On July 25th, 1796, Joseph Parkinson laid out on the western banks of the Monongahela River and below the mouth of Pigeon Creek at Parkinson's Ferry, a town which he named WiIliamsport, but it generally took the name of Parkinson's Ferry, because the post-office was so called. In 1833 the name of the post-office was changed to Williamsport, and on April 1, 1837, it was changed from Williamsport to Monongahela City.
The town was situated on the main road leading from Philadelphia to Washington, being twenty miles distant from this latter place. It is well to be remembered that Mr. Parkinson reserved the Ferry for himself and his heirs, but sold the lots in three equal annual payments, donating, however, one lot for a market-house and another for a meeting-house. All lots were sixty by two hundred feet with the necessary number of streets (sixty feet wide), and alleys (twenty feet wide).
An addition to the original plan of the town was made by Adam Wickerham, who laid out the lots west of Capt. Harvey's hotel, and named it Georgetown, but when the act of incorporation was procured for Monongahela City, the charter embraced both Williamsport, Georgetown, and some additional outlots.
This place has a world-wide fame as Parkinson's Ferry, as it was the rallying point during the whiskey insurrection, full particulars of which will be found in the Appendix, Chapter IV.
We shall mention the public buildings and works as they were kindly pointed to us by several of the citizens.
HORSESIIOE BOTTOM PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Rev. Dr. Samuel Ralston, D. D., received a call from this and Mingo Creek congregations in November, 1796, which he accepted and was therefore ordained. In the latter church he labored forty years, and in the former thirty-five years. This Horseshoebottom congregation was originally established three and one-half miles from Parkinson's Ferry, on the ridge road leading from this place to Brownsville on Simon Wilson's farm. It was a log church, had a graveyard connected with it, and part of the foundation is still visible.
Dr. Ralston preached in this church until 1807, when it was removed to (Williamsport) Monongahela City. Mr. Moore, says: Dr. Ralston preached his first sermon in a little school-house near the present church building, preaching two years in the winter time in this school-house, and in the summer time in a tent in a sugar grove below town. Mr. Lamb and his wife were the first two persons who joined the church in Williamsport. The first communion was held in August, 1816, when Dr. Ralston was assisted by Rev. Matthew Brown, D. D. The whole number of communicants at that time were forty-five.
The church is located on Chess Street, a neat, substantial brick building; its pulpit has been filled by Rev. Dr. Ralston until 1835. His successors have been Rev. George D. Porter, from 1835 to 1838, Rev. J. W. Kerr from 1839 to 1861, Rev. S. G. Dunlap from 1862 to 1867, Rev. J. S. Sutchell from 1867 to the present time, but I learn he has sent in his resignation.
The following persons have been ordained ruling elders since the pastorate of Dr. Ralston, viz: James Hair, James McGrew, Jesse Martin, Robert McFarland, Aaron Kerr, Isaac Vanvoorhis, James Gordon, Henry Fulton, Joseph Kiddoo, John Power, James Dickey, James Curry, E. W. Tower, John Wright, Francis J. Gardner, David Moore, David D. Yohe, Samuel Hindman, three of whom have passed into the spirit land, each upwards of eighty years of age, to receive a crown of righteousness.
There is a Sabbath school connected with the church, which by the last report numbers 17 teachers, 250 scholars, and has a library of about fifteen hundred volumes. Its organization is placed at various dates, but the Rev. Mr. Dunlap thinks it was established in the year 1822.
CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Rev. John Morgan and Rev. Alfred Bryan as missionaries instituted the Cumberland Presbyterian church on the 31st of Jan. 1833, in this place. A church was erected and ready for occupancy by September 1, 1833. The following ministers were ordained as pastors: 1833, Rev. Samuel M. Sparks; 1834, Rev. Alexander Robinson; 1835, Rev. S. M. Sparks; 1836, Rev. John Carey; 1837, Rev. Saml. E. Hudson; 1840, Rev. Mr. Dunlap; 1842, Rev. B. Miller; 1842, Rev. Mr. Brice. The books show a membership of one hundred and four members, but for the last twenty years there has been no regular meetings held, the members having joined other denominations.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Was organized about the year 1812. Two local preachers by the name of Riggs (who were brothers) held the first meeting on the farm of Mrs. Baxter, now owened by Ira Butler. In 1813 the first class-meeting was held in the house which stood at the corner of Race Street and Cherry Alley, which was owned by Wm. Wickerham. The first Methodist preaching was held in the log schoolhouse, on the same lot on which the Presbyterian church now stands. In 1833, Rev. Dr. Charles Cook being stationed preacher, applied himself diligently to the work, and the substantial brick edifice on the corner of Race and Chess streets was erected, at a cost of twenty-five hundred dollars, Wm. Imsen having presented the lot. The congregation worshipped in this edifice until 1868, when they erected a new building on Main Street, which cost forty-five thousand dollars, a magnificent structure, and does honor to that denomination. Rev. Hiram Miller is the present officiating clergyman. We regret exceedingly our inability to procure the records of a church which in a little more than half a century held their first meeting in a log schoolhouse, and now boasts of the finest architectural church in Monongahela City.
There is a Sabbath school connected with the church, organized January 1, 1820, of which Thomas Collins, Esq., was chosen first superintendent. It has twenty teachers, and a library of three hundred volumes.
WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH
This denomination has an organization in Monongahela City.
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The parish of St. Paul's Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. Bishop Alonzo Potter, at Monongahela City, November 18, 1863, the following persons being electred vestrymen: William Manown, John S. Markle, R. T. Robinson, R. M. Gee, Francis Nelson, James P. Shepler, and E. W. Crittenden.
The corner-stone of their beautiful church was laid in 1866. It being a Gothic stone building of fifty by ninety feet, with a tower attached, at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. December 4, 1863, Rev. H. Mackay took charge as the first rector. He served until March 1870, when Rev. J. B. Linskea was elected.
It has a Sabbath school with eight teachers and eighty scholars. It was organized in the spring of 1862, by Rev. Mr. Ten Broeck, who preached as a missionary one year before the church was established.
CHURCH OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
Have a church, which was organized as early as 1816, and has received the services of such eminent divines as father McGuire, O'Connor, etc. The Catholic church is named the church of the Transfiguration. It was built in 1864, and is situated in the west end of the city; its erection cost six thousand dollars. The building was commenced under the Rev. Dennis Kearney. He was succeeded by Rev. John O. G. Scanlon, who was followed by the Rev. William F. Hayes, the present pastor.
There are one hundred and seventeen families connected with the church.
This congregation has recently purchased the Methodist Episcopal church edifice, on the corner of Race and Chess Streets, having paid for the same thirty-seven hundred dollars. It is under the pastoral care of Rev. Mr. Rider, who, by his zeal in his master's cause, bids fair to add another auxiliary to the propagation of the religion of Christ.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Was organized in 1860. Rev. R. R. Sutton was the first minister; his successor is Rev. Mr. Hardgrave. The congregation are erecting a church thirty-seven by fifty feet. It was incorporated in 1869. There is a Sabbath-school attached.
AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Was founded in 1833. The ministers who have officiated as regular pastors comprise the following persons: 1833, Rev. Samuel Clingman; 1835, Thomas Lawrence; 1836, Rev. S. Clingman; 1838, Rev. Wm. Newman; 1840, Rev. Fayette Davis; 1842, Rev. James Coleman; 1844, Rev. George Coleman; 1846, Rev. Augustus R. Greer; 1848, Rev. Wm. Morgan; 1849, Rev. James Coleman; 1850, Rev. Nelson Carter; 1853, Rev. Levan Gross; 1855, Rev. John W. Jones; 1856, Rev. Shugart T. Jones; 1858, Rev. Levan Gross; 1860, Rev. S. T. Jones; 1861, Rev. Levan Gross; 1863, Rev. A. Harwell; 1864, Rev. A. Harwell; 1865, Rev. L. Gross; 1866, Rev. Charles Greene; 1867, Rev. Alfred Newman; 1868, Rev. L. Gross; 1869, Rev. W. C. West; 1870, Rev. W. H. Thomas.
The congregation rented different houses to worship in, until 1842, when it made arrangements to build a suitable house. In 1849 the basement was finished, in which religious services were held, but the church was finally finished in 1858. The church has a membership of ninety-five, and a Sabbath-school connected, with the usual number of teachers and scholars.
This beautiful city of the dead attracts universal admiration, not only for its situation, but the manner in which it is laid out. Here the sorrowing son and daughter of sighing humanity can quietly, peacefully, and with Christian resignation, commit the remains of their loved ones, buoyed up by the message of our Saviour, who whispers to each disconsolate heart, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."
This company was established in 1863, and immediately after its organization purchased thirty-two acres for the purposes contemplated by the charter. The improvements are estimated at sixty thousand dollars. Its officers are James Stockdale, Esq., President, William J. Alexander, Esq., Treasurer, and Dr. R. C. King, Secretary.
Is a beautiful, substantial, and plain three-story edifice, built in modern style, to promote the educational interests of the pupils.
Monongahela City has eight schools, employing two male and six female teachers, the former receiving $55 and the latter $40 per month, with four hundred and thirty-nine scholars (224 males and 215 females). Cost of tuition per month, ninety-three cents for each scholar. Amount of tax levied for school purposes, $2903.88, and receiving from the State appropriation, $181.74.
It would be invidious were we to enter into a full account of the iron foundries, glass works, planning-mills, saw-mills, and other of private enterprise, but we believe in doing justice to the banking house of Alexander & Co., and Union Paper Mills.
Was established in 1861, by Alexander & Co. The firm has now in process of erection a magnificent banking house on Main Street, with the private residence of W. J. Alexander, Esq., attached. The building is ornamented with a Mansard roof. Every possible precaution has been taken to make the banking departments not only fire but burglar proof. The establishment of this house, the gentlemanly and courteous manner, and obliging disposition of those who regulate it, have secured the entire approbation of the whole community.
Were originally erected by S. D. Culbertson. They are now owned by his son, Albert Culbertson, Esq. They employ thirty hands, and manufacture monthly one hundred and twenty-five tons of paper straw boards, using two steam engines, one forty horse power and one twelve horse power.
A description of the Odd Fellows' Hall we will reserve for Chapter VIII., as it more appropriately belongs there.
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Source: HISTORY of WASHINGTON COUNTY, From Its First Settlements to the Present Time, second edition, revised and corrected by Alfred Creigh, LL.D., Harrisburgh, Pa., B. Singerly, Printer, 1871. Reprinted 1987 Closson Press, Publishers.