November 7, 1775: Pioneers Form Forks-of-Cheat Baptist Church
On the night of November 7, 1775, the Reverend John Corbly and 12 others organized the Forks-of-Cheat Baptist Church. The meeting took place near Stewartstown, about six miles north of Morgantown.
The church remains in service today. As such, it is the oldest church in West Virginia west of the Alleghenies with continuous records. Its earliest artifact is the small hand-written minute book of that charter meeting in 1775.
Over the years, the congregation has developed a number of traditions to honor its heritage. Each July, it celebrates Homecoming Sundays and flies a British flag to mark the church’s original colonial status.
The most unusual tradition was started in 1963 by the Reverend Joseph C. Gluck, a West Virginia University professor and part-time pastor. At an annual picnic, Gluck would serve bear meat, a staple of the pioneer diet. He also inducted the picnic goers into the “World Bear Eaters’ Association.”
One tradition that was not started by the congregation unfolded in the 1920s. During Prohibition, a hollow marker in the church’s graveyard became a popular place for exchanging bootleg liquor.