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Mill Creek Baptist Church

 

As early as 1790 the Rev. Samuel Lane preached in this locality, which was probably regarded as an out-station of the Baptist Church in Trough Creek Valley, of which he was the pastor. At that time the Rev. Lane was living on his farm on Mill Creek, and the services were held at his house and in groves, one of his favorite preaching places being beneath two fine oak trees which stood not far from the site of the present meeting-house. When the country had become more settled, about 1800, he urged upon his neighbors, regardless of church distinction, the importance of having a house of worship in their midst, and by united effort a log meeting-house was built on Mill Creek, two miles from its mouth. In this house shortly after was formed the Mill Creek Baptist Church as a separate and distince body. The constituent members were James Hampson, Nathan Gorsuch, Ann Hall, Mary Hampson, Temperence Brown, Lydia Plowman, Samuel Lane, James Davis, Daniel Brown, Rachel Kelly and Rachel Davis. In 1806 were added Peter Cornelius, Rachel Morgan, Elizabeth Corbin, Eleanor Dean, and Mary Kelly; in 1807, William Dean, Mary Lane, William Carson, Hannah Carson, Arthur Smith, and Jonathan Dean; and later there were added George Smith, Jane Smith, Thomas Kelley, Mary Kelley, Rebecca Lambert, Margaret Briggs, Tillotson Fuller, Esther Kelley, Elizabeth Cornelius, Sarah Sollers, Ann Sollers, Prudence Sollers, Thomas Thomas, Sarah Cravin, Ann Doyle, Thomas Sollers, Robert Thompson, William Thompson, Amelia Thompson, and Mary Evans, all belonging before 1825. For the next few years the church languished, and was reduced by removals to a small membership. But in 1832 the Rev. George Higgins held a series of revival meetings which resulted in thirty accessions to the church membership, and once more the society became flourishing.

The records of the church indicate that in 1809 Jonathan Dean was chosen treasurer, and in April of that year Samuel Lane and James Hampson, two of the trustees, are instructed "to employ Robert Carter to get the rest of the collar beams and couple the rafters of the meeting-house" which was enlarged or newly built at that time. In September, 1827 Matthew Glasgow and John Shaw were appointed a committee to procure a drum for the stove.

In 1835 a new meeting-house was built by a committee composed of John H. Woolverton, W. M. McGee, and James Lane,treasurer. Thomas McGee did the plastering on this building, which in a repaired condition yet remains, being at present used as a house of worship by the Lutherans. In 1838, E. C. Hampson, Asahel H. Brown, and Matthew Hall were appointed trustees.

In 1850 the brethren Wray and Yoder were appointed to request the Lutheran congregation to repair the house for the use of it, and on the 29th of March, 1853, "it was voted that the Legislature be petitioned to appoint Samuel Grove, Samuel Sloan, and John C. Watson trustees, with power to sell the old meeting-house at a fair price," the demand for a place of worship at Mill Creek village, which now began to assume importance, warranting such action; but it was not until 1857 that the present brick house of worship was erected. The year after the house was occupied the church had a membership of sixty-two, of which number seventeen had but recently been baptised. John C. Watson was the clerk of the church, filling a position which was first occupied by Jonathan Dean, and later by Nathan Gorsuch. James Wilson, Thomas Irwin, and Lloyd Meredith were official members. The Sabbath-school had twelve teachers and forty-six scholars. Ten years later the membership of the church was only thirty-two, while the Sabbath-school had but thirty-eight scholars. James Wilson was the clerk, and had as successors in that office J. K. Hare, J. H. Boring, W. T. Boring, and the present (1881) Charles Fultz. The other official members were Trustees W. D. Calabine and M. T. Boring, and Deacons David Hare and M. T. Boring. In 1880 the total number of baptisms reported was two hundred and thirty-one, and the actual membership at that time was thirty-six. In the summer of that year the meeting-house was thoroughly repaired, and in the fall the Rev. W. P. Hile became the pastor, serving the church one-fourth of his time in connection with other churches.

Mill Creek Church was admitted into the Baltimore Association in 1817, helped from the Juniata Association in 1821, and was admitted into the Centre Association in 1834, which connection has since been maintained.

The pastors of the church from its organization to the present have been as follows: The Rev. Samuel Lane, for a number of years, probably until his death, about 1812, was the first to supply the church with preaching. He was zealous in well-doing, rarely accepting pay for preaching, and delighted in Christian fireside conversations, which endeared him to many homes where his visits were always made welcome. He performed hundreds of marriage ceremonies in the new country which constituted his parish, and usually bestowed half his fee upon the bride. After his decease there does not appear to have been a regular preacher until some time about 1820, when the Rev. J. Davis, who had served in the Revolution, was reported as the pastor. Then came Rev. Jesse Ash, 1825-1832; Rev. Thomas E. Thomas, 1836-1837; Rev. W. M. Jones, 1840-1842; Rev. W. T. Bunker, 1843-1845; Rev A. A. Anderson, 1849-1851; Rev. J. B. Williams, 1854-1855; Rev. J. L. Holmes, 1859-1861; Rev. A. H. Sembower, 1862; Rev. T. C. Gestford, 1863-1864; Rev. J. W. Plannett, 1865-1867; Rev. S. K. Boyer, 1869; Rev. J. D. Thomas, 1871-1874; Rev. George Chappell, 1875-1876; Rev. R. C. Black, 1877-1880; Rev. W. P. Hile, since the fall of 1880.


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