This is the second of six blog posts about Universalist ministers who are buried in Bradford County.
Schuyler Jerome Gibson (1816-1864)
Schuyler J. Gibson was born in 1816 in Norwich, N. Y. He attended an orthodox Christian church, but came to believe in universal salvation through his own study of the Bible. He reportedly argued with the pastor of his church.
Gibson had tuberculosis in his teens. Fortunately, the disease affected only one of his lungs and he recovered, but his voice and constitution were permanently weakened.
Gibson came to Bradford county in 1842, initially settling in Monroeton, and moving to Sheshequin in 1843. He served the Sheshequin congregation part-time for most of the period from 1842 to 1864.
Gibson was a frequent contributor to Universalist periodicals, of which there were many in the 1820’s, 1830’s and 1840’s. In 1842 and 1843 he posted at least 18 essays and short sermons from Monroeton, including one entitled “Hell of No Use.”
His wife Sarah Eliza Hancock also wrote essays for these publications. In 1842, one periodical published seven of her essays, including one entitled “Liberty of Conscience.”
Gibson took three breaks from his ministry in Sheshequin. In 1846 he went back to Norwich for a year, then spent a year in Montrose, Susquehanna county, before returning to Sheshequin.
The Gibsons were involved in the organization of the Athens Universalist Society in 1849. Schuyler Gibson presented a draft constitution at a society meeting in May of that year. Schuyler and Eliza were on the first membership list in September, 1849.
In 1854, in need of more income, Gibson moved to Kentucky and practiced law for a short time. He then served a church in Terre Haute, Indiana, and wrote columns for a Universalist newspaper. He returned to Sheshequin in 1859.
Having witnessed slavery during his time in Kentucky, Gibson was an outspoken opponent of the “peculiar institution.”
Finally, in 1864, his health failing, Gibson took a job as clerk in the Pension Bureau in Washington, D. C. He worked there only a short time, however, returning to Sheshequin in early November of the same year. In spite of his debilitating illness, he managed to get to the polls to cast his vote. He died a week later on Nov. 13, 1864, and was buried in Sheshequin.
Eliza Gibson was active in the Athens Society until at least 1871. The erection of the monument on Noah Murray’s grave in Springfield was completed largely through her efforts. She died in 1897 and was buried with her husband in Sheshequin.