Deb Abraham Spalding
Jacob’s Church on Harbaugh Valley Road in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, near Sabillasville, celebrated its 200th Anniversary on September 17 and 18, 2022. The two-day event was unique, with old time dress, music, folks telling about the history of Jacob’s Church, food, fellowship, and historic displays of the church.
Jacob’s Church’s Pastor Richard Daughtridge and wife, Robin, have been serving the church for 15 years, serving previously at Ringgold for 12 years.
Pastor Richard said, “It’s been a great little church. The people here are just mountain people who love each other and love to get together. It’s a beautiful place.”
“We have a wonderful congregation! We have a wonderful pastor and his wife. We really love them,” proclaimed a lady in a dress and bonnet dubbed the “madame” by her peers named Carolyn Brookens.
Pastor Richard and parishioners dressed the part for the occasion. Pastor Richard took a wagon ride, courtesy of Wolfe Auctions and Kathy Ruby, on a circuit ride to St. John’s in Sabillasville to create authenticity. Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s held a service there and returned to Jacob’s Church with Pastor Richard for the homecoming.
Pastor Richard said, “We’ve (the congregation) put a lot of work into it. The parishioners are excited to be part of the celebration.”
Bluegrass players at the church gather and play together and did so for this occasion. The beautiful band stage on the grounds was built from three trees on the property several years prior. The trees were milled at Ray Coblentz’s sawmill. Pastor Richard explained, “All of our men (parishioners) shaved the lumber with a draw knife. Ben Miller led the construction.”
The church, its pews, and the social hall (a former schoolhouse) are all original from 200 years ago, and still used frequently to this day.
Originally, the church was started by Apples Church by Jacob Harbaugh. Jacob Harbaugh was the elder who was in charge of the charge 200 years ago.
Pastor Richard built the old, rugged cross that adorns the pulpit in his barn and actually laid on the cross to determine the placement of its nails. “We’ve always used this old cross as a centerpiece for all sermons.”
The church’s stained-glass window was crafted by Herb and Pam Campbell (deceased).
During the anniversary service, Pastor Richard wore a colonial wig. Many in the congregation wore settlers’ clothing. When taking the offering, the deacons used bags on long sticks to receive the offering and ticklers with a feather on a string to wake people up if they fell asleep during the sermon.
According to Pastor Richard, Jacob’s Church has done well and remained strong for 200 years. Before COVID, the church was packed with around 100 parishioners all the time. They still host approximately 70 people, combined with some in the church in person, some listening on the radio (107.2) in the parking lot in their cars, and some online on Facebook live.
The history of Jacob’s Church by Joan Bittner Fry will be featured in the November edition of The Catoctin Banner.
Jacob’s Church members, dressed in period attire, made homemade bread, churned butter, cooked soup in a campfire kettle, and served up meals. Pictured from left: (seated front row) Barb McKendrick, Carolyn Brookens, and Christy Worthington; (standing) Aubrey Harbaugh, Ellen Hildabrand, Jean Morrison, Mary Martin, Kathy Gunder, Judy Barton, Helen Troxell, Charlotte Donnelly, and Caythee Ruby.
This horse-drawn carriage (provided by Wolfe Auctions) was used to transport Pr. Richard to St. John’s, where he joined in the service.
The Jacob’s Church 200th Anniversary congregation gathers out front for the celebration. Jacob’s Church was part of the group of churches known as the Emmitsburg Charge. In recognition, Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s Church in Sabillasville joined the presentation.
Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding