An Old Newspaper Article

Transcription – date unknown
(from a Pittsburgh paper clipping belonging to Bessie Reed Hill Pearce)

[Note: This is where our earliest Allens rest in peace]

Hiland Presbyterian Congregation Observed Birthday.
Dinner a feature
Memorial Tablet Presented in Honor of First Pastor, Robert Patterson

The centennial anniversary of the Hiland Presbyterian congregation, at Perrysville, was celebrated yesterday with great jubilation by probably 1,000 members and former communicants of the church. The large gathering was served an elaborate dinner under the large, generous oak trees of the lawn. All the living pastors were present and participated in the exercises. Rev. James D. Moffat, D.D., president of Washington and Jefferson College, made the chief address of the occasion. Only one-half of the congregation was able to get inside the church in the morning, and in the afternoon the celebration was continued under the trees in front of the new parsonage. Rev. C,A. McCrea, the pastor, presided. A bronze tablet was presented to the congregation by Attorney Thomas Patterson in behalf of his aunt, Miss Matilda Patterson, who gave the tablet in memory of her father, Rev. Robert Patterson, who was the first regular pastor from 1807 to 1832, as shown by the records.

Many old members of the congregation were present, and one or two were at the exercises who were members for more than 70 years. A free will offering was raised in the afternoon amounting to $117, while the audience was waiting for one of the speakers, which was given to Mr. McCrea for any purpose he desired. Special music was rendered by the choir of the church. The old cemetery in which the dead of the congregation have been interred for the past century came in for a great amount of interest.

When the service open yesterday morning the church, which has seen services since 1838, was packed to the doors and many people were listening through the open windows. Outside, on the front of the building, was a large flag, upon which was the word “Welcome,” made of leaves and goldenrod. The building inside was decorated with flowers and ferns and presented a beautiful appearance. The invocation was delivered by Rev. D.S. Kennedy, D.D., and then Dr. Moffat contrasted the church and congregation of 100 years ago with that of today. The services of the morning were concluded with a brief reminiscent talk by Rev. J.M. Smith, one of three living pastors, who spoke of “Hiland in the Early Seventies.”
The dinner was one of the big and most interesting features of the day. Over one hundred men and women, principally the latter, were busy from morning until night preparing and clearing up the big feast. The guests were seated at 12 tables, placed on the lawn under several huge oak trees. About 240 persons were seated at one time, and Mrs. Charles H. Schermer, the manager of the dinner, had the details arranged so completely that the 1,000 persons received their dinners within an hour and a half. She was assisted by 70 aids at the tables and 8 aids in the kitchen. The tables were decorated with wild and cultivated flowers and the speakers and special guests were seated under a large canopied table. Those in charge of the tables were: Miss Jennie McDonald, Mrs. Robert Wallace, Mrs. Robert Swan, Miss Kate Crider, Mrs. Richard Berberich, Mrs. Clark Cuncleman, Mrs. Robert Hilliard, Miss Rena King, Mrs. Austin English, Mrs. Henry Watson, Miss Dora Good, Mrs. Harry Zeigenheim, Mrs. Annie E. Lutz, as assistant to Mrs. Schermer, and Mrs. George Ebenberg, as chairman of the kitchen committee.

Immediately after dinner people strolled about and reunions of old friends were held on every hand. Former members from Sharpsburg, Bellevue, Avalon and Allegheny especially were present, and many had not been to the old church for years. Samuel Cortney, 83 years old, of Emsworth, was present. He had been a member of the church in the latter days of the renowned pastor, Robert Patterson, and he remembered him distinctly. Mr. Courtney had been connected with the church for 50 years when he moved to Emsworth. Mrs. Jane Peebles, more than 80 years old, who was the wife of Mose Peebles, and the last of the Hiland family and who has been a member since the time of the first pastor, Mr. Patterson, was present. She still attends the church services occasionally. She was the oldest local church member at the celebration. Among the other old members who were present yesterday, some of whom belong to other congregations at present, were James Wallace, John English, Mrs. John Brown, Oliver Brown, John Deer, Robert Guyton and Robert Crider, who has been connected with the church for nearly 80 years.
While many were busy with greetings others went to the old cemetery to look at the graves of relatives and friends which had not been visited for many years. Through the generosity of Mrs. Clara S. Rodgers the burying ground has been kept in excellent condition. Old folks and young people wondered from one mound to the other. Some hunted the graves of ancestors and others strolled about through curiosity. The person buried in the cemetery who was earliest born was Mrs. Margaret W. Scott, who was born in 1738 and died in 1828. Her son, Samuel Scott, was buried in 1859. Mrs. Scott’s grandfather was at the siege of Londonderry, Ireland, in the latter part of the seventeenth century. The remains of Benjamin Crossman, 12 years old, were interred.

The chief event of the afternoon service was the presentation of the bronze tablet which has been placed on the front wall of the church. Attorney Thomas Patterson presented the tablet in behalf of his aunt, Miss Matilda Patterson, of Greentree, in honor of her father and his grandfather. Mr. Patterson spoke briefly. He said it seemed strange that but three generations intervened between his grandfather, who was born on British soil and who was the first pastor of the church, one hundred years ago, and himself, presenting the tablet. He said the people in the olden time built on the worship of God and the equality of man, and that would outlast factory or city. He presented the tablet not only in honor of his great ancestor, but also for all the ministers who labored at that time.

The tablet reads as follows: “In memory of Rev. Robert Patterson, Born April 1, 1773. Died September 5, 1855. Pastor of the Hiland Church 1807-1832.” A text followed: “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.”
Among the other speakers of the afternoon were Rev. William Sangree, who was the first and only minister sent out by the congregation. He extended his greetings to the congregation. After “Auld Lang Syne” had been sung Rev. George M. Johnston, D.D., of Leetsdale, arose and declared that the country was the place to raise preachers.

Robert Guthrie, a grandson of Gen. John Wilkins, Jr., who gave the church property 90 years ago, was to have been present, but was unable to come.

Rev. W.W. Morton, pastor of the church about 25 years ago, spoke of the church at that time and introduced some very interesting and touching incidents. He spoke of the memories that came back to him as he gazed at the old church and as he thought of the old parsonage where he had brought home his young wife. He also mentioned the old cemetery in which lie the remains of his first born, William, who lived but five years. Mr. Morton drew a marble out of his pocket and said, “Here is a marble that Willie played with that has been in my left vest pocket for 20 years.”

The last speaker was Rev. J.J. Graham, who was the pastor to precede Mr. McCrae. He spoke briefly and in a congratulatory manner of the happenings during his pastorate. “Bless Be the Tie That Binds” was sung, and the benediction was pronounced by Rev. J.M. Smith. Several vocal solos were rendered by Rev. J. Allison Platts. Prof. Wettach presided at the organ.

Some little difficult was experienced in getting to the church because Perrysville is located away from the car line. Although several rigs were running back and forward all morning and into the afternoon, many of the people had to walk. Women availed themselves of all manner of conveyances, buggies and wagons, and several women rode on top of a big load of lumber. It took about two hours to carry the crowd from the church after the celebration was over, and all the farmers from miles around were present with their wagons and other turnouts. The day was counted the biggest in the history of the town and of the congregation. Among the visitors were many Presbyterian ministers from Pittsburg, Allegheny, and the surrounding territory.
The pastor, Mr. McCrae, read a historical sketch of the congregation, which was published in The Times several weeks ago. He recounted how the congregation had first worshipped in a tent, and then how a log church was built in 1807 and the present brick structure in 1838. The first elders were James Sample, Sr., John Shaw and Allen Means, and the first trustees were William Courtney, John Mason and James Sample.

The pastors who have served the church since Mr. Patterson were: Rev. Joseph Reed, 1835 to 1838; Rev. J. Watson Johnston, 1841 to 1849; Rev. James R. Smith, 1850 to 1854; Rev. Martin L. Wortman, from 1858 to 1869; Rev. James McIntyre, from 1869 to 1870; Rev. James M. Smith, from 1871 to 1874; Rev. W.W. Morton, from 1875 to 1880; Mr. Wortman, 1880 to 1886; Rev. J.J. Graham served from 1886 to 1897; and the present pastor since that time.

D. Moffat in his address contrasted the church building of one century ago with that of today and the minister and congregation. He said in part: “The church of a century ago was plain and simple, and previous to 1780 no stone, frame, or brick building had been erected west of the Alleghany mountains. There was a difference in the comfort much in favor of the churches of today. There was a great difference in the ministers. They were, one century ago, strong, rugged men able to hold their own at house and barn raisings. Church life was different. It was customary for almost everybody to go to church, and people went whether bettered by attendance or not. The religious life of today is of a much more joyful and hopeful type. The country churches have become the salvation of the church, and I congratulate you for the interest you take in the church of your younger days.”

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