Presbyterians established a congregation at Derry, Pennsylvania (present day Hershey) in 1724. The congregation is celebrating its 290th birthday this year and gearing up for a gala 300th anniversary celebration in 2024. Yesterday, as part of the 290th anniversary festivities, I was invited to give a lecture on the links between Presbyterianism and the Conestoga Massacre of December 1763. Much of the lecture drew from research I had done for talk I gave in December 2013 at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies Paxton Boys/Conestoga Massacre conference, although I spent much more time at Derry discussing the local history of the Derry Presbyterian Church, the Paxton Presbyterian Church, and their two 18th century clergymen–John Roan and John Elder. (Once again, I apologize to those in attendance for constantly referring to Roan as “Doan”).
|18th-century Derry Presbyterian Church graveyard in the shadow of the Hershey smokestacks A striking contrast|
|The Derry Presbyterian Church “Session House” (18th century). The protective display house was commissioned by Milton Hershey|