An American Family History


Warrior Run Presbyterian Church

Settlers often built log cabins as their first homes.

from History of Northumberland County Pennsylvania

Warrior Run Presbyterian Church [WRC] is the oldest denominational organization in the valley of the West Branch. The earliest account extant of this venerable society is that given in the journal of Philip V. Fithian, a licentiate who visited the neighborhood in 1775 under appointment of Donegal Presbytery. He arrived at Warrior run July 12th, and preached on Sunday, the 16th, at a meeting house "on the bank of the river eighteen miles from Northumberland," and "not yet covered." He preached from a wagon, while the people sat around among the bushes.

This building was situated in the western part of Delaware township, a short distance south of Watsontown. It was constructed of logs; as a single length would not have given the desired size, another log was added by building up a small square midway of each side; these squares formed alcoves, which were used as closets. Shingles were provided for a roof, also nails, but the roof was never put on.

In 1789 Joseph Hutchison and Margaret his wife conveyed to the congregation a tract of land . . . The second church building was erected in 1789, and stood in front of the present building. Its architecture was of an antiquated style. On the first floor were three doors, one in front and one at either side toward the rear. There were two by which the gallery was entered from the outside, one on each side of the building, to which stairways ascended. The central aisle was broad, and there was a wide space before the pews in front; this arrangement was made to accommodate the tables at which the communicants sat. The pulpit was very high, resembling the quaint affairs sometimes seen in old cathedrals. Over the minister's head was the indispensable sounding board, which has been apply compared to a huge umbrella. At the foot of the pulpit was the clerk's box. There he sat until the hymn was announced; he then arose, and in solemn, sometimes monotonous strain, read couplet after couplet, and led the congregation in singing. The gallery ran around the sides of the building, and in those days when rival churches were few, it was quite well filled.

It had its funny episodes, as well as the galleries of modern days. On one occasion Nellie McCoy's dog followed her to service, and when she entered the church, he, finding himself excluded, ran around to the stairs and ascended into the gallery. Seeing his mistress below, he made a bold dash down over the seats and leaped fromthe edge of the gallery into the audience. No further damage was done than to fill those upon whom doggie came with amazement, amusement, and scratches.

At first no fire was permitted. The first provision for heating consisted of a low fire of charcoal, burned upon a bed of earth. Large ten-plate stoves were then introduced, and ultimately heating appliances of modern design. This building, like its predecessor, was constructed of logs.. . . The audiences, at that early day to which this history more particularly relates, gathered from far and wide.

There were then no other churches in the surrounding territory within a radius of some miles. Until the year 1808 a part of the congregation came from White Deer valley, crossing the river; a fair quota was returned from the region beyond Muncy hills; there were some from Derry on the northeast, from Chillisquaque on the southeast, and from Milton on the south.

Probably half the audience came on foot - usually carrying their shoes in their hands . . .

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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