Historically Speaking – Q&A

The Historical Committee of Paxton Presbyterian Church plans to publish a series of short articles that will trace the history of the church and its members in upcoming issues of PACE.  The following questions and answers represent the first in this series.

Q-1   When was the construction of our meeting house begun?

A-1 Construction began in 1740.  It was several years before it was completed.  The outer walls of the meeting house are unchanged.

Q-2   What is the earliest documented marked grave in the burial ground?

A-2      The earliest documented marked grave was that of Mary Elder, first wife of Reverend John Elder, who died at age 33 in 1749.   The oldest marked grave now is that of John Allison who died in 1766.

Q-3   When was the first flooring added in the meeting house?

A-3   The tradition of the church is that originally there was no flooring or pews and everyone sat on log benches.  In 1789, wood floors were built, comprising the long aisle and short aisle.

It is unknown when families began to rent space to build their “family pews.”  The boxes would be like the ones you see today except they would have been much rougher in construction and the boxes went up as you moved away from the front of the church.   Pew rents were used towards the cost of maintaining the building and supporting the pastor.   There was no central heating at first so the boxes served the function of keeping in some of the heat from foot warmers.

Q-4   When was the ceiling first enclosed?

A-4   in 1808, the rafters were enclosed with a ceiling of yellow pine, pine partitions were built at each end of the sanctuary (the one on the east had a wood floor and the one on the west, a brick aisle and dirt floor), and 2 wood stoves installed in the long aisle.

Q-5   When was the meeting house first “modernized?”

A-5   In 1847, the old interior was entirely torn away, a new wooden floor was installed, and the pulpit was moved to the west end of the sanctuary.  Sometime in the early 1850s, carpet and green venetian blinds for the windows were installed.

Q-6   When was the manse built?

A-6   The manse was built in 1855.

Q-6    When was the meeting house again modernized?

A-6   In 1887, the interior was again removed.  The window openings, formerly plastered, were faced with chestnut and new pews and pulpit were bought.  The walls were frescoed for the first time.

Q-7   When was the meeting house first lighted?

A-7   The church was first lighted June 11, 1892, after the installation of two chandeliers for coal oil lamps were installed in the center aisle with brackets for single lamps on the side walls.  There were no evening services prior to 1892.