History of our Church
The Beginning: The Years from 1876 to 1928
This is a record of the tremendous effort of the Reverend W.J. Day and the
group of dedicated Christians who together organized our church and shepherded
it through the early years of our existence. Much of the information is taken
from memoirs of Rev. Day and records compiled by Eva W. Swortwood.
The modest beginning of our congregation began in May of 1876. A committee,
comprised of John B. Gloman, John M. Chase and others, representing the
communities of Solomon’s Gap, Fairview, and Penobscot approached the Rev.
William J. Day, Pastor of the Coalville Presbyterian Church( now the Ashley
Presbyterian Church) to assist them in organizing a Presbyterian Sunday School
in the Mountain Top area. Later that year the Sunday School was opened with John
B. Gilman, Superintendent; D.F. Dietrick, Assist. Superintendent and H.
Deitrick, Secretary in an old one room school in the woods below Solomon’s Gap
or South Fairview. Rev. Day walked the distance from Ashley to the Schoolhouse
every two weeks for many years to preach a Sunday sermon.
No information is available about the years between 1880 and 1887, but for
the evidence of effective stewardship of Rev. Day and his congregation.
In June of 1879, the trustees resolved to purchase land for a church structure.
The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company donated a lot 100’ X 190’ on the
Penobscot, White Haven Road. The deed was dated August 26, 1879.
*The Board of Trustees
consisting of John M. Chase, Daniel Deitick, G.B. Stewart, Redmond Lines and
Henry Zerfoss. A building committee consisting of J. Chase, G. B. Stewart, Jacob
Brong, and William T. Small, hired a contractor, Samuel Dutt and ground was
broken in September, 1879. The building was completed in early 1880.
The building was dedicated on February 20, 1880. The Rev. F.B. Hodge of First
Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre preached the sermon for church members
and their many friends from Ashley and Wilkes-Barre who were transported to
Mountain Top for the event by special train provided by the CRR of New
Jersey. At the dedication a total of $782.00 was pledged to complete payment
on the building and the Ladies organization of the church donated the bell
which had been purchased for $183.00
The church remained a branch of the Ashley Presbyterian Church until 1887, with
Rev. Day providing the pastoral care for both churches until 1887. In April of
that year, Rev. Day, at a meeting of the Lackawanna Presbytery, presented a
request that the Mountain Top Church be separated from the Ashley Church and be
reorganized as The Presbyterian Church of Mountain Top. The request was granted
and the final entry in the Session minutes of May 22, 1887, moderated by Rev.
Day, recorded the letters of dismissal to 82 members of the Ashley church and
transferring them, by charter to the Mountain Top church. (*list
of original charter members of church)
On Wednesday evening, May 25, 1887, the committee appointed by Presbytery met
and enjoyed a sermon, preached by the Rev. Dr. Hodge, followed by Rev. Day
reading the list of the 82 members transferred to the Mountain Top Church who
were then organized as the Presbyterian Church of Mountain Top.
Much of what
we know of this important occasion is taken from a copy of an article of the
Wilkes-Barre Record of February 22, 1887
A special train left this city Friday evening at 5:30 o’clock crowded with
people to attend the dedication of the new Presbyterian church, at
Mountain Top. The train stopped at Ashley, where the number was largely
reinforced. After about an hour’s pleasant ride, the party arrived at their
The services were opened by the singing of the appropriate anthem "How Beautiful
are Thy Dwellings", by the Ashley Presbyterian Church choir. Rev. Andrew Brydle,
of Pleasant Valley, read for the Scripture lesson, the exceedingly appropriate
prayer of Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple at Jerusalem. Prayer was
offered by Rev. H. H. Wells of Kingston. The Hymn "Crown Him Lord of All" was
then sung by the choir, after which Rev. F. B. Hodge, of the First Presbyterian
Church, this city, preached the dedicatory sermon from the lxxiv Psalm, ‘How
Amiable are Thy Tabernacles of Lord of Hosts’. The sermon was a masterly
vindication of the truth of Christianity from the flippant and groundless
assertion of atheists and free thinkers. The necessity of the Christian religion
for the welfare and liberty of humanity, was incontrovertibly demonstrated. That
liberty , as we of the present day understand it, it is impossible to attain
without the influence of the Christian religion. After singing Rev. W. J. Day
made a few remarks introducing the several ministers present, after which he
gave an interesting history of the church, from its origin to the present time,
with amounts of subscription received., and the donors. He stated that the
amount still due was $750.00, which was raised then and there. Thus the church
was dedicated entirely free from debt.
The church stands upon a hill, near the railroad, is a very neat structure, will
seat about 125 people, and is very nicely furnished within and without. The
whole cost was $3,190.00 which includes furnaces, carpets, pulpit furniture, and
the ladies of Mountain Top by their own efforts raised sufficient money to
purchase the bell. The idea of having a church at this place was conceived by
the mind of Rev. W. J. Day of Ashley many years ago and it was owing to his
unceasing endeavors the it is now an accomplished fact. He assumed the
responsibility of building the church and solicited and received funds for its
erection from New York, Philadelphia, White Haven, Berwick, and many other
places. For nearly 10 years he ministered to the people of that place as a
preacher of the Gospel and too much can not be said in praise of his zeal. The
church was built by Mr. Dutt of this city who was highly commended for the
excellent manner in which he completed his work. The thanks of all concerned are
due Mesrs. Cassidy and Polhemus for the use of the train to convey those who
attended the dedication; also Mr. L. F. Tennant now of Ashley for their kindness
shown. Taking it all together, it was a most successful and enjoyable affair and
will long be remembered by those who attended. A number of clergymen were
present representing Plymouth, Pleasant Valley, Kingston, Ashley and this city.
Later in this year of 1887 the Rev. Day retired and the pastoral duties were
provided by a ministerial student Mr. Mc Masters during the summer of 1887. The
Rev John H. Aughey of Charitan, Iowa answered the call to this church in May
1888. Again very little is known about the church history during it’s entrance
into the 20th century. It is known that Railroad stopped operation of its Round
House on Penobscot causing concern for the financial health of the church as
well as the community. However, this small congregation of Christians remained
faithful to their God and their church. They were rewarded with introduction of
new businesses which brought with them new parishioners committed to life of the
church. Between 1891 and 1928 the church was served by many
By 1926 the church had outgrown it's present location. Under the direction of the
Rev. Andrew Scott, who had been called to this church in 1921, a plan was
presented to and approved by Presbytery to secure a location for a new and
larger building. In 1927 the Irvin Zerfoss property near Main Road (now Chestnut
Street) was purchased. Early in May of 1928, ground was broken by Elders, J.
Brong, and R. C. Keener. Ministers present at this service were the Rev. Dr. Van
Krug, Rev. Flack, Rev. Graham, Rev. Andrew Scott, from Presbytery and the Rev.
Brong from the Methodist Church of Mountain Top as well as George L. Fenner,
Elder of Presbytery.
Work on erecting the building started immediately with masonry contractor H.O.
Roth under the supervision of D. R. Koons, general contractor. The work
proceeded rapidly and on July 15, 1928 at 3:00 P.M. during a special service
Mrs. Emma Johnson was given the honor of laying the Corner Stone. This service was also attended by our Reverands Flack and
Scott as well Rev. Brong from the Mountain Top M. E. Church.
On November 11, 1928 at the 11:00 AM service our present brick building was
dedicated. Participants in this service. Were Rev. Robert Graham, Pastor of the
Ashley Presbyterian Church and moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. James Kerr,
Dalton, Atty. George L. Fenner, Suburban Superintendent of Presbytery, J. Andrew
Boyd and Rev. Andrew Scott. This service and the services that followed during
the week were planned by the Session assisted by Mrs. B.J. Swartwood, Choir
Director . Persons attending services during the following week were blessed to
hear speakers, Rev. W.H. Sugden, Rev. J. B. Craven and Rev. Samuel Mc Dowell.
Other celebrations were picnics at Mt. Park. The Central Railroad of New Jersey
furnished transportation for both the Presbyterian and Mountain Top M E Sunday
Schools to Mt. Park and back to Penobscot. The close of the year 1928 found our
church growing in spirit and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to our
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