Ontario County Organized Churches
from 1878 History of Ontario Co., NY
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Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer
History of Ontario Co., NY
Phelps Churches pg 168 - 170
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of PHELPS—The earliest record that has come to hand I under date of August 31, 1808, and this embraces the result of a council which convened with the church at this time. This council consisted of delegates from the churches in Palmyra, Farmington (now Manchester), Bristol, Romulus, Ovid, Augusta, and Gorham. The ministers among these delegates were: Jeremiah IRONS, John CATON, Jehiel WISNER, and John GOFF. Elder Daniel IRISH being present was invited to a seat, and was chosen moderator. The church made a statement of their matters to the council, presented their articles of faith and of convenant, and “a number of brethren and sisters agreeing to take up their ground and to stand on the ground they first set out upon,” and renewing their covenant in the hearing of the council, the council voted “unitedly to fellowship them as a gospel church.”
This, from an incidental remark in the record of the 25th of March following, appears to have been rather a re-establishing than constituting anew “the church in Phelps, which in a measure had lost its visibility.” Another incident recorded in June following, confirms this fact. Some question arising about the articles of faith, a meeting was held “to compare our articles of faith with the old, and found them to agree.”
Of this former church no record is known to remain. Its origin and its members are alike unknown. Nor is there any list of the constituent members in this resuscitation, or any mention of their number. The earliest statistical record is in 1827, when one hundred and forty-two or one hundred and eighty-two is given as the whole number. In 1829 a list of living members is given, containing fifty five names. The last record is in 1850, at which time there were thirty-one members. The period embraced in the record is about fifty-two years. The whole membership being six hundred and thirty-six, of which three hundred and forty-seven were received by baptism. The greatest number received by baptism in one year was eighty, in 1837, in connection with the protracted meeting held by Brother KNAPP, Henry SHUTE, pastor. Forty-five were received by baptism in 1831, Solomon DIMOCK, pastor.
For the last three years of their history the church was without a pastor, but was supplied by Brother J.A. WADER, James CLARK, and others. Brother Jehiel WISNER was the first pastor. His pastorate extended from 1808 to 1815; Samuel MESSENGER was pastor from 1815 to 1819; Harvey BLOOD, from 1821 to 1824; Thomas BROWN, from 1824 to 1830; Solomon DIMOCK, from 1831 to 1834; Henry SHUTE, from 1835 to 1839; Ira BENNETT, from 1839 to 1841; David PEASE, from 1841 to 1843; C.G. CARPENTER, 1843 to 1848; A. P. DRAPER, from 1851 to 1857. Intervals between these pastorates being filled by Thomas BROWN, William BROWN, Caleb RICE, William WILLER, and Solomon GOODALE.
In the early years of the church their Sabbath meetings were held in school-houses in different neighborhoods, but a house was afterwards built, and meetings held statedly at Melvin Hill. Tradition says the house cost one thousand dollars, and was very dear at that. In 1821 the society was invited to meet with the church in consultation on employing a minister, and in 1831 was organized, according to law, by the name of “The First Baptist Church of the town of Phelps.” In 1829 it was voted that if any member be absent from the communion table, and does not appear at the next, it shall be the duty of the church to ascertain the cause; and, judging from the record, very few offenders escaped attention; but in manner their discipline was lenient and moderate, for though they waited they did not let go. In 1812, Elder William ROE and others took letters of dismission to form the Second Baptist church in Phelps. In 1819, Caleb RICE and others were dismissed to form the Third Baptist church in Phelps (now the Orleans). In 1824, Wolcott was a branch of this church, as also was ROSE, in 1826, with liberty to send one delegate to the association. About this time the Baptist church in Geneva was formed, taking some members from this church. In 1843, a number of members, above fifty, joined in a conference preparatory to establishing a church in the village of Phelps. These were recognized January 31, 1843. This movement took about one-half the living membership, and a much greater portion of the activity and strength of the church. Many that remained were old people, and passed away in a few years, and their places not being supplied, the membership slowly but surely decreased, until it was deemed advisable for the thirty-one remaining members to seek other homes, as Geneva, Orleans, and Phelps village churches were all located from three to five miles distant. Some of these have died, some have joined other denominations, some have removed from the place, and a few are left alone.
The deacons were BUCHAN, COOL, STORMS, PECK, WEBSTER, WARNER, JONES, SALISBURY, CTRITTENDEN, and MELVIN.
The clerks were MILLS, MASON, SALISBURY, CHAPMAN, STORMS, OTTLEY, and MACK.
Brethren William ROWE, William SALISBURY, Jr., Jonathan POST, and M. W. HOLMES were licensed in this church, and Brother William ROWE was ordained.
The corporate society held its meetings till 1860, and has a good title to the site on which the old house stands. The building is now in a good state of repair, and is used for church and Sunday-school purposes.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH OF PHELPS VILLAGE was organized January 31, 1843. The following are names of the first members: William OTTLEY, Caroline STONE, Horace PECK, Elisha PECK, James LADU, Betsy LADU, O. M. STACY, Mary A. STACY, Lucy RAYMOND, Daniel CROUCH, Sarah L.C. PECK, A. P. FRANEY, Barbara CURTIS, Margaret CURTIS, Lemuel BANNISTER, Elizabeth BANNISTER, William CRITTENDEN, Fannie CRITTENDEN, A.DUNN, Rachael A. GATES, H. L. BARLOW, Laura BREWSTER, A. F. RAMSEY, D. RAMSEY, John PECK, Lydia OTTLEY, L.HARDY, T. PECK, Jesse PECK, R. NORTHAM, Benjamin GATES, Alonzo SWAN, Lucy HOLMES, Catharine RUSSELL, Seba PECK, Maria LOWELL, K.DENSMORE, M.SWAN, Fannie CRITTENDEN, Rachel STEWARD, Daniel STEWARD, Nancy Ann STEWARD, Eliza STEWARD, McGee CALDWELL, Nancy A. STEWARD, Lydia PECK, S.PECK, Lydia DIMMOCK, George W.GATES, Betsey GATES, Enoch RUSSELL. The following is a list of pastors, embracing a period of thirty-three years: J.H. STEBBINS, Mr. BINGHAM, Luke DAVIS, G.W. MEAD, J.M. WADE, C.A.NEWLAND, M.W. HOLMES, W.D. WOODRUFF, H.C. DEWITT, Mr. CHASE, Charles A. VOTTLEY, and Rev. H.BLISS, the present pastor, who took charge of the church in 1873. The first Sabbath-school was organized in 1843, with Deacon C.H. BENTON as superintendent, and McGee CALDWELL assistant superintendent. The present fine stone church edifice was edifice was erected in 1845, and dedicated January 7, 1847.
BAPTIST CHURCH ORLEANS—This church was organized in 1819. Elder SHAY was the first minister. The first members were as follows: David SANDERSON, Washington MOORE, Oliver WARNER, Caleb RICE, Jr., Thomas JOHNSTON, William MOORE, Caleb RICE, Geo. BROCKWAY, Wm. MOORE, Jr., Wm. FLINT, Truston SHIELDS, Alanson GOODALE, Alden DARLING, Francis PEEBLE, Charles WARNER, Caleb MOORE, Lewis WARNER, Justin COOLEY, Benj. B. BLIVEN, Thomas HUXLEY, Hiram MENTOR, Robert HUMPHRY, J.T. ROBERT , Rachel BARBER, Mary WARNER, Lucy MOORE, Luca MOORE, Eleanor MENTOR, Fanny SHIELDS, Deborah FLINT, Anna ROBERTS, Cynthia SANDERSON, Charity CURTIS, Sally HUXLEY, Sarah HUXLEY, Louisa LATHROP, Lucinda WARNER, Hannah DARLING, Betsey WEST, Catharine CLIMMONS, Betsey BENNIT, Deborah COLWELL, Sally SCOTT, Reny COOLEY, Polly BROCKWAY, Eliza COOLEY, Jane MOORE, Wealthy GRISSET, Sarepta ROGERS, Polly WOLSEY, Betsey HUMPHRY, Lydia RICE, Ajaph STORMS, Timothy DEVLIN, Nahum BIGLOW, Catharine SHEFFIELD, Harriet BROCKWAY, Hiram SCOVIL.
The first church edifice was erected in 1820, at a cost of two thousand dollars. This building was burned in 1845 or 1846, and the present structure erected on the old site. The following have served the church as ministers: Elder SHAY, Caleb RICE, Elder WEST, Martin HOLMES, Jacob WODER. V. L. GARRETT, Elder VOTY, Albert DUBOE, Elder TAYLOR, John PAYNE, S. J. LACKEY, C.F. WESTON (present pastor). Officers of the church: Joseph KINGSLEY and Martin WARNER, deacons; Austin LAMB, Mark WARNER, and J.D. KING, trustees.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF PHELPS—The Rev. Mr. O’CONNOR took charge of this mission July 15, 1856, which, prior to that time, had been attended from Geneva by Revs. P. BRADLEY, M. O’BRIEN, and W. CARROLL. During the administration of Rev. M. O’BRIEN, a site for a church building had been purchased and paid for; and August 10, Rev. Mr. O’CONNOR commenced a collection for building a church, which was erected that fall.
In 1857 the society had increased, and the services of a resident pastor were required, and J. W. DONOUGH took charge of the mission. During this year he was succeeded by Rev. T. CLARK, who continued until March, 1862, when the present pastor, Rev. B. LEE, assumed control. The church had been prosperous under the administration of Father LEE, and they now have a large and commodious church edifice.
PRESBYTERIAN, PHELPS VILLAGE—This church was organized May 10, 1831. It consisted of sixty members, and was placed under the charge of Rev Levi GRISWOLD, who remained about two years, and retired on account of ill health. The church was very prosperous under his pastorate, eighty-eight persons being added to the organization. Rev. Samuel A. ALLEN was next pastor of this church, who remained about two years, and was succeeded by Rev. William L. STRONG, who was installed pastor of the church June 3, 1835. He was dismissed in 1839, and Rev. Lucas HUBBELL was his successor, who remained until 1846. Rev. DANIEL next served the church as pastor, and was installed June 24, 1847. In June, 1846, the whole number of members was one hundred and fifty-one.
In 1840, after the dismission of Mr. STRONG, about twenty members, on the plea of difference in doctrinal belief, seceded, and were constituted a church by the Old School presbytery of Caledonia, and were taken under the administration of that body, and subsequently assigned to the presbytery of Steuben. The following served this church as pastors: Revs. REINHART, STOCKTON, FARIS, and FOSTER. The following officiated with the New School: Revs. Lucas HUBBELL, Daniel TEMPLE, Silas HALSEY, F. S. HOWE, W. L. PAGE, Charles STEBBINS, Mr. BAYLESS. The church is reunited, and in a very prosperous condition. Rev. D. D. MCCALL was the first pastor after the reorganization. This church edifice is a large and commodious building, finely located in a pleasant portion of the village.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, OAKS’ CORNERS—A society was organized at this place as early as 1803, and, in connection with one at Lyons, gave Rev. John LINDSLEY a call, which he declined. December 2, 1804, Rev. Jedediah CHAPMAN organized a church here, consisting of fourteen members. It seems that this organization did not flourish, and soon became extinct. In 1806 Rev. Howell R. POWELL, a clergyman from Wales, was employed by the inhabitants to preach to them, and on August 7 of that year a church was organized consisting of seventeen members. It was formed on the Congregational plan, and became connected with the Ontario association June 13, 1809. In 1811 the church adopted the Presbyterian form of government, and was united to the presbytery of Geneva April 21 of that year. In three years after its organization it numbered forty-four members. Below is given a partial list of ministers who have officiated with this church since the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. POWELL: Revs. Ambrose PORTER, Charles MOSHER, Henry P. STRONG, Samuel W. BRUCE, Wm. R.S. BETTS, Ezra SCOVILLE, Ebenezer EVERETT, John R. MOSHER.
The society has a substantial church edifice.
ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, PHELPS VILLAGE, was incorporated November 12, 1832, under the ministry of the Rev. B. H. HICKOX. The following persons composed the first vestry: Wardens, Thos. EDMUNSTON and Wm. WELLES; Vestrymen, Owen EDMUNSTON, Theodore A. PINKNEY, Chas. E. PINKNEY, Ebenezer COOK, Joel STEARNS, Jr., Jonathan BURT, Abram SWIFT, and Elias COST.
Rev. Mr. NORTON, of Allen’s Hill, was the first to hold Episcopal services here. November 2, 1832, the Rev. Erastus SPAULDING became rector, and remained as such until 1841. A Sunday-school was established in connection with the church in 1832. The Rev. Edward DE ZENG was minister in 1843—44; Rev. Eli WHEELER in 1848—50; Rev. Kendrick METCALF, D.D., 1855—63; Rev. Wm. O’GORHAM was for some time a missionary stationed here. Dr. HALE, Dr. W.D. WILSON, and others of the clergy of Geneva also officiated at different periods.
On Friday, July 18, 1856, the present fine gothic church edifice was consecrated to the worship of Almighty God by the Rt. Rev. Wm. H. DE LANCEY, bishop of the diocese of Western New York. The Rev. Francis T. RUPELL had charge of the parish in 1864—66, and was succeeded by the Rev. William B. EDSON, who entered upon his ministry October 7, 1866, and is the present efficient rector. The following are the church officials for 1876: Wardens, David GRIFFITH and Augustus MCLEOD; Vestrymen, S. M. THOMAS, C. E. HOBBEY, T. O. HITCHKISS, Wm. B. HOTCHKISS, J. WALTHART, Wm. OAKS, G. C. KING, and J. TOUT. The church is in a prosperous condition, and has fifty communicants.
FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, PHELPS—Not a single year had passed after the arrival of the first families in the township of Phelps, then called Sullivan, before the representatives of Methodism made their appearance. The honor of this service belongs to the GRANGERS, one of whom, Pierce GRANGER, is said to have brought with him from Connecticut a local preacher’s license, given by that great apostle of New England Methodism, Jesse LEE.
As opportunity was presented by subsequent settlements, these pioneers of the sect, which was then everywhere spoken against, held meetings in the cabins of the settlers, and were occasionally encouraged and aided by the welcome visit of some regular itinerant of the Seneca circuit, which then embraced nearly all of the settled portion of New York State west of Cayuga lake. Success attended their humble efforts, and about the year 1800 a class was formally organized, and stated services appointed in the so-called GRANGER school-house, which occupied the site of the present brick structure, near the residence of Philander MOTT.
In 1806, the LYONS circuit was formed out of the northern portion of Seneca circuit, and included this appointment. Lawrence REILEY was made preacher-in-charge, and, at the close of his year’s labors, reported to the Philadelphia Conference a total membership of two hundred and thirty-one, without, however, giving the number in any particular class. This connection with the LYONS circuit continued until 1832, under the supervision of the following preachers, who reported as members in the society the number opposite their respective names:
1807, James KELSEY and Geo. MCCRACKIN, 317; 1808, Amos JENKS and Isaac TELLER, 404; 1809, Benj. BIDLACK and Samuel L. RAWLEIGH, 524; 1810, Benj. BIDLACK and B. G. PADDOCK, 651; 1811, Geo. HARMON and Palmer ROBERTS, 823; 1812, Wm. SNOW and James GILMORE, 831; 1813, Thos. WRIGHT and John HAMILTON, 755; 1814, Wm. SNOW and James H. BAKER, 613; 1815, Danl. BARNES and Eli NORRIS, 728; 1816, Gideon LANNING and ELI KING, 740; 1817, Wm. SNOW, 594; 1818, Ralph LANNING and R. AILSWORTH, 673; 1819, Ralph LANNING, and Israel GROUT, 375; 1820, Loring GROUT and John BAGGERLY, 654; 1821, James KELSEY and Robt. PARKER, 701; 1822, James KELSEY and Dennison SMITH, J. B. ALVERSON, supernumerary, 783; 1823, Benj SABIN and Wm. KENT, 822; 1824, Benj. SABIN, Abner CHASE, and J. B. ALVERSON, supernumerary, 1009; 1825, Rinaldo M. EVERTS, Dennison SMITH, and J.B. ALVERSON, supernumerary, 971; 1826, Rinaldo M. EVERTS and Israel CHAMBERLAYNE, 883; 1827, Jonathan HUESTIS and Israel CHAMBERLAYNE, 1105; 1828, Jonathan HUESTIS and B. SABIN, 674; 1829, Rich. WRIGHT and J.B. ALVERSON, supernumerary, 672; 1830, Rich. WRIGHT, J. TOMPKINSON, and J. B. ALVERSON, Supernumerary, 903; 1831, Orin DOOLITTLE, Robt. PARKER, and G. OSBAND, 713.
Observing the foregoing annual reports of circuit membership, and remembering that, with the exception of 1812,--war period,--an apparent marked decrease in any year indicates a division of territory and the formation of a new circuit, it is evident this was a time with these Methodists, of arduous labors, heroic sacrifices, and glorious success. No wonder the survivors of this golden age love to dwell upon the scenes through which they passed, and especially upon the development of that wonderful work of God in which they were permitted to participate. While, however, volumes might worthily be filled with the details of the thrilling story, only a few bare facts can here be given. In 1809, so great had been the progress of Methodism in all this region that a new conference, the Genesee, was formed, and in 1810 held its first session, Bishop ASBURY presiding, in the barn of Judge Daniel DORSEY, of Lyons. This year was also made memorable to the Phelps appointment by a powerful revival which brought into the society many valuable members, including Eleazer HAWKS, Josiah MAFFITT, and perhaps Caleb BANNISTER.
In 1812, the session of the Genesee conference, which had been appointed for Niagara, in consequence of the breaking out of the war was held at Lyons, Bishop ASBURY presiding. In 1815 this flourishing circuit was again honored with the session of conference, Bishop MCKENDREE presiding. About this time, perhaps a year earlier, the Phelps appointment began to agitate the question of building a house of worship, and the GRANGERS agreeing to give an eligible lot, with a considerable portion of the materials required, a plain, but good-sized edifice, with a huge cast-iron triangle to call the worshipers, was erected on the site of the present church. July 1, 1819, the Genesee conference convened for its tenth annual session in this building, Bishop GEORGE presiding, and made a deep impression upon the entire community. Another great revival followed, Rev. E. HOVAR very efficiently aiding the preaching, with numerous accessions, among whom were B. F. HAWKS, Mrs. Sarepta MARSH BAKER, widow of Rev. H. BAKER, of the Cincinnati conference, and Mrs. Kezia STEARNS ALVERSON, widow of Rev. J. B. ALVERSON, who still (1876) survives, full of years and honor. In 1822 the conference met again in this church, under the presidency of Bishop ROBERTS, and again in 1816, with Bishop HEDDING in the chair,--an evidence of a ministerial partiality for this favored people, which suggests not only the relative strength of the society at this time as compared with others of the denomination, but also of their zeal, intelligence, high social standing, and abounding hospitality. From the records now at hand it does not appear that a formal incorporation, according to the statutes of the State, was effected until July 19, 1831. The title to the property continued in the donor of the lot, or more properly, perhaps in the GRANGER family, for some years at least, and perhaps was not transferred to legal representatives of the society until the date above mentioned. At that time the name “First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church” was assumed, and Josiah MAFFITT, Erastus S. MOVIN, and Caleb BANNISTER were chosen trustees. This action doubtless foreshadowed and prepared the way for the separation of the Vienna appointment from the old Lyons circuit, which took place the following year (1832). It then appears for the first time on the conference minutes as a station, with Robert PARKER as preacher, and a membership of one hundred and eighty-two. As an illustration of Methodistic hospitality in those days, it may be mentioned that the preacher and his horse were furnished ample accommodations and generous fare the entire year free of charge by Josiah MAFFITT, leaving the disciplinary allowance, as furnished by the rest of the society, to be used for the support of his family residing at Dansville. Mr. PARKER was succeeded in 1833 by Ralph BENNETT, and he in 1834 by Seth MATTISON.
In 1835, Vienna was put into a circuit again with Newark, and Z. J. BUCK, W.M. FERGUSON, and N. PALMITER, supernumerary, appointed as preachers. This arrangement, however, continued but a single year, the conference of 1836 giving to the society permanently the position of a station. Since that time it has enjoyed the services of the following ministers, in the order and for the period mentioned:
Z. J. BUCK, this completing his second year; Calvin COATS, one year; John ROBINSON, one year; L. B. CASTLE, two years; William HOSMER, one year; Clinton W. SEARS, one year; Joseph CROSS, one year: Wm. H. GOODWIN, two years; E. G. TOWNSEND, one year; Ebenezer LATIMER, two years; John MANDEVILLE, two years; Isaiah MCMAHON, one year; Manly TOCKER, two years; A. S. BAKER, two years; Martin WHEELER, two years; J. N. BROWN, two years; Dexter E. CLAPP, two years; F. G. HIBBARD, one year; Martin WHEELER, three years; George VAN ALSTYNE, three years; Isaac GIBBARD, three years; E. P. HUNTINGTON, one year; T. Jefferson BISSELL, the present incumbent, three years.
During this period two sessions of conference have been held with this society, the first in 1844, by Bishop HAMLINE, and the second in 1869, Bishop JANES presiding. Several extensive revivals have also occurred, especially those of 1837, C. COATS, pastor; 1842—43, Clinton W. SEARS, pastor, assisted by Richard COOK; 1857—58, Martin WHEELER, pastor; and 1867, G. VAN ALSTYNE, pastor, aided by the Auburn praying band.
In 1856 the present substantial and spacious brick edifice was erected, and is justly regarded as a monument to the indefatigable zeal of the pastor, Rev. A.S. BAKER, and the enterprise of a few leading spirits. We append the names of the principal subscribers to the building fund:
Caleb BANNISTER, $500; M. P. BRUSH, $500; John GIFFORD, $500; Samuel CORWIN, $250; Jonathan BURT, $200; Lyman CATLIN, $200; Harvey CAREY, $200; E. H. HOLMES, $200; Levi SEAGER, $200; E. H. GIFFORD, $200; Ishmael LANE, $500; B.F. HAWKS, $500; Milton HARGER, $500; John M. NELSON, $250; George MACK, $200; A. C. GIFFORD, $200; Elijah MAFFITT, $200; Pamelia HILT, $200; Edwin SEAGER, $200.
Doubtless others contributed with equal or even greater liberality in proportion to their ability, but at this date it is impossible to give them historic recognition.
At an early date the society secured a parsonage, situated on the corner of Main and Walnut streets, in the west village, but, owing to its limited accommodations and to some temporary pecuniary pressure, it was sold in 1858. In 1869, however, the present commodious property was purchased at an expense of about twenty-five hundred dollars. The society is now entirely free from debt, and able to make all needed additions and repairs from time to time without any very heavy draft upon its resources. The trustees are as follows: Franklin SEAGER, John BURNS, James COLE, John PAGE, William VAN VOLKENBURG, with Dr. J. BURT as secretary, and Joseph SPIER, treasurer. The membership, including probationary, numbers one hundred and ninety, and is divided into three classes, with Harvey CAREY, Henry GREY, and Henry HARGER as leaders. A flourishing Sabbath-school is maintained; good congregations gather to its public services; the old fire burns on its altars, and a future full of promise seems to await the “First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Phelps, New York.”
Pub 1893 pg 359 - 361
The Baptist church of Phelps village was organized January 31, 1843, although a society of this denomination was formed in the town as early as 1808, and was known as the First Baptist Church of Phelps. The old society continued in existence from 1808 to about the year 1860, but its life was one of vicissitudes and hardships. For many years its meetings were held in school-houses and other convenient places, and not until about 1831 was a minister employed. The Second and Third Baptist churches of Phelps were the outgrowths of this mother society. However, in 1843 the Baptists of the village were sufficiently strong in
numbers and influence to accomplish the formation of a society, and on January 31 the organization was effected with
51 original members. The first pastor was J. H. STEBBINS, followed, in succession, by Revs.
BINGHAM, Luke DAVIS, G. W. MEAD, J. M. WADE, C. M. NEWLAND, M. W.
HOLMES, W. D. WOODRUFF, H. C. DE WITT, Mr. CHASE, C. A. VOTTLEY and others. The membership of this church is now small. The church edifice was built in 1845 and dedicated in 1847. The present pastoral supply is Rev. Mr.
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