CHURCHES AND RELIGION.
Undoubtedly the first religious services held in this county were those conducted by Friar Gabriel Anheuser,
a Recollect priest who signed himself "Chaplain of the detachment," and who is officially recorded as
being in attendance on the dying Jean Baptiste Texier in the fort at Presque Isle, and who died July 11, 1753,
no doubt having his burial service conducted by that same friar.
It is of record that when the Chevalier Le Mercier brought the French forces under Chevalier Pierre Margin from
Marcelona to Presque Isle harbor, that "finest in nature" which he had discovered a few days previously,
in April of 1753, a log fort with its palisaded enclosure was forthwith constructed west of the mouth of Millcreek;
and that a small log chapel was erected at the same time, presumably within the walls of that frontier outpost.
Here were observed the rites of worship as approved by the Roman Catholic church while the French remained.
The second place of public worship would have been another small chapel which was erected of logs within the fortifications
at Fort Le Boeuf within a few weeks thereafter. These were probably maintained until the French were driven from
the county. A third is believed to have been constructd by them, perhaps of more ample size, just east of Millcreek,
but not far from its mouth, in a village of French and Indians which is credited with being located there.
No record of any other services of a religious character have been found until the memorable one held on Sunday,
July 2, 1797, in a clearing in Greenfield Township, at what is now called. "Colt's Station." About thirty
persons assembled and attentively listened to the reading by Judah Colt of a sermon from a collection of Dr. Blair's
sermons. The subject chosen for the reading that day, was no doubt inspired by the prevalent unsettled and tumultuous
conditions in the county owing to the troubles prevailing over land titles; for we read from Judah Colt's manuscript
"Life": "This season was one of much business, and, owing to the opposition of adverse settlers,
one of much trouble and perplexity. We were compelled to keep from forty to eighty or one hundred men in the service
of the company (Population Land Company) to defend the settlers and property. More than once, mobs of men, from
twenty to thirty, would assemble for the purpose of destroying houses, and other mischief, some of whom I had indicted,
and bills were found against them by the grand jury of the then Allegheny County, the courts being held in the
borough of Pittsburg." The subject chosen from the book of sermons was therefore most appropriate under the
circumstances: "Let all things be done decently and in order," 1st Corinthians, chapter xiv, verse lv.
It is likely that other neighborhood services were held from time to time throughout the county, when two or more
families would get together and read a sermon, sing a psalm or two, and have prayer; but we have no record of these,
nor of other public services excepting the general statements that such was the fact, and that occasional missionaries
and itinerent preachers came through the county holding irregular seasons of worship, usually in the open air,
in taverns, or other places which were made ready for them.
The next public service which has been recorded for us, was that held in the villages of Erie, Waterford and North
East in 1799, when Revs. Stockton and McCurdy, two missionaries sent out here by the Ohio and Redstone Presbyteries,
visited the county and preached to the people gathered to hear them. But;there were no church buildings for their
In August, 1801, Mr. McCurdy and Rev. Satterfield came to Venango Township from the presbyteries above named, and,
gathering a large concourse of people in a chopped place in the woods by a large spring which gushed from under
the trees at the foot of the hill below where is now the graveyard of the old Middlebrook Church, about a mile
and a half north of Lowville, held a service in the open air which was so well received that at its close Mr. James
Hunter arose in his place and invited "the boys" (as he called them), together and asked them to meet
him at a certain place the next Thursday, with their axes and dinners. They well knew what was wanted of them,
and the following Thursday all were at the spot, and Mr. Hunter said; "The Lord has been mindful of us in
this wilderness, and has sent us the gospel by the mouth of one of his servants, and we had no house to meet in,
but heard it as you know, under the beech trees in the open air. Now, if we wish to prosper while we build houses
for ourselves, we must build one for God." He had selected this spot as it was the center of the township.
But as the large hemlock tree which marked the center of the township stood in a wet place, young Mr. Warren suggested
going a little north to higher ground, where he would give the church a deed for two acres of land upon which was
a fine spring of water. This met with hearty approval, and they went to work, and so heartily did they labor that
by night they had completed the first log church, or church of any sort, which Americans had ever put up in this
county. This was the old Middlebrook Presbyterian Church, on the site of which may still be seen the God's Acre
filled with the dust of pioneer heroes who prepared this county for our own comfort. After a short while a larger
log building was built on the site of the first, which endured until the Wattsburg Church had absorbed its members.
Wood from the original timbers of this pioneer church was selected and made into a replica of the Middlebrook Church,
which Miss Spencer bequeathed to the Erie Public Museum, where it is reverently preserved.
After organizing a congregation of eighteen members at Middlebrook, Messrs. McCurdy and Satterfield went to Colt's
Station and North East, where they were joined by Revs. Tate and Boyd, also of the same presbyteries. At North
East the four held a public service on Sept. 27, 1801, at the homestead of William Dundass, which was just west
of the present residence of Mr. R. J. Moorhead, on Main Street in North East, at which were some three hundred
persons. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered by them here, which was the first according to Protestant
forms ever administered in this county. A congregation was organized then and there by the name of "The Churches
of Upper and Lower Greenfield."
On Oct. 2, 1801, the Erie Presbytery was established, covering the territory between the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers
and Lake Erie, extending into Ohio. Its first meeting was at Mt. Pleasant, Beaver County, April 13, 1802, with
seven ministers in attendance. They received requests for religious services from the Congregations of Upper and
Lower Greenfield, and from Middlebrook; also a request from Presque Isle. Revs. McCurdy Satterfield and McPherrin
were designated as missionaries to serve in this county.
The first regular preacher in the county was Rev. Robert Patterson, who was received into the Erie Presbytery on
Sept. 30, 1802, and accepted the call of "The Churches of Upper and Lower Greenfield," entering upon
his work here Dec. 31, 1802. He seems to have lived at North East. In 1804 a small log church was built on the
west side of the Sixteen Mile Jeek, in what is now the cemetery of North East. In the same year a church was built
in Springfield township, on the site of the East Springfield cemetery, Mr. Patterson preaching at Springfield,
North East and Middlebrook for a time.
In October, 1805, Rev. Johnston Eaton, a young minister, who had been licensed by the Ohio Presbytery on Aug. 22,
1805, to preach the gospel, came to Erie County. His early education had been completed in the theological seminary
of Dr. John McMillan conducted in a log house at Canonsburg, Pa. He remained here but a short time, and left to
put in the following year in southern Ohio, traveling for his health. In 1806 he returned to Erie County, preaching
mostly in the bar room of a small log tavern near the mouth of Walnut Jeek which was then kept by Captain Richard
Swan. No doubt some sort of congregational organization was formed during this season, although we have no sure
record of it, excepting from the fragment of his old journal which states "Preached three months in the congregations
of Fairview, Springfield, and Millcreek, beginning July, 1806, at ninety dollars per quarter."
In 1807 he was married to Miss Eliza Canon, of Fayette County, Penn., a niece of Colonel John Canon, the founder
of Canonsburg, Pa., returning with her, on horseback, they settled on a tract on the west banks of Walnut Creek,
their little log cabin being built a few rods north of the top of Walnut Creek hill on the Ridge Road. Here it
was that the bear climbed the bank of the creek one morning and took away one of the minister's pigs before the
startled eyes of his wife.
Rev Johnson Eaton was the first minister of any denomination to be ordained in this county, the ceremony taking
place in the barn of William Sturgeon which then stood in the southeast corner of Church and South streets, Fairview
borough now, on June 30, 1808. Prior to this time he had organized a congregation called the Fairview Congregation,
having for its first elders Andrew Caughey, George Reed and William Arbuckle, and with but twenty five members.
In 1810 this congregation built a log church structure on the high bank opposite, and across the road from the
place where was later built the Mayside Hotel, near the mouth of Walnut Creek. In 1806, Rev. Eaton also organized
a congregation of the Presbyterian faith at Springfield out of the attendants upon the meetings held there in 1804
by Rev. Robert Patterson. The first elders of this congregation were Isaac Miller, James Blair and James Bruce,
the congregation having thirty members.
Rev. Eaton seems to have, for a time at least, served the religious needs of nearly the whole county, preaching
sometimes at Erietown, North East, Middlebrook, Waterford, and other places. During the War of 1812, he acted as
chaplain to the troops at Erie, and on Feb. 14, 1815, the Erie Presbytery granted to Erie one third of the services
of Rev. Eaton for one year; and on Feb. 24, 1815, Judah Colt, Joseph Arbuckle and Samuel Hays were elected trustees.
On May 13, 1815, at the home of Robert Brown, Samuel Hays was appointed Treasurer, Thomas Stewart was directed
to make collections for the borough of Erie, and William Saltsman for the county. At this time arrangements were
also made to use the house of Colonel Miller, on Peach Street, north of Fifth, known as "The Barracks."
It was during the month of February, 1815, that this congregation was regularly organized by Rev. Eaton, who continued
as its stated supply until 1823. For two years his time was equally divided between Fairview, North East and Erie;
later between Fairview and Erie, and a little later practically confined to Fairview. Afterwards, the old barracks
becoming unsuitable to hold services in them, services were held for a time in the court house in West Perry Square,
until the authorities withdrew their consent, when Judah Colt built a building for them on the west side of Sassafras
Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, becoming known as "The Old Yellow Meeting House." Around this
building the bodies of its members were buried, and in it the Rev. David McKinney preached his first sermon on
Oct. 24, 1824, and was ordained in it on April 13, 1825, being the first regular pastor of this congregation, which
was later to be known as the First Presbyterian Church of Erie. So it seems that Erie had a Presbyterian congregational
organization with official heads in 1815; but as early as 1808, Erie Presbytery granted supplies to "Upper
Greenfield, Middlebrook, Waterford and Erie-town," and in 1809 received a report that none of these posts
could support a pastor. By inference then, we must conclude that, although the congregational record does not enlighten
us, a congregation existed at Erietown prior to 1808 which developed into the First Presbyterian Church of Erie.
It is well also for us to correct an earlier error as to another organization. The historical narrative of St.
John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, of Erie, claims a congregation from 1808 to the present time, and at the laying
of the cornerstone of the present edifice, Ascension Day, 1861, a history of the congregation from 1808 to 1861
was placed within it. The first baptisms are said to have taken place Aug. 18, 19, 1808. The congregational life
of this organization seems to have been continuous from that time to the present, when the congregation worships
in a most handsome brick temple on upper Sassafras Street, the Rev. Gustave A. Benze being the present capable
pastor, with some 1,200 communicants.
In 1809, a Presbyterian congregation was organized at Waterford; in 1811, another at Union; in 1820, there were
congregations at Springfield, North East, Middlebrook, Waterford, Union, Fairview and Erie, according to the minutes
of Erie Presbytery.
The Church of Union was organized in April, 1811, with eight members and one elder, Matthew Gray, its church building
being erected in 1831.
The Sturgeonville (Fairview borough) Presbyterian Church was a colony from the original Fairview Church, organized
in 1845 with seven original members.
The Springfield Presbyterian Church was organized as a preaching station in 1804, by Rev. Robert Patterson, as
a church in 1806, by Rev. Johnston Eaton, with 30 members, and three elders, Isaac Miller, James Blair and James
The Girard Presbyterian Church was a colony from Springfield, organized May 16, 1835, with Robert Porter and Philip
Bristol as first elders.
The Lower Greenfield (North East) Presbyterian Church was organized in 1801, in the woods where the borough now
is, and worshipped for a time in the forest, with Rev. Robert Patterson as its first pastor.
Upper Greenfield (Middlebrook, and later Wattsburg) Presbyterian Church was organized in August, 1801.
Fairview (later Westminster) Presbyterian Church was organized as a preaching point by Rev. Johnston Eaton in 1806,
with preaching in 1805, and as a regular congregation sometime in 1806: with 13 members received on certificates
from other churches, and 12 persons on examination; three elders were elected and ordained, Andrew Caughey, William
Arbuckle, and George Reed. The names of those first members are: Andrew Caughey, Elizabeth Caughey, Jane Caughey,
John Pherrin, Mary McCreary, Agnes McJeary, another Mary McJeary, Jennie Nicholson, Ann Sterrett, Elizabeth Eaton,
Ann McJeary, Robert Sterrett, and Catherine Swan, on certificates; and William Arbuckle, Charity Arbuckle, Jeremiah
Sturgeon, Jane Sturgeon, William Sturgeon, Jennie Sturgeon, George Nicholson, Jane Nicholson, Patrick Vance, Margaret
Vance, John McJeary and Elizabeth McJeary, on examination.
Its first services were in the tavern of Colonel Richard Swan at the mouth of Walnut Jeek, there being thereabouts
a little settlement, which gave promise of a thriving neighborhood. In 1809 it was resolved to build a meeting
house. Captain Richard Swan and Colonel Thomas Forster each gave an acre of his land, and the congregation bought
three other acres on the high bank back from the lake and near the mouth of Walnut Jeek, west of the road leading
down to the creek. It was built of hewn logs, many of them drawn by an ox team driven by John J. Swan, the eldest
son of Captain Richard Swan, then a lad of 15 years of age. Everybody helped. It had slabs laid on blocks of wood
for seats; Johnny Pherrin built its pulpit, a box like affair in front, with five or six steps leading up to it,
which made convenient seats for the minister's children, whose mother sat in the pew alongside. A brick hearth
in the middle of the floor made a place where charcoal was sometimes burned in extreme weather to obtain a little
warmth, but its fumes sometimes overcame the worshippers, and a big ten plate stove was later secured for heating.
In 1810, 12 persons were added to its membership; in 181112, seven persons; 1813 to 1816, the period of the war,
three persons; 1817-1819, 14 persons; and an average of four each year for the next ten years; 1831, 25 were added
on examination. In 1834, with a reported membership of 100, a large frame edifice was built on the lot at Swanville
where the public school now stands, and back of it were buried many of the pioneers of those early days, whose
bodies were later removed to other places of rest.
The old log church became a school house in 1834, and later was rented to a family named Coller who used it as
a residence. Becoming vacant, fire originated in an unknown manner, and it was consumed. In 1851, the frame building
was removed to Westminster, where it remained the place of worship until 1895, when their present new brick structure
In 1809 or 1810, a Presbyterian Church was organized at Waterford, Rev. John Matthews, its first pastor being ordained
and installed in connection with Gravel Run, Oct. 17, 1810, released April 2, 1817. Its church edifice was built
Presbyterian churches were organized as follows:
The Washington Presbyterian Church (Edinboro) was organized in 1829; Belle Valley Presbyterian, 1841; Beaver Dam
(Wayne Township), about 1820; Corry, 1864; Fairview Borough (Sturgeonville), 1845; First Church, Erie, 1815; Girard
Borough, 1835; Central of Erie, 1871; Chestnut Street, Erie, 1873; East Springfield, 1804; Harborereek, 1832; Mill
Village, 1870; North East Borough, 1801; Park Presbyterian, Erie, 1855; Union City, 1811; Waterford Borough, 1809;
Wattsburg, 1833; Westminster, Millcreek Township, 1806; Wales, Greene Township, 1849; Eastminister, 1894; McKean,
1837; First U. P. Church, Erie, 1811; Brown Avenue U. P., 1900; First U. P. of Waterford, 1812; Springfield, 1806.
Methodist churches were organized as follows:
Lexington, in Conneaut Township, 1801; first Methodist church building in the county erected one mile south of
West Springfield in 1804; first class organized near Lexington, 1801; first quarterly meeting held south of West
Springfield in July, 1810; revival meetings first held in Erie by Methodists, 1810-11, in a log tavern where the
Erie Public Library now stands; first class organized in Erie, 1826; a class held meetings in a log school house
in Erie on the east side of French Street between Second and Third Streets, in 1826; meetings were held in the
Court House in West Perry Square in 1833; meetings were held in a small one story frame building on East Fourth
Street in Erie, between French and Holland Streets, 1833 and later; Erie made a Station by Conference in 1834;
Erie Conference organized in July, 1836; "Wesley Chapel" dedicated Jan. 1, 1839, situated midway between
Peach and Sassafras Streets, on the north side of Seventh Street, in Erie; three new classes formed in 1840; two
more classes in 1842; ninth annual session of Erie Conference held in Erie in July, 1844; in 1852 a committee of
First Church of Erie located the site of Simpson M. E. at the southeast corner of Twenty first and Sassafras Streets,
as now called; Nov. 14, 1860, the new $14,000 brick building of the First M. E. of Erie, was dedicated; Simpson's
new brick structure was dedicated by Bishop Simpson, June 19, 1859. Organization dates of the Methodist churches
in this county are: Albion, before 1850; Ash's Corners, Washington Township, 1867; Asbury, in Millcreek, 1846;
Asbury, Union Township, 1840; Beaver Dam, 1838; Carter Hill, 1835; Cascade Street, Erie, 1902; Cherry Hill, 1858;
Concord, 1879; Corry, 1862; Janesville, 1830; Jane Road, Franklin Township, 1867; East Springfield, 1825; Edenville,
LeBoeuf Township, 1839; Edinboro, 1829; Elgin, 1854; Eureka, 1867; Fair Haven, 1815; Fairplane, 1840; Fairview,
1817; First of Erie, 1826; Franklin, 1866; Girard, 1815; Gospel Hill, 1816; Hamlin, Summit Township, 1837; Harborcreek,
1834; Hatch Hollow, 1835; Keepville, 1867; Kingsley, Erie, 1907; Lockport, 1843; Lowville, 1875; McLane, 1863;
Miles Grove, 1867; Mill Village, 1810; Middleboro, 1819; North Corry, 1870; North East, 1812; Northville, 1820;
Phillipsville, 1840; South Harborcreek, 1830; Simpson, Erie, 1858; Sterrettania, 1842; South Hill, McKean Township,
1860; Sharp's Corners, Waterford Township, 1838; Sherrod Hill and Tower School House, in Venango Township, not
ascertained; Tenth Street, Erie, 1867; Union City, 1817; Waterford Borough, 1814; Wattsburg, 1827; Wales, Greene
Township, 1850; Wellsburg, 1833; Wayne Street, Erie, 1889; Wesleyville, 1825; West Greene, 1827; West Springfield,
The Pennsylvania German pioneers into this county were of the Protestant faith, and comprised the Riblets, Wagners,
Ebersoles, Browns, Stoughs, Langs, Zimmermans, and Kreiders, from 1801 to 1805; later were the Warfels, Mohrs,
Weigels, Metzlers, Bergers, Brennemans, Geists, Zucks, and others. Most of these clung to the Evangelical Lutheran
faith, and brought their German Bibles with them. Soon after they settled, they besought the Lutheran Synod of
Eastern Pennsylvania for aid in establishing the gospel in their neighborhoods, deploring their situation "to
do without sermon, baptism, catechetical instruction and the Lord's Supper", and desiring a minister to be
sent to them occasionally, at least.
The first record book of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Erie was begun Sept. 1, 1811, showing there
was even then some sort of congregational organization of that church in existence in this county, and evidencing
that services had been held prior to that time. At the laying of the corner stone of that church, on Ascension
Day, 1861, it is stated that a history of the congregation from 1808 to 1861 was placed in the corner stone. It
is believed that Rev. Mr. Muckenhaupt was one of the first traveling missionaries of the sect who labored in this
county, inquiries concerning him being instituted in 1811, he being understood to be preaching in Crawford (embraced
Erie) County at the time. They may be said to have comprised Rev. Muckenhaupt, 1808; Rev. Mr. Scriba, 1811; Rev.
Mr. Sackman, 1813; Rev. Mr. Rupert, 1814; Rev. Carl W. Golsen, 1815, who resided at Meadville, and served Erie,
too. Father C. F. Heyer came in 1817, where he labored for a year. Rev. Rupert returned in 1819, and Rev. Mr. Heilig
was here about 1832, and is believed to have been the first resident Lutheran minister in the county.
St. John's, of Erie, probably lays claim justly to being the first Lutheran congregation in the county. Its first
building was erected and dedicated Aug. 8, 1842; the second, a brick structure, on Sept. 14, 1862, where they now
worship. St. Paul's German Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized about 1850; Luther Memorial, the first English
Lutheran church in Erie, in 1861; others, some of whose dates we are not able to ascertain, were Zion's, 1890;
Bethany, Trinity, Grace, 1893; St. Stephen's, 1898; St. Matthew's, 1905; St. Luke's, St. Paul's at Drake's Mills,
the Evangelical Lutheran St. John's at Girard, the East Greene, St. Peter's in Millcreek, Trinity at McKean, and
St. Peter's at North East.
Lutheranism at Erie is vitally identified with a most benevolent undertaking in the establishment and operation
of the Lutheran Home for the Aged, which was opened on March 1, 1906, at 2201 Sassafras Street. The building contains
50 rooms, and houses many aged persons whose circumstances require home, care and maintenance.
Other Protestant organizations and the times of their various organizations as we have been able to secure them
are: The Baptist congregation at Lowry's Corners, in Harborcreek Township, believed to have been the first one
in the county, in 1822; it originated in the Hoag school house until their building could be provided, but it has
not survived. Another Baptist congregation was organized in Springfield Township in 1826, building its church edifice
in 1833 on the Ridge Road, about two and a half miles west of East Springfield; at Erie in 1831; in the eastern
part of North East Township at an early date, succeeded by another built on the Buffalo Road a little way east
of North East village in 1832; at McLane, in 1838; West Greene, in 1848; at Wattsburg in 1850; the Elk Jeek Baptist
in Franklin Township, in 1867; Wesleyville, ____; a Free-Will Baptist Church in Waterford Township in 1832; the
Emanuel Baptist of Erie, ____; Wayne Park Baptist, Erie, ____; First German Baptist, of Erie, ____; Second Baptist,
Erie, ____; Swedish Baptist, Erie, ____.
The Christian denomination organized a congregation at Springfield in 1826, with Rev. Asa C. Morrison as its organizer,
and Rev. Josiah Marsh as its settled pastor. Another was organized in Fairview in 1835, and one at Erie in 1888.
The United Brethren entered the county more recently than some of the others, the first church being, as we believe,
organized in Elk Creek, a mile north of Janesville, in 1853. Another at Fairview in 1857; at Branchville, 1865;
at Beaverdam, 1870; on the State Road in Girard Township near the Elk Jeek line, in 1870; and at New Ireland in
LeBoeuf Township, in 1876.
The Universalists established churches in Springfield, Girard, Elk Creek, and Erie, the earlier being in the early
forties. They now use the name of Unitarian.
The Disciples became established at Albion in 1880, and at Lockport in 1877.
The Congregational Church had a congregation in Corry in 1874.
The Evangelical Association founded congregations at Emanuel in Summit Township in 1838; Salem, in Fairview Township,
1833; Salem, in Erie, 1833; Mt. Nabo, Fairview Borough, 1833; North East Borough, 1870, and a congregation at Sterrettania
The first Sunday School in the county is believed to have been established in the Moorheadville School House by
Rev. Mr. Morton and Colonel James Moorhead in 1817. Mrs. Judah Colt, assisted by Mrs. Rufus S. Reed and a Mrs.
Carr, organized a girls' class in 1818, at Erie, which met in the homes of the organizers. On March 25, 1821, a
public meeting was held in the Court House to consider organizing "a Sunday School and Moral Society".
This school opened in May with 64 in attendance, having in 1830-31 as one of its members Horace Greeley, who was
then an employee on the Erie Gazette. The ladies of St. Paul's Episcopal congregation opened a second school in
September, 1830, which met in the Court House until they had a building of their own.
The Roman Catholics had their first organization in this county in 1833, when they established a church in the
northern part of McKean Township, using the building then erected until one was built in Middleboro. St. Mary's,
of Erie, was established in 1837; St. Patrick's in 1837; the corner stone of their St. Peter's Cathedral on the
northwest corner of Tenth and Sassafras Streets was laid Aug. 1, 1875, and the edifice was dedicated Aug. 2, 1893,
taking 18 years to build. Other Catholic congregations in the county embrace, Albion; St. Thomas' at. Corry; Concord;
St. Elizabeth's at Corry; Elgin; St. John's at Girard; St. Boniface at Hamot; St. Matthew's at Jackson Station;
St. Francis Xavier's at Middleboro; Mill Village; St. Gregory's at North East; St. Teresa's at Union City; St.
Cyprian's at Waterford; St. Joseph's in Erie, 1855; St. John's, Erie, 1869; St. Andrew's, Erie, 1871; St. Stanislaus',
Erie, 1883; St. Michael's at Erie, 1883; St. Paul's, Erie, is an Italian congregation, 1891; St. Joachim's, Erie,
1894; St. Ann's, Erie, 1894; Sacred Heart, Erie, ____; Polish Catholic, Erie; St. Peter and St. Paul Greek Catholic,
Erie; St. Steven's Hungarian Catholic, Erie; Church of the Holy Family, Erie, 1908.
The Hebrew people formed themselves into a congregation on Aug. 12, 1853, with some eight or ten persons attending.
They met for services for a time at Fifth and French, in Erie, their first Rabbi being Mr. Weil, who came to them
in 1861. Their places of worship have included one on Holland Street, between Eighth and Ninth Streets; another
in the Metcalf Block on State Street, and one in Becker's Block at Sixth and French Streets. They secured a lot
on West Eighth Street in 1882, where a handsome synagogue was erected for $13,000. Rabbi Max E. Currick is the
present Rabbi. It is called the Anshe Chesed synagogue.
The Brith Sholom synagogue was organized in 1896, and holds its services at 721 French Street, and is termed the
orthodox congregation, as distinguished from the Anshe Chesed which is denominated the reform church.
The First Christian Church was organized Nov. 19, 1888, building its house of worship on a lot which it secured
at the southwest corner of Seventh and Chestnut Streets in Erie.
A "Christian Science" Church was organized in Erie in 1889, which has erected a fine temple on Sassafras
Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets.
The Young Men's Christian Association was organized at a meeting held Aug. 20, 1860, in Park Hall, presided over
by E. L. Pelton. A. McDowell Lyon was its first president, who was succeeded by A. H. Caughey. The basements and
lecture rooms of various churches furnished places for its earlier meetings, till rooms were procured for its meetings
in the Beatty Block on North Park Row. A reading room with small library was provided, and later the Irving Library
was secured, and then the Barr homestead, at Tenth and Peach Streets, was purchased in September, 1878, which was
improved from time to time, adding lecture room, gymnasium, and other facilities, until popular subscriptions in
a campaign for the purpose provided funds for the erection of a magnificent modern block on the site of its former
home, equipped in the most modern manner for the objects of the organization, costing more than $200,000, in 1912.
Its activities have included cooperating with the government commission during the Civil War in welfare work for
the soldiers and sailors; welfare work in the county jail, conducted by Mr. N. C. Outwait, and later by Mr. W.
Mallery; promoting mission Sunday Schools museum work; starting an industrial school in 1868; open air services
about the city beginning in 1870; relief work during panics and hard times; organized temperance work; promotion
of cottage prayer meetings; boys' work; educational work in night classes for men; welfare work in the Spanish-American
War; evangelistic work; and welfare work during the World War of 1917-18.