Exploring the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County

Fall foliage in Bedford County at the 1806 Old Log Church.

The 1806 Old Log Church is the oldest standing church in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Located right along Route 30, AKA the Lincoln Highway, it is visited by thousands of people from around the globe every year.

Old Log Church historical marker along the Lincoln Highway near Schellsburg PA.
Old Log Church historical marker along the Lincoln Highway near Schellsburg, PA.

1806 Old Log Church FAQs

Who built the 1806 Old Log Church?

The church was built on 6 acres of land donated by John Schell, founder of nearby Schellsburg. The church was built out of logs that were supplied by John Schell, John Mowry, Jacob Hillegass, and George Rock, each man furnishing enough logs for one side.
Aerial view of the Old Log Church and cemetery in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

What was the 1806 Old Log Church originally called?

The church was originally called the Union Church, as it served both the local Lutheran and Reformed congregations.
Side view of the 1806 Old Log Churhc in Bedford County.

Can I navigate to the 1806 Old Log Church by GPS?

Yes – use GPS coordinates 40.04849, -78.65555 to find the church along what is now called Cemetery Road (the original route of the Lincoln Highway).
If you prefer to navigate by physical street address use 343 Cemetery Rd, Schellsburg, PA 15559.
A map to the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County Pennsylvania

Did the 1806 Old Log Church always have pews?

No – from 1806 until 1812 the worshippers sat on logs. Pews were installed in 1812.
View from the pulpit inside the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County PA

What is the unique shape of the pulpit called?

The pulpit in the 1806 Old Log Church is called a “wine glass pulpit”, as it resembles that type of drinking vessel.
It was added to the church in 1812.

The pews inside the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County PA

When were the galleries in the 1806 Old Log Church constructed?

The galleries that surround 3 sides of the second story of the church were constructed in 1814.
Balcony of the 1806 Old Log Church in Schellsburg Pennsylvania.

When were the interior walls of the 1806 Old Log Church plastered?

The interior walls were plastered around 1820.
The two story interior of the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County Pennsylvania.

When was the 1806 Old Log Church last used for regular services?

The Reformed congregation used it until about 1852. The Lutherans had constructed a new brick church in Schellsburg in 1843, and the Reformed congregation broke ground for their new church in Schellsburg on March 1, 1851.
The 1806 Old Log Church on Bedofrd County, Pennsylvania.

Why does the exterior of the 1806 Old Log Church look white in some old pictures?

At one time the outside of the church was covered with white weather board, but in 1935 the weather boarding was removed. So any images/postcards (see below) showing the 1806 Old Log Church looking white are from before 1935.

An early postcard of the Old Log Church along the original Lincoln Highway near Schellsburg Pennsylvania.

What are the visiting hours at the 1806 Old Log Church?

In a typical (non-COVID) year, the church is unlocked during daylight hours every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is also unlocked on weekends in the spring and fall. There is no electricity or plumbing in the church (so no restrooms). There is a guest book and donation box at the front of the church.


Guest book and donation box at the Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.

Is the 1806 Old Log Church staffed by a tour guide?

No – this is a self-guided attraction, although there is an informative sign outside the entrance to the church.

Informational plaque about the 1806 Old Log Church near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.


The Confederate Grave at the Old Log Church

The Chestnut Ridge and Schellsburg Union Cemetery that surrounds the 1806 Old Log Church is the final resting place for many prominent local citizens as well as soldiers from all of America’s wars.

Looking towards the Old Log Church from the original Lincoln Highway in Bedford County PA
Looking across the cemetery and towards the Old Log Church from the original Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA.

Perhaps no grave in the cemetery is more well-known than that of William Hinson, who also happens to be my great, great, great grandfather.

Gravesite of Confederate veteran William Hinson, born Oliver Niley.
Gravesite of Confederate veteran William Hinson, born Oliver Niley.

Born Oliver Perry Niley in Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1842, he enlisted in the Confederate Army’s 10th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, in April 1861.

Confederate States of America grave marker for William Hinson at the 1806 Old Log Church and cemetery near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.
Confederate States of America grave marker for William Hinson at the 1806 Old Log Church and cemetery near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.

He was captured at Vicksburg in October 1863 and sent to a Union prison camp at Fort Alton, Illinois in November 1863. He was being transferred to a prison camp in Delaware via train in February 1864 when he escaped somewhere in the mountains of Cambria County, PA. He wandered into Somerset County and was given shelter from the winter cold by a Quaker family.

Knowing that authorities may search for him, he changed his name to William Hinson (his maternal grandfather’s name) and settled down in Pennsylvania to wait out the war.

Short biography of William Hinson on his gravesite at the Old Log Church near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.
Short biography of William Hinson on his gravesite at the Old Log Church near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.

But instead of returning to Mississippi, he started a new life in Pennsylvania. He settled near Schellsburg, where he became a pillar of the community. He married a local girl (Catharine), had children (including my great, great grandmother Emma Hinson), and was a Justice of the Peace in Bedford County for many years. When he died in 1925, his Confederate Army service was revealed and he was buried under both flags.

Confederate War Veteran grave marker for William Hinson at the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County PA.
Confederate War Veteran grave marker for William Hinson at the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County, PA.

The story of William Hinson / Oliver Niley has been told in many Civil War publications, including Civil War Times.


Visiting the 1806 Old Log Church

One look at the guest book inside the 1806 Old Log Church and you’ll quickly realize that people from literally all over the world stop here out of sheer curiosity, or to pray, or to pay their respects to a deceased family member.

The 1806 Church, at is sometimes called, along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
The 1806 Church, at is sometimes called, along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

For those looking to retrace the route of the original Lincoln Highway, you’ll pass right through the Chestnut Ridge and Schellsburg Union Cemetery along what is now called Cemetery Road.

Cemetery Road near Schellsburg, original route of the old Lincoln Highway.
Cemetery Road near Schellsburg, original route of the old Lincoln Highway.

And while the 1806 Old Log Church is no longer in regular use, please treat both it and cemetery with the respect they deserve.

Late autum view of the 1806 Old Log Church from the original Lincoln Highway in Bedofrd County PA.
Late autum view of the 1806 Old Log Church from the original Lincoln Highway in Bedofrd County PA

No matter the season, the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County is a beautiful sight to behold!

A winter scene at the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
A winter scene at the 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

The Saint Severin Old Log Church in Clearfield County is another fine example of a 19th century Pennsylvania log church.

Saint Severin Old Log Church in Clearfield County
Saint Severin Old Log Church in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.

Nearby Attractions

The Bedford Coffee Pot is located just a few miles east of the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway, on the outskirts of Bedford.

Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot.
Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot along the Lincoln Highway.

Dunkle’s Gulf Station in Bedford is perhaps the best-known art deco-style garage along the entire Lincoln Highway.

Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford Pennsylvania
Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in downtown Bedford, PA.

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike near Breezewood (Bedford County) is a superhighway-turned-bikepath that feels like you’ve stepped into a sci-fi movie!

The Abandoned PA Turnpike Pike 2 Bike Trail
Rays Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned PA Turnpike near Breezewood, PA.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is located approximately 30 minutes west of the 1806 Old Log Church, also along the Lincoln Highway.

Approaching the Wall of Names along the Plaza Walkway at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville PA
The Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, PA.

If you enjoy all things Lincoln Highway, be sure to check out the Lincoln Highway Experience near Latrobe, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the first transcontinental automobile route linking the east and west coasts of the United States.

The annex and gift shop at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe PA
The annex and gift shop at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe, PA.

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