History of Walnut Avenue M. E. Church
There is something beautiful in the thought of beginnings: the beginning of a new house, of a new home, of a new book. But above all these, is the thought of the beginning of a new house for the living God, laying the foundation of a spiritual home for new-born souls. This thought is uplifting and inspiring.
It was in the early spring-time of the year 1889, while winter yet lingered in the lap of spring, that the Mr. W. Lee Woodcock conceived the idea of starting a new Sunday School. The thought was suggested by the following circumstances. Mr. Woodcock was in one of his tenement houses, and, seeing several children in the house he asked a bright little boy where he attended Sunday School, to which the boy replied that he did not attend Sunday School. In fact, he scarcely knew what Sunday School meant. Upon inquiry it was found that none of the children of that family, and they were six in number, had ever gone to Sunday School. Upon further inquiry he found that there were quite a number of children in that part of the city who never went to any Sunday School. In this fact the idea of starting a Sunday School had its conception. Having decided the question of organization, he looked for a suitable place in which to hold the school. No such place could be found. There was not even a vacant house in the seventh ward at that time. Hence, he concluded to build a place for the school, in which the gospel, could be preached at intervals. Looking to this end, he concluded to build such a place over the store house in which S. E. Hedding was doing business, this being a one story building. Up to this time he had told no one of his intention, but he could go no further without consulting Mr. Hedding, the lessee. This he did the next day, which was about the 25th of April, 1889. Having revealed to Mr. Hedding the purpose and object, Mr. Hedding very kindly consented to allow a second story to be built. Mr. Woodcock immediately saw a contractor and entered into an agreement with him to construct the building. The work was commenced about the tenth day of May 1889, but the roof was not fully completed when the storm came which resulted in the greatest calamity that ever occurred in this country viz: the Johnstown Flood. The friends succeeded however, in protecting the goods of Mr. Hedding, by spreading canvas over that portion of the roof which was not yet finished. On the 8th of July the building was completed, and it was named "Belnore Hall,'' in honor of the home of Joseph Woodcock, Esq., near London, England, by whom Mr. Woodcock had been entertained a few years ago when in that country. The hall was twenty feet wide and sixty feet long, having a seating capacity of about 200 persons. Until the hall was about completed, no one except Mr. Hedding and his wife, knew the object for which it was being built. The purpose was then revealed to Rev. D. S. Monroe, D. D., then pastor of the First Methodist Church, who heartily approved of the project. Mr.Woodcock spoke to Mr. E. M. Kennedy, who was a consistent and reliable member of the First church. After securing promises of the support of Mr. and Mrs. S. E. Hedding and of Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Woodcock advertised through the press that there would be a meeting in the new hall on Sunday, July 14, 1889, for the purpose of organizing a Sunday School.
At the hour appointed, sixteen persons were present as follows: S. E. Hedding, Mrs. S. E. Hedding, E. M. Kennedy, J. C. Riley, Calvin Stouch, Andrew Peters, Minnie Glass, Mrs. Andrew Miller, Mrs. Cowley, Mrs. B. Wiston, Miss S. Wiston, W. L. Lewis, Charles Hedding, Paul Riling, Mary Cowley, and W. L. Woodcock. Mr. Woodcock stated the object of the meeting, informing those present that it was for the purpose of organizing a Sunday School, that he had built the hall, and that he desired it understood that it was to be a Methodist Episcopal school; that he was not in favor of union schools, for the reason that he believed better work could be accomplished along denominational lines. After this an organization was effected, and the following officers elected: Supt. W. L. Woodcock; Assistant, J. C. Riley; female assistant, Mrs. S. E. Hedding; secretary, Calvin Stouch; assistant secretary, Miss L. Wiston; treasurer, E. M. Kennedy; librarian, W. L. Lewis; organist, Miss Minnie Glass. It soon became noised about that a new Sunday chool had been organized, and it was talked about a great deal during the week, so that on the following Sunday there was quite an increased attendance, and a very interesting session of school was held, which was greatly enjoyed by all present. An organ was donated to the school, and the singing was bright and inspiring.
Slowly but surely the school grew and increased in numbers and interest, each session showing an increased attendance. The first regular board meeting was held the 23rd of July. The minutes of this meeting show the election of the following teachers: W. L. Woodcock, J. C. Dutrow, E. M. Kennedy, Andrew F. Peters, Minnie Glass, Rebecca Wilson, Mrs. Andrew Miter, Mrs. S. E. Hedding, J. C. Riley, Mrs. Jerry Black, Jacob Shartzer, Mrs. Mary Cowley.
At the same meeting supplies were ordered from Hunt and Eaton, Agents of the New York Book Concern. These supplies were received and used at the next session, thus adding new interest. The attendance steadily increased, as shown by the minutes, until in October it reached 104, in November, 112 and in December, 121, this number being present December 29, 1889. The first Christmas entertainment was held on Christmas night, and was a pronounced success in every way. The hall was handsomely decorated with festoons of spruce and laurel, and two Christmas trees, handsomely trimmed, delighted the children. The room was crowded to overflowing, with interested children, parents, and spectators, and every one were delightfully surprised at the talent shown by the Logantown Sunday school scholars.
The interest and attendance increased, and members of Chestnut Avenue church, and some of First church who lived in that vicinity, hence at some distance from their own churches, would stop at this Sunday School, its start thus proving a timely one. The children, whose parents were building in that part of the city, were staying home from Sunday School, and the need of the influence on the moral conditions that a Sunday School or church has in a community was very greatly felt; for it is a very easy matter to stay home from church when the distance can be used for an excuse.
The beginning of the Walnut Avenue church was not in the Lexington Avenue Sunday School, however much that encouraged the work; but I believe it had its birth in the heart of the Christian lawyer, W. L. Woodcock, who has always been interested in the Christian advancement of the young. While in conversation with him one day, he told me that he considered the starting of the Walnut Avenue Sunday School the best work of his life, notwithstanding the fact that he has been a Sunday School Superintendent for many years, and has had much to do with the building of the First church.
The Sunday School increased in attendance, until finally the propriety of buying a lot was considered; but there were no definite steps taken in this direction until B. B. Hamlin, the presiding elder of the Altoona district, brought Rev. Luther F. Smith to this charge; in fact, it was not a charge, nor were the other places he served. Rev. Smith came to this circuit through the advice of Rev. Hamlin, who became responsible for part of his salary. Rev. Smith came in the spring of 1890, and took charge of the work on what was then known as the North Altoona circuit, including Juniata, Fairview and the Lexington Avenue Sunday School. Previous to the coming of Rev.Smith, this station had been supplied by the other pastors of the city, and the local preachers, who were very kind toward this work. Some of these were: Rev. H. Neaffer, Rev. Clifford, Rev. J. W. Chambers, and W. A. B. Satterfield. Rev. Smith devoted much of his time to the building of churches, of which, during his three years on the circuit, he built three. This was helping pretty well, to realize the desire of Bishop McCabe's song: ''We are building one a day.'' Rev. Smith built one a year; but however successful this pastor may have been, his efforts would have been in vain, without the hearty co-operation of the members. The pastor found the members in unity of opinion for a new church.
At a meeting held on April 28, 1891, Rev. Smith was instructed to see what were the best terms for which the lot on Walnut Avenue and Third Street could be bought, and to buy the same if the price was what the board thought it was worth.
In one week Rev. Smith reported that he had secured the article of agreement between the owner, Wm. Keiser, and H. L. Nicholson, and following is a copy of same:
Article of agreement made and concluded this second day of May, A. D., 1891, between Wm. Keiser, of Latrobe, Westmoreland County, and the state of Pennsylvania of the first part, and H. L. Nicholson, of the City of Altoona, county of Blair, and state of Pennsylvania of the second part; witnesseth:
That William Keiser, the party of the first part, hereby agrees for himself, his heirs, executors and assigns, to sell to the party of the second part, and by these presents doth sell all that certain lot of ground located on the north-east corner of Third Street and Walnut Avenue, and known as lot No. 1. Block, C. C., in McCauleyville, adjoining the city of Altoona, Pa., fronting fifty feet on the said Walnut Avenue, and running back along the Third Street, one hundred and twenty feet, to an alley, for the sum of Twelve hundred dollars ($1200.00); and the said H. L. Nicholson, party of the second part, hereby agrees to pay the said purchase money of $1200.00 in the manner as follows: $30.00 now in hand, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged; $70.00 on the second day of June, '91, $600.00 with interest, on the 10th of November, '91, and the balance of $500.00, with interest, to be paid on or before May 15, A. D. 1892, at which time the said party of the first part agrees to make a good and sufficient deed, free from all incumberances, to the said H. L. Nicholson. In witness whereof we hereby set our hands and seals, the day and year above written.
Witness. E. J. KEISER.
On motion of Jacob Weiss the report as above was accepted, action approved, and a Vote of thanks tendered H. L. Nicholson for service rendered.
The usual Methodist way of raising money had begun, and the members stepped into their places and took their part. I do not wish to tire the readers of this history by telling the same story over and over, for the Methodist people have all nearly the same way of electing their officers, appointing the various committees, lifting subscriptions, buying lots, getting plans for the church, letting the contract, laying of the cornerstone, and the corner-stone exercise, the arranging of memorial windows, if they have them in the church, selecting of carpets, chairs, lights, pulpit furniture, heater, organ or piano, communion sets, color of paints, and everything else necessary for the completion of a church. Then come the arrangements for dedication day, the getting of speakers, arranging for the singing, the cleaning and scrubbing the church, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the paints, and dusting the seats so that everything will look clean and new on that day. The work of canvassing the members, so as to get an idea of what amount to ask for on the day of the final subscription, has to be done during the completion of this other work. This work all falls on a few of the members. But do not misunderstand me the few do not do all. Some one who not seen or mentioned in the progress of the work, is taking time to pray. And while the other members are lifting the financial and material burdens, there is always some one, thank God! who never leaves off the work of praying. God has in every church, prayers, thinkers, workers, planners and payers. Which one are you? One great work of the Methodist church to-day is to get the right man in the right place.
So that the readers of this book may know what a church home is, or what it means to have the influence of a church in the community where you live, I will speak briefly of the building and finances of this church, and then tell a few things I learned from the lips of the members of Walnut Avenue church.
This church or Sunday school was organized on July 14, 1889. Their first pastor, Rev. Luther Smith, was appointed in March 1890. He preached in the hall above Hedding's store, on Lexington Avenue, between Third and Fourth Street until the church was built on Walnut Avenue and Third Street. The account of the buying of the lot has been given. The building committee were: Rev. L. F. Smith, President; A. A. Miller, Secretary; W. J. Franks, Treasurer; Jacob Shoup, Sam Cowley, Hyram Osman, and Jacob Weiss. The President, Secretary and Treasurer were elected by the building committee on May 5, 1891.
Rev. Smith submitted the plans on May 12, '91; they were adopted by the board, and Rev. Smith and W. J. Franks were appointed a committee to ascertain the cost of the carpenter work for the erection of a church building according to the plans. The pastor reported on May 19, '91, that J. M. Shoup agreed to superintend the construction of the wall, flue, plastering, and painting, and do all the carpenter work on the church, according to the plans, for $225.00 and allow credit to any who may choose to do work on the church. The contract was awarded to Mr. Shoup. At this meeting A. A. Miller resigned as secretary, and Mr. Osman was duly elected in his place. J. M. Shoup and Hiram Osburn were instructed to see parties as to the price of lumber. They reported that L. F. Byer & Co., agreed to furnish all the lumber, sash and doors, for the sum of $71.08, this price being agreed upon by the building committee, on June 2, '91, and the lumber was bought from this company. C. A. Glunt was given the contract of hauling the stone, for $1.50 per perch, the committee paying him $10.00 when the wall was completed, and the balance on day of dedication. J. A. Olwine built the wall for $1.00 per perch, and gave credit to any who wished to work a day for the church. The excavating for the foundation was done by Mr. M. Ake. The glass was furnished by F. L. Byer & Co., for $80.00. At a meeting held on July 20, '91, the name of the church was changed from Logantown to Walnut Avenue M. E. Church. The corner-stone was laid in June, '91, as nearly as I can tell from records.
Samuel Linch painted the church for $2.00 a day and contributed four day's work to the cause. On September 22, '91, the committee decided to accept the proposition of Charles Weiley to furnish the gas fixtures, for the sum of $24.10, and the vestibule free of charge. The day for dedication was drawing near. A number told me that the Saturday before dedication was a busy day. The men who worked in the paint shop went to the church in the afternoon and helped to put in windows, and get the church in shape for the following day. Sunday, October 11, 1891, was a beautiful day. Rev. Smith had secured the service of Rev. McCord, who preached in the morning. An interesting fact, worth mentioning here, is that the church was threatened by fire on the morning of dedication day. The work had been hurried in every particular, so as to have the building ready for use on the appointed day; some saw-dust had fallen on the heater-pipes, and when the furnace began to get hot this ignited, and was burning out along the joist. While Rev. McCord was praying some person saw the blaze through the register and raised the alarm. The church was emptied without much handshaking that morning, and from what I can find out they did not wait until the pastor was through praying.
Mr. Ake, seeing a very necessary thing to do at a time like that, ran to the cellar with a bucket of water and put out the fire. The members were assured of this, and in a few minutes the church was filled as before. Rev. McCord's audience was thoroughly awake, and he could and did preach a good sermon that morning. The sun had taken over half her journey across the sky and was doing her best, it seemed, to warm the day for the afternoon's occasion. The Sunday School was ready to leave the Hall, let it be ever so memorable, so at 2:00 P. M. they marched up to something new and better. The evening service was conducted by Rev. J. W. Polsgrove. Rev. Polsgrove's ability as a money raiser is great, and he found plenty of work that evening. After the sermon the church was dedicated in the usual Methodist way, to the worship of Almighty God.
Rev. Smith served this charge for three years, and is acknowledged by the members to be a splendid financier. The annual conference of 1893, sent Rev. C. L. Benscoter to the circuit. His popularity is shown by the number of years he served the charge. During his four year's stay, the church was visited with a great revival, the account of which will appear later.
On April 16, '94, the trustees met at the home of J. E. Decker, for the purpose of electing their officers for the ensuing year. The members that were present were C. L. Benescoter, W. J. Franks, R. P. Ake, H. Osman, E. G. Bucher, Samuel Cowley, J. E. Decker and C. E. Applebaugh. The result of the election was as follows: H. Osman, President; R. P. Ake, Secretary; and Samuel Cowley, Treasurer. These officers proved to be efficient workers, the records showing Mr. Ake to have been a very competent secretary.
The next pastor was Rev. Shriner coming in 1898. Juniata was made a separate charge, thus leaving Walnut Avenue and Fairview the two appointments.
In 1897, a fine parsonage was erected on the church lot, at a value of $2,000.00, Rev. Shriner being the first pastor to occupy the parsonage. Rev. M. C. Piper was assigned to this appointment in 1901, and it was at this time that Walnut Avenue church became a separate charge. The church had an indebtedness of $1,884.00 and a membership of 195 in 1902. In three years this small company of workers paid $1,224.00 on the old debt. Under Rev. Brooks and the first year of Rev. J. K. Knisely, the remaining $640.00 was paid, leaving the Walnut Avenue church free of debt, with, in 1909, a membership of 236, and 62 probationers, and with a probable value of $10,000, including church and parsonage.
The value of a church in a community cannot be measured by the number of members nor its worth in dollars and cents. The following incidents prove this, showing as they do what this one church has meant to the moral and spiritual uplift of those within its sphere. While out on the hill of East Willow Avenue one beautiful afternoon, I rapped at a door, and a slender, brunette lady came and stood in the door-way. After telling her my errand, I asked her what the church meant to her, or if it had done anything for her or her home. Pointing to two young girls who were playing in the yard, she said, "Yes, those two girls were saved this winter.'' As she told me of their conversion, the sun was shinning upon her face the tears of joy beginning to steal down her cheeks, and the light of God beaming too, shone from within, surely a picture to gladen any Christian heart. I could hear the sound of music in my own heart, and as she finished I said ''The church does mean something to you.'' ''Yes,'' she said, ''my husband works over in yonder shops, and his work has been so poor we have had a pretty hard time getting along. So he thought he would try farming a while, and began to look for a place. He came home one day and told me that he had some chance for a place. I asked him if it was near a church;'' for, she said "I have decided that my children shall have the privileges of a church, if I must live on bread and water the rest of my life.'' I came down off that hill that day, more determined than ever to be true to the church.
I asked another lady, the mother of a large family, what the church was to her and her home. Among the many things she told me was the story of her son. The young man had been saved in the Walnut Avenue church, under Rev. Benescoter, but his health failed him and he had to go to the country for quite awhile. This change did not help him much, so he returned to the home of his parents to wait until God in his wisdom should call him to walk in white the streets of shining gold above. This sister told me when he came home he was not able to go into the church, but he walked slowly down to it and went to the top of the steps, standing there on the landing until the service was dismissed. As the friends came out, one after another greeting him, he was waiting and watching for one whom he loved better than any other. It was the pastor who won him for Christ. After he had seen him, he came back home, and was never able to return to the church again. But the spirit of the Methodist church is, when a member cannot go to church, the church is taken to him. So the friends and the pastor would go and help to share the joys and sorrows of this home, leaving a legacy of precious associations to that home, in the recollection of the blessed hours passed by the bedside of the dying son. If the church had never done anything more for Altoona than to be the avenue through which God could save that mother's boy, it was worth the effort and time and money put into it.
Some told me they loved the church for the influence it had in the community. I cannot refrain from telling of two sisters who told me of the conversion of friends. The one was a father who had lived fifty-five years out of the church, but during the revival of Rev. Brooks, was brought out under the influence of the meeting, and in a short time God, for Christ's sake, had pardoned his sins and put his name in the Lamb's Book of Life. As the lady told me, her face shone, amid streaming tears. The other was the mother of two girls. When I went to her door, it seemed as though she did not want to be troubled with an agent or anyone taking her time. But when I told her my errand, her great, brawny form straigthened up, and she told me of her two children being coverted, in Rev. Knisley's revival, the light of God lit up her face, and she looked as though she had come out from his very presence.
The revival of Rev. Benescoter was the greatest that has ever been held in the church. The influence of this man and his family during their entire stay, will never be forgotten by the members and friends of the church. Walnut Avenue church has been especially favored by having good pastors, from Rev. Smith to the present pastors, Rev. J. K. Knisely.
The members of this church are not content with what has been accomplished in their past, they are planning and raising money now for a new building; and God alone knows what good will yet be accomplished by this church.
"Beyond our highest
We prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise. Sure as thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be given The brightest glories earth can yield,
And brighter bliss of heaven.''
The Epworth League of the Walnut Avenue Church was organized under the pastorate of Reverend L. F. Smith in September, eighteen hundred ninety-two by the adoption of the constitution, as formulated by the Board of Control, and with the election of the following officers: President, R. P. Ake; first Vic President, Mrs. F. W. Hedding; Sevond Vice, Mr. J. N. Stoffer; third Vice, Miss A. G. Hughes; fourth Vice, Miss L. S. Bowers; Secretary, Miss J. F. Hershey; Treasurer, Mr. L. A. Shoup. These officers served for the term of one year and attended faithfully to the duties of their several offices as witnessed by a notice in the paper which has been preserved with records. "The regular monthly business meeting of the Walnut Avenue Epworth League, chapter No. 10284 was held on Monday evening. It being the close of the year's work and the occasion of electing officers for the ensuing year, the meeting was largely attended, all the cabinet officers with every member of their respective departments being present. On the calling for reports, every department responded with a full and complete account of the work accomplished, which showed that active and energetic efforts had been put forth in fulfillment of the motto "Look Up! Lift Up!" The earnestness displayed was not confined to the officers alone, for every member of the chapter heartily co-operated with them, and all, in remembrance of their pledge, faithfully endeavored to execute the divine command ''When thou shalt vow a vow unto thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it.'' The reports were very gratifying indeed.
For the year ending 1894, the President was Mrs. J. L. Benscoter and for the successive year up to the present the following persons have served: Mr. A. E. Pressel, William Brannon, L. A. Shoup, Mrs. Winnie Miller, Samuel E. Shoup, Dr. S. M. Snyder, for the term of two years; Edward Esterline, for the term of two years, Mrs. Ira Miller and Mrs. Cora Rhodes, who has served for four successive years, from 1905, until the present time.
During all the years of the Leagues existence the devotional meetings have been regularly maintained and have exerted a beneficial influence on the spiritual life of the church.
Monthly business meetings and literary meetings have been generally held and for several years past a social feature has been coupled with the business meetings.
The League has from time to time aided in meeting the financial responsibilities of the church. It assumed and paid three voluntary bonds to help raise the debt on the church property; and it raised money at various times to aid the stewards, and contributed toward the erection of the Italian church of this city.
The junior League was organized in 1896 with Mrs. F. W. Hedding as the first superintendent. The following are the names of the superintendents who have served since then: Mrs. Anna Cowley, Mrs. Grace Akers, Miss Catherine Shoup, and Mrs. Strobel.
The junior League is graded and has regular courses of study. It has also assisted financially the various boards of the church.
This year the Epworth League was awarded the privilege of serving refreshments at Lakemont Park on Methodist day. The proceeds will benefit the New Church Fund.
When Walnut Avenue church was built, and while they worshiped in the Belnore Hall, the other charges on the circuit were not idle. Up in the north-eastern part of the city, on Highland avenue, were a few Methodist people holding class meetings and union Sunday schools These people were members of the First Methodist church and Chestnut Avenue, and as at that time, the street cars were not running to Fairview, the Methodist people were compelled to walk all the way, from Highland Avenue and Third and Second Street, to church.
They were not so much opposed, I understand, to the walk, as they were conscious of the need of a church in their community. I am unable to say, with whom the first realization of the need of a church originated, only that a class meeting was conducted in Calvert's Hall on Highland Avenue, and Ninth Street, and the male members, who were the charter members of the class, were among the first elected trustees of the church.
The charter members of this class-meeting were: James Cox, leader, A. H. Kopp and wife, George W. Kopp, and an elderly lady, known as Grandmother Calvert. This class met in Calvert's Hall, but still retained their membership in their respective churches. Rev. L. F. Smith was not preaching at this time, because of ill health and was therefore attending First Church. One of the members of the Calvert Hall class was at First church and invited Rev. Smith to come up and preach for them some time. He replied: ''As soon as the doctor permits, I will.'' Rev. B. B. Hamlin was the presiding elder on the Altoona district at this time, and Rev. Smith had gotten much better, so he gave him the North Altoona circuit, until he was more able to work. When North Altoona got a pastor, Fairview got one too, because they belonged to this circuit. Revs. Smith, Benscoter, Shriner, Johnston, and Piper were pastors on this circuit. Fairview's first regular pastor was Rev. E. V. Brown, but before Rev. Brown came to this charge a great many things had been done.
Mr. William Swartz, a friend of Methodism, owned a lot on the corner of Highland Avenue and Fifth Street, (now 22nd Avenue and 5th St.,), and offered it to the Methodist people for a church building.
A meeting was called on July 26, 1890 in Calvert's Hall to consider the propriety of building a church. The following members were present: Rev. Smith, H. W. Diffenbaugh, A. J. Hersh, Andrew Kopp, Geo. Kopp, James M. Cox, Albert H. McCune, Mr. Emerson, Howard D. Swartz, and Frank L. Mason, These brethren talked over the matter at length, and in view of the need of a church in that section of the city, they unamimously decided to build a church, proceeding to elect a building committee. Following are the results of the election: James Cox, F. L. Mason, Howard W. Swartz, Albert H McCune and A. J. Hersh. Rev. Smith was chosen president and A. H. McCune was elected secretary. A. J. Hersh was chosen as building supervisor, and given the privilege of using his own judgment in regard to the building of the church. The President, Rev. Smith appointed Mr. Emerson and Mr. Hersh to propose plans and specifications for the building. Messrs. Hersh and Emerson submitted the following plans at a meeting of the building committee, held in the home of J. H. Hersh, on July 28, '90. Size of building, 32 X 45 ft, later changed to 32 X 50 ft; four windows on each side, and two in front of church, with canopy top; one vestibule; two flues to be used in the building, and to be located in the centre of the room. This was later changed to one flue, to be built on the outside of the church; floor joist, 2 X 12 X16; ceiling joist, 2 X 6 X 22; roof to be 2/3 pitch, rafters 2 X 6, studding 2 X 6; hemlock weather-boarding and yellow pine for floor; number 2 shingles to be used for roofing, wall for foundation to be an average of three feet all the way round.
Messrs. Cox Hersh and Emerson were appointed a committee to see where lumber could be bought the cheapest, and report at the next meeting of the building committee. The next meeting met on August 4, 1890. The committee on lumber reported that the material could be bought from T. D. Byer and Co., as cheap as any place they knew. Mr. Cox had been instructed to see about a heater, and he reported that Mr. Eby had a No. 36 heater, for $112.00, and a No. 40 for $120.00, the difference being in the size of the register. Mr. Cox was instructed to purchase a heater, though I could find no record of the purchase, However, Fairview church had the heater when the church was dedicated.
Some money was being raised by the members and friends of the cause, and the board elected Mr. H. D. Swartz as their treasurer, who proved to be a most efficient and faithful one during his entire term. Mr. William Swartz was seen and a legal transfer of the deed of the lot was obtained from Wm. Swartz and given to the Trustees of the Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Cox moved a committee be appointed to draft resolutions, thanking Mr. Swartz for his exceeding kindness in donating the lot, which was done by Mr. Smith and H. W. Swartz.
The cellar was excavated and the foundation was built and ready for the corner-stone laying. Mr. Calvert gave the comer-stone, in memory of his sainted father. The lumber, in part, was bought from Byer & Co., and the sectional plate-glass was also furnished by him.
As the New Church progressed, the interest in general increased. Mr. Calvert, catching the interest and spirit of giving, made another proposition to the church. It is recorded that at a board meeting, held on October 11, '90, Mr. Emerson, in his characteristic way, said: ''I am instructed to tell this board that our good friend, Mr. Calvert, desires to pay for two memorial windows. The board accepted this donation, with many thanks. Mr. Kerlin agreed to plaster the church free of charge, and furnish the lath and other material at $2.00 per thousand. This was quite a surprise to the board, and later developed, into a little trouble, which was, however, satisfactorily settled.
The church was being finished very rapidly, and the members were preparing in various ways for the day of dedication. The church had been painted, and the work of bringing things to a close was being done. Let a church be small or large, the little odds and ends always make some days of hard work. The paint, lime and plaster must be scrubbed from the floors, windows cleaned, and carpet laid. The carpet was purchased from Mr. Morrow, Mrs. Kopp and Mrs. Swartz being the committee on carpet. The chairs had to be dusted and arranged. These were bought from Mr. Norcross, (17) dozen for $93.50. The most of the labor of this sort was done by the ladies.
Mr. Swartz was instructed to have the property insured, which he did for $800.00.
A lady living across the avenue from the church, told me that the men worked until eleven o'clock the evening before the dedication, with their gumboots on, for it was in December, and the way to the church door had to be provided for on account of the mud and slush. On, December 9, 1890, the, little Fairview church was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. The entire cost of the building, complete, was about $1300.00. A subscription was lifted, covering the entire amount and was paid in the appointed time with the exception of a small amount, it too being finally paid.
Now that the church was built and her life officially began, the work of paying the pastor and paying all the running expense of the church was to be done. The story of delinquent subscriptions is not so vividly noticed in the records of this church, for they who pay their own subscriptions will pay those of some others who will not pay, rather than to have the reputation of the church lowered one inch.
Some may wonder why there are so many silent years in the history of this church, But it is this: After a church has been organized and built, and the money subscribed on dedication, all paid, the time of the official board of a church is given to the work of looking after the running expenses; such as, the pastor's salary, light bills, coal bills, sexton, music, if they pay for it, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc. The methods of raising the money for these various causes are all nearly the same in every Methodist church.,
The spiritual side or work of the church does not seem to be governed very greatly by the financial conditions, unless the burden is so very heavy that it takes the time the pastor should be putting to study and prayer, and the members are so very hard pressed for money that they do not have time for prayer and thought along these lines. But these extreme cases of financial trouble are not very plentiful in the life of any one church.
On April 27, 1891, the trustees met, and Mr. H. W. Swartz handed in his resignation as treasurer, giving as his reason, that he was going to Roanoke, Virginia. This may be a lesson for some official boards, the feeling that existed between the members of the board of this church. These brethren had come through the building of the church, and they had been members of the Calvert Hall class meeting, and from that time until now they had worked side by side in the entire enterprise. There are many little things that occur in this kind of meetings, that have a tendency to cause bad feelings; but such was not true of this board, nor of this church. Previous to this meeting, the treasurer's book had been audited and reported satisfactory in every particular. Mr. Cox and Mr. Emerson made some very tender remarks, expressing their deep regret at the leaving of Mr. Swartz. Mr. Swartz answered, wishing God's blessing upon the church in all her interests. The records say that the meeting was dismissed at 12:00 o'clock P. M. One of the members of the board told me lately, that the board meets from home to home, the wives having the privilege of attending. They either sing a hymn or have prayer before entering upon business. Such unity in any church is most commendable.
The ladies of all the Altoona churches have been very true to the cause, and especially the Ladies' Aid. The Ladies' Aid Society of the Fairview church organized the day the church was dedicated, and has been the strong right arm of the church financially since her organization. When Rev. Smith went to house-keeping, Rev. B. B. Hamlin furnished the home, the Ladies Aid paying him for the furniture. The same organization has been keeping the parsonage furnished ever since. They also bought the lot where the present parsonage stands, paying $400.00 for it. The officers of the Aid, that were elected on Dec. 9, 1890, were: Mrs. Shadle, President; Mrs. Flora Corns, secretary; and Mrs. A. H. Kopp, Treasurer. Mrs. Shadle and Mrs. Kopp were appointed to solicit and collect money, on May 11, '91, proving very competent workers. The stick-to-itiveness of these ladies is very commendable. They had traveled the hills and covered the territory all around Fairview thoroughly, walking clear back to the foot of the mountain. Mrs. Shadle proposed going on up to Wopsononock, but Mrs. Kopp thought they had done very well, and declined.
In October 26, '91, a loan was secured from the B. & L. A., of $601.12, less the per cent. which was $38.88. This money was used to pay up a lot of little bills that had been incurred, which the church was not able to meet at the time, and to make a ceiling of lumber.
The church, in all her interests, has grown since her organization. She has been able to pay the demands that have been made upon her from time to time, and has had her share of the revivals. Some of the most marked success, were those of Rev. Benescoter, Rev. Shriner, Rev. Brown, and the present pastor, Rev. Schuchart. Rev, William Crozier filled out the unexpired term of Rev. Wharton, whom God saw fit to call home to a better place. During the pastorate of Rev. Crozier an addition was built to the front of the church.
Notwithstanding the fact that three pastors died while they served this charge, thus leaving the church at intervals without a regular pastor, it was nevertheless served by such acceptable supplies as Rev. Crozier. He attended school, then coming and filling the pulpit on Sunday, so that the church had a continual growth. In 1906, she had a membership of about 200 and the increased attendance demanded larger quarters. An addition 20 X 32 feet, was built, was divided from the Auditorium by folding doors. When this was built the church was free of debt. Before the new part was dedicated, the Ladies' Aid Society papered and carpeted the old building, at a cost of $120.00, this helping to beautify the entire building. The new end was dedicated by Rev. Shriner, on December 13, 1906. It was stated the entire cost of the building was $800.00, and they proposed the lifting of a subscription, payable in 20 months, for the entire amount. The taking of the subscription was began in the morning, and when the evening service was concluded the amount had been raised. Every class in the Sunday School but two gave $20.00, remarkable giving for so small a church. The present secretary told me that the amount is now about paid, and the money that is standing unpaid, is owed largely by members who will pay it all at once. A beautiful parsonage was built in 1907, and put into use at once by Rev. Schuchart and family.
Following is a list of the secretary's that have served Fairview church. F. L. Mason, J. H. McCune, F. L. Mason (second term), Thes. Jones and W. H. Waters.
While in conversation with the present pastor of this church, I asked him what was one of the strong points of Fairview church. He very promptly replied: Their loyalty to their church and pastor, and their good Christian Spirit.
The last conference year was a great revival year, and this church had a share in it. The board decided to begin their special revival effort on watch-night. But the pastor, Rev. Schuchart, was taken to the hospital in November and operated on for appendicitis, thereby throwing the work and entire plan a little late. The members prayed much for the pastor and the revival; and when God had everything in readiness he returned the pastor. On January 31, one month later, was communion day, and two men came to the altar.
The pastor told me that out of about (63) conversions (60) joined on probation, the majority of them being heads of families.
This church began in 1889, with five members. She has to-day, 1909, 207 full members and 47 probationers.
She began without any money, and now has a probable value of $3,400.00 (church).
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for his own abode;
On the Rock of Ages found,
What can shake thy shure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes