The history of both the town of Milton and the Presbyterian Church is replete with interesting facts and traditions. The town was incorporated December 23, 1796, and grew to be quite a thriving center of trade and industry. In fact, by 1850 Milton was the shopping center for a hundred-mile radius.
It was in 1823 that the townspeople came to the decision to build a house of worship, having previously met for Sunday services at the Milton Female Academy with various visiting ministers conducting services.
Quoting from an article written by Reverend James Douglas, the first Presbyterian minister:
A Female Fragment Society was formed, which undertook by the sale of needlework and other work, by concerts, donations, etc. to raise the sum required to build a church. This church, by this constitution, was to be Free until some of the four leading denominations of Christians in this county should succeed in forming a society of professing Christians in the town. After which the church was to belong to that denomination.
By the fall of 1825 about $400 had been raised by the Fragment Society and a contract was made to build a church. About the same time a subscription was handed round for the support of a minister for one year, with the understanding that every subscriber of $4 and upward should have a vote for the denomination. About $350 was subscribed.
Finally the vote was held which resulted in 38 votes for the Presbyterian denomination and 8 votes for the Episcopalian. James W. Douglas became the first pastor of Milton Presbyterian Church in March 1826. A frame building was erected near the town cemetery at a cost of $800.
It was not long before the congregation felt that a larger church building was needed, and in 1837 the present brick structure was built. It is reported that the bricks were made from local clay. The huge hand-hewn rafters and beams in the attic are held together with wooden pegs.
The most prized possession of the church today as in the early days is the set of hand-made pews which were made by Tom Day, a furniture maker whose shop was located in the two-hundred-year-old Yellow Tavern, the second brick building east of the church. It is said that Day gave the pews to the church with the understanding that he and his wife Acquilla be permitted to sit in the main sanctuary instead of the slave balcony. Old folks used to point to the left front pews facing the minister as the section where the Day family sat during worship services.
The center partition is a relic of the old days when the men and women sat on opposite sides of the church. Clay pottery cuspidors lined the aisles on the men's side.
The handsome rosewood pulpit is thought to be the handiwork of Tom Day. The crushed velvet pulpit furniture has been used in the church since the 1840's.
Two silver Communion Goblets were given to the church in 1846 and were in constant use for more than one hundred years. When the individual cups service was introduced, some of the old members refused to "take communion" from the "new-fangled cups."
The interior and exterior of the church, except for painting, repairing, and installing of air conditioning, new sanctuary lights, and two stained-glass windows, remain virtually the same as when first built over 150 years ago. The basement, once used as a schoolroom, was renovated in the late 1950's by the men of the church who laid concrete floors and installed new windows and walls.
Never a large church, the present membership is approximately twenty with a high percentage of regular attendance at the morning worship services held on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.
* Denotes served until death.