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From: <>
Subject: [Scotch-Irish] Seceders
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 19:33:26 -0700

Hi Sandra, I would go to my local FHC unless you own the catalog
CD, and there use the CD or microfiche to look at subject index.
Look for both Presbyterian and Seceder. You'll find lots of info.

The expert, near I as can tell, on American dissenting Presbyterians
is the Rev. Reid Stewart. He publishes on the topic in Western PA.
He was a president I believe of the Western PA Genealogical Society.
I have a CD of their journals. Maybe this will help:

Exerpts from Stewart, Reid. W. "Scotch Irish Emigrations." WPGSQ 16 no. 4 (Spring 1990):10.

...When the Pennsylvania Land Office began selling the New Purchase (1768) lands, called the West Side (of the Susquehanna River) Surveys in April of 1769, a movement of Scotch-Irish from the eastern part of the state began, with many migrating from the Cumberland Valley. This flow increased until the opening of the Revolutionary War, and then picked up again after the close of the conflict.

The Valleys of the Conemaugh and Loyalhanna, with Ligonier as a center, soon became well filled. The Derry Settlement in northern Westmoreland County grew, and Hannastown, a more central location became the county seat in 1773. These were all Scotch-Irish centers.


The Ulster Scots were to a large extent descended from the Lowland Scots from the southwest of Scotland. Presbyterianism had become nearly synonymous with Scotland after the Scottish Reformation which took place in 1560. John Knox had stood up firmly against young Mary, Queen of Scots after her return from France to take the throne of her native land. The Lowland area of Scotland, particularly the southwest had been deeply imbued in the Reformed faith. In the 17th century, the Covenanter cause had bean strong in this area. The Presbyterian system of church government fostered a love of liberty. Members of the congregation elected their ministers and ruling elders who acted as a session or local ruling body. A number of congregations in the same area formed a presbytery which was made up of all the ministers and one elder from each congregation sitting as a judicial assembly over the congregations. This democratic system was followed by James Madison as he prepared proposals for the governing of the United States of America in the Constitution.

These Scots emigrants to Ireland took their church with them. From 1610 there were congregations in Ireland which were Presbyterian in make-up, but there was no Presbytery until 1642 to give a connectional continuity.

The smaller groups of Scottish Dissenter Presbyterian origin were much less numerous, but even more tenacious. These groups were the Covenanters or Reformed Presbyterians who gathered in Ireland in the late 11th century, and the Associate Presbyterians or Seceders, followers of Ebenezer Erskine of Stirling, Scotland, who requested preaching in Ireland by 1736, only 3 years after the movement had begun in Scotland.
The earliest Scotch-Irish Presbyterian organizations in the Cumberland Valley were:

- Silver Spring Presbyterian Church, Silver Spring Township 1734
- Meeting House Spring Presbyterian Church, Carlisle 1734
- Falling Spring Presbyterian 1734 (now Chambersberg)
- East Conococheague Presbyterian of Greencastle 1737
- Upper West Conococheague, Mercersberg area 1738
- Rocky Spring Presbyterian formed about 1739
- Lower West Conococheague/Welsh Run/now Robert Kennedy Memorial, in 1741
- Upper Path Valley at Spring Run 1766
- Lower Path Valley at Fannetsburg 1766
- Waynesboro Presbyterian 1818
- Central Presbyterian, Chambersburg in 1868

The slow rate of increase of Presbyterian churches after the initial burst of organizations indicated the beginning of migration of the Scotch-Irish westward and southward which reduced their numbers, and diminished the membership in some of the old congregations until they had to be disorganized as in the case of Rocky Spring and Welsh Run above.

The Reformed Presbyterians came in small numbers and clustered together in tiny prayer societies, the first being Paxtang in 1721 (then Chester Co. now Dauphin Co.) by members of the Brown family descended from the martyr John Brown of Priesthill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. The earliest of these-
Covenanter societies in the Cumberland Valley was formed in 1740 at Stony Ridge (now New Kingston in what is now Franklin Co. in 1742, and was known as the Conococheague Congregation with small societies at Rocky Spring, Greencastle, Waynesboro, and Hamilton (Twp.).

The Associate Presbyteians had come to Pennsylvania by 1742 in sufficient numbers to send requestes to Scotland for a minister. This group listed itself as from Londonderry, Chester County and would be today near the town of Oxford. These Seceders made their way into the Cumberland Valley by the 1750's and were organized into the Big Spring Associate Church at Newville, Cumberland County in 1764, and in what became Franklin County into the East and West Conochocheague Associate congregations with centers at Greencastle and Mercersburg in 1769.

The density of the Scotch-Irish population advance in Cumberland County can be traced by the formation of Presbyterian churches there. By 1734 these people were numerous enough to have organized congregations at Silver Spring and Meeting House Spring in the eastern half of the county. In two years Middle Spring congregation had been formed at the western end of the county and about the same time or a year later, Big Spring Presbyterian congregation.

These early churches tended to be in the country where a spring of clear water was available to slake the thirst of worshippers, and Silver Spring congregation remains here today. Shippensburg Presbyterian Church was not organized until 1767, and it was not until the 19th century that more Presbyterian Churches were formed in Cumberland County.

- Dickinson in 1823
- Second Carlisle in 1833
-Mechanicsburg in 1860

The exodus of these families from the cradle of the Cumberland Valley spread south and west until in a few generations the families had reached the West Coast.


In 1772 Rev. David McClure, a New England Congregationalist minister itinerated through southwestern Pennsylvania on his way to visit the Indians in Ohio. In the autumn of 1772, three groups presented calls to McClure to minister among them. These calls are an early census, if you will, of Presbyterian heads of families here at that time. They read as follows:

We the subscribers, inhabitants of Fairfield Township, Province of Pennsylvania and County of Bedford lamenting the great want of a protestant clergyman to settle amongst us in this distant country and having an opportunity upon proper environment of obtaining a gentleman of that character to preach unreadable/torn/blotted . . two parts of that time at Ligonier and one third at Squire Hills.. .witness this hand this 20th day of November 1772:

Jas. PollockGeorg GlennGeorge McDowl
John McNogherJohn McMillenJas. McCurdy
Jean CampbellJas. DonalyDavid Willson
David ThompsonThos. JamesonWilliam Bracken
A. Hendrick(son)James HowThos. Campbel
John MillenJno. LivingstonGeo. Hutchinson
Luke PicketWm. Hanna torn Archbald
____ FremanPeter ChaigneauJames Benford
Henry SlaterJames McKayJohn Hanna
Thos. CheneyJohn GuldRobt. Laughlen
Alxr. JohnstonRichd. ShenonRobt. Reed
Robert NoxJohn PalmerSaml. Smith
William McCuneJohn StinsonJohn torn off
James CooperJohn SellersThomas Woods
Matthew FowlerWm. WhartonRobert Gibbons
Robert SmileyGeorge FinleySamuel Shannon
Thos. BirdJohn Wilson

Addl names with additional pledges (some duplications):
Thos. CheneyJohn McNagherJas. McCurdy
John McMillonJean CampbellDavis Wilson
Thos JamesonWm. HendricsJas. How
Luk PickitCeasr FreemanPeter Shine
Henry SlaterJohn HannaJas. Pollock
Georg GlenGeorg McDowlRobt. Laughlen
Alxr. JohnstonRobt NoxJohn Palmer
SamI. ShanonThos. BirdJohn Wilson
Wm. BrackenRichd. ShenonRobt. Reid
Saml. Smith

We the subscribers of Mount Pleasant Township and others of the county of Bedford and province of Pensylvania lamenting the grate want of a protestant clergyman to be settled among us in this county and having an opportunity upon proper incouragement of obtaining a gentleman of the character to preach the gospel amongst us which inestemble polessing we embrace by promising to pay or cause to be paid unto the Reverand Mr. David McClure the several following sums annexed to our names for six months residence commencing from the 12th of November to the 12 of May 1775?, he the said McClure executing the office of his ministery at the tent near the Fourteen Mile Run in said settlement or at any other covanent place near to it every third Sabbith to the assembled in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this 11 of November 1772.

John ProctorWilliam CrierSamI. Coulter
William GrahamAlxr. BarrFrances M. Otis
Patrick Arms(t)?Saml. MoorheadJames Scott
Georg CousinsWm. SloanWilliam Barnes
David LivingstonSeth StilesWm. Perry
Josias CampbellArthur OharroFillib/Phillip Goss
Wm. MitchealSaml. SloanJames Latta
James BeardCharles BeardJohn Pumroy
Edward CahilClarence Logan

We the subscribers do hereby promise to pay or cause to be paid unto the Revd. Mr. McClure the several sums to our name respectively annexed on the first day of May next if so long the said McClure shall continue among us to preach the Gospel and perform the duties of his calling.Witness our hands the twenty fifth day of December anno Domini 1772:

John StephensonNath'l. CrawfordW. Crawford
Matthew Jeffery David Lindsay William Massy
John StewartJohn VanceElijah Innes
Jacob MinterGeorge ShillingsEzek'l Hickman
Robt. WorthingtonW. Vaniker/W.N.SikerBen. Harreson
Zach. ConnellMich. Teggart

"Recd. the whole of this Subscription from Mr. John Stinson, Collector and others. J.D. Macclure, Stewarts Crossings May 28, 1773."

NOTE: Copies of petitions can be secured by writing attention Editor Jean Morris, $1.00 for #1 75c for Nos. 2 & 3 including #10 SASE.


Southwestern Pennsyvlania was unique in that the numbers of mainstream and Dissenting Presbyterians were more nearly equal than in any other part of the country. The Covenanters or Reformed Presbyterians had sufficient numbers in the Forks of the Yough by 1769 to form a society which was visited by Rev. Alexander Dobbin of Gettysburg, Pa. in the autumn of 1775. The Seceders or Associate Presbyterians began asking for preaching in 1773 and had a congregation near Canonsburg (then Westmoreland, now Washington Co.) by 1775. These two groups, for the most part, coalesced in 1782 to form the Associate Reformed Church in North America. The continuing Associate Presbyterian Church after 1782 grew rapidly, and here in Pittsburgh in 1858 the Associate Reformed and Associate denominations united to form the United Presbyterian Church of North America.

The union of the Old School and New School branches of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America took place at the Third Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh Pa. in 1869. healing a breach begun in 1837.


The Scotch-Irish valued education and tried to provide, if at all possible, for the schooling of their children. Even after the Revolutionary War, the most educated men in most of the backwoods communities in W. Pa. were Presbyterian clergymen. Log schools were often built beside the churches to provide food for the mind as well as for the spirit.

Presbyterian clergy, both mainstream and Dissenting helped to organize and became instructors in the early colleges. Rev. Robert Bruce, minister of the First Associate Church of Pittsburgh (now Bellefield Presbyterian Church) and Rev. John Black, minister of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, were professors of the antecedent Institution which developed Into the University of Pittsburgh. Rev. John McMillan, pastor of the Old Hill Chartiers Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Matthew Henderson, Sr., pastor of the Chartiers Associate Church both near Canonshurg (now Washington County) were involved in the founding of Jefferson Academy (now merged and called Washington and Jefferson College).

Select Bibliography

Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch-Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America. Baltimore, Md. Gen.Publ. Co. reprint of 1910 ed.

Dickson, R.J. Ulster Emigration to Colonial America. 1718-1775. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966.

Dinsmore, John W. The Scotch-Irish in America: Their History, Traits, Institutions and Influences. Chicago, IL: Winona Publ. Co., 1906.

Ford, Henry J. The Scotch-Irish in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ Press, 1915 (1969 reprint, Hamden, CT: Shoe String Press).

Hanna, Charles. The Scotch-Irish in Northern Britain, Northern Ireland, and North America BaIt. Md. Gen PubI Co. 1968 reprint of 1902 ed.

Leyburn, James G. The Scotch Irish: A Social History. Chapel Hill NC: Univ of NC Press, 1962.

Cummings, Hubartis M. Scots Breed and Susguehanna. Pgh, Pa. Univ of Pgh Press, 1964.

Klett, Guy S. The Scotch-Irish In Pennsylvania. Gettysburg, Pa.: Pa Hist. Comm., 1948.

Schaeffer, Anne D."Early Scotch Irish Settlements in Pennsyvlania,” Pennsylvania History, Vol. X (1943) pp. 141—147.

Froude, James Anthony The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century. New York: 1873 3 vols.

Marshall, W.F. Ulster Sails West: The Story of the Great Emigration from Ulster to North America in the 18th Century. Together With an outline of the part played by Ulstermen in Building the United States. Belfast, N.Ireland: The Belfast News-Letter, 1950.

Perceval-Maxwell, M. The Scottish Migration to Ulster in the Reign of James I. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.

Woodburn, James Barkley. The Ulster Scot, His History and Religion. London: H.R. Allenson, Ltd., (1915). Second Ed. (first ed. 1914).

Begley, Donal F. Handbook on Irish Genealogy. How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives In Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Heraldic Artists Ltd., 1984. (Sixth impression, Rev. Ed.).

Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. Strasburg, Va: Shenandoah PubI. House, 1962. 2 Vols.

Klett, Guy S. Diary of David McClure 1748-1820. University Microfilm reprint. Manuscript Collection Dartmouth College.

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