Our History‚Äč

the Brief history of Stone Chapel UMC

Since 1780-

     The name Strawbridge is integral to the history of Stone Chapel. Robert Strawbridge, a man described as being “of medium size, dark complexion, black hair, and possessing a sweet voice,” was born in Drummersnave (now, known as Drumsna), 5 miles east of Carrick-on-Shanron in Country Leitrim, Ireland about 1730. Raised a Catholic, he was converted to Methodism when about 28 years of age. It has been suggested though not proven, that he was converted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, himself on one of Wesley’s many trips to Ireland.
     Whether or not he was licensed to preach by Wesley, Strawbridge quickly began to do so. His new found zeal was not well received in this very Catholic area of Ireland.
Persecuted, he was driven to County Cavan where he was much more appreciated. He was described there as a “man of more than ordinary usefulness and very ardent and evangelical in his spirit.” In County Cavan, he met Elizabeth Piper whom he married.
Robert and Elizabeth emigrated to the United States in 1759 or 1760 seeking religious freedom that Maryland offered. They arrived in Annapolis on a grain boat. There he learned of the fertile land here in Carroll County (Then, Frederick County).
     The couple settled at Sam’s Creek on a 50-acre farm belonging to John England. The moment they were settled, Robert set out to begin preaching, leaving Elizabeth to operate the farm with the gracious help of neighbors.
     Robert Strawbridge traveled on horseback throughout Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. When Francis Asbury, first American Methodist bishop, arrived in America Oct. 28th 1771, he found over 30 preaching stations began by Strawbridge. One of those was the forerunner of Stone Chapel.
     Strawbridge bought the England farm in 1773 for 50 pounds, later moving to a donated home in Baltimore County. Robert died while on a preaching tour in 1781. He was buried near his place of death and reinterred later in the “Bishop’s Lot” in Mount Olivet Cemetery on Frederick Avenue in Baltimore.
 
     The Strawbridge bought the England farm in 1773 for 50 pounds, later moving to a donated home in Baltimore County. Robert died while on a preaching tour in 1781. He was buried near his place of death and reinterred later in the “Bishop’s Lot” in Mount Olivet Cemetery on Frederick Avenue in Baltimore.
     Robert Strawbridge was an interesting man. Never ordained, he held a strong belief in the ministry of laity. Wherever he went, he raised up other lay preachers including Jacob Toogood, the first Black preacher in America (Originally a slave on the Maynard farm near New Windsor). Strawbridge had little regard for church authority and a strong streak of stubbornness. Even when prohibited from administering the sacraments of Baptism and communion, he continued to do so. One of things his obstinance led to was the building and founding of Stone Chapel. 

© Stone Chapel United Methodist Church 2019