A Congregation on the Pennsylvania Frontier

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

In 1729, along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania, Derry Township was formed. Populated by the numerous Scots-Irish people who had emigrated from Northern Ireland, in 1729 Derry Township, near present-day Hershey, was very much a frontier settlement; part of the gateway to the American West.

Historic Marker in Derry Township

That same year, in a little grove, the Derry Presbyterian Church was officially established. Tradition has it that the Presbyterians were meeting for worship in the grove, near a fresh-water spring, as early as 1724. In 1732, the Congregation called its first pastor, the Scotsman, Reverend William Bertram, who would pastor the churches in both Derry and Paxtang (Paxton) Townships. At this time, the Derry congregation erected its first Session House. This building was a small affair, built of rough, hand-hewn logs. Its sole source of heat in the winter was a stone fireplace situated along one of theā€¦

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