Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: April 1980 Volume 18 Number 2, Pages 35–52

Stories from Under the Stones

Chester T. Winters

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I have fallen in love with a group of people who for the last 269 years have been known as the Beddydiwrs of the Cwm Mawr of Tredyffrin Township. These Beddydiwrs, or Baptists, have long since ceased to have a physical presence on this earth, but I have not the nerve to say they are dead. When one has walked on their ground for more than twenty-five years, has done a bit of probing into the past, and has met and contemplated people like Hugh David, David Jones, Rachel Cleaver, Phyllis Burr, Andrew Garden, Leonard Fletcher, John Davis, Benjamin Bartholomew, Isaac Alexander and many, many more, one finds they still are a part of the Great Valley. Sometimes, in our days of extremities and complexities, they seem to be the only reality.

Let me first give you a brief sketch of the basic dates and more important facts in the physical history of the Church.

The Church was founded on April 22, 1711 by a group of Welsh Baptists who had settled what was known as the Welsh Barony of William Penn's Colony. Apparently an arrangement, and the payment of some money, had been made with William Penn by some residents of Wales to have a portion of land allocated for their use.

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I do not know the exact procedure that was followed, but I did come upon the following directive given by Penn to his Surveyor-General, one Thomas Holmes, on January 15, 1684.:

"Whereas divers considerable persons among ye Welsh Friends have requested me that all ye Lands Purchased of me by those of North Wales and South Wales ... about 4-0 thousand acres may be layed out contiguously as one Barony, alledging that ye number allready come and suddenly to come, are such as will be capable of planting ye same much within ye proportion allowed by ye custom of ye country, and so not lye in large and useless vacancies. And because I am inclined and determined to agree and favour them with any reasonable Conveniency and priviledge: I do hereby charge thee and strictly require thee to lay out ye stated treact of Land in as uniform a manner, as conveniently may be, upon ye West side of Skoolkill river, running three miles upon ye same, and two miles backward and then extend ye parallel with ye river six miles and to run westwardly so far till ye stated quantity of land be Compleately surveyed unto them."

I am grateful that I did not have to carry out this complex directive, but it was done, and many Welsh families came in the 1690's and early 1700's and established farms in this Welsh Barony. They were not all Baptists, for we have in the Valley an Episcopal, a Presbyterian, and a Quaker Church all founded about the same time by Welsh immigrants.

The Baptist settlers came primarily from Rhydwillim, Wales, and immediately began holding worship services in each other's homes. Finally, in 1710, a Baptist minister arrived from Wales, one Hugh David, and under his leadership they formally organized the Baptist Church in the Great Valley. It was very important to them to have an officially ordained minister to do this, having been using the services of the minister of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church in Delaware. There, were two closer Baptist Churches in Pennsylvania, Old Pennypack, founded in 1688, and First Baptist, founded in 1698. But because of a difference of opinion with these English Baptists on the matter of the Laying on of Hands — of which we will hear more later — our Welsh Baptists did not choose to fellowship with them.

In 1722 they acquired two acres of land and proceeded to build a Log Meeting House. It was 28 feet square, had a balcony on the west and southern sides, the pulpit on the north, and a stove — no small item — somewhere, and in it they worshipped for 85 years.

As was the custom, the ground about the Meeting House became the bu­rial ground, and the oldest legible tombstone records the burial of one of the sixteen charter members, Morris Edward, May 23, 1757, aged 54 years. It was Morris' brother Robert, by the way, who has the dubious distinction of being one of the first members excommunicated from the new fellowship.

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It concerned a matter of too frequent participation in an athletic program at the King of Prussia Tavern, known as "elbow bending".

These Baptists were strong in their missionary zeal, as we shall see in several ways, and they became the mother of nine other Baptist churches in the area, having seven legitimate children and two illegitimate ones. In 1796 several families withdrew from the Church over a question of the proper Sabbath Day, and formed the Seventh Day Baptist Church at French Creek, Pennsylvania. In 1896, 52 members withdrew and formed the First Baptist Church of Berwyn. Churches were also started, with the blessing of the mother, in Chester Springs, Lower Merion, Phoenixville, Norristown, West Chester, Malvern, and Radnor.

Geography and the activity of our most famous minister brought the Revolutionary War to the Church's doorstep. The edge of Valley Forge Park is less than one mile from the Church, and we shall hear more about this period when we consider Dr. David Jones.

In 1805 the present Meeting House was erected, out of Valley limestone, and in 1816 a parsonage was built across the road from the Meeting House, It still stands, though it has been greatly enlarged by more recent residents. The Meeting House was renovated in 1871, and made rather Victorian in appearance, A steeple and a choir loft were added, the balcony was removed, and the windows were enlarged and rounded at the top. Actually, the only original things in the Meeting House today are the stone in the walls; the colonial atmosphere which has been restored through paint, lighting, and furniture; and the old-time Gospel of the present ministry.

By 1866 the majority of the membership lived along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Berwyn. In this year they built in Berwyn another Church building, called the Chapel, and from 1886 until 1955 the Chapel was used for Worship during the winter, and for the Church School program all year long. In 1955, the Chapel was sold — to the Christian Scientists — and a new Church School building and a Parsonage were built on newly acquired property immediately to the north of the original cemetery.

This gives you some of the basic dates of the Church's 269 years, the kind of thing we put on mimeographs or in history books. But the intriguing thing to me is that this was done by people, people called Baptists, and it is some of these Beddydiwrs whom I would like you to meet.

The best way to do this is to walk through the old section of the cemetery and read some of the inscriptions on the tombstones. Nearly two-thirds of them have become illegible, but we have copied nearly all that we can read. Many of the stones contain poetry which exhibits the strong influence of John Calvin and John Knox on these early settlers, and, it seems to me, one can classify many kinds of belief in an after life based on these poems.

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Here are some which I think show the progression — or, according to your taste, the regression — of belief from death as simple rest from the labor and pain of life, through belief in resurrection, physical resurrection, spiritual resurrection, future resurrection, to an immortality of influence.

For example, here is a poem written by the mourners of Hannah Bowley, who died in 1798 at the age of 40 and who, according to them, achieved peace from a rather difficult existence.

"This languishing head is at rest
It's thinking and aching are o'er.
This quickening breast
Is heav'd by affliction no more.
This heart is no longer the seat
Of trouble and laboring pain,
It ceases to flutter and beat
It never shall flutter again.
The lids she so seldom could close
By pain forbidden to sleep.
Sealed up in eternal repose
Have strangely forgotten to weep.
The fountains can yield no supplies,
These hollows from water are free,
The tears are all wip'd from these eyes
And someone they never shall see."

Or consider this simple poem on the grave of "Rachel Wife of Meshak Davis, Dec. 10, 1811, aged 38 years":

"A loving wife, a mother dear
A faithful friend lies buried here."

But, then we get a poem that affirms that death is not the end, and that life goes on after death, like this on the tomb of John Davis:

"Forty-six years with pleasure to serve
The gospel to preach the truth to preserve
Now he's called home his reward to receive
To be with his God, forever to live."

The Reverend John Davis was the minister who served the Church for the longest period of time, and it was during his ministry that the Church at Chester Springs was founded. For several years he would preach in the Valley in the morning, then get on his horse, ride twelve miles to Chester Springs to preach in the afternoon, and then twelve miles back to the Valley for evening services there. It makes me sore just to think about it!

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And there are those which, to me, speak of a physical resurrection, that life not only goes on, but goes on in a similar sense to that which we know on this earth. For example, there is this one:

"In memory of Rachel wife of William, aged 21 years, 1799 to 1820. After a lingering illness, which she bore with patience, fortitude and pious resignation. Leaving behind a loving husband to lament her loss. In grateful testimony of her worth, her affectionate husband hath caused this stone to be erected to her memory,

"Weep not for me my husband
Dear to grieve is in vain
Christ is my hope, you need
No fear, we both shall meet again."

Or these two on the same stone for Robert Findley, aged 28:

"Farewell dear wife I cannot stay
The home I seek is far away
The weeping widow Christ console
And be her counsellor and guide
Adopt my child her life control
And keep her near thy soul."

"Why should I mourn my brother's loss
Since death to him is bliss
He lives again, in faith he died
And Christ has promised this."

Francis O'Neill, who died at the age of 69 in 1846, thinks more in terms of the spirit than the body when he says:

"My life is past, my pains are o'er
My voice and walk is heard no more
Tho in this grave my body lies
My spirit lives above the skies."

Then there are those who are more true to the message of the Gos­pels who believe that death is simply a waiting period for a later and a general resurrection. This one is not very good rhyming, but the theological point is plain:

"In memory of Martha Jones, Relict of the late Reverend Thomas Jones, died in 1799, aged 93.

"This is the bed of rest for me
Where I do lie most quietly
Hailing in hope the morn of bliss
To rise and be where Jesus is."

And this one leaves no doubt as to what is going to happen:

"Dear travellers all who pass by me
Think on this great eternity
I am not dead but here do sleep
Tho buried in this clay so deep
Till the archangel rend the skies
And Christ my saviour bids me rise."

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Even in a good Baptist cemetery we have a bit of unorthodoxy, and on the grave of Col. Edward F. Evans, who died September 21, 1844, we read:

"This alone remains, from it we judge what has been and mourn our loss"

And who ever said that the old-timers did not believe in a doctrine of work? Thomas Jones did, or those who wrote this on his tomb did:

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth, yea saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them"

The writer of Revelation said it first in the 14th chapter, the 13th verse.

And, finally, there is one — common, I suppose, to many cemeteries — which sort of sums up all words about death that ever have been said:

"Step and ponder passer by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so will you be
Prepare yourself to follow me."

Well, this is fun, and, I trust, interesting, but our story is just beginning. Let's look at some other tombstones of our Baptist ances­tors. Some of the stones record for us a bit of the life of the person over whose earthly remains they stand, others simply record dates, or are so illegible that we have to go into the record books for further information.

At the extreme northern end of the cemetery is a handsome obelisque over eight feet high, and on one side one can read:

"Captain Benjamin Bartholomew, was born in the Great Valley in the County of Chester, State of Pa., August 16, Anno Dom. 1732. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he left the plough and with a heart glowing with patriotism assumed the military garb. He served a seven years war in defense of his country, headed by the gallant Wayne. After receiving many wounds, gaining much honor and seeing the country free returned to his plough again. He died in his own fertile and well cultivated farm. March 31, Anno Dom. 1812. Lamented by his relatives and friends and sincerely regretted by all his neighbors, his remains are here deposited."

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There is little needed to be added to this — a Baptist who fought in the name of freedom.

Near Captain Bartholomew is a rather small, insignificant stone, with this inscription:

"In Memory of Rachel Cleaver who departed this life, August 16, 1836 in the 63rd year of her age."

Obviously, this would mean little to the casual passerby, but when we read the minutes of the Church Meeting of August 25, 1821, we discover that this Rachel Cleaver at this time left the Valley, with her husband Isaac, and journeyed to eastern Tennessee to become a medical missionary to the Cherokee Indians.

Another rather tall stone catches one's eye, and on it it says:

"Rev. Leonard Fletcher, Died August 16, 1859 in the 63rd year of his age. Peace to His Memory. 'Remember the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you.'"

His words must have been powerful and provoking, for this minister served our Church from 1832 until 1840, and during his nine year ministry he baptised 447 people, 72 of them at one service in October, 1832. Mr. Fletcher was also one of the leaders of the Wilberforce Society in Chester County, being very outspoken in his denunciation of slavery and working very hard for its abolition. In fact, he nearly split the Baptist Church in the Great Valley in sunder with his strong anti-slavery preaching. He left the Church in 1840 over a question of salary, but apparently retained the deep love of a majority of the members, for we read in the minutes for February 29, 1840: "Whereas our beloved pastor L. Fletcher, has been induced in consequence of the reduction of his salary at a meeting in November last, to resign the pastoral charge of this church and accept the charge of the Church at Hamilton, and as we feel an extreme degree of reluctance to part with our pastor and Spiritual Father of many in the Church; therefore, resolved that so much of the November business as related to the Pastor's Salary be recinding [sic] and Brother Fletcher be invited to resume the pastoral charge of this Church." The Valley Church had been paying him $400.00 per year; the Hamilton Church offered him $600.00. He went to Hamilton.

As we contemplate Leonard Fletcher and "the words he spake while he was yet with us", there are two other stones which seem to make a complete picture:

"Erected by the Great Valley Baptist Church in memory of Phyllis Burr, who was Born in Africa, brought to America in the slave ship "Ganges" and sold into slavery to pay for her passage, and died April 18, 1872, aged nearly 100 years."

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Tombstone of Phyllis Burr

"In memory of Jacob Clinger, Born December 28, 1839, Died July 26, 1862, The deceased was a member of Co. E, 82nd Regiment, Penna. Volunteers, was wounded on pickett duty at Richmond, Va. June 26, and died at Brooklyn City Hospital, Typhoid Fever."

It is rather easy, as one walks through the cemetery, to trace the history of our country from then flags on the tombstones, particularly those marked with an American flag. Although I am dealing here with the earlier history of the people, I can't help but mention the words on two other stones which sort of sum up the constant fight for freedom. One reads:

"Edward W. Baumgard Jr. 1932 - 1952 Pfc. 1st Div., Co. C 1st Bn. Korean War"

The other marks the grave of a Vietnam war veteran, although he was not killed in action:

"Ronald Dean Erixon Sgt. 4-56 FTR INTCP SQ AF April 4, 1945 - October 23, 1967"

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But I digress. To return to the purpose at hand, let me tell you about our most famous preacher. I say preacher, but I am not sure that it would not be more accurate to call him "patriot". Preacher or Patriot, here is a man who, I believe, deserves a special niche in the Baptist Hall of Fame.

Near the present Meeting House is one of several tombstones the size and shape of a casket, constructed either from limestone or bricks. Why this style was used I do not know, nor have I heard a completely logical explanation. In any event, one of these stones has on it the name "David Jones". The rest of the writing is worn away, but we do know about this man. This is the Reverend Doctor David Jones or, as he is better known to us, Davey Jones — and what a man he was!

David Jones was born in 1736 in New Castle County, Delaware. His grandparents were natives of Wales, and his great-grandfather was the famous Morgan ap Rhydderch, "A devout man and a preacher among the Baptists".

The Reverend "Davey" Jones

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Davey was reared on the farm and for a time continued to live and work there, but he felt a call to the ministry, and was licensed to preach in 1761. Wanting more education, he attended Hopewell Academy in New Jersey, studied there under Abel Morgan, and was ordained in 1766. He studied extensively in Latin and in Greek, and became quite a scholar in these languages.

We do not know of his first church or ministerial activity, but we do know that in 1772-1773 he made two missionary journeys to the Indians of the Ohio Valley, and then he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist Church at Freehold, New Jersey. In April 1775 he accepted a call to the pulpit of the Valley Baptist Church.

He was one of the earliest advocates of freedom for the colonies from Great Britain, and he was constant and vehement, through voice and pen, in pointing out the injustices he believed the colonists suffered.

When, in 1776, the break finally came, we are told that he entered his pulpit on the next Sabbath wearing a cloak completely covering his other clothing. His sermon was entitled "Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless", and when he finished he threw off the cloak and stood before the congregation in a Continental Army uniform.

The exact accuracy of this scene is not authenticated, but that he did preach such a sermon, not once but many times, is a fact, and his favorite text was from Nehemiah 4:14 which says: "And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be ye not afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses."

He received a leave of absence from the congregation, and became a chaplain for the troops serving first under Gates and St. Clair, and then with General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, from 1777 through 1785.

He must have been a tremendous figure during the Revolution. We know that his sermons and prayers to and for the troops were so antagonistic to the British that they put a price on his head, and, during the winter at Valley Forge, tried to capture him. Not doing so, they stole everything that they could lay their hands on from his parsonage and from the Meeting House, including "2 pewter dishes, 2 pewter pints, 1 diaper table cloth, 1 Bible of the English language, a change of raiment [sic] for the administration of baptism, viz: 2 linen shirts, 1 pair of linen drawers; the lock of the chest the goods were in, the sexton1s tools for burying, 1 grubbinghoe, 1 spade; and all the fencing around the house and Church".

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His value to the cause of the Revolution went far beyond lifting morale. He had a respectable knowledge of medicine and surgery and was very helpful in treating the wounded. His knowledge of the countryside was of great value and he volunteered for many hazardous jobs in reconnoitering the enemy. We have preserved for us this portion of a letter written by Anthony Wayne at Fort Ticonderoga to Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia on July 29th, 1776:

"Dear sir, We are so far removed from the seat of Govern't or the free and independent states of America — and such an Insurmountable Barrier, Albany, between us that not one letter, or the least intelligence of anything that's doing with you can reach us, Through the medium of my Chaplain (the Rev. Mr. Jones), I hope this will reach you as he has promised to blow out any man's brains who will attempt to take it from him."

Davey was with the troops in the Battle of Brandywine, narrowly escaped death at the Paoli Massacre, was in the Battle of Germantown, and wintered at Valley Forge. One of the most charming stories about him during the Valley Forge encampment relates:

"He obtained a furlough to visit his family. As he was returning he was passing Lewis Ford Road and approached the White Horse Tavern. As he drew near he espied a dragoon's horse tied to the post in front, and a hasty glance convinced him that the owner was an enemy. He moved up and very quietly dismounting he went into the Tavern, with his pistol cocked. On opening the bar-room door, he saw a British dragoon very leisurely drinking and little expecting surprise. 'Surrender,' cried the Chaplain, 'You are my prisoner.' The soldier saw resistance was useless as the Chaplain had the precaution to secure the soldier's pistols and weapons. The soldier was then ordered to mount and the Chaplain also mounting made him ride on before. Thus they rode on until they approached the American lines. The word was passed and when they arrived at Headquarters the whole camp was assembled to witness the novel scene of the Chaplain with a prisoner. The event created much merriment among our forces, and the story some how or other was carried to the British Army then in possession of Phila. In the course of time, the captured dragoon was exchanged and reached his own troop, but he was so ridiculed for having allowed himself to be captured by a Chaplain, that he deserted — to escape the raillery and the taunts of his fellows."

Following the Revolution, Jones took the pastorate of the Baptist Church at Southhampton for several years, returning to his farm in Tredyffrin in 1792 when he again took the pulpit of the Valley Church, but for only a year.

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Many of the Indian tribes of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, urged on by the British, were constantly battling the colonists on the frontier, and Anthony Wayne had been appointed to command the army that was to quell this uprising. Again, Davey Jones left the church to join Wayne as Chaplain, and again he gave invaluable service through his knowledge of the country and the ways of the Indians, We do not know if his return in 1796 was prompted by the end of the Indian uprising, or by the death of General Wayne, who succumbed to pneumonia at Fort Niagara and was buried at Presque Isle.

At any event, David Jones returned to the Valley for a period of some 15 years of comparative peace and quiet. During this period the present Meeting House was erected, in 1805, and Dr. Jones also engaged in some lively theological debate and writing. He also preached the re-interrment service for Anthony Wayne, whose body was brought back to St. David's Churchyard from near Erie in 1809 by his son, Colonel Isaac Wayne.

One of the prime differences of opinion between the Welsh and the English Baptists was over the "laying on of hands" upon baptised people upon their entering the membership of the church. The Welsh believed in it, the English did not, and Dr. Jones wrote, in 1805, a treatise on the subject entitled "A True History of Laying on of Hands upon Baptised Believers as Such; in answer to a hand-bill, intitled, A Brief History of the Imposition of Hands on Baptised Persons; published by Samuel Jones, D.D., wherein his mistakes are Attempted to be Corrected". (You now can understand the origin of my somewhat lengthy sub-title of this paper!)

We also have a copy of the book he wrote in 1811 entitled "Peter Edwards's Candid Reasons Examined and Answered", in which he speaks of his belief in the unscripturalness of the baptising of infants. If I knew nothing else of the man save one quotation from this book, it would be enough completely to endear him to me, for on page four he says: "I acknowledge that every branch of antichrist must be consumed by the Spirit of God; and when the happy times comes, there will be no dispute about the subjects of baptism, nor the mode of it. While matters are as they are, we should learn moderation towards them who are not of our opinion; but this should not relax our search after truth: for every part of truth should be highly esteemed by us; but it should never be carried so far as to have a spiteful hatred to them that dissent from us."

In the year 1812, the Reverend Doctor David Jones was 76 years of age. He had lived a very full life, a very active life, and one would naturally think he was more than ready for the pasture. But in 1812 his country was again at war with Great Britain, and so David Jones, 76 years of age, volunteered and was appointed Chaplain in the Northern Department of the Army. An American officer on the Canadian frontier reports the arrival of Chaplain Jones: "When the venerable chaplain arrived at the lines he held religious service, and such was the patriotic fervor of the prayer with which it was concluded, that the troops spontaneously responded with three hearty cheers."

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Following this war, he returned to the Valley, and was quite in demand as a public speaker, apart from his ministry at the Church. He gave the address, in 1817, at the dedication of the first monument erected at the site of the Paoli Massacre.

Finally, at the age of 83, he died on February 5, 1820. He was a man.

Obviously, it is impossible to spend this much time for other members of our Church. But let me try to give you a slight feeling for some of the rest of these early Baptists, particularly those during the period from 1790 to 1845. We have rather complete records of the minutes taken at the monthly Church meetings they held in those days. (Our earliest record books go back to 1740, but are not complete.) Some excerpts from these minutes will give you an idea of these ancestors of ours, and the type of things that interested them and bothered them. And notice too the good Calvinism that is evident, and the little Theocracy that existed in and through the Valley Baptist Church, They were, according to the evidence, the civil as well as the spiritual authorities.

"Concluded that Jonathan Phillips should buy an English Bible for the use of the Church which he did, the cost to be paid him by the members." (July 26, 1788)

"One George Bastfield made application to be admitted a member of our Church; he being baptised by immersion and a member of the Church in London, where one William Clark was pastor, but not holding and practising the same gospel with us; especially the laying on of hands on baptised believers as such, he was exhorted to peruse in the month following our comfession of faith and also a piece set forth by our Minister, David Jones sometime ago in vindication of laying on of hands." (April 26, 1794)

"Agreed that 100 apple trees shall be planted on the Par­sonage Farm." (February 21, 1795)

"Whereas a dispute subsists between Michael McClees and Daniel Cornog respecting 26 pounds 12 shillings, the Church wishes Thomas Davis to appear before the Church next meeting of Business, as it is alleged he can give light on the subject." (March 26, 1796)

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"Deacon Pugh mentioned that Pierson Kutchen had left this neighborhood in a very improper manner. He believed he went away without informing his creditors of his intended departure. On motion it was agreed that Deacon Pugh be appointed to write to him, and by further inquiry into the case be enabled to make a report at our next Church meeting.

"Brother Thomas Jones informed the Church that Sister Rachel Taylor had joined herself with the Episcopal Church, that he had visited said Sister and she appeared to express no great concern at leaving the Baptists. Therefore it was agreed that the right hand of fellowship be withdrawn from her and she be struck off from being a member with us." (January 19, 1800)

"Whereas the Baptist Church and congregation have concluded to build a new meeting house, and some have wished to know, whether when the Baptists are not using the house, regular ministers of other denominations may have the privilege of preaching in the house. Resolve, that all regular ministers in good standing in their own society holding the Doctrine of Grace according to the Calvinistic System shall have the privilege of preaching in said house when the Baptists are not using it." (November 26, 1804)

"Resolved that whereas there are some unfavorable reports respecting the moral character of Sarah McCarken, Jonathan Phillips and David George are appointed to inquire into the truth of them and report at the next meeting of business." (November 26, 1804.)

(At the next meeting, on December 22, 1804., it was noted: "The persons appointed to investigate Sarah McCarken say she is dead. This is their report.")

"Whereas at a special Church meeting it was voted that the site of the meeting house should be at the upper end of the graveyard: the vote was carried only by one, and whereas that situation did not meet the approbation of many in the Church and Congregation and as we are exhorted that nothing should be done through strife, the Church resolves that for accommodation the meeting house shall be built west of the road and north of the schoolhouse within the bounds of four stakes planted by consent this day.

"Resolved that the Church will on no account interfere with the committee in the future neither respecting the situa­tion, nor the building the house." (December 22, 1804.)

"Whereas it is reported that Brother James Abraham is said to have lately hawled in his grain on the Lordfs day, the Church hath not freedom to admit him to communion before the subject is investigated, resolved that Brother David Jones and Jonathan Phillips wait on him and inform him the report hath given much offense to his brethren and report the conversation next church meeting." (July 26, 1804.)

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(In the follow-up, it was reported on September 27, 1806: "David Jones and Jonathan Phillips report that they visited James Abraham and conversed with him and his wife, reporting hawling in grain on Lord' s Day — Brother Abraham acknowledged the fact, but said the farm was on rent to his Son, nevertheless he said had he peremptorily forbid it, he believed his son would not have done it. His wife said positively it should not be done any more, and in the whole conversation nothing was said in favor of the fact.")

"Enoch Jones reported that he can have fifty dollars and . trifle more for the old meeting house, agreed that he shall receive the said sum, provided the cash is paid." (March 21, 1810)

(The sale was consummated, for on April 21, 1810: "Enoch Jones reported that he has sold the old meeting house for fifty-five dollars, fifty of which he received, and by order of the church, paid it to Jonathan Phillips, Treasurer, who is to apply it toward the paying for the new meeting house, and the remaining five dollars to be applied to the same purpose.")

"We had no church meeting since April last, our Pastor be­ing absent and not any urgent business demanding one," (October, 1812)

"A considerable number of members being present, Isaac Alexander, a man of colour, offered for baptism and the privileges of membership of the Church, after having related his exercise of mind, the church being satisfied in a judgment of Charity, therewith direct that he be baptised tomorrow." (August 23, 1817)

This actually is the third "man of colour" admitted to the membership. The first was one Harry Coats, admitted on September 25, 1762, and the second, William Lawrence, was admitted on November 24, 1787. As far as I can determine, there were at least twelve more colored members admitted before 1841, including Minty Alexander in 1818; Grace Flower, 1824; Clara Julass, 1832; Jane Lemmon, 1832; Sarah Irons, 1832; David Miller, 1833; Sarah Johnsom, 1833, Joseph Jenkins, I834; Phyllis Burr, 1836; Mary Ann Small, 1837; Jane Small, 1840, and Hannah Bowman, 1841.

Minty Alexander, who was received by baptism on April 25, 1818, was the wife of Isaac Alexander. We also read that on December 25, 1819, Isaac Alexander and his wife requested Letters of Dismission from us to go to Africa; their request was granted. (You will also notice the date of this business meeting was December 25; this is just one of many business meetings that were held on this date, and there is never a mention of the fact of it being Christmas.

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Apparently, there was no particular celebration of this as the birth day of Jesus during these years.)

"Resolved that a pew committee be appointed whose duty it shall be to rent the Pews; to collect all money in arrears for pew rent; to collect the rent thereof as it may in the future become due, and pay the same over to the Treasurer." (May 7, 1818)

"Whereas it has not been customary heretofore for the women to have a vote in the transactions of the Church, resolved therefore that in the future the women shall be entitled to a vote in all questions that may arise in the Church." (February 27, 1819)

(This resolution to allow the women the vote was to cause a bit of difficulty twenty-five years later. In the minutes of December, 1844, and January and February, 1845, we find that the women had apparently banded together and voted the minister, Charles B. Keyes, out of his position. In January, apparently the men got a majority together and passed a resolution stating that the resolution in 1819 was against the Church Charter, and was also unscriptural, citing I Timothy 2:11-12 and I Corinthians 14:34-35. The men then reelected Mr. Keyes as the minister of the Church. Then, in February, they returned the vote to the women.)

"After worship, David Lightmal and Charles O'Neil were examined for Baptism. The Church being satisfied, but their Baptism was put off for two weeks on account of the great scarcity of water, then they were both baptised in the River Schuylkill and received into the Church the next Communion season." (October, 1819)

"Agreed to send ten dollars by the hands of Elizabeth Catherine Given and Elizabeth Jones for the relief of our Sister Catherine Trainer who is helpless, and a fit object of our Charity," (March 21, 1821)

(This sort of thing was being done constantly.)

"It having been observed that our Brother Samuel Davis had not attended meeting for some time past, whereupon Brother Jonathan Phillips and J. Given were requested to call and see him and learn the cause of his ab­sence." (October 23, 1824.)

(At the next meeting, on November 27, 1824, it was noted: "Brethren Phillips and Given reported that they had called to see Brother Samuel Davis, who stated to them that it was his wish to attend meeting but he had engaged to attend one of the locks on the Schuylkill Cannal [sic], which his employers would not upon any occasion permit him at any time to leave, and on motion the report was accepted.")

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"The subject of instituting a Domestic Mission Society as auxiliary to the Philadelphia Baptist Mission Society being brought before the Church, it was on motion ordered, that brethren Daniel Abraham, Edward Siter, and Joshua Jones be a Committee to draught and report the form of a Constitution for said Society at our next Church meeting." (May 27, 1826)

"Brother Brown, our Pastor, having at the insistence of the Baptist General Convention for Missionary purposes, agreed to visit Milesburgh in Chester County, to preach the Gospel and confer with their Brethren in Missionary arrangements relative to destitute regions of our state, it is on motion received that Brother Brown's expenses in said journey be defrayed out of the funds of our Domestic Mission Society." (September 26, 1829)

"Resolved that Brothers Phineas Phillips and S. D. Phillips visit Brother George Crow for the purpose of as­certaining the probable amount of his debts, and make report at the next meeting." (February 26, 1831)

(At the next meeting, on March 27, 1831: "The Committee in Brother Crow's case made report and were discharged. On motion, resolved that the sum of 20 dollars be paid to Brother George Crow out of the charity funds of the Church.")

"The Chairman of the committee appointed to wait on John Nugent who has for a considerable time failed to attend any meeting of worship with this Church, and has joined himself to 'the Methodists, made report that he had a lenghty conversation with him on the doctrine held by the Baptists. And although he having himself been immersed, he now believes that sprinkling was equally sufficient. He appeared not to approbate by any means the doctrine of the final perserverance of saints, and efficacious grace on the vocation of the elect — he also disapproved much of the close and separate communion practised by the Baptists. Therefore, on action made and agreed to, it was resolved that John Nugent be excluded from the privileges end fellowship of this Church." (July 26, 1854)

"In the case of Sister Ann Davis, Brother Richardson on part of the committee, reported that they had visited said sister who confessed and acknowledged that she had stolen a pair of over-shoes, but had since returned them, she said she had repented of her guilt and sincerely prayed to God for forgiveness and appeared to manifest sorrow and contrition, for the sin, But was unable to today before the Church, or would willingly have done so. The report was accepted and the committee discharged.

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But it was on motion agreed by the Church that she still be suspended untill [sic] she does attend before us so that the Church may have their minds without the least doubt of her repentence of so heinous a crime, and Brother Zimmerman Supplee was appointed to inform her of the order taken by the Church in her case." (February 21, 1835)

"The resolution of last Church Meeting for forming the Church into a Temperance Society was, on motion, indefinitely postponed." (May 23, 1835)

"We here record the death of our Coloured Brother William Lawrence. He was Baptised, November 24, 1787, at 20, by the Rev. Mr. Boggs. Died, March 31, 1842, having been a member of the Church 54 years and 4 months, and unimpeach­able in his Christian character." (April 21, 1842)

"Brother Joseph Jenkins, present, says he got weaned off from attendance with our Church by going to meetings of persons of his own colour. Says he looks to the time when he will belong to a Baptist Church of coloured persons. Says he intends to continue with us, and attend our meetings as often as he can, until he has the opportunity of joining a Baptist Church of his own colour." (March 19, 1846)

As you can well imagine, these excerpts only begin to tell about the life and concerns of these early Baptists. I only wish that I had the time and that you had the patience to delve further into their lives. It is only a slightly developed negative of a few of the Beddydiwrs who were in this area a century and a half ago.

As our congregations inevitably have to discover about us today, these people were human beings, loving and laughing, being concerned over trivialities, worrying about their proper role in life and if they would get a good roll in life after death, and trying to interpret that strange and wonderful phenomenon known as Jesus Christ.

How are we different? Not much, save for time and standard of physical living, and the ability to look at them more objectively than we can look at ourselves.


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