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Profiles of the original 24 managers of the Pennsylvania Bible Society, founded in 1808.


Managers_Pictures/bishop_willaim_white.jpgBishop William White – (April 4, 1748 – July 17, 1836).  Born in Philadelphia and received his education at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), graduating in 1765.  Studied theology under the record, Proctor William Smith of Christ Church and in 1772 went to Britain for his ordination.  When the Loyalist rector of Christ Church departed in 1779, White took over there and at St. Peter’s, positions he held until his death.  White was elected as president of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1785.  White was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania from 1774 till 1836.  White was also Chaplain to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1789.  When the Bible Society formed in 1808, White became its first President and stayed in that position until his death.   

Managers_Pictures/Ashbel_Green_small_bw.jpgAshbel Green – (July 6, 1762 – May 19, 1848).  Born in Hanover, New Jersey and graduate of the College of New Jersey in 1783.  Was professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in Princeton from 1785-1787.  From 1792 till 1800 Green served as the Chaplain to Congress in Philadelphia.  He served as head pastor of 2nd Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from   till.  In 1812 Green went to Princeton, New Jersey for two things: the formation of Princeton Theological Seminary (with Archibald Alexander and J.J. Janeway), and to become the President of the College of New Jersey.  He served as the College’s President for 10 years before returning to Philadelphia where he lived until he died.  Was manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1848 and became the Society’s 2nd President after Bishop White’s death in 1838.  As is noted in his autobiography, Green had difficulty writing clearly during the last decade of his life, writing in mostly shorthand notes to himself in his diary.  His last official use of the “pen” was signing his name as President of the Bible Society.


Managers_Pictures/jacob_janeway.jpgJ.J. (Jacob Jones) Janeway – (November 20, 1774 – June 27 1858).  Ordained in 1799 a colleague of Dr. Ashbel Green in the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, where he remained until 1828.  After serving in Philadelphia he was called to a Dutch Reformed Church in New Brunswick, NJ for 2 years.  Elected a trustee of Rutgers University in 1820, and Vice-President from 1833-1839.  Director of Princeton Theological Seminary from 1813 till 1830 and was President of the Managers of said institution from 1849 till his death in 1858.  Married to Martha Gray (Leiper) Janeway.  Janeway served as a manager of Bible Society from 1808-1834.


Managers_Pictures/staughton.jpgWilliam Staughton – (January 4, 1770 – December 12, 1829).  Received a Doctorate of Divinity degree from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1801.  Was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia from 1805 till 1811, until the formation of the Samson Street Baptist Church.  He held the pastorate of the Samson Church from 1811 till his resignation in 1822.  Was chosen in 1821 to be the first president of Columbian College (later George Washington University), a position he held until 1827.  Staughton served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1824.



Managers_Pictures/Pilmore.jpgJoseph Pilmore – (October 31, 1739 – July 24, 1825).  Born in Yorkshire.  Served with John Wesley in South Wales in 1767 and 1768.  Pilmore came to America in 1769 when he introduced Philadelphia to Methodism as a missionary from John Wesley.  Pilmore preached from the steps of the State House in Chestnut Street.  He joined the Protestant Episcopal Church and became rector of St. Paul’s Church in Philadelphia, where he served until his death.  Pilmore served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1821. 



Managers_Pictures/archibald_alexander_2_.jpgArchibald Alexander – (1772 – October 22, 1851).  Was an ordained minister at the age of 19 and selected president of Hampden-Sydney College at 24.  Served as pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church (later Old Pine Presbyterian Church) from 1808 till 1812 when he left to aid in the founding of Princeton Theological Seminary (with Ashbel Green and J.J. Janeway).  Became the seminary’s first professor of theology and taught at the school until his death in 1851.  Alexander served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1813.



Managers_Pictures/philip_f_mayer.jpgPhilip F. Mayer
– (b. 1781? – d. April 16, 1858).  Was pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John in Philadelphia.  A native of Auburn, New York and resided in Albany before coming to Philadelphia.  Was for many years President of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Philadelphia Dispensary and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.  Mayer served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1858 and became the Society’s 3rd President in 1848, a position he held until his death in 1858.  In the first 100 years of the Society, Mayer was the longest serving member in the Society’s history, serving for 50 years.


Dr. Justus Henry Christian Helmuth – (May 16, 1745 – February 5, 1825).  Born in Brunswick, Germany, was educated in Halle.  Accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1769 till 1779.  From 1780 until his retirement in 1820, Helmuth served as pastor of St. Michael’s and St. Zion parish (the largest Lutheran Parish in the United States).  Served as a trustee of the University of the State of Pennylvania from 1780-1784 (later University of Pennsylvania).  Helmuth served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1822. 

James Gray
– (1770 – 1824).  Pastor of the Old Scots or First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1804 to 1815.  Gray served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1817.

Managers_Pictures/P3120005.JPGThomas Ware
– (1758 – 1842).  Ware was a traveling Methodist minister who only spent two years in Philadelphia preaching.  Ware served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1810. 






Samuel Helfenstein – (1775 – 1866).  Elected as minister of–Was pastor of the First Reformed Church (St. Peter’s German Reformed) in Philadelphia on January 14th, 1799.  His father – Rev. John Christian Albert Helfenstein was a minister of the German Reformed Congregation in Germantown.  Helfenstein served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1854.




Joseph Zaeslein
– (Apr 11, 1770 – 1817). Born in Basil, Switzerland, came to America in November 1800.  Was called for service in the Moravian church in Philadelphia in 1803, and served there until his wife’s death in 1812.  Made his way out to Cincinnati, Ohio where he founded The First English Lutheran Church, (still in existence today) where he served until his death.  Zaeslein served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1812.



Managers_Pictures/benjamin_rush.jpgBenjamin Rush – (December 24, 1745 – April 13, 1813).  Born on his father’s farm in Byberry Towship.  Rush, after finishing Latin and Greek, was sent to the College of New Jersey at the age of 14 where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1760. Went to Edinburgh in 1766 where he received his Doctorate of Medicine and then traveled to London, then Paris before returning to America.  Selected as professor of Chemistry in the College of Philadelphia in 1769, and in 1789 succeeded to chair of the Theory and Practice of physic, and of clinical medicine, and was for many years one of the physicians of the Pennsylvania Hospital.  Rush served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1813, and was one of the original gentleman present at Ralston’s residence to form the Society on December 12, 1808.


Managers_Pictures/Ralston.jpgRobert Ralston – (December 18, 1761 – August 11, 1836). Born in Little Brandywine, Chester County.  Became a merchant in Philadelphia but did not strive to grow rich, and was much-admired for his character.  Was ordained as a ruling elder of 2nd Presbyterian Church and was also President of Board of Education of Presbyterian Church.  Ralston served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1836 and was the Society’s first Treasurer and initiated the first meeting of gentleman in his private residence on December 12, 1808 to form the Bible Society.

Edward Pennington
– (May 8, 1766 – March 16, 1834).  Pennington was a sugar refiner with his eldest brother Isaac.  From 1805 till 1823 Pennington was a manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital.  In 1805 Pennington also, with other business leaders and artists in the city, helped organize and form the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  In 1834 he was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society.  Pennington served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1815.


Dr. Peter Van Pelt – (1778 – 1861).  Descendent from Dutch Immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, New York during the 1680s.  Van pelt was a dentist and surgeon in the city.  Most famous for his son, Peter Van Pelt, Jr. who became pastor of St. Thomas’ Church in Philadelphia.  Van Pelt served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1835). 

Seckel – (May 11, 1746 – March 6, 1823).  Born Georg Lorentz Seckel, went by the name Lawrence.  Seckel was a wine merchant and prominent citizen of Philadelphia, where he served as a member of City Councils, and on the Board of Port Wardens, and also as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly; was a founder and first treasurer of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church (where Philip F. Mayer was pastor).  From 1790 till 1820, Seckel served as manager of Pennsylvania Hospital and was some years a manager of the Philadelphia Dispensary.  Seckel served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1819.

William Shufflebottom – Shufflebottom was an operator of a china store and was an elder in the Second Reformed Dutch Church in Philadelphia.  He served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1828.

Thomas Allibone – It is believed that Allibone was a flour merchant in Philadelphia.  He served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1810.  

Benjamin B. Hopkins – Hopkins was a stationer in Philadelphia being the publisher of many books in the city.  He was recording secretary and librarian (all Bible distribution orders went through him) of the Bible Society.  He was also manager of the Society from 1808-1818.

George Krebs – Krebs was a brick maker in Philadelphia.  He served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1833.

Frederick Schucker – Schucker was a Sen. Gentleman in the city of Philadelphia.  He served was a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1820.

France Markoe – Markoe was a merchant in Philadelphia.  He served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1812.

Thomas Montgomery – Montgomery served as a manager of the Bible Society from 1808-1810.

If you would like to know more about the Pennsylvania Bible Society's history or have any questions, please contact us at:  history@pabible.org.