History of the Curwensville Presbyterian Church (1803-2003)
(Edited from histories written by Charles B. McCarl and Irene Rishel)
Go to Pastoral History
Go to Revival in 1898
History of Buildings and Properties
The first Presbyterian ministry in Clearfield County began in 1803 when
Rev. William Steward and Rev. Henry S. Wilson were sent by the Huntingdon
Presbytery to supply and serve the “Old Town” (Clearfield) and Curwensville
people. Curwensville was known as the Pike Presbyterian Congregation and was
formally organized in 1823.
Originally, the lots, which are now the property of the Curwensville
Presbyterian Church, were a part of letters patent issued to John Curwin, Sr. by
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1798. He in turn gave them to his son, John
Curwin, Jr., on January 12, 1803. John Curwin, Jr. later sold the lots to John
Buchanan who in turn sold them to John Irvin. The Irvins were Presbyterians and
had contributed a great deal of their substance to the Church. The plot was
given to the Presbyterians by the widow of John Irvin.
According to a tablet in the McClure Cemetery, the first sanctuary was
built in 1809 at the McClure Cemetery and continued in use until the Pike
Presbyterian Congregation moved to Curwensville in 1843 to a spot near the
present site of the sanctuary but on the same lot now used by the Curwensville
Presbyterian Church. This sanctuary was a frame building and was often used as a
school house until the present sanctuary was ready for use.
The present structure was constructed of native stone probably taken from
the surface of the land along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna
River. Authorities declare that from the color, size, and texture of the stone
they did not come from a quarry. The finished building is entirely of stone in
the Gothic Style of Architecture and cost $16,000.00 to build. It was dedicated
on November 14, 1869.
As nearly as we can ascertain, the original Manse was built in 1878-1879
from stone quarried from a small quarry on what is now Temple Heights. In
1970-1971, a new manse was built close to the back of the old stone manse. Rev.
John Shearer and his family were the first residents of the new manse.
In 1903-1904 the sanctuary was redone on the interior. At that time the
present Oak finish was installed, the Tiffany stained glass windows were put in,
and the choir loft was moved from the rear of the sanctuary to the its present
location. At this time, the vestibules on either side of the front doors were
In 1937, a fire broke out in the furnace room, which was located on the
north side of the present Fellowship Hall in the basement of the sanctuary.
Shortly thereafter, electric lights were installed in the sanctuary to take the
place of two chandeliers and oil side lights. This committee was headed by D.P.
Wall. The old pews were replaced at this time.
A two-manual pipe organ was installed in the sanctuary in 1949.
In 1960, the congregation erected and dedicated a new separate
Educational Building. This building, named Bethany Hall, adjoins the sanctuary
structure. In the summer of 1980, the basement of Bethany Hall was completely
remodeled. The room was divided into three classrooms, an assembly room, and a
In 1975, a paved parking lot was made in the back of the sanctuary and
Bethany Hall. This same year new wood doors were installed on both sides on the
front of the sanctuary. The present doors were placed in 1999.
During 1983-1984, a major restoration of the sanctuary was undertaken.
The first phase was re-painting, re-stenciling, enlarging the choir loft and
installing ceiling fans. The bell was taken from the belfry and put on a
foundation in front of the sanctuary. The belfry was repaired and covered with
siding. The second phase included new carpet in the sanctuary, along with
padding and upholstering the pews.
From 1995-1998 the basement of the sanctuary was completely remodeled.
The project involved updating the kitchen – including additional cabinets,
painting, wiring, lighting, floor repair and covering, new stoves, an industrial
dishwasher and the addition of a serving area. Fellowship Hall was paneled and
carpeted. A library was built along the front of Fellowship Hall.
The most recent additions include a lighted bulletin board in front of
the sanctuary (1989), glass and metal doors in all the outside doorways (1990),
a connecting bridge between the sanctuary and Bethany Hall (1991), porch and
deck on the manse (1998), an updated sanctuary sound system (1999), new granite
steps with black iron railings in front of the church (2000), and a bell tower
History of Pastoral Ministry - Pastors [and Stated Supply] who have
served the church:
William Steward (1803) [Stated Supply]
Henry S. Wilson (1803) [Stated Supply]
James Linn (1806) [Stated Supply]
(1) Garry Bishop, M.D. (1826-1834)
James B. Payne (1835) [Stated Supply]
Edmond McKinney (1837) [Stated Supply]
(2) Frederick Betts (1840-1845)
(3) Samuel N. Howell (1845-1847)
Miles L. Mervin (1848-1850) [Stated Supply]
(4) James J. Hamilton (1850-1855)
(5) John M. Galloway (1857-1863)
(6) J.E. Kerns (1865-1868)
(7) William M. Burchfield (1869-1876)
J.B. Grier (1878-1879) [Stated Supply]
(8) J.Q.A. Fullerton (1879-1885)
W.C. MacBeth (1885-1886) [Stated Supply]
(9) Charles Herron (1887-1893)
(10) David Craighead (1894-1900)
(11) Samuel Barber (1900-1915)
(12) Elliot D. Parkhill (1915-1917)
(13) Bertram Conley (1917-1927)
(14) Harold T. Smith (1927-1929)
(15) J. Ellsworth Creps (1929-1943)
(16) A. Claude Clever (1944-1964)
(17) John Allen Shearer (1964-1973)
(18) Dayle M. Dickey (1973-1980)
(19) Dale A. Dykstra (1981-1987)
(20) C. Richard Berggren (1989-1994)
(21) Matthew L. Sauer (1996-1999)
(22) Daniel T. Ledford (2000-2009)
(23) Charles R. Taber (2011- ...)
The Revival in 1898
The following is from the Session minutes of the Curwensville Presbyterian
Church. The Session consisted of Elders Anthony Hile & James Mathers (with an
Elder vacancy for Col. E.A. Irvin) and Pastor David E. Craighead.
Sunday – October 3, 1897
“The Communion services passed without any special interest. The numbers present
were small, only about eighty. The spiritual outlook of the church very gloomy.”
Wednesday – November 10, 1897
“Session convened immediately after Prayer meeting…Discussion of church
interests. Session, in view of the very low spiritual condition of the members,
resolved that we give ourselves earnestly to prayer and sincere endeavor, then
to leave the responsibility with God…Note: The resolution of the Session was
earnestly carried out through the remainder of the year. The pastor addressing
the people on the work of the Holy Spirit. The other members of the Session
aiding wherever possible in personal work through the week…”
Sunday – January 2, 1898
“Session convened immediately after the morning services…Discussion of
church interests. Resolved to carry out the program for the Week of Prayer, and
if advisable postpone the communion services one week, i.e. from January 9 to
the 16th. Further resolved to hold the judiciary in open session throughout all
Friday – January 14, 1898
“Session convened immediately after services…On confession of faith [3
individuals] were received into the Communion and fellowship of the church.
Further discussion as to the advisability of continuing services after the 16th
to place this matter in the hands of the people.”
Sunday – January 16, 1898
“Session convened immediately after S.S….On motion [1 individual] was
received by letter [of transfer] into the communion and fellowship of the
church. Note: Communion services followed immediately, prefaced by the
installation of [an elder], the baptism of [individual received on 1/14], and
the reception of the new members. The service was marked by a deep solemnity and
an unusual interest. One hundred and one Communicants were present. Services
were appointed for Monday evening.
Monday – January 17, 1898
“Immediately after service [an elder] in accordance with the resolution of the
Session placed before the people the matter and desirability of continuing the
services. It was after some discussion unanimously decided to continue the
services so long as the Session might deem best. The general service was
followed by a meeting of the Session for prayer and conference opened in the
usual manner. From this date till the close of the meetings the Session
continued in open session, meeting anywhere and everywhere in the shop, in
homes, with the sick, wherever men were seeking the way of life. Services were
continued each night throughout the month. Night after night the interest
deepened till the very close, when on the 29th the Session deemed it advisable
to discontinue the meetings. Night after night, men and women, boys and girls,
fathers and mothers, praying for children and children praying for parents.
Scenes were enacted never to be forgotten. Scenes hallowed by the very presence
of the Holy Spirit.”
Note: “The church reported to the General Assembly, Spring of 1898, 67 additions
by profession of faith which must have been the result of the gracious revival.”