The Raccoon Presbyterian Church at Candor PA. McDonald PA_Washington County PA Genealogy and Family History_Little Washington

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Churches and Worship in McDonald PA
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The Raccoon Presbyterian Church at Candor PA

From the McDonald Record-Outlook, July 28, 1960, page unknown:

RACCOON CHURCH AT CANDOR RICH IN HISTORIC LORE

The above photo, showing the structure façade of the Raccoon Presbyterian Church at Candor, brings for the need for a closer appreciation of this venerable and staid bit of architecture that is such an outstanding part of Robinson Township. [NOTE: Photo not submitted.]

To tell of the church is to tell of the early history of Robinson Township and the hardy Scotch-Irish pioneers who helped open the western frontier of Washington County.

To begin the narrative, I would like to quote from Alfred CREIGH’s History of Washington County, as it concerns the above-mentioned area;

“Robinson Township was the eleventh (11) of the original townships formed by the trustees, July 15th, 1781. It was then bounded by the Ohio River on the North, the Monongahela River on the east, Cecil Township on the South and Smith Township on the west; but its large proportions have been considerably decreased, and it is now (1860) bounded by Allegheny County on the north and east, Cecil and Mount Pleasant on the south and Hanover and Smith on the west, centrally distant from Washington Borough, north twenty-two miles; breadth three miles.

“Population in 1860, eight hundred and forty, of which twenty three are colored. It is drained on the north by Raccoon Creek, on the east by branched of Chartiers Creek and Montour’s Run. The Pike from Pittsburgh to Steubenville runs through this township. On December 22d, 1836, the lines between Robinson, Cecil, Mount Pleasant and Smith were adjusted and confirmed by the court. It has five stores, five schools, with one male and four female teachers—the former receiving $34 dollars and the latter $30 per month, with 156 scholars, (76 males and 80 females), tuition costing $1.20 per month; the tax levied being seven hundred and forty-two dollars and eighty-four cents; the State appropriation, eighty-eight dollars and ninety-two cents; amount levied for building purposes, ten hundred and fourteen dollars and fourteen cents. The towns are Candor, Havelock Station, and Midway, or Egypt.

“In the year 1793, January 19th, John CLARK and Jane, his wife, conveyed to William RANKIN, Peter KIDD, William McCANDLESS, Matthew BAILEY, John DUNLOP, and Alexander WRIGHT, trustees of Raccoon congregation in consideration of nine pounds apiece, all that lot of ground whereon the congregation has erected their church under the pastoral care of the Rev. Joseph PATTERSON, containing seven acres strict measure.

“Upper Raccoon Presbyterian Church is located in Robinson Township. Rev. Joseph PATTERSON was installed as the first pastor, November 11, 1789, and remained as such until October 16th, 1816. He was succeeded by the Rev. Moses ALLEN the 27th of May, 1817, who officiated until October 16th, 1839. Rev. Clement N. McKAIG was ordained his successor June 14th, 1841, and served until Rev. John W. KERR became its pastor in 1862 and was resigned in 1865. The pulpit is filled with supplies.

“There is a tradition in the northern part of this county in regard to the Rev. Mr. PATTERSON, verified by the most substantial aged men of our county, which I shall relate. Mr. PATTERSON was a great and good man—prompt to his word and conscientious in the discharge of his every duty. A subscription was being made up to erect a meeting house, and the day appointed for its payment. The day arrived and he was disappointed in not receiving the promised money which would liquidate his subscription, amounting to six dollars. Nevertheless he concluded to attend the meeting at the schoolhouse (the place appointed), and make such a statement as would be satisfactory. He accordingly started with his gun on his shoulder. Wending his way along to the meeting, he arrived at a beautiful grove, where God and Nature seemed to invite him to pour out his soul in prayer and by faith to look up for the blessing. In the midst of the devotional exercise, and when his soul was earnestly engaged in prayer, he heard a rustling among the leaves. He opened his eyes, and behold, a panther was approaching him. He raised his rifle and killed the wild animal. He took the scalp and skin with him to the meeting as a trophy of his victory. He sold them for six dollars, and thereby was enabled to redeem his subscription.” Such is the picture of Robinson Township and the Raccoon Presbyterian Church in the year 1860.

At this point I would like to tell of the many years of service given to the Candor Church by the Rev. Greer McIlvain KERR, D. D. The Rev. KERR, (no relation to the Rev. John KERR mentioned in the early account above) spent a lifetime I the Candor community, a total of fifty-nine and one-half years. His pastorate started in 1871 and ended with his death in 1930.

His two sons, James and Greer reside in Oakdale, along with his three daughters, Mary, Margaret and Amy. Two other daughters Mrs. Nesbit ROSS of Carnegie, and Jean KERR of Washington, D.C., complete the existing KERR family.

Candor, in the year 1860, had forty dwelling houses and a population of two hundred and ten. Havelock Station (now McDonald) was merely a stop on the railroad adjoining the estate of Col. McDONALD. The postmaster at Havelock Station at this time was one James EUWER. The other prominent community in Robinson Township at the time was, as mentioned in the item from CREIGH’s History, Midway or Egypt.

Egypt was the old name for Midway before the coming of the railroad—and it is easy to understand the selection of the Pyramid phone exchange for the Midway area—Pyramid and Egypt being of a close nature. Midway, today is perhaps one of the most pleasant communities to reside in, of any in the Robinson Run Valley—its quiet, tree-lined streets, its well-kept homes, with plenty of ground between each one for a garden or lawn—the clean and litter-free appearance of the town’s trim lawns gives evidence of an alert and active council. Truly, Midway has much to offer, pleasing and courteous merchants, the nearby Fort Cherry School system, all add up to congenial rural living. Such is Midway or old Egypt today.

But more about the church at Candor. The present congregation numbers 110 and the current minister is the Rev. John Allen SHEARER. Originally from Akron, Ohio, the Rev. SHEARER joined a long line of illustrious guardians of the Candor flock—starting with the Rev. Joseph PATTERSON, whose plaque on the right side of the church pulpit tells of his being the “First Presbyterian Minister Ordained West of the Allegheny Mts.” On the left side of the pulpit is the plaque honoring the Rev. Greer McIlvain KERR, who gave a lifetime of service to this hamlet.

A great deal of credit must be given the people who have preserved and maintained the Candor church. Even with a minimum of members, the church today retains the full color and quaintness which marked its days when it was the peer of all area houses of worship.

Recently, from far-off California came a gift of an electric organ—the memory of Candor church was not easily forgotten. The organ was a gift of James McElroy REA of Carlsbad, Calif., in memory of his wife, the late Cynthia RUSSELL REA. Although gone from this area for forty years, the church at Candor was never far from his mind.

What can be said in closing this article? Another quote perhaps—one that will say: “If we can save enough of the homes, churches, court houses, and other places where Americans who went before us lived and worked, we can sense their way of life, their ideals, and character. We want our children to sense them, too. Unless we act now, few of these first-hand lessons from the past will remain.”

Editor’s Note -- The above information was gathered and the article written by James F. MULOOLY of Noblestown.

* See Town-Talk section for a more information on the history of McDonald Pa.* 

MCDONALD PA LINKS

Index to McDonald PA Folder 1  | Business-Industry | Advertisements  |  Fashion   |   History   |  Location - ScenesTown Drawings Major Life Events  |  Military  |  News and Glances  |  Obituaries  |  People-Biographies  |   Politicians - Politics  |  Reunions  |  Schools   |  Sports   |    Worship-Churches  | 

Index to McDonald PA Folder 1  |  Index to McDonald PA Folder 2 a Collection of 3,000 marriage licenses / wedding notices  |  Divorce Notices

 

 

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McDonald PA newspaper items were researched and typed by Victoria Hospodar Valentine for the over the course of 5 years.  Vicki had submitted hundreds of articles to the [email protected] mailing list and other Lists.  Her work is presented here in the McDonald, PA section of this website.  Please use the links to navigate or use on-site search to locate articles.  

 

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This page was last edited Monday, July 06, 2015

 

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