GRACE CHURCH PARISH,
MOUNT WASHINGTON, PITTSBURGH, PA.
PAGES 1 - 39
Transcribed and contributed by
Joan Skinnell Benincasa
Search A History of Grace Church Parish
GRACE CHURCH PARISH,
WITH LIST OF PARISHIONERS, VESTRYMEN, BAP-
TISMS, CONFIRMATIONS, MARRIAGES,
BURIALS, ET CETERA,
REV. ROBERT JOHN COSTER, D. D.,
INCLUDING, ALSO, A SKETCH OF THE EARLY
HISTORY OF THE PARISH,
HON. THOMAS T. BIGHAM,
LATE SENIOR WARDEN.
WM. O. JOHNSTON & CO.,
printer friendly version of text
Grace Church, built 1853....................... Frontispiece
Interior View of the Church ................... 9
The, Rev. Gustavus W. Mayer ................. 13
The Rev. B. B. Killikelly, D. D .................. 16
The Rev. Robt. J. Coster, D. D ............... 18
The Choir, October, 1903......................
The Bishop's Chair...............................
The Lectern ; ...................................
Mrs. Maria Louisa Bigham .....................
The Hon. Thomas J. Bigham ..................
GeorgeT. Lowen ...............................
Abraham Kirkpatrick Lewis ...................
Squire Edward Bratt ...........................
John Conway Shaler, Jr .......................
William Luke Bond .............................
Captain John Smith McMillin...................
Major Samuel Harper .........................
William Halpin .................................
Oliver Halpin Stinson ...........................280
Melville L. Stout ...............................
George Abraham Johnson ....................
Thomas Francis Ashford, Sr ..................
Orin W. Sadler, M. D..........................
The Rector and Vestry (1903)................
Henry Washington Neely .....................
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Preface. ................................................ 5
Organization of the Parish ............................ 8
Laying the Corner Stone of the Church............... 8
Charter obtained ...................................... 9
Admitted to the Convention of Diocese of Pennsylvania ... 9
Opening of the Church ................................ 9
Cost of the Church and Lot ......................... 10
The Reverend James A. Stone...................... 10
The Reverend John G. Furey ....................... 11
The Reverend Richard Smith ....................... 11
The Reverend Charles W. Quick.................... 12
The Reverend Jubal Hodges........................ 12
The Reverend Gustavus Wilhelm Mayer ........... 13
Vacancy in the Rectorship.......................... 15
The Reverend Bryan Bernard Killikelly, D. D....... 16
Cost of Basement Sunday School Room............ 18
The Reverend Robert John Coster, D. D ...........18
Consecration of the Church ........................ 21
Celebration of his Twentieth Anniversary(1888)..
Improvements in the Neighborhood of the Church.
Celebration of his Thirtieth Anniversary (1898)...
Continuation of the History of his Rectorship to 1903....
History of the Pipe Organ of the Church .........
History of the Choir ...............................
Chancel Furniture and Memorials .................
Chancel Window ...................................
Stained-Glass Windows ............................
The Mount Washington Reading Room............
Charter of the Parish...............................
Vestries of the Parish.. ............................
Deputies to the Diocesan Conventions.............
Lists of Parishioners..........143,
Obituary of Mrs.. Maria Louise Bigham...........
Members of the Vestry of 1851 ..................
Hon. Thomas James Bigham .....................
GeorgeT. Lowen ..................................
Abraham Kirkpatrick Lewis ......................
Members of the Vestry of 1869 .................
Members of the Vestry of 1893 .................
The Rector and the Vestry of 1903 .............
Henry W. Neely, S. S. Supt. and Vestryman ...
The Grace Church Guild .........................
The Coster Guild..................................
A Sketch of the Early History of the Parish, by
the Hon. Thomas James Bigham, late Senior
(See Index at end of book.)
The men and women who took part in the founding of
Grace Church have nearly all passed away. Soon there will be no one living who
was present at the laying of the corner stone in April, 1852, or at the first
opening of the church for divine service in September, 1853.
We wish to perpetuate the memory of the deeds of those
whose faith and zeal, whose loving sacrifices and labors established and built
up the church, the ministrations and privileges of which the present generation
of the people of Mount Wasting on are now enjoying; therefore, we have at some
pains gathered such facts concerning the origin of the church as are now
accessible, and such reminiscences of its early history as the imperfect records
give, and such other facts as the memories of those yet living, who were
cognizant of the events, can supply.
We are particularly indebted to the Hon. Thomas J.
Bigham, long the senior warden of the parish, for an interesting account of its
early history. This history, prepared at the request of the Rector and Vestry, a
few years before his death, will form an important part of the work. This,
however, we may say, is only one of Mr. Bigham's minor services of the parish;
for, indeed, it was chiefly through his efforts and gifts, and those of his
generous and devout wife, that the parish was organized and the church building
erected. Others, indeed, as the history will show, helped in the work; but it
was altogether due to the influence and solicitations of Mr. and Mrs. Bigham, in
those early days, that help from other sources was forthcoming. Mrs. Bigham gave
the ground on which the church stands, and she and her husband gave more than
two-thirds of the three thousand dollars which the church originally cost. They
both maintained their deep interest in the church to the end of their life. The
well how much they loved the church, and how they valued its
ministrations and gave freely to its support.
There are several other families which, although not
among the originators of the church, were its constant attendants and supporters
from a very early period in its history. Among these families the Goldthorps,
the Bratts, the Halpins, the McMillins, the Shalers, the Bonds, the Goldings and
the Torrences are to be mentioned.
The faithful workers and the devout supporters of the
Church of Christ deserve to be held in loving remembrance, and if this little
work shall keep from oblivion the names of a few of these faithful ones, it will
have served a worthy purpose, and the compiler will be amply rewarded for the
time and labor devoted to its preparation.
ROBERT JOHN COSTER,
BISHOP BOWMAN INSTITUTE,
Pittsburgh, October 10, 1903.
AN HISTORY OF GRACE CHURCH PARISH.
MOUNT WASHINGTON, NOW THIRTY-SECOND WARD,
The district lying south of the Monongahela River, on the top of the
high bluff rising four hundred feet above the lower part of the city,
directly opposite to old Fort Duquesne, is known as Mount Washington
(originally Coal Hill). As late as thirty years ago the only means of
access to this district was a road starting from the south end of
Smithfield Street Bridge and winding around the side of the hill,
following a ravine, until it reached the top, where it led into the old
Washington Road. In this district the descendants and heirs of Major
Abraham Kirkpatrick were large landholders, among whom was Maria L.
Lewis, afterwards Mrs. Thomas J. Bigham. Soon after her marriage her
husband built a commodious brick residence on her land, and the family
went to live on Mount Washington. The population at that time was small
and there was no church in the district which now forms the
Thirty-second Ward of Pittsburgh. As soon as they were settled in their
new home Mr. and Mrs. Bigham opened a Sunday School for the children of
the hill, and at once began to form plans for establishing a church in
the neighborhood. At first they obtained the use of the public school
building for holding the Sunday School, and afterward services were held
there until the church was built, in 1853.
The inaccessibility of this district and the rough and at times muddy
condition of the streets retarded the growth of the population for some
years; but when, in 1872, the Monongahela Incline Plane, near the south
end of the Smithfield Street Bridge, was opened for travel, and a little
later the Duquesne
Incline, opposite the Point, the growth of the population
became very rapid. Then improved board walks followed, and later paved streets,
which rendered it a much more desirable place of residence. But during the time
when the church was first organized, and for twenty years afterward, it was a
region almost unknown in the city and was visited only by those whose interests
or duty led them to climb the steep hill.
ORGANIZATION OF THE PARISH.
October 22, 1851.
Grace church was organized and its articles of association were adopted at a
meeting held in
the public school building, on the corner of Sycamore and Spring (now Stanwix)
Streets, on October 22, 1851, under the chairmanship of the Rev. William H.
Paddock, missionary of the diocese in Western Pennsylvania. The following vestry
was elected: Thomas J. Bigham, Senior Warden; Alexander Rowland, Junior Warden;
George Lowen, William Adams, Richard Stubbs, Benjamin White, and A. Kirk Lewis.
Among those present at the organization of the parish were Mr.
and Mrs. T. J. Bigham, Mr. and Mrs. William Adams, A. Kirk Lewis, Andrew
Rowland, Misses Augusta and Lucy Shaler (daughters of Judge Shaler) , Mr.
Richard Stubbs, Mr. and Mrs. David Reese, Miss Anna M. Golding and George Lowen.
It is to be regretted that the record does not contain a full list of those
present,as it is impossible now to supply the deficiency.
The first meeting of the new parish for divine service was held in the same
schoolhouse, on the evening of the fourth Sunday after Epiphany, February 1,
1852, by the Rev. Joseph A. Stone, who then entered upon duty as minister of
LAYING THE CORNER STONE.
APRIL 3, 1851.
The corner stone of Grace Church was laid on the corner of Bertha and Sycamore
Streets, with appropriate services, by the Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, Bishop of.
the Diocese of Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1852, in the presence of a number of
the clergy of the city and
a large assembly of the laity. There were present at this
service, among others, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Bigham, Mr. and Mrs. A. Kirk
Lewis, Miss Sarah Orth, Mrs. Golding, Miss Anna Golding (later Mrs. W. L. Bond),
Mrs. T. H. Golding, Mr. and Mrs. George Lowen, Mr. and Mrs. William Adams, Mr.
and Mrs. Richard Stubbs, Mr. and Mrs. David Reese (father and mother of Mrs.
Mary E. Torrence), Mr. and Mrs. Price, Mr. and Mrs.W. O. Leslie, Miss Emily
Neely, Mr. Eaton and Mr. Felix R. Brunot.
Bishop Potter was assisted in the service by the Rev.
Joseph A. Stone, the rector, and the Rev. William H. Paddock, missionary. The
singing for the occasion was led by Miss Emily Neely.
APRIL 26, 1852.
The parish was chartered by the Court of Common Pleas
of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and the charter of incorporation ordered to
be recorded in the office for recording deeds in the said county on April 26,
1852. (See charter.)
ADMITTED TO CONVENTION.
MAY 20, 1852.
The charter of the new parish was laid before the
Annual Convention of the Diocese of Pennsylvania
which met in Philadelphia in May, 1852, and on the third day of the session, May
20, 1852, on motion of the Rev. Mr. Buchanan, of the Committee on Charters, the
parish was duly admitted into union with the convention.
OPENING THE NEW CHURCH.
SEPTEMBER 18, 1853.
The church building was completed, and opened for
divine service on the afternoon of Sunday, September 18, 1853, when, after
evening prayer by the rector, Rev. John G. Furey, the Rev. E. N. Cornwall,
Rector of St. Andrew's, Church, Pittsburgh, preached the sermon, from Psalm
lxxii, 16: "There shall be an heap of corn in the earth high upon the hills; the
fruit shall shake like Lebanon: and shall be green in the city like grass upon
In the evening of the same day divine service was again
held, and after the reading of the service by the Rector, the Rev. Samuel
Randall preached from Ephesians iv, 21: "As the truth is in Jesus."
Large congregations attended these services, and it
was a day of great rejoicing for the members of the new parish.
COST OF CHURCH AND LOT
As RECORDED IN THE PARISH REGISTER.
Lot, 84 by 200 feet .................... $500. 00
Church building (contract price) ...... 2,000.00
Extrawork, etc ........................... 356.00
Stained-glass windows (Rhodes and Nelson) ....... 103.00
Fence for lot and painting same.......... 95.00
Bell, from Fulton Foundry................. 40.00
Stoves and fixtures ....................... 23.00
Total. ................................ $3,117.00
Paid by the following contributions:
Proceeds of a picnic................... $273.00
A. Kirk Lewis.. ......................... 350.00
Richard Cowan .......................... 50.00
William Holmes .......................... 50.00
Hon. Charles Shaler...................... 25.00
Mrs. Eliza Loomis........................ 25.00
Sundry Small contributions' to pay for fence.... 60.00
Andrew Fulton, cost of bell: ........ ....40.00
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Bigham.....2,224.00
Total ................................ $3,117.00
THEIR PERIODS OF SERVICE AND OTHER FACTS OF
1. REV. JOSEPH A. STONE, entered upon duty and held the
first service after the parish had been organized, in the evening of the fourth
Sunday after Epiphany, February 1, 1852. He officiated regularly every Sunday
evening, and every other Sunday morning thereafter.
He reports that the parish had a successful and flourishing
Sunday School, established several years prior to this time by an active and
devoted lady of the parish, the sessions of which were held every Sunday
After a rectorship of one year and one month, he
resigned, on the third Sunday in Lent, February 1, 1853.
2. REV. JOHN G. FUREY, the second rector of the parish,
entered upon duty June 1, 1853, and after a rectorship of nine months resigned
March 1, 1854.
No report of his work seems to have been made to the Convention in 1854. The
important event during his short connection with the parish was the opening of
the new church for divine service on the afternoon of Sunday, September 18,
1853. Up to this time services had been held in the schoolhouse mentioned above,
where there were no appliances for a proper rendering of the service. This
change gave to the young parish a permanent center for church work, and assured
the continued growth and influence of the parish in the community.
3. REV. RICHARD SMITH, the third rector of the parish,
began duty the Sunday after Easter, April 23, 1854. After serving the parish two
years, he resigned April 24, 1856, in consequence of increasing age and general
debility. He had, in connection with his work on Mount Washington, the work at
St. Luke's, Chartiers, between which two places he divided his time. In his
report to the Convention in May, 1856, he says: "I have labored during the past
year in my two parishes as often as circumstances would allow. The congregations
have steadily improved, especially the one on Mount Washington, where there is a
good Sunday School, well attended." In the previous year he reported 12 teachers
and 85 scholars as belonging to the Sunday School.
Owing to his age and the inaccessibility of the church
from the city, Mr. Smith was often absent in the winter time, but the church was
not closed, as Mr. T. J. Bigham on such occasions read the service, and thus
prevented the disappointment of the small gathering of worshipers.
VACANCY IN THE RECTORSHIP
After the resignation of the Rev.
Richard Smith, there was a period of seven months in which there was no rector.
lay services were held by Mr. T. J. Bigham, the senior warden, with an
occasional service by the Rev. J. S. B. Hodges, the assistant minister at
Trinity Church, and others.
4. THE REV. CHARLES W. QUICK, the fourth rector of the
parish, began to officiate in December, 1856. He had other work in the city, and
generally officiated at Grace Church in the evening. After a rectorship of two
and a half years, he resigned in the month of April, 1859.
In his last report, made in May, 1858, he gives the
families as 10 and the communicants 8. He says: "The senior warden has steadily
performed the duties of lay reader. To visit the parish once on Sunday in order
to preach has been all that my other engagements have left me at liberty to do.
The salary is small and very much in arrears."
The Sunday School remained the same as reported by the
Mr. Quick was scholarly and conscientious, but a man of
marked peculiarities, some of which Mr. Bigham refers to in his history of the
VACANCY IN THE RECTORSHIP.
A vacancy in the rectorship now began
which continued fourteen months, during which time the Sunday School was kept
open, and occasional services were held by visiting clergymen. Rev. E. M. Van
Dusen, of St. Peter's Church, and Rev. Jubal Hodges, of St. Mark's, Birmingham,
held services and baptized some children.
5. The REV. JUBAL HODGES, the fifth rector, began to
officiate on Sunday, June 24, 1860. He was at the same time rector of St.
Mark's, Birmingham, and held services in Grace Church only on Sunday afternoons.
He continued to officiate about a year and resigned, as it seems, in the summer
of 1861. The entries in the parish register give little information, and there
is no report in the Convention Journal for 1861; consequently there are no data
concerning his rectorship.
6. The REV. GUSTAVUS WILHELM MAYER,
the sixth rector, began duty in the parish December 1, 1861, the first Sunday in
Advent, in connection with the parish of St. Luke's, Chartiers. He was at that
time a deacon, but January 19, 1862, he was ordained to the priesthood, and on
the following Sunday administered the Holy Communion for the first time in Grace
After officiating at Grace Church about eighteen
months, with an interruption of six or eight weeks, caused by a serious illness,
during which time services were rendered by the Rev. Charles V. Gardiner, who
was then staying in Pittsburgh, he resigned in March, 1863, and confined his
services to St. Luke's, Chartiers. During his incumbency he kept a horse, and
was able, therefore, to reach both of his churches on Sunday, officiating at one
in the morning and at the other in the evening.
He was a German by birth, and occasionally held a
service in the German language in Grace Church, for the benefit of the
German-speaking people of the parish, and some of the families thus brought to
the church still remain members of the congregation.
There seems to have been little change in the condition
of affairs during Mr. Mayer's rectorship. The Sunday School was kept up by the
senior warden, and the contributions were about as in former years, though the
particulars are not recorded. In May, 1862, he reports, "Number of communicants,
A SKETCH of HIS LIFE.
Gustavus Wilhelm Mayer, the son of L.
G. Mayer and Marie Louise von Liebenstien, was born Sunday, April 26, 1835, in
Sussen, Wurtemberg, Germany, and was the elder of two children. His parents were
members of the Established Church of Wurtemberg (Lutheran), and he was baptized
in the parish church on the eighth day after his birth. He received his early
instruction in the parish school, and then in the Latin Grammar School at
Weiblingen, where he studied Latin and Greek and made such progress that at
thirteen he could read his Greek New Testament with ease and fluency. In 1848
his parents emigrated to America, and in 1853
he entered Princeton College, from which institution he was graduated in 1857.
After some months of study in the Princeton Theological Seminary he decided to
enter the ministry of the Episcopal Church, and consequently went to the
Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Virginia, becoming a cadidate for Holy
Orders from that diocese. He graduated from that institution in 1859, and on
October 2 of that year was ordained deacon in the chapel of the seminary by the
Rt. Rev. John Johns, D. D., Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia at that
He did temporary work in the dioceses of Virginia and
Maryland for about two years and then, on December 1, 1861, he was put in charge
of St. Luke's, Chartiers, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and Grace Church,
Mount Washington, by the Bishop of Pennsylvania. He was ordained to the
priesthood Sunday, January 19, 1862, in St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia, by
Bishop Alonzo Potter, and returning at once to Pittsburgh he celebrated the Holy
Communion, for the first time in his ministry, in Grace Church on the following
In 1863 he gave up his work in Pennsylvania, and after
about two years spent in Spring Hill Parish, Somerset County, Maryland, and in
missionary work in Elmira, New York, he accepted the rectorship of St. Mark's
Parish, Penn Yan, N. Y., in 1867.
Here, in the fall of 1870, he married Mary L. Potter,
youngest daughter of Samuel J. Potter, of that place. The next eleven years he
spent in missionary work in the West—one year in Cheyenne and ten years in San
Francisco, Cal, He returned East in 1881 and was appointed on the staff of the
City Mission clergy of New York, which position he held for ten years, being
also during this time chaplain of "Charity Hospital, Blackwell's Island, N. Y."
After one year of work at the Mission Church of the Holy Cross, New York, he
began labor in his present position, January 1, 1893, as priest in charge of St.
Matthew's (German) Mission Church in Newark, N. J. This work is specially
interesting to him, owing to the fact that it was in this church that the
impressions made upon him in his boyhood ultimately led to his entering the
ministry of the Episcopal Church.
Mr. Mayer is a very scholarly man, of high mental
endowments and keen literary perceptions; a fine sermonizer and a ready, fluent
VACANCY IN THE RECTORSHIP,
FROM APRIL, 1863, TO JUNE 26, 1866.
After the resignation of the Rev. Mr. Mayer there was
no rector for a little over three years. During this time services were
maintained with more or less regularity by Dr. L. H. Harris, acting as lay
reader, under the appointment of Bishop Stevens. Occasional clerical services,
with the administration of baptism and Holy Communion, were given by the Rev.
Dr. Van Dusen and the Rev. Messrs. Ten Broeck, Tschudy, Snively, Swope and
Fuller, of the city clergy. The Sunday School was kept open chiefly through the
efforts of the lay reader and Mr. and Mrs. Bigham, with an average attendance of
about 100 pupils.
Such frequent and long-continued interruptions in the
regular services of a parish are serious hindrances to its life and growth, and
sometimes lead to disastrous results. It was only the devoted faithfulness of a
few earnest souls that prevented the complete disorganization of the parish at
During the greater part of this period our civil war
was in progress, and all church as well as all benevolent enterprises, not
directly connected with the war, suffered greatly by the diversion of sympathy
and interest to the claims of that great struggle. The war, which threatened our
national existence, so engrossed the thoughts and absorbed the energies of our
people that they could give but little attention to anything else. At length,
however, peace came in 1865, and again men's thoughts and activities were
directed in the old channels, interest in church matters soon revived, and a
year later the vestry secured a rector and regular ministrations were resumed in
REV. BRYAN BERNARD KILLIKELLY, D. D.
7. THE REV. BRYAN BERNARD KILLIKELLY,
D. D., the seventh rector of the parish, entered upon his duties on Trinity
Sunday, May 26, 1866. He continued to officiate during a period of one year, and
then resigned, after evening prayer, on Sunday, June 2, 1867.
In the summer of 1865 extensive improvements in the
church building were undertaken. These improvements were not completed when Dr.
Killikelly became rector, and were afterward continued under his supervision. To
supply an urgent need, the floor of the church was raised four feet and the
ground below excavated sufficiently to give space for a basement Sunday School
and lecture room. This room was neatly finished on the walls and ceiling with
dressed flooring, and the old pews of the church were used to furnish it with
seats, and in it for the time being the services were held.
At this stage of the improvements the funds gave out,
leaving the body of the church unfurnished and unfinished. Moreover, it was
found that the debts already contracted over and above the sum of the
subscriptions amounted to $600. The vestry was unable at that time to raise the
money needed to complete the improvements and to meet their other obligations,
so, under these, circumstances, Dr. Killikelly decided to resign. He reported to
the Convention of the, Diocese of Pittsburgh in May, 1867: Communicants, 26;
Sunday School--teachers, 13; pupils, 110; and he ends his record in the Register
with this note: "I have the satisfaction of knowing that more has been done for
the parish and greater interest elicited in its work during the year now closed
than was ever done before; and I here desire to record my deep gratitude to
Almighty God for His great goodness in giving me favor in the sight of those to
whom I was called to minister, and for whose eternal welfare I shall not cease
Dr. Killikelly's work in the parish during the year
that he was rector was carried on at great disadvantage. He resided at
Kittanning, forty-five miles away, and when he had reached the city there was,
in those days, no way of getting to Mount Washington except by a fatiguing walk
up a long and steep
hill. He was at the time sixty-three years old, and by no
means robust; the journeys up and down, therefore, often so exhausted him that
he would be forced to seek some place of rest before he could proceed on his
way; and, unfortunately, the salary was not sufficient to justify him in moving
his family to live in the parish. He nevertheless worked on without complaining,
because it was the Lord's work, in whose sacred service he delighted to spend
his whole strength.
Dr. Killikelly was born on the Island of Barbadoes
January 18, 1804, where his father, formerly an officer in the British navy,
held an official position. In 1826 he came to the United States and engaged in
mercantile pursuits in the city of New York. He subsequently studied theology
and was admitted to deacon's orders by the Rt. Rev. H. U. Onderdonk, in St.
John's Church, Pittsburgh (then Lawrenceville), July 19, 1834, and was advanced
to the priesthood in Trinty Church, Freeport, Pa., by the same Bishop, on April
His whole ministerial life of forty-three years was
spent in Pennsylvania, except a period of nine years passed under Bishop Kemper,
at Vincennes, Ind., where he built a church and established a flourishing school
for young ladies. He officiated at various times in Kittanning, Freeport,
Paradise (Lancaster County), at Brady's Bend, and New Castle. After the close of
his rectorship in Grace Church, Mount Washington, he spent four years of hard
and faithful missionary work at McKeesport, where he planted the church that has
since become a strong parish. He died peacefully April 11, 1877.
As a man Dr. Killikelly was irreproachable. He was
courteous, gentle, sympathetic. As a priest, he lived above the world;
self-denying, ever ready to spend and be spent in his Master's service.
Dr. Killikelly in his notes in the register of the
parish, refers to the "seven clergymen" who had had charge of the parish before
him. In these seven he includes the Rev. William H. Paddock, under whose
chairmanship, as District Missionary of Western Pennsylvania, the parish was
organized; but Mr. Paddock, while he officiated a few times in the schoolhouse
for the congregation, never really had charge
of the parish. Dr. Killikeily was, therefore, the seventh rector.
COST OF THE BASEMENT IMPROVEMENT.
The cost of the basement (Sunday School and lecture room) amounted to $2,700.00.
Subscriptions to pay same:
Mrs. B. M. Ebbs.................... $500.00
Mr. John S. McMillin :..... ......... 500.00
Thomas J. Bigham and sons........ 250.00
Thomas M. Howe. .................. 300.00
George W. Cass ...................... 50.00
Sundry other sources................ 500.00
Total............................. $ 2,100.00
This left a debt of $600 at the time of Dr. Killikelly's resignation, as
REV. ROBERT JOHN COSTER, D. D.
8. THE REV. ROBERT JOHN COSTER, D. D., the eighth
rector of Grace Church, began duty April 5, 1868.
After resignation of Dr. Killikelly, on June 2, 1867,
there was a vacancy in the rectorship until April 5, 1868, when the Rev. R. J.
Coster held his first service as "missionary in charge," under the appointment
of the Rt. Rev. John B. Kerfoot, Bishop of Pittsburgh.* The congregation met for
service in the basement schoolroom, the body of the church being unfurnished and
otherwise unfinished. Service was now held regularly every Sunday morning, and a
session of the Sunday School every afternoon. The number that gathered for
public worship was small, being for some time not more than twenty persons.
During the first year only about fourteen communicants were found, as will be
seen by the parochial report of 1869, and the Sunday School had fallen off to
sixty-eight members. The small congregation was too burdened and discouraged by
a debt of $600, for the settlement of which the creditors were pressing. Rector
and people felt that it was an absolute necessity to get rid of this debt before
there could be any forward movement in the
*Elected rector Easter, 1869.
work of the parish. Measures were therefore at once adopted to raise money to
pay the overdue claims standing against the parish. Subscriptions were
solicited, and a fair was held in September, 1868, by which means sufficient
funds were secured to pay the indebtedness, that now amounted to $646. The
removal of this debt encouraged the congregagation and rector to undertake the
heavier task of completing and furnishing the church.
The vestry at this time was composed of the following
members: Edward Bratt, Senior Warden; John C. Shaler, Jr., Junior Warden; Samuel
Harper, Secretary and Treasurer; Thomas J. Bigham, William L. Bond, John S.
McMillin, William Halpin.
The congregation, vestry and rector were a unit in the
wish to complete the work of improvement begun about four years before, in 1865,
and though they were weak both in numbers and in finances, yet, being now free
from debt, they determined to proceed. Mrs. Bigham and the retor's wife
undertook, with the approval of the vestry, to raise the money for painting the
interior of the church and frescoing the walls. After some difficulty they
succeeded in obtaining the following amounts:
John H. Shoenberger .................. $50.00
Mr. Mattern ............................. 20.00
Concerts—tickets sold, 12 ............... 6.00
Collected by Mrs. Bigham .............. 30.00
Simon Johnston .......................... 5.00
C.C.Colton ............................... 4.00
William Metcalf and sister .............. 2.00
Reuben Miller .......................... 20.00
A. Kirkpatrick ......................... 10.00
Mr. Thomas Fulton .................... 20.00
William Noble............................ 5.00
R. H. Hartley .......................... 10.00
George Lowen .......................... 5.00
Miss Augusta Shaler .................... 5.00
Joseph Knap ............................ 5.00
Collectedby Mr. Bigham .............. 29.00
Mrs. R. J. Coster ..................... 32.25
Rev. R. J. Coster ..................... 68.00
This amount they expended as follows:
John Stulen, frescoing and painting
Joseph Wood, erecting scaffolds for
Plating chalice and flagon, etc .......... 13.50
Altar cloth ................................ 25.75
Altar cross ................................. 9.00
It may here be mentioned, that the use of the altar
cross procured by the rector was objected to by some members of the vestry, and
it was removed and presented to another parish in the diocese.
The vestry went vigorously to work to raise the rest of
the money required to put in pews, chancel furniture and carpets, and by
subscriptions among themselves and by contributions from their friends secured
the necessary amount, about $1,000. (It is a matter of regret that the
treasurer's book containing the subscriptions cannot be found.) And now the work
of finishing the church was pushed on steadily, the services being held
meanwhile, as they had been for several years, in the basement schoolroom.
About the middle of July, 1869, the refitting was
completed, and on Sunday, July 19, the church was again opened for divine
service, the first time since early in the summer of 1865. The day was very
auspicious—clear and pleasant; the congregation was large and hopeful. The
Bishop was present (Kerfoot) to share in the pleasure of the congregation and
rector, preached the sermon and confirmed a class of eight persons, the first
class under the present rector, composed of the following persons: Edward Bratt,
Sr., Nellie Ruth Bratt, Mary Lowen Goldthorp, Mary Rebecca Torrence, Kate
Goldthorp, Sarah Ann Torrence, Elizabeth Goldthorp and Amelia Shafer. The record
of this class is a matter of great pleasure to the rector. Three, faithful to
the end, have gone to their rest—Edward Bratt, Sr., Mary L. Goldthorp and Sarah
A. Torrence (Mrs. Burrell) ; two, after long and faithful service in the choir
and the Sunday School, have moved to the East End of our city—the sisters
Kate (now Mrs. Dermitt) and Elizabeth Goldthorp; one has withdrawn, and the
other two, Nellie R. Bratt (now Mrs. Shaer) and Mary R. Torrence, are still
among the parish workers.
The next wish of the rector and congregation was to see
the now completed church duly consecrated to the worship of Almighty God, that
all might feel that it was a sacred edifice, forever separated from unhallowed
uses. But as the amount raised by subscriptions had not been sufficient to meet
the whole cost of the improvements, a fair was held in the latter part of
September, and other collections made, and the amount thus secured enabled the
vestry to pay the full cost of the improvements.
At the same time Mr. Thomas J. Bigham assigned to the
vestry a claim of several hundred dollars which he held against the church, thus
leaving the property
entirely free from debt. The rector and vestry were now in a position to carry
out their wish. They therefore certified to the Bishop of the Diocese the Rt.
Rev. John B. Kerfoot, D. D., that their property was unencumbered, and asked him
to consecrate the church. In response to their request the Bishop appointed
Sunday, December 26, 1869, as the time for the consecration. The day was again
propitious, being clear and pleasant, and a large congregation gathered to
witness the interesting ceremony. The senior warden, Mr. Edward Bratt, met the
Bishop at the door and presented to him the keys of the church, which the Bishop
received and afterward placed upon the altar. The deed of donation and request
to consecrate, which had been duly signed by the rector, wardens and vestrymen
at a meeting of the vestry held on Saturday, December 18, 1869, was presented
and read by the junior warden, John C. Shaler, Jr. This was also received by the
Bishop and laid upon the altar.
The document is in the handwriting of the Rev. Abel A.
Kerfoot, the Bishop's son, and reads as follows:
DEED OF DONATION.
PRESENTED AT THE CONSECRATION OF GRACE CHURCH,
PITTSBURGH, SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS,
DECEMBER 26, 1869.
We the rector, churchwardens and vestrymen of Grace
Church, Mount Washington, (Allegheny Coun-
ty), in the State of Pennsylvania, and Diocese of Pittsburgh, being, by the good
Providence of Almighty God, in possession of a house of worship, erected on the
southeast corner of Bertha and Sycamore Streets, Mount Washington, Pittsburgh,
do hereby appropriate and devote the same to the worship and service of Almighty
God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, according to the provisions of that
branch of the Catholic Church of Christ known as the Protestant Episcopal Church
in the United States of America, in its ministry, doctrine, liturgy, rites, and
usages, and for occupation and use by a congregation in communion with the
convention thereof in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
And we do also hereby request the RT. Rev. John Barrett
Kerfoot, D. D., L. L. D., the said Bishop of the Diocese, to take the said
building under his spiritual jurisdiction as Bishop aforesaid, and that of his
successors in office, and to consecrate the same by the name of Grace Church,
Mount Washington, and thereby separate it from all unhallowed, worldly and
common uses, and solemnly dedicate it to the purposes above mentioned.
And we do moreover, covenant and agree, in behalf of
this vestry and parish, that this house, being thus, at our request, duly
consecrated by the Bishop of the Diocese, shall be held and used in a true
conformity with the office of consecration, and with the canons of the General
Convention and of this Dioeese.
And we do furthermore solemnly declare, upon our honor
as Christian men, that there is no lien, charge, responsibility or debt unpaid
or subsisting with which the said church or building, or the corporation or
congregation owning it or worshipping therein, is or can be, either legally or
In testimony whereof, we, the said rector,
churchwardens and vestrymen, have caused this instrument of donation to be
prepared, and have thereunto subscribed our several names and affixed our seals,
this 18th day of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine.
ROBERT JOHN COSTER, Rector. [SEAL.]
EDWARD BRATT, [SEAL.] Warden
JOHN C. SEALER, JR., [SEAL.] Warden
THOMAS J. BIGHAM, [SEAL.] Vestryman
WILLIAM BOND, [SEAL.] Vestryman
JOHN S. MCMILLIN, [SEAL.] Vestryman
SAMUEL HARPER, [SEAL.] Vestryman
WILLIAM HALPIN, ) [SEAL.] Vestryman
The Bishop then, in accordance with the request and in
conformity with the usages of the American Church, proceeded with the service of
consecration. At the direction of the Bishop, the rector, the Rev. Robt. John
Coster, read the sentence of consecration, which had been prepared and signed by
the Bishop. It was as follows:
SENTENCE OF CONSECRATION,
GRACE CHURCH, MOUNT WASHINGTON, ALLEGHENY
COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH.
In the name of the holy, blessed and undivided Trinity,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen
Whereas, the rector, churchwardens and vestrymen of
Grace Church, Mount Washington, have by an Instrument this day presented to us,
appropriated and devoted this house to the worship and service of Almighty God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, according to the provision of the Holy
Catholic Church, and of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of
America, in its ministry, doctrine liturgy, rites and usages; and for occupancy
and use by a congregation in communion thereof in the Diocese of Pittsburgh: And
whereas, the same rector, churchwardens and vestrymen have, by the same
instrument, requested us to consecrate their said house of worship by the name
of Grace Church, Mount Washington, and thereby separate it from all unhallowed,
worldly and common uses, and solemnly dedicate it to the holy purposes above
mentioned: Now, therefore, know all men by these presents, that we, John Barrett
Kerfoot, by Divine permission, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and acting under the
protection of Almighty God, and in His faith and
fear have on this 26th day of December, being the first Sunday after Christmas
and the Feast of St. Stephen, the Martyr, in the year of our Lord 1869, taken
the above-mentioned house of worship under our spiritual jurisdiction as Bishop
aforesaid, and that of our successors in office; and in presence of divers of
the clergy and of a congregation therein assembled, and according to the godly
usage of the Catholic Church of Christ, and the form prescribed by the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, have consecrated
the same by the name of Grace Church, Mount Washington; and we do hereby
pronounce and declare that the said Grace Church, Mount Washington, is
consecrated accordingly, and thereby separated henceforth from all unhallowed,
worldly and common uses, and dedicated to the worship and service of Almighty
God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, for reading and preaching His Holy
Word; for celebrating His Holy Sacraments; for offering to His Glorious Majesty
the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for blessing His people in His name,
and for the performance of all other holy offices, and the administration of all
holy ordinances, agreeable to His will, made known in the terms of the Covenant
of Grace and Salvation in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, according to the
usages of His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and the provisions of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in its ministry,
doctrines, liturgy, rites and usages.
In testimony whereof, we have hereunto affixed our
signature and Episcopal seal, on this 26th day of December, in the year of our
Lord 1869, and in the fourth year of our consecration.
[L. S.] JOHN BARRETT KERFOOT,
Bishop of Pittsburgh.
At the conclusion of the service the Bishop
congratulated the rector and the congregation on the improvement in their church
and commended the spirit of reverence and loyalty to churchly usage which
prompted them to have their house of worship duly consecrated.
Services were now held regularly in the church every
Sunday morning and Sunday School in the afternoon.
During the following year (1870), nothing noteworthy
occurred. The life of the parish flowed on evenly. The expenses were maintained
at considerable cost to the small congregation. The Easter service was a very
beautiful one, good music being furnished by a volunteer choir composed of the
following persons: Mrs. Brunt, Misses Nellie Shaler, Mary Goldthorp, Annie
Hughes and Messrs. George Prosser and William Ritchie.
The Sunday School continued to give instruction to a
large number of children of parents not belonging to Grace Church. The
efficiency of the school was kept up during the years of 1870 and 1871 largely
by the earnest work of Mr. John C. Shaler and Mr. George Lovelock. In January,
1872, we lost the assistance of Mr. Shaler, whose business interests took him
first to Cincinnati, and then to St. Louis; and we had many anxious thoughts as
to who should fill his place.
An interesting part of a rector's work is the
preparation of his classes for confirmation. The frequent meetings for
instruction give him opportunity of becoming intimately acquainted with his
young people and offer chances for personal direction and counsel, such as no
other period affords. The present rector looks back with great pleasure to these
periods of Intimate intercourse, many of which have been the brightest spots in
the ministerial work of his life. He remembers now with special interest his
meetings with the class of 1873. This class was composed of grown people, all of
them the personal friends of the rector, and their earnestness, attention and
demeanor made the hours of instruction peculiarly interesting.
Three of them, having finished their course in faith,
have gone to their reward. Two others are doing faithful work in the church,
fully meeting the rector's expectations of their usefulness in the Master's
service, one of these, Mr. E. H. Dermitt, after long serving Grace Church as
choir master and vestryman, has moved from the parish and is now actively aiding
the church elsewhere; the other, Melville L. Stout, is still among the efficient
workers of the parish, being now a vestryman of the parish, and for most of the
intervening years organist of the church.
During the summer of 1875 the church
was newly frescoed and painted, having become very dingy in six years, from the
prevalence of dust and smoke in the atmosphere of Pittsburgh, the Smoky City. At
the same time Mr. William Halpin put in a stained-glass chancel window, as a
memorial to his father and mother, which added very much to the beauty and
sacredness of our church.
During the summer of 1876 the church lot was enclosed
with a new iron fence, new boardwalks were laid around the church, and the
Sunday School room was painted and frescoed, thus putting the whole premises in
The early part of 1879 was marked by an unusual
circumstance, the death of three aged members of the congregation, within three
months, namely Mrs. Mary Lowen, wife of George T. Lowen, aged 70 years; Mrs.
Sarah Reese, mother of Mrs. Mary E. Torrence, aged 87; and Mrs. Maria Adams,
widow of the late William Adams, aged 78. Mrs. Lowen lived too far from the
church and Mrs. Reese was too feeble from age to attend the services often, but
Mrs. Adams, up to the last two years of her life, when disease obliged her to go
to the Aged Women's Home for treatment, was a regular worshiper at the services.
She sat close up to the front, and the rector could not help noting her regular
attendance. She, like the other two here mentioned, was of English birth, and
inherited some of the English prejudice against everything that she thought
savored of Romanism. On one occasion a new set of bookmarks was put in the
Bible, having crosses on the ends, and as they hung immediately before the eyes
of the good woman she could not help seeing them, and the sight so disturbed her
simple mind that she staid away from service several Sundays. The rector
noticing this, went to see her and, learning what troubled her, explained the
meaning of the symbol and the harmlessness of its use, and so satisfied her mind
that she at once began again her regular attendance and never afterward
questioned anything that her rector did. In her will she left the sum of fifty
dollars to Grace Church, and the rector and vestry set it apart as the beginning
of an endowment for the parish, and called the fund, in her memory,
"The Maria Adams Endowment Fund." The death of these aged women took away three
who bad been connected with the parish from its beginning, and diminished the
number of those familiar with its early history and interested in its early
Whatever tends to beautify the church or to render its
appointments more complete is worthy of mention. It is recorded here, therefore,
that on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1880, Miss Emma Bennett, sister of Mrs. Sarah
Boggs, presented to the church a handsome stone font as a thank offering. The
one previously used was a plain wooden font, put in when the church was first
opened, in 1853, and this was now presented St. Paul's Church, Georgetown.
Easter Sunday, 1881, was a bright and beautiful day,
and the rector, choir and people looked forward an inspiring and joyous service,
and they were not disappointed. The church was beautifully decked with flowers,
the symbols of the resurrection, a full congregation was in attendance, and the
choir had made special preparation for rendering in a manner suitable to the
high festival, the musical part of the service. At that time the following were
the members of the choir: Mrs. E. H. Dermitt, Mrs. James Boggs, Mrs. Joshua
Goldthorp, Mrs. Joel Bigham, Mr. E. H. Dermitt, Mr. Edwin Smith and Mr. Samuel
Williams; the organist was Mr. M. L. Stout. The chants, anthems and hymns were
sung with beautiful effect, lifting up all present to a high plane of devotion.
The rector's Easter sermon was from the text, I Corinthians xv, 20: "Now is
Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.''
The aim of the preacher was to set forth the two main results that come to
Christians from the resurrection of Christ; namely, a new spiritual life, by
which they now overcome sin, and a resurrection hereafter unto life eternal.
About thirty- five communed, and the service ended with all feeling that it was
indeed a blessing to share in such worship in the house of the Lord.
Another event of special importance occurring in the
year 1881 was the completing and setting up in the church of the new pipe organ.
As early as March 22, 1874, the matter of purchasing an organ was
talked over in the vestry, but it was not until seven years later that the
matter was accomplished. The story of its purchase has been told in another
place, and hence it is only necessary to say here that it was built by Barckhoff
and set up in the church in October, and was used the first time at morning
service Sunday, November 6, 1881. The possession of the organ was the cause of
great rejoicing on the part of all those interested in the music of the church,
as its tones added a dignity and richness to the musical part of the service
unattainable with the small reed organ hitherto in use. Its possession was also
a a matter of special interest for the reason that it represented the
self-denial and patient labor of the few who, discouraged neither by opposition
nor delay, worked on until this gift to the Lord's house was secured. One fully
acquainted with the numerical and financial strength of the parish at that time
will appreciate what this statement means.
As a slight indication of what was being done at this
time for the promotion of the spiritual welfare of the parish, a copy of a
Lenten Pastoral, issued by the rector in 1882, will be here given. In it will be
found notice of the services and a few words of instruction and advice in regard
to the duties of the season.
The first page was as follows:
MOUNT WASHINGTON, SOUTH SIDE.
Every Wednesday—Evening Prayer and Lecture,
7:30 o'clock. Every Friday—Evening Prayer, 4 o'clock.
Third Wednesday in Lent, March 8, 7:30 P. M.
First Sunday in Lent, February 26th, 10:30 A. M.
Third Sunday in Lent, March 12th, 10:30 A. M.
Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 26th, 10:30 A. M.
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 9th
Morning Prayer, with Sermon and Holy Communion,
10:30 A. M.
Sunday School Service, 3:00 P. M.
"In everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus."—Philippians iv, 6, 7.
BELOVED BRETHREN: Again, in the providence God, the
season of Lent, by the Church's appointment, calls us to self-examination and
prayer. As your pastor, therefore, I bid you heed the Church's voice, and use
the precious opportunity again vouch-safed to you.
Special services have been appointed that all may have
the privilege of enjoying the means of grace more frequently during these days
of humiliation and prayer.
I bid you come to these services regularly. Come to
them also devoutly, praying and expecting to meet there Jesus, the Friend of
sinners, who has said that "where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them." And that you may realize that He is present in
the services of His Church, prepare your hearts to meet Him, by meditating upon
His love for sinners, by reading, His Word as appointed by the Church, and by
earnest continued prayer for His blessing upon yourself upon His whole Church
during this holy season. Lent may be, and will be, a great blessing to all who,
in a humble mind and devout heart, use it diligently.
Let me make the following suggestions as helpful in the
due observance of the season:
THINGS TO BE AVOIDED.
(a) Light amusements, such as parties, operas and novel
reading, as inconsistent with the sober and self-examining temper and spirit of
(b) Idleness and frivolity, as tending to weaken our
moral sense and to divert our thoughts from the necessity of repenting of our
(c) Ill temper, unkind speech and hardness of heart, as
unbecoming those who are trying to follow the footsteps of the meek and lowly
Jesus, and to become like Him.
THINGS TO BE REMEMBERED.
(a) Sin is a solemn fact in human nature. It is marring
our lives and robbing us of peace. Lent is the time for examining ourselves in
the light of God's Word, and for striving to get the mastery over our known
sins. The struggle is one of life and death. If sin conquer us, and lead us
captive at will, death is the result. If we conquer sin in the power of Christ,
we have everlasting life.
(b) Our blessed Lord is the friend of sinners. He loves
them. He gave His life for them. He is, therefore, your Friend, and will give
you His life if you receive Him in faith and love. Let Him, then, dwell with you
during the days of Lent, and thereby bless you with His presence.
(c) None, however sinful, need despair of receiving
salvation. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,"
saith the Lord. God, for Christ's sake, waits to be gracious. Now is the day of
salvation. "Ask and ye shall receive," is our Lord's assuring promise.
THINGS TO BE DONE.
Fasting,— This is one form of self-denial that enables
us to get the mastery over our appetites. Therefore, deny yourself luxuries and
delicacies, and even abstain from food at stated times, and thus bring the body
into subjection to the spirit. This will be a good preparation for the higher
duties of Lent.
Prayer.—(a) Be more regular and devout in your private
prayers. These are between God and your soul. He alone sees the heart and knows
all its desires. Ask earnestly, therefore, for a right spirit in His sight. (b)
Attend regularly the Lenten services. Let not your seat be vacant, nor your
voice be silent, when the Lord's people meet to honor His name and to ask His
blessing. And when present be not list-
less and inattentive. Join with heart and voice in all the acts of worship, and
thus make the service a blessing to yourself and to others,
Almsgiving.—Our worship will be incomplete unless to
our self-denial and prayer we add our offerings. We are Christ's representatives
on earth. We must, therefore, in His name support the works of the Church
carried on for His glory and the salvation of men. Freely have we received of
Him, freely let us give, and so win for ourselves the honor of being His
co-workers. Our hearts, our wills, our means are things to be offered. These our
Lord will accept and use to His glory and our eternal interest.
Your friend and pastor,
ROBERT JOHN COSTER.
The Lenten services this year on Wednesday evenings and
Friday afternoons were well attended, and these, with the Bishop's annual
visitation on the third Sunday in Lent, and the bright Easter services, were a
great comfort and encouragement to the rector and his small band of workers.
The life of the parish, as the years went by, flowed on
with the usual fluctuations and frictions incident to all affairs conducted by
men subject to the prejudices and infirmities of human nature. The rector,
however, can safely say that while a change was going on in the personnel of the
congregation by deaths, removals and additions, there was as much of unity and
harmony in the parish and as much of confidence and respect manifested for the
rector, or perhaps more, than is usual in most of our parishes. While some of
those who first welcomed the rector to the parish had moved away, and others had
departed to the
better land, there were still many of the older members of the congregation left
to hold up the rector's hands and to encourage him with their confidence and
sympathy; and for this mark of divine favor he has ever felt deeply grateful.
But time inevitably brings changes. As the years go by
one after another of the well-known forms and faces disappear, and when one
looks over the congregation he will see here and there the places of old
friends vacant or filled by others. The years 1883, 1884 and 1885 were marked by
the removal from the parish by death of several of its long-tried and faithful
In the spring of 1883 Mrs. Sarah Goldthorp was laid to
rest—a woman whose life was a blessing to her family, to her neighborhood, to
her church. She was the daughter of George T. Lowen and the wife of Samuel H.
Goldthorp; a patient, dutiful wife; a tender and affectionate mother, whose life
was given to her children; a kind and affectionate friend, who always had a word
of cheer or sympathy for those who approached her; a deeply pious woman, whose
religion was of the heart and whose life was a constant witness to the reality
of her faith. A pure, gentle soul, above reproach full of good works. Her memory
lingers with us like that of a pleasant, happy dream. It is an honor to her
church to have her name enrolled among its departed ones.
In September of the same year another gentle, faithful
soul was removed from the parish. Mrs. Ruth Reed. Though only thirty-three years
old, she was ripe in Christian character. She was born and raised in Brownsville
and was the wife of Samuel G. Reed. She was a true and faithful wife and mother,
whom her husband and children most fondly venerate for her pure life and noble
character. Bene dormiat.
Early in 1884 another devout soul, Mrs. Jane Bratt, was
laid to rest, in her 77th year. Her familiar form had long been seen constantly
at the church services. Rarely was she absent. She was a devout communicant,
firmly attached to her church, and a faithful friend of her rector. She raised a
large family of sons and daughters, devoted herself to her husband and children,
and at a ripe old age, after much suffering, borne with exemplary patience,
surrounded by her family, she departed full of hope and peace.
In autumn of the same year another aged servant of our
Divine Master, Hon. Thomas J. Bigham, after a long and useful life, was laid to
rest, full of faith and good works. He was one of the founders of the
of the church and one of its most faithful supporters and most devout
communicants. His connection with the parish from its beginning and his long
services in its behalf have been recorded elsewhere in this work. Indeed, it
might almost be said that the church is a memorial to himself and his wife, and
that its history is a memoir of him and his family.
In the next year, on November 1, 1885, All Saints' Day,
another aged and devout member of the parish, Edward Bratt, Sr., aged 80 years,
was laid to rest beside his wife, in Allegheny Cemetery. He was known as Squire
Bratt, from the fact that he was long a justice of the peace on Mount
Washington. He was widely known and everywhere respected for his integrity. He
was for many years a regular worshiper and communicant of the parish, and also a
vestryman and treasurer; serving the church faithfully in every capacity and
contributing freely to its support according to his means. He was essentially a
man of peace, and all who knew him honor his name and thank the Merciful Father
for the good example of his faithful and aged servant. A sketch of his life will
be found elsewhere in this work.
By the death of these members of the parish, whose
lives had been so fully identified with its life and work, the rector felt that
he had sustained a personal loss. He had known them intimately from the
beginning of his connection with the parish in 1886, and had always been a
welcome guest at their homes. He knew, too, from their words and deeds that he
was respected as their pastor and loved as friend; so the parish's loss was his
loss, and it is therefore a great pleasure to him to pay this tribute of respect
to the memory of these parishioners and friends.
The formation of a boy choir for the church was an
event that marks the history of the year 1886. From the organization of the
parish in 1852 the music had been furnished by a volunteer choir of men and
women, and for the most part it had been rendered with great acceptability.
During the present rectorship often, indeed, the music was of a high
degree of excellence, and notably during the successive periods of time in which
Mr. William Digby, Mr. George Prosser and Mr. E. H. Dermitt had been leaders of
the choir. These leaders were assisted by some devoted workers, and to them and
their helpers justice will be done in another part of this work for their
faithful services, long and freely given.
There were times, however, when it was difficult to
obtain singers among the people of the parish, and when it was almost impossible
to maintain the choir to any fair degree of efficiency. By removals from the
parish of persons skilled in music and by the lack of interested singers in the
congregation, this was the case in the year 1886. Then it was that a devoted
churchwoman of the parish, who since the first Sunday in January, 1876, had been
one of the most useful members of the choir, undertook to select and train a
number of boys to furnish the music for the services. She went vigorously to
work in the matter during the fall of 1886, and after several month's
instruction she, with the consent of the rector and vestry, introduced the boys
at the morning service on the Sunday after Christmas, December 26, and they then
for the first time sang in the service. This was a great innovation in our
conservative parish, and many were the fears and anxieties of its best workers
in regard to the success of the venture. However, the enthusiasm and
perseverance of Mrs. Goldthorp gave to the boy choir a fairly successful start,
and it has been maintained in the church ever since with varying but, on the
whole, increasing efficiency and acceptableness. (See subsequent addition.)
The boys at first wore only plain cassocks, and they
continued to sing thus vested for about three months; then the ladies of the
Mite Society, who had furnished the cassocks, supplied them with cottas made by
their own hands; and on the fifth Sunday in Lent, March 27, 1887, at morning
service, when the Bishop was making his annual visitation to the parish, the
boys, twelve in number, appeared in full vestments for the first time, They
marched in, singing as the processional,
"The Church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ, her Lord."
and taking their places in the stalls sang very creditably, under the direction
of Mrs. Goldthorp, with Mr. M. L. Stout at the organ. One can readily imagine
the interest that the first appearance of the choir in their vestments created
in the congregation, and the curiosity that was awakened to see how matters
would proceed. The result, under the circumstances, was on this occasion highly
creditable to all concerned.
One of the chief difficulties in the successful
management of the boy choir, when first introduced, was that of maintaining
proper decorum and reverence during divine service. The choir was a volunteer
one, and the boys who composed it had not previously been under any strict
discipline, such as would form
habits of order and obedience. It was hard, therefore, to make them feel that
their position and duty required quietness of manner and dignity of conduct
while in the chancel, to make their services acceptable to the congregation. The
rector and vestry were on several occasions much disturbed by the lack of order
and self-control shown during service, and had, consequently, serious doubts as
to the wisdom of trying to retain the services of the boys. But firmness and
patience on the part of the management in a short time greatly improved matters
and thereby removed the objections to the boy choir, and now it has become one
of the fixed institutions of the parish.
Here it must be noted, to the credit of all concerned
in originating and maintaining the boy choir, that the services rendered are
voluntary, and without compensation. This makes the choir service a freewill
offering— a gift to our Divine Master; and while the rector and congregation
highly appreciate the faithfulness and sacrifices of former as well as present
members of the choir, it will help us all to remember that no service of love
will ever be forgotten by the Great .Head of the Church. At the last day He will
say, "You did it unto Me."
The year 1887 was marked by great improvement in the
interior appointments of the church. At Easter there were presented a
eagle lectern in walnut, a prayer desk and stall, and a credence table,
memorials of Edward and Jane Bratt, who for many years adorned the church and
glorified their Divine Master by their simple, faithful lives. These appropriate
memorials, made by Lamb & Co., of New York, were the loving gifts of the
children of Mr. and Mrs. Bratt. They beautify the Lord's house and keep
fresh the memory of the departed; they may also be regarded as thank-offerings
to God for His mercies to His departed servants.
In the summer of this year the church was further
beautified with rich stained-glass windows, which took the place of the plain
diamond-shaped glass put in when the church was first built. This adornment was
accomplished chiefly by the aid of the Mite Society of the congregation, at a
cost of about $700. Very material assistance in raising the necessary funds was
also given by the children of the Goldthorp family. The work was done in a very
creditable manner, by Marshall & Bros., of Allegheny, after designs suggested by
the rector and a committee of ladies from the Mite Society.
The first window from the chancel in the south wall is
a memorial to Thomas J. Bigham. In the center of the window is an open Bible,
across whose pages is written the text, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a
light unto my paths."—Psalm cxix, 105. The appropriateness of this symbol and of
these words on the memorial to Mr. Bigham arises from the fact that he was a
diligent student of the Bible, and a man well acquainted with its contents.
Below is the inscription, "In Memory of Thomas J. Bigham, Died November 9, 1884,
Aged 74 Years."
Next to this window in the south wall is a memorial to
two members of the Goldthorp family. In the middle of the window is an emblem of
Faith, a female figure gazing upon the Cross, and below is the inscription, "In
Memory of Sarah Lowen Goldthorp. Died March 19, 1883, Aged 53 Years." And under
this, "Mary Goldthorp Steele. Died February 13, 1886, Aged 33 Years." And below
"The Just Shall Live by Faith."
Next to this is a memorial to the departed members of
the Mite Society of the Church. In the middle of the window is a cluster of
lilies, below it the inscription, "In Memory of the Departed of the Mite
Society." " Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of
life."—Revelation ii, 10.
In the north wall, the first window from the chancel is
a memorial to Edward Bratt. In the middle of the window is a full-ripe sheaf of
wheat, and below it the text, "He will gather the wheat into His garner" Luke
iii, 17; and the inscription, " In Memory Edward Bratt. Died October 30, 1885,
Aged 80 Years."
The next window is a memorial to Bishop Kerfoot. In the
crown of the window are the crossed keys; in the middle, the mitre and staff,
and below the inscription, "In Memory of John Barrett Kerfoot, First Bishop of
Pittsburgh. Died July 10, 1881, Aged 64 Years." Know them which labor among you
and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and esteem them very highly in
love for their works' sake" —I Thessalonians v, 12, 13.
The putting in of these windows greatly beautified the
church, and their presence serves constantly to remind the living of the
departed faithful. It was a labor of love which deepened "the unity of spirit"
and strengthened "the bond of peace,'' in the parish, and awakened in many the
perception of the great truth of the communion of saints, making them realize
more fully than hitherto that
"The living and the dead
But one communion make;
All join in Christ their head,
And of His life partake."
The year 1888 was marked by two events which give it
special prominence in the history of the parish
The first of these events was the presentation for
confirmation at the Bishop's visitation on Palm Sunday, March 25, of a class of
33 persons-16 men and 17 women. This was the largest class the rector had ever
presented, and consequently the occasion was one of deep interest. The day was
rainy, but the
congregation was large, the music was good, and the Bishop preached a most
effective sermon appropriate to Palm Sunday. After administering the rite of
confirmation the Bishop, with much feeling and earnestness, exhorted the class
to faithfulness in the duties of the Christian life. This large class showed
that there was life in the parish, and greatly encouraged pastor and people, and
gave hope for the future of our work.
The other event that specially marked this year was the
completion at Easter of the twentieth year of the rector's service in the
parish, an event that the congregation was not willing to let pass without a
fitting commemoration. This commemoration began on April 1, with the Easter Day
service. The church was beautifully dressed with palms and flowers; the
congregation indicated its interest by gathering in its full strength; the
vested choir, under the direction of Mrs. Goldthorp, with Mr. Stout at the
organ, made special preparation for beautifying the service with music
appropriate to the day and the occasion. The rector preached from the text, "The
same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut
where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in
the midst, and saith unto them, "Peace be unto you."—St. John xx, 19; and set
forth the thought that the resurrection of Christ is the seal of Divine Truth
affixed to all His promises, commands and revelations, and the pledge to us of a
resurrection to life eternal. At the close of his sermon the rector said:
"On a great festival like Easter it is necessary of
that words should be spoken suitable to the day and is its lessons. Now, if you
will bear with me a few moments longer, I desire to indulge in a brief
retrospect of the history of the parish for the last twenty years, which closes
with this day's services. Perhaps such a retrospect may encourage us in our work
for Christ and His Church, and awaken in our hearts new zeal for our Master's
service, and new determination to do more in the future for the extension of the
Kingdom of our Risen Lord."
He then gave a short sketch of what had been done, of
the obstacles that had been overcome, and of the progress that had been made. He
spoke of the great assistance that he and the parish had received in all these
years from the Mite Society of the congregation, and referred to the fact that
it was a part of the history of the past year that a Laymen's Guild had been
formed, which was now an equally important agency in the parish. He then urged
all to work together in faith and love for the promotion of God's glory in their
midst, reminding them that the time is short, and that the night cometh, in
which no man can work; that this was their day and opportunity for giving proof
of their faith and love. Continuing, he said:
"Whatever has been done in the past twenty years in our
midst for the glory of God, to Him be all the praise, for we are at best only
unprofitable servants. And yet God waits to be gracious, and if we bow heart and
will before Him, and beg Him to accept and bless our feeble services, He will
pour His blessings upon us, and fill us with all the fulness of His grace, and
enable us at last to stand in His presence and hear these blessed words, 'Well
done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy thy Lord.'"
The church was again filled at 3 o'clock in the
afternoon, at the service held for the Sunday School. After evening prayer the
rector addressed the children and then catechised them. The responses were good,
showing that the children really learn the catechism in the Sunday School. The
singing by the school, assisted by the choir, was very hearty, adding much to
the beauty and spirit of the service. The school numbered 133 scholars and 14
teachers. Its efficiency was largely due to the faithful management of the
Superintendent, Mr. John C. Shaler, Jr.
On Thursday of the same week, April 5, the twentieth
anniversary of the rector's first service in the church, the real commemoration
was held, in the schoolroom of the church, of which event the following account,
prepared at the time, is here inserted:
Go To Pages 40 - 106
Return to Top of Page
Return to Allegheny County Archives Index Page
Allegheny County Archives File Manager
Copyright 1997-2008, USGenWeb Archives