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Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church & Cemetery - Plain Grove Twnp PA

In 1812 an Irish-born man named James Burns (1778-1864), then residing in Washington County, Pennsylvania, packed up his belongings and moved north with his wife and young son. He settled in a remote region of Mercer County – in what later became the northwest part of Plain Grove Township in Lawrence County. A few years after his move he began hosting Methodist meetings in his home. Membership at the meetings slowly grew and in 1840 it was decided to form a congregation known as the Nazareth Methodist Church. A small log cabin church was erected in what is now Springfield Township in Mercer County.

In 1860 a portion of the congregation split off and built a small church to the south in Plain Grove Township. The new church, named as the Mount Pleasant Methodist Church, was erected on land donated by Noah Rodgers (1822-1902). It was located along Plain Grove Road in an area just north of a small settlement known as Clearview. Situated just across the street was the one-room Mt. Pleasant School. Old newspaper accounts sometimes associate the church with an area known as “Mt. Pleasant” but more often with the rural villages of either Clearview, Brent, or Plain Grove.

James Burns was one of the charter members and a trustee of the new church. The first service was reportedly held on Sunday, December 11, 1860. A small cemetery was also started on the church grounds. When Burns passed away in June 1864, at the age of eighty-six, he was likely one of the first people buried there.

The church was periodically repaired as the New Castle News of Wednesday, December 2, 1885, briefly mentioned with, “Mt. Pleasant church is to have a new roof.” The same newspaper also reported in its Clearview happenings section on Wednesday, November 2, 1887: “Albert Foster has the contract of painting the Mt. Pleasant Church.” The newspaper had this to share in its edition released on Wednesday, October 22, 1890, “The trustees of the Mt. Pleasant church are going to repair the church, put in new windows, etc.”

The congregation remained in close affiliation with the Nazareth Methodist Church for many years, often sharing a pastor. The New Castle News of Tuesday, October 1, 1907, reported, “The Mt. Pleasant and Nazarath (sic) congregations have purchased the small farm of Catherine Montgomery of this place for a home for the preacher. The new preacher, Rev. Clark, expects to move in this week.” From time to time they also shared a pastor with the Bath Methodist Church in Springfield Township. Just a few years later, in 1910, the congregation turned fifty years old.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s the church continued to sustain itself in the rural community and was the scene of many religious revivals, marriage ceremonies, and community gatherings. The New Castle News of Friday, May 28, 1926, mentioned one such event: “Revival services will be conducted in the Mt. Pleasant Methodist Episcopal church beginning May 30 and continuing until June 13. Rev. J. A. Cousins of Sharpsville, Pa., will be the evangelist. The pastor, Rev. E. C. Hasenplug, will lead the singing each evening. There will be special music at each service.”

In the spring of 1927 an application was filed in the Lawrence County courts to officially establish an association to manage the cemetery. The application was posted in the New Castle News on Tuesday, March 22, 1927, and read in part, “… for a charter of an intended corporation to be called the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association, character and object whereof is the maintenance of a public cemetery in the Township of Plaingrove, County of Lawrence, Pennsylvania, for human sepulture…”

By the late 1940’s low attendance began to take its toll and the church was closed in about 1951. The last pastor was likely the Reverend Abram P. Shaffer (1890-1965), a longtime Methodist minister who was born in Shenango Township.

In October 1953 announcements were posted in local newspapers seeking bids to dismantle and clear away the old church building. Bids were to be sent to the Grove City office of the Reverend Bruce L. Middaugh, Superintendent of the Grove City District of the Erie Conference. The building was soon sold as the New Castle News of Monday, June 28, 1954, reported, “The old Mt. Pleasant Methodist church in Plaingrove township is being dismantled. Built by a faction of the Nazarene church in the township, it had been is use continually up until a few years ago by the Methodists of the township. It was sold a little over a year ago to a private owner, who is doing the dismantling.”

The old church is long gone but the cemetery, managed by the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association, remains in active use. A walk through the well-maintained Methodist burial ground will reveal numerous headstones with the surnames of Blair, Burk, Crawford, McCommon, McNulty, Montgomery, Rodgers, Uber, and Winder/Wynder.


This aerial photo reveals the former location of the Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church in Plain Grove Township. The one-room Mt. Pleasant School was located just across the street. The church was closed in the early 1950’s and dismantled in the summer of 1954. (1939)


The Mt. Pleasant Methodist Cemetery is situated at the rural intersection of Plain Grove Road and Hilmar Road. (c2011)


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