Church wedding

Ellwood Historical Society researching area church history

The Ellwood City Area Historical Society needs help collecting the history of churches within a 10 mile radius of Ellwood City.

Project chairman Andrew Kindle said the 10-mile radius will include some in Beaver County.

“I need a lot of help with this. Church records are an extremely important part of history because they contain membership lists and information about events, including baptisms and marriages,” a- he declared.

Kindle asks churches and individuals to help document the history of their churches by sharing information, newsletters, directories, pictures, and newspaper articles. Items can be donated or copied and returned.

Kindle also asks for volunteers from 10 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Mondays of each month to help find addresses and contact churches.

“We need volunteers to sort, type, print labels and tabs, come up with ideas and encourage others to join us,” he said.

To contact Kindle with church stories or questions, or to volunteer, email akindle@zoominternet.net or call 724-674-0299.

He will coordinate time to bring the materials to the History Center at 310 Fifth St., or arrange for the materials to be picked up.

“Churches of Lawrence County” by Bart Richards, published in 1963, is an invaluable guide to church history and lists 198 churches.

Currently the historical society has records for 20 churches, but there are 66 churches in the Ellwood area.

“Some churches have closed, some have merged, some have disappeared, but their story is important,” Kindle said.

Some churches were established before Ellwood City became a borough in 1892. Providence Baptist Church in Franklin Township, founded in 1801, is the oldest church.

Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church began in 1803 with a few people meeting at a mill on Slippery Rock Creek, before moving to their current location.

The society is not just looking for church history and artifacts, but volunteers to help reach out to the various churches in the area.

An example of how churches change, Kindle cited the German Lutheran Church, which is currently St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Wayne Avenue.

Older records and directories are very important because there have been great changes in church membership.

Kindle said that in the 1960s, Calvin Church had 650 or more members, as did Christ Presbyterian Church. The Roman Catholic churches of St. Agatha and Blessed Virgin Mary had at least 1,000 members each.

“Churches were growing. They were building additions to have room for Sunday school and educational spaces. Yearbooks from that time will be very helpful,” Kindle said.

The purpose of the Ellwood Area Historical Society is to collect, protect and preserve artifacts of the history of our town and surrounding area. Collecting church histories is just one of the group’s projects.