The first services of the Presbyterian Church were held about 1844, by ‘Rev.’ James Hamilton, in the Central schoolhouse. The method of -making this, appointment was somewhat novel., About four o’clock in the afternoon of a certain day, the good people living along Shamokin and Sunbury streets, had their attention attracted by seeing a fine-looking man, on horseback, riding along these streets, saying: “There will be preaching in the school -house this evening.”
A large number attended who became much interested in Mr. Hamilton, and he was invited to remain and build up a congregation. Mr. Hamilton went to work in earnest, and after great effort, succeeded, in 1845, in building the church now occupied by this denomination. Mr. Stephen Bittenbender was the builder, but the pews were put in by Jonas L. Gilger. The church was organized April 8th, 1845, by Rev. William R. Smith and Elder John B. Boyd, a committee appointed by the Northumberland Presbytery. This was the second church edifice erected in Shamokin, the Catholic being the first.
The following is the first organization:
- Pastor – Rev. James J. Hamilton
- Elders – Solomon Eckert, Daniel Evert, and Alexander Caldwell
- Original Members – Solomon Eckert, Daniel Evert, Alexander Caldwell, Jacob Smirk, Mary Ann Runyan, Mary Cauterman, Mary Evert, Martha Caldwell, Catharine Caldwell, Sarah Ann Reed, Eva Smirk, Harriet Eckert, Mary Black, Sarah Hamilton, and Elizabeth Reppard.
Hamilton remained with the congregation until 1850, when he resigned and moved away.
The church was then supplied with preachers, for some years, that had charge of Elysburg Church. Rev. David Hill succeed Mr. Hamilton, who, in turn, was followed by Rev. Mr. Barr. About 1856, the Rev. P. B. Marr succeeded as pastor, and continued in the work, greatly appreciated by his congregation, until July 1859, when the Rev. A. D. Hawn, a young man who had just completed his studies, was called to supply the pulpit here, and one or two other points. Here the real history of this church begins. Mr. Hawn was a most untiring worker, and, in the course of a few. years, the congregation became the leading church in the town.
During the year 1864, the church building was raised eight feet, and a stone basement placed under it. A spire was erected, and the interior arrangements greatly improved. In November 1864, he was installed as the regular pastor. During this time he took great interest in the welfare of the town. He edited the Herald for some time, served as president of the school -board, took, a great interest in the Lyceum, and identified himself with all the leading movements of the times. In June, 1869, he resigned, after serving eight years as paster. Mr. Hawn was succeeded by Rev. J. P. Conkey, one of the ablest preachers that ever resided at Shamokin. Mr. Conkey remained about two years, and was followed by Rev. Mr. Dewing, who remained one year. In April, 1872, the Rev. S. P. Linn, of Philadelphia, was called to take charge, who remained about two years. After a vacancy of some months, during which time the pulpit, was. filled by preachers from other churches, the Rev. A. C. Clarke was called, and installed in June, 1874.
Mr. Clarke entered upon his duties under some difficulties of a very discouraging nature, but, by uniform courtesy and a persistent effort to do right, he has succeeded, in a great degree, in building up the broken-down walls. Mr. Clarke is a good speaker, who closely devotes his energies to his great calling. He deserves the success he has achieved. The church edifice is a neat frame building, located in the central part of the town, on Sunbury Street. It will accommodate about four hundred people. The present membership numbers two hundred and ninety. The elders are Alexander Fulton, George H. Liebig, and John James.
Presbyterian Sunday School
On the dissolution of the Union Sunday School, in 1854, the Presbyterian Sunday School was organized. Dr. William Atwater was the first superintendent. A large number of scholars were in attendance from the beginning. It is now one of the best regulated schools. in town. The present superintendent is George H. Liebig. Number of scholars, two hundred and twenty-five; teachers, twenty; volumes in library, eight hundred.