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   New Castle

 First Presbyterian Church



The First Presbyterian Church was originally known as the Lower Neshannock. The exact date of its organization is not known, but it was probably about 1801. In the following years it was reported as able, in connection with Slippery Rock, to support a pastor. Its first pastor was the Rev. Alexander Cook, who was installed in June, 1803. He had been licensed in 1802, and commissioned as a missionary to the Indians, with whom he had labored for a few months near Sandusky, in company with Joseph Patterson; but not meeting with a favorable reception, they had returned. He was followed by the Rev. Robert Sample, who was ordained over the congregations of New Castle and Slippery Rock, April 10, 1811. He served the church at New Castle twenty-seven years, and that of Slippery Rock twenty-four years. At the time of his accession to the pastoral office Crawford White was clerk of the session, the other ruling elders being William Moorehead, Joseph Pollock, William Raney, James McKee and Samuel Wilson.

Mr. Sample's successor was Rev. Wells Bushnell, who had been a missionary to the Wea Indians in Kansas, then a remote post, which he had been obliged to leave on account of failing health. He was installed in the church at New Castle in April, 1839, and labored there for fifteen years and a half. Toward the close of his pastorate troubles arose in the congregation owing to the dissatisfaction of some of the brethren with the attitude of the General Assembly on the subject of slavery, and a part of the membership withdrew and organized the Free Church, one of the earliest congregations of which afterwards became the Second Church. With this organization Mr. Bushnell united and was afterwards pastor of its churches at Mt. Jackson and New Bedford, until the close of his earthly labors, July 16, 1863. He was succeeded by Rev. Elliott E. Swift, who was installed September 27, 1854, and who continued in charge until February, 1861, when he was called to the co-pastorate of the First Church at Allegheny. He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph S. Grimes, a native of Ohio, and, it is believed, a graduate of Franklin College, who was installed July 9, 1861, and who was pastor until September 27, 1865. He was a man of earnestness and ability, and his labors were attended with valuable results. He was pastor, however, during the troublous times of the Civil War, and the dissensions which then arose among the congregation resulted finally in his resignation. In May, 1866, he was followed by the Rev. David X. Junkin, who was not installed, however, until the 13th of September. The church has since enjoyed a prosperous existence, and under subsequent pastors has taken a leading part in promoting the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, page 207



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