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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

City of Erie - Bethel Baptist Church

Contributed by Marlene Wilkinson

The information below was copied by Marlene Wilkinson of Millington, TN, from the Golden Anniversary Souvenir, 1888 - 1938, Bethel Baptist Church, Erie, PA. Please note that paragraph 4 below does not read properly, but is transcribed exactly as written. The first section below is the church history and was written in 1938 by Dr. Fred T. Hicks. This is followed by a section listing the charter members of the church, and finally a section listing the pastors over the years. If anyone has comments or additional information concerning the information on this page, please contact Marlene Wilkinson directly.

Bethel Baptist Church, Erie Pennsylvania Golden Anniversary Souvenir, 1888 - 1938

CHURCH HISTORY by Dr. Fred T. Hicks

In April 1888, the First Baptist Church of Erie, located at the corner of Fifth and Peach Streets, called to their pastorate the Rev. J. Cyrus Thomas.  During the ministry of this good pastor, the matter of establishing missions in outlying districts of the city came under prayerful consideration.  In the absence of convenient means of transportation it was difficult for many and impossible for others of the Baptist mind in distant localities to attend the services at the First Church. The need was quite apparent and the responsibility for meeting it was assumed by the Church under the careful guidance of Pastor Thomas.  Four missions in all were begun, one at the corner of Seventh and Cascade which was later sold to St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church, one which is now the Wayne Park Baptist Church, one at 18th and Poplar which was later abandoned and the fourth one is the subject of this sketch.

It was organized as a union Sunday School, largely through the efforts of William T. Hicks, on the second floor of the home of John Gow at 830 E. 21st Street where we held Sunday School for about four months.  The rooms were over-crowded from the first, there being 85 present the first day.  The teachers were largely from the First Church Sunday School, and Deacon Edson was the first superintendent and Miss Alice Minnig the first organist.

In December 1888, a lot was purchased at 23rd and Reed Streets upon which a plain, rectangular building was erected, the walls and ceiling of were finished with wood ceiling.  The frame-work was almost completed when a severe winter storm leveled the building.  The was rebuilt and was known as Faith Chapel, a mission of the First Church.  A revival was started in February 1889 by Pastor Thomas, his brother and Rev. Lemon.  Thirty were saved in those meetings of whom your historian was one. In 1890, this frame building was moved to the rear of the lot facing Reed Street and made into a parsonage, the First candidates to be Baptized in the new edifice were Misses Nellie Mitchell, Flora Butler Anderson and Caddie Fletcher, now Mrs. C. A. Owens of 2224 Ash Street.

Rev. J. C. Boswell was called in 1889 to pastor the new work and stayed until the spring of 1891.  During the next two years, we had four pastors, Rev. Marsh, Rev. Lemon and Rev. Carmish.  During this period little progress was made. The Church property was given to the new organization which in turn assumed the existing mortgage of $800; and on June 28, 1893, a charter was granted for the Second Baptist Church with the following acting on the Board of Trustees;  James F. Huff, John Ripley, Henry Kent, J. D. Rathbun and E. M. Metz.

In 1917, a new parsonage was built on 23rd Street, and September 24, 1921 the lots upon which the present Temple stands were purchased.  The property at 23rd and Reed Streets was sold to Bishop John Mark Cannon on May 13, 1924 for $19,000 and the Church retained auditorium and the lighting fixtures which are in use in the basement and in both parsonages, the newer parsonage later being moved to our new location and now occupied by J. W. Andrews and family.  The other one was sold to J. H. Hicks and moved by him to 2318 Reed St. and remodled (sic).  It is now occupied by Mrs. Blanch Curtis and family.

When the property was sold, we had to give immediate possession, so we built and equipped in one week by donated labor a tabernacle on the south side of 26th Street between VanBuren and Perry Sts. where we worshipped until the present edifice was built.  Pews and light fixtures from the old church were used in this temporary structure.  The present building was dedicated on June 14, 1925, during the pastorate of Rev. L. R. Williamson.


(We list the names as the records show them.  Many of them have changed thru the years.) 

William T. Hicks                     

Jason Shields Mrs. Wm. T. Hicks
P. W. Sweigart

Miss Nellie Hicks

Henry Kent
Fred T. Hicks J. D. Rathbun Mrs. Emma Wells
Mrs. J. D. Rathbun Mrs. Charles Bemis

John Ripley

William Fullerton Mrs. John Ripley Mrs. Eliza Palmer
Miss Etta Ripley Foster Palmer Miss Viola Ripley
Miss Gertrude Palmer

Miss Lillie Ripley

Mrs. S. M. Edwards
Miss Jennie Edwards Mr. E. M. Metz Mrs. E. M. Metz
Miss Sylvia Metz Miss Ida Mitchell

Mrs. Eunice Watson

Mr. James Huff Mrs. James Huff Mrs. E. J. Morrison
Miss Rose Grobadger Mrs. Catherine Gorr Miss Minnie Gorr

Oscar H. Kent

Mrs. O. H. Kent Miss Ida Gorr
John Gorr Miss Edith Laird Miss Helen Laird
Mrs. Olive Fletcher Miss Caddie Fletcher

Mrs. M. Canby

Miss E. M. Canby Miss Mary Canby Mrs. F. D. Waldbridge
Mr. S. H. Fletcher Mrs. S. H. Fletcher Miss Flora Butler                    
Mrs. Emma Gleason Miss Agnes Morrow Mrs. Jennie Bunnell
Mrs.W. A. Smith Mrs. Jennie E. Hunter

Mrs. Emma Morton

C. A. Shutts Mrs. C. A. Shutts Mrs. Maggie Dunker
Lewis J.. Bunnell G. E. Catchell  

These fifty-nine persons made the venture to organize our Church.  Some are with us today; others have gone to be with the Lord.  We honor them all on this FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY.


1889 - 1891 Rev. J. C. Boswell Now Deceased
1891 - 1893 Rev. Whitehurst, Rev. Marsh, Rev. Lemon and Rev. Carmish  
1893 - 1896         Rev. Lowe Now Deceased
1896 - 1900 Rev. Richard Pearse Now Deceased
1900 - 1901 Rev. W. H. Ellis Now Deceased
1901 - 1903 Rev. Dougherty  
1903 - 1906      Rev. Wilson Pugsley Now Deceased
1906 - 1908 Rev. E. W. DeWitt Now Deceased
1909 - 1913 Rev. L. R. Williamson Pastor at Newfield, NY
1913 - 1917 Rev. L. C. Bennett Pastor at Jacksonville, Fla
1917 - 1919 Rev. T. P. Rundell Now Deceased
1919 - 1920 Rev. Hugh Kane Bible Teacher, Chambersburg, Pa
1920 - 1929 Rev. L. R. Williamson Pastor at Newfield, N. Y.
1929 - 1931 Rev. Baxter A. Whittin Pastor at Niagara Falls, Ont.
1932 - 1935 Rev. Earl G. Griffith Pastor at Johnson City, N. Y.
Since July 1936 Rev. S. Franklin Logsdon  

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us:  we pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God".

This page was last updated on  Monday, December 17, 2001 .

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