Return to Previous Page

A History of the Beaver

First Presbyterian Church

by Mrs. Elwood T. Hughes

In the autumn of 1778, just a few blocks from here, weary troops of the Revolution, under the command of General Lachlan McIntosh, built the first fort north of the Ohio River. The history of the Presbyterian Church is closely associated with those early years of the history of Beaver.

In 1793 Ft. McIntosh made a supplication for supply ministers to the Ohio Presbytery. There is no record of whether or not the Presbytery furnished these supplies. However, the Treaty of 1795 with the Indians paved the way for pioneers to settle with safety on this plateau, which was then called Beaver Town. Warner's History of Beaver County, published in 1888, says that "as a rule, the early settlers were the sturdy, industrious, and patriotic Scotch and Scotch-Irish, and they were nearly all Presbyterians in their faith. That members of the denomination lived in the settlement as early as 1796 is very probable, and that they sought the means of religious instruction from the first is very probable."

In 1798 a request for the services of a supply preacher for Beaver Town is on record in the minutes of the Presbytery of Ohio, to which the territory then belonged; and from this information we now know that the first regular church services were held in Beaver in 1798. Meetings seem to have been held in the grove and at private homes until the Court House was completed in 1810, when it became the place of church services for all denominations.

While we know that the Rev. James Satterfield preached in Beaver in 1810, it wasn't until Aug. 13, 1813 that the Rev. Ezekiel Glasgow was installed as the first pastor of the Beaver Presbyterian Church. After an active pastorate of less than eight months, Rev. Glasgow died of tuberculosis at the age of 29. He was the first person buried in the Old Beaver Cemetery, now called Clark Square, at Fifth and Buffalo Streets. His remains were later moved to the new cemetery.

With the exception of supply ministers, the congregation was without a pastor for almost 10 years. During this time we know that in 1818 Communion was conducted by the Rev. Thomas Hughes near the corner of Beaver and Fifth Streets close to the spring.

Rev. William MacLean became the pastor in May of 1823 and Church membership increased. There were 130 Communicants in 1825.

In March of 1824 an Act of the Legislature authorized the congregation to erect a house of worship on the southeast public square, now known as Irvine Square, and to enclose a yard, not exceeding a quarter of an acre.

The first church building was constructed here, on the corner of Third and Market Streets, in 1827. It was a square brick building. The interior had a high ceiling, with galleries on 3 sides of the sanctuary. The pulpit was 7 feet from the floor, with a spiral stairway on each side, and the pews had doors. The congregation grew to 213 "regular and constant" members by 1831.

It is interesting to note that the Rev. A. B. Quay, father of Senator Matthew Stanley Quay, served the church as pastor from 1840 until 1843, when he resigned to accept an appointment from the Board of Foreign Missions.

For a period of 10 years the Church was without a regular pastor, and it passed through the most difficult period of its history. In 1845, 85 members withdrew to help form the Bridgewater congregation. However, with the coming of the Rev. D. P. Lowary as pastor in September 1863, a new beginning was made to the first Presbyterian Church, and the membership, which was then 27, increased to 267 during the 11 years of his pastorate. The Church was remodeled and enlarged; the galleries were removed, and the high pulpit replaced, all at a total cost of $3,000.

The Church kept steadily growing, and in 1873 the Rev. D. J. Satterfield was, called at a salary of $1,000 a year.

During the ministry of the Rev. Dr. McKallip, father of Elizabeth McKallip Dando and grandfather of Eleanor Dando Sutter, the present Church building was erected. There had been little or no maintenance done on the original church since 1869, and the church members unanimously decided to build a new church. One of the members, John M. Buchanan, Esq. donated the building site on the corner of Elk Street (now known as College Avenue) and Corporation. (Incidentally, there are 3 children of Mr. Buchanan still living in Beaver: Anna B. Armstrong, Ruth B. Johnson, and Ross Buchanan, as well as one grandson, Dr. John Buchanan and 2 great grandsons, Thomas and David.) Ground was broken March 12,1890 and the church was formally dedicated on Jan. 31, 1892. The total cost of the building and furnishings was $60,000.

Six pastors served the Church from 1896 until 1948 when Dr. E. G. Montag was installed as pastor. The Church celebrated its Sesquicentennial in 1949. One of the major accomplishments of Dr. Montag's ministry was the concept and construction of the Christian Education Building in 1955. During his pastorate, the growth in the Church membership warranted the addition of the first full-time assistant minister in the history of the Church.

The present pastor is the Rev. William M. Meyer, who was installed on Nov. 10, 1974. The current Staff includes Ronald R. Hann, Minister of Music and Christian Education, and Jack T. Patrick, Student Assistant Pastor. Under Rev. Meyer's pastorate, new programs have been added and a $90,000 fund for the major renovation of Church facilities has been established.

As with any history, it is necessary to read between the lines to catch a glimmer of the untold number of hours and the countless number of people who labored unselfishly at the First Presbyterian Church of Beaver to carry out God's Mission on earth.

The Presbyterian Church of 1827 in Irvine Square,

Beaver's first church building


The current First Presbyterian Church.

College Avenue at Corporation Street