“Old Drawyer’s Presbyterian Church is located one mile north of Odessa. From meetings started in 1700, this congregation was organized in 1708, at which time the Rev. John Wilson was in charge of Drawyer’s, White Clay and the New Castle churches. The site was obtained from John Peterson, on May 10, 1711, and the church was built of logs. It was known as the “Church of Apoquinimy.” In 1768, Dr. Thomas Read, the great-great-grandfather of the Rev. Elliot Field, D.D., of New Castle, became the first settled pastor at Old Drawyer’s. In 1769, the log church being in bad repair, a building committee was appointed and, in 1773, the present church was built. The bricks were made a short distance from the church site. In 1811, a new roof was built and, in 1833, the pulpit and seats were remodeled. The name was changed to the “First Presbyterian Church in St. George’s Hundred.” The church has the old family box-pews, in white trimmed with mahogany, the gallery extends around three sides, above the high pulpit is a beautiful domed sounding board topped with a gold eagle. Two sets of pulpit stairs curve around the precentor’s desk enclosed with a railing. There are a number of marble memorial tablets upon the walls.
Among the most famous of the early members was Thomas McKean, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the Articles of Confederation. Dr. Read, pastor from 1768 to 1797, and Elder John Crawford were commissioners to the Synod that organized the Presbyterian General Assembly and to the first Assembly in 1789, when Dr. Read was appointed to the Committee on Bills and Overtures.
Dr. Read, whose missionary journeys embraced a circuit of some forty miles, was a chief actor in one of the thrilling episodes of the Revolution. On Aug. 22, 1777, the American Army under General Washington, near Chadds Ford, Pa., was menaced by a superior British force. Washington, with his raw troops, did not dare risk a pitched battle. Retreat along the main road was equally dangerous, with the trained British Army at his heels. At this juncture, Colonel Duff entered the council room and exclaimed: “I know the man who can extricate us.” Washington replied, “Mount and bring him here without a moment’s delay.” At midnight, Dr. Read was roused from bed and in five minutes was under whip and spur for Washington’s camp. Through his inti- mate knowledge of the countryside, Dr. Read was able to map out the cross and by-roads and under his guidance Washington effected a safe retreat to the Brandywine.
Regular services were discontinued in 1858 when New Drawyer’s Church was built at Odessa. The first annual services were held, in 1896, by the Friends of Old Drawyer’s. These services are held on the first Sunday in June. The ivy-covered church and the large enclosed graveyard are kept in immaculate condition. The walk leading to the church is flanked by pink and white dog- wood trees. The oldest tombstone the writer could find is that of Joseph Hill who died on Dec. 7, 1762.” (1)
1. Frank R. Zebley, The Churches of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware, 1947, p. 182
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