Nessley Chapel Cemetery

Early Chester Churches And Their Ministers

With the permission of Mr. Roy Cashdollar, this section will contain bits and pieces from his book, "A History Of Chester, The Gateway To The West". Please remember that this material is here for your reference and use, but that Mr. Cashdollar holds the copy right. Through some of the early charts and history, one can establish the time in which their ancestors were present in Hancock County.

Prior to 1900, there were no organized churches in Chester and the religious training was given in the home or by traveling ministers. Early in the communities history, camp meetings were held in a clearing at the PUSEY orchard. They were well attended and often ran for two or three weeks.

The first organized church in Chester was the United Presbyterian Church, located on Carolina Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets. This church was started in 1895 when there were less than a dozen homes along an unpaved Carolina Avenue, and it was only a mission Sunday School. The mission Sabbath School was established on land donated by Melvina GARDNER. There were originally 43 congregation members, and the average Sunday School collection was $1.05.

In 1898, three men from East Liverpool churches along with the Senior Young People's Society raised nearly $1,500 to build a frame chapel on this donated land. It was constructed by the Finley Lumber Company at a cost of $1912. The last $500 of debt was paid by a gift from the estate of A. B. MARKS, former land owner and Chester resident, at the dedication.

On November 20, 1900 the church was officially organized by the Steubenville Presbytery with Rev. W. Bruce GILLIS as pastor. He served until 1905. The firs session of elders included: A. M. NICKLES, E. A. SMITH, and J. P. WYLIE. The board of trustees included: J. W. FINLEY, Enoch RILEY, and Oliver HALL.

Rev. J. H. SANKEY (1905-1908)
Rev. J. P. McCONNELL (1908-1913)
Rev. J. I. MOORE (1913-1918)
Rev. Paul L. REYNOLDS (1918-1919)
Rev. Thomas H. NEWCOMB (1919-1925)
Rev. J. T. VORHIS (1929-1936)
Rev. K. Glen FLEMMING (1937-1939)
Rev. Alfred MARTIN (1940-1945)
Rev. C. Howard RANK (1945-1947)
Rev. Alexander C. WILSON (1949-1951)

In 1917 the frame building was torn down and the present brick structure was built.

In 1899, several people from Chester and a few from East Liverpool, OH grouped together to form organized worship services. The meetings were held in the old PUSEY orchard. From these meetings came the need for a regular church. Mrs. Celia CRILL, a guest speaker at the worship meetings, took charge of meetings that were held in a house on Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1904 when the need to expand became evident, the members built a brick church at the corner of Fourth Steet and Indiana Avenue. The expense was a bit more than the congregation could handle and the building was sold in 1914 to St. Matthew Episcopal Church. The Free Methodist Church is presently located on Second Street. It was dedicated in 1918.

The present day St. Matthew Episcopal Church was founded in 1914 out of need, when some 70 people of that faith had moved to Chester. Most of these were employees of the new mill. The Superintendent of the Tin Mill was instrumental in organizing the church, and purchased the building for the congregation. Other names connected with the founding of the church were: LYNCH, BAIN, HULSE, WILLIAMS, DUDLEY and WEDGEWOOD. Although the congregation dwindled when the mill moved out of town, the church still stands and is in use today.

This congregation was organized on Jne 14, 1900 and originally met in a school building in the vicinity of Ferry Road. It had a charter membership of 38 persons and was attached to the Pittsburgh conference of the Methodist Church. A short while later, a site was chosen on Carolina Avenue near Third Street and the present church was erected. It was dedicated in 1901. Two of the early pastors were: Rev. B.H. HODGSON and Rev. H.N. CARNAHAN. In 1971 the name was changed to First United Methodist Church.

On September 26, 1902, the following Catholics met at city hall for the purpose of organizing a parish and obtaining the services of a resident priest: C.P. HORRIGAN, NICHOLAS SWARTZ, JOHN SALING, J.A. FLOOD, WILLIAM LILLIS, JOHN LILLIS, PATRICK BURNS, AND MRS. JOHN WEBSTER.

On October 5, 1902 a site was chosen at Fourth Street and Indiana Avenue to build the church. Two priests were sent here from the Wheeling Diocese to serve. They were Father Oscar Moye and Father Edward Galway. Although they like the town and location of the church, they were discouraged by the small amount of Catholics available.

In December 1902, Rev. William SAUER called his first meeting of members at the home of PATRICK BURNS. At this meeting, the name SACRED HEART was established. For a period of time, the meetings were held in the lounge of the Chester Hotel. The priest lived there until a parish was established. In August of 1903, the rectory was finished and Rev. Sauer moved in.

On October 19, 1905 the school and parish were completed. Parochial school was opened on September 19, 1908. The first teacher, Miss Elizabeth MCKENNA had 65 students. Breaking of ground for the new church was in 1925. The church was dedicated On September 18, 1925. The Sacred Heart Center was dedicated in 1969.

Some of the early priests were: Father THOMAS GARRETT, Father GLEASON, Father DOMNICK, Father JACOBS, Father HICKEY, Father HEANY, and Father BELL.

Forty three members assisted in organizing this church on January 20, 1903. The actual meetings started for this church in 1902. The ground work for this church was laid by Presbyterian ministers along with H.M. RALSTON, A.G. PUGH, SAMUEL ALLISON, J.L. BERNARD, AND A.O. ALLISON, all residents of Chester.

The church was situated between Fourth and Fifth Streets on Indiana Avenue. It was completed on October 16, 1904 at a cost of $11,513.13. The first pastor called to service was Rev. J.W. Dunbar. The church is now called Westminister United Presbyterian Church.

Meetings to organize this church were held at the Cunningham Run School. It was established in 1903 with thirty one charter members. The first lot was purchased from Josiah GARDNER on July 2, 1904. The church was completed in 1959.

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