Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Bradford County PA
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1940 Centennial of Covington Baptist Church, Tioga County PA
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1940 Elmira Star-Gazette Article Submitted by Connie Wilcox
and by Joyce M. Tice from the Mabel HILFIGER "Benson " scrapbook
Postcard at right sent in by Esther MAYS Harer
Captions retyped by Stephen Kovacs & Ronni
Formatted & Published by Joyce M. Tice 2004 / 2005
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Covington Baptist Church to Note 100th Anniversary in October
Covington – The 100th anniversary of the First Baptist Church at Covington will be celebrated in October with a program of activities now being planned by the pastor, the Rev. Carl W. Wheeler, and various committees. A loyal membership, numbering approximately 200, comes from all parts of the compass in this vicinity, including Wellsboro, Eckland and Mansfield as well as Covington itself. The Sunday school numbers about 100 pupils with Arnold Johnson, of Mansfield, superintendent. Other church organizations include a strong Missionary society, their programs supporting the Faith missionaries in their independent work. This church, too, has contributed a number of individuals to the service of the church in various fields of activity, both missionaries and pastors. Each Sunday the Young Peoples’ society members visit the hospital near here and distribute tracts and magazines through the wards. At Christmas time they take gifts to the patients. They are also active in giving services in different localities. Deacons of the church are Herrick Wilcox, Cecil Palmer, of Mansfield, Edward Hendricks, of Mansfield, Charles Olney and Claude Wilcox. Trustees of the parish include E. B. Zimmer, Myron Elliott, Leon Butler, Ambrose Mason and Osmar Welch of Covington, and Charles Emberger, of Elkland. Recently the church was redecorated and a new hard wood floor laid. The church is now heated with gas and has been papered and painted throughout. The parsonage also has been redecorated and improved within the past year. Rev. Mr. Wheeler, the present pastor, was born in Susquehanna, Pa. He attended the Practical Bible Training School at Binghamton, N.Y, after which he served parishes in Western New York and New Jersey for 12 years and also supplied at Niagara Falls, N. Y. It was in this latter charge that he met and married Mrs. Wheeler. They have one child, a daughter. Although the church was organized 100 years ago, the present edifice was erected some years later, in 1835. The church originated from what was known as “{The Particular Baptist Church of Covington,” and according to the History of Tioga County, “after many vicissitudes and trials as a church organization finally adopted the rules of faith and practice of the regular Baptist denomination.” The original society known as the Covington Particular Baptist Church, derived its origin from the Particular Baptist Church of Sullivan, a society which, without any regular house of worship, was maintained a long period in Sullivan township by meeting for worship and business in the dwellings of its members. According to the historical data Elder George Spratt in 1839, an educated and talented minister from England, removed from the Shamokin church in Northumberland county, unite with the Sullivan church and became its pastor. He finally settled in Covington with his family and preached here in the morning and with the Sullivan members in the afternoon of the same day. When Elder Spratt commenced his ministry in Covington there were but three members of the Sullivan Baptist Church residing in Covington – Ephraim B. Gerould, Mrs. Sarah P. Kelts and Margaret Williams who were also the only Baptists in the township of Covington. It is on this date, Oct. 24, one hundred years later that the forthcoming centennial observance is being planned. The church met in the schoolhouse until 1855, when the present church was erected. By 1860 there were 63 members. The history of the church since then has been one of steady progress and influence for good in the community. Pastors of acknowledged ability and education have furthered the purposes of the church and at present it enjoys a loyal and large membership. This church is the parent of nearly all the prominent Baptist churches in the county, the Blossburg, Mansfield, Charleston, Darrt Settlement, Middlebury and other churches were organized by it and set aside as individual Baptist societies, and though perhaps the oldest church in the county but one, it is still one of the youngest in progressive spirit, service and zeal for the “Master’s cause” according to the History of Tioga County written in 1883.

THESE Star-Gazette photos show part of the crowd, which helped celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Covington Baptist Church Oct. 25-27.  (1940)

 Top right, Mrs. Lou Ella Harding Hutchenson as she dedicated new electric signboard, the gift of Mrs. Celia Harding Beese of Ft. Smith, Ark., a former member. Top center: The principal speaker, the Rev. Ralph W. Neighbour of New York, shown, at left, with the Rev. Carl Wheeler, pastor of the church.  Top right: Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Fargo of Vintondale. Mr. Fargo served as pastor from 1927 to 1929.
Below, left, older members attending were: Front row, from left, Mrs. T. J. Scaife, Mrs. Charles Redfield of Elmira, the oldest member, T. J. Scaife. Second row, Mrs. William Blanchard, Mrs. Charles Hoxie, Mrs. Lou Ella Hutchenson. Third row, Mrs. William Soper, Herrick Wilcox, Mrs. George Baker. 
At right are ministers of vicinity churches who paid their respects. Front row, from left, the Rev. Glen C. Dewey, Mainesburg; the Rev. C. Hildredth Wilcox, Horseheads; the Rev. Mr. Wheeler, the Rev. R. A. Fargo, Vintondale; the Rev. Charles Young, Watsontown. Second row, the Rev. Lee Chrum, Galeton; the Rev. Benjamin Kaselian, Cayuta, N.Y.; the Rev. A. Edwin Killam, Gibson, N.Y.; the Rev. Howard Horton, Prattsburg, N.Y.; the Rev. O. Phillips, Kingston, N.Y.; Third row: The Rev. Ira R. Foulk, Stony Fork; Mrs. G. Pearl Hubbell, Lambs Creek; the Rev. A. M. Shelton, Jackson, Ohio; the Rev. Robert D. Hubbell, Lambs Creek; the Rev. Ralph Neighbour, New York; the Rev. Lennon Hakes, Elmira Heights; the Rev. George Kyrk, Franklindale; the Rev. Homer Wetherbee, Troupsburg.
The One Hundredth Anniversary Of the Covington Baptist Church

1840 – 1940

Covington, Pa. Centennial Celebration October 25 – 27, 1940

A Message From the Pastor

In the providence of God we have had the joy of serving this church as the curtain of time was slowly descending upon one hundred years of active and progressive service proclaiming a living Christ to a dying world.

It is an added privilege to step across the threshold as a new page in the history of this church is turned, and new opportunities of service present themselves.

To the founders of the church, whose bodies have long since turned to dust, we stand in silent tribute. Theirs was a noble task, hewing out homes in a trackless, howling wilderness; building schools and erecting churches, that their posterity might grow in knowledge and favor with God and man.

But who can measure the influence of a single individual? Then who would dare to estimate the influences of a church spanning a century? After examining the record, we come to the conclusion reached by the writer of the Book of Hebrews. We understand his mood. His words ring in our hearts, "And what shall I say more.."

The invisible Church composed of true believers in the Blood of atonement of Christ is a supernatural institution, set forth to be a light and witness to the world. Its only message is the Good News that the Son of God, who gave His all upon Calvary’s rugged Cross, died that those who would believe in Him might live eternally.

May it be our humble prayer that this same Christ may be the Head of this local church. May it never be shackled with the tentacles of denominational authority. May it never have to stoop to mercenary plans and commercial schemes to keep its doors open. May it ever feed the hungry souls of men with the true Bread of Life and never appeal to the physical.

May it ever uphold the Word of God, preach the Blood of Christ and "look forward to the Blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

Carl W. Wheeler

Historical Sketch

By Mrs. E. B. Zimmer

For the earliest settlers of Covington the nearest trading points were Athens, Painted Post, and Williamsport. It was not long, however, that the settlers of Covington were dependent upon towns mentioned for supplies, but it was against this background that "Covington Four Corners" a little village grew up supplied with stores, shops, mills, hotels, churches and all necessary institutions of a thriving and prosperous community. Citizens were generally public spirited and for a quarter of a century Covington was the most favored and prosperous village in the county, and in 1831 the borough of Covington was organized preceding the county seat of Wellsboro by one year.

Probably no borough in the county has had so many stages of prosperity and depression as Covington. From 1820 to 1840 great improvements were made. During this period streets were opened on both sides of the river, and a general impetus was given to business by the erection of mills, factories, stores, hotels, schools, homes, and in this period our church was formed.

Until the close of this period settlements in Covington Township were confined chiefly to the banks of the Tioga River, but after 1840 settlers began extending out to the other well known roads surrounding Covington.

Among the early settlers of Elk Run road was Isaac Bliss, father of the celebrated evangelist and song writer, P. P. Bliss. Bliss wrote such songs as "Let the Lower Light Be Burning" and "My Redeemer." It was on this road that he spent several years of his young life working on a farm, and in lumber woods. It was there he was baptized, and became a member of the church. It is a well known fact as told by a former member of the church, Miss Effie Gerould, that Isaac Bliss brought his family down to Covington on Saturday night, spent the evening with her grandparents, Ephraim Bennet Gerould, and stayed until after the services in the Baptist Church the next day. The citizens of Covington during the later years of Mr. Bliss’ life took a deep interest in the success and popularity of one who had lived among them, attended their schools, sung in their midst and made the first efforts of his life in this locality.

Periodical meetings were held in Covington according to the Tioga County Record as early as 1809, and was in old Tioga Circuit which embraced all present territory in Troy district and more. Various denominations had their missionaries who ministered in Covington and vicinity. It was not, however, until 1840 that churches were organized, and the buildings erected for public worship, and it was at this time the Covington Baptist Church was formed.

The church originated from what was known as "The Particular Baptist Church of Covington" which after many vicissitudes and trials as a church organization finally adopted the rules of faith and practice of the regular Baptist denomination, and commenced its career about 1861. The original society known as the Covington Particular Church derived its origin from the Particular Baptist Church of Sullivan, a society which without any regular house of worship was maintained a long period of time in Sullivan Township by meeting for worship and business in the dwellings of its members.

According to the historical data, Elder George Spratt, in 1839, an educated and talented minister from England, removed from the Shamokin church in Northumberland County, united with the Sullivan church and became its pastor. He finally settled in Covington with his family and preached here in the morning and with the Sullivan members in the afternoon of the same day. When Elder Spratt commenced his ministry in Covington there were but three members of the Sullivan Baptist Church residing in Covington—Ephraim B. Gerould, Mrs. Sarah P. Kelts and Margaret Williams, who were the only Baptists in the township of Covington. In the course of a few years by conversion and by arrivals from other places there were added to the branch church in Covington about a dozen members, when steps were taken to form an independent organization in Covington by separation from the society in Sullivan and a church was formed in Covington, September 19th 1840.

The first regular business of the new church took place the same day at the district school house in Covington at which time a committee was appointed to draft an expression of church doctrine and a covenant, which were accented as the basis of a church on the 24th of October, 1940.

The church met in the schoolhouse until about the year 1855, when the present church was erected.

In 1860 there were 63 members. The history of the church since then has been one of steady progress and influence for good in the community. Pastors of acknowledged ability and education have furthered the purpose of the church and at present it enjoys a loyal and large membership.

This church, according to the history of Tioga County, is the parent of nearly all the prominent Baptist churches in the county, the Blossburg, Mansfield, Charleston, Dartt Settlement, Middlebury, and other churches were organized by it, and set aside as individual Baptist societies. Quoting from that same history, "and though perhaps ours in the oldest church in the county but one, it is still one of the youngest in progressive spirit, service, and zeal for the Master’s cause." Though this was stated of the church in the year 1860, this same spirit has been preserved to the present time, by loyal Christian members and pastors whose sole ambition has been to win the lost to God.

Observations from Church Officers and Organizations

From the Deacons – Mr. Claude Wilcox, Chairman

As members of the Board of Deacons, we have striven to meet the requirements of a deacon as given by God in His Word. Our work has been to administer Communion monthly, to examine and recommend the candidates for baptism, to extend to new members the right hand of fellowship, and to oversee the work and services of the church in the absence of the pastor. We are ready at all times to aid the pastor in any phase of his spiritual work.

We esteem it a privilege to hold the office of deacon, for the

Scripture says, "

They that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus".

From the Clerk – Mrs. Herrick Wilcox

To many it may seem trivial to keep a detailed account of our church life, but all of these details speak of the work and progress of our work and service.

There have been many additions and losses to our membership throughout the years. Marriages have taken place, children brought into our midst, and many of our membership have been called home to their reward. This has brought sorrow to us, but great joy to them.

The thing which has gladdened and encouraged our hearts the most has been the welcoming of new converts into the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ. This has been brought about mostly by the spiritual revivals and campaigns which we have been privileged to have, under the ministry of various evangelists and speakers.

May all this inspire each one of us to be faithful to the task which He has given us, for it is written, "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much."

From the Missionary Society -- Mrs. T. J. Scaife, Superintendent

The Woman’s Missionary Society of this church was organized March 1913, by Mrs. Nathaniel Johnstone, with nine charter members, President, Mrs. N. Johnstone; Vice President, Mrs. S. O. Putnam; Secretary, Mrs. Katherine Sutten; and Treasurer, Mrs. John Herrmann.

Meetings were held from month to month with a good attendance, new members being added at each meeting.

From that time on, the Lord has richly blessed us in our missionary work. At the present time we are helping to support independent missionaries in various parts of Africa, China and the Islands of the Sea. Also Home Missionaries in Arizona, Kentucky and Tennessee mountains. We support regularly the Practical Bible Training School in Binghamton, and help the poor and needy in our own community.

This work is supported only by free will offerings. The Lord has greatly blessed our efforts in helping those who have gone into various parts of the world to preach the Gospel.

From the Sunday School – Arnold Johnson, Superintendent

It has been repeatedly said, "the Sunday School is the West Point of the Church." It is here that children receive the teaching and training which molds their young lives for future service. It is here also that established Christians gain further knowledge which enables them to live that more perfect life for Christ.

Our Sunday School originated January 1, 1881, with Mr. F. M. Patchen as superintendent. In recent years remarkable progress has been shown in attendance. We believe this is due to the fact that nothing is taught except the unadulterated word of God. Most of our lessons are taken from the Bible itself without the aid of outside literature.

We rely upon no schemes to increase attendance, but rather on God’s Word, for He says if we "sow the seed, He will give the increase."

From the Trustees – Mr. Ambrose Mason, Chairman

The duty of the trustees is to maintain and repair the church property and to oversee all legal matters. It has only been with the co-operation of the church membership that progress has been made and plans carried out.

The exterior and interior of the parsonage has been remodeled and improved to the extent that it is now one of the most comfortable homes of the community.

Also many outstanding changes have taken place in the church; one of the major improvements being the installation of a new gas heating system. The interior has been improved and redecorated with new floors, side-paneling and rugs. The church has been newly roofed and repainted.

It is by the unity and fine spirit of the members of the church that all this has been accomplished. Their gifts have been given freely from hearts of love for the Lord’s work and His House of Worship.

From the Young People – Myron Elliott, President

Our Young People’s Society has been a vital and working organization through the years. We have found that much service for God has been accomplished through the four groups into which our Society has been divided. These groups are the Devotional Group, Service Group, Fellowship Group, and Stewardship Group, each having individual plans and purposes.

By such a division and with the co-operation of these groups a weekly visitation at the Blossburg State Hospital is made possible, and the work of the Lord furthered by the distribution of tracts, gospels and Sunday School papers there. We have seen man wonderful results because of this ministry and trust that God will continue to bless our efforts.

We have also been privileged to take charge of services in our own church and also in various other places.

Besides this the young people have sponsored much of the re-decorating in the parsonage and in the Sunday School class-rooms of the church.

The future of any church depends upon its young people and we pray for such spiritual growth that the future progress of this church may be assured.

Centennial Celebration Committees

Executive Committee

Composed of Deacons, Church Clerk, and Pastor

Reception and Registration

Mrs. Herrick Wilcox, Mrs. Myron Elliott


Mrs. T.J. Scaife, Mrs. F. Carlson, Mrs. Ambose Mason, Mrs. Floyd Beach


Mrs. Elisha Zimmer


Mrs. Wesley Brewer, Mrs. C.W. Wheeler, C.B. Zimmer


Theodore Scaife, William Hendricks


Mrs. F. Blanchard, Mrs. F. Lacey, Mrs. Wheeler

Hundredth Anniversary Speaker

Rev. Ralph Neighbour

The Rev. Mr. Neighbour is associate director of the Le Tourneau Evangelistic Center. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and his first experience in the Lord’s work was in the evangelistic field, in association with his father, the Rev. R.E. Neighbour, D. D. He served as pastor in PawPaw, Michigan, then founded a mission in Milford, Conn., and later became pastor of the First Baptist Church, Northumberland, Pa. His last pastorate was the First Baptist Church of Elyria, O., and he has also served as Chaplain of the Northeastern Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa. He has done much radio work, having conducted the Shepherd Hour over Station WHT while in college, maintained a daily program over WJBU while pastor of Northumberland, and while at Elyria having conducted the National Revival Hour, with great success, over Station WHK, Cleveland Ohio. He is included in the Young Men’s Who’s Who of America. He has a unique gift of whistling the Gospel tunes in a manner thoroughly enjoyable to all.

Brief Sketch of One Hundredth Anniversary Program

Friday, October 25th – Church Anniversary Day – with various former pastors as guest speakers

Opening service at 10:45 a.m. Afternoon service at 2 p. m. The history of the church and letters from former pastors will be read. The bulletin board for the church lawn, presented by Mrs. Coila Harding Reese will be dedicated. 7 p. m., Fellowship Banquet and evening service.

Saturday – Rev. Neighbour will speak at the morning, afternoon and evening services. We extend a hearty welcome to all visiting pastors and friends from other churches.

Sunday – Concluding Centennial Services. Morning 10:30, afternoon, 2:30, evening 7:30. Rev. Neighbour speaking at all services.

In Memoriam

"We are the dead, Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we wait till Jesus comes

Take up our quarrel with the Foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The Cross; Be yours to hold it high.

Do not break faith with Him who died,

And on the Cross was crucified,

But hold Him high, the World to see

That they might live eternally."

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does to easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."—Hebrews 12:1

We are dedicating the following pages to the memory of the saints of this church who have gone on to their reward. It is the memory of this "great cloud of witness," mentioned in the verse of Scripture above, which inspires us to press on to the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

In Memory of my husband Mr. George Baker 1857-1940 – Mrs. Katie Baker

In Memory of our former pastor Rev. Thomas Sherwood who served this church faithfully from 1929 to 1936 and passed away in 1937.

In memory of my aunt Mrs. C. B. Clark who died in 1935 – Coila Harding Reese

In Memory our parents Mr. Elmer Clark 1858-1930 and Mrs. Sara Clark 1859-1924 – Mr. Elmer Clark, Jr. and Mrs. Ambrose Mason

In Memory of my husband Mr. Will Blanchard 1868-1933 – Mrs. Anna Blanchard

In Memory of my parents Mr. Eugene O. Watkins 1860-1938 and Mrs. Mary Watkins 1865-1934 –Mrs. Florence Lacy

In Memory of my parents Mr. G. S. Harding who died Sept. 28, 1895 and Mrs. G. S. Harding who died Aug. 4, 1906 – Lou Ella Harding Hutcheson

In Memory of my husband William Lyle Phillips 1911-1938 – Mrs. Theresa Phillips

In Memory of my husband Ernest C. Snover 1858-1939 – Mrs. E. C. Snover

In Memory of Mrs. Anna Meeker 1837-1931 – Friends in the Church

In Memory of my mother Mrs. Phoebe Connelly 1849-1900 – Mrs. T. J. Scaife

In Memory of Mrs. Anna Meeker’s mother Sally Putnam Kelts 1794-1890 – Miss Effie Gerould

In Memory of my grandmother Mrs. Hannah West LeValley 1815-1901 and my aunt Miss Etta LeValley 1854-1890 – Mrs. Kate Hoxie

In Memory of my parents Otis Gibson Gerould 1813-1918, Mary Catherine Gerould 1835-1909, and my grandparents Ephriam Bennett Gerould 1788-1845, Christania Putnam Gerould 1792-1872 – Miss Effie Gerould

In Memory of My Father Mr. Chas. H. Harding who died October 5, 1935 and in Appreciation of my Mother Mrs. C. H. Harding who is living in Fort Smith, Ark. – Mrs. Coila Harding Reese

Pastors of the Covington Baptist 1840 – 1940
George Spratt 1839 – 1845 A. H. Wyncoop 1897 – 1900
Abijah Sherwood 1845 – 1850 James J. Hobbins 1900-1902
Levi Stone 1851 – 1852 Abe C. Jones 1902 – 1903
D. P. Maryatt 1852 – 1857 O. B. Kinney 1903 – 1906
N. L. Reynolds 1857 – 1865 R. E. Vellines 1906 – 1910
G. P. Watrous 1865 – 1872 N. Johnstone 1910 – 1917
E. L. Mills 1875 – 1878 E. D. Ferguson 1917 – 1920
Ross Ward 1878 – 1881 J. O. Smith 1921 – 1923
S. F. Matthews 1881 – 1883 J. J. Gould 1923 – 1924
A. T. Tilden 1883 – 1886 J. P. Tampt 1924 – 1927
E. J. Lewis 1886 – 1887 R. A. Fargo 1927 – 1929
G. H. Trapp 1887 – 1890 J. I. Reese 1929 – 1929
James Jones 1893 – 1895 Thos. Sherwood 1929 – 1929
T. C. Davis 1895 – 1896 C. W. Wheeler 1936 -
September 2006

What a surprise when my daughter forwarded all this material concerning Covington and surrounding County country side.

It is late at night for me. What a surprise seeing all those old familiar faces and seeing their names.. names have not heard for years.

How  well I recall that !00th and was flown back for the 150th.. I am now 94 and my dear wife Florence passed away about a year ago. We were  married over 70 years.......My address is One Angello Terrace   Grover Beach, Ca. 93433    805  489  3686

Will anxiously look forward to tomorrow when we can go into detail and be so happy reading, seeing pictures and just PRAISING THE LORD.
So many memories and the anticipation of seeing these who  have been called Home...Many of them I officiated at their funerals.
Thank You for such a masterful piece of history......In Christ    Rev. Carl W.Wheeler

Covington Baptist Church Group Photo 1941

In a message dated 2/13/2009 1:03:59 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
My mother, Margaret Ames, is in this picture.  We found this picture after she died.  I am sure her sisters are in there too, but since they have all died too, I hope that others will find themselves or family members in this picture.

Thanks for all you do. Linda Austin Congdon 


Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 29 NOV 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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