Union Church

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Union Church



On the north side of Presqueisle street, between Sixth and Seventh, stands the old “Union Church,” an odd-looking edifice that is usually called the “old much church.” Its architecture e bears traces of the Gothic style, but its general quaintness is apt to attract tile attention of tile passing stranger. In the little adjoining cemetery, “each in his narrow cell forever laid,” sonic of the humble “forefathers of the hamlet sleep," and a few aged oaks and tall green pines keep constant vigil over their silent graves. 


Near the northwest corner of the same cemetery, in a plot enclosed by a neat galvanized iron railing are several well-cared for graves. On two of the white marble tombstones appear the names of John G. Shultz, one of the original pioneers, and of Rosalie, his wife. From the inscription it appears that she died on the 7th of Oct. 1842, aged 72 years, and he on the 8th of Dec., 1844, aged 83 years. His son, Frederick is also buried there, as are likewise some other members of the Shultz family.

The lot on which the old church is standing was part of the outlot that John G. Shultz received when he first came hither. He had cleared a portion of it, and when the early settlers need ed a place for burying their dead, he permitted them to use it for that purpose. Afterward, when Mr. Philips wished to secure a burial ground he offered to exchange another piece for it, and Mr. Shultz having knowledge of a spring of excellent water in a small grove of sugar maples on the opposite side of the creek, accepted four acres there in lieu of it. He later on purchased twenty odd acres adjoining, and the two pieces are embraced in the farm now owned by his granddaughter, Miss Sarah Shultz.

The original building, or “meeting house” as it was called in the documents in possession of the descendants of Mr. James McGirk, was elected in 1819 or 1820, by a fund to which inhabitants of the village and neighboring settlers had generally subscribed, and was to be used as both a meeting and a school house. Mr. Philips, who owned the ground, and was doubtless also a contributor, executed a deed of trust for the property on the 12th of Nov., 1820, and named himself, Jacob Test and Jas. Collins as trustees. in 1834, the State Legislature was petitioned for and presumably granted authority permitting the qualified voters to elect trustees annually, hut for many years the two political parties, Democrats and Republicans have each incorporated in their ballot the names of three women for "church trustees" electing them at the regular election of town officials. In 1812, the requisite amount of money “to repair and improve” the building, was also raised by subscription. It was then that the inside was remodeled, and by erecting a square tower at the front, putting an addition to the rear, changing the shape of the windows. and rough-coating the walls, that its present form and appearance was imparted to the outside. Some complaint about the heavy expense incurred, not only produced considerable discord at that time, but subsequently brought on an unseemly contest between Mr. Philips and leading citizens regarding the control of the edifice. An aftermath of trouble followed, for suit was entered on an alleged debt, judgment obtained, execution issued, a levy made, and the old church condemned for sale. Mr. James McGirk and other interested persons took prompt steps to stop the proceedings. At August term a rule was granted for taking depositions, and at a later session the case was tried before Judge Woodward, who set aside the judgment on technical grounds that were laid down in the written Opinion of the Court. An appeal to the Supreme Court was talked of, but it does not appear that any such action was taken.

No regular services were observed in the old church prior to the building of the Trinity Episcopal edifice in 1833 or 1834. Since then, denominations that possessed no meeting house of their own have been using the old one as occasion required (at the Present time it is being used by the Free Methodist Denomination). Around it cluster many interesting memories and the handsome, substantial, stone wall erected by the borough, enclosing the old “burial ground” not only beautifies but protects the one spot so dear to the hearts of the early settlers and a vital connecting link between the dead past and the living present, for not a vestige remains of the screw mill, forge or other. manufacturing plants which in earlier days had been erected in the town by the enterprising men who then shaped and controlled its industrial affairs.


These excerpts are token from the "Souvenir History of Philipsburg" by permission of Grit Publishing co., Williamsport, Pa.


From The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Union Church, Philipsburg, Penna, Nov 12, 1920.


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