Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: December 1949 Volume 7 Number 2, Pages 21–26

History of the First Presbyterian Church of Paoli

Horace McCann and Mrs. Franklin Wandless

Page 21

Among the records of the First Presbyterian Church of Paoli, Pennsylvania, being preserved by the Historical Society at the Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a document entitled "History of the Sabbath School of the First Presbyterian Church of Paoli, Pennsylvania" and complied by J. Sheridan Linn, from facts and dates given by Edward B. Linn, father of J. Sheridan Linn.

Edward B. Linn came to Paoli about the year 1839. There being no Presbyterian Church in Paoli, he with Mrs. Linn, joined the Berwyn Presbyterian Church, Rev. T. J. Aiken, Pastor. In 1891 Mr. Aiken said to Mr. Linn, "There should be a Sunday School in Paoli", and he asked Mr. Linn to look for a suitable place. Arrangements were finally made to rent a house from Mr. Schofield near the old toll gate on the north side of the Lincoln Highway where the road (now Route 202) passes under the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Sunday School was organized on July 2nd, 1892, the officers being: Superintendent, Rev. T. J. Aiken; Secretary, Edward B. Linn; Treasurer, J.W. Conner; Librarian, Annie Hayburn.

Page 22

Paoli Presbyterian Sunday School - 1891 - Later the chapel - now the Paoli Library

Those present on the first day were Merrill, Maggie and Mary Linn; Mrs. Emma Stratton; W. C. Duckett; Mary, Emma and Jennie English; Lizzie C. Linn; Leo H. Williams; Mable Conner; Roy Conner; William Russell; Morris Hughes; Harry Davis and Annie Scott.

A lot was purchased on Darby Road for $500.00 and the ground broken for a chapel in October 1892. The building was erected for the sum of $715.00 by Mr. Otto Palmer.

The minute book records the first meeting of the session held in the Chapel on November 2nd, 1899, with Rev. T. J. Aiken, acting as Moderator and Elders Robert F. Mathews, Charles Elkinton, J. March and E. B. Linn present. The Clerk of the session, E. B. Linn was instructed to correspond with Brother W. W. Heberton in reference to preaching services.

A committee was appointed April 16th, 1900 to procure a charter, to be drawn up in the name of the "First Presbyterian Church of Paoli".

The list of Charter Members follows:

Robert F. Mathews Miss C. Gertrude Davis
Mrs. Eliza F. Mathews Miss Minnie S. Davis
Edward B. Linn John D. Burns
Mrs. Lizzie C. Linn Rachel Huntley
Alvan J. March Jacob Plank
Mrs. Ida V. March Mrs. Ineda Plank
Joseph F. Mathews Charles Elkinton
Mrs. Ida M. Mathews Mrs. Coraline Gannon
Joseph Gowdy Miss Mary Coburn
Mrs. Sadie E. Gowdy J. Alexander Curry
Mrs. Sarah English Mrs. Annie Curry
Miss Jennie English

Page 23

From the organization of the Sunday School on July 2nd, 1892 to the organization of the church, Rev. Mr. Aiken preached without compensation. From November 1899 until April 1901 the following ministers preached: Heberton, Candee, Landis and Davis.

The session minutes of April 3rd, 1901, records that Joseph Mathews, for the Trustees; Charles Elkinton, for the Session; and Alexander Curry for the Congregation, signed the call to Rev. T, J. Aiken to become the pastor, at which time he was installed.

Rev. Aiken became the pastor of the Church, together with one in Malvern, preaching in Paoli in the morning and Malvern in the afternoon, continuing until September 1st, 1905.

A Congregational meeting held December 13th, 1905 with Rev. Mr. Powers of the Berwyn Presbyterian Church acting as Moderator, extended a call to Rev. Euclid Philips to become pastor. He accepted and was installed on April 24th, 1906, serving until January 29th, 1910.

The Chapel became too small to house the growing congregation. The lot on which the present church stands was purchased on August 1st, 1906 from Griffin C. Callahan and wife for $1142.50.

Ground was broken for the new church building on May 21st, 1906 and the corner stone laid October 14th, 1906. The Dedication Service was held on June 23rd, 1907, in charge of the pastor Rev. Euclid Philips assisted by Reverends Aiken, Powers and Heberton.

A. M. Hall was the contractor who built the church.

The Sunday School had grown from 19 members present the first Sunday, July 2nd, 1892, to a church with 91 members and a Sunday School with 155 members. (Cradle roll 30, primary 51, main school 58, officers and teachers 11). A special meeting of the Board of Trustees, held at the home of John H. Dingee, March 7th, 1906, adopted the following resolution: "Resolved that, Robert F. Mathews, President; E, B. Linn, Secretary; and John H. Dingee, Treasurer; be directed to execute a first mortgage on the church to the Malvern & Duffryn Mawr Building and Loan Association for $6500.00.

On December 31st, 1909 the Rev. Euclid Philips tendered his resignation. Rev. John Graham, D. D., was installed June 28th, 1910, the Reverends William Woodfin, W. P. Vantries, G. R. Burgess, E. R. Simons, Cleveland Frame, W. R. Huston, and W. W. Heberton participating in the service.

The records show a resolution passed May 13, 1913, thanking Mrs. Elizabeth Beattie for her gift of the pews for the church.

Rev. Dr. Graham tendered his resignation as pastor, taking effect the last Sunday in November, 1916.

Page 24

The Rev. Charles L. Cook was installed as pastor July, 1917. His connection with the church was severed in 1920 and Rev. J.M. Voorhis was installed October 7th, 1920; Mr. Voorhis resigned, effective May 17th, 1922.

The Manse - 1949


On June 8th, 1921 a lot adjoining the church property was purchased from Mrs. Helen M. Dingee, for the sum of $1198.00 on which a manse was subsequently erected.

Rev. Hastings Bells was installed February 8th, 1923. Mr. Bells resigned in July 1925 and a call was extended to Rev. Paul A. G. Machemer, October 6th. He was installed on November 1st, 1925.

The building of a fine pipe organ by the Moeller Organ Co., was begun in December 1926, and installed completed early in the following January. Mrs. John Stroh (Anna McCann) was appointed organist.

In 1942 desiring to enter the U. S. Army Chaplain service, Mr. Machemer asked the Session, representing the church, for one year's leave of absence as pastor. The Session at the November 30th, 1942 meeting granted this request and allowed Mr. Machemer's family the use of the manse for the same period. It was voted to continue the payments to the Minister's Pension Fund during the year of his absence.

In the summer of 1944 Mr. Machemer transmitted his resignation to the Chester Presbytery, from that body, as well as from the Paoli Church. The resignation was accepted.

Page 25

Owing to the war, a heavy demand was made by the U. S. Army Chaplain Service for ministers with the resulting scarcity. There were cases where one minister endeavored to serve two and even more churches. It was just about impossible to get a pastor at this time. It was just as difficult to get student supplies. The Paoli Presbyterian Church was exceedingly fortunate in being able to secure a student in his senior year at Princeton Seminary, Mr. Kenneth A. Hammonds, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He entered his duties on June 23rd, 1944. Pending his graduation a few weeks later Mr. Hammond accepted a call as assistant pastor to the East Liberty, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Church. The Paoli congregation being unable to find a minister, when the matter was explained to the East Liberty Church, the latter very graciously offered to release Mr. Hammond from his agreement, to permit him to accept a call to Paoli Presbyterian Church.

He was installed as pastor on October 10th, 1944.

To go back a little, the mortgage on the church building, having expired in 1943, was celebrated with the burning of the mortgage in the church in October, 1943. Mrs. John D. Burns, one of the older members, applying the match, and Mrs. Sadie E. Gowdy, one of the Charter Members, holding a tray to catch the ashes.

The following members of the Church have served as officers:

As Trustees: Robert F. Matthews, First President; E. B. Linn, Secretary from the beginning until January 1922; John H. Dingee, Treasurer; J. Alexander Curry; John D. Burns; J. A. Thompson; J. Garfield Matthews; Henry S. Davis; Clarence Y. Wagar; Robert Harbison; Frank S. Wetzel; Joseph Matthews; Martin L. Long; Harry P. Tollinger; Casper J. Tolllnger; J. B. Bakley; Joseph Isinger; E. S. Jones; J. C. Kester; W. C. Brick; Joseph H. Bloomer; Walter Eves; Jos. Kouba; J. A. Mahaffey; Earl Matthews; James Matthews; Kenneth Mateer; C. E. Poulton; Warren H. Baldwin; T. Lewis Wallace; H. H. Matthews (Treasurer and Trustee); John Zapp; William M. Beidler; Raymond D. Burns; H. L. Weaver; H. W. Schory; James M. Murray, Walter Matthews; J. Jarden Guenther.

As Elders: Robert F. Matthews; Charles Elkinton; Alvah J. March; Edwin B. Linn; J. Alexander Curry; Clarence W,. Wagar; Horace D. McCann; Harry P. Tollinger; David Wright; Joseph T. Matthews; William P. Tollinger; Martin L. Long; Roy J. Patton; Wm. S. Bucholtz; John McKinley; John Frazer; Frank E. Zepp; H. Roland McCann.

As Sunday School Superintendents: Rev. T. J. Aiken, Walter Matthews; C. W. Wagar; H. D. McCann; Wm. Tollinger; George Hammond; Albert Risser.

The officers of the Church elected in April 1949 are:

Trustees: H. Fred Miller; Caroll L. Hughes; Clifford H. Evens; Jos. 0. Fulton; Harry L. Weaver; Jos. H. Thompson; Raymond D. Burns; Wm. Kohlmeyer; Harold S. Oswald.

Page 26

Elders: Wm. M. Beidler; Chas. L. Huston, Jr.; Harry W. Schory; Casper J. Tollinger; Clifford H. Evens; Harold S. Oswald; Horace D. McCann; H. Roland McCann.

Superintendent of Sunday School: George A. Hammond

Assistant Superintendents: Chas. Spellman; Mrs. Caroll Hughes

History repeats itself, it is said, once again the need of more room was felt, particularly in the Sunday School. Plans were prepared and the work was started on a now Sunday School Building at the rear of the Church. The classrooms and other equipment will be of the utmost use for the new religious education program adopted by the Sunday School and put into effect beginning October 1st, 1948.

It is expected the new building will cost between $35,000 and $40,000. During the building of the addition to the church, the organ is being rebuilt. Mrs. Matthews is having chimes installed in memory of Harry and Walter Matthews.

Since Wednesday, October 26th, 1949 is the official birthday of the church, the week of October 23rd to 30th was set aside for special observance of the Fiftieth Anniversary. At this time the New Christian Education Building will be formally dedicated and the remodeled church auditorium and rebuilt organ will be re-dedicated.

In this, the Golden Anniversary of the Paoli Presbyterian Church we see the exemplification of the growth of religious teaching.


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