Rev John Taylor Pressly

Rev John Taylor Pressly

Cold Spring, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
Death 13 Aug 1870 (aged 75)
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Div 1, Diamond Square
Memorial ID 83176460 · View Source
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John Taylor Pressly was born March 22, 1795, in Abbeville District, South Carolina, the second son of David and Jane (née Patterson) Pressly, both of Abbeville District, and descended from Scottish ancestors, who were among the early and influential settlers of that State. It has been truly said of Rev. Pressly that "he was an honored member of an honored family." He received his early education in a local academy, afterward entering Transylvania University, Kentucky, and graduating with the class of 1812. Having resolved to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel, he entered the Associate Reformed Theological Seminary, New York, where he was under the instructions of the eminent Dr. John Mitchell Mason. Having completed there a full three years' course of study, he was licensed in the spring of 1815 by the Second Associate Reformed Presbytery of South Carolina, and for a year devoted himself to missionary work, traveling on horseback through several of the Southern States and as far north as Pennsylvania and New York.

On his return home Mr. Pressly was called to the pastorate of the church, in which he had been baptized, the Cedar Springs Congregational, and there he ministered for fifteen peaceful, pleasant and profitable years, dating from ordination, July 3, 1816. Gladly would he have spent his life there, but he was known not only as a great preacher, but as one eminently qualified to educate preachers, and in 1825 he was appointed Professor of Theology by the Associate Reformed Synod of the South. The duties of this position he discharged acceptably until October 10, 1831, when he was elected professor of theology by the Associate Reformed Synod of the West, and on Jan. 5, 1832, entered upon his duties in Allegheny Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pa. His singular fitness for the work was soon recognized and added a new attraction to the Seminary.

In October, 1832, Rev. Pressly was called to the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Allegheny, and on Aug. 27, 1833, was installed as the first pastor of that congregation, having previously served the church while reserving his decision. The history of this congregation is an interesting one. It was organized in the third story of what was known as "Semple's Long Room," a building which is still standing on the west side of West Diamond street, four doors below South Diamond street. In this room the congregation worshipped for some time after Rev. Pressly took charge, but the purchase of a lot, one hundred and twenty feet square, on the corner of what are known as South Diamond and East Diamond streets gave it an abiding place. In 1838, the congregation having become too large to be accommodated in this building, it was decided to erect a more spacious structure on the same site. This was done, but at the close of 1853 additional room was again found necessary and a lot was procured on Ridge street on which the Ridge Street Church was built to take care of the overflow, as the congregation was too large for one church. Once more, in 1867, it was decided to build a new house of worship and the result was the erection of the present structure on Union avenue. It is Gothic in its general style of architecture, and the front is rendered imposing by two massive square towers about one hundred feet in height. In 1834 a charter for the congregation was granted by the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania , and in 1872 a new charter was granted by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

Rev. John Pressly married, July 4, 1816, the former Miss Jane Hearst, daughter of Joseph Albert and Jane (née Pressly) Hearst, of Cedar Springs in the Abbeville District of South Carolina, with whom he had nine children. In his wife, who died April 4, 1873, Dr. Pressly found a helpmate worthy of his high calling.

On the 13th of August 1870, Rev. John Taylor Pressly died in the seventy-sixth year of his age, the fifty-fifth of his ministry, and the thirty-eighth of his pastorate at First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Allegheny in Pittsburgh.

In November, 1881, the First United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny celebrated its semi-centennial anniversary, and on that occasion was' unveiled a tablet to the memory of Dr. Pressly. It was placed upon the wall at the right of the pulpit, and is of white marble, having in the center a shield of black marble on which, in gold letters, is the following inscription:

In Memory of
Rev. John T. Pressly. D. D.,
for 38 years
The beloved and honored pastor
of this church.

A good and great man
Whose pure life, tender affection.
Wise counsel, unflinching fidelity,
And abundant labors
Are enshrined in the hearts
of a grateful people.
Born March 22d, 1795.
Died August 13, 1870.
The Righteous Shall Be 1n Everlasting

A noble and enduring tribute, has been said: "Dr. John T. Pressly needs no other memorial, among the living who knew him, than the tablets of their own hearts."


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  • Created by: GMG
  • Added: 9 Jan 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 83176460
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev John Taylor Pressly (22 Mar 1795–13 Aug 1870), Find A Grave Memorial no. 83176460, citing Union Dale Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by GMG (contributor 47391530) .