John McMillan’s First Manse
by Rev. David Myers
Ordained by the Presbytery of Donegal in 1776, Rev. John McMillan was sent by them to be the first settled pastor to western Pennsylvania. Two years later he brought his wife to the log house which the people of Chariers and Pigeon Creek had prepared him to live in as their pastor. Listen to his description of it on March 26, 1832 in a letter to a Dr. Caraham.
“When I came to this country, the cabin in which I was to live, was raised, but there was no roof to it, nor any chimney, nor floor. The people, however, were very kind; they assisted me in preparing my house, and on the 16th of December, I moved into it. But we had neither bedstead, nor tables, nor stool, nor chair, nor bucket. All these things we had to leave behind us, as there was no wagon road, at that time, over the mountains. We could bring nothing with us but what was carried on pack horses. We placed two boxes, one on the other, which served as a table, and two kegs served us for seats; and having committed ourselves to God in family worship, we spread a bed on the floor, and slept soundly till morning. The next day a neighbor coming to my assistance, we made a table and stool, and in a little time, had everything comfortable about us. Sometimes, indeed, we had no bread for weeks together; but we had plenty of pumpkins and potatoes, and all the necessaries of life, as for luxuries, we were not much concerned about them. We enjoyed health, the gospel and its ordinances, and pious friends. We were in the place where we believed God would have us to be; and we did not doubt but that He would provide everything necessary, and glory to his name, we were not disappointed.” (Quoted in J. Smith, Old Redstone, Philadelphia, 1854, p. 186.)
In 1781, there were enough ministers and congregations in western Pennsylvania to organize the Redstone Presbytery.
Words to Live By:
Several sentences stand out for this author. The first one is in line seven and eight, which reads, “having committed ourselves to God in family worship . . . .” The next line is in line 12, “we enjoyed health, the gospel and its ordinances, and pious friends.” Line 13 has in it the following words, “We were in the place where we believed God would have us to be, and we did not doubt but that He would provide everything necessary, and glory to his name, we were not disappointed.”
Begin with a committed pastor and his wife, add a firm belief in God’s sovereignty, a ready trust in His wise providence, a wiliness to go where His Spirit leads, and great works for God’s kingdom will be accomplished! Give thanks for such dedicated men and women today in your churches and mission stations.