Church Histories - Rev. Samuel D. Regester's 1935 History of the Rural Valley Presbyterian Church.
This article appeared in "Rural Valley Presbyterian Church: The First One Hundred Fifty Years."
The history of Rural Valley dates back to 1829, when in that year, Thomas Patterson, a son-in-law of William Findley, settled Findley Tract No. 3833. John Findley had dedicated 2 acres of tract No. 3833 as a site for a church, school, and common burying ground, giving equal rights to Presbyterian, Associate Reformed, or Associate Church, the right to build their houses of worship thereon, granting to the congregation that should first do so full liberty to choose the site, provided in doing so it should not make it impracticable for either of the other denominations to erect a church. His grant stipulated that the 2 acres should not be sold or dedicated for any other purpose.
In 1836, John Patterson laid out Rural Village on the west end of Pickering tract No. 11. It extended east from the present road between the Presbyterian Church and the old Odd Fellows Hall.
In 1839, Alexander Foster laid out a new plot for Rural Village on the Pickering tract No. 176. It extended west from the present road between the Presbyterian Church and the old Odd Fellows Hall.
The earliest church in Rural Valley was Presbyterian and was erected on the 2 acres donated for such purpose by John Findley. The edifice was a log structure 24 by 34 feet. The pulpit consisted of a 10 bushel store box set end wise. The seats were oak slabs with the sawed edges upward, and each supported by 4 wooden legs. It was heated by a single stove. "Well do I remember it," is the historical remark of one. "In winter going to church was to me an ordeal. The chilly atmosphere scarcely affected by the solitary stove presented a rather unfavorable condition for the development of piety in a boy."
The first pastor was the Rev. Joseph Painter, who gave one-third of his service to the church and two-thirds of his service to the Kittanning Presbyterian Church.
The Church, having petitioned Blairsville Presbytery in April 1835 for a Church organization was organized on order of said Presbytery, under a committee composed of Rev. Joseph Painter and Rev. Elisha Barrett, August 1, 1835.
The first elders were Richard Caruthers, William McIntosh and Ebenezer Smith, who were installed August 20, 1835.
The fist Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was celebrated in the church August 22, 1835.
The pastor's salary was $80.00 a year payable in flour, meats, oats, etc. at market prices in Kittanning.
Services were held in that primitive temple of God in the wilderness for more than a year. Then the question of change of location to Rural Village confronted and agitated the people. At a congregational meeting held on a warm afternoon in May 1836, this item of business was considered. William McCain, who lived over on Pine Creek was a zealous opponent to the change and attempted by means of a filibuster to kill time. The matter was finally brought to a head when John Patterson moved the change and the motion was passed by a majority.
It was then that John Patterson gave lots No. 1 and 2 on the north side of Main Street in the old plot of Rural Village for the erection of a new edifice and the site of a graveyard. Since the people preferred to have their new edifice a little out of town, Alexander Foster gave one acre of his land. On this plot of ground a one story brick edifice 30 by 40 feet was soon erected. This building, however, was not used long for public worship, for it was defective in architecture and abandoned in 1849.
During the change in the life of the Church, the membership increased to 85 and the congregation expressed a desire for one half of the pastor's time. Since Rev. Painter could not satisfy the desire of the congregation, Rev. James D. Mason was elected his successor, and thereby became the first resident pastor.
The Church was incorporated as the Rural Valley Presbyterian Church of Rural Village, by order of the Court, March 23, 1842.
In 1850, the site of the Church was again changed and was moved down to lots No. 1 and 2, on the north side of Main St., given by John Patterson. On these lots a frame edifice 51 by 61 feet was erected. It was one of the old "squat" churches. Its roof was self supporting, having no posts under its center. In this structure the people worshipped until May 5, 1891, when at a joint meeting of the session and trustees action was taken toward the construction of a new building, to have a seating capacity of 500 and not to exceed $4000.00 in cost, the money to be raised by subscription. On the 7th day of May, 1893, the church building was dedicated. Since the cost had exceeded the original plans and a debt of $1150.00 had been incurred, the congregation was requested to meet this debt. In 55 minutes the congregation had promised $1555.10 and the conclusion of the dedicatory service was the cancellation of all debts.
From the dedication of the Church until 1926 only the necessary routine repairs were made on the building. In 1926, however, action was taken toward the building of a church basement. Such action meeting with some dissention but for the most part with approval work was begun on the building of a basement, and in the autumn of 1926 the basement, a most useful and necessary part of our present building, was completed. Again only the necessary routine repairs were made on the building until the present year when the congregation felt impelled to make extensive repairs on the Church in order to preserve the building and beautify the place of worship. As a result, the church building was examined very carefully by a committee and the necessary repairs made. The Church was also beautiful on the interior and exterior by the kindness and cooperation of the entire congregation.
From a small membership in 1835 of 26, taking into consideration the trends in the history of human nature, the congregation has grown to its present membership of 256. Ever since the founding of the Church the Benevolent work of the Church universal has been stressed and has always proved a strong point in the history of this Church.
The following are the Charter Members of this Church: Ebenezer Smith, Maria Smith, Richard Caruthers, Eleanor Caruthers, Lyle Kerr, Ann Kerr, Samuel McKorkle, Eliza McKorkle, William McIntosh, Margaret McIntosh, John Alcorn, Mrs. Alcorn, Alexander Foster, Martha Foster, John Stoops, Catharine Stoops, Arabana Hanegan, William McCain, Isabella McCain, James White, Robert McIntosh, William Powers, Mary Powers, Elizabeth Reed, James Elgin and Martha Elgin.
There have been 37 elders in the history of the Church. The names of those serving now are recorded elsewhere.
Up to the present 13 pastors and one stated supply have served the Church.
Rev. Joseph Painter . . . . . . . . . . . 1835-1841 Rev. James D. Mason . . . . . . . . . . . 1843-1848 Rev. Cochran Forbes . . . . . . . . . . . 1849-1854 Rev. William F. Morgan. . . . . . . . . . 1856-1875 Rev. Newton B. Kelly. . . . . . . . . . . 1887-1889 Rev. Francis X. Miron . . . . . . . . . . 1890-1899 Rev. John R. Mohr . . . . . . . . . . . . 1900-1911 Rev. Carl P. Metzler - Stated Supply. . . 1911-1912 Rev. Charles Helliwell. . . . . . . . . . 1912-1918 Rev. Henry H. Nicholson . . . . . . . . . 1919-1923 Rev. Ulysses S. Bartz . . . . . . . . . . 1923-1929 Rev. Charles F. Irwin . . . . . . . . . . 1929-1932 Rev. Samuel D. Regester . . . . . . . . . 1933-
Under the leadership of the present pastor the Church has been working out certain objectives to further the spiritual life of the members and to interest young people in the work of the Church.
At present we worship in a most beautiful sanctuary, where, as we listen to God speak to us, we can hear his voice saying, "I was glad when they said, let us go to the house of the Lord." With such feeling in our hearts, our praises are sung to God for His kindness and blessedness towards us individually and collectively. It is our earnest and devout prayer, that as God has prospered us in the past and we have advanced His Kingdom in this community, such a relationship will continue for years to come.
A. G. Shaffer
J. C. Delaney
T. T. McColgin
R. A. McMeans
J. R. McConnell
J. W. McColgin
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
H. O. Boyer
E. G. Boyer
J. E. Patterson
S. W. Ambrose
E. L. McKelvey
J. M. Schrecengost
O. C. Turney, General Superintendent
E. G. Boyer, Assistant Superintendent
A. J. Huber, Secretary
Robert Boyer, Assistant Secretary
J. M. Schrecengost, Treasurer
Ronald Judson, Benevolent Treasurer
Mrs. Charlotte Ambrose
Mrs. Mary McCullough
Mrs. J. R. McConnell
A. J. Hogg
E. C. Snyder
Mrs. A. J. Hogg
Mrs. S. D. Regester
Rev. S. D. Regester
Mrs. Luther Brown
WOMAN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY
Mrs. J. R. McConnell, President
Mrs. E. L. McKelvey, Secretary
YOUNG WOMAN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY
Laura Snyder, President
Evelyn Judson, Secretary-Treasurer
WILLING WORKER'S SOCIETY
Mrs. S. W. Ambrose, President
Mrs. Olive Moore, Secretary
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LEAGUE
Kirtland Snyder, President
Mary Pinkerton, Secretary
Mrs. J. R. McConnell, Chairman
Rev. S. D. Regester
T. T. McColgin
A. G. Shaffer
J. C. DeLancey
O. C. Turney
Ronald Judson, Chairman
H. O. Boyer
S. W. Ambrose
Rev. S. D. Regester