Digging For The Roots Beneath An Heirloom Cabinet Card

Charles W. Tilton, minister, Goshen Baptist Church, 1864-1882, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Mary Jane Minor left no diary, no ledger, no written clues about her daily life, but she did include a photograph of her preacher, Charles W. Tilton, in the Minor Family Album.  If this cabinet card, this tangible thing, is an entry point into my great-great-grandmother’s life, where can I go?  What intersections existed between the lives of a Baptist minister and a mother of four?  What values shaped their lives and structured their days? I wonder…

“Mama, Pastor Tilton is calling us in!”

A table top–thirty feet long–was  covered entirely with cakes, flower bouquets, and fall fruits. Twelve year old Sarah jiggled Bobby on her left hip as she snuck a grape from this Sabbath School Festival picnic. Mary Jane tucked one more stem of goldenrod between fern fronds before reaching out to her baby’s pudgy embrace. A final glance at her arrangement left the mother satisfied, and the slim figure joined the lines of children, teens, parents, and elders now flowing into the red brick sanctuary of Goshen Baptist Church.

Reverend Charles Tilton began, “From the book of Proverbs, chapter one.”

“To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgement, and equity…A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels…”

Wiggling free of his mother’s arms, the one year old slid to the floor where he sat and wailed, strands of hair stuck to his red face. With a sigh the forty year old scooped baby Robert up and quietly snuck out to a quiet spot within earshot of the preacher’s voice.  

“…Know the value of this Sabbath School, assembled here today, which inculcates in our young people morality and uprightness…”

At the sermon’s close, the Baptist minister invited each child to come forward to receive their prize for completed work. Murmurs of approval followed the footsteps to the pulpit.  At last Pastor Tilton recognized the student who had memorized the most Bible verses.  Mary Jane allowed a small smile of pride at her Sarah’s name. A pocket-sized Bible would be a treasured addition to the girl’s night table. 

Gradually Bobby’s nursing slowed, and his arms splayed softly open to embrace his dreams.  Mary Jane rocked back and forth, a metronome to the hymn now drifting out the open windows.  

“Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky, sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly. Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee. Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.”

Goshen Baptist Church

Goshen Baptist Church, Greene County, Pennsylvania, now known as John Corbley Baptist Church

William Hanna, The History of Greene County, Pennsylvania: Containing an Outline of the State from 1682 until the Formation of Washington County in 1781 (1882; image reprint, Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/historyofgreenec00hann), 213.

Samuel Bates, The History of Greene County, Pennsylvania (1888; image reprint, Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/historyofgreenec00bate), 95, 749.

“Religious Revivals,” The Washington (Pennsylvania) Review and Examiner, 2 February 1866, p.3; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 29 July 2014), Newspaper Archives.

“Sabbath School Festival,” The Washington (Pennsylvania) Reporter, 13 October 1869, p.1; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 29 July 2014), Newspaper Archives.

“Tenmile, (Pa.,) Baptist Association,” The Wheeling (West Virginia) Daily Intelligencer, 26 September 1873, p.3, col. 1; digital images, ChoniclingAmerica.loc.gov (http://www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov: accessed 6 August 2014), Historic American Newspapers.

Church Record Sunday: Goshen Baptist Church 1843

“Church Record Sunday – describe a specific church record or a set of records held by a church or denomination and how they can assist genealogists. This is an ongoing series developed by Gena Philibert Ortega at Gena’s Genealogy.”

Trolling through the records of Greene County, Pennsylvania, I came across a transcription of the Goshen (John Corbly) Baptist Church minutes, 1773-1857, in which appear the names of several Minor ancestors.

Abia Minor and his wife, Margaret Pearson, became members shortly after bringing their young family to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania.

3/30/1798

Met at Thomas Wrights and after singing and prayer proceeded to business. When Abia and Margaret Minor were received by a letter of dismission from Highestown, New Jersey.

John Pearson Minor (1791-1874), their eldest son, remained in the vicinity of Big Whiteley Creek and, as noted by local historian, William Hanna, in the 1888 History of Greene County,  was among the prominent members of this congregation, “fervent in spirit” and”diligent in business, being extensively engaged in droving, and one of the active participants in the affairs of the Farmers and Drovers Bank of Waynesburg.”

This religiosity and business acumen would account for the inclusion of this handcut and bound booklet among the documents of the Minor Satchel.

A Copy

We the undersigned do agree to pay the sum assigned to our names.  To John Long, Corbly Garard, jonathan Garard, JP Minor, Vinson Long, Jeremiah Stewart and Abner Morris.  A building committee for the benevolent purpose of building a meeting-house for the regular baptist church on big Whiteley, called Goshen.  To be built of brick 43 feet by 55 feet, one story 14 feet high.  To be built at or near the place where the old house now stands.  The money subscribed to be paid, one half when the house is covered, and the balance when the house is completed.  For the faithful performance of the above we here unto set our names and sum.  This 12 day of December 1842. 

The names and sums pledged are then duly recorded: you can review the entire document at flickr.com. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31479748@N03/sets/72157629979227291/)

The addendum to this 1843 record states indicates that this brick building was completed by February of 1844:

Settled up all borrowed money and A Minor is to lift a note in the xxxxxxx for $220 and give up to John P. Minor xxxx.  my hand this 19th day of February 1844.

 

Goshen Baptist Church was renamed John Corbly Baptist Church