Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mixed/Misidentified Church Records on Ancestry - Church Record Sunday

The Durham Reformed Church, Durham, Bucks County, Pennsylvania on's Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 contain more geographic locations than Durham.  I found several Butler County, Penna, ancestors buried in the records.  Here are some details about this particular collection.

Image 145
The Durham collection contains 278 images, a little over half of which are from Durham churches.  But beginning at image 144 you will find a minister's record book with information from other parishes, too.  I assume that because the minister ended his service in Durham, Pennsylvania, his record book remained in that parish with those records.  Hence, its appearance with the Durham Reformed Church records on Ancestry.

Rev. Charles F. Althouse was the pastor at St. Peter's Reformed Church in Fairview, Butler County, Pennsylvania, from February 15, 1897 to June 30, 1902.  It is his record book you will see beginning at image 144.

Pastorates of Rev. Charles F. Althouse
Image 146
Bless his heart, Rev. Althouse was a record-keeper extraordinaire.  His journal begins (at image 146/page 1 of his record book) with the pastorates where he served and the dates of service.

1   Edinburg, Ill. charge - Edinburg and Buckhart -   Sept 15 1894 Dec 1, 1896
2.  Fairview, Pa. Charge - Baldwin and Chicora -      Feb 15, 1897 June 30 1902
3.  McKeesport, Pa.  1st McKeesport                        July 1 1902 - Jan 1 1904
4.  Saxton, Pa. Charge  Saxton and Hopewell.          Mar 1 1904 - Dec 15 1907
5   Christ   Allentown, Pa.                                         Dec 15 1907 Oct 15 1917
6   Phoenixville       Supply from Feb 15/18 -            June 1, 1918 - Apr 16 1922
7   New Williams         "       "   Mar - Oct
8   Durham Charge                                                     Oct 1 1923 - Aug 15 1939

Knowing the dates of when and where he served will help when looking at the recorded names and dates on the journal pages:  in the lists of baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc., he made no indication where one parish's records end and the next begin.

Below is an "index" to the images of  Rev. Althouse's record book on  Image 144 is the beginning of his record book.  Each image shows two pages each of which is numbered separately.  For example, image 147 includes pages 2 and 3.

Image 146
Image 146 / inside front cover
   Pastorates Page 1.
   Church Officers Page 2.
   Communion Seasons 12.
   Baptisms.  22.
   Marriages.  92.
   Funerals.  114.
   New Members.  162.
   Sermons.  250.
   Annual Reports   598

Images 147-149 / record book pages 2-7
   Church officers' names with residence city/town, office, and dates served

Image 150 / record book pages 12-19
   Communion Seasons (dates)

Images 154-178 / record book pages 22-69
   Baptisms (more than 700) (with date, name, age (y-m-d), parents' names)

Images 179-186 / record book pages 92-106
   Marriages (includes date, name of groom, license number, fee, name of bride, place)

Images 187- 202 / record book pages 114 -141
   Funerals (497) (includes date, name, text, age (y-m-d), fee, cause of death, cemetery)

Images 203-222 / record book pages 162-198
   New members (includes date, name)

Images 223-277 / record book pages 250-357
   Sermons (sometimes 2/day & 5-6/week) (includes date, place, scripture reference)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I've written this post because finding my own Butler County ancestors in Bucks County records at Ancestry was confusing.  (This post would have helped when I first began but I don't know if I would have found it.)  This information clarifies this resource and will help me if I want to search the record book for other funerals, marriages, and/or baptisms.  I know has the names indexed but a researcher may overlook them, especially if the surname is a very common one.  Perhaps this information will be useful to someone else but if not, I know I'll refer back to it.  (I wish there were a place on Ancestry at Durham Reformed Church where I could link to this post so it could be helpful to others.)

Now if only Rev. Abner Dale kept a record book and it were available online, I would be thrilled.  I'm sure it would include baptism and marriage records for two families of ancestors.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. If you're on Facebook, there's an group where you could share this information. Or email Christa Cowan -- maybe she'll do a YouTube presentation on this very topic for Ancestry.

    1. Hmmm. I am on Facebook but don't do much there. Maybe I should. Thanks for the suggestion, Wendy.


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