Churches in Union City, 1900
By Miss Ella Richards
Union City High School
It is hard for us now to realize the condition of the country when the first church of Union, the Presbyterian, was organized. The settlers were few; some of them lived eight miles apart and a very few of the roads at this time were anything more than paths through the woods. There were eight members of the first church of which Reverend John Matthews was the pastor and divided his time between Waterford, Gravel Run and Union. Only every four weeks did he preach here, although services were regularly held every Sabbath, each of the three elders officiating in his turn, during the vacant Sabbaths.
Even in 1839 there was no village and the people came with their lunches prepared to spend the day in the church. The pastor in visiting the rough cabins of the settlers found his way from house to house by marks on the trees. Despite all drawbacks the congregation steadily increased and it is interesting to note that notwithstanding their fewness these stern old church men would allow no unworthy members to remain among their numbers, since two long church trials were held. Of the offenders, one was accused of selling intoxicating liquors, the other, of dishonest dealings. Both were finally suspended from the church. The lesson could well be applied at the present day. None of the church members perhaps sell liquors, but they do give their votes in order that saloon keepers may obtain licenses.
Six years after the establishment of the Presbyterian Church the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Reverend Ira Eddy in 1817, although irregular services had been held in the vicinity for about sixteen years by various Methodist ministers.
In 1857, St. Teresa’s Catholic Church was organized by families being attended for several years by supplies from Pittsburgh.
There were eleven members in the First Baptist Church which was formed in 1859 in the Methodist Church. Elder B. Rathbone preached to them occasionally in the Methodist or Presbyterian churches until Reverend Bush became their regular pastor and encouraged by him they built a meeting house of their own.
The United Brethren Society was next organized about 1872. Its early services were held in the Presbyterian or Methodist churches until their own church was built in 1876.
The Episcopal Church was organized last, about 1875. Regular services are at present held in all of these except the Episcopal and all seem to be in a flourishing condition.
New families are constantly coming as our town increases and are at once welcomed to the various churches.
The Sabbath schools have nearly doubled in the last ten years, but there is always room for more. Many instances can be cited of little children found out and furnished with necessary clothing that they might enjoy the benefits of these schools with the other children
The women are usually the workers in the churches of Union as in most towns. The men give their money, it is true, but they forget to add their good works and often their presence. At church and at prayer meetings there is nearly always a predominance of women which seems very strange, for judging from street appearances, there almost as many men as women in Union.
By the last census there were about 3,000 people in Union. Of these 1,644 are church members, leaving 1,356 people who do not belong to any church organization.
Of course, a large per cent regularly attend, yet, more might be added to the church rolls by zealous labor.