Each week of our birthday year, we will be posting a story from our history in the bulletin. Below are the ones that we have already posted.
February 16 – Allentown issued a call for the Rev, Charles McKnight to become their pastor in 1744, after being without a pastor for 10 years. After considering the call for several months, he agreed to serve both Cranbury and Allentown. However, he lived in Cranbury and a controversy raged from 1748 to 1756 as to where he should live. In 1756, he moved to the parsonage farm in Allentown, and served only the Allentown Church as it appears Cranbury had gotten in arrears in their payment of Rev. McKnight.
Charles McKnight was the son of a minister of Scotch-Irish descent. His ancestors were driven from Scotland and Ireland for their beliefs. His patriotism was evident from his preaching and became stronger during the Revolutionary War. He was a staunch Patriot, and died a martyr’s death in the cause of freedom, although he had left Allentown in 1766.
February 9 – Rev. Joseph Morgan, the Tennent pastor who helped to organize our first congregation, seems to have been a most colorful individual. Probably of Welsh origin, he was born in New London, Conn., educated at Yale, and ordained as a congregational minister. He came to Freehold in 1709 and served Old Scots (Tennent) and the Dutch Reformed Church. Three quarters of his time was given to the Dutch and one quarter to the Presbyterians. During his entire ministry, he had difficulties with both churches. The Benjamin Franklin papers state he was undisciplined, cantankerous, drank excessively and experimented with astrology, promiscuous dancing, and transgressing in drink. He left Freehold, in 1729, but misfortunes continued to plague him. After hearing George Whitefield preach (the great evangelist from England), he went out proclaiming the Gospel in the Jersey pines and along the Jersey coast.
February 2 – Rev. Joseph Morgan, the Tennent pastor who helped to organize our first congregation, seems to have been a most colorful individual. Probably of Welsh origin, he was born in New London, Conn., educated at Yale, and ordained as a congregational minister. He came to Freehold in 1709 and served Old Scots (Tennent) and the Dutch Reformed Church. Three quarters of his time was given to the Dutch and one quarter to the Presbyterians. During his entire ministry, he had difficulties with both churches. The Benjamin Franklin papers state he was undisciplined, cantankerous, drank excessively and experimented with astrology, promiscuous dancing, and transgressing in drink. He left Freehold, in 1729, but misfortunes continued to plague him. After hearing George Whitefield preach (the great evangelist from England), he went out proclaiming the Gospel in the Jersey pines and along the Jersey coast.
January 26 – By 1720, Allentown had its first organized congregation and a meeting house was built on what is now Lakeview Drive. Little is known about this first building, It stood at the north end of the old cemetery and was reached through a lane that now lies between 29 and 33 South Main Street. It was small, rectangular in shape, and probably had no carpet, or glass in the windows. It was unheated and candles were used. It was probably unpainted. It is not known if it was wood or brick. This meeting house served as a place of worship for 80 years for 3 denominations. After 1730, it was shared with the Episcopalians and it was used for a time by the early Methodists. During the Revolution, it was occupied by the British, possibly as a stable, and in 1805 it was torn down.
January 19 – In the late 1690’s and early 1700’s, some of the Presbyterians from Old Scots (Old Tennent), followed the Indian trail to Allen’s Town. This was the Old Burlington Path Road from Middletown to the Delaware River. Among those coming to Upper Freehold were Patrick Imlay, a member and trustee of Old Scots, and children of the Henry and Francis prisoners. Here they settled next to the Quakers, such as Nathan Allen who had come from Philadelphia and started a grist mill. They were coldly received by the Quakers, who had also come for religious freedom, but had very different beliefs than the Presbyterians.
January 12 – Our Presbyterian forefathers were persecuted in Scotland and sent to this country as slaves aboard the Henry and Francis. When they landed on the Jersey shore in December 1685, Mr. John Johnson, then in charge of the ship, tried to talk them into working for him for 4 years to pay for their passage. When they refused, he took them to court. When it was known that they were banished from Scotland against their will, forced on board ship, and had not entered into any agreement for passage, the Colonial Grand Jury set them free. Some walked to New England, some stayed in Jersey, and some returned home then William of Orange came into power in 1688. Those still in Monmouth County in 1692, organized and built the first log cabin meeting house near Free Hill. Ironically, both Mr. Johnson and some of the slaves were founders of this church called Old Scots (now Old Tennent).
January 5 – Our history begins in Scotland when Charles II (1660-1688) began a policy of persecuting all those who would not worship in the Church of England. A group of Scotch Presbyterians were imprisoned in Dunottar Castle. In Sept. 1685, after being given a chance to repent they were marched 66 miles to Leith, Scotland and banished in slavery to America. To mark them as slaves, the men had an ear cut off, while the women were branded. Another Presbyterian, George Scott, Laird of Pitlochy, also fined and persecuted had sold his estates, and hired a ship called the Henry and Francis to take him, his family, and others to America. The slaves were given to him to sell for their passage. During the 15 week voyage (Sept. 5th- Dec. 15, 1685) 70 persons died including George Scott. John Johnson, Scott’s son in-law, was now in charge. Strong winds blew the Henry and Francis to the Jersey shore, where they landed on Dec. 15th.
December 22 – From the Trustee Minutes of April 29,1895: Motion made that the pew cushions be cleaned and that the Sexton be instructed to turn them after each Sunday Evening Service. (At that time there were both morning and evening services each week.)
From the Trustee Minutes of Nov. 11, 1895: The Sexton has cleaned the cushions and left them in better order. Should we have Pat turn the new cushions each week?
December 15 – There was a complete redecoration of the sanctuary in 1943. The work was done during the winter months while worship was being held in the Chapel. This was due to the fuel shortage during World War II. At the time, the pews were painted brown, the wainscoting under the windows and in the vestibule were a yellowish brown with grain effect, and the pew cushions were brown and badly worn. The committee visited several colonial churches to get suggestions and ideas. The result was, the pews and woodwork were painted ivory, the walls a blueish-gray, copied from the Princeton Chapel, and the cushions and carpet changed to red. The transformation was striking, going from the dark interior to the light color. Congratulatory letters poured in expressing “how wonderful our Grand Old Church looks.” (Congratulations to all those who worked on the recent redecorating of the sanctuary. The harmony of the blue walls, cushions, and carpet is peaceful and pleasing and maintains the colonial character of our “Grand Old Church.”