Local History and Genealogy

Monday, November 26, 2012


By A. W. Long

Among the many eminent pioneer preachers of Steuben county, the name of Brother Hutchinson stands preeminent! He was a large strong, powerful man, filled with the spirit and inspiration of his Divine Master!  He rallied to his support the best people of Angola and Steuben county.  Under his inspiring leadership the first church was erected during the year 1856.  The rough materials necessary for the construction of the church was largely contributed by the pioneer sawmills around Angola.  In the old sawmills on our farm I helped my father  saw the studding, joists, and rafters for this church.  On the same stream, flowing southward from Fox Lake, situated a half-mile north of our mill, stood the mill of Enoch Ayers, who was a contemporary of my father in building up a powerful Methodist class in Steuben Township.  Brother Ayers also contributed much material for the new church.  Other similar saw mills around Angola contributed rough lumber.  The church was shingled with white ash shingles from the Chard shingle mill, southeast of Angola, for pine shingles were still unknown.  Thus this church, fifty feel in length bu about thirty feet wide was built with only a cash expenditure of $1400.00.

 It stood on a hill west of the present home of John B. Parsell, fronting the to the southward, where one big big door was the only means for ingress or egress.  Entering at this door you found yourself in a hall about ten feet wide and extending across the building from east to west. with smaller doors at each end of the hallway entering the auditorium.  Inside these entrances stood the two big box stoves that warmed the building, fed with beech and maple wood furnished by surrounding Methodist farmers.  The stove pipes soared upward and then turned to the northward, finally entering the chimney above the minister's head.  A gallery was built above the hallway to accommodate the church choir and for many years this was the only church building in Angola.  Devout men and women of various denominations have since built several beautiful churches of brick and stone but I doubt whether the dedication of these later churches could possible equal the enthusiasm with which we dedicated to this pioneer church to worship God!  I was only ten years old at the time, but I can still feel the thrill and the exaltation of that hour.  The auditorium was filled to the doors,  Even the aisles were filled with chairs all the standing room was taken. 
A choir of the best pioneer singers of Angola filled the gallery and were led by Miss Angeline Killinger, eldest daughter of a pioneer German family.  Miss Killinger possessed the finest soprano voice that I have ever heard in Angola!  Clear, powerful yet as sweet as the chime of silver bells!  Dear girl; I have no doubt that she is now singing in the angel choir above.  Other members of the choir were: Mr and Mrs Jesse M. Gale.  Mrs Gale was Elizabeth Metzger from a pioneer Methodist family of Angola.  Also Elizabeth Freypang and her sister, Mrs Freypang Carpenter, both cousins of Miss Killinger. Mr and Mrs Eldridge, Anna Eldridge, Edward Fitch, George W. and Mrs McConnell, both staunch Presbyterians were in that choir with the splendid tenor voices of Jacob Stealey and Mr Day, father of the large Day family.  Among the bass singers were: Gilbert and Jesse Mugg and William Kirchoff and many other singers for that gallery was full and all distinctive denominations of that time were represented in choir and congregation.

Than when all was ready Brother Hutchinson arose and read the dedicatory hymn, selected for the occasion adding at the close of the reading "Now brethren and sisters when the choir rises to sing this beautiful hymn, please rise also and turn halfway round to face the singers and sing also"  aAnd this is what that first Angola choir sang, for after seventy-three years I am writing from memory and humming the beautiful music as I write:
"Come thou, almighty king,
Teach us thy fame to sing,
Help us to praise, 
Father all glorious,
O'er all victorious,
Come and righn over us,
Ancient of Days.

Then followed the wonderful impassioned prayer of dedication and the sermon based on "And God said let there be light, and there was light.  It was a very eloquent and forceful development of the  theme: Light versus Darkness!  A beautiful custom sprang from this service in the new church and for many years the entire congregation arose and turned to face the choir in the gallery and sang with them.  It was an inspiration as well as a compliment to the choir.

Steuben Republican April 17, 1929