History of Reccoon Township, Beaver County, Pa.
From: History of Beaver County Pennsylvania
and its Centennial Celebration
BY: Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, A. M.
Knickerbocker Press New York, 1904


This township was formed from parts of Moon and Greene townships by a decree of the court made at the September Sessions, 1833. It takes its name from Raccoon Creek, which divides it from Moon township on the east. Its western boundary is Greene township, its southern Hanover and Independence, and its northern the Ohio River. One or two small streams flow through its northern portion, reaching the Ohio River and Raccoon Creek, and Service Creek cuts across its southern half. The soil of this township is good and well timbered. An interesting reference to this section occurs in Washington's journal of a trip which he made down the Ohio in 1770, which we quote, as follows:

Oct. 20, 1770. Col. Croghan, Lieut. Hamilton and Mr. Magee set out with us. At two we dined at Mr. Magee's, and encamped ten miles below and four above Logstown. 21st. Left our encampment and breakfasted at Logstown, where we parted with CoL Croghan and company. At eleven we came to the mouth of the Big Beaver creek, opposite to which is a good situation for a house; and above it, on the same side, that is the west, there appears to be a fine body of land. About five miles lower down, on the east side, comes in Raccoon creek, at the mouth of which, and up it, appears to be a good body of land also. All the land between this creek and the Monongahela, and for 15 miles back, is claimed by Col. Croghan under a purchase from the Indians, which sale, he says, is confirmed by his majesty. On this creek, where the branches thereof interlock with the waters of Shurtees [Chartiers] cr. there is, according to Col. Croghan's account, a body of fine rich level land. This tract he wants to sell, and offers it at ^5 sterling per 100 acres, with an exemption of quit rents for 20 years; after which to be subject to the payment of four shillings and two pence sterling per too acres, provided he can sell it in ten thousand acre lots. At present the unsettled state of this country renders any purchase dangerous.

The early history of the territory of this township is that of the townships of Washington, Allegheny, and Beaver counties, to which it has belonged in various periods. The pioneer history has been already given in the earlier chapters of this work.

This township had previous to 1901 four small post offices, which in that year were discontinued on account of rural free delivery being extended to the territory which they had supplied with postal facilities. These offices, with their postmasters and dates of appointment, were as follows:

Green Garden-Michael Springer, April 25, 1867. Holt-James H Christy, May 31, 1870; Maria M. Christy. Dec. I1, 1882; Alonzo L. McMahon, Oct. 25. 1888; Albert J. Lloyd, May 22, 1807; Irwin Baldwin, April 19, 1898; Homer J. Gormley, Aug. 9, 1900. McCleary-Robert Hall, March 24, 1864; Robert Moore, March 28. 1896. Service-Joseph H. Meheffey, April 21, 1879; Stonewall J. Morgan, Nov. 15, 1892; Robert L. Morgan. April 13, 1896; William McCague, June 24, 1897.

The population of this township in 1880 was 1092; in 1890, 1012; and in 1900 it was 814. The causes of this falling off have been indicated in what has been said of a similar decrease in the population of other south side townships. The report of the Secretary of Internal Affairs for 1900 shows in this township 519 taxables; 10,483 acres of cleared land; 3982 acres of timber land; value of all real estate, $401,683; value of real estate exempt from taxation, $20,800; value of real estate taxble, $380,843.

Service United Presbyterian Church. - This is one of the oldest churches of any denomination in the county. Its first services were held in the house of William Nelson, ancestor of the Nelson family of Hanover and Greene townships. The date of its organization, if any such was formally made, is unknown. It was sometime before 1792, as in the autumn of that year the Rev. John Anderson, D.D., was installed as its pastor in connection with King's Creek Church, both congregations being then in the Associate Presbytery of Philadelphia. The date commonly accepted is 1790. So far as known the first house of worship of the congregation was a log cabin, replaced in 1828 by a good brick structure, which in its turn gave place to the present substantial brick edifice erected in 1866, at a cost of $4000. Dr. Anderson, the first pastor of this church, was followed in 1833 by Rev. William Meek McElwee, D.D., a sketch of whom will be found in connection with what is said of the United Presbyterian Church of Frankfort Springs borough in Chapter XXIV. He served this church until July, 1851. The next pastor was Rev. David W. Carson, D.D., 1852-77. Then followed Rev. John C. Roe, 1879-83; Rev. W. J. Golden, 1885-95; Rev. A. P. Gibson, ordained and installed June 28, 1899, released January 22, 1901; the present pastor being K. W. McFarland, who serves this church half time, giving the other half to Mount Pleasant. The present session are A. A. Robertson, J. M. Ewing, J. B. McKibben, and A. Campbell, and the membership is about one hundred. Many of the descendants of the early members are still in connection with the congregation, as the Nelsons, Shillitos, Craigs, Shanes, Haneys, Ewings, Robertsons, Littells, Campbells, McKibbens, Smiths, and others. The congregation is in good condition. Its cemetery is called the Dr. John Anderson Memorial Cemetery of Service and is under the management of a board of directors.

Eudolpha Hall and Rev. John Anderson, D.D. This school of the prophets and its first teacher played such an important role in the early history of Beaver County that we cannot pass them without a rather extended notice. Dr. Anderson was born in England, near the Scotch border and of Scotch parents, about the year 1748. Graduating at one of the Scottish Universities, he studied theology at the Associate Divinity Hall, and was licensed by a Presbytery of the Secession Church, but owing to a defective voice and delivery he became a "stickit minister," and served for several years as a corrector of the press. In June, 1783, he sailed for the United States, landing in August at Philadelphia. On the way over he lost his aged mother, who died at sea, and a valuable library was also lost in the passage. For four years he itinerated under the care of the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania, and was then ordained sine titulo in Philadelphia, October 31, 1788. In the autumn of 1792, as already stated, he was installed pastor of Service and King's Creek, in this county, where he remained until his death, April 6, 1830. April 21, 1794, Dr. Anderson was appointed Professor of Theology for the Associate Church, and so continued until the spring of 1810, when he was compelled to resign on account of the infirmities of age.

Dr. Anderson was remarkably small, not over five feet in height, with a large head, and thick, tangled hair. His eyes were black and penetrating, and his whole manner that of a man not belonging to the ordinary grade of humanity, but marking him off as one of unusual powers. He impressed all who came in contact with him as a man of intellect and deep piety. He was quick of temper and impatient of contradiction in matters of principle, but possessed so much humility that when he thought he had given offense to any one unjustly, he would immediately show the deepest humiliation and penitence and solicit again and again the pardon of the wounded person. As a student he was unwearying, giving from ten to fourteen hours a day to the most intense application to his studies, and frequently carried a book with him to read when traveling to and fro on horseback. He is said, moreover, to have been so absent minded that, when thus engaged in reading in the saddle, he would lose all consciousness of time and place, and that he often lost himself in going to presbytery or even to his own church.

As a preacher he was tedious, and his weak voice and hesitating manner made it a difficult matter for his hearers to profit by his really able instructions. His unfitness for the pulpit and his great fitness for the chair of an instructor led to his selection for the position in which he obtained his greatest fame, the professorship of theology in the seminary of the Associate Church at Service.

This seminary was established by the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania as the means of meeting the want of the church for educated young men for its ministry, the church having been up to this time mainly dependent upon the supply of ministers sent from Scotland. Classical schools and a few colleges had already sprung up, but the provision for theological training was yet to be made. On the 21st of April, 1794, as we have said above, Dr. Anderson was elected by the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania as its teacher in divinity. He was given the option of locating the seminary to suit his own convenience, and chose a site about one mile west of Service church, a short distance east of the direct road from Beaver to Frankfort Springs. For some years the seminary had its class rooms in Dr. Anderson's own modest log house, but about 1805 a two story log building was erected near by which was devoted to its needs. About eight hundred valuable books, most of which were donated by Associate brethren in Scotland, were collected here as the foundation of a library. The course of instruction extended over four years, with one term during the winter season, and the number of students varied from five to ten. "The professor's chief employment was the reading of lectures founded upon Marck's Medulla Theologice. These he expanded at every repetition, until they became so voluminous that he was not able to finish them during the four years of his last class, although he read for four hours on each of four days of every week of the four sessions." Some Hebrew and Greek exegesis was taught, but not much else besides Didactic and Polemic Theology.

In 1819, the year following Dr. Anderson's resignation, the Synod divided the seminary into an eastern and a western hall. The former was located in Philadelphia; and the latter, in 1821, was opened in Canonsburg, Pa., and finally, in 1855, removed to Xenia, Ohio.

The log building at Service, in which the theological students boarded, is still standing and used as a dwelling. The old seminary building is gone. This seminary was popularly known as "Eudoipha Hall," which word Eudolpha we take to be a corruption of Eudelphia, signifying brotherly kindness. With two exceptions this is the oldest theological seminary in the United States. There had been professorships of divinity at Harvard and Yale and William and Mary, but the first separate theological school was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church at New Brunswick, N. J., in 1784. The Roman Catholics followed with the Theological Seminary of St. Sulpice and St. Mary's University at Baltimore in 1791; and Eudolpha Hall was founded next, in 1794. Pictures of the old school and boarding house are given herewith It is of interest to note the names of some of the eminent men who were students in this primitive structure, or at least were taught by its principal. Among these are Rev. William Wilson, who had a grandson of the same name, who was a former resident of Beaver. Mr. Wilson was born in Ireland in 1770, and came to America in 1791 or 1792. He was the first student under Dr. Anderson, though the building known as Eudoipha Hall was not erected until he was through his course. Rev. Daniel McLean, father of Dr. D. H. A. McLean, at one time a resident of Beaver, studied with Dr. Anderson; also Rev. Thomas Allison of Virginia (died 1840); Rev. James Ramsay, D.D., first professor of Theology in the Western Hall at Canonsburg, and father in law of Rev. Dr. William Meek McElwee; Rev. Andrew Heron, D.D., of Cedarville, Ohio I; Rev. Alexander McClelland, D.D., sometime professor in Dickinson College; Rev. Joseph Scroggs, D.D., over fifty seven years pastor of the churches of Fairfield and Donegal in Westmoreland County, Pa.; Rev. Thomas Beveridge, D.D., Professor of Theology at Canonsburg, Pa., and Xenia, Ohio; Rev. Abraham Anderson, D.D., from 1818 to 1821 Professor of Languages at Jefferson College, and afterwards Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology in the Associate Seminary at Canonsburg; Rev. Thomas Hanna, D.D., pastor at Washington, Pa., 1851-62; Rev. Francis Pringle, Jr., of Xenia, Ohio; James Pringle, his brother, of North Carolina and many others.

Bethlehem Presbyterian Church.-The inception of this church was in the Christian influence and efforts of several good men who felt the need of the community round about them for some definite religious instruction. One of these was William Rambo, who was born about the year 1800, in the region of Raccoon Creek, and about five miles from the place where the church was afterwards built (died December 13, 1870. Another was John Potter, father of Rev. Henry N. Potter, of Darlington, this county. Mr. Potter, amid much discouragement, and some opposition, established here sometime in September, 1830, a Sabbath school, which met first in the house of Edward Crail, with eleven scholars present. The next Sabbath the school was held in his own house, and the following week in that of William Connor. The attendance increased very rapidly, and Abraham Vaughan's house being all one large room, it was used until the church was erected. Mr. Potter had been ordained an elder at the early age of twenty two, and he was now the only teacher in this Sabbath school. He occasionally read after the sessions of the church a sermon from Burder's Village Sermons. A library was also established in the school, sixteen dollars being raised for this purpose, although the farmers had little money in those days.

Another man who did much for the work of Christ in this neighborhood was Jonathan Cross, who after the organization of Bethlehem Church took a deep interest in its welfare. He became an elder, and afterwards a minister in the Presbyterian Church, dying December 18, 1876.

In addition to the school, Mr. Potter started a weekly prayer meeting, and on his application to the Presbytery of Ohio supplies were occasionally sent to preach for the people here. Rev. George Scott, then pastor of Mill Creek Church, was the first Presbyterian minister to preach in the neighborhood, coming occasionally on a week day for that purpose. The Sabbath school was maintained for nearly two years, when, on the representations of the need of the community for a church organization made to the Presbytery of Ohio by Mr. Potter, a committee consisting of Rev. Mr. Allen, Rev. James D. Ray, and Elder Henry Reed was appointed to view the field, and report to Presbytery. They came and preached two sermons on Sabbath in the horse mill of William Rambo that stood on the bank of the Ohio River, a short distance above Christler's Landing now Shippingport. This committee made a favorable report to Presbytery, which then appointed Rev. John K. Cunningham to preach and organize a church in this neighborhood. Mr. Cunningham came and preached on Sabbath, June 17, 1832, in a grove on the stream near William Connor's, and the next day met the people at the house of Mr. Connor and organized a church of thirty members, who presented letters from the congregations of Mt. Carmel, Beaver, and Mill Creek, chiefly from the latter. Mr. John Potter, having been a ruling elder in the church of Mingo, Washington County, Pa., was then elected to the same office in this new organization, and installed by Mr. Cunningham. On September 2d, following, William Rambo and Jonathan Cross were ordained and installed as elders by Rev. James D. Ray. By a vote of the congregation the church was named Bethlehem, and it was decided to erect a church building. The ground for this purpose and for a graveyard was donated by William Rambo, who also in the summer of 1832 built the church, the funds for which were raised by the people with some outside assistance. This was the first building of any kind that was erected in that neighborhood without the use of whisky by the workers.

For eleven years and seven months this church remained without a pastor, during which time it was supplied by Presbytery. It is worthy of remark also that during this time one hundred and ninety four persons were received into its communion, the membership being one hundred and fifty when the first pastor was settled.

The first regular pastor of Bethlehem was Rev. Samuel Hair, who was called September 6, 1844, and remained until the summer of 1847, having received during those years thirty two persons. He was succeeded by John W. Hazlett, who was called September 7, 1847. This was his first charge, which he held for five years. November 17, 1852, Rev. A. O. Rockwell was chosen as his successor, and remained until March, 1855, thirty six communicants being added to the roll during his pastorate. Rev. James M. Smith was called in September, 1855, but did not settle here until the spring of 1856. being formally installed June 12th of that year. Mr. Smith was pastor of this church for ten years, and enjoyed a very fruitful ministry. Rev. William M. White was called March 5, 1866, but preached only as a stated supply until the summer of 187o. The Rev. J. S. Pomeroy supplied this church for a year or more, commencing in the spring of 1871, after whom the Rev. George W. Shaffer labored as pastor elect for one year and three months, beginning August 1, 1873. He also supplied the pulpit during the winter of 1876. Rev. D. L. Dickey came to the church in April, 1876, and stayed until April, 1882. Rev. Mr Cummings followed, remaining from April, 1882, until April, 1887. Rev. J. H. Hunter was called as pastor in September, 1890, and continued in the field until 1893. Then followed Rev. T. P. Potts, from June, 1894, to March, 1902, and the present pastor is M. M. Rogers.

From the pastorate of Mr. Hair to the close of that of Mr. Smith, Bethlehem was connected with the North Branch Church, as one pastoral charge, and was afterwards connected with Hookstown.

In addition to the elders first named, we find the following: Samuel Thompson, Sr., 1841; Thomas Parkinson and James Kerr, 1845; William McClure and Samuel Wilson, Jr., 1855; John Jack, 1858; same year Thomas P. Fleeson and John Tucker, John Engles, Robert Henderson, H. E. Wright, 1863; later, date not ascertainable, William Elliott, Samuel P. Thompson, William Hood, William Cook, and Thomas Wilson. The session now serving are William Cook, James Christy, Silas Wilson, and James Henderson.

Besides the families named above, we hear of the Kerrs, Gormleys, Tuckers, Crosses, and Wilsons as early members of this congregation.

The second church edifice at Bethlehem was built in 1880, at a cost of about $2500.

From this church have entered the gospel ministry, M. A. Parkinson, James Wilson (Methodist Episcopal), James H. Potter, John W. Potter, Gilbert M. Potter, and Henry N. Potter (four sons of the John Potter mentioned in connection with the founding of the church here), James M. Smith (son of the James M. Smith who was a former pastor of the church), and Jonathan Wilson, a missionary to the Siamese and Laos. Samuel Henderson, a student for the ministry from this charge, died before his course was completed.

Mt. Pleasant United Presbyterian Church.-This congregation was organized July 11, 1877, from the members of Service United Presbyterian congregation living to the north of the church. Its first session was composed of Alex. Ewing, A. G. Ewing, John A. Christy, and Elisha Thornburgh.

A house of worship had been built the previous year, which was used until 1900, when it was struck by lightning and burned down. The present house was erected in 1901, at a cost of about $2500.

The first pastor was Rev. J. H. Breaden, October 23, 1879, to 1886, followed by Revs. S. A. Moore, 1887-1895; A. P. Gibson, 1899-1901, and K. W. McFarland, 1901.

The present elders are A. G. Ewing, John A. Christy, G. A. Young, J. H. Thornburgh, and James Christy, and the membership is 95.

Return to [ PA History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy