The New California Church was organized in 1826 at a time when
the congregation was called the Associate Congregation of Darby
and represented Presbyterians whose ancestors came from
the "Seceder" tradition of Scotland. Seceder Presbyterians were so
named because they left or "seceded from" the mainstream Pres-
byterian Church when the English Crown claimed the right to name
ministers. Their desire for religious freedom brought them to
America where they were one of the earliest denominations to
condemn slavery. The congregation met at members' homes until
building its first church in 1833, a log structure. The first
minister to serve this congregation, the Reverend James Wallace,
who served from 1832-1841, was an outspoken opponent of slavery,
and this congregation maintained that anti-slavery stance under later
ministers. The present church was built in 1904.
On April 24, 1861, in the sanctuary of the second Presbyterian church
built on this site, a congregational meeting was held to respond to the
call from President Abraham Lincoln for volunteers to defend the Union.
On the pulpit lay the "Bible and munitions for war," and behind the
pulpit stood the Reverend B.D. Evans who delivered a stirring patriotic
address and sermon. As a result more than forty men came forward to
volunteer for military service. David Taylor was the first to enlist. He
served for three years and was killed on a battlefield in Georgia.
Before the Civil War ended, more than 367 men from Jerome Township
served the Union cause, giving it one of the highest per capita rates
for military service in the nation. Seventeen Civil War veterans are
buried here in the New California cemetery.