History of Churches in Rochester, 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


Trinity Episcopal Church of Rochester was organized, May 29, 1851, and chartered March 18, 1852. The charter members were John Reno, John Clark, F. Reno, John Cooke, D. W. C. Bidwell. The first vestry was composed of John Reno and Wm. Owens, wardens; and Win. Hurst, secretary and treasurer. The parish was organized by Rev. Wm. H. Paddock, and the first pastor was Rev. Joseph P. Taylor, who immediately began the erection of the present church on a lot presented by M. T. C. Gould, as agent for the land company. Mr. Taylor was rector from 1851 to 1867, and at times was assisted by Rev. J. T. Protheroe and Rev. J. L. G. Fryer. Mr. Fryer was a very promising young minister, but death claimed him while connected with this church. Rev. C. N. Spalding, D.D., became rector of Trinity, in connection with New Brighton parish, in 1872. Rev. Wm. Ballard became rector of this parish and Georgetown in 1873, and had many improvements made upon the church property, and was followed by Rev. John K Karcher. In 1876 Rev. Win. A. Fuller was rector of this parish, with Trinity Church, New Castle; St. Paul's Church, Fairview; and St. Luke's, Georgetown. Rev. Thos. J. Martin was next, and was succeeded by Jno. Loudon in 1884. Rev. J. A. Farrar next took charge. During his pastorate the parish received a gift of $5000 from Lewis Taylor, Esq., which was used to purchase a rectory and put the church in repair. In September, 1886, Rev. T. J. Danner became rector, and had the belfry erected to receive the chimes, which were presented to the parish by Amelia Blake of East End, Pittsburg, formerly a member of the church, and a daughter of Wm. Hurst, one of the first vestry. Rev. J. L. Taylor next succeeded to the rectorship of the parish. In 1897 Rev. A. D. Brown took charge.

Tradition says that the first church started and completed in Rochester was the Episcopal, the first foundation for which was begun on the lot now owned by Hon. H. P. Brown, corner of Adams and Vermont Streets. For some reason this foundation was not completed, and the congregation accepted the present lot and proceeded to erect the present building.

St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church. - The first Roman Catholic church organized in Beaver County was that of Beaver, known as SS. Peter and Paul's. By 1854 a number of German families had come into the parish, and by these a separate organization was begun in the town of Rochester. From Ovid Pinney, who owned a large part of the ground in that place, and had laid it out in town lots, a gift of two lots on Washington Street, the present location of the church, was obtained by deed bearing date, April 29, 1854. Two years later the erection of a frame church, 25x46 feet, was begun. This church was dedicated on Sunday, November 22, 1857. The Rev. Father Michael Muhlberger was the first regular, though not resident, pastor of this parish. There was no resident pastor for many years, the congregation being too poor to support one, and for some time services were held but once a month.

The Reverend Father J. Reiser in 1859 became the second pastor of St. Cecilia's Church, which, towards the end of that year, was attached to St. Mary's, Allegheny, from which it was visited twice a month for about nine years following. The names of the pastors appearing on the church register during this period and later are as follows: October, 1859-61, the Reverends P. J. Hoff znogott, Passionist, and Michael Aigner, Mis sionary; 1861-62, the Reverend Father C. Klockner; 1862, the Reverend Fathers Carolus Schuler, J. A. Shell, and Anton Basch; 1863-66, the Reverend Fathers Brandstetter and J. B. Weikman; 1866-68, the Reverend Fathers Martin Kink and A. McGurgan; 1868, the Reverend Father Adam Gunkel.

July 14, 1868, Father Reid, of Beaver, died, and the churches of SS. Peter and Paul's and St. Cecilia's were united in one charge. For some time previous, however, the same priests had been saying Mass in both churches; but during 1869 the Passionist Fathers attended Beaver, and the Reverend Father Zwickert succeeded Father Gunkel as pastor of St. Cecilia. The name of the Reverend Father A. Winter appears as having been at St. Cecilia during 1869.

In the winter of 1873 the Reverend Father Joseph Bohm became pastor of both churches, which remained together until 1900.

The Reverend Father J. Romelfanger took charge of the parishes about the year 1874, and a parsonage having been purchased in Rochester, from this time on the priests resided at that place.

The Reverend Father J. Kaib succeeded Father Romelfanger in October, 1877, and he in turn was followed by the Reverend Father Frederick B. Steffen, in November, 1878. Father Steffen was a young priest greatly beloved by his people, and, as elsewhere stated, died of smallpox, having contracted the disease while ministering to a parishioner who was ill with it. He died in December, 1881, and was buried in Daugherty's cemetery.

The Reverend Father John Quinn was the next pastor. He was succeeded in the spring of 1882 by the Reverend Father J. A. Canevin, who remained until 1885. Since that date the pastors have been the following: Reverend Fathers, Joseph Fleckinger, two years; J. F. Bauer, 1887-92; William Jordan, one year; Michael A. Frank, June 18, 1893, until August, 1894; B. Gerold, August, 1894-May 7, 1899. Immediately following Father Gerold. came the present pastor, the Reverend George M. A. Schoner.

July 22, 1900, the Reverend Father Anthony Vogel became pastor of the church of SS. Peter and Paul's, which was then made, and is still, a separate charge.

On April 4, 1898, the Beaver church was destroyed by fire, and St. Cecilia's became for a time the home of both congregations. Later the third floor of Hurst's Hall. Bridgewater, was fitted up, and Mass was celebrated there for the members of the Beaver congregation until the new church of SS. Peter and Paul's was erected.

Missions at Industry and Smith's Ferry had for many years been attached to St. Cecilia's, but they are now under the charge of the pastor of the Beaver church. The activities of the church have, besides, been represented in the work of many different societies, such as the Sons of St. George, Sons of St. Patrick, and the Emeralds, the Young Men's Institute, etc., and by the parochial schools The congregation of St. Cecilia's is no longer distinctively a German one, nearly all of its members being able to speak English, and the pastor conducting the work of teaching mainly in that tongue. The old church was torn down in 1901, and since then the services of the church have been held in Cole's Hall, on Adams Street.

The new church building of St. Cecilia's now in course of construction, will be a magnificent structure. Its corner stone was laid with imposing ceremonies on Sunday, October 25, 1903, the Reverend Father A. A. Lambing of Wilkinsburg presiding, and the address being delivered by the Reverend Father Joseph Gallagher of New Castle, Pa. Many visiting clergymen participated in the exercises, which were witnessed by nearly two thousand people.

The design of this beautiful church is the work of the pastor, Father Schoner, who studied architecture in Germany, and is superintending the construction of the building and purchasing the material for it.

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. - This church was organized in the year 1854 by the late Rev. Dr. W. A. Passavant of Pittsburg, in the building then called the car factory. In 1855 Dr. Passavant secured two lots on the corner of Adams and Ohio streets, and on the third day of July the corner stone of the new church was laid. This building was occupied in the summer of 1856, although not entirely completed at that time. Boards placed on blocks and nail kegs were used for pews. Dr. Passavant served the congregation until the spring of 1863, when the late Henry Reck assumed charge of the newly established Orphans' Home on the hill, and also became pastor of this congregation. Mr. Reck preached to the congregation until the autumn of 1870, when he resigned.

The congregation then elected as pastor the Rev. Dr. H. N. Roth, now of Chicago. Dr. Roth preached until July 1, 1878, when Rev. C. H. Hemsath assumed charge. The old structure known as the "Gravel" church was in part rebuilt, and a number of other improvements were made during his pastorate. He resigned the pastorate in March, 1882, but the resignation was not accepted. In the following year he resigned, and this time the resignation was accepted, to take effect December 21, 1883. On Friday night, December 21, 1883, the church building was destroyed by fire. The congregation was left without a church in which to worship, and without a pastor. At a meeting held in St. Paul's Church, on Adams Street, December 24th, they resolved to rebuild. A few weeks later Dr. H. N. Roth again began to act as pastor, preaching every two weeks; and Rev. L. Happe of Greenville, Pa., the alternate Sunday. On July 28, 1885, the corner stone of the new building was laid, and on Sunday, April 25, 1886, the present church building was dedicated. The entire cost was about $6000. May 2, 1886, the Rev. J. W. Meyers assumed the pastorate, and labored until April 25, 1892, when he resigned. The pastorate of the church was vacant until July, 1893, when Rev. J. K. Heckert took charge, and served the congregation until March 13, 1898. A call was then extended to Dr. J. E. Whittaker. He accepted the call, and began to preach September the first. He resigned, December 28, 1900, and the present pastor, Rev. F. A. Bowers, assumed his relation to the church, June 16, 1901. The congregation has now a membership of 440; the Sunday school, 303.

The Methodist Episcopal Church. - In the month of March, 1867, at a session of the Pittsburg Conference, held in Massillon, Ohio, a request was made for the organization of a Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester, Pa. In response to this request, Rev. Lewis Paine was appointed to the charge, and soon afterward a meeting was held in the town hall, where seventy five persons, most of whom had been connected with the Bridgewater Church, were requested to constitute the membership of a new church. Eleven others were soon afterwards received, making the membership of this church eighty six. Its services were held in the town hall for two and one half years, until the lecture room of the new church building was ready for occupancy. In 1869 the church building was completed, excepting the furnishing of the auditorium, at a cost of $11,000. During the pastorate of T. S. Hodgson, in the year 1874, the auditorium of the church was completed and dedicated.

The following persons have served the church as pastors: Revs. Lewis Paine, John Grant, W. W. Darby, T. S. Hodgson, D. L. Dempsey, D.D., S. T. Mitchell, William Cox, D.D., D. L. Dempsey, D.D., J. B. Risk, W. D. Slease, L. R. Beacom, S. M. Bell. Mr. Bell died during his pastorate, and Rev. William Cox, D.D., served the church during the remaining part of the year. He was succeeded by Rev. W. C. Weaver, who left in October, 1 1900, when the present pastor, Rev. W. S. Lockard, came to the field.

The Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul's Church (German). - From about 1856 to 1866 two German congregations were organized in the Beaver valley; the one a Lutheran at Bridgewater, and the other a Reformed at Rochester, which in the year 1867 united under the name of the Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul's Church. Two lots on the corner of Adams and Connecticut streets were purchased, September 24, 1867, for the sum of $575, and a new brick building, 35 x 5o feet, was erected thereon. The contract price is not known. When the building was finished, a debt of $1400 was resting on the congregation, but in a few years this was paid through a Building and Loan Association. Rev. Prof. C. F. Giese, teacher in Thiel Hall, Monaca, served as the first pastor from 1867 to July, 1868; Rev. B. F. Zahn in 1868; Rev. C. F. Sheinbach from 1868 to 1870; and Rev. P. Born from 1870 to 1876. In the summer of 1876 the congregation being without a pastor, the Rev. F. C. E. Lemcke, then a student at the theological seminary, Philadelphia, was sent here by the president of the Pittsburg Synod, to serve them until a pastor was called. The labors of Mr. Lemcke proved satisfactory to the congregation, and before he left in October to return to school, a call was handed him, which he later accepted. Rev. Mr. Dethlefs, of Sharpsburg, served the congregation during the winter. Rev. F. C. E. Lemcke returned on April 1, 1877, and was pastor from that time until his death in root.

The congregation organized with twenty one members, and has at present about two hundred communicants, owning two lots 80x120, a parsonage, and a brick church. The present pastor, Rev. G. A. Fechner, assumed charge in the fall of 1902.

First Baptist Church. - August 3, 1873, a number of members of Baptist churches met at the house of William S. Shallenberger for consultation in reference to the organization of a church. Henry C. Fry, David Robinson, Roland Lloyd, Dr. A. T. Shallenberger, Edward M. Power, William S. Shallenberger, Mrs. Jane Evans, Mrs. Susan Power, Mrs. Eliza A. Robinson, and Mrs. Jane Ashworth were present. Other meetings were held and, February 4, 1874, it was resolved that a church organization be effected to be known as the " First Baptist Church of Rochester, Pennsylvania." February 19, 1874, a council of recognition, composed of the pastors and delegates of various Baptist churches, met in the town hall in Rochester. Rev. J. W. Plannett, pastor of the church at Sharpsburg, was chosen moderator, and William S. Shallenberger, clerk.

The following persons were recognized by the council as "The First Baptist Church of Rochester, Pennsylvania": Henry C. Fry, Mrs. Eunice Fry, George W. Fry, Edward M. Power, Thomas Matthews, Mrs. Jane Evans, Mrs. Amanda Donaldson, Mrs. Josephine Shallenberger, William S. Shallenberger, Aaron T. Shallenberger, Mrs. Susan Power, Mrs. Matilda Porter, Mrs. Jane Ashworth, Miss Jennie Ashworth, Mrs. Anna Shepler, David Robinson, Mrs. Eliza A. Robinson, Roland Lloyd, Mrs. Martha Lloyd, Jacob Fisher, Mrs. Sophia Fisher, Mrs. Mary J. Anderson, D. B. Salade, Mrs. D. B. Salade, Mrs. Mary A. Lloyd, Miss Nettie Lloyd, Mrs. Maria J. Sheiburn. June 10, 1874, the church was received into the fellowship of the Pittsburg Baptist Association. October 28, 1874, Rev. J. A. Snodgrass was called as the first pastor of the church, and continued his services until September 30, 1877, when he resigned. The members of the church having secured a lot, a frame church building was erected at a cost of about $9000. It was dedicated, February 11, 1875. From the resignation of Mr. Snodgrass to January 23, 1878, preaching was by stated supply. Rev. A. J. Bonsall was then called and served the church until Sept. 1, 1904.

The First Presbyterian Church. - Upon a petition presented to the Presbytery of Allegheny, a committee consisting of Rev. E. E. Swift, D.D., Rev. James Allison, D.D., and Rev. J. M. Shields, was appointed to organize a Presbyterian Church in the town of Rochester, Pa.

The committee met in the town hall, Rochester, April 14, 1874, and organized a church, under the name of "The First Presbyterian Church of Rochester," with forty charter members. Mr. James H. Kinzer and D. S. Marquis, M.D., were elected, ordained, and installed as ruling elders.

George C. Surls, J. Woodruff, J. H. Whisler, C. R. Blanchard, Perry Brown, and John Davis, constituted the first board of trustees. During the first year the church was without a pastor, but was regularly supplied with preaching. Rev. E. P. Lewis was the first pastor. He entered the field in April, 1875, and continued to serve the church in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Freedom, until April, 1878.

Rev. ___ Jeffries served the church as a supply for a time. In December, 1879, Rev. R. B. Porter became pastor. Mr. Porter served until April, 1881. Following this, the church had supplies until Rev. W. G. Stewart was called and took charge, in October, 1883. Mr. Stewart served the congregation until April, 1887.

The fourth pastor was the Rev. J. H. Bausman, whose pastorate began November 1, 1887. Mr. Bausman served the congregation until April, 1892. For nine months ensuing, the congregation had supplies. January 1, 1893, Rev. T. B. Anderson, D.D., became pastor, and has continued in charge of the congregation until the present date.

In 1874 the congregation erected a substantial brick house of worship on the corner of Franklin and Freedom alleys, at the northeast corner of the public park. In 1895 they repaired their house of worship and built a lecture room to the church, at a cost of $1500. The present membership is 150.

Zion Church of the Evangelical Association of Rochester was organized about the year 1860 by L. Scheuerman. Rev. G. Gotz was in charge of the Rochester congregation in the years 188o, 1881, and 1882. He was followed by Rev. C. A. Walz, who served the congregation for the next two years. Rev. H. Weigand was the pastor for 1885-86. Rev. Geo. Ott succeeded him and labored in Rochester for one year, and was followed by Rev. R. A. Hartung, who was pastor during the year 1888. Rev. G. Gahr occupied the field during the year 1889, when he was removed to Cleveland. Rev. G. Zeigler served the Rochester congregation during 1891, 1892, and 1893. During his pastorate the services were made part English.

Rev. G. Gotz was pastor here again during the year 1894, after which he was transferred to Canton, Ohio. Rev. J. A. Hetche, whose home was in Freedom, had charge of the congregation for the succeeding three years. Rev. John Hoffman was pastor for several years, and was succeeded by Rev. G. W. Miller. The present pastor is Rev. A. Peter.

The First Congregational Church. - The movement for the organization of this church was started in Leaf's Hall on the afternoon of Sabbath, the 17th of April, 1892, when seventy three persons declared their desire to join in a society under the Congregational form of government. The formal organization of the church was effected on Friday, April 29, 1892, at a meeting in Leaf's Hall called for that purpose. Ninety persons joined in adopting Articles of Faith and a Covenant in harmony with the doctrines and polity of the Congregational churches of the United States. Rev. Joseph H. Bausman was called and accepted the call to be pastor of the church, and the following officers were elected: deacons: Messrs. J. C. McWilliams, William M. Douds, and William Darling; clerk, Mr. Cornelius Masten; and trustees - Messrs. J. H. Schlagle, C. Masten, Charles Snure, C. A. Vanderslice, and Charles P. Brobeck.

On the 5th of May, the same year, a council of recognition was held in the same place, and the church and its pastor were received into the fellowship of the Northwestern Association of Congregational Churches, Pennsylvania. The membership had at this time increased to 117.

This church held its services in Leaf's Hall until 1895, when it undertook the erection of a house of worship, and in November of that year the beautiful building that it now occupies as a church home was dedicated. This building is on Adams Street. It is of brick and stone, semi colonial in style. Its total cost was $12,000. Mr. W. J. East was the architect. The present church membership is 175, and that of the Sunday school, 125. Mr. Bausman is still (1904) pastor.

The German Evangelical Protestant Church is located on Reno and Ohio streets. It was built in 1894. Its first board of trustees were Christian Mattmiller, John Bender, Michael Dietz. The membership of the church is twenty two, and the Sunday school has thirty members. The first pastor was Rev. J. C. Shoenwandt, who remained for several years. Since his resignation the church has had supplies.

The United Presbyterian Church. - The United Presbyterian Church of Rochester was formally organized on November 29, 1898, at a meeting held at Patton's Hall, by a committee consisting of Rev. R. L. Hay of New Brighton, and Messrs. A. D. Gilliland, Joseph F. Mitchell, Wm. H. McCaw, and Wm. F. Boyd, members of his church session.

Services had been held for several months previous to this time, however, and the present pastor, Rev. Jas. F. Ray, had been preaching to the congregation since September 1st. The church was organized with forty five members, and has a present membership of 116. In 1902 the congregation purchased a lot on Washington Street for $1600, and began the erection of a handsome brick church, of which Mr. W. J. East of Pittsburg was the architect. The total cost of this structure, including the lot, was about $15,000.

Free Methodist Church. - In July, 1888, a camp meeting was held at Daugherty's grove, near Rochester, by the New Castle District of the Free Methodist Church, of which J. S. McGeary, of New Castle, was at that time District Elder.

At this time there was no Free Methodist society between Pittsburg and New Castle. The following October, S. Portman, from New Castle, commenced preaching in the Town Hall, Rochester; and in January, 1889, the first society was organized consisting of four members.

In the following autumn the society, with eight members, sent to conference for a preacher and supported him unaided. In 1890 a church was built at Pleasant Valley, and in 1892 a church and parsonage were built in Rochester. This was the beginning of Free Methodism in this section.

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