Main content

Southampton Baptist Church records


Held at: Southampton Baptist Corporation [Contact Us]1256 Second Street Pike, Southampton, PA, 18966

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Southampton Baptist Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"The origins of the Southampton Baptist Church [Southampton, Bucks County, Pennsylvania] can be traced back to a dispute which occurred within the Society of Friends in 1691. George Keith, a prominent Quaker, who had been Surveyor of East Jersey, and later head of the Penn Charter School, had become convinced of the need for Friends to adopt a profession of faith. Relations between the leadership of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Keith and his followers rapidly deteriorated to the point where the two factions no longer worshipped together. One of these groups of 'Keithians' met regularly at the house of John Swift in Southampton, with John Hart as their minister.

"Shortly before his death of smallpox in 1702, John Watts, a prominent local resident, persuaded the Southampton group (who, like other Keithians, practiced adult baptism by immersion) 'to make but one Meeting' with the Lower Dublin (Pennepack) Baptist Church. Services were still held in houses in the Southampton area on the third [Sunday] of each month. This continued until 1731, when John Morris gave one acre of ground for a Meetinghouse and cemetery, as well as a 112.5 acre 'plantation' to be used 'for the Support of the Ministry.'

"In 1745, fifty-five members from the Southampton area petitioned to sever ties with the Pennepack Church and become an independent body. The petitioners emphasized that distance between the communities, not any doctrinal conflict, was their motivation. The petition was approved on April 5, 1746, and the church covenant was signed the same year. It is interesting to note that the signers of the petition and charter are almost evenly divided between men and women. Also, from this early period, there were [African American] members of the Church; however, it was decades before the descendants of local Dutch settlers began to worship with the Baptists.

"In 1772, additional ground was purchased to the north of the cemetery, and construction of the current Meetinghouse was begun, using material salvaged from the 1731 structure. By 1814, the number of worshipers had increased to the point where a subscription campaign was undertaken to enlarge the building.

"The early 19th century was perhaps the church's most dynamic period. The minister was paid a salary, rather than having to farm to earn his living. The Parsonage Farm, or 'plantation' was rented out, although it still supplied wood to heat the church. Additional income came from pew rentals. A sexton cared for the Meetinghouse and cemetery. There was a Poor Fund to aid the community. There was also a school, started in the mid-1700s on the property. The Church had the only Sunday School program in the area.

"By the 1840s, serious divisions among the worshipers became apparent, involving both doctrinal and organizational issues. From the beginning, there seems to have been a distinction between those who were accepted into full membership ('the Church') and others who, nevertheless, regularly participated spiritually and financially in the group ('the Congregation'). The arrangement was formalized when the Southampton Baptist Corporation was registered in 1791 with the new Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The bylaws provided for an eleven-member board of trustees: Five from 'the Church,' five from the 'Congregation,' and the minister (or in his absence, the Head Deacon). A proposal to have the Meetinghouse used by the opposing factions on alternate Sundays was rejected. In 1849, there was an acrimonious split, with one group leaving to form the Davisville Baptist Church [also in Southampton].

"The second half of the 19th century saw a renewal of activity. The altar was rebuilt in the late 1850s. Coal stoves and a kerosene chandelier were installed. The 'plantation' was sold and a new parsonage built. A hymnal, which was widely used by Old School Baptist Congregations, was prepared. 'Association Meetings' were held during the summers, bringing together representatives of the Delaware River Old School Baptist Association for days of singing, sermons and pot-luck meals served on the lawn. Baptisms were held in the creek which flows just south of the cemetery, the water level being raised by the creation of a temporary dam.

"Although the Church was not changing, Southampton was. In 1878, the railroad line to Philadelphia was opened. New families arrived, and old-time residents could take advantage of easy access to the city. By the 1920s, the number of members and attendees of the church was in decline. One electric line was installed to provide a light on the pulpit 'to illuminate the Word of God,' but otherwise, no modernization was undertaken. There was no longer a resident minister; services were held with decreasing frequency, and eventually discontinued. The last member died in 1984."

With the death of its last member, the congregation is no longer active. As of 2016, the buildings and grounds are managed by the Board of Trustees of the Southampton Baptist Church Corporation.


Quoted text from: Old School Meetinghouse of Southampton, Pa. "History." Accessed August 4, 2015.

This collection consists of church records, hymnals, booklets, personal papers, and administrative records relating to the Southampton Baptist Church, dating from 1746 to 2013. The collection also contains a small amount of records relating to the Friends of the Historic Southampton Old School Meetinghouse.

The church records consist of bound volumes and loose material. The volumes, listed below, include registers, account books, burial books, trustee books, bequests, and meeting minutes. Church register book, 1746-1842, [birth/baptism, excommunicated people, marriages, deaths/burials, 1747-1783] Account book, 1805-1903 Trustee book, 1829-1855 Trustee book, 1855-1959 Burial book, 1876-1933 Church records book, 1842-1911 Bequests book, 1905-1926 Bequests book, 1908-1924 Church meetings book, 1911-1964 Trustee book, 1960-1970 Burial book, 1997, contains burial listing from 1733-1953 Account book, 1914-1941 These volumes, along with a portion of the collection, were scanned and microfilmed. They have been digitized and are now available on CDs.

Other general church records in the collection include: maps of pew rentals; a volume containing handwritten readings from sermons, 1922-1926; scrapbook of newspaper clippings, photographs, and letters documenting the church, its members, and events; inventories of church objects and records; and correspondence. There are a number of small, thin volumes that contain handwritten or typed compiled listings of marriages, 1903-1924, and births from the late 19th century; listings of donations from 1966; and a small handwritten biography of Pastor Thomas B. Montagne (1801-1829). There are also papers relating to the Southampton Baptist Church's application to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Of special interest is the original charter of incorporation from 1791 and two 18th century deeds for the land the meetinghouse is built on and a neighboring plantation.

Additional Board of Trustees materials in the collection include: loose meeting minutes from the late 1980s and 1990s and a bound volume of meeting minutes, 1974-1999; correspondence regarding structural concerns for the building, 1990s; correspondence about donations, 2000s; and legal correspondence, and other letters and correspondence relating to the Board of Trustees. Financial records from the Board of Trustees consist of financial files that contain checking account statements, financial statements, and saving account statements, as well as materials related to church expenses, tenant house expenses, insurance, investments, lawn care, sewer management, taxes, and weddings. The financial files span 1995-2013, but are only organized by year from 2005-2013. There are additional financial statements in the collection from 1989 and 1995 to the 2000s.

The collection also contains records relating to the cemetery at Southampton Baptist Church. There is a grave book compiled by Warren Hogeland, listing burials by year with an alphabetical index. A typed version of the index is also available. Another grave book from 1969 contains a list of veterans buried in the graveyard. A small amount of materials appear to have been compiled for a Boy Scout project completed around 1995, including a burial listing and graveyard map covering the years 1876-1993, an index of gravestones and gravestone inscriptions (printed out and also available on several floppy diskettes), and photographs and negatives of the tombstones. Of special note is a window shade with a map, circa 1934, of the graveyard showing the location of burial plots and who is buried there. There are also a few burial permits (some original, some copies), circa 1970s-1980s, for interment in the graveyard.

There are three boxes with copies of Hymn and Tune Book for Use in Old School or Primitive Baptist Churches, compiled by Silas Durand, minister at Southampton Baptist Church circa 1884-1918, and P.G. Lester, originally published in 1886. There are various editions of the hymnal from later years.

Also included in the collection are a number of 20th century booklets and printed meeting minutes from various other Baptist churches and organizations, including First Hopewell Old School Baptist Church; Primitive or Old School Baptists at Wilson, NC; Yellow River Primitive Baptist Association (Fulton County, GA); and Little Creek Church, Delmar, DE. The collection also contains newsletters relating to the Old School Baptist religion; a handwritten book containing histories of Southampton Baptist Church and Hopewell Baptist Church in Mercer County, NJ, 1915; typed biographies of John Hart and Oliver Hart; and typed histories of Primitive Baptists in Pennsylvania and the United States.

There is a small amount of largely unidentified personal papers. Identified materials in this portion include: early 20th century daybooks; address book belonging to Charlie Hobemsack; a box of correspondence between Martha Addis, a trustee of the church, and members of the church and other churches, 1960s-1970s; and an assortment of newspaper clippings unrelated to the Church or Bucks County. There is one photograph album, late 19th century-early 20th century, that contains photographs and some tin types. The album is unidentified, and it is unknown if the people in the album had any association with the church.

A small amount of Friends of the Historic Southampton Old School Meetinghouse materials are in the collection. They include financial papers and meeting minutes from the mid-2000s and a binder of Friends of the Historic Old School Meetinghouse newsletters from the 2000s. There are also a small number of booklets and pamphlets related to use of the church by the local community, including Southampton Days, weddings, and an annual inter-faith Thanksgiving service.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Southampton Baptist Corporation directly for more information.

Southampton Baptist Corporation
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact Southampton Baptist Corporation for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest