I am seeking the congregational records of the Pennington Methodist Church of early Mifflin-Centre Counties PA. These records are not in the possession of the Methodist Church Archivist in Central Pennsylvania. The congregational records could have been taken by a pastor or elder for safe keeping.
The notes below were provided by Dr. Milton Loyer, the current archivist. He was very gracious in taking time to produce these notes. It is my understanding that he has no further notes on the families.
Notes on the Pennington-Benn-Colbert (Calvert) Connection from the Central Pennsylvania Methodist Conference Archives.
Robert Pennington (1/17/1754 – 4/22/1826) and Rebecca Benn (4/16/1756 – 10/10/1824) were born and raised on the Delmarva Peninsula. They converted to Methodism about 1776 (presumably under Francis Asbury), married, moved to Penns Valley in Centre County PA in 1784, and were responsible for establishing Methodism in the area. Their respective memoirs are given in Methodist Magazine volume 10 (1827) page 147 and volume 9 (1826) page 16. The Penningtons had one son: Henry Pennington (2/19/1776 [1775?] – 3/26/1835). He married Margaret Potter. Among the children of Henry Pennington were:
* John Pennington (5/6/1800 – 1/22/1830) – a Methodist Episcopal preacher.
* Rebecca Pennington (1/10/1803 [1802?] – 12/20/1887) – married James Sankey. Note:
James and Rebecca are not the grandparents of the famed gospel singer Ira D. Sankey, as is often erroneously reported. James Sankey was a brother to Ira Sankey’s grandfather Ezekiel Sankey.
Henry Benn Sr (1737 – 1814) was the father of Rebecca Benn Pennington. He left Delaware and joined his daughter and son-in-law very soon after their move to Centre County. It was likely Henry who was actually responsible for organizing the first Methodist class, for it was at the Benn home that the early Methodist circuit rider William Colbert established the preaching appointment. Among Henry Benn’s other children were:
* Rachel Benn (b. 1770) – married William Monks and was the mother of Rev. William
Monks (6/9/1806 – 3/10/1860) of the Methodist Episcopal Church)
* Chloe Benn (b. 1771) – married Job Colbert, the brother of William
* Jonathan Benn (b, 1779) – who became a Methodist Episcopal preacher, but left the
denomination to join the Wesleyan Methodists. He was the father of two Methodist
Episcopal preachers: Thomas Benn (10/8/1803 – 11/29/1879) and Jesse P. Benn
(11/10/1815 – 11/8/1875). Another son Jonathan Benn Jr. (b4/5/1810) was the father
of Dr. Rachel R. Benn (b. 1853), a medical missionary to China under the Woman’s
Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church).
Little is known about the Colbert family. The mother died when future circuit rider William was only 19, and this seems to have contributed to the lack of family data. William Colbert (4/20/1764 – 6/16/1835 [some sources say 1833]) married a much younger Elizabeth Stroud, daughter of the founder of Stroudsburg, in 1804 and removed himself from the itinerant ministry soon afterwards. Job Colbert (b. 1758) appears to have been a local preacher in the Centre County area. He is believed to be the brother of William or a close relative – for William seems to seek out his house during his travels. How brother Job happened to be living in the area to which brother William happened to be assigned to ride a circuit is not known. Job’s name is sometimes rendered Calvert. There is also a Jacob Colbert/Calvert whose name appears in Methodist preaching records of that era.
Unfortunately the archives only has records on pastors, and not lay people. William Colbert’s parents were named William and Jane, but nothing else can be reconstructed about the Colbert family from the material at the Central Pennsylvania Conference archives.
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