Those of you who attended the afternoon luncheon celebration on September 25th were privileged meet and hear from Bill and Julie Andrews from Walnut Creek, California. Bill is the Great great great great grandson of Joseph Andrews who sold the original property containing 1.84 acres to the Union Church Trustees for $10. Until his father died a couple years ago and he started looking through some of his estate items, he did not know the depth of the Andrews family ties to Union Presbyterian Church or the Colerain Township area. The last generation of Andrews to live in this area moved to the Reading/ Allentown area in the early 1900's where Bill grew up, before his father's job took the family to California.
The Andrews family was very prominent in this area early history. Of course, Joseph owned the farm just east of the church with the large house (recently demolished, unfortunately) that was at one time also a hotel. Many of us knew it as the Thompson farm, the childhood home of our treasurer, Judy Beiler. Another house listed on the Colerain Township historic homes list is at the intersection of Bell and Mt Eden Rd near the Octoraro creek and Chester County line. This was known as the Robert Andrews mansion. Andrews Bridge is so named after another member of the Andrews family, Alexander, who fought under George Washington at Valley Forge. The Union Cemetery land was purchased from the farm of another member of the Andrews family, the farm being the current Stoltzfus farm with the roadside stand at 472 and Street Rd in Union. Hugh Andrews was a member of the very first school board in Colerain Township. In 1930 William Hogg Andrews purchased and donated the large monument in the center of the old church cemetery across the road from the manse.
Another wonderful connection that we marvel at every Sunday is our beautiful Rose Window. The window is in memory of Professor James Andrews. He operated the Union Academy (on Academy Road) as Union's High School for many years. He was the grandson of our original benefactor. One of the last professors to serve under him was Hugh Forseman. When the academy closed, Mr. Foresman moved to Chicago and started Scott, Foresman and Co., which would become one of the largest school book publishing companies in the world. He never forgot his Union roots and his kind donation was instrumental in the purchase of Union's magnificent pipe organ in 1931.
As I mentioned before, Bill no longer has any close relatives in this area, an elderly Aunt in the Lebanon area being the only one known to his family. How marvelous that even though our connection was realized just weeks before celebration, he could, and did attend. Also, how interesting that after all these generations and moves that he is still a dedicated and practicing Presbyterian and that he could give us a brief talk on the church, his family and his faith. He was thrilled to be invited and to have the opportunity to celebrate the occasion with us and to be able to profess his faith. Bill's church in California also went through long and painful discussion over leaving PCUSA. Bill sends the following suggestion for us: “With the 200th celebration behind and the question of leaving PCUSA settled, what a great profession that your next service was labeled the first day of our third century. What is the next right step for Union going forward? It calls to mind Hebrews 12:1- “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,” And Union certainly has its cloud of faithful saints from the first 200 years.” He follows with; “Thanks again for inviting us to participate in the 200th celebration Sunday. It was a very meaningful time. I will always have a certain affinity for Union, understanding that it is part of my spiritual heritage.”
While the Andrews family itself is no longer in the area, there are quite a few descendants through marriage still here. Among the marriages were to Morrisons, Fergusons, Hoggs, Pattersons, Hastings, Jacksons, Whitesides and Holmes. We all owe a great thank you to the Andrews Family for their contributions to Union Presbyterian Church's legacy!
Written by Marty Greenleaf