Erie County (PA) Genealogy
Reverend Johnston Eaton
Contributed by Evelyn Baker
The information and sketch photo below have been contributed by Springfield Township coordinator, Evelyn Baker. The first part is transcribed from a hand written journal maintained in the early 1800s by Rev. Johnston Eaton. This journal, thought to have been lost, was only recently found in the bottom of a box of family memorabilia by a direct descendant, Sue Richardson Mohr. The obituary of Reverend Eaton was transcribed by Evelyn Baker in July 2003, and is provided at this time as a part of this church related feature article involving Rev. Eaton. Any questions or comments concerning this material may be directed to Evelyn Baker.
THE LOST JOURNAL OF REV. JOHNSTON EATON
Area historians are inclined to believe that Rev. JOHNSTON EATON wrote
a series of four journals documenting the beginning of
his ministry in northwestern Pennsylvania. The 1st journal, written in
1806, was deemed 'lost'.
THE LOST JOURNAL WAS FOUND at Christmastime 2003 at the bottom of a cardboard box among EATON family memorabilia in the attic of SUE RICHARDSON MOHR, 6th generation of direct decendents of Rev. EATON's family. It was preserved by SUE's maternal aunt, EDITH WILLIS LLOYD, wife of Dr. JOHN LLOYD. Upon the death of Aunt EDITH, SUE was bequeathed this treasured box containing well preserved clothing, the 'lost' journal, & what is believed to be a very fragile altar cloth. SUE is a lifetime resident of Lake City & was a contributor to the 1976 Bicentennial journal, honoring the laying of the EATON HALL cornerstone at the Westminister Presbyterian Church.
Genealogists extend a heartfelt tribute to SUE MOHR for sharing the contents of this old, very rare journal.
THE FIRST HANDWRITEN JOURNAL
OF REV. JOHNSTON EATON
page # 1
Preached 3 months in the congregations of Springfield, Fairview, & Millcreek beginning July 1806. At $90 pr. quarter.
Recv'd of Capt. SWAN treasurer of Fairview congr. for the quarter $30.00.
Recv'd of Judge CORHREN for Millcreek $22.00.
Recv'd of Capt. HOLIDAY treasu of Springfield $3.75 from trustees $27.12½
page # 2
Began to preach in the united congregations of Springfield & Fairview half of this time in each. November 16, 1806.
April 1808 - Recv'd of Capt. SWAN treasurer of Fair congregation for the year 1807 $7.50
Sept. 12, 1808 Settled with GEORGE NIELESON treasurer
Paid by capt. SWAN in money & grain $30.00
In recpts from the collectors of the treasurer $34.00 + $3.75 = $67.75
page # 3
March 18, 1809 Settled with the trustees of Springfield Cong was paid by the treasurer Capt. HOLIDAY $3.50
Money & recpts from the collection $57.93
Oct. 1809 Recv'd of the trustees in recpts $33.00 cash $2.50
Oct 26, 1809 Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER one of the trustees of Springfield cong. in recpt's $18.57
page # 4
April 1, 1809 Recv'd of C. S. treasurer of Fairview in Recp'ts $30
Oct. 1809 Recv'd of do in do $42.50
in cash $3.00 = $75.50
Janry. 1810 Recv'd of treasurer of Fairview congregation in recp'ts $41.00
Janry. 1811 Recv'd of treasurer of Fairview in receipts & money ... $77.51½
page # 5
March 1810 - Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER one of the trustees of Springfield in receipts .... $13.62 ½
May 9th 1812 Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER one of the trustees of Springfield Congr in Receipts .. $35.65 cash 50¢ = $36.15
May 9th 1812 Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER one of the trustees of Springfield Congr in receipts .. $35.65
March 1813 Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER in behalf of Springfield congregation in receipts $14.25
January 1812 Recv'd of G. NIELESON treasurer of Fairview congregation $132.66½
July 1812 Recv'd of G. NIELESON treasurer of Fairview congregation $58.68¼
January 2, 1813 Recv'd of G. NIELESON in behalf of the estate of Capt. SWAN $4.22 due from him as treasurer of F. Cong.
March 1813 Recv'd of G. NIELESON treasurer .... $12.00
April 1st 1813 Recv'd in Recpts & cash of CORDEF TAGERT treasurer of Fairview congregation $89.45 cash $16 county orders $4.62 = $110.07
March 30, 1814 Recv'd in recpts & cash of C. TAGERT treasurer of of F. congregation $220. 38
Sepr. 1814 Recv'd of ISAAC MILLER in behalf of Springfield congregation
in recpts $52.67½ - cash $5.42½ Recpts $13.70
Jan. 1815 Recv'd of CARDIFF TAGART treasurer of Fairview Congregation $122.84
March 1816 Recv'd of C. TAGART treasurer for the year / 3 $6.50 ... year + 4 - $14.50 ... year 15 - $79.75 = $100.75
June 1816 Recv'd of SAM'L HAYS treasurer of Erie Congregation $118 + $15.83 = $133.83.
Oct. 1816 Recv'd of SAM'L HAYS treasurer of Erie congregation $41
Decmb. 1816 Recv'd of SAM'L HAYS treasurer of Erie congr. $30 +
$25.66 = $55.66. Recv'd year 15 & 16 $214.92
May 1817 Recv'd of S. HAYS $31 years 1815 & 1816 paid
Febr. 1816 Recv'd of A. J. BLAIR treasurer of N East Congregation year 1815 ... $85.72 - Mr. BLAIR the treasurer died & no accounts can be found therefore no settlement, but I believe several $100 was behind of the pittance promised
not a dollar made up
No congregation that I ever preached made up a amount of averages except
Sept. 1817 Recv'd of CORDIFF TAGART treasurer of Fairview congregation $134
for the year 1816 $134
May 1819 Recv'd C. TAGART treasurer of Fairview congr for the year 1817 $178
Febr. 8th, 1826 Settled with Mr. HAYS treasurer of Erie Congr. Had preached 3 years 1818, 1819, & 1820 at $200 per year
& 1821 & 1822 at $150 = whole $900
As settlement it appeared I have been paid $838.59.
Mrs. COLT & HAYS gave ---- for the balance $61.31
April 1827 The above ---- paid by Mrs. COLT & S. HAYS
January 1826 Began to preach the whole of my time in Fairview.
Died root - Indian paint
dried, the root, powdered & snuffed
Capt. HOLIDAYs daughter cured by using this 10 days
[the above article was transcribed as Rev. Eaton wrote with partial words & punctuation]
THE PRESBYTERIAN PIONEERS
Of THE SPRINGFIELD CONGREGATION
1804 - Rev. ROBERT PATTERSON visited East Springfield to establish
a Presbyterian ministry. He was the only minister of the Presbytery
to be settled in Erie County. The church was a small pioneer log
cabin built within the outline of an ancient fortified site of the Adena
Indian mound builders. The northeastern, old section of the present
Springfield Township Cemetery, was originally the burial grounds
of the Presbyterian Church.
1805 - Surveying completed, the opening of both the Lake Road & Ridge
Road, aka routes 5 & 20, between Erie & Cleveland, spurred the
growth of the 3 Springfield villages & church attendance.
1806 - The Presbyterian congregation was organized by Rev. JOHNSTON
EATON. The 1st elders were JAMES BLAIR, JAMES BRUCE, &
ISAAC MILLER. SAMUEL HOLLIDAY was a founder & assisted
in establishing the old graveyard.
1807 - Organized classes gained dedicated members including MARY
BLAIR, ELIZABETH BRUCE, & ELIZABETH CANON EATON.
1808 - On June 30th, Rev. JOHNSTON EATON, at age 30, began his
tenure as a circuit riding preacher. He was to minister to the
Springfield congregation for the next 19 years.
1826 - Rev. EATON began full ministry at Fairview. He returned to the
Springfield congregation periodically to perform special sacrements.
PARTIAL LISTING OF THE SPRINGFIELD CONGREGATION
IN COMMUNION UNDER REV. JOHNSTON EATON'S MINISTRY
JOHN & NANCY MILLER
PETER & ELIZABETH WICOFF
JOHN & MARY RICHEY & children, POLLY , JOHN , & MARY
April 1st ... 72 Members in Communion
1 On Examination
64 total baptisms
JOHN & ELIZABETH DeVORE
CORNELIUS & SUSANNAH HAGGERTY
BENJAMIN & MARY HALL
JOHN & MARY HALL
JOHN & MARGARAT KELLY
ALLEN & NANCY LAW
JOHN & ANN LAW
THOMAS N. MILLER
JOHN & ELIZABETH PATTERSON
JOHN & NANCY REA
TITUS & ELIZABETH WADSWORTH
REBECCA WING [S]
ASA DeVORE - child baptism on June 10th
SAMUEL FERGUSON - child baptism on June 10th
GEORGE SYLVESTER - child baptism on June 10th
ELIZABETH ANN PATTERSON - child baptism on Aug. 29th
ELIZA MILLER - child baptism on April 29th
JOHNSTON FERGUSON - Infant baptism on April 20th
WILLIAM & ELIZABETH KELLY
ROBERT & ELIZABETH McKEE
ROBERT LAW - Infant baptism on Sept. 30th.
Rev. Eaton was not inclined to being photographed. However, he did allow a profile pencil sketch that has become popular with family descendants and historians. After 200 years of copying, the drawing has become very marred. This picture has been digitally enhanced by Evelyn Baker, in an effort to restore the original image.
Click on image for larger picture. Use the browser 'Back' button to return to this page.
OBITUARY NOTICE, Erie Gazette, June 24th, 1847
"Like as a shock of corn cometh in his season"
Died, at his late residence in Fairview, in this county, on the 17th June, the Rev. JOHNSTON EATON, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Fairview, in the 72nd year of his age and the 43rd of his ministry.
It is meet, that a word should be said concerning this faithful servant of Jesus Christ as well as pioneer for the early settlement of this county. Those venerable men are fast passing away, who are able to tell us the story of the past - of the first settlement of the country, and of the sufferings and privations of its early inhabitants.
Mr. EATON was born in Franklin County, Pa., Feb. 7, 1776. In 1796, he entered Grammer School at Cannonsburg. In 1801, he entered the junior class of Princeton College, where he remained one year, at the close of which, the college buildings being burned, he returned to Cannonsburg and entered the senior class of Jefferson College, at which institution, he graduated in 1802, a member of the 1st class which received diplomas under the charter.
His theological studies were prosecuted under the superintendence of that venerable patriarch of the western church, Dr. JOHN McMILLAN, of Washington County. After the completion of his studies, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the presbytery of Ohio in 1805. His constitution, naturally delicate and sensitive, being much broken and his energies weakened by laborious application, he determined to spend some time in traveling and visiting this county, he returned and spent 1 year in the southern part of Ohio, suffering hardships and encountering difficulties such as no one not possessed of indomitable resolution, as well as ardent devotion to the cause of the Great Master could have endured.
The life of JOHNSTON EATON is closely identified with the early history of Erie County as well as that of the Presbyterian Church in northwestern Pennsylvania. His first visit to the county was in 1805, when it was literally a wilderness - but few settlements, few roads or bridges - the travel east and west being performed on the beach of the lake. He preached a few sabbaths at the mouth of Walnut Creek, then went to Ohio. In the following year, he returned and located himself permanently in Erie Co. He witnessed its early settlement, gradual improvement and none rejoiced more at its prosperity or loved its interests more dearly. Presbyterian churches here have enjoyed, in part at least, his stated labors. In 1807, he was ordained pastor over the congregations of Fairview and Springfield, which relations, he sustained to the former until his death - a period of more than 40 years. In 1813, his people generally being called to the defense of the country's rights, he joined them at Erie to tell to the soldier of that other and better warfare that hath respect to the heavenly inheritance - being chaplain while the army continued at that place. After this, he successively preached a part of his time in "Duau's Settlement" and in North East.
In 1818, he was invited to labor in the church at Erie. This invitation was accepted, and he labored ¼ th of his time for 3½ years during the 2 succeeding years in that church. At some period of his life, he has also labored in the churches of Waterford, Harborcreek, and Washington. In all these congregations, it can with truth be said that he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. In all this, there were given to him many souls as seals to his ministry, and who will at the resurrection of the just, shine as brilliant stars in his crown of rejoicing. Of the character of his preaching, it becomes the writer, not to speak - suffice it, that he received his theological training in the good old days of orthodoxy, and under "that strange and stern old man" the monuments of whose teachings will endure when the hills that enviorned his abode shall have passed away. In his views of doctrine and church order, some may have deemed his ultra , but he believed in the cause of Zion and of Zion's peace, and circumstances and facts would indicate that he was not mistaken. About 2 years since, his constitution, never robust, began to exhibit symptoms of fainting. Soon after, he was stricken down with paralysis - for a short time his place in the sanctuary was vacant - his voice was hushed, but his system rallied, and again he dispensed the word of life to the people of his charge. He continued to preach to his beloved congregation of Fairview, until the first of Dec. last, in much weakness of body, it is true, but with a mind but little removed from its former vigor. On the first Sabbath of December, he met with his people and feeling that perhaps it was the last time, he "commended them to God, and the word of his grace", when they separated not to meet until they met to mingle their tears over his grave. Well does he who writes it know, that he loved that "little flock" with more than a parental solcitude; for around it clustered so many fond and tender associations. Through his instrumentality, they had been brought into the fold - they had grown up chiefly under his notice, and above all, in their midst had most visibly manifested the power of Jehovah's strength in coming reunions of divine grace. For more than 10 long and weary years, he had ministered to them through darkness and gloom - through storms and temptest, bearing them in agony upon his heart, when no eye but that of the Chief Shepard was witness.
About the last of January, he received another more severe stroke of the disease which had begun to sap his strength. From this time he was confined to his bed, a few days previous to his death. The disease had not only paralyzed his physical powers, but had partially obscured his mental vigor. Still he was not without the comforting presence of Jehovah. He who has promised to his people, "When thou passest through the water, I will be with thee", was with him in the darkest hour of pain and lanquishing. Previous to his disease, he remarked that he had the greatest comfort and confidence in committing his family and congregation to the care of a covenant God, expressing his comfort in communion with Him at times when he was unable to utter a desire or form a petition. Although his last moments were passed in conflict with a disease that laid its paralizing grasp upon the mental as well as the physical person, yet he gave abundant evidence of his faith in Christ and of his interest in Him as his Personal Saviour, when he felt assured that he was drawing near to the gates of death. But he has gone to his rest. With him, we doubt not, the unutterable agonies of dissolving nature were but the prelude to eternal joys; death with all it palor and stillness, instead of the night of darkness and doubt which human philosophy represents it, but a laying down of mortality to put on immortality. We have laid him in the earth, but He who is "the resurrection and the life", watches over the sleeping dust of the beloved in its quiet repose, and will in his own good time burst the bars of the tomb, and that which was "sown a natural body, he will rise a spiritual body", in more than angelic beauty and splendor".
This page was last updated on Friday, February 6, 2004 .
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