Milton History

a pictorial history of Milton, PA

Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church

21 Upper Market Street

This church is on Upper Market Street, midway between Front and Arch Streets. It was built in 1849, and was the only church to survive the Great Fire of 1880.

Photo (1880) from the book “Milton, Pennsylvania, the 19th Century Town on Limestone Run” by Homer F. Folk; courtesy of the LeRoy Sweitzer Collection

From the book “Chronicles and Legends of Milton” by George S. Venios: The Christ Episcopal Church erected the first place of worship at Milton on property donated by Joseph Marr, Sr. in 1795. Located on Marr's Lane, where the Lincoln Street School was later built, it was actually a short distance beyond the town boundary but was still considered a Milton church. The donated property also included a parcel for a burial ground. During cold winter months, the small log chapel was heated by means of a large square hole cut in the middle of the floor where a big fire was built early in the morning. The smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. Later in the day, ready for worship, the fire would be reduced to embers maintaining warmth in the building. This church was occupied until 1849 when the present brick church was erected on the north side of Upper Market Street on land donated by Roland McCurley.

From Bell’s History of Northumberland County 1891: The Protestant Episcopal Church erected the first place of worship at Milton. There were a number of English families in the vicinity of the town at an early date, among them those of John Covert, William Hull, Joseph Marr, McCurley, Samuel Stadden, and Matthias Webb, who, with the families of Hepburn, Rittenhouse, Seydell, and others in the village were early organized as a parish. In May, 1793, Matthias Webb appeared at the diocesan convention in Philadelphia as their representative with a petition requesting that Caleb Hopkins might be appointed minister of "Christ church in Turbut township." But as Mr. Hopkins had never studied the Greek and Latin languages, his qualifications were not deemed sufficient, and a committee was appointed to make further inquiry regarding his character and ability. At the convention in the following year Bernard Hubley appeared as delegate from Christ church in Derry township and Christ church in Turbut township, and repeated the request for Mr. Hopkins's services as rector. The committee having reported favorably, Mr. Hopkins was accordingly ordained. He resided at that time or at a date several years later at Bloomsburg, Columbia county; East street in that town was laid out by him, and was known for some years under the local name of Hopkinsville. He is represented as a man of tall and portly form, and although not a classical scholar, his discourses were often eloquent. His field of labor included that large part of Northumberland, Montour, and Columbia counties embraced between the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna, with preaching places at half a dozen points, and to his work is justly due the honor of having established the churches of his denomination in this section of the State.

On the 18th of August, 1795, Joseph Marr donated to Matthias Webb, Samuel Stadden, and John Covert, trustees of the Turbut or Milton "Christ Church," a small field from his farm for the double purpose of a church site and burial ground. A small log church edifice was erected thereon, with gallery, and pulpit of the style then in vogue. This was situated on Marr's lane (now Fourth Street), the boundary of the borough as erected in 1817, and at the site of the present Lincoln Street school house. It was just beyond the original northern limits of the borough, but may properly be regarded as a Milton church, although Mr. Hopkins occasionally preached in the afternoon under the trees on the bank of the river above Broadway to a promiscuous congregation composed of his regular attendants at morning service and other residents of the village. The Marr's lane church was occupied until the year 1849, when a brick edifice was erected on the north side of Upper Market street on a lot of ground donated for the purpose by Roland McCurley of Union county. Rev. B. Wistar Morris was pastor at the time, and the dedication occurred, July 17, 1849, Bishop Potter officiating. This was the only church edifice that was not destroyed in the great fire of 1880, and was appropriated to the use of the Ladies' Relief Committee during the period of destitution that followed that calamity.

In the year 1820 Mr. Hopkins was succeeded by Rev. Elijah D. Plumb, who remained until 1826, and from that date the succession of rectors has been as follows James Depui, 1826-34; Isaac W. Smith, 1835-36; Joshua Weaver, 1844; B. Wistar Morris, 1847-49; John G. Furey, 1850; William White Montgomery, 1853; J. W. Gougler, 1855; John G. Furey, 1861-63; Lewis W. Gibson, 1863-64; B. Hill Browne, 1865; J. H. Hobart Millet, Charles A. Vandyke, 1868; George F. Rosenmiller, 1872-73; B. R. Phelps, 1874; George F. Rosenmiller, 1875-76; Charles L. Newbold, 1876; M. Karcher, 1877; W. H. Johnson, 1881; M. W. Christman, 1890, present incumbent. At various times throughout its history the parish has been without established pastoral service and dependent on the diocesan missionary or the clergy of neighboring parishes for preaching and the administration of the sacraments.