The Presbyterian Church of Wells and Columbia
at Aspinwall (now Coryland), Wells Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Church Organization and Membership 1832-1931
The fiftieth anniversary of the life of a nation, church or individual, is an event of no small importance. Believing this, after consulting the officers, members and friends of the Presbyterian Church of Wells and Columbia, the present pastor invited the former ministers, members and friends, to a reunion and celebration on the 22nd day of February, 1882. He also desired Rev. Joel Jewell, who had labored here sixteen years, to deliver a historical discourse.
The exercises commenced on the evening of February 21st, by a sermon from Rev. Elias S. Schenck, a former pastor. At 11 o’clock A.M., on the 22nd Mr. Jewell delivered the historical address, to a large and deeply interested congregation. By vote of the assembly, a copy of the discourse was solicited for publication. After the address, a bountiful lunch was served by the ladies, in the Odd Fellows’ Hall. Then the concourse returned to the house of the Lord, to enjoy a pleasant re-union - a lively reminiscence meeting, interspersed with singing. Brief speeches were made by pastors, Jewell, Califf, Jervis, Schenck, Armstrong, and S. P. Gates of Canton. Brother Entwissel, of the Baptist church of Columbia and Wells, also presented congratulations and good wishes. We were permitted to hear from T. Manley and J. O. Randall, of Canton; E. E. Dillistin, of Elmira; and J. J. Vannoy, of West Burlington. Letters were likewise read from absentees. In the evening a sermon was preached by Rev. S. A. Califf.
The friends of the society desire to put the history of the church, so diligently and ably gathered up by Father Jewell - who is now in his eightieth year - into a permanent form, for the benefit of succeeding generations, as well as the present; and for the glory of God, who sometimes honors "the day of small things."
Hallock Armstrong, Pastor,
by Rev. Joel Jewell
The first religious society of any description in this portion (northwestern) of Bradford County was constituted in 1795. Rev. Daniel Thatcher, a Home Missionary of our General Assembly, found several Presbyterian families above the State Line, at what is now the village of Wells (now Mosherville), and organized them as a branch of the church which he at the same time constituted at Newtown, now Elmira. The members soon moved away to parts unknown, and thus ended that society.
The first minister of the Gospel to settle in these parts, was Rev. John Smith, of Dighton, Massachusetts. He came to Canandaigua about 1790, where he gathered the first church in all western New York. Mr. Smith located here, under the Connecticut title, on what has been known as the Beckwith farm, about 1798 or 1800, and preached in this town for several years. He visited his old place here once, after moving west; and the inhabitants of the wilderness, from Aspinwall (now Coryland, Wells township) to Pine Woods (now Pine City, Chemung County, New York), gathered to hear him. Numbers were deeply impressed, while the old patriarch solemnly read the first hymn. The Presbyterian church of Wells and Columbia, whose fiftieth anniversary we this day celebrate, was organized by a committee of the Presbytery of Bath, consisting of Rev. William Farnsworth, of Elmira, Rev. B. Foster Pratt and Elder William Wells, both of Southport. They met for this purpose, on the 22nd of February, 1832, in a small log building, located on the northeast angle of the street, and known as the Roe, or Aspinwall school house (present junction of Coryland, Old Hickory, and Baptist Hill Roads in southern Wells township). It was a cold wintry day, and difficult to keep warm, with a blazing fire of logs in one end of the hut. "The word of the Lord was precious in those days," therefore, the two ministers concluded to preach at the same time. One took his station one side of the fire, the other on the opposite side, with the audience between them, and before the fire. Brother F. named the text, Luke 12:32. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." When he had expounded the first part of the verse, he gave way to brother P. to finish with the rest, and apply; after which the church was formed, and elders elected and installed. The original fifteen members were Peter, Elizabeth, Hannah and Harris Odell, John and Margaret Reed, James O. Randall, Partial Mapes, Jane, Latutia and Nancy Wilson, Sarah Longwell, Sally Wright, Sally Holley, and Joseph O. Gordon. Of the above, Sally Wright remained in connection 34 years, until her removal by death. Three of these are still living, but are not at present connected with this body; J. O. Randall of Canton, Pa. is now a useful Elder in a sister church, J. O. Gordon, of Wells, after living in skepticism more than 29 years, is just now returning to the faith of his earlier, happier days. and Mrs. Nancy Rockwell, of Roseville, Pa. At the time of the organization, John Reed and Partial Mapes were chosen elders. The former was excommunicated after three years; the latter was dismissed by letter in 1837. Eventually he returned to the neighborhood, and died in triumphant, in 1869.
Rev. David Harrower, was our stated supply, ministering occasionally, on a mere nominal stipend, for about three years. He spent his old age at Lindley, near Lawrenceville, Pa.
The church had severe trials from the first, as witnesseth the excommunications, dismissals and deaths. Especially was it grievous to expel an elder; to dismiss such men as Seth B. Nelson; and to lose by death, in four days time, the highly esteemed Morris Shepard and wife.
Rev. Stephen Sargeant, was employed for one year, from April 1834. He lived to a good old age in the west. The receptions to the church were ten in 1832, four in ’34, and six in ’35, at which time two elders were chosen: William Brasted, who served the church for thirty-seven years, until removed by death; and Garret Compton, who officiated for ten years, until dismissed by letter.
Rev. Egbert E. Roosa, supplied the church, in conjunction with North Wells, from ’36 to ’38. Fifteen united by letter in ’36, on account of a large emigration from New Jersey. In ’37, James Fries was chosen an elder, served three years. The year 1838 was commenced by a precious work of the Holy Spirit, attending the labors of Rev. George Spaulding, of Southport, who assisted Mr. Roosa. The additions were ten. Mr. Roosa eventually became a colporteur of the American Tract Society, and by over work and exposure hastened his death, which occurred at Elmira, Oct. 14th, 1855, at the age of 63.
Rev. David A. Abbey, was stated supply for six months in ’38. He died at Apalachin, N. Y., Dec. 6, 1865, aged 52.
This house for divine worship was built in 1839, while you were destitute of a pastor; but "the people hand a mind to work." The job was taken for $900 by James Gordon, besides the foundation. The sanctuary being completed, and paid for, Philemon H. Fowler, D. D., of Elmira, by invitation preached for the dedication sermon, Oct. 24, 1840, assisted in the service by Rev. G. Spaulding, and Rev. E. E. Roosa. One member was received that year.
Rev. Simeon Jones volunteered his services, chiefly to fight the battles between Old School and New. He was required by resolution of session, June 11, 1841, to discontinue his appointments, which he did.
Rev. Henry Ford commenced his labors here, in conjunction with North Wells, Aug. 8, 1841, with the full concurrence of the session, which consisted of Brasted, Compton and Fries. For two years Father Ford faithfully visited the people, and met his appointments over the hills on foot; using the south-east porch of the Lord’s house for a study and bed-chamber, where he had the boys come and recite their catechism at evening. In the spring of ’42, as he informs us, the communion season was postponed two weeks, for a special family visitation, "when the solemnity was observed with more than ordinary interest." Mr. Ford became a faithful Colporteur, and over-working city Missionary, dying at Elmira, Nov. 5, 1848, aged 65 years. One member was received in 1842.
The Charter of the society was granted May 11, 1843; on the petition of James Roe, Wm. Osborne, Edward A. Ayers, Jesse Shepard, Nathan Shepard, Jehiel Ayers, Silas Odell, John A. Ayers, William Brasted, John H. Cole, John McMullen, Esdras Rich, A. P. Bowman and Albion Budd. The first Board of Trustees consisted of Edson Aspinwall, Albion Budd, James Roe, Jesse Shepard, William Brasted, and Thomas D. Gustin.
Rev. Joseph L. Riggs supplied the church three and half years, from Aug. 25, 1843. Probably he continued to encounter the fatigue of the hills, and severity of the climate longer than he should. He died at Elmira, N. Y., August 20, 1865, aged 55.
In 1844, as the church declined to withdraw from that branch of the Presbyterian body with which it had always been connected, for the sake of uniting with another school; one elder, and six other members were induced by a neighboring pastor, to transfer their names to Troy. Now, as these persons were twelve miles away over the hills from their "names," the only result was to destroy their usefulness, and promote discord. This year there were five additions; and James K. Shepard was elected an elder, serving until dismissed by letter in 1857.
The year ’46 was one in which the Lord appeared in mercy to build up Zion. Rev. Octavius Fitch assisted Mr. Riggs in January and February, Rev. Joel Jewell also preaching six discourses. The members received this year were thirteen.
Rev. Benjamin Wells commenced his labors Nov. 1, 1847, and continued two years. He was ordained as an Evangelist in this house Nov. 2, 1847; Rev. P. H. Fowler, of Elmira, preaching the sermon, and Rev. J. F. Calkins, of Wellsboro, delivering the charge. Three persons united with the church during his ministry. He, and the wife he married while with you, are still living at White Bear Lake, Minnesota. One member received in ’49. In ’50, Jesse Shepard was ordained to the eldership, and took a letter in ’62. One member united in 1850.
Rev. Joel Jewell commenced to supply this church April 1, 1852. It had been vacant eighteen months, and reduced in various ways, so that we found, twenty years after its organization, but thirty-seven members of the church roll. The ruling elders were William Brasted and Jesse Shephard; both serving also as deacons. Mr. Jewell extended his labors in every direction, even as far as Sullivan, Rutland, Jackson, State Line, Columbia Cross Roads and Sylvania; continuing without interruption for eleven years. In the spring of 1863, there being some desire for a change manifested, he returned to a former flock in New York for two years.
Rev. Nathaniel E. Pierson supplied the church for five months in 1863, and there were five additions. Mr. Pierson’s death occurred at Escanaba, Mich., May 19, 1872, aged 58.
In 1865, the pulpit having been vacant for nearly two years, Mr. Jewell was recalled, by the unity of desire manifested, by a tempting salary of $350 per annum, and by an effort of abundance of work. He now remained five years longer; thus spending sixteen years in this community, in the vigor of manhood, and without disappointing a single congregation by failing to fill an appointment. The receptions to the church were as follows: In 1852, two; in ’53 the Lord graciously revived us, and there were twelve, two of whom are in the Presbyterian ministry. In ’54 there were nine, three of them having since become elders. In ’55 there were seven; one of them in his last illness, at his own home, was baptised and received. We refer to John A. Ayers. After this consolation was administered to others in similar circumstances. To George K. Shepard, May 9th, 1856, and to Augustin Wright, March 8th, 1860. This year (1855) the society bought a manse, containing about eight acres, of Dr. J. H. Cole, for $900; very much through the efforts of Jehiel Ayers and Nathan Shepard. From this time you had a home for the pastor. In 1856 there were two additions; in ’57, one; and in ’58 five. In 1859 there was another precious in gathering of eighteen. Four of these went into the army of the Union. Two passed through uninjured; one is preaching the gospel in Nebraska, and one making himself useful in Mich. The other two did not return, for they laid their lives on their country’s altar. Brainard T. Compton, after the battle of Gettysburg, was admitted to the hospital at Alexandria, where he died Oct. 6, 1863. Samuel Morey was shot on the sanguinary fields of Virginia, Oct. 27, 1864; and in the same action fell that excellent young companion, Charlie Brink. John H. Yeomans laid down his life for his country, also. In 1860 the additions were two, in 1861, 1; when Silas Jewell became an elder for four years, at which time he took a letter. In 1862 four were received. The parsonage being burnt on the 10th of May, with nearly all of the minister’s goods, the society resolved to rebuild. After offering the job for some time, to the lowest and best bidder, the trustees concluded to let the carpenter work, including doors, windows, furnishing materials, and one coat of paint, to their minister; who resumed his old trade, lived in a board shanty, and built the house for $376. The outlay for cellar etc. was $98.30. In 1863 there were five additions. The society paid $257 to repair the church, and $180 for an organ; John Brasted taking the lead in these improvements. Most of the previous repairs and paintings of the church and parsonage, had been done by the pastor, the society furnishing the material. This year four elders were chosen: George Kymer, until his death in ’77; Peter R. Knapp, until his death in ’75; John Brasted, until dismissed in ’73; and Edward E. Dillistin, until dismissed in ’76. In 1865 there was one member added; in ’66, thirteen; in ’68, two, and in ’70, three. This year James O. Randall, an original member of the church, became an elder for four years, at the end of which time he returned to Canton. Mr. Jewell, being led to understand that "A new broom sweeps clean," quietly withdrew, in April, 1870, to one corner of the extensive field which he has labored for thirty years to cultivate; and thus closed his particular responsibility to this long loved church, only regretting that the well filled sheaves had not been more abundant for the glorious harvest-home. The church, notwithstanding numerous drawbacks and removals, had increased in numbers during his ministry, from thirty-seven to seventy-seven members.
Rev. Stephen A. Califf was stated supply for two years, from 1870 to ’72. Two members were received in ’71, and two in ’72. Mr. Califf is now preaching at McIntyre, Pa.
Rev. Timothy B. Jervis came Nov. 1, 1872, and remained three years. He was the first, and only "settled" pastor you have had; being installed over you, in this house, under the Sustentation scheme, Dec. 10, 1872. Rev. Stephen P. Gates preached the sermon, Rev. Stephen Torrey charged the pastor, and Rev. Joel Jewell acted as Moderator, and charged the people. In 1873 there were five additions; in ’74, there were four; and James Lane and Dunning Killgore added to the session. In 1875 the "Pisgah Praying Band" labored for some time here, and the additions were twelve; in ’76, two. Mr. Jervis retired to Elmira.
Rev. Elias S. Schenck commenced preaching here at Aspinwall in the spring of ’77, and continued about two and a half years. The following elders were installed in ’77, viz: Nelson Wolf, Wm. C. Killgore, Alden Swayze and Edson Knapp. Mr. Schenck is now preaching at Arnot, Pa.
Rev. Ashbel Green Harned commenced his labors here auspiciously in 1880; continued about eight months; went to Philadelphia for medical treatment, and died Oct. 14th, 1881; leaving our pulpit again vacant. Two additions to the church.
Rev. Hallock Armstrong took charge of the flock, July, 1881; and two have united with the church. Long may he continue to "feed the flock of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Large and precious may the increase be, resulting from the harmonious labors of pastor and people, accompanied with the blessing of the Great Shepherd.
The whole number of names enrolled have been about 200, of these, four have been excommunicated; twenty-three removed without letters; sixty one obtained certificates; thirty-nine have died, nearly all sleeping in the city of the dead hard by this house of God; and there are at the present time, seventy-three resident and non-resident communicants. The ruling elders have been twenty one; and the session consists, at present, of five members. The following is a list of members received since the organization: In 1832, Thomas Wright, John W. Mapes, James and Esther Gordon, Geo. and Mary Wilson, Jno. Longwell, Tho. Haikes, Catherine Baker, Hannah McWhorter; in 1834, James and Elizabeth Roe, William and Eliza Ann Brasted; in 1835, Morris and Eleanor Shepard, Garret and Anna Compton; in 1836 all by letter, Seth B. Nelson, Jesse and Mary Shepard, Silas and Mary Odell, Huldah Westfall, James, Margaret and Margaret Fries, Wilhemus, Sarah, Abraham and Jane Westbrook, Alexander and Rosanna Cummings; in 1838, Dennis and Ann Lewis, Joseph Holley, Martin, James M., Lydia and Elizabeth Fries, Mary Ann Crawford, John H. and Lydia Killgore; in 1842, Elizabeth Gibson; in 1844, Elizabeth Ayers, Elizabeth Corey, James K. and Emeline Shepard, Elizabeth, Mehetabel Maria and Alden Swayze; in 1846, Wm. M., Wm. H. and Mary Elizabeth Corey, Wm. C. Killgore, Aaron, Sally and Elizabeth Wright, Horace and Eliza Dunning, John Gustin, Betsey Gordon, Nathan and Jane Shepard; in 1848, Caroline Swayze, Mary E. Wells; in 1849, Rebecca Brasted since wife of Alfred Hammond; in 1850, James Brasted Sr.; in 1852, Mary Jewell, Amelia D. Brasted now Shepard; in 1853, Joseph H., David A., Nancy A., and Joel S. Jewell, Elizabeth J. Brink, Julia Gordon, Margaret R. Gustin, Arminda Dunning since Sweet, Robert, Sally Jane, Mary Ann and Esther Jane Quell; in 1854, Huldah J. Jewell, John Brasted, Peter R. Knapp, Rebecca Smith, Edward E. and Lucy A. Dillistin, Margaret Wilson since Relyea, Charity and Sarah Amelia Ayers; in 1855, Geo. Kymer and Miriam Kymer, Sarah Leonard, Anna Gustin, Maria Vannoy, John A. and Catherine Ayers; in 1856, Emily Smith, Adelia Brasted, Geo. K. Shephard; in 1857, Mary Jane Bailey; in 1858, Allen W., Cornelia D. and Rosilla Ayers, Ezra D. and Martha Jane Lewis; in 1859, Samuel Morey, Brainard T. and Orville Compton, Jno. J. Vannoy, Dunning Killgore, Andrew P. and Sarah Brink, Julia Ann Corey, Catherine and Dorleski A. Cole, Robert Holley, Robert Roloson, Mary Ann Knapp, James R. Brasted, Nathaniel Smith, Jas. Gordon, Calvin P. and Mary B. Jewell since Shepard; in 1860, Augustin Wright, Margaret and Harriet Melvina Quell; in 1861, Silas Jewell; in 1862, James R., Lydia Ann and Mary Lewis; in 1863, Susan M. Hayes, Mrs. R. B. Pierson, James, Jane and Amanda Lane; in 1866, Owen, Amanda, Melvina and Jennette Wright, Amy Knapp, Wm. H. Jewell, Mary Jane Corey, Annie E. Brink, Sarah E. Ayers, Hiram, Sarah E., Henry F. and Schuyler Swayze; in 1868, James O. and Sarah Ann Randall; in 1870, George W. Mosher, Alonzo and Martha Jane Meeker; in 1871, Emily M. Califf, Carrie A. VanAuken; in 1872, John S. and Martha Decker; in 1873, Mary A. Jervis, Sarah A. Shepard, H. C. Lewis, James A. and Angeline Wilson; in 1874, Harriet R. Jones, Mrs. H. Gee, Esther French, Abigail Wilson; in 1875, Eugene H. and Emily I. Ribble, Peter H. and Laura A. Struble, Catherine Beardslee, Marcus Berray, Chas. J. Wilson, Edson Knapp, Alice I. Cole, Nelson, Cecilia C. and Mary F. Wolf; in 1876, Sarah J. Shepard, Nannie May Dillistin; in 1880, Cora T. and Harriet D. Harned; in 1881, Ruth H. Armstrong; in 1882, Mary M. Armstrong.
1887 Frances Emeline Knapp Dead
1888 E. A. Kilgore Silas A. Gregg Dead
Ester M. Gregg Dead
Julia Ann Ayers Dead
Grace H. Cory Dismissed to Mansfield
George Roy Dismissed to Horseheads
Maggie J. Roy Dismissed to Horseheads
Louise S. Kilgore
Ida M. Kilgore Dismissed
Jennie Knapp Absentee
Stephen Brink Elmira Absentee
Susie Brink Elmira Dead
Mary Wilson Mich Dead
Clara M. Leonard Absentee
Nannie B. McClure Dismissed
1889 J. Spencer Jewell Absent
Helen A. Wood Mansfield Absent
1891 Georgiana Swayze Elmira Absent
Katie Kilgore Roy
Judson L. Kilgore Dismissed
1894 Leman Cory Absent
Sarah Delcamp Dead
Grace Jewell Dismissed to Painted Post Minnie B. Leonard Elmira
1899 Alice McLean
Lydia Ellen Kilgore Bucy Absent
1901 Sarah E. Osgood Dead
Josiah B. Wilcox Dead
Jennie Wilcox Dead
1910 Floyd J. Wilson Absent
Wayne H. Rockwell Absent
Edson E. Johnson Absent
Ida M. Lisk Dead
Pearl Knapp Dead
Berdena Mae Kilgore Noble Dismissed
Roy D. Kilgore Dismissed
1916 Harold Z. Roy
William Bucy Absent
Lynn Albert Kilgore
Lisle Everett Absent
John Henry Dunbar Absent
Albert Donald Roy
Charles Henry Sweeney Absent
Inez Isabel Wilson Dismissed to Elmira
Lela Moon Absent
1926 Julia Palmer
Alice Lewis Roy
Esther Kilgore Warner
1927 Frank Palmer
1930 Glenn Dewey
1931 Ruth B. Wilson
Mrs. Lytt Warner
Maurice J. Warner
Esther Roy Ayers up to this time is the oldest member
J. Kelsey Jones
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