The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY

Chapter XIII
State of Religion

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Religious Feeling among the People -- Ministers and Missionaries -- Meeting House in Gaines -- First in County-Building.

Religion was not forgotten by the first settlers of Orleans County, and amid all their hardships and difficulties, they never omitted attending to the public worship of God. For some years they had no church organizations, or settled ministers of the gospel, or houses built expressly for places of public worship. They had religious meeting however in their log cabins, sometimes conducted by a preacher, sometimes with none. As soon as schoolhouses were built, they held their meetings in them. Though many of the settlers were members of Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or other denominations, in the old State, from which they came, here they kept up no denominational distinction. If it was announced that a religious meeting was to be held in some place, everybody for miles around attended it, never stopping to inquire to what denomination the preacher belonged. Many old people remember with deep emotion some of those solemn seasons of prayer and praise, enjoyed by them in company with all those who loved God and his worship, in their neighborhood, in some little log shanty in the woods.

As the first settlement of the county began on the lake shore in Carlton, and gradually extended along the Ridge road, so religious meetings were held first in Carlton.

About the year 1809, Rev. Mr. Steele, a Methodist preacher, came over from Canada and visited as a missionary those settlers who had come into Carlton, and preached to them whenever he could get a congregation together.. He is said to have been the first preacher of any denomination. He was soon followed by Elders irons, Dutcher, and Carpenter, Baptists; and Puffer, Hall, Gregory, and others, Methodists.

Before 1820, a Baptist church was formed in Gaines, a Congregational church in Barre, another in Ridgeway, and from that time forward, the people united in such church organizations as were agreeable to their views of religious truth and duty, instead of those common meetings of all, which prevailed at an earlier day.

In the year 1824, a company of citizens of Gaines, viz.: Oliver Booth, 2d. Elisha Nichols, Elijah D. Nichols, James Mather, Van Rensselaer Hawkins, Elijah Blount, Jonathan Blount, Jr., Zelotes Sheldon, John J. Walbridge, Romeyn Ostrander, and Asahel Lee, united together and built the meeting house now standing in the west part of the village, "for the benefit of the Congregational and Baptist Societies in the town of Gaines, each society to use the same for one-half of the time alternately. When not occupied by said societies, to be free for public worship for any other religious society." The proprietors sold the slips for the house, and gave the purchase money, after paying for building the house, to aid in building Gaines Academy.

This was the first church edifice erected in Orleans county. For several years it was occupied according to the intent of the founders. It has now been transferred to a Methodist Society.

The Pioneer History of Orleans County, NY, By Arad Thomas


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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