Erie County (PA) Genealogy

First Presbyterian Church of North East, PA

Early History

Contributed by Dwight Copper


The information below was provided by Dwight Copper, RR#1 Box 100, New Castle, PA and was abstracted from the 100th anniversary history book of the church, published in 1901. As this church approaches and celebrates its 200th anniversary later in 2001, it is appropriate that a series of pages will be presented, and this is the first of those pages. Dwight has indicated that he is a "Gallagher descendant". Contact Dwight concerning information presented on this page.


In 1799 Rev. Elisha McCurdy and Rev. Joseph Stockton were sent to Erie County on missionary tours by the Presbyteries of Ohio and Redstone. When Erie County was erected as a separate County on March 12, 1800, there were again several other missionary tours.

In 1801 Rev. Elisha McCurdy, being sent now, by the Presbytery of Pittsburgh was sent to preach and organize new churches. During one of these tours, two congregations were organized, Upper Greenfield, which became the Middlebrook Congregation and Lower Greenfield, which became the North East Congregation.

On Sabbath, September 27th, 1801, communion was first administered in Erie County on the plantation then occupied by Mr. Dundass. A Congregation of over 300 assembled, and about 40 communed. The Ministers present were the Revs. McCurdy, Satterfield, Wick and Boyd.

On April 13, 1802 the Presbytery of Erie was organized and in June of 1802 the Rev. Robert Patterson accepted the call to the Churches of Upper and Lower Greenfield. The ordination took place at John McCord's bark house.

In 1805 the first log church was built. Its dimensions were 30 feet by 20 feet and was constructed of hewn logs. It was located in the middle of the present North East Cemetery.

The first Elders of the North East Presbyterian Church were John McCord, Joseph McCord and Thomas Robinson. The families which comprised the new Congregation included the names of: McCord, Moorhead, Robinson, Brawley, Lowry, Jacks, Stewart, Loomis, Shaduck, Gallaher, and Cochran. The greater portion of the original members were of Scotch-Irish descent. The first grave in the new Cemetery was that of Miss Sarah McCord, a sister of William and Joseph McCord.

After Rev. Patterson resigned, the Church had no permanent Pastor until 1812 when Rev. John McPherrin came for about six moths. He was followed by Rev. Johnston Eaton.

North East's second building was a frame Church erected in 1818. It was decided by a majority of the Congregation to leave the old site on Cemetery Hill and built a Church in the Village. The work went forward as the means were furnished by subscribers. The first regular preacher in the new frame Church was Rev. Judah Ely. He was followed by Rev. Giles Doolittle in 1824. In 1825 there were about 68 members.

On September 9, 1829 the First Presbyterian Church of North East Township was chartered by the justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The first Trustees were: William Doolittle, Nathaniel Morris, William H. McCord, William McCord and Robert Hampson.

On November 15th 1833, Rev. W. A. Adair was ordained and installed as Pastor of the North East Presbyterian Church. He was followed by Nathaniel West, D.D. in June of 1838. In 1839 the first bell was obtained and supplied by Mr. Bester Town, who also took a big part in the movement to obtain an organ.

Rev. Miles Doolittle took charge of the Church on January 1st 1842, and fifteen new members were taken into the Congregation.

Rev. Samuel Montgomery served the Church from November 1844 to 1848.

On February 21, 1859 a committee was appointed to purchase a lot to erect a new building and on March 12, 1859 it was decided to proceed with a new structure. The building committee of the new brick church was comprised of: A.W. Blaine, James Whitehill, Osee Selkregg, BR. Tuttle, and John Greer. The new building was occupied by March of 1861.

From January 1864 to June 16 of 1869 the Church was served by Rev. Thomas B. Hudson. Rev. John T. Oxtoby was installed as Pastor on March 3, 1870. Under his pastorate 146 new members were received. By December of 1876 the Church now had about 324 members.

Rev. Cyrus J. Hunter served the Congregation from 1880 through 1893, during which time the brick Church burned in 1884, but was re-built in 1885.

Rev. Frank Hays was Pastor from 1894 through 1896.

In 1901 the Congregation celebrated its One-Hundredth Anniversary. Rev. Nathaniel McGiffin was Pastor at this time and the Church membership totaled 455.

Trustees, 1901: James A. Moorhead, Samuel P. Whitehill, George Mackay, George E. Pierce, C.C. Hill and Norman H. Couse

More - Pastors & Elders - 1801 to 1901

More - First Members


This page was last updated on  Thursday, June 21, 2001 .

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2001 Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy