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Alexander McCoy


[United Presbyterian Church of West Alexander, Donegal township, Washington County's] first pastor was the Rev. Alexander McCoy, who afterwards became the leader of a party known as the "McCoyites."

Mr. McCoy was born in Ireland in 1754, came with his parents to the province of Pennsylvania in 1774. He had received a classical education in Ireland, and some time after his arrival in this country concluded to complete his studies, and entered Dickinson College in 1792. He studied theology under the Rev. John Jamison, and was licensed May 4, 1795, by the Second Associate Reformed Presbytery of Pennsylvania.

By the same Presbytery he was ordained and installed Oct. 29, 1795, over the united charges of Three Ridges at West Alexander, Pa., and Short Creek, Ohio Co., W. Va.

The Associate Reformed Synod at its meeting in May, 1799, in Greencastle, Pa., adopted its constitution and standards, and in doing so modified the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith concerning the power of the civil magistrates in matters of religion. Against this change Mr. McCoy protested, and declined the further authority and jurisdiction of the Synod. His name was therefore stricken from the roll of Presbytery June 25, 1799.

On the 11th of November, 1800, Rev. Robert Warwick settled in the vicinity of Cincinnati, also declined the authority of the Associate Reformed Synod, and for the same reason as Mr. McCoy these two ministers, with two ruling elders, met in Washington, Pa., Jan. 27,1801, and formed themselves into an independent Presbytery, naming it "The Reformed Dissenting Presbytery." This new organization seldom numbered more than three or four ministers, and often not more than two. Its weak condition impelled it at last to a union with the Associate Church, in the year 1851. Meanwhile Mr. McCoy's two congregations adhered to him, and for some years he gave part of his time to a third congregation in Belmont County, Ohio. On account of an infirmity which made it difficult for him to ride on horseback, he resigned his charge about 1815 and moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., and preached there until his successor, Rev. John Pattison, died (in 1825), at which time he returned and served his two original congregations for five or six years. The infirmities of age at length compelled him to cease from his labors. He died of paralysis June 17, 1834.

History of Washington County, PA, 1882, page 751


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