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Fiftieth Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church

First Presbyterian Church 

New Castle

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Told Again by Carl L. Hanna

The quiet of morning worship one Sabbath in July 1863 was suddenly broken by the arrival of a man on horseback come to warn the people of New Castle “Morgan is coming”. (This was the Confederate General John H. Morgan who had crossed the Ohio river and was raiding in Indiana and Ohio.) The minister at once dismissed the congregation. Greatly alarmed the people went to their homes. 

One of the worshippers at that service was a nine year old boy, who went over to a neighbor’s house and found the womenfolk heating water in a clothes boiler. “Why Mrs. said the boy, “this isn’t Monday, it’s the Sabbath day”. “I know that,” replied the woman, “but I’m getting ready to scald the rebels.” But Morgan never came! 

While still an infant in arms, one of our living members being baptized by Rev. Grimes, grabbed his whiskers. She must have known he was a bachelor! 

Rev. Grimes, bachelor, kept company for a time with the young lady of a certain Christian home. On each evening visit, when family bedtime came (and it came early in those days), the girl’s parents came into the “parlor” with a Bible and invited Mr. Grimes to conduct family worship. This he had done on several occasions, thereafter taking his departure at once as expected. Now as a minister Mr. Grimes advocated family worship but as a bachelor he came to feel more and more deeply that even a good thing could be carried too far. Being a minister he couldn’t openly object to the practice, yet something must be done and tactfully too. So the next time it occurred, he slowly read the 119th Psalm. There are, you know, 176 verses in this Psalm, and for length that evening his prayer matched the psalm!

One summer in the long ago the young people of our Sunday School went picnicking up the Shenango River and back on a canal boat. This was pulled up horses on the towpath on the east side of the stream where the Erie Railroad is now. One of our oldest members still remembers the thrill of that wild ride—not more than four miles all hour!

Many customers including business and professional men were having an evening snack in Wm. Robinson's restaurant. A young man near the door was just lighting a cigar when in bustled our portly and bewhiskered Dr. Junkin. "Gentlemen, gentlemen!“ he loudly exclaimed pointing at the weed, “there goes a cigar, fire at one end, fool at the other.”

At a prayer meeting in the basement of the “old” church, when the custom was to stand for both prayer and praise, it was noticed that after the first hymn or two Elder James C. Hanna remained sitting, firmly and grimly grasping his thigh. When the meeting was over, several gathered round and asked if he were ill, he grinned, stood up, cautiously released his hold, shook a leg and out at his feet fell a dead mouse.

Elder Dr. Noah White lived on the site of the Castleton Hotel. While the “old” church was being torn down and the “new” one built, our church bell was stored in his stable. When this building was completed, there were those who thought we didn’t need a bell any more but Dr. White thought we did. So due largely to his insistence the old bell was installed in the “new” church. For at least 97 years now it has from Sabbath to Sabbath been calling the people to assemble themselves together for the worship of the one living and true God.

After we moved into the “new” church, many church suppers were held to raise money to help pay off the debt incurred. Against this method good Elder A. W. Phipps, the photographer, protested. He said that he did not approve of a church eating its way out of debt, but if this was the will of the congregation, he would do his part. 

OLD TIMERS! Do you remember the reed organ in the basement of the “old” church, the water pump on the south side, the buckeye trees in front, the dirt streets, the hitching posts, the Amen corner, the pumpkins, corn, sheaves of wheat, and other fruits of field and tree decorating the pulpit at Thanksgiving time, the three Hirams, and Lew Moore pumping the old pipe-organ in a narrow space along the south wall and how Dr. Dunlap would nod to him when nearing the end of his sermon to get busy pumping for the closing hymn? Of course you remember them and many things besides.



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