The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than half the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month. We welcome and solicit all contributions and suggestions from our visitors.

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Mt. Lebanon Methodist Episcopal church
Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County

founded 1844; built 1844; remodeled 1878
Lebanon Township Grange

Reverend Jacob Harden, minister of the Mt. Lebanon Methodist Episcopal church was tried and executed for the poisoning of his wife (although he preached in Hunterdon, he was a resident of Warren county, whose denizens were regarded by Hunterdon folk as wild and too given to violence). Harden’s post-trial confession included several pages describing his life as the minister for a remote rural church:

when I went there the church had not been unlocked in nearly six months; there was but one, or at most, two Trustees to hold and protect the church property; there were but very few members, and those few were at variance with each other–two or three of them so much that they would not speak or deal with each other. I was then but little more than nineteen years of age, without comparatively speaking, any knowledge of the world–knew but very little of human nature, with but little mental discipline, and experimental knowledge of the duties and labors of the minister.

His tale adds a dimension one would not otherwise grasp from the passing image of the shuttered church as you drive by. The account also included a dozen letters he and his wife exchanged during their courtship; it is a different mental world they inhabited and difficult for me to comprehend. Their simple religiosity and naive directness echo the Civil War letters from common soldiers that formed such a significant role in Ken Burn’s Civil War program on public television.
      Reverend Harden’s Methodist church was one of the many that did not survive as a congregation, though it survived his disgrace and hanging. After sharing a minister with two or three other local churches in Hunterdon and Warren, its membership declined and the church was disbanded. The building now serves as the local Grange, another organization in danger of extinction in New Jersey.





Copyright (c) 2001 Frank L. Greenagel