The beginning of the Lord's work in this place is not positively known.
The only complete record of them that now remains is the one that was kept in
That eternal register of all human action is not yet open for our
inspection, and we are obliged, at present, to seek the desired information from
less reliable sources. And we must be content with this imperfect knowledge
until "the books are opened, and the dead are judged, out of those things
which are written in the books according to their works."
Then we will know it all. "For there is nothing hid that shall not
be made manifest."
Ours is one of the oldest churches in Western Pennsylvania. As proved
from the following extract, culled by permission, from the private journal of
Rev. Jno. McMillan, D. D., which reads as follows.
-- 1st Sab. of Dec. preached at Raccoon from Rom. 8, 6. Rec'd. £7-10-6. 1779 --
Tuesday after (3rd Sab. of June) at Mr. Balie's place on Raccoon. Rec'd. £13-17-3.
-- 3rd Sab. of June at Raccoon and rec'd. £46-11-6. 4th Sab. of July at Mr.
McDonald’s place, on Robinson Run and rec'd. £22-12-6.
-- Oct. 2nd Sab. at Raccoon.
-- Nov. the 2nd Sab. at Potato Garden.
The first settlers were almost exclusively of Scotch and Scotch-Irish
descent, coming from Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who seem to have
brought with them all the combativeness and tenacity for the pure Gospel of
truth, and for the Presbyterian form of religion usually ascribed to their
Among those earliest on the field were the Baileys, Dunbars, Dunlaps,
Atens, Donaldsons, McDonalds, Pyles, Cardikes,
McCartys, McFarlands, Riddiles, Scotts and Crooks.
The third and fourth generations of some of these families, still bearing
the same name, are active and useful members among those who now "Hold the
The location of this church in the then wilderness was, no doubt,
determined by its proximity to Beilor's Fort, whose location has been pointed
out by our forefathers as standing immediately southeast of the cemetery. The
first person buried in this cemetery was Mrs. Martha Bigger, who died in a fort
located on Miller's Run, where the family had fled for safety from the predatory
excursions of the Indians. A stone tablet marks her grave bearing the date of
May 20th, 1780.
Shortly afterwards nearby were buried a Mr. McCandless and two Shearer
brothers, who were scalped by the Indians while gathering in their harvest. The
descendants of both the Bigger and Shearer families at the present time occupy
the land conquered by their forefathers from the primeval forest.
Six years before the constitution of the United States was adopted,
"when Washington and that noble band of patriots who worked with him were
laying the foundation for the temple of liberty," the fathers of this
congregation were cutting, hauling, and building with their own hands, of unhewn
logs, the first house of worship, which was completed in 1781.
It seems to have been the custom of the early settlers of Western
Pennsylvania to give names to their churches corresponding to that of the
nearest stream, hence the name Raccoon. This name, no doubt, seems rude and
uncouth to the esthetic ears of the present generation, but to those of our
members whose families have been represented within these sacred walls for four
and five generations, this name is linked with too many tender associations to
be lightly thrown aside.
In 1786 the first church could no longer accommodate the rapidly
increasing congregation, whose limits were Clinton on the north, Hickory on the
south, including Noblestown on the east and Burgettstown on the west.
"The first church was taken down, and a commodious hewn log church
was erected on the same spot. On each of the longer sides of this building there
was a recess of considerable size, an architectural device to furnish a corner
to support the end of the timbers, the size of the house requiring two
"The pulpit was in one of these recesses, and the one on the
opposite side was appropriated to the use of a few colored slaves then owned in
the neighborhood." This house cost $400, a large amount for that day and no
doubt represented much self-denial on the part of our forefathers. In all their
straits, we have no account of letters being sent back to the home churches in
the East praying for assistance, but with energy, zeal and self sacrifice they
laid firm and deep the foundation stones, upon which each succeeding generation
In neither of these buildings was any provision made for heating
purposes, although many of the members came from a distance of eight and ten
miles, in the bitter cold, remaining for two long sermons, yet tradition hands
down no complaints of hardships endured, or colds contracted thereby.
After a time some of the more progressive members took it upon themselves
to place a stove within those sacred walls, to the manifest displeasure of the
more conservative members of the flock, who considered this a very unnecessary
innovation. Unfortunately on the first day it was used, a woman in the audience
fainted. No sooner was she carried out at one door, than willing hands as
promptly carried the offensive stove out at another door, where it remained for
a time in order to avoid the danger of division. Some of our forefathers seem to
have had as many conscientious scruples about introducing heating apparatuses
into the churches, as some of our sister churches seem to have in the
introduction of an organ.
After the lapse of twelve years, the ground upon which the church now
stands was purchased. Among the church archives is found the following: Jan.
19th, 1793, John Clark and Jane, his wife, conveyed to William Rankin, Peter
Kidd, William McCandlass, Matthew Bailey, John Dunlap and Alexander Wright,
trustees of Raccoon Church, in consideration of nine pounds specie all that lot
of ground whereon the congregation has erected their church, under the pastoral
care of Rev. Joseph Patterson, containing seven acres, strict measurement.
For forty-four years or until 1830 the congregation worshiped in this
house. An aged member tells of a tent which stood just south of the cemetery,
which she described as a platform elevated about three feet from the ground with
two sides and one end closed, the roof sloping towards the closed end; the
ministers occupying the platform, the audience seated on logs arranged in front
of the platform. This tent was resorted to when the church could not accommodate
the audience, or on communion occasions when services would often be held in
both church and tent.
The log church and tent served its day and generation, but the time had
now come when they too must give way to the march of improvement.
In 1830 a large, substantial brick church with a seating capacity for 600
was erected on the same ground upon which the log church stood. I have a vision
today of this imposing structure with its five double outside doors. Its wide
transverse aisle, the pulpit in the side, high up, reached by two flights of
stairs of six steps each with its fan shaped windows in the rear, on each side
of which, upon the white walls in bas relief were easter lilies, the roof
sloping from all four sides to a point in the middle, with a modest belfry
perched upon this apex, the bell rope dangling from it, to the center of the
church, terminating in a loop within easy reach of the sexton's hand.
For fifty-four years this church opened wide its five outside doors to
welcome this large congregation. At the present time within its original borders
flourish five Presbyterian churches. These scions, though strong and
flourishing, have not materially injured the parent stock.
This church in its day was no doubt considered a model of convenience and
The fathers who had planned it were fast passing away, and the
congregation once more with one voice, like to that of Nehemiah of old said,
“The God of heaven he will prosper us, therefore, we his servants will arise
and again build."
In the spring of 1872 the old church endeared to so many of our hearts by
tender associations was taken down that the new edifice might stand upon the
same sacred ground occupied by its three predecessors.
These grand old oaks whose branches were once stirred by the resonant
tones of McMillan, McCurdy, "the silver-toned Marquis” and the fervent
prayers of our own loved Patterson, stretch their protecting boughs not less
loving over our present sanctuary.
This church like its predecessor was built of brick, 81 x 60 ft., two
stories, with a seating capacity for 500 in the audience room, commodious
Sunday-school room, seated with chairs, lecture room, women's room, etc. Total
The church was dedicated free from debt on Thanksgiving day, 1873. The
sermon was preached by Rev. S. J. Wilson, D.D., and a historical discourse was
delivered by Rev. C. V. McKaig, D.D., in which he paid high tribute to the
pioneer women of this church.
In 1888 a manse was built at a cost of $2,500.00, and in 1895 the church
was renovated, recarpeted, refrescoed at an expense of about $1,200.00.
In giving the history of the early pastorates of Raccoon Church,
unfortunately for the historian, the pastors left but scant records of their
work behind them. Much of our information has come down to us on the wings of
tradition. One generation has declared it to another. Our fathers and mothers
have told us of the wonderful deliverances from trials and dangers incidental to
pioneer life, while their faithful pastor labored with and prayed for them, as
one who had power with the Almighty.
"On April 21st, 1789, this church, then called Upper Raccoon, to
distinguish it from one further down the stream, and Montours, a church 10 miles
east, made a joint call for Rev. Joseph Patterson. He reserved his acceptance of
that call till the next meeting of Presbytery on account of some unnamed
difficulties between the two congregations."
By the time of the next meeting of Presbytery these affairs were adjusted
and the call was accepted. The following is a copy of the original call, and, as
many of our congregation will recognize the names of their ancestors among the
signers, we will give it in full:
Mr. Joseph Patterson, Preacher of the Gospel.
We, the subscribers, members of the united congregations of Montour Run
and Upper Raccoon, being on sufficient grounds well satisfied with your
ministerial qualifications, and having good hopes from our past experiences of
your labors, that your ministration in the Gospel will be profitable to our
spiritual interests, do earnestly call and desire you to undertake the pastoral
office in said congregation, promising you, in the discharge of your duty, all
proper support, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord.
that you may be free from worldly cares and avocations, we hereby promise and
oblige ourselves to pay you the sum of one hundred and twenty pounds, in regular
annual payments, which sum is to be paid in the way and manner specified in our
subscription papers accompanying this call; which sum we oblige ourselves to pay
annually during the time of your being, and continuing the regular pastor of
these united churches and congregations.
In testimony thereof, we have respectfully subscribed our names this 9th
day of April, 1789.
Reddick, John Stevenson, Torrence Phefil, John Miller Taylor, James Wilson,
Benjamin Hall, Wm. Guy, Jr., James Peterson, Thomas Craft, John McDonald, Ehraim
Burrell, Samuel Johnson, John Nesbit, Peter Kidd, Samuel Ewing, John Dunbar,
John Benny, John Donaldson, Wm. Walker, David Hays, Joseph Cresswell, William
Gordan, Wm. Stephenson, Robert Holmes, Wm. Turner, John Allen, Samuel Strain,
Robert Marquis, Henry Rankin, William Flanaghen, Alex. H. Scott, John Kelso,
James Reagh, Alexander McCandlass, James Robbin, Andrew Kinnely, John Glen,
Robert Greenlies, John Elkins, Samuel Phillips, Wm. McCandlass, John
Abercrombie, Alex. Wright, William Loury, Hugh Shearer, Alexander Reed, Wm.
Thompson, James Bailey, William Kilbreth, Robert Crooks, John Kilbreth, John
Forbits, James Miller, Alexander Kidd, Jr., Philip Richard, John Smith, William
Anderson, Thomas Biggert, James McCoy, Hugh McCandlass, Nathaniel McCoy,
Alexander Bailey, John Scott, Nehenniah Sharp, Alexander McCandlass, George Beil,
Tho. White, John McMichael, Abraham Kirld, Isaac Rudawing,
Thomas Hays, Alexander Grey, James White, Jos. Scott, Esq., John Clark,
Wm. Kirkpatric, Moses Hays, Wm. Roseberry, John Singer, Robert Potter, Henry
Rankin, Thomas Scott, Isaac McMichael, Wm. Tucker, Sr., Roly Boyd, Thomas Hanna,
Joseph Henry, John Bailey, Wm. Grey, Jessie Rankin, Alex. Burns, Moses Rose,
Samuel Jeffrey, James Gaston, Wm. McCullough, John Hutchinson, John Smith,
Samuel Hunter, James Scott, John Wright, Mary Wilson, Wm. Bailey, John Wilson,
Christopher Smith, Benjamin Thompson, John Holmes, William Wilson, Daniel
Stuart, William Russel, John Bavington, John Reed, John Cardike, James Stewart,
James Bell, William Forbes, John Neal, John Dunlap, James Criswell, Matthew
Bailey, John Short, George Long, Robert Clark, Samuel Scott, George Elliott,
Henry McBride, Samuel Miller, W. Lee, Robert McMean, James Ewing, Abraham
Russell, John McA. Dow, Henry Noble, James Ravencraft, Mary Cherry, William
McGee, John McNare, James Montgomery, Robert Boyd, Peter Murphy, Robert Hall,
John Carlyle, Gabriel Walker, Matthew Rankin, Robert Vance, Thomas Sprout,
William McLaughlin, William Wallace, Jeremiah Write, James Sheers, John Wills,
Andrew Harvat, William Rankin, Samuel Neely.
In behalf of our respective congregations, we the subscribers do hereby
oblige ourselves to be responsible to Mr. Patterson for the above sum.
In witness thereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seal the day of
grace and year above written
Montours: Thos. Sprout, Samuey Jeffery, Samuel Walker, John McDow.
Raccoon: Alex. Wright, William McCandlass, William Rankin, John Riddile, Alex.
Bailey, John Dunlap, Matthew Bailey.
Mr. Patterson continued to serve these two congregations for ten years,
or until each became sufficiently strong to require the exclusive services of a
pastor. On April 16th, 1799, he resigned the charge of Montours, devoting all
his time to Raccoon.
Mr. Patterson'S history is inseparably connected with the history of the
Presbyterian Churches of Western Pennsylvania. The following sketch is culled
from Old Redstone and History of Washington Presbytery:
"He was born in the North of Ireland in 1752, noted for his early
piety, received his first clear apprehension of the way of salvation, during an
affectionate explanation of it by his father, while following the plow. At the
age of ten years he, along with three or four little companions conducted a
stated children's prayer-meeting. At the age of twenty he married Jane Moak, and
soon after came to America. In 1776 he was teaching school near Philadelphia,
and was present at the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. He left
his school and volunteered in the American army. After leaving the army he lived
for a short time in York County, Pa. In the fall of
1779 through the influence of Judge Edgar he came to Cross Creek,
Washington Co., Pa. At that time he was a seceder with a strong prejudice
against the use of hymns in the worship of God. His neighbor, Squire Graham,
succeeded in changing his views on this subject, and afterwards he became very
fond of singing hymns.
In 1782 he was appointed an elder in Cross Creek. In the fall of 1785 (at
the age of 33), he was received by the Presbytery as a candidate for the
ministry, studied three years under his pastor, Rev. Jos. Smith, and was
licensed to preach August 12th, 1788, at the age of 36. Eight months after he
was installed pastor of Raccoon and Montours churches. On that occasion the Rev.
Mr. Dod preached from Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and
to all the flocks over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the
church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Mr. McMillan
presided, and Mr. Robt. Finley gave the charge." This took place on the
27th meeting of Redstone Presbytery. There is no record of the names of officers
or members of the congregation during the whole of his pastorate.
The only record he has left of his work, is this brief memorandum, made
on demitting his charge into the hands of Presbytery.
"I resign my charge on account of bodily infirmities after being
pastor of Raccoon Church for 27 years and 6 months for every day of which I need
pardon through the blood of Christ."
Our forefathers not only planned for the spiritual advancement of
themselves and their descendants, but also soon began to plan for the higher
intellectual training and culture under religious control.
Among the few papers that have been preserved of Mr. Patterson is a long
list of subscriptions taken by him in his two congregations in 1794, for the
building of the academy at Cannonsburg.
The following extract is taken from History of Jefferson College by Rev.
"June 9th, 1794. We, whose names are hereunto signed, desirous to
forward the Academy building at Canonsburg, do promise to pay or deliver into
some mill in the bounds of the Rev. Joseph Patterson's congregation, the
quantities of wheat or rye, annexed to our names, and deliver the receipts
thereof to said Patterson on or before the present year."
names selected from a long list.)
William Flanegan, 1 bushel of wheat, at 2 shillings.
Robt. Moor, 2 bushels of wheat, at 2 shillings.
James Laird, 4 bushels of wheat, at 2 shillings.
Samuel Riddle, in money, 7s. 6d.
John McMillan, in money, $1.00.
Joseph Patterson, in money, $6.00.
Mrs. Valandingham, 6 yrds. of linen.
Alexander McCandless, 2 bushels of wheat.
John Cardike (a pious negro), 2 bushels of wheat.
Mrs. Nesbit, 3 yrds. of linen.
Widow Riddle, 3 yrds. of linen, etc.
The linen was delivered to the treasurer to be disposed of as opportunity
permitted at 1s. 1-1/4d. (25 cents) per yrd.
Rev. Patterson's son Robert was the first to enroll his name as a student
in Canonsburg Academy. A traditional story, familiar to us all, has been handed
down, in regard to the payment of Mr. Patterson's subscription.
Mr. Patterson was disappointed in not receiving some money with which he
had expected to liquidate his subscriptions. He concluded to go to the meeting
place, and make such a statement as would be satisfactory. He started from his
home (which was one-quarter of a mile east of the church), as was his custom
with his gun upon his shoulder. Passing through a grove of lofty oaks, between
his home and the church, he kneeled down, and poured forth his troubles into the
Almighty Father's ear. His devotions were interrupted by a rustling among the
leaves. He opened his eyes, saw a panther approaching, which he shot. The bounty
which he received for the scalp enabled him to redeem his subscription.
EARLY MISSIONARY EFFORTS.
As early as 1800 these pioneer churches of Washington county combined and
formed themselves into missionary societies. Money being scarce their
contributions came principally in the products of the field from the men, and
all the women which were wise-hearted, like their sisters of old, did spin with
their hands and brought that which they had spun as an offering to the Lord.
Each pastor in his turn, made a missionary tour of from one to four
months either north or west of the Ohio River, laboring among the new settlers,
or among the Indian tribes. These two distinct classes among which they labored,
foreshadowed the two grand divisions of missionary work, Home and Foreign.
In 1801 Rev. Messrs. McCurdy, Marquis, Brice, McMillan and Patterson made
this tour, a perilous and self-sacrificing undertaking in those days.
As an illustration of their privations Rev. Richard Lee at our centennial
related the following conversation as occurring between Mr. McMillan and Mr.
Patterson: I was sent with others by God and the churches upon a
missionary tour to the Indians. We entered the deep forests, our only
subsistence for days being corn, which we pounded fine between stones, boiled
and mixed with bear’s grease. My stomach revolted at length against this, and
I determined to carry the matter to the Lord. I said, Lord, I am on thy errand,
doing thy work, but as a good master you should afford your laborer something
which he can eat. I pray you do it this night.
McMillan: And did he answer?
Patterson: Yes, that very night; he sent me nothing but corn and bear's
grease, but with it he sent such a good appetite that I ate it with a relish
until we got something else.
Extract from the Great Revivals of 1800 by Rev. William Speer, D.D.
“It may almost be said the Presbyterian Church of Western Pennsylvania
was born in a revival.
"In 1778 Vances Fort,
into which the families adjacent had been driven by the Indians, was the scene
of a remarkable work. There was but one pious man in the fort, Joseph Patterson,
a layman, an earnest and devoted Christian whose zeal had not waned even amid
the storms and terrors of war. And during the long days and nights of
besiegement he talked with his careless associates of an enemy more to be
dreaded than the Indian and a death more terrible than the scalping knife. Deep
seriousness filled every breast, and some twenty persons were there led to
Christ. This was the nucleus of Cross Creek Church, which built its house of
worship near the fort. Rev. Thomas Marquis who preached in that church for 33
years was one of the first converts in the fort through the instrumentality of
Joseph Patterson. This was but the beginning of that wonderful work of grace,
which was often accompanied by that strange
emotional phenomenon known as the “falling work," which spread
over these infant churches for the next twenty-five years.
"On the 10th of October, 1802, the Lord's Supper was administered in
Raccoon Church. As many as the house could contain attended to social worship,
and preaching throughout the day. Divine
worship was also carried on a considerable part of the night at the tent.
Many new awakenings took place through the night, and the social
exercises continued until the public worship began on Monday.
"Through this day many more were made to cry out in agony of soul,
unable to sit or stand; some of them very notorious in vanity and profanity were
struck to the ground and constrained to cry out aloud in bitter anguish of soul,
Undone! undone! forever undone. Some who were considerably advanced in years were in this situation, as well as many younger, who
were crying for mercy, some of whom had been ringleaders in wickedness and
"Towards evening the exercises were particularly solemn and
powerful, and many persons of Raccoon Church were at this time awakened. The
sweet savor and the power of the Holy Spirit continued with them and they were
the happy instruments of bringing others to the Saviour."
Mr. Patterson was twice married. Jane Moak whom he married in Ireland was
the mother of his eight children. His second wife, whom he married May 9th,
1812, was Miss Rebecca Leach, of Abbington, Pa.
The ruling elders in Raccoon Church at the time his relationship with the
church was dissolved (Oct. 6th, 1816) were John Riddile, Alexander Wright,
William McCandless, Thomas Hays, Alexander Bailey, Thomas Millar, Benjamin
Chestnut. Rev. Patterson removed
with his family to Pittsburg, spending his remaining days in evangelistic work
among the poor, the sick and afflicted, distributing Bibles and tracts.
Shortly before his death when the Western Theological Seminary was in the
process of erection, he went to the Seminary, kneeling down, prayed in every
room for all the lads that might thereafter occupy them.
After his death his loving friends of Raccoon Church erected a cenotaph
to his memory, which still stands but a few rods from the door of the present
edifice, bearing the following inscription:
To the memory of the
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON
pastor of Raccoon and Montour Run congregations, who died on the 4th February,
1832, in the 80th year of his age, and the 44th of his ministry.
This venerable servant of Christ was eminently distinguished among the
fathers, in planting these Western Churches for zeal, piety and usefulness and
his exemplary life, formed a practical commentary on the text of his last
sermon: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day.”
Rev. Moses Allen was born in Westmoreland county, Sept. 5th, 1780; was
educated in Cannonsburg Academy, studied theology under Dr. McMillan, whose
youngest daughter Catherine he married June, 1805. Was licensed to preach by the
Presbytery of Ohio June 24th, 1807, and was ordained by the same presbytery Dec.
2nd, pastor of the churches of New Providence and Jefferson, Green county, Pa.
This relationship was dissolved Oct. 16th, 1817, and on May 27th, 1817,
he was installed pastor of Raccoon Church.
The following impression of Rev. Moses Allen has been handed down to the
writer from her mother:
"Mr. Allen was tall, erect in person, with a grave somewhat austere
cast of countenance, always neat in attire, always wore the regulation white
neck-tie and carried an ivory-headed cane. His profession was plainly stamped
upon his dignified bearing, an able theologian, a fine sermonizer, a clear
speaker, a strong debater, an undefatigable catechizer and a firm
disciplinarian." The records of the session abundantly show that Mr. Allen
regarded church discipline as an ordinance of God and a means of grace.
During Mr. Allen's pastorate Alexander Campbell, the founder of the sect
of Campbellites or Disciples Church, who at that time lived in Bethany,
Washington county, attempted to organize a society in accordance with his
peculiar belief within the bounds of Raccoon Church. He and his followers had
held religious services several times, and had succeeded in gathering quite an
audience before Mr. Allen comprehended the situation. At all their succeeding
meetings he was present, seating himself just in front of the speaker, and being
well fitted both by training and his argumentative turn of mind, to respond to
the invitations given by the speaker at the close of their religious exercises,
to refute any of the doctrinal points set forth by them; this he did, showing
their fallacy in such an effective way that the Campbellites soon ceased to make
appointments within borders where Presbyterianism was so ably defended.
Mr. Allen was active and aggressive both in and out of the pulpit,
manifesting but little patience with the careless and thriftless members of his
He interested himself much in the location and improvement of the public
roads, especially those which led to his church, and in his ardent anxiety for
the good of the community and the firmness with which he held to his opinions,
caused an estrangement or misunderstanding between him and some of his
parishioners which eventually led him to seek another field of labor, much to
the grief of his many fast friends, who would have stood by him to the last.
Mr. Allen, like his predecessor, lived upon his own farm, located
one-fourth mile northeast of the church. His family consisted of five sons and
During the twenty-two years in which he had charge of Raccoon church it
grew in numbers and increased in strength. "He left this record: I preached
in Raccoon church 2,685 sermons, administered the Lord's Supper 75 times,
admitted to communion 327, baptized 557 children and 15 adults, and solemnized
At the close of Mr. Allen's ministry this church was regarded as among
the largest and most important country charges in the Synod.
Mr. Allen resigned his pastorate in the fall of 1838. The following April
he accepted a call from the congregation of Crab Apple O., where he continued to
labor with wonted fidelity and zeal until a short time before his death, which
occurred January 16, 1846, aged 66. During his pastorate there were two
elections of elders.
In 1830 Robert Wallace, Garret Van Eman, Edward McDonald, Archibald
McCandless. In 1836, John Sturgeon, David Miller, Robert Smith, Richard
The church was without a pastor for two years. Tender memories spring up
at the mention of the name of the third pastor.
Rev. Clement V. McKaig, D.D., was born near New Lisbon, 0., July 12,
1814; graduated from Washington College, Pa., in 1834, and from Western
Theological Seminary in 1837; was licensed to preach the Gospel by New Lisbon
Presbytery April, 1840; installed pastor of Raccoon church June 17, 1841. Of
medium size, fair complexion, neat in attire, with a dignified bearing. His
preaching was plain, earnest, scriptural and sound. His best success and
reputation were achieved as a pastor. The sick, afflicted and sorrowing, not
only of his own flock, but also all grades and stations within the bounds of his
church, found in Dr. McKaig a ready and willing sympathizer. His people, young
and old, held him in high reverence, alike for his character and his work. His
wisdom and prudence caused him to be often appointed by Presbytery to arbitrate
disputes and to settle delicate and difficult questions among the churches.
Dr. McKaig was married August 15, 1842, to Miss Jane B. Laughlin, of
Pittsburg, whose superior character and great personal worth not only proved a
crown to her husband, but a comfort and joy to the congregation. For eighteen
years she faithfully filled this double relationship, dying July 26, 1860, in
the bloom of womanhood, leaving six children, only three of whom are now living.
During Dr. McKaig's ministry there was but one election of elders.
In 1857 John Symington, Thomas Wilson, John S. Russell, J. S. Moore and
Joseph Wallace were elected to that office.
We find that among the first acts of this ministry was an earnest effort
to awaken more interest in and increase the efficiency of the Sabbath-school.
The following is from the church record:
In April, 1843, the Session passed a series of resolutions with reference
to the Sabbath-school, and ordered them to be read from the pulpit.
“Resolved, That we believe it is the bounden duty of every Christian to
co-operate with and by every proper means further the prosperity of the
Sabbath-school, and especially to pray earnestly for the blessing of God upon
In a sermon preached on a Thanksgiving Day near the close of his
pastorate, Dr. McKaig makes this record:
"In twenty-one years, 431 have been added to this church, 312 of
these on examination. The average increase has been twenty per year. The highest
number received any one year, 33 (in 1857). At the same time 83 members have
died and 257 have been dismissed. At 84 communions there were only two where
none were added. They are distinctly marked on my mind and on my record. I pray
God none other such may ever occur. Four hundred and sixty-five children have
been baptized, and in these twenty-one years our contributions to benevolences
have amounted to $6,126. I have pleasure in recalling the fact that in our
meetings of Session, from the first time I met with them, there has been uniform
kindness, harmony and fraternal intercourse. Differences of opinion have been
cordially and fully expressed, but no unkind or offensive word has ever been
uttered. This Session has always been a peacemaker, while living at peace among
themselves. This is a chief and honorable trait of Christian character,
especially in a ruler of the church. This is no vain eulogy. Blessed are the
At the close of Dr. McKaig's pastorate the fearful shadow of the great
Civil War rested on the land, and political excitement interfered sadly with
spiritual interests, peace and harmony of many of the churches; but through it
all Raccoon Church was kept by the loving hand of God in peace.
On account of an obstinate and protracted affection of the throat Dr.
McKaig felt constrained, first to take a vacation, and finally to request a
dissolution of the pastoral relation.
December 18, 1865, a paper was adopted showing their estimate of his
character and service. The following are extracts taken from it:
“Notwithstanding repeated respites from active service, at the session
of the Presbytery of Ohio, held in the month of April last, our beloved pastor
deemed it his duty to ask for a dissolution of the tender ties, that through the
revolving years of a quarter of a century have bound us together in the sacred
relationship of pastor and people.
“Averse even to consider the matter at the time the subject was named
to the congregation, with the hope that a further relaxation from labor, and a
short sojourn in a more invigorating climate might restore his health."
"He closed his home and repaired to the healthful shores of Lake
Superior, returning with his health and spirits much invigorated. Yet it seemed
that his own judgment and the earnest advice of family relations still unite in
a requisition of relief from the labors of this pulpit, and the pastoral care of
a congregation so large and widely spread. In view of his long, earnest and well
tried service, we now desire simply to record the tribute of gratitude and
affection for a minister who has not failed to proclaim the whole counsel of
In 1867 he sold his farm, upon which he had spent so many happy years,
gathering his family together again in a home on Dallas avenue, Pittsburg.
During his residence there he spent his later days, as health permitted, in
evangelistic work among the weak suburban churches of the city, passing to his
reward October 7, 1889, in his 75th year. He was buried beside his wife and
three children in the family lot in Allegheny cemetery.
This closes a brief history of three sainted pastors of Raccoon Church,
each of them in his way instrumental in shaping and executing the work of the
Gospel in this church--Joseph Patterson, a "kind, gentle, winning, pious
father;" Moses Allen, "able in pulpit, rigid in discipline, persistent
in catechising, resolute and faithful in everything in the shape of duty;"
Clement V. McKaig, "a sympathizing friend, an accomplished Christian
gentleman." Their ministry has been "all things to all men in order to
We would fail in our task did we not here draw attention to the
consecrated and devoted elders, who, together with these three pastors, sowed
the seeds of gospel, of truth and love, the fruits of which in all their
plentitude, comfort, joy and blessedness we now possess. Their names should be
cherished as one of our most precious legacies.
"We gather up with precious care
What happy saints have left behind;
Their writings in our memory bear,
Their sayings on our faithful mind.
Their works which traced them to the skies
For patterns to ourselves we take,
And dearly love and highly prize
The mantle for the wearer's sake."
Raccoon Church was without a pastor for nearly six years, but with no
intermission of regular service. A call was made out for Rev. John Kerr, who,
without formally accepting, labored here for three years with good success.
During his administration 83 were added to the church roll. "He that soweth
and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
There was one election of elders during the interregnum. John Farrer,
James M. Stevenson and John Kennedy were ordained elders June 26, 1869.
The present pastor, the fourth on the list, is the Rev. Greer McIlvaine
Kerr. He is a native of Washington county, Pa., as were his parents and
grandparents. He was baptized in Pigeon Creek Church by Dr. James Sloan;
graduated at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence county, Pa., in the
class of 1867, and at the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pa., in the
class of 1871; was called by his congregation on March 27, 1871, and was
ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Pittsburg on June 14, 1871. Married
to Elizabeth J. Stevenson December 12, 1883. As this pastorate still continues,
it is best to leave to future historians the task of writing the bulk of its
chronicles and collecting its statistics. A few leading and prominent events
that have occurred in the twenty-eight years of its continuance may not be
deemed out of place. There have been added to the session, March 26, 1875, James
Meloney and W. S. Russell; September 20, 1879, George C. Smith, S. C. Farrer and
Dr. B. F. Hill; December 10, 1886, W. S. Campbell; June 19, 1893, W. S. Bailey
and Thomas Pedicord. In the year 1897 Mr. John H. Wallace, of New York, whose
father was a ruling elder in this church, gave $300 to put the old part of the
graveyard in complete repair. The work was well done, and now this resting place
of the fathers presents a very neat and tasteful appearance. Mr. Wallace also
donated $20,000 to the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pa.
In 1894 the late Jessie Scott bequeathed $1,000 to the trustees to be a
permanent fund, the income from which is to be used to keep the cemetery in
order, and also $2,000 to be a permanent fund, the income from which is to be
used to support the church.
The whole amount of funds contributed to church expenses and benevolent
purposes by this congregation in these twenty-eight years have been $83,876.
During this pastorate 442 persons have been added to the church, 312 have
been dismissed to other churches, and 147 have died. The total number of
communicants reported to the Assembly April 1, 1899, was 215.
Mrs. Esther A.,
Mrs. Mary M.,
Mrs. Margaret Johnson,
Mrs. Martha Vernia,
Mrs. Abigail L.,
Mrs. Hester S.,
Mrs. Jennie O.,
Mrs. Mary A.,
Mary E ,
Dr. B. F.,
Mrs. E. J. Sturgeon,
Mrs. M. Adeline,
Mrs. Kate C.,
Mrs. Eva Alice,
Mrs. Eva S.,
John D. M.,
Mrs. Bell C.,
Mrs. Annie L .
Mrs. Eliza J.,
Mrs. Mary W.,
Mrs. Nannie A.,
George L ,
Mrs. Mary M.,
Mrs. Elizabeth D.,
Mrs. Jennie R.,
Mrs. Mary A.,
One of the greatest honors that can be given a church is to see her sons
enter the ministry. Raccoon Church has had the privilege of having twenty-one of
her sons ordained to preach the Gospel. The first name on the list is that of
Robert Porter, ordained in 1790. There have also three missionaries gone out
from our number.
In these days of multiplication of societies our church, with that
conservative spirit which has always characterized all her movements, has
adopted only those which are the most useful and permanent.
We have no records of the organization of our Sabbath-school. Its
existence antedates the memory of our oldest members. In the last sixty years we
have had but five superintendents, Garret Van Eman, John Farrer, Joseph Wallace,
John Kennedy and W. Simpson Russell. Under the present efficient superintendent
and his faithful assistant, Rev. G. M. Kerr, our school is in a prosperous and
flourishing condition, embracing among its members the hoary-headed octogenarian
down to the infant of three summers. Our aim is to have the whole church in the
WOMAN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
If we wish to find the beginning of the first organized missionary work
of the women of Raccoon Church we must go back to 1823. The object of this
society was to constitute their pastor, Rev. Moses Allen, a life member of the
American Tract Society. Officers: President, Rev. Moses Allen; treasurer, Miss
Jane Scott (Mrs. Sturgeon); secretary, Miss Jane Moore. We, the Society of the
present day, count ourselves privileged in perpetuating the example set by the
Tryphenas and Tryphonas of the first half of the century, many of whom now on
the membership roll are the lineal descendants of the faithful few who found
their sacred warrant in the example of the wise-hearted Hebrew women who gave so
freely of the labor of their hands to the construction of the Tabernacle.
Our present Missionary Society was reorganized under the inspiration of
Rev. Samuel McFarland and wife, on their first return from their mission field
in Siam (he being one of the sons of the church). The first meeting was held
July 1, 1874, and the following officers elected: President, Mrs. John Russell;
vice president, Mrs. Martha Robinson; treasurer, Miss Mary B. Sturgeon;
secretary, Mrs. Hamilton Kennedy. This vice president, for twenty-one years,
never missed a meeting of the Society. During the last twenty-five years this
Society has contributed $3,893.92, every dollar of which has been the free-will
offering of the members of the Society. No collector has ever been appointed,
nor has it been necessary to do so.
CHRISTIAN ENDEAVOR SOCIETY.
This Society was organized July 30, 1891. It has now forty-three members,
made up of the young people alone, under the supervision of the pastor. Already
we can see a spirit of interest and loyalty to the church developing among its
members and the church roll gradually increasing from their numbers.
We have now placed before the members of Raccoon Church a brief sketch of
the life and growth for 120 years. The recital of these facts will bring vividly
to the memory of the older members the stirring events participated in by their
ancestors, and will also recall many names and incidents impossible to place
within the limits of this small book. But chiefly for the young and rising
generation has this book been written, that they may realize more fully the rich
heritage which God has bequeathed to them from such an ancestry, for
"Surely the Lord is in this place."
Submitter: Marsha Richins
Submitter location: Columbia, MO
Title: Raccoon Church Cemetery--198 Names
Copyright owner: none, as far as I can tell
FOR TRANSCRIBED WORKS:
Transcriber: Marsha Richins
Transcriber's location: Columbia, MO
Transcription date: 12/00
This is part of what appears to be an undated mimographed document put out by Raccoon Church. The original list was compiled by Margaret Sturgeon (d. 1923) and Rev. G. M. Kerr (b. bef. 1847).
Pa. (Near Midway, Pa.)
Source: 198 Names
Copied from old
stones by Miss Margaret Sturgeon (d. 1923), as
alphabetically by the Rev. G. M. Kerr, D.D.
The notes of
Mr. Kerr are the
source of the following list; the whereabouts, if
any, of Miss
Sturgeon’s notes being unknown.
CAUTION -- Errors have been observed in the original typescript,
and some of these recordings disagree with those in Miscellaneous Cemeteries of Washington Co., Vol. 3 (available at
Citizens Library, Washington, PA). These
records should be used with care and verified by an independent source whenever
1775 died Jan. 8,
1840 Age 65
1788 Sep. 15, 1855
1796 Aug. 18, 1839
Oct. 11, 1853
Oct. 1, 1730 1
May 20, 1780
Nov. 11, 1808
Feb. 7, 1829
Jan. 14, 1829
Aug. 16, 1851
1780 Jan. 20, 1845
1740 Mar. 18, 1836
1748 Oct. 27, 1829
1748 Oct. 27, 1829
Mar. 10, 1831
1752 July 16, 1816
Nov. 15, 1868
his wife 1785 Mar. 11, 1861
1783 Sept.20, 1823
Dec. 15, 1857
1775 Jan. 11, 1851
Mar. 7, 1854
1757 July 16, 1844
Dec. 23, 1833 40
Sept 18, 1802
Jan. 28, 1849
1773 Aug. 29, 1819
Feb. 12, 1840
1770 Mar. 17, 1848
Dec. 17, 1842
Jan. 2, 1836
Dec. 20, 1876
his wife 1788 Aug. 13, 1847
Feb. 2, 1842
1763 Dec. 25, 1843
Jan. 22, 1823
Mar. 7, 1870 74
1799 Feb. 28, 1882
1789 Feb. 27, 1865
Jan. 31, 1881
7, 1842 44
Sept 13, 1861
Jan. 12, 1852
his wife 1792 Mar. 24, 1851
M. Clark 1779
Aug. 23, 1823
1747 died Aug. 11, 1804
1757 Apr. ll, 1813
1793 Sept 13, 1874
1750 Sept 30, l839
May 20, 1845
his wife 1779
Dec. l5, 1830
1791 Sept 30, 1863
Mar. 30, 1872
Sept 22, 1867
Feb. 2, 1857
1782 Oct. 25, 1847
Jan. 22, 1837
July 25, 1840
Oct. 8, 1820
May 12, 1869
Mar. 27, 1847
his wife 1790
June 3, 1818
July 9, 1867
l778 Jan. 16, 1850
1796 Aug. 21, 1874
his wife 1785
1794 Oct. 23, 1875
Feb. 8, 1803
Jan. 18, 1854
his wife 1784 Feb. 10, 1877
Sept. 6, 1836
Dec. 14, 1827
1758 Aug. 10, 1833
Dec. 16, 1832
Mar. 18, 1842
Mar. 27, 1851
Aug. 19, 1803 55
July 20, 1843
Mar. 2, 1863
his wife 1790 July 14, 1871
Miller born 1776
died Feb. 1, l836
his wife 1776 Sept l3, 1819
1762 Jan. 18, 1832
1770 Nov. 22, 1840
3, 1840 53
Sept. 5, 1846
1775 Apr. 25, 1858
Jan. 31, 1845
his wife 1791 Sept 25, 1872
1797 Sept 15, 1798
Feb. 21, 1849
1767 Jan. 11, 1856
1768 Jan. 20, 1853
Jan. 17, 1815
Ann, his wife 1799 Apr. 29, 1881
1783 Feb. 22, 1835
1785 Feb. 10, 1877
1746 Dec. 24, 1826
his wife 1786 Feb. 28, 1835
Apr. 13, 1795 53
Apr. 28, 1829
Nov. 25, 1859
Mar. 15, 1872
1766 Feb. 17, 1846
July 4, 1845
Sept 25, 1807
Joseph Patterson 1752 Feb.
1775 Feb. 14, 1796
1791 Feb. 21, 1815
Dec. 14, 1811
1787 Jan. 17, 1845
his wife 1793
Nov. 28, 1873
1792 Mar. 19, 1875
1789 Dec. 12, 1811
May 10, 1814
Sturgeon born 1756 died Aug. 28, 1936
1759 Feb. 14, 1846
Nov. 13, 1863
Sept 25, 1822
Mar. 30, 1825
Sept. 8, 1830
Aug. 22, 1859 85
1745 Sept 30, 1821
Nov. 1, 1843
1770 Mar. 14, 1852
his wife 1785 May
1766 Sept 24, 1821
1758 Sept. 6, 1813
his wife 1766
Feb. 25, 1821
1789 Nov. 30, 186O
Jan. 6, 1829
Nov. 27, 1824
May 26, 1838
Apr. 16, 1840
Apr. 27, 1819
1775 Mar. 14, 1850
Feb. 6, 1811
Smith 1766 Sept 22, 1811
his wife 1777
Oct. 2, 1825 48
1750 Aug. 16, 1829
Nov. 2, 1863
1791 July 17, 1831
Aug. 30, 1880 84
1788 Feb. 22, 1868
G. Smith 1787
Nov. 1, 1889
1759 Jan. 10, 1836
his wife 1764 June
J. Symington 1793 July
Jan. 26, 1845
June 22, 1837
1776 Apr. 21, 1849
July 14, 1854
Dec. 7, 1814
Jan. 26, 1867
1782 Apr. 25, 1849
1785 Nov. 14, 1859
Sept 16, 1829
wives 1785 Nov. 26, 1863
(Notes below are from the previous version. We will be removing these notes shortly.)
Raccoon Church was established by December 1778 at Candor, Pa., in Robinson township and was located near Beilor's Fort. According to the author of this church history, Beilor's Fort was immediately southeast of the church cemetery. The church was named after the nearest stream, which seems to have been the custom of the early settlers in western Pennsylvania.
In 1786, the congregation of this church was bounded by Clinton (Allegheny Co.) to the north, Hickory on the south, Noblestown (Allegheny Co.) on the east, and Burgettstown on the west. During some of its early period, thischurch was called "Upper Raccoon" to distinguish it from a church further downstream.
Apparently, the pastor of this church before 1816 kept no church records. If anyone knows the whereabouts of church records after 1816, please contact Marsha Richins. Also, if you wish to know the context in which any of the following names are mentioned or the given names of family members on the April 1, 1899, list, contact Marsha Richins.
John Abercrombie William Anderson John Allen Aten family Alexander Bailey James Bailey John Bailey Matthew Bailey William Bailey John Bavington George Bell James Bell John Benny Mrs. Martha Bigger Thomas Biggert Robert Boyd Roly Boyd Rev. Mr. Brice Alex. Burns Ehraim Burrell John Cardike (a pious negro) John Carlyle Mary Cherry Benjamin Chestnut John and Jane Clark Robert Clark Thomas Craft Joseph Cresswell James Criswell Crook family Robert Crooks Rev. Mr. Dod John Donaldson John McA. Dow John Dunbar John Dunlap Judge Edgar John Elkins George Elliott James Ewing Samuel Ewing Robt. Finley William Flanaghen William Forbes John Forbits James Gaston John Glen William Gordan Squire Graham Alexander Grey Wm. Grey Robert Greenlies William Guy Benjamin Hall Robert Hall Thomas Hanna Andrew Harvat David Hays Moses Hays Thomas Hays Joseph Henry John Holmes Robert Holmes Samuel Hunter John Hutchinson Samuel Jeffrey Samuel Johnson John Kelso Alexander Kidd, Jr. Peter Kidd John Kilbreth William Kilbreth Andrew Kinnely Wm. Kirkpatric Abraham Kirld Rebecca Leach James Laird W. Lee George Long William Loury Robert Marquis Rev. Thomas Marquis Henry McBride Alexander McCandlass Hugh McCandlass William McCandlass McCarty family James McCoy Nathaniel McCoy Wm. McCullough Rev. Mr. McCurdy John McDonald McFarland family William McGee William McLaughlin Robert McMean Isaac McMichael John McMichael Rev. Jno. McMillan John McNare James Miller Samuel Miller Thomas Millar Jane Moak James Montgomery Robt. Moor Peter Murphy John Neal Samuel Neely John Nesbit Mrs. Nesbit Henry Noble Rev. Joseph Patterson James Peterson Torrence Phefil Samuel Phillips Robert Potter Pyle family Henry Rankin Jessie Rankin Matthew Rankin William Rankin James Ravencraft James Reagh Alexander Reed John Reed William Reddick Philip Richard John Riddile Samuel Riddle Widow Riddle James Robbin Moses Rose Wm. Roseberry John Rudawing Abraham Russell William Russel Alex. H. Scott James Scott John Scott Jos. Scott, Esq. Samuel Scott Thomas Scott Nehenniah Sharp Hugh Shearer James Sheers John Short John Singer Christopher Smith John Smith Rev. Joseph Smith Thomas Sprout Daniel Stuart William Stephenson John Stevenson James Stewart Samuel Strain John Miller Taylor Benjamin Thompson William Thompson Wm. Tucker, Sr. William Turner Mrs. Valandingham Robert Vance Gabriel Walker William Walker William Wallace James White Tho. White John Wills James Wilson John Wilson Mary Wilson Rev. S. J. Wilson William Wilson Alexander Wright Jeremiah Write John Wright
Rev. Moses Allen Alexander Campbell Richard Donaldson John Farrer John Kennedy Rev. John Kerr Jane B. Laughlin Edward McDonald Archibald McCandless Rev. Clement V. McKaig Catharine McMillan David Miller J.S. Moore Jane Moore John S. Russell Jane Scott (Mrs. Sturgeon) Robert Smith James M. Stevenson John Sturgeon John Symington Garret Van Eman Joseph Wallace Robert Wallace Thomas Wilson
W.S. Bailey W.S. Campbell S.C. Farrer Dr. B.F. Hill Mrs. Hamilton Kennedy Rev. Greer McIlvaine Kerr Rev. Samuel McFarland James Meloney Thomas Pedicord Mrs. Martha Robinson Mrs. John Russell R.S. Russell Jessie Scott Dr. James Sloan George C. Smith Elizabeth J. Stevenson Miss Mary B. Sturgeon John H. Wallace
Ackelson, Annan, Archibald, Aten, Bailey, Balliette, Barnes, Beck, Berry, Brimner, Brooks, Bruce, Brunner, Burnett, Campbell, Connelly, Cook, Donaldson, Dunbar, Dunlap, Eaton, Farrer, Gibson, Goedicke, Green, Harper, Herron, Hill, Hutchinson, Jardine, Kane, Keifer, Kelso, Kerr, Kimberly, Klingensmith, Lester, Malone, Matchett, McAdams, McBride, McClurg, McConnel, McCuen, McCutchinson, McFarland, McNall, Moore, Morgan, Morrison, Neal, Parkinson, Pedicord, Reed, Rhea, Robinson, Rohrich, Rommes, Russell, Scott, Simpson, Sly, Smith, Stevenson, Stuart, Sturgeon, Symington, Taylor, Todd, Trimble, Wasson, Wike, Wilson, Work, Worstel, Yolton