There is so much material on the history of Donegal Presbyterian Church to be organized and posted. Here is just a sampling of information about this historic Church. As time permits, much more will be shared.
ZIEGLER'S 1902 "AUTHENTIC HISTORY"-- COMPLETE TEXT
If you are interested in reading more, try An Authentic History of Donegal Presbyterian Church published by J. L. Ziegler, M.D., in 1902. Ziegler was a member of the Church as early as 1836 and has wonderful first hand knowledge of the church in the 19th Century.
A summary of biographical information about early Ministers and Church Leaders can be found here. This page is available here as a PDF file, and will be updated as information is further verified or updated.
MISCELLANEOUS DONEGAL CHURCH HISTORY NOTES
from numerous sources
In 1710 there were but seven Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania, viz: Philadelphia, Neshaminy, Welsh Tract, New Castle, White Clay, Apoquinimy (Drawyers?), and Lewes. New Castle and Lewes are now in Delaware.
Rev James Anderson, first pastor of Donegal, installed August 1727, continued until his death July 16, 1740. The church then had supply pastors until Rev. Joseph Tate was called and installed in 1748, and served until his death, October 10, 1774., after which the church was again supplied until 1776. Near the close of Mr. Tate’s pastorate, the church building was remodeled by Col Hugh Pedan.
Entrance was through arched double doorways in the center of the side facing the graveyard, which is on the southeast. There were two windows at each end, and in the rear toward the spring, the windows corresponded to the number opposite. The tops of the windows were arched matching the double doorway opening to a broad aisle toward the pulpit area.
The doors were made of 2-inch oak plank, heavily battened. The window shutters were also battened. The window muntins (strips separating panes of glass) and rails of the sash (framework in which panes of glass are set) were constructed of lead. One account states that at some time the windowsills were made of sandstone.
Historian Samuel Evans says that the building was 38 ft. by 68 ft. (interior?). Mr. Barr Spangler, grandfather of Robert Spangler, who lived more than a century, writing memoirs in the late 1800’s, stated that benches alone were used in the church at first. Later, pews were made of yellow pine and oak and remained unpainted until perhaps 1772. This was corroborated by writings of Miss Martha Bladed Clark, first president of the Donegal Society for many years beginning in 1911.
Miss Clark also wrote that the floors were earthen until the aisles were paved with brick. (One of these octagonal bricks was on display in the narthex until about the middle 1900’s, after which it disappeared.) It was during the 1851 remodeling that the wooden floors were installed. She said none of the woodwork was painted until 1851.
Concerning the building, Miss Clark wrote in 1913: “After the first log meeting house had been used for a dozen years, the present edifice was erected. Loose stones were collected from the surrounding woods. No effort was made by the masons to dress the stones. They simply were laid in mortar to a line. The edges were craggy or rough until the remodeling of the building in 1850-51.”
At the first remodeling in 1772, John Bayley furnished the walnut boards made from his tree and by his sawmill. It was either at or near the mill erected by John Galbraith, brother of Andrew Galbraith, where Wolgemuth’s mill is now located and Donegal Run flows under the Mount Joy-Marietta pike. From this walnut the first pulpit and sounding board were constructed. The present pulpit is an expansion of this first one.
The 1851 remodeling relocated the pulpit to the end wall with pews faced in that direction. The backs of pews, which had been high as a man’s neck, were lowered. Iron pillars which supported the ceiling were removed and taken to the basement of a building in Mount Joy which in later years was the Newcomer Hardware store. At that time also, the narthex (or vestibule) was partitioned off as the congregation had dwindled and no longer needed the large number of pews. With the plastering of the exterior stone also, members would say “ Nothing is the same except the gambrel roof.”
1787 DEED -
Have you taken a look at the 1787 deed for the church glebe land when 240 acres was sold? It has been prepared for framing with acid-proof materials by restoration experts, and put in a beautiful chestnut wood frame by Ken Ginder. Al Withers made the restoration work possible in 2011. It is on display on the wall of the downstairs (hall) gallery. And we are happy to say that there was a buyer found for the 1700’s deed of two properties originally owned by Wilson families. Their tracts adjoined the church and probably are the lands on either side of the Colebrook Road going toward Rheems.