New Castle News

Local News

July 24, 2013

Bessemer at 100, Part 2: From baseball to education, residents recall borough’s history



Another important part of Bessemer are the three churches —  St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, built in 1959, First Covenant Church and Bessemer Presbyterian Church.

 St. Anthony Parish was founded in 1909 and the initial church services were held in a hall above a local hardware store until the new church opened on Oak Street in October 1911.

The old church, located in what is now St. Anthony Cemetery, was razed sometime after the new church opened. With St. Lawrence Church in Hillsville, it is Christ the King Parish.

The Rev. Nathan Leslie is pastor of the Presbyterian church.

“This is one of the older institutions in the community,” Leslie explained, adding there is also a connection between the church and the library.

“Some of the original elders and founding members of the church were also instrumental in founding the library in 1920.”

The Swedish Mission Covenant Church was founded by a small group of Swedish immigrants in Bessemer in 1890. It was the first house of worship in Bessemer when it was dedicated in 1890. The name was changed to the First Covenant Church in 1966.

Frazier, who attended St. Anthony’s, also went to an after-school program — as a youngster —  called Trailblazers that was held in the basement of First Covenant.

“And the preacher there had big cookouts in his yard.”

As a youngster, Tenhula attended First Covenant Church and remembers Sunday school classes with his teacher, Lydia Carlson.

“Back in those days, Bessemer reminded me of the ‘Andy Griffith Show,’” Tenhula reminisced. “It was a small town like Mayberry, and you knew most of the people in town.”

For Grebenz, “It was a good place to grow up.”

And Frazier said she always felt safe and comfortable.

“Anybody would help you.”


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