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St. John's Episcopal Church, 1850-1875

-from "The history of St. John's Parish, Wheeling in A History and Record of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia..." by Geo. W. Peterkin, 1902.

From the Digest of Annual Councils of the Diocese of Virginia:

St. John's Episcopal Church, 1850-1875

Convention of 1850

St. Matthew's Church, Wheeling: — Wm. Armstrong, Rector. Since the last Convention, that portion of St. Matthew's Parish, south of Wheeling Creek, has been formed into a separate parish, and will ask of this Convention to be so received and acknowledged. In this new parish a church building has been erected, and the services of an efficient pastor are now being enjoyed. [ . . . ] Communicants transferred to St. John's, 35...

St. John's church, South Wheeling — James D. McCabe, Rector. Communicants 33; baptisms 3;number of families 19; adults 48; infants 40. Contributions: For Grove Creek Mission $35. (p. 124)

Convention of 1852

St. John's Church, Wheeling — Rev. James D. McCabe, Rector. Communicants 62; baptisms 38; Sunday school teachers 14; scholars 65; contributions $214.38.

The parish church was greatly injured by the recent heavy flood in the Ohio river, which laid a large part of our city under water, and destroyed a vast amount of property.

Through the pious activity of the congregation, the building has been repaired at considerable expense. The children of the parish are regularly catechised. (p. 137)

Convention of 1853

St. John's Church, Wheeling — Rev. James D. McCabe, Rector. Communicants 63; baptisms 27; confirmed 7; Sunday school teachers 14; scholars 75; families 38; contributions $254.00.

The condition of the parish is encouraging; the people are devout and energetic, and there can be no doubt but that with the improvement of our city and growth of population, the church will exert an influence commensurate with the increase. We are making an effort to erect a small chapel, in a suburban village, and also a parsonage for the use of the rector of the parish. (p. 145)

Convention of 1854

St. John's Church, Wheeling — Rev. James D. McCabe, Rector. Communicants 74; baptisms 20; confirmed 6; Sunday school teachers 14; scholars 80; contributions $373.31.

The condition of the parish is encouraging, the congregation is active in good works, and liberal in support of all enterprises for the promotion of the principles of the Gospel in the church. During the present year a parsonage will be erected for the rector, at a cost of between $2,500 and $3,000. (p. 150)

Convention of 1855

Seven churches in the roll of this Convention have become extinct: ...St. John's, St. John's, Wheeling, Ohio County... (p. 154)

Convention of 1857

Thomas G. Black, senior warden, St. John's Parish, Wheeling, reports: This Parish has, since the 16th of March, last, been without a Rector. Baptisms 39, communicants 61, Sunday school teachers 16; scholars 115; contributions, Missions, foreign, $13,75; domestic $16.25; Communion alms $181.10; general $287.81. Total $498.91. (p. 168)

Convention of 1858

St. John's Church, Wheeling — Rev. Joseph H. Smith, Rector. Baptisms 29; communicants 62; Sunday School teachers 16; scholars 130; average attendance 80 to 90; families 51; contributions, missions $20; Communion alms $331.65; weekly offertory for incidental expenses $185.94; other collection for Parish purposes $750. Total $1,287.59. (p. 173)

Convention of 1860

St. John's Church, Wheeling — Rev. James Moore, Rector. Baptisms 9; communicants 63.

The present Rector took charge of the Parish on the 4th of October, 1859. During the Winter the Sunday school was well attended. Teachers 19; scholars 125. Average 94 1/2. The late freshet considerably damaged the Church, which on account of its liability to such disasters, and for other reasons, is most unfortunately located. We were deprived of the use of the Church for two weeks, and having no room for our Sunday school, the consequence is that the attendance of both teachers and scholars has fallen off. We trust, however, that we shall overcome the difficulty when we get fairly to work again. (p. 186)

Convention of 1868

St. John's, Wheeling. In the winter of 63-64, the old edifice of St. John's congregation together with the lot situated on South Main Street, was sold and the Parish became disorganized. In October 1866 St. John's Parish was revived, and a well situated lot (60x120) on market street, Center Wheeling, was bought for the purpose of erecting a new church. Sometime before this the Rectory had been sold for $5,000, which was put into the building fund. On Trinity Sunday, 1867, the present Rector took charge of the Parish, since which time, Divine service has been holden continuously in the United States court room, situated in St. Matthew's Parish, by the good will of that congregation. On August 22, 1867, the foundation stone was laid for a massive stone Church, in the style of architecture known as the perpendicular Gothic. The architect and superintendent is Mr. J. G. Fairfax of this city. There has been already expended on the building $11,066.44. The ultimate cost will be about $17,000. It is expected, that the new Church will be finished in about six weeks from this date, and before the close of the summer, free from debt and ready for consecration.

As respects the number of communicants, the present report includes only those who commune regularly. Many more come occasionally to the Holy Table and attend the services of whom no account is taken, because they have not formally signified to the Pastor, their wish to be accounted members of this Parish. when the new Church is entered our numbers will doubtless be much stronger. (p. 224)

Elsewhere in the book:

"The following clipping from the Churchman, may well come in here:"[ . . . ]Work on the beautiful church for St. John's Parish has been suspended during the winter. The congregation was much disappointed in not getting into it for Christmas, as was expected. It is hoped that early in the summer, it will be completed. The Rector (the Rev. William B. Morrow), is doing earnest work in the parish, and will, no doubt, when the new church is occupied, find such a congregation as will leave but little room to spare within its walls.(dated early 1868) (p. 704)

St. John's Church, Wheeling. — On Palm Sunday, 1856, the Rev. Geo. K. Warner took charge of the parish at a salary of $1,000 and a parsonage. February 17, 1857, he resigned, and Bishop Johns was asked to choose a Rector at $800 and a parsonage, but afterwards the vestry decided to recall Dr. McCabe. He was offered $1,200 and a parsonage, but declined. The Rev. Jos. Hicks, of Newark, New Jersey, was called then at $1,000 and parsonage, and took charge August 4, 1857. He resigned March 4, 1859.

September 10, 1859, the Rev. Jas. Moore, of Princess Ann, Maryland, accepted a call to the Parish. There is no record of his resignation, but June 12, 1861, we read that "The Rector having abandoned his parochial charge, the Rectorship was vacant, and Mr. Henry Tallant was appointed Lay Reader, to officiate Sunday mornings in the absence of clergyman."

December 16, 1861, Bishop Bedell being applied to, allowed Rev. Geo. H. Jenks, Deacon, at a salary of $500, to officiate until the Bishops of Virginia could be heard from. Mr. Jenks took charge May 1, 1862, was ordained Presbyter Easter, 1862, and accepted the rectorship of the Parish April 14th. August 9th, he resigned to take a chaplaincy in the army. The Rev. J. T. Smythe took temporary charge until July 1, 1863. He was then Rector until December 26, 1863, when he resigned. His salary had been whatever could be raised, and a parsonage.

About this time the trustees were authorized to sell the church building and lot for the sum of $2,000, and to invest the same in a new church lot on Market street. March 7, the architect, Mr. Kemple, was authorized to get up drawings for a building to cost not more than $10,000. June 16, 1867, the Rev. Wm. Morrow entered upon his duties as the seventh Rector. Until the completion of the new building, services were held in the United States court room in the Custom House Building. August 22, 1867, the corner stone of the new church was laid with appropriate ceremonies.

In 1868, the trustees of St. John's parish having been empowered by act of the Legislature to borrow money, bonds were issued by them to the amount of $10,000, bearing a rate of interest not to exceed 7 3-10 per cent. the payment was to be secured by deed of trust on the church, lot, organ &c. June 29, 1869, it was reported that the financial condition of the church was most unsatisfactory. The church had cost more than the original estimate, the congregation had not grown as had been expected, and now there was a considerable debt and a revenue insufficient to meet the interest on it and to defray the necessary expenses.

September 15, 1869, the Rev. Mr. Morrow resigned and in February, 1870, the effort was made to have the parish worked by an assistant at St. Matthew's, but failed. The Rev. Mr. Benton, of Kentucky, was then called by St. John's, and took charge of the parish March 10, 1870, as the eighth Rector. He resigned December 30th, and the Rev. Jas. H. McMechen conducted services Sunday mornings until September 1, 1871, when the Rev. Thos. O. Tongue took charge was ninth rector at a salary of $1000.

In the treasurer's report January 14, 1871, he states that march 15, 1869, the trustees had caused to be executed 100 bonds of $100 each, bearing interest at 7 per cent. per annum, and payable in five years, secured by deed of trust on church building, lot and organ. He also states that the building, including organ and chancel furniture, had cost $23,758.88. To this had been applied funds from old church lot, $2,000; old parsonage property sold, $5,142.68; bond song, $9,500. Subscriptions, &c. to make the total amount raised $24,695.54. Out of this during 1867 and 1868, the sum of $936.66 was appropriated to pay the deficiency in the Rector's salary, and other expenses, so that the amount actually expended was $23,758.88. The debt at this date is audited at $10,029.69.

During the year 1870, a subscription list was taken for the Rector's salary, and incidental expenses, &c. St. John's parishioners subscribed $1,410. St. Matthew's parishioners and others subscribed $360. June 6, 1873, the Rev. Mr. Tongue resigned, and Rev. J. B. Clark, of East Windsor, Connecticut, was invited to officiate was "Priest of this parish," for four months, from September 1, 1873, at a salary of $1,000 per annum. It was stated that the temporary nature of the call was made necessary be reason of possible financial complications as the bonds representing the financial indebtedness of the church were then becoming due. December 29, 1873, the Vestry called the Rev. Mr. Clark to assume the permanent Rectorship of the Parish, which call was accepted. May 4, 1875, at a meeting of the Vestry it was formally stated that B. M. Eoff, with the sanction of the other bond-holders, had that day made legal demand for the payment of his bonds. The Rector and Vestry recognizing the legal justness of such claims, and regretting their inability to liquidate the bonds, expressed their willingness to leave the premises whenever the bond-holders should request them to do so. But they reserved the right to remove all "moveables" that might be justly claimed as property of St. John's Parish.

Resolutions were passed to rent a hall, remove furniture, &c. to it and to perpetuate the name of St. John's Parish, but there is no further record after that, the Trustees' sale of the property. This sale took place July 14, 1875, and the deed for the church was admitted September 2, for $10,000. (p.717-720)

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