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Centennial History of Susquehanna County
Rhamanthus M. Stocker 1887
Chapter L

Clifford Township

Page 802

Corners. He held his meetings in the log cabin of Amos Harding and in the forests in the summer season following. His labors caused the conversion of a few persons, who were baptized in June, 1803. About the same time the Rev. E. Thompson, of the "Free Communion" branch of Baptists, preached in Clifford, and had a number of adherents throughout the country. Some of these were led to acknowledge the doctrine of close communion as preached by Elder John Miller, and to connect themselves with the Abington Church. In this way Adam Miller and his wife were received in July, 1804, and others joined soon after. These members were finally organized as a branch of the Abington Church and supplied with preaching in addition to having the lay services of James Hulse. In 1812 Ira Justin united with this Branch and commenced to preach, alternating with Elder John Miller, pastor of the Abington Church. It was deemed best to organize a church. This was done at a meeting held at the Union School-house, at Clifford, on Monday, October 20, 1817, when the above church was constituted. Thirty-four persons presented letters from the Abington Church, and on subscribing to the articles of faith, were recognized as a separate body. A quickened interest followed, and "a good work took place in a neighborhood lately notorious for vice and immorality."

In 1818, when the church united with the Abington Association, forty baptisms and seventy-six members were reported. Elder Ira Justin continued to preach as a licentiate, and in the fall of 1820 was ordained the first pastor, serving four years, when he removed to New York. For three years there was no pastor, and a spiritual decline took place. In 1820 thirty members were dismissed to form a Baptist colony in Ohio, and the church was now in a low condition. In 1826 Charles Miller, a son of Adam Miller, began to improve his gift for preaching, and supplied the church. He exerted himself to provide a separate place of worship, and secured a site upon which to build a meeting-house, and the pledge of nineteen dollars, payable in cash, labor, and maple sugar. In spite of this small beginning, the project was pushed, and the promise of five hundred dollars was secured. In the fall of 1830 the house was completed at a cost of twelve hundred dollars. It was a plain frame building, thirty-eight by forty feet, and, after the manner of that day, simply furnished, April 21, 1841, the church became an incorporated body on the petition of William S. Finn, Alanson Halstead, S. L. Wood, C. N. Miller, Zophar Mackey, Eliab Stephens, Wm. A. Miller, Alfred A. Merriman, Elias Stephens, Thomas Taylor, Charles Miller and David Mackey. The meeting-house was used as built, with minor repairs, until the fall of 1881, when the work of enlarging and remodeling it was begun. A tower, with vestibule and spire, was added to the front of the building, and a lecture-room, with movable partition, built in the rear, the whole being completely renovated and given a modern appearance. The completed edifice was consecrated in the fall of 1882 as one of the handsomest Baptist Churches in this part of the county. It has sittings for four hundred people, and has a value of two thousand five hundred dollars. In 1887 a movement was set on foot to build a parsonage, which promises to be successfully accomplished very soon.

In 1829 Elder James Clark preached and fifteen persons were baptized, increasing the membership to sixty-six. In the fall of 1830, Elder Charles Miller was ordained as pastor and served at different intervals until 1863. Under his ministry the church prospered until 1834, when it was somewhat distracted by the influence of Antinomianism. This caused a loss of a few of the older members, and prevented additions by baptism. After a few years an increase of interest came, and in 1839 there was a great revival, and twenty-eight persons were baptized, and the communicants now numbered one hundred and nine. In 1843 Henry Curtis assisted the pastor, preaching with marked power. This year the church attained its maximum membership, one hundred and thirteen.

In 1846 William A. Miller, a son of the pastor, was licensed to preach and assisted his father in later years. The Rev. Almond Virgil preached this year, one-half the time. In 1850 Robert P. Hartley, a licentiate, preached one year and was ordained pastor May 1, 1851, but soon removed to another field of labor. This summer eight persons were dismissed to form the Elkdale Church. In 1856 Elder William A. Miller became the pastor of both the churches, for one-half time each. The following year Elder A. O. Stearns assumed this relation, which was continued until 1862. Elder William S. Miller again became the pastor in 1863, and served two years. Then the pulpit was supplied by Elders Benjamin Miller, David W. Halstead, S. E. Miller and Newell Callender. In 1867 Elder William A. Miller was again the Pastor, serving until 1880. He was succeeded by the Rev. Wm. B. Grow, who was the pastor five years. Since the spring of 1886 the pastor has been Elder Eugene B. Hughes, who was ordained to the ministry in 1874. The members of the church number eighty-four, all are working harmoniously for the advancement of its interests. The church has furnished as ministers Charles Miller and his sons, William A. and Edward E., and Sidney W. Rivenburg. The latter was ordained in 1883, and is now a foreign missionary in Assam.

In November, 1817, James Reaves was elected the first deacon, but was succeeded, in 1818, by Elias Farnam, who served until his death in 1864. Franklin Finn has been a deacon since 1846, and the other deacons are John G. Wetherby and I. O. Finn. Others who have served in that capacity have been James Wells, David Mackey, Alfred Merriman, D.W. Halstead.

The Sabath school maintained by the church has

Clifford Township

Page 803

ninety-nine members, and I. O. Finn as its superintendent.

The Clifford Methodist Episcopal Church. -The present church dates its existence from the organization of a class in 1869, which had Alfred Thompson as its leader, Arnold Green as an exhorter and a dozen other members. But prior to this, preaching had been held at this place by the ministers of the old Dundaff, Herrick and, later, Clifford Circuits, and a small class had here been formed, which went down owing to the removal of its members.

The first meetings were held in the Baptist Church, but after 1852 in the Union Church of Clifford. An increase of members in recent years stimulated the society to erect a house of worship for its exclusive use, and on the 22d of November, 1882, was dedicated the fine edifice at Clifford village. It is a frame structure of attractive appearance, thirty-two by thirty-two feet, with pulpit alcove, and a vestibule in the bell tower, which is eighty-five feet high. The windows are of stained glass, and the interior of the church has been upholstered throughout. It has not inappropriately been called the "Parlor Church." The entire cost was more than twenty-five hundred dollars. At this time the trustees were N. C. Church, Arnold Green, L. Z. Burdick, Abraham Churchill, Julius Young, Alexander Green, John Bolton, G. H. Stephens and Peter Bennett. The latter has been the leader of the class since 1860, and in 1887 the membership was fifty-seven.

The parsonage at Clifford has been occupied since 1882. It is a comfortable home, and is valued at fifteen hundred dollars. The minister in charge is the Rev. H. A. Blanchard.

The First Universalist Church of Clifford was incorporated April 13, 1876, on the petition of William S. Wells, James T. Handyson, D. C. Wells, Hiram Wells, Holloway Robinson, James R. Johnson and Z. Ferris, the three first named being trustees. This board controls the old Union Church at Clifford, and had as its members in 1877 Sylvester Wells, D. C. Wells and B. F. Wells. The Union Church was built in 1852 on a lot of land secured from the farm of Jacob G. Cuddeback by an association of stockholders, each share of stock being rated at five dollars, and entitling the holder to a vote. It is a substantial frame edifice, whose front is relieved by large pillars, and cost about one thousand dollars. Not being much used in late years, it hears a neglected appearance and needs repairs. In this house the Methodist, Adventist and Universalists have held meetings, the first and the last named statedly. The Universalists were never strong numerically, and have usually had the same ministers as the Gibson Church, in addition to the services by visiting clergymen. The first of this faith in this section were the Rev. William Wells and his family, who came from Orange County, N. Y., in 1834. He peached the gospel of love frequently, and held many funeral services until his death, in 1857. The past few years Universalist services have not been held during the winter, and often irregularly in other seasons.

The Welsh Congregation of Clifford Township became an incorporated body April 12, 1869, on the petition of Samuel Owens, Thomas R. Davis, Evan Jenkins, Thomas Reynolds, David J. Thomas, Thomas Watkins and Henry Davis. But the congregation was organized as early as 1834, one of the first cares of the Welsh immigrants coming into Clifford about that period, being a provision for their educational and spiritual needs. Thomas Edwards, one of the early Welsh settlers, became the first minister, and he preached until the close of 1835, when he accepted a call to Pittsburgh. The meetings were held at the house of Zachariah Jenkins, on Cambria Hill, on which the first church edifice was built in 1839. This was used until it was found too small to accommodate the growing congregation, when a new structure was raised on an adjoining lot in the summer of 1854, under the direction of a building committee composed of Rev. Daniel Daniels, Evan Jenkins, Edward Hughes, John Reynolds and Benjamin Daniels. It is a plain frame building, thirty-one by forty-five feet, but had an attractive interior. It is proposed to remodel this church in the summer of 1887 by adding a lecture-room, twenty by twenty-six feet, and a tower, eleven by eleven feet, in which will be a vestibule. The tower will be raised to a sufficient height to contain a o bell. It is estimated that the new edifice will cost three thousand dollars, and the work has been placed in charge of a committee composed of John Watkins, Samuel Daniels, Walter M. Leek, David Davis and E. K. Anthony. The ground on which the church stands has been enlarged to one acre, a. part of which is devoted to the burial of the dead. In 1836 the Rev. Jenkin Jenkins, a son of Zachariah Jenkins, one of the first members, became the pastor, and so continued until 1843. It was under his direction that the first meeting-house was built. At the same time that he served here he preached in the Presbyterian Church at Dundaff, and thus the Welsh Church passed under the care of the Presbytery, though retaining its form as Congregational body. This relation was sustained nominally until after 1850. Mr. Jenkins was educated at the Auburn Theological Seminary, and was a minister of ability. At the time he left the congregation it was comprised of the following families or single persons: Thomas Watkins, Daniel Moses, Noah Owens, David Edwards, David Anthony, David T. Thomas, Henry Davis, John Howells, David Evens, William Rowell, William P. Davies, Robert Ellis, Even Jenkins, Jenet Jenkins, John Michael, Sarah Bell, David Richards, David Rees, David Moss, Edward Hughes, Benjamin Daniels, Mary James, John Davis, Daniel Davis, Guenellian Reynolds, Daniel Harris, Mary Jones, Thomas Evens, Lewis Evans,

Clifford Township

Page 804

Evan Jones, Elizabeth Owens, Margaret Harris, David E. Thomas, Job Nicholas.

From 1843 until 1848 the congregation had no regular pastor, but was supplied with preaching and had lay services. They often held meetings with Americans who were religious, though neither could understand the language of the other. Some prayed in Welsh, others in English, and both sang the same tune together, each using their own language in hymns of the same meter, while the Holy Spirit communicated its influence from soul to soul, until sometimes all present would be in tears. In 1848 the Rev. Samuel Williams became the pastor, and remained two years. He was succeeded in 1850 by the present pastor, the Rev. Daniel Daniels, whose services have been continued ever since.

He was born in Glamorganshire, South Wales, in 1816, and came to the country at the age of sixteen, living for twelve years at Carbondale. At that place he was licensed to preach in 1842, and in 1847 he was ordained to the ministry. He served the Beaver Meadow and Colerain Churches until 1850, when he became the pastor of the Clifford Church and of the charge which includes the Welsh families of Gibson and Herrick. Few ministers in the county have labored more zealously than he, or have had a longer continued pastorate. The congregation in 1887 had ninety members, of whom Samuel Owens and Richard Davis were deacons, and Welter M. Leek clerk. Benjamin Daniels was the first clerk, and others who served in that capacity were Samuel Owens, Thomas R. Davis and Zachariah Jenkins. The principal services are still held in the Welsh language, but in prayer-meetings and lectures the English is often spoken, and it is but a question of a few years when it will be the prevailing language, not only in the church, but in the Welsh settlements of this part of the county.

The Clifford Seventh-Day Baptist Church was organized about 1882 with eleven members, as follows:
Elias Burdick, Sarah Burdick, Kendal Burdick, Hannah Burdick, Harriet Burdick, Putnam Edwards, Dolly Edwards, Mason Burdick, Zebediah Burdick, Mary Burdick, Philip Burdick.

For more than twenty years the church had no regular preacher, there being noother church of this denomination in the State, and none nearer than a hundred miles. But missionaries sometimes visited this isolated band, and strengthened the faith of the members by preaching frequently, sometimes remaining a month or longer. Prayer and conference meetings were also held every Sabbath at the houses of the members, usually at Elias or Kendall Burdick's. After 1854 there was a. cessation of services for about a year; but in 1856 the Burdick family were joined by Deacon Barber Cardner and others of that family, and the services were renewed. This awakened so much interest that a small plain, frame meeting house was built on the farm of Kendall Burdick in 1857, which was dedicated by Elder Alfred Burdick, from Rhode Island, assisted by Elder Libbius M. Cotteral. At a more recent period the house was enlarged by the addition of ten feet to its length, and it has since been kept in fair repair. Articles of faith were adopted the same year, and Philip Burdick elected as a deacon to serve with Barber Cardner. Upon the death of the latter, in 1864, Stephen Cardner was chosen a deacon, and he and Philip Burdick have since served in that capacity. In 1854 the church also became connected with the Central Conference of New York, of which body it has since been a member, and soon after Elder A. W. Coon became the pastor, serving many years. In consequence, the membership increased, reaching its maximum in 1882, when thirty-four persons belonged. In 1886 twenty-eight persons constituted the membership, and although there was no regular pastor, those belonging rigidly adhered to the faith which they had accepted in the face of much opposition. Though not strong in numbers, the church is firmly established, and is the only one of this denomination in the county.

The Elkdale Baptist Church was organized July 25, 1851, as the "Union Regular Baptist Church of East Clifford," and bore that name until 1886, when the above title was adopted. The constituent members were eighteen in number, as follows:
Alanson Halstead, Phoebe Halstead, Lucy Weaver, Eleanor Brownell, Martin Bunnell, Phebe Halstead, Fanny Wells, Clarissa Burns, Harriet Goon, D. W. Halstead, Thomas Burns, Benjamin Dexter, Benjamin Goon, Cordelia Arnold, Lovissa Baker, Lovissa Halstead, Philena Dexter, Irena Bunnell.

On the 23d of August, the same year, Thomas Burns and Alanson Halstead were elected the first deacons of the church, and they and F. F. Hayden, the present deacon, are the only ones who ever served in that office. D. W. Halstead was elected the first clerk at the same time, and was succeeded in 1858 by S. A. Halstead. From 1859 to 1870 Wright Wells was the clerk, and the next three years D. L. Stevens served in that office. In 1873 James W. Lowry was elected, and has since served, with the exception of one year (1883), when Wright Wells was again the clerk. He is also a trustee of the Abington Association, to which the church belongs.

The Rev. J. L. Richmond was the first pastor of the church, but in 1852 the Rev. J. W. Parker commenced preaching for one-fourth his time. Elder Wm. A. Miller began a pastoral relation in 1854, and soon after others supplied the pulpit. In 1860 the Rev. R. J. Lamb was called, and seven years later the Rev. A. O. Stearns began a pastorate which was continued a number of years. The successive ministers hare been the Revs. Wm. A. Miller, S. E. Miller, A. H. Whitcomb, R. M. Neill and Wm. James.

Clifford Township

Page 805

Since 1886 the church has had no regular pastor. On the 21st of January, 1854, the Rev. D. W. Halstead was licensed to preach, and frequently exercised this gift here and in the neighboring churches. He was zealous of good works, and the early prosperity of the church was greatly promoted by his labors. He sleeps in the cemetery, by the church, but his good works are still held in remembrance.

The first meetings were held in the school-house, but in 1854 the present neat house of worship was erected and has since been made attractive by repairs. It was dedicated Map 3, 1855. It is plain frame; with a slate roof, and has several hundred sittings. Its interior is very inviting. On the lot a number of horse-sheds have been erected. The property passed under the control of a board of trustees, which was incorporated January 24, 1855, and which was composed of Alanson Halstead, Thos. Burns, Wright Wells, Martin Bunnell, D. W. Halstead and L. B. C. West. Their successors, in 1887, were F. F. Hayden, Geo. H. Hayden, John Burdick, Alden Burdick, J. W. Lowry and S. E. Lowry.

The Second Clifford Baptist Church was organized on the west slope of Elk Hill December 8, 1841, with six male and four female members. Wm. Tripp was chosen deacon, but did not serve long, as death called him to his reward Sept. 7, 1842. The meetings were held in the Brundage school-house, on the Collar road, and worship was statedly maintained, the Rev. Charles Miller being the first minister. Soon after George A. Hogeboom was licensed to preach, and ministered to the church at intervals for seven years. Elder Wm. A. Miller also preached at this place. In 1846 there were sixteen communicants, and the following year Elder Wm. McKowan was one of the preachers. In 1848 the church asked to be dropped from the Abington Association, which was not granted. The following year Elders John Miller and Henry Curtis were delegated to visit this and the Herrick Church and ascertain their condition and prospects. They reported that they found them in a state of decline and unable to maintain an existence. On the 1st of December, 1850, the church was dissolved and the members dispersed among neighboring churches. For many years the northwestern part of the township had no organized religious body, except the Welsh congregation, but in 1874 an effort was made to form a Free-Will Baptist Society, which was attended with some success. A number of members were gathered together and preaching was statedly held by Elders Stone, Fish and Prescott. In 1878 a number of persons who attended these meetings connected themselves with the Methodist Church at Clifford, leaving the Free-Will Baptist so few in numbers that the meetings were discontinued. This condition of things prepared the way for the organization of the West Clifford Evangelical church. In 1879 the Rev. J. W. Hollenbaugh, an itinerant of the Evangelical Association, visited this section and his preaching was received with so much favor that he was solicited to hold services regularly. An awakened interest made the organization of a class possible, which had among its members
G. W. Moore and wife, W. H. Hasbrouck and wife, B. F. Bennett and wife, Thomas N. Doud and wife, Moses Cox and wife, J. R. Bennett and wife, Charles Truesdell and wife. Others were added until, in a short time, about forty persons belonged. This made the erection of a church possible. It was completed for dedication in the fall of 1880, by a building committee, composed of W. H. Hasbrouck, C. D. Ransom and George W. Moore. The church is a frame, thirty-two by forty-two feet, surmounted by a. spire, in which is a bell weighing seven hundred and fifty pounds. The location is on an eligible lot from the farm of Hasbrouck, at West Clifford hamlet, affording a convenient house of worship for this part of the township. It was erected mainly through the efforts of the pastor, the Rev. Hollenbaugh, who was the preacher until 1880. Since that time the appointees by the Central Pennsylvania Conference, of which this church is a part, were the following: 1881, Rev. N. H. Hartman; 1882-83, Rev. J. W. Messenger; 1884-86, Rev. B. F. Keller; 1887, Rev. C. D. Moore.

West Clifford charge embraces, besides the above church, preaching appointments in Lenox and Harford, the entire membership being about sixty.

CEMETERIES.--One Of the first places of interment in the township was on the hill east of the Baptist Church at Clifford. It is said to contain the remains of twenty persons, and was not used after 1814, when John Robinson was the last person buried there. The graves have long since been obliterated. Not long after the old ground was abandoned, George Oram set aside three-fourths of an acre lower down the valley, which was enlarged by his sons, after his death, by the addition of several acres. The whole has been inclosed by a substantial stone wall, and beautified by the planting of evergreen and shade-trees. It is a public cemetery and contains many hundred dead. For many years Burgess Smith was the sexton, and interred more than four hundred persons. The trustees in 1887 were James Decker, Henry Rivenburg and Monroe Callender.

On the west side of the brook and along the Carbondale turnpike is the handsome burial-ground of the "Clifford Valley Cemetery Association." This body was incorporated August 22, 1866, as the Clifford Valley Cemetery, on the petition of P. H. Gardner, S. E. Miller, Thomas W. Atkinson, W. W. Wallace, William H. Hasbrouck, E. S. Lewis, J. G. Wetherby, J. B. Stephens, John Montgomery, James F. Hodgson and William Lott. The charter was amended in August, 1878, and the name changed to the present title. Four acres of land admirably adapted for the purpose were purchased and improved, being laid out into streets, alleys and blocks,

Clifford Township

Page 806

twenty by thirty-two feet. The cemetery was inclosed with a stone wall, and many of the walks have been graded. Many of the shares of the Association's stock have become the property of J. B. Stephens. In 1887 the officers of the association were J. G. Wetherby, president; P. H. Gardner, secretary; Julius Young, treasurer; T. W. Atkinson, S. E. Miller and E. R. Gardner, auditors.

In the northeastern pert of the township are several private and neighborhood cemeteries, which have been well kept. Among these are the burial-places on the David B. Stevens and Elisha Burdick farms. The former is small, but contains a fine monument. In the latter many interments have been made.

There are also several small cemeteries near the Stillwater, all being of a private nature.


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