By Helen Logan
Last year when we celebrated our 175th anniversary at the church, someone came to me and asked if I would like to look into the history of Hilltop. I said sure, because I had always liked history in school and looking into the past. So far, I have found out many ways in which the Lord has blessed our little country church, and how He has chosen so many to keep His church alive.
Lately, the Lord has put on my heart to share some of what I have found about how our little country church came together. The way to share this with all of you is through the newsletter, Hope Happens. In the coming months, I will be sharing about our church.
Braddock’s Trail, which opened the land for settlement, cut diagonally across Madison from the Yukon Road through the present town site; over the hill near what is now Hilltop Church through Greenawalt Farm and Evanstown.
Many settled in this area (English, German and Scotch) and began farming, which became the chief industry. At this time, Madison was called McDowells Crossroads, because of Mr. McDowell holding the largest land grant in the area. In 1829, Henry Spathe, another early land owner, renamed this site Madison, in honor of President James Madison. He is credited with laying out the town site.
The people that settled here were God-speaking people seeking spiritual enrichment. The first church was a result of a “bushment” held by Rev. J. Ritter on the hill where the present church stands. This was called a United Brethren Congregation as a result of this gathering in the late 1700’s.
When the first United Brethren ministers came to Madison in not definitely known. In Bishop Newcomer’s diary he mentions that he preached many times in the Madison area; beginning in 1799. Reverend Henry Spaythe, the early United Brethren historian lived on a farm at the upper end of Madison. In 1833, Rev. Spaythe deeded to trustees, Adam Hon, George Albright, John Brisbane and William Leasure, a plot of ground for a church; no church was built for several years. Their organization had no doubt been effected previous to that time.
The first church was a result of the “bushment” held by Rev. J. Ritter on the hill where the present church now stands, and was dedicated by him in 1843. Rev. William Beigel was the residing pastor at that time. The original structure built in 1843 was destroyed by fire.
In 1888 the present church was started. Rev. R. S. Woodward was the pastor at that time. The church cost $7,500 and at this time was considered to be one of the best churches in the denomination. The size of the church was 38 feet by 60 feet. The vestibule was later added. The church was dedicated on November 10, 1889 by Bishop J. Weaver. Some of the early families were the Erretts, Taylors, Scharders, Homs, Roose, Shoemaker, Rpsy, Willard, Henderson, Pool, and Davidson families. In 1884 we became a station church. During this time our pastors were: Rev. S.S. Hough (1894-1895), Rev. W. H. Mingle (1895-1896), Rev. S.R. Seese (1896-1989), and Rev. J.S. Fulton (1898-1903).
During the pastorate of Rev. Fulton the present nine room frame parsonage was built and dedicated free of debt.