From the earliest records, the Rev. JAMES McGREADY was the first Presbyterian minister in Henderson County. He came here in the year 1800. Then about 1806 a succession of ministers came here and conducted meetings, their names were BEATTY, PARKINS and DUNLEARY.
About the year 1839 a young Scotchman named JOHN McCULLAGH came to this section and taught school known as the Henderson Electric Institute. He organized the first Sabbath school and he could be seen on Sundays, walking up and down the street ringing a bell, inviting the children of the community to the Sabbath school.
The First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1842, where the QUINN'S drug store and FEIX Metal shop now stands. Part of the original building is still standing at the rear of FEIX'S shop.
The first minister to be called to the new church was the Rev. WILLIAM G. ALLEN, of Shelbyville. He was the grandfather of Miss VIRGINIA SMITH and her CHARLES B. SMITH.
In the year 1866 The Presbyterian Church in Kentucky split into the Northern and Southern, the local church staying with the Southern branch known as the U.S.
Early in the year 1891 the advisability of building a new church was discussed. The old building was now situated in the very heart of a busy city and no longer large enough to take care of its growing membership, and with no room for expansion.
Several months later, the Houston lot, situated on the corner of Main and Washington Streets, directly opposite central park, was purchased at a cost of $5,250. The following committees were appointed to make the necessary arrangements for the building of the new Church.
The corner-store for the new building was laid August 17th, 1893. The building was completed June 1st, 1894. The new church was dedicated June 10th, 1894. An immense congregation estimated at twelve hundred were there to witness the ceremonies, and the new organ, one of the finest in the state poured forth glad hallelujahs.
An early candidate for the ministry from the First Church was BEN ANDRES.
Another product of the church was the Rev. GRAYSON L. TUCKER, Jr. He enjoyed a long and honorable career in the ministry and is now retired and living at Laurel, Mississippi. His son is at this time pastor of the Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY. Another minister to the gospel came from the church in the person of ANGUS M. GORDOR who is one of the most beloved ministers of our Synod and is pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Bowling Green, KY. Another minister from our church was the Rev. WALTER A. HOPKINS who had a long and rich ministry. He died in Covington, KY, in 1933.
No record of the church would be complete without mention of Prof. HARRY E. VON TOBEL who served as organist for over fifty years and his influence in musical circles is still in evidence.
Dr. CUMMINS resigned as pastor of the church September 21, 1925, after a pastorate of 34 years and 6 months. Dr. RUTHERFORD DOUGLAS became the pastor in 1926. DR. DOUGLAS, a graduate of Centre College had also graduated from the Hospital College of Medicine at Louisville, although he never practiced medicine. DR. DOUGLAS resigned in 1938 and served for three years as home missionary for the Muhlenberg Presbytery. Rev. LANDERN CHILDERS became pastor in 1939 and served until 1945 when he resigned to accept the pastorate at the Woodand Presbyterian Church of Nashville, TN.
The Rev. ROBERT PFANGLE became pastor in 1946 and it was during his pastorate that the idea of the Fellowship Hall was discussed and under his leadership, the men of the church did most of the work. Fellowship Hall was dedicated September 10th, 1953 and the Moderator of the General Assembly, DR. FRANK W. PRICE was the featured speaker. MR. PFANGLE resigned to accept the pastorate at Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg, West Virginia, where he is at the present writing. REV. C. SUMPTER LOGAN became pastor of the church September 1, 1954, and resigned in 1957 to go into Church extension work in Utah, on December 27, 1957, the present minister REV. W. BRYANT HALL became pastor.
The church house for many years known as the DORA LETCHER Memorial Church house is being razed, since the building had been condemned and the lot is to be converted into a formal garden to be known as the DORA LETCHER Memorial Garden.
Reprinted with permission.
Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS