Title: Pastor, magazine editor
Birthdate: February 23, 1823
Death Date: July 24, 1894
Plot Location: Section 131, Lot 40

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John had an extensive resume as a Methodist preacher and an equally busy life in church affairs away from the pulpit. In addition, he was a widower whose second wife was a doctor, and he played a role in developing a section of Mount  Moriah Cemetery which had been donated to his denomination.

The McCulloughs were among the early Scottish settlers in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. John’s great grandfather served in the county’s militia during the American Revolution and his father was in the War of 1812. John was born in Oxford, not far from the Mason-Dixon line that determined the boundary with Maryland.

John’s formal education went only as far as the public schools, having no college or theological training. At some point he was granted an honorary doctor of divinity degree, which is generally considered a religious title with no academic standing. However, John was self-taught in his study of the Bible and his ability to communicate the truths he found there. Much of his life story was explained in his obituary, part of which is quoted here:

“His parents were ardent Presbyterians, but during a Methodist revival in 1839, he united with Elk Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1844 he was licensed to exhort, and a year later to preach. In 1846 he was received on trial with the Philadelphia Conference [the regional association of the denomination].

“He was appointed to the Delaware City Circuit, and in 1847 to the Strasburg Circuit. He was ordained Deacon in 1848 and for 26 years he preached without intermission of more than two weeks. In 1848 he was stationed at Port Richmond and in 1849 at Germantown. A year later he was ordained Elder and stationed at Ebenezer [M.E. Church in] Manayunk. Following this he filled many pulpits in Philadelphia and surrounding places in the Conference.”

There was much more to this man than just preaching. This clip from his obituary explains how he served as a magazine editor and in various other roles. His greatest accomplishment was helping establish the Chester Heights Camp Meeting Association. A farm near Wawa in Delaware County was purchased in 1872 and converted into a campground and conference center. He and his family stayed in a cottage there every summer.

Rebecca Jane Byerly became his bride in 1849 and they had two sons. The boys were grown men and both on their own when she died in 1885. The next year John found and married Anna Dalrymple, a medical doctor, and he welcomed her two single adult daughters into their new home. 

It’s possible he met Anna because of Mount Moriah, since her first husband was buried a few feet away from his first wife. William Dalrymple was also a Methodist pastor who had been buried ten years earlier in the Ministerial Burial Ground of the Philadelphia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

All of Section 131 was generously deeded to the Conference by the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association in 1859, according to a letter from the Association’s secretary, George C. Connell.

Later that year the Conference set up a Board of Trustees, with John as secretary, to administer the property. (Future members of that Board would include two prominent Methodist businessmen who were later buried at Mount Moriah and have their own Notable stories: Thomas Tasker and Burton Kollock.)

In 1894 John suffered from peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen. He spent his last days that summer at the camp he loved. He and his two sons were buried beside his first spouse in Lot 40 as Anna and her two daughters would be beside her first spouse in Lot 43. 

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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