Samuel Tait


Samuel Tait


The Rev. Samuel Tait was born near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, February 17th, 1772.  At an early age, he removed with his father's family to Ligonier, in Westmoreland county, and resided in the same neighborhood as Mr. [Rev. Elisha] Macurdy.  His first serious impressions were occassioned by a conversation which Mr. Macurdy held with him in relation to his soul.  He was educated at Canonsburgh Academy, and studied Theology under Dr. M'Millan.  He and Abraham Boyd were fellow students, and were licensed together by the Presbytery of Ohio, on the 25th of June, 1800.  The following autumn they were sent out to spend two months in preaching the gospel to the frontier inhabitants North and West of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers.  On the 19th of November, 1800, having accepted a call from the congregations of Cool Spring and Upper Salem, he was ordained by the same Presbytery and installed as their pastor.  At the time of his settlement, the church of Cool Spring - which was five miles from the place where Mercer now stands - numbered by five members:  but by the blessing of God upon his labours, it was not long until many were added to it.  At the period of which we are speaking, the town of Mercer had no existence, as it was not laid out until 1803.  In these congregations, he continued to labour until the 25th of June, 1806, when the pastoral relation between him and the church of Upper Salem was dissolved, and he gave half his time to the Mercer church, in which he was installed October 21st, 1806.  Again, in June 1813, he relinquished Cool Spring, by consent of the Presbytery, and took charge of Salem, the people of Cool Spring agreeing to worship with those of Mercer.  This connection continued until about the year 1820, when he relinquished Salem and gave the whole of his labours to Mercer.  With that church, he retained his connection during the remainder of his life, although the disease (laryngeal consumption) which terminated his earthly existence, disabled him from discharging his public duties for a short time before his death.  He died June 2d, 1841, in the 69th year of his age.

In the early part of his live, before he became pious, Mr. Tait had been engaged with his father, in the carrying trade over the Allegheny mountains.  This was at the time when the only mode of conveying goods from the East to the West was on "pack-horses."  In this business, he continued, for some time, after his father became unable to attend to it.  As it was an employment, once laborious and full of adventure, he became, in its prosecution, inured to the hardships of a frontier life.  This tended to prepare him for the trials and privations which, as a minister and missionary, he was afterwards called to endure in the new settlements.

He was a man of great integrity and character, of good and strong sense, and entire devoted to his Master's work.  "His labours," says the Rev. Joseph T. Smith, his successor and pupil, "were much blessed.  For many years after his settlement here he was the most popular and useful minister, in this section of country.  His spiritual children I find wherever I go throughout the Presbytery.  In his own congregation, there was, perhaps, a more than usual blessing constantly attending his labours.  Several revivals occurred under his ministry.  Three may be particularly mentioned:  the first during the time of the "falling exercise," which was shared in by his churches; the second about 1831; and the third about 1836.  These were the principal seasons of refreshing."

He was one of the original members of the Presbytery of Erie, at the time of its formation in the fall of 1801.  He was a member of the General Assembly of 1837, and co-operated with his brethren of the Old School, in the leading measures, by which that Assembly was distinguished.

The Life of the Rev. Elisha Macurdy by David Elliott, Allegheny, Kennedy & Brother, 1848.  Brief notices of various deceased members of the Presbyterian Church in Western Pennsylvania, pages 318-320.


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