The Tracy Family History
Donegal Presbyterian Church, 1721
We know that our people were staunch Presbyterians. Their generations founded and supported churches of this faith. This was their church while in Pennsylvania. Originally, it was a small log building. Around 1730, the present stone church was built. It has been a continually operating church for more than 270 years. Because our people arrived shortly after the founding of the log church, they were not among the founding fathers. However, records show that they were supporters of this historical church.
Our cousin, Ken Prusso, at the famous Donegal Springs below the church. It was the policy, whenever possible, to locate the churches next to a spring. The Presbyterians made church an all day affair. Because the members came from great distances on horseback the springs would allow the members to stay for both services, and have the necessary water for a midday meal and water for their horses.
This was not just an ordinary spring, but was a bubbling spring.
Ken tells us that it is now a pool surrounded by a cement border with a cement “canal” leading from the spring to the creek.
The building above is currently a visitor's shop.
From the graveyard we see the church today. The smaller building behind is the visitor's center. This is the original stone building, although it has undergone revisions, restorations, and some major changes over the years. Within the walls of today’s graveyard stood the original log church.
These people, our people, were strong patriots. There are many Revolutionary War soldiers whose graves are within these walls. For 260 years there stood a huge white oak tree at the entrance of the church. When the British army advanced forcing Washington to retreat to Chadd’s Ford, the congregation stood beneath this tree “...with hands joined, they vowed allegiance to the cause of the patriots, and their minister, Rev. Colin McFarquhar, who always prayed for the King of England, united with them. Since then, this tree was always known as the “Witness Tree.” (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, on Brandywine Creek, was the site of the famous Battle of Brandywine in September 1777.)
The old tree made it through many wars and many years, but could not survive beyond the year of 1991. It was too infirmed to go on any longer and has since been converted into fine furniture and little mementos, courtesy of the Donegal Society.
The first pastor was the Reverend James Anderson, a man so highly respected that generations of our people would name their children after him. Our families would intermarry and the Andersons would become part of American history.
Under his leadership, Donegal Church would become the “...fifth Presbytery of Presbyterianism in America.” (“This was a ruling body in Presbyterian Churches consisting of the minister and representative elders from congregations within a district.”)
Reverend Anderson would lead the church for 13 years, dying in 1740. He and his wife are buried in the church graveyard, “...to the left as one enters the gate.”
THE TWELVE-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY: In some chapters yet to come I refer to the Twelve-Year-Old Beauty. Family tradition says that when Michael Woods and our clan crossed Pennsylvania to the frontier, they stopped at the house of the Reverend James Anderson. He had a beautiful daughter twelve years of age named Susannah. Michael Woods' son, John, was four years her senior and fell violently in love with her. He vowed to return and win her as his wife after he became a man. In a few years he returned and they were married. (However, there is another family that is not in our line that claims Susannah married a Robert Taylor. This family believes their information is well researched.)
The noted genealogist, George Shelden Wallace, tells us the following (1927):
In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, still stands the old Donegal Church and in it is the pewter communion service which was brought from Scotland by its first Pastor, the Rev. James Anderson.
This congregation later became a part of the Lebanon congregation and an old communion cloth made for the early Church is still to be seen at Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
“Maybe it will interest you to know that we are using in our church (Lebanon Presbyterian) the table cloths that Hannah Woods, who married William Wallace, spun the flax and wove them. They are beautifully white and in perfect condition.”
March 15th, 1927 M.H.R
The present church historian is not aware of these relics of the past. Thus, bringing into question if the above story is correct.
George Selden Wallace published his best known genealogy book in 1927:
Wallace: Genealogical Date Pertaining to the Descendant of Peter Wallace & Elizabeth Woods, His Wife. It is 275 pages of genealogy and some history. It is very well done and a must for those of you who are more interested in our family tree.
The book is available in reprint from: Higginson Book Co., 148 Washington St., P. O. Box 778, Salem,
Welcome to the Donegal Presbyterian Church
1891 Donegal Springs Road
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania 17552
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