place. The first was that of w. N. Berry, hanged in August, 1875, for the murder of his wife. The second that of Joseph Harris, of Hancock county, executed in November, 1881. He was convicted of the murder of two men in Rogersville for the purpose of robbery.
The first chancery courts were held in 1825. the division consisted of Sullivan, Hawkins, Grainger and Claiborne Counties. The judges of the supreme court alternated in presiding over the chancery court from that time until several years later.
The first lawyer of prominence in Hawkins County was William Cocke, who is mentioned elsewhere. He had two or three sons, who also became lawyers. One of them, John Cocke, located in Grainger county another, Sterling Cocke, remained in Hawkins County. He was admitted to practice in 1812, and six years later was made attorney-general, in which position he continued for many years. He was not looked upon as a lawyer of great ability, but was a man of strict integrity and of pleasing manners. Peter Parsons, a somewhat prominent lawyer of his time, was a resident of Rogersville for a few years, but subsequently went to Alabama. Orville Bradley, who was licensed to practice in 1817, was a bachelor of large wealth, and never gave that close attention to his profession necessary to secure success. One of the ablest of the early members of the Rogersville bar was John A. McKinney, uncle of the late Judge Robert J. McKinney, and father of Judge John E. McKenney. He began practice about 1807, and very soon took a leading position at the bar. He was appointed United States district attorney by John Quincy Adams, and was chosen to represent the county in the Constitutional Convention of 1834. He died in 1845. His great success was due to his thorough knowledge of the law, his untiring perseverance and his incorruptible integrity. He was associated during the latter years of his life with his son-in-law, John Netherland, who had formerly resided in Sullivan County. The latter is still living, but for some time has been retired from the active prosecution of his profession. He was an eloquent speaker, and because distinguished as a great criminal lawyer. He has always taken an active interest in politics, has served several terms in the Legislature, was an elector for the State at large on the Whig ticket in 1848, and in 1860 was the Whig candidate for governor.
Two other men of eminence in the profession, in the early history of the State, resided in the county. They were Pleasant M. Miller***** and Judge Samuel Powell. The latter resided on a large farm near Rogersville. He began the practice of law in Tennessee early in the century, and soon became favorably known for his ability and legal attainments. In 1807 he was elected a judge of the superior court, and so continued until that court was abolished. In 1814 he was chosen to represent his district in the XIV Congress, and while in that position he was tendered a seat upon the supreme bench, which he refused. In 1821 he was elected judge of the First Judicial Circuit, and from that time was upon the bench for twenty consecutive years. He was the preceptor of several men who afterward obtained eminence, among whom were Robert L. and Abraham Caruthers.
Among other resident attorneys of the county prior to 1860 were Michael McCann, admitted to practice in 1823 Dicks Alexander, for many years clerk of the chancery court William O. Winston and George R. Powell.
The present members of the Rogersville bar are F. M. Faulkerson, A. D. Huffmaster, Hugh G. Kyle, Thomas McDemmott, W. P. Gillenwaters, W. N. Clarkson, T. C. Sensabaugh, H. C. Jarvis and Ellis Cocke.
Rogersville was founded by Joseph Rogers, who settled upon the site in 1786. At the June term of the county court in 1787 the commissioners appointed "for fixing on a place for building the courthouse, prison and stocks" reported "that it be fixed at Joseph Rogers', on Crockett Creek." Joseph Rogers then relinquished the right and title of two acres of land for the use of the public buildings, and Thomas Hutchings, Hutson Johnston, Francis Doherty, Joseph Cloud and Thomas Gibbons were appointed commissioners to lay off the town, which was done on June 15, 1787. At about this time, or very soon after, Mr. Rogers entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law, James Hagan, and in 1789 they applied to the Legislative to establish a town at Hawkins Courthouse, where a number of lots had already been laid off. It was accordingly enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, on December 22, 1789, "that Thomas King, Thomas Hutchings, Joseph McCulloch, Thomas Jackson and Elijah Chissom be, and they are appointed, commissioners and trustees for designing, building and carrying on a town at Hawkins Courthouse by the name of Rogersville, and they, or a majority of them, are hereby empowered and required to lay off thirty acres of land, including the public buildings at the said courthouse, in half-acre lots, with convenient streets and alleys."
Previous to this time a store had been opened by Rogers & Hargan, and a courthouse and jail had been erected. The character of these county buildings is not known, but they were probably very temporary structures, since in 1794 the Territorial Assembly granted the county permission to levy a tax for a jail and courthouse. The oldest courthouse now remembered was a one-story hewed-log building, weather-boarded. It stood in front of the Bank Building, with its side to Market Street, now the main street of the town. It was occupied until 1836 or 1837, when the present substantial brick building was erected. In 1807 the old jail and lot were sold, and a new brick jail erected upon the site of the present one, which was built a short time prior to the war.
As before stated, the first store was opened by Rogers & Hogan. Among the other firms in business from 1790 to 1800 were Joseph Parks, Hugh & Campbell, North & Nelson, and Sherman & King. They were succeeded early in the present century by Samuel Neil and William Simpson, who did business in a small frame house immediately opposite where the hotel now is Francis Dolzell, whose store was on the adjoining lot west, and Nicholas Fain, who was located where the postoffice now is. The first hotel was kept by Joseph Rogers, who continued in the business until his death.
In 1817 a branch of the old State Bank was incorporated under the title of the Rogersville Tennessee Bank. Its capital stock was $4,000. The directors were Richard Mitchell, John A. Rogers, Francis Dolzell, William Hord, Jacob Miller, Dr. Joseph W. Carden, Hugh G. Moore, William Lyons, William Simpson and Nicholas Fain. This institution did business in the house now occupied by Mr. Caldwell, situated a short distance west of the public square. About 1828 this bank began to wind up its affairs. Ten years later the last Bank of Tennessee was incorporated, and one of the two branches allotted to East Tennessee was located at Rogersville, thereby causing great indignation among the citizens of Knoxville and Jonesboro. The new bank was organized with C. H. Coffin as president, and S. D. Mitchell, cashier. For the first two or three years it occupied the building formerly used by the old bank. The large and imposing brick building, which is still standing, was then erected. This bank continued in business until the war, but with a frequent change of officers.
The business of Rogersville in 1835 was conducted by the following individuals and firms: Charles H. Coffin and John A. McKinney, James K. Neil and P. S. Hale, Nicholas Fain & Son, R. G. Fain, Neil & Simpson, and Armstrong & De Wolf, merchants Jacob Wax, coppersmith and tinner F. B. Evans and George C. Speck, tailors Joseph Huffmaster, carpenter John Aston, cabinet-maker George C. Bradley, hatter Michael Baugh, silversmith, and Robert Carden, blacksmith. Richard Humphreys kept the present Hale Spring Hotel, which was built by John A. McKinney. Richard Smith also had a hotel where the postoffice is.
Among the business men of the fifties were Sevier & Simpson, McKinney & Rogan, Mitchell, Caldwell & C., James K. Neil, M. S. & R. D. Wells, Johnston & Thompson, William White and Mitchell & Kyle.
To Rogersville belongs the honor of being the place at which was issued the first newspaper published in Tennessee. It was known as the Knoxville Gazette, and the first number appeared on November 5, 1791, bearing the names of G. Roulstone and R. Ferguson as publishers. Where the building stood in which the paper was printed is not known, but as the lot on the northeast corner of the public square was purchased by Mr. Roulstone it is probable that was the site of his printing office. The publication was continued at Rogersville for about one year, when he removed to Knoxville, which had been established during that year. The next paper established in the town was the Rogersville Gazette, the first number of which was issued in July, 1814, by Carey & Early. It was a five-column folio, with the couplet, "The Star Spangles Banner, etc.," as its motto. A few years later the Western Pilot was established by John B. Hood, who afterward removed to Rhea County, and there published the first paper in East Tennessee below Knoxville. In 1827 Rev. James Gallagher, F. A. Ross and David Nelson established the Calvinistic Magazine, devoted mainly to the theological discussions of the times. It was published for about five years. On July 4, 1831, the first number of the Railroad Advocate was issued by an association of gentlemen, for the purpose of encouraging and advocating the building of railroads in Tennessee. It continued for little less than a year, and was probably the first journal of the kind ever published. In August, 1838, a prospectus was issued stating that a number of gentlemen had formed an association for the publication of a Whig paper to be known as the Holston Watchman, the first number of which was to appear about November 1. For some cause the publication did not begin until the following March, and then it was known as the East Tennessean. The editor was William Wales. It had but a brief existence, and in other papers was established until 1850, when the Rogersville Times appeared, bearing the name of L. L. Potts as editor, and LaFayette Jones as publisher. It continued for six or eight years, and was then succeeded by the Independent, under the editorial management of Rev. M. H. B. Burkett. In 1860 the State Sentinel was published by Capt. R. D. Powell. The papers established since the close of the war have been mainly published for campaign purposes, and have been short lived. Among them have been the Spectator and the Telephone. In 1885 Will T. Robertson established the Holston Review, a well edited and newsy Democratic paper. The Rogersville Herald, a Republican paper, was established in 1856.
The first schools in Rogersville, are said to have been taught in a small house, which stood near Union Spring. In 1806 trustees were appointed for McMinn Academy as follows: George Maxwell, William Armstrong, Richard Mitchell, Andrew Galbraith and Thomas Jackson, to whom were added in 1817, Peter Parsons, Orville Bradley and s. D. Mitchell. In 1813 or 1814 a brick building was erected, by money obtained, as was common in those days, from a lottery. The institution was also aided by a bequest from Gen. McMinn. Among the first teachers were John Scruggs and Rufus Kennedy. A few years prior to the war the present brick building was erected upon the site of the old one.
In July, 1840, the Odd Fellows laid the corner-stone of a large brick building in which, in September, 1850, was opened the Rogersville Female Institute. Since that time the school has undergone various changes, and has been under the control of many different organizations. Finally the property and franchise of the institution were purchased by Joseph R. Anderson and Samuel N. Fain and transferred by them to the Synod of Tennessee. Since then it has been under the care of C. C. Ross, and now ranks as one of the best Female Colleges in Tennessee.
The early religious history of Rogersville is not well known. It is probable that religious services were held there from the establishment of the town. The first regular preaching was said to have been done by Rev. Charles Coffin, who, for a while previous to 1815, had given the people of Rogersville one-sixth of his time. In 1815 Rev. James Gallaher located at Rogersville and began preaching in the academy building, where the next year a Presbyterian Church was organized. The elders chosen were George Mooney, Edward Mooney, Samuel Neill, William Alexander, William Armstrong and John Armstrong. Mr. Gallaher continued to preach to this congregation until 1830. During the next three years the church was without a stated supply. In 1833 Rev. Phillip Wood assumed pastoral charge, and continued until about the time the schism in the Presbyterian Church occurred. The congregation then divided. The property was sold at auction, and was purchased by the old school party, of which James A. Lyons became pastor. He continued for some time. Among his successors were Rev's. Carter, McBridge, Park, Jones, Page and Campbell. the retiring division chose James McLim as its first pastor, and soon after erected the Second Presbyterian Church. Among the ministers who served this church from that time until the war were John McCampbell, Rev. Mr. Mathes S. Sawyers, J. M. Huffmaster and J. W. Elliott. Since the close of the war the two congregations have again united and attached themselves to the Southern General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Services are held in the Second Presbyterian Church.
A Methodist Church was organized early in the history of the town and the congregation erected a house of worship at about the same time as the Presbyterians. The Baptists had no house of worship until about 1850, when, in connection with the Masonic fraternity, they erected a two-story frame building, and occupied the lower story. The building was destroyed during the war, and they have since had no church in the town. The members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, however, formed an organization, and have erected a neat house.
One of the first Masonic lodges in Tennessee was organized in Rogersville under a dispensation granted by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee on December 14, 1805. It was known as Overton Lodge. The officers were Samuel Powell, Worshipful Master Jonathan Spryker, Senior Warden, and John Johnston, Junior Warden. In 1820 a new charter was issued by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, designating this lodge as Overton Lodge, No.5. Among the members at that time were Jacob Peck, R. L. Caruthers, Absalom Looney, S.J.W. Lucky, S. M. Howry, Orville Rice, Peter Parsons, H. Rutledge, Dr. P. McCarty, William Young and John A. Rogers.
Rogersville at the present time contains a population of about 1,000. It is one of the handsomest towns in the State, and has a large trade. During the construction of the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad a branch to Rogersville was begun, and in 1860 it had been completed from Bull's Gap to the Holston River. After the close of the war it was purchased by H. M. Aikin, and completed to Rogersville. The business interests of the town are represented as follows: A.D.Simpson & Co., Hale & Rogan, H. C. Shanks, C. S. Mitchell, and Smith & Fudge, general merchandise H. J. Nelson & Co. and J. M. Pierce, drugs A. B. Rogan & Co., groceries and hardware Hale & Riley, agricultural implements Joseph Wright & Co., boots, shoes, saddles, etc., and V. Bagler, clothing. There are also three banking institutions as follows: Rogersville Bank, S. Neill, president, and W. D. Kenner, cashier Citizens Bank of Rogersville, J. C. Stamps, president, G. A. Smith, vice-president, and J. M. Gray, cashier and the Exchange and Deposit Bank, H. M. Aiken, president, and James Cooper, cashier.
The principal villages of Hawkins County are Mooresburg, Bull's Gap or Rogersville Junction, Surgeonville, Rotherwood, New Canton, Stony Point, War Gap, Austin's Mills and Persia, some of which are quite old. Surgoinsville was established by an act of the Legislature passed in October, 1815. It was laid out upon land owned by James Surgoin and Arthur G. Armstrong, Joseph Klepper, John Long Miller, James Surgoin and Edward Erwin, were appointed commissioners for its regulation. At this time Arthur G. Armstrong had a store, and John A. Rogers subsequently build a mill there. Mooresburg was founded by Hugh G. Moore who opened a store at that point. It is now a pleasant village of about 200 people.
Bull's Gap postoffice took its name from the Gap in the ridge one mile to the east. This in turn was named for John Bull, the first settler in the vicinity. Since the completion of the railroad to Rogersville a thriving village has grown up, at its junction with the East Tennessee, Virginia& Georgia Railroad. It has two churches, a good school, four stores and a hotel. The merchants are W. S. Myers & Co., Mooney Bros. and J. W. Brown, dealers in general merchandise, and John McFerrin, druggist.
The following partial list of the officers of Hawkins County is as complete as could be made in the absence of records:
Clerks of the county court --- Richard Mitchell, 1787-1812 S. D. Mitchell, 1812-36 William O. Winston, 1836-37 John Blevins, 1837-38 James M. Hord, 1838-43 C. Smith, 1843-44 R. Johnson, 1844-46 James H. Ellis, 1846-50 J. H._____, 1850-62 James R. Pace, 1862-65 James Lackey, 1865-70 Jo. R. Armstrong, 1870-86, and James Nugent, 1886 ---.
Clerks of the circuit court --- Thomas Cocke, 1810-21 Willie B. Mitchell, 1821-40 George R. Powell, 1840-52 L. H. Rogan, 1852-56 James M. Hord, 1856-65 William M. Piper, 1865-70 John J. Wolfe, 1870-78 C. C. Spears, 1878-86, and A. Davis, 1886---.
Clerks and masters --- Dicks Alexander, 1825-55 George R. Powell, 1855-58 Richard G. Fain, 1858-65 James R. Pace, 1865-70 C. M. Bales, 1870-73 D. M. Gray, 1873-85, and W. H. Watterson, 1885 ---
Sheriffs --- Thomas Berry, 1787-90 Joel Gillenwaters, 1796-98 Benoni Caldwell, 1793-1800 Alexander Nelson, 1800-02 Joseph Parks, 1802-05 Alexander Nelson, 1805-07 Absalom Looney, 1807-12 Thomas Gillenwaters, 1812-15 Gabriel McCraw, 1815-25 James P. McCarty, 1825-33 James Bradley, 1833-36 James P. McCarty, 1836-42 Benjamin Thurman, 1842-44 Jacob Miller, 1844-46 James P. McCarty, 1846-48 Samuel Smith, 1848-50 Henry Tartar, 1850-52 Harvey Hamilton, 1852-58 Elias Beal, 1858-78 C. M. Bales, 1868-70 C. C. Spears, 1870-76 R. L. Blevins, 1876-82 W. R. Sanders, 1882-84 M. H. Kenner, 1884-86, and H. C. Armstrong, 1886 ---.
Registers --- William Alexander, ----1840 Adolphus Hutcheson, 1840-44 R. C. Crawford, 1844-52 R. M. Senabaugh, 1852-56 W. B. Mitchell, 1856-65 A. Lee, 1865-70 John Walker 1870-72, and L. L. Potts, 1872.
Trustees --- Joel Gillenwater, ----1826 John Johnston, 1826--- H. Watterson, 1836-40 James Y. Campbell, 1840-42 A. P. McCarty, 1842-44 Thomas Marshall, 1844-46 David Lauderbach, 1846-50 William Hutcheson, 1850-52 Martin Phillips, 1852-56 Robert Johnston, 1856 --- Thomas chestnut, 1860-64 Frank Self, 1866-70 Joshua Smith, 1870-72 James Nugent, 1872-76 George Webb, 1876-82 I. S. Gillenwaters, 1882-86, and T. J. Parrott, 1886.
London found fame and some fortune at the age of 27 with his novel The Call of the Wild (1903), which told the story of a dog that finds its place in the world as a sled dog in the Yukon.
The success did little to soften London&aposs hard-driving lifestyle. A prolific writer, he published more than 50 books over the last 16 years of his life. The titles included The People of the Abyss (1903), which offered a scathing critique of capitalism White Fang (1906), a popular tale about a wild wolf dog becoming domesticated and John Barleycorn (1913), a memoir of sorts that detailed his lifelong battle with alcohol.
He charged forth in other ways, too. He covered the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 for Hearst papers, introduced American readers to Hawaii and the sport of surfing, and frequently lectured about the problems associated with capitalism.
John Griffith Sch - History
Beaudesert Park began as a boarding preparatory school for a handful of boys in the Midlands over a hundred years ago, and now has on its roll in Gloucestershire close to four hundred and forty boys and girls weekly boarders and day pupils aged three to thirteen. Those bald statistics are impressive enough, but what they do not tell of is the changes – some organic, some dramatic – that have helped push the school up into the ranks of the most admired and desired in the country.’
Introduction to: Beaudesert Park School A Centenary History by John Hudson (Published 2008.)
Beaudesert Park was established in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, by Harry and Marjorie Richardson and was named after a long-lost Norman castle near by. The intention at this time was that it was to be a school for up to thirty boys dedicated to ‘deliver the highest of current independent educational standards with care, great affection and imagination.’
The fees were a hundred guineas a year (a sum that would have employed four domestic servants for the same period.)
Although Beaudesert Park was only ten years old by the end of the First World War, twenty of its boys served in the armed forces and five of them did not return from preparatory school to death in the trenches in less than a decade.
The Richardson’s moved from Henley-in-Arden and acquired the current school building, ‘The Highlands’ as the house was then called. They simply needed more space and the Victorian mock-Tudor mansion, built in 1873 provided that.
‘At first, Marjorie Richardson warmed to the prospect before Harry. He was by no means certain, having reservations about the sloping land, the potential fire hazards of a timber building and an apparent absence of room to expand, but she was admant. ‘Harry, I will treble the size of the school in ten years’, she said- and she did.’
As the school brought all thirty of its boys from Henley to Gloucestershire, the Richardsons were keen to retain its name of Beaudesert Park.
After leasing the house, they finally bought it in 1921.
The land around the school is steep and wooded, not ideal for sports grounds. A much prized facility therefore was the ten-acre site on flat uplands that Harry Richardson bought from the National Trust as playing fields, some six hundred yards away.
Numbers had by now doubled to over sixty boys so there was a pressing need for larger rooms and more dormitory space. In 1923 a spacious dining room (now demolished) was added which was capable of seating a hundred boys. The old dining hall became a changing room, and a dormitory for twelve was built above the kitchen, with bathrooms and matron’s quarters.
The school magazine was revived after a lapse of eight years. This stemmed from the gift of a typewriter to one of the pupils, John Gardiner, while in the same year another, Charles Dreyfus, managed to accumulate over two hundred books from parents, friends and other boys and started up the school library.
The far west wing, which provided more sleeping space was added during this year, while outside at this time, a further two acres were added to the playing fields to aid access from the common a hard tennis court was built in the grounds to supplement the two grass courts and a small round pond in the kitchen garden gave way to a functional outdoor swimming pool.
In the first twelve years since leaving Henley-in-Arden, the school had grown from thirty to eighty boys.
A memorable staff member of the 1920s was Paul Griffith, who composed the school song Floreat Beaudeserta. It continues to be the school song, and has altered little over eighty years, with one significant exception two references to ‘each boy’ have been replaced by ‘all children.’
During this decade, growth was more steady with the eighty pupils of 1930 rising to just ninety-six by the eve of the Second World War. A hundred pupils on roll was not reached until 1948.
In 1930, some of the various cottages around the grounds were put to use as dormitories. In this year the three Lime Cottages were joined into one, allowing six boys to board there.
Electric lighting was installed in the school. The Richardson’s however, none too convinced with the new technology, kept the gas brackets in place as a back-up for years afterwards.
The school received its first visit from Ministry of Education inspectors, and gained full recognition.
This enabled it to add ‘recognised as efficient to its prospectus, at a time when competition in the field of preparatory education was increasing.
A substantial new east wing was added which created space for fifteen new beds and a classroom beneath. Next came the addition of two recreation rooms, the End Room, attached to the dining hall, while off the dining hall a gymnasium was built which doubled up as the main performing hall.
The Wartime Years
Three of the schools most talented masters – Vincent Keyte, Alec Chalmers and William Eveleigh were called for military duty whilst Beaudesert Park battled through the war years.
Much of the local Home Guard activity took place around the school, where several staff members were active in the service.
Several times during the war, boys helped when the potato harvest was on by going out into the fields of local farms, any money earned went to the Red Cross’s prisoners-of-war fund.
Suppers for the boys during these times tended to be bread and dripping, however, on Wednesdays and Saturdays the prefects were privileged to have staff suppers.
Five old boys of the early Beaudesert Park lost their lives in the First World War, however the total for the 1939 to 1945 conflict was thirty-four. This was a large number for a school of fewer than a hundred pupils.
The Post-War Years
The austerity years were as hard for the school as they were for most other sectors of society, despite the school not having been evacuated or damaged, the rationing of petrol deterred parents from sending their children very far from home and the continued food rationing made meal planning for the children very challenging.
However, the return of the senior masters from war was a great bonus for the school. Alec Chalmers was awarded a Military Cross after the battle for Le Havre in June, 1944.
Shortly after the war ended, the Board of Admiralty decided to terminate naval cadetships, bringing to an end Beadesert Park’s long history of supplying Dartmouth and Osborne with able boys.
The wretched winter of 1947 prevented coal lorries coming in so the school was freezing, however as a reminiscence of that Winter recalls ‘at the beginning of term, barely six boys in the school could skate. By the time the thaw came, eighty boys at least had tried their luck on the ice!’
Harry Richardson dies and the running of the school falls into the capable hands of his sons Austin and Barton Richardson.
A second Ministry of Education inspection suggested greater specialisation by staff and a visit from the local fire officer, otherwise, the inspectors went away satisfied.
There were one hundred and eleven boys in the school. In 1955 fees were seventy guineas a term, rising to one hundred and twenty guineas by 1965.
The school’s diamond jubilee year when the school ceased to be a family concern and became an educational trust under a board of governors.
John Keyte, grandson of Marjorie and Harry Richardson becomes Headmaster.
The school roll was eighty boys, all of which were boarders.
In John Keyte’s earliest days as head, pupils came in far and wide. The major changes he introduced during this decade and into the 1980’s were taking day pupils and incorporating weekly boarding.
The school becomes co-educational.
The pre-prep department is opened.
End of the 1980’s
The school roll had expanded to two hundred and forty, divided almost equally between prep boarders, prep day pupils and pre-prep.
The pre-prep department was extended into a two-storey building and was opened in May 1995 by Pam Ayres, the entertainer and writer of comic verse. She recited one of her ‘pome’s’ at the opening which began:
Starting here in the new pre-prep,
I was not sure I should have come
As I was happy home with Mum….’
Sylvia Beard became head of Pre-prep with a department of ten staff. The new pre-prep building had an office, an assembly hall and four very generously spacious classrooms.
The indoor swimming pool is formally opened. The building housing the eighteen –metre pool was designed by Peter Falconer, a locally based architect who retired shortly afterwards, after seventeen years as the school’s architect.
The launch of the Friends of Beaudesert, a band of parents who work in the schools interests and provide memorable fun and entertainment for all ages. Friends of Beaudesert continue to this day in extending relationships between staff, parents and pupils. Particularly popular and now a Beaudesert tradition is the November Fireworks party which attracts hundreds of people.
John Keyte retires. The pupils’ nickmane for John Keyte was ‘Junket’, which is why the farewell evening to mark the end of his hundred-term career was ‘the Last Junket.’
It brought to an end the Richardson and Keyte families eighty-seven-year commitment to the school and John Keyte’s twenty-five years as headmaster.
The school roll in this year was two hundred and seventy. When he took over in 1970 he inherited a school of just eighty boys, all boarders.
The Governor’s appoint John Beasley as head who for professional and family reasons left the school after one year.
Michael Stevens, who was deputy headmaster, became acting headmaster for a further year allowing the governor’s to appoint James Womersley.
James Womersley becomes Headmaster.
James Womersley continues Beaudesert’s transition from full to weekly boarding. His foresight that the school needed to occupy a niche in the market paid off. It became a local school to serve Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, not national or international. It also remained a thirteen plus school with full equality between the sexes. When James first arrived, most girls were leaving at eleven to senior school, during the last few years of this decade most were staying on until thirteen, as was with their male counterparts.
With numbers going up, there was an ever-growing need for new accommodation, the old End Room was demolished to make way for a new design technology and arts centre, with eight new classrooms, plus studios and sports changing rooms. It was officially opened by the Old Beaudesertian Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Henry Elwes in the spring of 2003.
The centenary of the school. The Old Beaudesertian’s day took place on the 21 st June 2008.
The decision was taken to incorporate a nursery into the Pre-prep department. Work began on extending the building adding another room which would be dedicated to nursery children.
The first intake of Beaudesert nursery children,
Work begins on the new Performing Arts Centre.
Work begins on the new library, using a large area of roof space above the dining hall which formerly had housed the extensive collection of drama costumes from the former Headmaster’s wife, Josephine Keytes.
The new Performing Arts Centre is opened for Speech Day.
The new state of the art library is opened, a hugely valuable resource for both pre-prep and prep children.
There are close to 440 pupils on roll, a healthy mix of boys and girls and up to 220 of the pupils flexi or weekly board.
Into the future
The school are looking forward to celebrating their centenary next year -100 years at Minchinhampton.
Griffith Jones and the Circulating Schools
Most people who drive west from Carmarthen on the road to Pembroke pass through the village of Llanddowror, blithely unaware that this quiet backwater spot was, in the early 18th century, the centre of an educational movement that was taking Wales - perhaps even the world - by storm. For this was the base of Griffith Jones and his famous Circulating Schools.
In an age when there was no compulsory education, when the vast majority of working class people could neither read nor write, Griffith Jones created a system of schooling that by the time of his death in 1761 had taught almost 200,000 people to read.
Jones, arguably more than anyone else, helped to make Wales into a literate and literary nation.
Griffith Jones was born in Carmarthenshire in 1683. He was educated at Carmarthen Grammar School and was ordained into the Church of England in 1708. After early curacies in places like Penbryn (Cardiganshire) and Penrieth (Pembrokeshire), he became curate and master of the the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge School in Laugharne.
At one stage he did consider going to India to carry out missionary work for the SPCK, but decided against it and in 1716 became rector at Llanddowror, a post he held for the rest of his life.
As an active member of the SPCK Jones was concerned about the illiteracy of his parishioners and when he began his Circulating Schools in about 1731 he was clear that one of his main aims was salvation. He wanted people to read but only so that they could read the Bible and the catechism of the Church of England.
What Griffith Jones created was a series of schools that would rotate or circulate around the rural parishes of Wales, mainly in the winter months when farm work was relatively slack. The schools would stay in one place for approximately three months and then move on to another location. Dozens of men, women and children flocked to the schools where they used the Bible both as a means of instruction and as a training manual or reading book.
The Bible was used as a means of instruction and as a training manual or reading book
By 1737, just six years after they began, there were 37 such schools in existence with over 2500 pupils or scholars attending the classes. For those who had to work during the day, evening classes were set up and Jones himself, from his base in Llanddowror, was instrumental in training the teachers. He had powerful support from wealthy land owners like Madam Bevan, the woman who continued to run and oversee the schools after his death in April 1761.
The system attracted the interest of reformers and educationalists from all over Britain - and from further afield as well. In 1764 Catherine II of Russia commissioned a report on the activities of the schools, with a view to creating a similar system in her own country.
Griffith Jones was not without critics, however. Many people disagreed with teaching ordinary working men and women to read, particularly reactionary clergymen who felt that their position at the centre of the community was being undermined. Jones was a powerful preacher, someone who would hold the attention of mass gatherings, whether they were in the church or in the open air.
He was called to account on several occasions by his Bishop for ignoring church rules and customs and, particularly, for things like preaching on the weekday! It did not stop Griffith Jones who was determined to proceed with what he felt to be his mission in life.
Although not a reformer himself he can be seen to be something of a forerunner to the Methodist revival that was soon to hit Wales and all of the United Kingdom. By creating a literate and educated populace, men and women with a deep and focussed interest in the gospels and all scriptures, he had certainly paved the way for ministers like John Wesley.
More significantly, Griffith Jones and his Circulating Schools had created a people for whom education was crucially important, not just as a way to better oneself but as an aim and an end in itself. That is a stance that has never left the Welsh people.
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