Phillipsburg Presbyterian Church, 1853 - 1903




Thro' many years he served his church and God;
He rests with Christ,--his ashes 'neath the sod.

        John Lander was born September 13th, 1798, near Stroudsburg, Pa.  His ancestors were distinguished in English battles, and later fought in Revolutionary struggles.  His strong constitution and marvelous vitality he owed to an upright life and total abstinence.

        In his youth places of worship were rare, but his mother, whose name he never spoke without emotion, taught him his evening prayer and to read his Bible.  His home life had been a religious one, so it was quite natural that coming here in 1852, when there was no church and everybody going to Easton, his first thought was for a sanctuary nearer home.  His persistence soon won others to his way of thinking, and the new church was started.

        The name of John Lander stands first on the church roll of members.  He not only loved his church--was delighted in its progress--but gave most liberally without urging; no matter how large the demand, he never refused.  His wife was alos most loyal to the church--many can yet remember her contributions.  The poor and needy found in her an unfailing friend.

        Many a day in rain or cold, he traveled over the hills "rallying," as he called it, people to church.  If anyone was absent, he missed them when he passed the collection plate, and next day called to find the reason for their non-attendance.

        A member of the Presbyterian Church related some years ago, that if it had not been for Mr. Lander, he would never have been a Presbyterian.  He called on him when a young man and invited him to church.  He accepted the invitation and attended until his death--his children and grandchildren after him.

        In his vigorous life, he scarcely knew what illness meant.  In his last days, he was simply tired, often saying he had lived beyond his "three score years and ten," and wanted to go Home.

        He passed away on October 17th, 1889, so quietyly that his devoted wife thought him sleeping.  She survived him until 1901.

        For thirty-six years he had been a ruling Elder--loving his church as a parent loves a child, always seeking to exert an influence for its good, and doing in his humble wisdom the best he knew--one can do no more.

        Mrs. Jacob S. Stewart and Mrs. James A. Petrie, daughters of Mr. Lander, are still prominent members of our church.

        Benjamin Burwell was born at VanSyckle's Corner, Hunterdon County, in 1811, and was one of a family of ten children.

        In 1832 he married Hannah Kilpatrick, of Sussex County.  He was the father of the late S. B. Burwell and of Mrs. Emily Shepherd and Miss Louisa Burwell.

        In 1853 he was chosen ruling Elder with Mr. John Lander and Mr. John C. Bennett, and for twenty-three years he worked faithfully in the church, and for many years was Superintendent of the Sunday School.

        Mr. Burwell having figured so conspicuously in the history of the church, as recorded in this historical sketch, no further words of commendation are necessary here.

Thinking little of himself
Yet he honored Christ the more
Walking with his Master holy,
Him he served in duties lowly.

        The original of the above cut, John C. Bennett, was born in Belvidere, this County, in the year 1814.

        He was of English and Scotch-Irish parentage, one of his maternal great-grandmothers having been the first white woman in the well known Craig, afterward Scotch-Irish Settlement, at Bath, Penna.  His maternal grandfather was a Captain of the Fourth Artillery in the Revolutionary War, and history records that George Washington complimented him as the best horseman in the army.

        William Bennett, his father, served in the War of 1812.  Very early in life he lost his father and then it was that his inherited quailities--courage, Scotch industry and thrift--stood him in good stead.  With pride he told that beside having helped support his widowed mother, when in 1843 he married Mary Catherine Rarick, he had saved three thousand dollars, owned a horse and buggy, and had a home comfortably furnished at Green's Bridge, where he was manager of the late Enoch Green's general store.

        One Scotch trait he possessto a marked degree--a veneration for learning.  His large family of children were given every educational advantage that in his means lay, and any indifference to knowledge on thier part much disappointed him.

        In the late Forties he moved to Phillipsburg when the town was nothing but a long struggling street.  With keen interest he watched its growth and helped along its enterprises, ever loyal to its best welfare.  Twice he was its Mayor and several times he served in the State Legislature.

        With his father-in-law, John T. Rarick, he worked for the establishment of the first Prsbyterian Church.  He was a long time an Elder, and resigning that became later a Trustee.  True to every trust except in his own best interest, he was a singularly unworldly man, believing ever in human nature at its best.  He was generous, upright and brave.  We pay loving tribute to him as a man!

        A. Ramsey Reese was born in Phillipsburg in 1823, when it was but a struggling village, and no doubt contributed more to the advancement of the town than any other man, by reason of his establishing here an agricultural works, famous all over the country, and for many years the most important works for miles around.  Mr. Reese early showed his inventive turn of mind and his abilities as a mechanic by turning out a hand made steel carriage, which was bought by Philadelphia parties and exhibited there as a wonderful piece of work.  In 1852 he started the agrticultural works and manufactured Mr. Reese's most famous inventions--the hay rake and the self-raking harvesting machine.  He sold his patent rights in 1877 to California parties.

        Many other inventions were made, including the acorn-top tree box, a cotton baler, a patent metallic casket, a chainless bicycle, a wagon hub and small inventions by the score.  One of his later inventions was an automatic weighing machine and he also invented a rock cutting machine.

        Mr. Reese's whole life was one of constant study.  He was a man of retiring nature and never took much to public life even at the time he was one of the leading men of the town.  He preferred his study or private workshop to public office.

        He was one of the founders and first Elders of this church and contributed liberally to its support.  He died June 16, 1897, survived by two sons--Dr. James Mitchell Reese and Adam Reese, and one daughter--Mrs. Wm. A. Ashmore, all of whom are well known residents of Phillipsburg, the last named being a member of this church.

        Dr. Charles Davis was born in Bloomfield, N.J., February 9, 1797.  His ancestors were among those who first settled Newark, in 1666.  After graduating at Princeton College, in 1816, he taught school at Newton, N.J., and Gettysburg, Pa., at the same time prosecuting the study of medicine, which he completed in New York City in 1820.  He then settled in Elizabeth where he had an excellent practice.  He was also President of the State Bank and Mutual Insurance Company of that city.  For a number of years he was Associate Judge in Essex County.

        He removed to Phillipsburg in 1858 in the interests of his children chiefly.  A few years later he became an invalid and removed to Easton, where he died August 21, 1865, age 68.

        He was always reliable, prudent, judicious and, as one wrote of him several years after his death, "He was one in whom all hearts centered, whose heart embraced all in its affection, whose position and influence were not only fatherly but priestly; whose concern for all extended beyond this life."  These characteristics well fitted him for the position of Elder in the church.

        The office was his by inheritance also.  His father, "Deacon" Joseph Davis, was very actively interested in the building of the first church in Newark, more than a century ago (though five miles from his farm), and a few years later he, with others, organized the Bloomfield Church which for a long time held services in his house.  He gave the land on which the church stands and the "Commons" which it faces, the pride of the town.  He also served his country in the Revolutionary War.

        Lewis Marshall Teel was born in Blairtown Township, August 14, 1829.  He came to Phillipsburg when a young man of 23 and lived here the rest of his life.  To the industry, progressiveness and constant effort of Mr. Teel, Phillipsburg owes much of its advancement.  For half a century he had been a friend and counsellor to the growing village.

        Shortly after coming to Phillipsburg he engaged in business, first conducting a dry goods store, subsequently starting a coal and lumber business, continuing the sale of lumber and builders' supplies until his death.

        October 5, 1854, he united with the First Presbyterian Church and November 29, 1858, was elected Elder, which office he held until his death.  While in this office he was an exceedingly busy man, his numerous business connections demanding much of his time, yet he never failed to find enough time to faithfully discharge every duty required of him as an Elder.  Mr. Teel was for many years a trustee and also Superintendent of the Sabbath School.  In every department of his church work, covering a period of about forty years, he was faithful, earnest and conscientious.

        For many years he was President of the Board of Trade and labored unceasingly in this capatity for the good of the community.  He gave much time, energy and money to further the development of the town and assisted largely in bringing several promient industries to Phillipsburg.  His death, January 23, 1898, was a deep shock to the community and the church.  Mrs. J. I. B. Reiley, one of Mr. Teel's daughters, is still a prominent member of the church.  Mrs. H. H. Yonkers, of Springfield, Mass.; Mrs. Chas. S. Jones, of Montclair, N.J., and Mrs. Benjamin Crane, of Washington, D.C., daughters of Mr. Teel, were for many years promiently identified with the membership of the church.

        As an Elder he visited the sick, attended regularly all the services of the church, and worked faithfully in its interests.  A former pastor thus refers to him:  ""A busy man who found time for Christ;s service; a faithful Elder with the interests of the church always near his heart.  Forty years' service but increased his love for Christ and His church."  "The Master praiseth--what are men?"

"The pains of death are past;
Labor and sorrow cease;
And life's long warfare closed at last,
His soul is found in peace.
Soldier of Christ!  well done;
Praise be thy new employ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in thy Savior's joy."

BIOGRAPHICAL Continued ----->>>


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