Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


Centennial History

of Methodism

in Clearfield, PA


1810 - 1910

George W. Rheem


Chapter 4


transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels



This page was last updated on 23 Apr 2011

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  At the Quarterly Conference held at Curwensville, June 5th, 1867, it was "Resolved, that the trustees of the Church at Clearfield, be authorized to proceed to the erection of the Church at once."

  This action was taken in response to the action of Clearfield trustees who, on January 5th, 1866, had taken preliminary steps by appointment of committees to solicit subscriptions and to purchase the ground on the Mitchell road, south of town and all the tools suitable for brick making from D. G. Nivling. The ground and tools were purchased for the sum of $1,500. Thos. J. McCullough was authorized to solicit subscriptions. January 11th, the president and treasurer and secretary of the board of trustees were appointed to make arrangements to have the wood on the grounds cut up to be used for burning the bricks to be made, and here it may be said that the able bodied men of the Church resolved themselves into a committee for the wood cutting and in the early spring met on the ground and cut nearly enough wood to burn the required number of bricks for the building.

  Plans for the Church were received from Henry Baird, of Williamsport, to correspond with the Mulberry Methodist Episcopal Church, which he had built in that city and these plans were nearly followed in this building.

  Jonathan Boynton and J. B. McEnally were appointed to act with T. J. McCullough, in soliciting subscriptions. March 26th, John Troutman, president and Geo. W. Rheem, secretary, made a contract with John Hartman,





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of Hollidaysburg, to make and burn 500,000 bricks for the sum of seven dollars per thousand, kiln count to be paid in certain sums as the work progressed, the trustees to furnish all lumber for drying sheds and all tools needed and all moulding sands, and one horse to run the clay tempering machine. The whole contract to be completed in the year 1866. Hartman commenced the work early in the spring and was a good workman and thoroughly understood the work, but unfortunately proved himself to be a drinking man and by frequent sprees greatly neglected his work and by November had only moulded 250,000 bricks and none burned.

  The trustees then took the contract out of his hands, very much against his will, he having failed in all his promises to complete the work. Mr. John H. Fulford was sent to Philipsburg to find a man to set and bum the bricks already moulded and secured the services of Moses Mayer to do so, which was done in December

  Contracts were made with Jas. B. Graham to deliver all the rough lumber required in the erection of the Church for the sum of $13.50 per M on the grounds and with A. L. Ogden for stone for foundation at $2.00 per perch.

  The building committee was authorized to select a suitable person to superintend the building of the Church and they made arrangements with R. B. Taylor to procure material and employ all workmen needed on the work, all to be submitted to the trustees for their approval, and he to receive the sum of $5.00 per day for all the time he may be actually employed in the work.

  The committee reported that they had sold the brick yard, including all sheds and tools and wood on the ground for the sum of $800, to Mr. William W. Betts,





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and also agreed with him that he should furnish enough bricks to complete the building for the sum of $10 per thousand at the kiln.

  The building was estimated to cost $16,000, all completed, but when it was under roof the cost was almost up to the whole estimate and the subscriptions were not nearly up to it, but Mr. Jonathan Boynton told us to go ahead and he would loan us all the money we needed and we did so, although he had already advanced $4,040, and collecting all we could, only the basement was completed. So great was the anxiety on the part of the members to avoid a heavy debt that nearly all of the subscribers doubled their subscriptions, and the work went on during the summer and by the time the basement was finished and the furnishings placed, we had a debt of $3,300 to provide for. Saturday, April 7th, 1867, a very sad thing occurred to one of the members of our Sunday school, Alice Foley, resulting in her death by drowning. The family home was in the house now owned by N. McQuillan, on the river bank on South Second Street. She and Annie Barrett were playing on a raft tied up in front of their house and by some mishap, she fell into the river, which was very high, and the alarm being given, her father jumped into his boat, but could not catch up with her, and her mother ran frantically down the river shore, hoping in some way to save her, as her clothing kept her body on the surface, and she floated along nearly to the intersection of Front and Second Streets, there Mr. Gus Leavy, ran into the river to save her, but did not succeed. Her body sank under the water. Every possible effort was made to recover the body without success until eight days after, when it was found by John McClellan, near the shore at the big maple tree, nearly





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in front of property now owned by Singleton Bell. The funeral services were held from the home of her parents on Monday, April 16th, conducted by Rev. Asbury Guyer, who had just entered on his work as pastor of the circuit.

The Central Pennsylvania Conference met first in 1868.

  The work of the basement in its furnishings was very neat, and consisted of heavy cocoa matting in the vestibule and class rooms and aisles and in and around the altar. Four large gas chandeliers, of four lamps each and two bracket lamps on wall at the pulpit. A neat pulpit and altar rail and pews and a good library case in one of the class rooms. Everything being new and woodwork nicely grained in light oak, was very much admired. We then had a membership of one hundred and twenty. Those of us who had enjoyed the fine old-fashioned religious services in the old Cherry Street Church, and to many of whom the record of a new birth within its walls could not be forgotten, moved from it to the new, not without a certain degree of sadness, glad, however, that we had been so fortunate as to secure such a comfortable Church home and which promised a great future for Methodism in Clearfield and in which we can happily say we were not disappointed.

  The time for the dedication being fixed for November 15th, 1868, arrangements were made for it by securing the services of the Rev. Wm. Harden, of Baltimore, to be with us to assist our pastor, A. W. Guyer. The choirs of the other Churches joined with ours to assist in the singing. Up until this time we never had any instrument of music in our Church, but Mrs. Geo. W. Rheem very kindly placed her melodeon at our disposal and Miss Bertha Wright (now Mrs. E. A. Bigler) of the Presby-






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terian Church, played it for us during the service of the dedication, and it added greatly to the music of the combined choirs which was very fine. Rev. Wm. Harden took charge of the services, assisted by Rev. Asbury W. Guyer and Wm. H. Dill, and preached the sermon after which he managed the finances, and in a very short time secured all the money and subscriptions to provide for the $3,300 of our indebtedness.

  The matter of dividing the three charges on the Circuit, Curwensville, Centre and Clearfield had been talked of unofficially, and at the fourth Quarterly Conference held at Curwensville, February 15th, 1869, the following resolutions were offered: "Whereas, the membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Curwensville, have voted unanimously at a meeting of said membership in favor of a division of this charge, and ask that they be supplied with a preacher the coming year, and instruct the official members for said division. Therefore, resolved, that we, as a Quarterly Conference, ask for a division, making Curwensville a separate charge or station embracing the Centre appointment.

  "Clearfield, February 11th, 1869, at the meeting of the Methodist Episcopal congregation, at Clearfield, the following resolution was adopted, 'Resolved, that as members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Clearfield, in the Curwensville and Clearfield charge we deem a division of the charge as inexpedient at this time.'
     "Signed by
     "GEO. W. RHEEM, Secy.,
     "J. B. McENALLY, Prest."

  Bro. J. H. Fleming moved for the adoption of the resolution from Curwensville and upon the vote being taken,





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Rev. Leonard M. Gardner, 1863     Rev. Thos. D. Gotwalt, 1861.






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the ayes and nays were as follows: From Curwensville, John Patton, Jacob Cole, Jackson Robinson, Daniel Livingston, Wm. Ten Eyck, Sr., Wm. Ten Eyck, Jr., Abram Gates, Jos. R. Irwin, Saml. Arnold, Jas. H. Fleming.

  From Centre, Alex Caldwell, Philip Antes, Benj. H. Caldwell. From Clearfield, Jos. B. McEnally, John W. Shugart, Geo. W. Gearhart, Latimer R. Merrell and Geo. W. Rheem. All voted aye and John Moore, of Clearfield naye. It was resolved that a copy of the proceedings in relation to the division of our charge be sent to Bro. Spottswood, our presiding elder.

  The following Annual Conference held at Danville, March 10th being so notified by the presiding elder, made no objection to the division and created Clearfield a separate station and appointed Wm. H. Dill as preacher in charge, and his salary was fixed at $1,000 by the Quarterly Conference.

  The board of school directors made us an offer of purchasing our old Church for the sum of $1,800, and on August ist, 1869, the trustees agreed to the proposal, the directors to pay the sum of $1,000 on the 1st day of November and the balance in two equal annual payments, with interest from that date and the president and secretary were authorized to article with them on those terms.

  The tower of the Church being built only as far as the brickwork, it was thought advisable to build the spire, and on October 21st, 1869, at a meeting of the trustees, a proposal was handed in from Jacobs and Sharrah, from Hollidaysburg, to build the spire for the sum of $1,000, the trustees to find all the materials necessary for its completion. The president and secretary were authorized to contract with them on those terms and Richard B.





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Taylor was authorized to purchase the necessary lumber and materials for its construction. After its frame work was set up, it was concluded to add twenty more feet to its height and the amount agreed on for this was $100 additional. The spire was completed in the summer of 1870. Reuben and Linn McPherson donated all the sawed lumber for the spire.

  August 10th, 1870, a meeting of the trustees was held at the office of Jos. B. McEnally and it was unanimously agreed upon to finish the auditorium and complete the whole building. Rev. James H. McCord, W. H. Dill and Latimer R. Merrell were appointed to solicit subscriptions, and Jonathan Boynton, John W. Shugart and Geo. W. Rheem to secure the services of a proper person to superintend the work to its completion, and they employed Richard B. Taylor at four dollars per day. The work was commenced at once and pushed to a rapid completion and all was done December 31st, 187o. Prior to this Mr. Jonathan Boynton was authorized to secure the services of Bishop Ames and Chaplain Chas. C. McCabe, to be with us on January 7th, 1871, which was the time fixed for the dedication. The furnishings of the Church consisted of splendid solid walnut pews, best extra super ingrain carpet on the floor, elegant cushions for the seats, a splendid corona with thirty-two gas jets, suspended from the center of the ceiling, four ceiling bracket gas burners, with reflectors, and double gas jets at the pulpit, a large Smith's reed organ, a gallery in the rear end of auditorium, and the ceiling and walls beautifully frescoed. The stairs and vestibule covered with the best twilled cocoa matting. The furnishings, not including the pews, cost about $1,900. The frescoing was $350, the trustees to furnish all scaffolding. The pews were





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estimated at $750, they having been made by the workmen in the Church.

  Saturday, January 6th, train arrived at 11 o'clock a. m., and Bishop Ames did not come and did not send any word why he could not come. This was a great disappointment as it was considered a great thing to have a bishop of the Church visit us. Chaplain McCabe arrived and was as much disappointed as we at the non-arrival of Bishop Ames. He consented to take the whole matter in hand and preach in the morning and take charge of the finances.

  A meeting of the male members was called for Saturday evening, in the basement, to meet Chaplain McCabe, to make arrangements for the services of the Sabbath. About twenty persons were present, and the statement of the finances being laid before the meeting, an indebtedness of $12,000 was reported, and the chaplain asked how we proposed raising so large a sum of money in so small a town, the population then being about 1,500. He said he had been looking around the town and had concluded it was a small place to raise such an amount, and that he could not undertake it hopefully unless those present would make their pledges $8,000. We, who were present, believed all had subscribed and paid up to their limit, Mr. Jonathan Boynton arose and said we owed him $4,000 borrowed money and he saw the situation, and would make that his subscription toward the $8,000 if we would raise the balance. We all admired his generosity, but he could do this infinitely easier than the rest of us could raise the balance. But the chaplain made a canvass to ascertain how much each person present had subscribed and paid and then he began to name the amount to each one what he thought or supposed they could pay and,





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surprising as it seemed, nearly all present accepted his proposition, and in a very short time the whole amount was pledged. And we all went out of the room looking at each other, wondering whether it was all real or was it a sort of dream, but at any rate, we all felt good over it and hoped the balance might be secured on Sunday.
Sunday morning of the 7th dawned on us with a foot of snow on the ground and still snowing and our hope for a good day and a large congregation seemed to vanish, but at the time for the service, we heard the sleighbells ringing in all directions, and from Philipsburg and Cur•ensville and all the little towns and surrounding country everybody seemed to be coming, probably to hear the bishop and the auditorium was crowded. The other Churches of the town closed their doors and their congregations met with us and the following preachers were present: C. C. McCabe, of Philadelphia; J. W. Langley, of Lock Haven; J. S. McMurray, P. E., H. S. Butler, Clearfield Presbyterian Church; L. N. Clark, New Washington; Cambridge Graham, Tuscarora; W. G. Ferguson, Curwensville; Jas. H. McCord, our pastor. The several church choirs of the town joined in singing,

  "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing."

  The first hymn was then announced and sung and then Rev. Cambridge Graham led in prayer.

  The second hymn was read by Rev. H. S. Butler. The sermon was preached by Chaplain McCabe, from the text, 4th chapter of Esther, part of the 14th verse, "Who knowest whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this."

  The sermon was appropriate to the occasion and appreciated by the congregation.





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  After the sermon the building committee, J. Boynton, Jno. W. Shugart and Geo. W. Rheem made a statement of the finances and asked the congregation for $12,000 to provide for the debt. Chaplain McCabe managed this part of the service so successfully that by his pleasing manner and his fine singing, in less than one hour the sum of $12,200 was subscribed and all apparently without any great effort on his part.

  The entire cost of the building was $29,500, not including the value of the lots.

  In the afternoon the Sunday Schools of the town and Lick Run met and were addressed by Rev. H. S. Butler, Cambridge Graham, C. C. McCabe and John Patton.

  The evening service was opened by the choir singing a voluntary.

  First hymn announced by Rev. W. G. Ferguson, who also led in prayer.

  Second hymn by Rev. J. W. Langley. The sermon was delivered by him from the text, 13th verse of the 68th Psalm, "Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."

  After the sermon the Church was dedicated by Rev. J. S. McMurray, to the service of Almighty God. Chaplain then sang some of his favorite hymns, much to the delight of the congregation.

  The following resolutions were offered by Jas. B. McEnally, on behalf of the membership of the Church. "Resolved, that the thanks of this Church are especially due to Bro. Jonathan Boynton, not only for the valuable gift of the lots on which this Church is erected, but also for his generous contributions in money by which success was made sure.





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Rev. Asbury W. Guyer, 1867.     Rev. David S. Monroe, D. D., 1865






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  "Resolved, that we also gratefully acknowledge our obligations to the people of our town, not belonging to this congregation, and to many elsewhere, who have assisted us so liberally in the erection of our Church and whose contributions have greatly aided and encouraged us in its erection. Resolved, that the trustees enter these resolutions upon their records as expressive of the sense of the congregation constituting this Church."

  Here it may be well to say that Mr. Jonathan Boynton's subscriptions and donations of the lots to the Church reached the sum of fourteen thousand dollars. This was only following up other contributions of less amounts. He was always a great friend of the Church prior to his connecting himself with it in the pastoral term of W. L. Spottswood in 1859, and in his home in connection with his estimable wife, the itinerant Methodist preacher always found a hearty welcome. In every laudable enterprise of the Church, both at home and abroad, Mr. Boynton's benefactions were never withheld, and his great anxiety to keep the Church out of debt has made it possible for us to be what we are from a financial standpoint. Whilst he was not a demonstrative man in his religious life, he always rejoiced over the spiritual successes in our Church. He was elected trustee in 1866 and continued on the board until his death in 1905, at the advanced age of 95 years, at which time he suddenly died in Atlantic City, N. J.

  February 23rd, 1872, at a meeting of the trustees, the question of securing a parsonage was brought up and Aaron C. Tate, Jno. W. Shugart and Geo. W. Rheem were appointed to secure a suitable house for a parsonage. Mr. Jonathan Boynton then made a proposition to the trustees that if they would collect all old subscriptions due






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on the Church building and pay off the Church debt, he would make them a deed for the house and lot on the corner of Third and Walnut Streets, then occupied by A. F. Boynton, on the receipt of $800 cash on the 1st day of November, 1872. The proposition was held for further consideration. The committee rented the adjoining house owned by S. McEwen from Thos. H. Murray, at a rental of $14 per month, for as long a time as we needed it.

  March 4th, 1872, the trustees accepted the proposal of Mr. Boynton and Daniel W. McCurdy, Wm. H. Dill, R. B. Taylor and Geo. W. Rheem were appointed to collect old subscriptions, and A. C. Tate, L. R. Merrell and Reuben McPherson to solicit subscriptions to raise the $800 to pay for the parsonage.

  Rev. A. Duncan Yocum succeeded Rev. J. H. McCord and served as pastor from 1872 to 1874.

  November 2nd, 1872, by invitation of Mr. Boynton, the trustees met in the evening at the parsonage, and after partaking of a sumptuous repast, he said the proposal he had made to make a deed of the parsonage on the payment of $800 had been complied with, he would now present the deed for it free from all incumbrances and in addition, would present to them the entire lot of furniture.

  Jos. B. McEnally on the part of the trustees, received the deed at the hands of Mr. Boynton and expressed their thanks for his thus placing in the hands of the trustees at a nominal price the property to be hereafter known as the parsonage of Clearfield station.

  January 12th, 1873, some persons in Woodland, being anxious to make that village a preaching appointment under the control of the Quarterly Conference at Clearfield, Rev. Jacob S. McMurray, P. E., authorized Wm.





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H. Dill to take the matter into consideration and he met them in a school house and organized a society there with Jos. F. Anderson, now one of our preachers, as a full member, Henry Albert, a probationer. At the Annual Conference held in Chambersburg, March 5th, 1873, this appointment was recognized and Wm. H. Dill was sent as the Pastor. At the first Quarterly Conference, held May 26th, he reported Henry Albert, John A. Thompson, Milton A. Meredith and Rachel E. Pearce, as probationers and Jos. F. Anderson, Daniel Ross, Sarah Ross, Isabella Ross, Elizabeth Lawhead and Nancy Thompson, as full members. During the year a new Church was built, and on Sunday, November 2nd, was dedicated as Dill chapel. Bishop Thos. Bowman, preaching in the morning and Chaplin McCabe in the evening. Bishop Bowman preached in the Clearfield Methodist Episcopal Church in the evening.

A few years later this Church was set on fire and was burned down, but was rebuilt soon after.




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