I think or I hope I have laid some groundwork for my 3x great grandfather Rev. Richard Alexander Caruthers. Richards parents are Richard Ewing Caruthers and Eleanor Rebecca Findley. Then his grandparents are Richard Caruthers and Mary Ewing who comes down from James and Lydia Roberts Caruthers and Maskell Ewing and Mary Padgett. On his mother’s side it is the Honorable William Findley and his second wife Elizabeth Cochran.
Richard started his life out as a millwright by trade but quickly became a child of God. He worked and studied hard as a young man to achieve the dreams he so passionately believed in. He found the love of his life in a sweet German girl and together they began to not only show love but spread it wherever their horse and buggy took them.
Richard Alexander and Nancy settled down and started their family but not without trials and tribulations at hand. Their first child Mary Elizabeth was born October 29, 1841 probably in Saltsburg Borough, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. They then had a second daughter by the name of Eleanor Findley Caruthers born sometime in 1843 but dying around 1844 in unknown location. It was shortly after this that Nancy attended a Methodist Camp Meeting and it was here she gave herself over to God and the Methodist Church. Together Nancy and Richard began to live the legacy we have all come to love and will continue to love for generations to come.
Richard and Nancy attended the Pleasantville Methodist Church in Irwin Twps., Venango., Pa. in 1844 for about a year.
Richard studied under Andrew Rice the first class leader who was then succeeded by Andrew Byers and Phineas Dunham in what was then called the “Pittsburgh Conference”. That next year, the Erie Conference was formed.
Richard studied and earned his license to preach and then in July of 1845 was received on trial in the Erie Conference, Franklin County at Ridgeway Mission later it becoming the Washington Circuit and Rimersburg of Clarion County Pennsylvania.
Richard was given what was known as the “Salem Circuit” moving onto Salem Cranberry Twps., Venango County Pennsylvania in 1845 through 1850. Another child is born and dies in 1850 location is unknown.
Ministers assigned to a particular church may have “rode the circuit’ to outlying areas to perform various ordinances for their parishioners. Records for itinerant (circuit riders) ministers may be recorded in their personal records or the records of the church where they are assigned.
This is where Richard organized the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church at Lee’s school house near the pike a mile from Oil City. Among the first classes were: Mrs. James Lee, Harriet Lake, Jane and Mary Long along with James Shaffer who was the leader.
When Richard was first licensed to preach his neighbors, friends and even some of his own family would come listen to him. After a while word got back to Richard Ewing just how good Richard Alexander was in following the word of God. Richard Ewing’s heart relented and he ask for ‘Dick’ to come see him and his mother. Now back in those days it was a common thing for the church people to keep their barrel of ‘Old Rye’ in the cellar. His father was no exception, so quite often the father would oblige to sleep off the effects in that said cellar. This disgusted Richard Alexander so he made a vow to God that he never use the accursed stuff, fight it with all his power and we can say he kept his word. Of so many things that could and would annoy him it was tobacco and alcohol. Needless to say after this Richard never had a close relationship with his father.
Richard and Nancy moved to Wilmington Mercer County Pennsylvania. Then on November 16, 1847 a son was born to which they named him David Ewing Caruthers.
Richard was sent to Tylersburg Clarion County Pennsylvania where another son was welcomed to the growing family on March 14, 1850 by the name of Thomas George Caruthers. In that same year on the 14th of July Richard was given the position as Deacon in Methodist Episcopal Church Erie Conference.
Then in 1851 he was transferred to Erie Conference Franklin District at Shippenville for 2 years-residence Pennsylvania. In 1852 another son was born and died by the name of Alexander Simpson ‘Simmie’ Caruthers at the age of one.
1854 Richard was sent back to New Wilmington Pennsylvania while being blessed with yet another child on September 7 naming her Nancy Emma Caruthers. They stayed here for two years.
Then in 1856 Richard was transferred to New Castle District at Mercer for 1 year. Just in time to welcome another son on March 8, 1857 by the name of William Clark Caruthers.
Now on his first two districts he had quite a number of the places he had filled as a minister. But his second district in New Castle Richard began to have trouble with the outlaws and the whiskey crows coming to the camp meeting’s trying to break them up. At one camp meeting it was to be held on the campgrounds part way between New Castle and New Wilmington. The campground was in a fine grove of large trees that covered quite a large tract of ground on both sides of the stage road, between these two places the camp being on one side of the road.
When the ‘Toughs’ heard that the meeting was to be held there they gathered their forces to have a picnic that included dancing and whiskey on both Sundays.
There was a man and his wife who just had one child, a darling little curly headed boy about three years old named Harry. His father and mother were in with the Toughs. The Sunday before the meeting began they were going to meet some of their bunch to help out. While they were getting ready to get in their buggy, they put little Harry in the wagon telling him to stand there a minute. They turned to go back to the house when they heard a noise, looked around and saw one of the horses kick darling Harry in the head killing him instantly. Suffice to say the Roughs didn’t show up that year. When the meeting began this man and his wife came to one of the meetings and were soundly converted.
There was just one or two of the bunch who resented Richard so one night they rode into the camp and asked for that ‘Son of a gun of a Methodist preacher who walked fork end down, the one they call Caruthers. Well the camp was just sitting down to have dinner when the elder got up to go see what was going on. Just as he came out between the preachers tent and his own the big bully made at Richard with a knife. Intending to disembowel him the man struck him on the right side. Now Richard was known for wearing broad full pants so when the knife connected with Richard it hit his leather pocketbook which received the brunt of the thrust. Just the tip of the knife making a little cut bringing blood. What saved this preacher’s life? His wife had followed him carrying a tea kettle of boiling hot water. Now as the bully stooped to take strike again she let him have a biff and he got out of her reach with a terrible howl and oath. The other men of the camp had gotten there by this time and had the man arrested putting him in the New Castle jail.
Another incident happened with the Presbyterian College in New Wilmington where Richard and Nancy was living at the time. There were several young men attending this college who were preparing themselves for the Presbyterian Ministry. One Sabbath morning in their Sabbath school class, taught by one of the professors of the school, their teacher made the remark that there where infants in hell not a span long. This horrified some of the students and that afternoon they went to Elder Caruthers house to talk to him. He was away on his quarterly meeting but Nancy let them know he would be home the next day. Almost as soon as he got home three or four of them came to tell him about it wanting him to take it up. They did not believe such doctrine and knew the Elder didn’t either.
Richard finally meet up with the professor in a debate to prove to him there are no babies in hell. Needless to say these young men left the Presbyterian University entering a Methodist school and became ministers.