Ontario County Organized Churches

from History of Ontario Co., NY      





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Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer.




History of Ontario Co., NY  

Published 1878

Seneca Churches  pg 148 - 149


PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, SENECA CASTLE -  The church of Seneca Castle was originally an offshoot of the First Presbyterian church of Geneva, and therefore the early history of the existence of this church will be found incorporated in the history of the Geneva church.  That church was organized in the year 1800, by Rev. Jedediah CHAPMAN, a missionary of the Presbyterian church, and was the first Presbyterian church organized in western New York. 

Mr. CHAPMAN labored as a missionary through all this region, and preached occasionally to the people who afterwards composed the congregation at Seneca Castle.  He labored for 12 or 13 years till his death.  He was succeeded by Rev. Henry AXTELL, who was installed as co-pastor with him in 1812. 

It was during the pastorate of Mr. AXTELL in the year 1828 that the separate organization of the church of Seneca Castle was effected. 

At the time the Presbyterian church was organized here, the village consisted of some 13 families, including two taverns.  Besides these there were two distilleries.  This was previous to the temperance reformation, and drunkenness, horse-racing, Sabbath-breaking, and profanity abounded.  The boys from the village school-house would go freely and dip up liquor in the distillery and drink.  One of these distilleries was owned by Stephen WHITAKER, afterwards an elder in this church, the other by a church member. 

Here “the inhabitants of the village of Castleton and its vicinity, under a sense of duty they owe to God and to their fellow-beings,” assembled on the 5th day of February, A.D. 1828, and petitioned the presbytery of Geneva “to set off and organize a church in this place.”  Ezra JONES and Stephen WHITAKER were appointed to prosecute the matter in presbytery.  The petition was favorably received, and on March 4, 1828, a committee from the presbytery, consisting of Dr. AXTELL, pastor of the church of Geneva, and his session, and Rev. Mr. STRONG, pastor of the church in Phelps, met those who wished to be organized into a church at the house of Stephen WHITAKER, then adjourned to the school-house, and proceeded to organize the Presbyterian church of Castleton.  Nineteen members of the church of Geneva confessed their faith in Christ anew, and entered into a new covenant as a new church.  These 19 were:--Joseph HART, Ezra JONES, Harriet JONES, Temperance WHITNEY, Laura AMSDEN, Mary TOWNSEND, Stephen WHITAKER, Mary WHITAKER, John TALLMAN, Clarissa TALLMAN, Esther GLEASON, Nancy STRONG, Selah HART, James TALLMAN, Elizabeth TALLMAN, Mrs. Abram VAN GELDER, Catherine VAN GELDER, Sybil WHITNEY, Clarissa BELDING.  Of these 19 but one survives at the present writing, Clarissa BELDING, now Mrs. Wm. LEESAN, in sunny youthfulness of spirit.  One other has just passed away, Mrs. Harriet JONES. 

On the same day, March 4, 1828, a religious society was organized, and five trustees were chosen, viz., Nathan WHITNEY, John YECKLEY, Henry STEVENS, John TALLMAN, and Henry W. JONES. The first meeting for worship was held in the school-house, April 5, 1828.  Dr. AXTELL preached a sermon, and ordained the elders and deacons.  The first regular supply of the preaching of the gospel was Rev. Daniel AXTELL, a son of Rev. Dr. AXTELL, a young man just entering the ministry.  He preached for the church for two or three months. 

On the 5th day of June, 1828, a society meeting was held to take measures towards building a church edifice.  A subscription was started, and vigorously pushed, and promptly signed.  A site was chosen on the land of Thomas OTTLEY,--the present location,--and he generously gave them a deed of the land.  The church, soon left without any supply, were cared for by the Good Shepherd, who sent them a man for a pastor, Rev. Stephen PORTER, whose labors were long continued to them, and greatly blessed.  He was then in the prime of life, which, with a wide experience and earnest devotion, fitted him to be a successful and most honored pastor.  Home missionary aid was secured for his support during the first years of his ministry.  The people, encouraged by having a pastor of their own, undertook the erection of a church edifice, which was completed and dedicated within a year from the time Mr. PORTER began his labors there.  It was dedicated the last of July, 1829.  A large congregation was soon gathered into the house of worship, and after about two years of faithful labor, a most powerful and precious revival occurred, which began during the fall and winter of 1830-31.  It was thought that over 100 were converted during that winter, perhaps 120 or more.  Large numbers were added to this church, and many to other churches; on the last Sabbath in January, 1831, 49 persons were added to the church.  The Methodist church in this place originate in this revival, or was formed after it.  During the fall and winter of 1831 and 1832 another outpouring of the Spirit of God was enjoyed, and numbers were converted; among among them Mr. Nathan WHITNEY, the most venerable inhabitant of the place, over 70 years of age.  Mr. PORTER continued to labor faithfully with this church till the 1st of October, 1833, when he resigned, and removed from the place for a few years, and labored in other fields. 

Rev. Oren CATLIN was called as pastor October 14, and was installed February 14, 1834.  Mr. CATLIN’s ministry seems to have been faithful and successful, and was continued till it was terminated at his own request, September 6, 1836.  During his office Henry W. JONES and John YECKLEY were chosen elders, and ordained December 2, 1834.  During Mr. CATLIN’s ministry 23 were added to the church.  Upon the resignation of Mr. CATLIN, Mr. PORTER was urged and consented to became pastor a second term. 

He resumed his labors here in the fall of 1836, and continued as its honored and useful minister until no longer able to serve.  On June 1, 1842, he resigned his charge, in consequence of feeble health, and removed to Geneva, where he resided till his death, August 28, 1868.  He was not only largely useful to this church, but highly honored by his brethren in the ministry. 

Rev. Stephen PORTER was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, September 22, 1781.  He had naturally great mechanical and inventive ingenuity, though brought up a farmer.  He was converted by a deep experience when 19 years old.  Graduated in 1808.  He preached successfully in Ovid and other fields, but his life-work was in Castleton, where his memory is cherished, and where his works follow him.   

His character, as described by those who knew him, was an unusual expression of the higher excellencies of a Christian spirit.  “The law of kindness dwelt upon his lips;” meekness and charity were expressed in all his conversation; devoted zeal and love for the cause of Christ, the aim of his life.  “Full of the Holy Ghost and faith,” his life was a perpetual sermon, his face a perpetual benediction.  His compassion still survives, living at Geneva.  The additions to the church during his ministry, were 208, including 81 by certificate. 

After Mr. PORTER’s removal, this congregation was served for three years by Rev. George C. HYDE.  His ministry seems to have been acceptable and useful.  The number added to the church, 34, shows his earnestness and success.   

Rev. R. RUSSELL, first 1846 to 1848, next supplied the church for two years, with ability and acceptance during this term.  J. V. B. STEVENS and Talcott R. BROWN were chosen elders, May 2, 1847, and Arthur DENGER was chosen deacon at the same time.  Mr. RUSSELL remained here till August, 1848.  He still lives, and is engaged in his Master’s vineyard.  He has been a very successful and honored minister at Watkins, in this State, and elsewhere. 

Rev. William BRIDGEMAN served the church for one year, from 1848 to 1849. 

Rev. B. B. GREY’s pastorate, 1850 to 1867.  In March, 1850, Rev. B. B. GREY began his labors in this church, and was installed February 20, 1851.  His pastorate was the longest, and was one of great happiness and blessing.  At no time during his ministry was there such a great revival as occurred under “Father PORTER” in 1831-32, but he was very laborious, and several revivals occurred. 

In 1831, a protracted series of labors were carried on by him for 61 days successively.  His constitution was naturally feeble, but enthusiasm carried him forward, where many would have sunk under the burdens. 

During his term, Dr. Hosea HAMILTON, Theron CHILDS, and Henry J. PECK were added to the session, August 27, 1858.  And, on September 13, 1867, Beekman VAN GELDER and Anson YOUNG were also added to the board of elders. 

Rev. B. B. GREY resigned his pastorate, and was released October 1, 1867, on account of advanced age and feebleness.  Subsequently he removed to Canandaigua, and there, amid his family, died February 18, 1870.  His labors in the regular ministry were 38 ˝ years; but he labored as a lay evangelist several years successfully, previous to his entrance on the regular ministry. 

In social intercourse, he was genial and cordial; almost eccentric, he was a marked character.  He was full of a genial humor.  He was beloved by his family and church, and honored by his brethren in the ministry.  His life compassion still survives him at Canandaigua.  One hundred and twenty-seven were added to the church during the 17 ˝ years of his service. 

Rev. Alexander DOUGLAS was engaged to supply the church for one year, from September 20, 1868.  Mr. DOUGLAS had just graduated at the seminary.  His work here was brief, but earnest and useful.  His life was short.  It is finished.  He loved the ministry better than life.  ‘Being dead, he yet speaketh.’ 

Rev. A. H. PARMELEE’s ministry, 1869 to 1874.  In the fall of 1869, the services of Rev. A. H. PARMELEE, then living at Seneca, were secured.  During his term of service the church was greatly advanced in its affairs.  A new parsonage was built, costing some $2000, beside the farm and lot; being in all worth about $3000.  Also, under much discouragement, an effort was made subsequently toward the renovation of the house of worship, a much needed improvement.  Interest in the matter being aroused, the work was began June 1, 1872, and completed in November, 1872.  The church thus rededicated November 22, 1872, is wholly paid for, and is a beautiful and commodious structure.  During Mr. PARMELEE’s term, Israel YOUNGS was chosen elder, and ordained December 4, 1871. 

Mr. PARMELEE’s services as pastor expired April 1, 1874.  Having decided to undertake a pastoral charge no longer, he still lives in this community, having purchased a farm adjacent to the village.  Twenty-four additions were made during his ministry. 

Rev. H. H. KELLOGG, Jr., was called to the pastorate of this church, August 12, 1874; was installed October 29; and still remains up to the time of this writing (July, 1876) its pastor in service. 

The whole number of persons who have belonged to this church has been 499.  The Sabbath-school has always been highly regarded, and served by able superintendents.  Its present general superintendent is Henry J. PECK.  Its present chorister is Clark HOPKINS. 

The elders of this church have been Stephen WHITAKER, Ezra JONES, John HILMAN, Joseph HART, Otis WHITNEY, John YECKLEY, Henry W. JONES, John H. KECKLEY, Levi JUDD, James SEARS, Henry HUBBARD, J. V. B. STEVENS, Talcott R. BROWN, Hosea HAMILTON, Theron CHILDS, Henry J. PECK, Beekman VAN GELDER, Anson YOUNGS, Israel YOUNGS.  Six of these are living at present.  The deacons have been S. WHITAKER, Ezra JONES, Joseph HART, John YECKLEY, Arthur DEAGER, ____ James SEARS.  The trustees are Israel YOUNGS, Hachalia WHITNEY, Burt VAN GELDER, Columbus WHITNEY, John De GRAFF. 

This history, made as nearly accurate as possible, is submitted by the pastor, H. H. KELLOGG, Jr. :

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, SENECA.--On the 29th day of June, 1807, a number of the inhabitants of the town of Seneca met at the house of Samuel LATTA, near the present residence of David BARRON, to form themselves into a religious society.  Rev. Andrew WILSON, of Albany, presided, and Valentine BROSTIN was chosen secretary of this meeting.  Among others, the following resolution was adopted: 

“Resolved, that we form ourselves into a church, to be denominated the Associate Reformed Church of the town of Seneca.” 

At the meeting held on the 15th day of July following, a board of trustees was elected, consisting of Samuel LATTA, Samuel McINTYRE, William GAY, John RIPPEY, and James BEATTIE.  The organization of the church was completed in the following October by the ordination of the following ruling elders, viz: Samuel LATTA, Robert NELSON, John FULTON, and James BEATTIE.  At the first communion, which took place about this time, there were 45 communicants.  Rev. James MEARS, of the presbytery of Washington, conducted the services.  At the first meeting held, steps were taken to provide for the erection of a church building.  After experiencing many difficulties and delays, the building was finally completed.  It was a substantial frame structure, with a seating capacity of about 300.  Here, for a quarter of a century, the congregation met for worship, and here some of the most esteemed of the present membership first took the vows of God upon them.  Rev. Andrew WILSON, though never installed as pastor, was the main supply for the pulpit from the organization until his death, which occurred in 1812.  The first regular pastor of the church, Rev. Thomas WHITE, was installed June 12, 1814, and continued the acceptable shepherd of the flock until his death, which occurred early in 1820.  He was succeeded by Rev. William NESBIT, who was pastor until 1832.  In January, 1835, Rev. John WHITE became pastor, and continued in the field about two years. 

In 1838, steps were taken to build a new church.  It was completed and dedicated early in 1839, at which time John D. GIBSON, who had been previously called, was ordained and installed pastor of this church.  He resigned his charge in 1843.  On the 19th of November, 1844, Rev. Samuel TOPPING was installed, and continued to labor with efficiency and success until removed by death in 1855.  In June, 1856, Rev. George PATTON became pastor.  In 1859, the church changed its ecclesiastical connection by going to the Old-School Presbyterian body, and joining the presbytery of Rochester.  In 1866, and again in 1868, the church was visited with gracious outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and more than 150 were added to the communion of the church.  The church edifice was enlarged in 1862, and so marked was the growth of the congregation that it was necessary for the society to increase their accommodations by a second enlargement in 1868.  It now seats about 1000 persons, and on fair Sabbath mornings the people gather in from all directions, and in large numbers, to engage in the worship of God.  Rev. Mr. PATTON resigned his pastorate to take charge of the Third Presbyterian church, of Rochester, in November, 1871.  The church was without a minister until March, 1873, when the present pastor, Rev. A. B. TEMPLE, began his labors.  In the winter of 1874 there was a revival, by which over 50 were added to the church.  Not less then 1200 persons have joined the society since its organization.  The present congregation includes some 150 families; and the roll of church membership numbers about 378.  Including the summer schools, from 350 to 400 scholars are under the Sunday-school instruction. 

The present board of ruling are as follows: Alexander TURNBULL, William E. WILSON, Hugh MONAGLE, Thomas G. RIPPEY, Charles RICE, John C. WILSON, William P. RUPERT. 

ST. THERESA’S CATHOLIC CHURCH -  This church was erected in 1876, by the Catholics of Stanley, under the charge of Rev. James A. CONNOLLY, the first pastor of this parish.  The parish itself was organized in 1875, out of portions of the parishes of Geneva, Canandaigua, and Penn Yan, to which places the Catholics were accustomed to go for religious services.  The church is beautifully located on the Geneva road, east of the railroad depot, and adds considerably to the appearance of the village; moreover, it is the first church erected in the village of Stanley. 

The Catholics are not wealthy, yet most of them are in comfortable circumstances, and take pleasure in their handsome edifice, which was erected by the architect, John KING, Jr., of Farmer, Seneca county, in this State.  The cornerstone of the church was laid by Right Rev. Bishop McQUAID, of this diocese, on August 7, 1876, in the presence of the largest number of persons ever assembled at Stanley.  The cost of the church, etc., was about $4500. 





1893 History of Ontario Co., NY    pg 418 - 421

The Presbyterian Church of Seneca Castle was a branch or off-shoot of the mother church at Geneva, the latter having been organized in 1798, and in connection therewith occasional services were conducted in this western part of the town, although it was not until 1828 that the Seneca Castle was fully organized. The early services here were held chiefly by Revs. Jedediah Chapman and Henry Axtell, the former the first, and the latter the second pastor of the church at Geneva. The Castleton (such was the name then) Church was organized February 5, 1828, with nineteen original members "inhabitants of the village of Castleton and its vicinity." On the 4th of March the trustees were chosen, and steps were at once taken to raise means with which to erect a church home. This was quickly accomplished and the house was dedicated during the latter part of July, 1829.

The pastors, in succession, of this church have been as follows: Stephen PORTER, Oren CATLIN, Stephen PORTER (second pastorate), George C. HYDE, R. Russell (supply), B. B. GRAY, Alexander DOUGLASS (supply), A. H. PARMELEE, H. H. KELLOGG, James S. MOORE, and Howard CORNELL, the latter being the present pastor, whose service as such began in June, 1893. The church has about 80 members, and a Sunday school with about 90 pupils.

The Castleton Methodist Episcopal Chapel was the outgrowth of a series of revival meetings held by the Presbyterians of this locality during the years 1830-31. The M. E. Class and church was organized soon after this time, and in 1842 the society erected a substantial brick edifice in the village. Its membership is about eighty, and the Sunday school has about one hundred members. The present pastor is Rev. S. F. BEARDSLEE.

The M. E. Church at Flint Creek, one of three societies of this denomination in this town, is of comparatively recent origin, and is supplied in its pastoral relation from Hopewell. The present pastor in charge is Rev. Cordello HERRICK.

St. Theresa's Roman Catholic parish was organized in 1875, and the church edifice was built in 1876. This parish is a joint station with Rushville, and includes about 90 families. The priests in charge have been Fathers James A. CONNELLY, Joseph HENDRICK, Joseph J. MAGIN, D. W. KAVANAUGH, J. H. BUTLER, James F. DOUGHTERTY, and John P. HOPKINS.

The Methodist Episcopal Church and society of Stanley are also of quite recent organization. The church and class work began many years ago, and the organization duly followed. There are now about 35 members, and preparations are being made for the erection of a substantial church home in the village. The services are now conducted by Rev. 0. D. DAVIS, as supply, he being pastor of the church at Gorham village.

Seneca.- About a mile and one-half northeast of Hail's Corners is a little settlement and post office called Seneca. It has no industries of any importance, except the nursery of W. P. RUPERT, yet around the old Presbyterian church at Seneca has been built up a quiet little settlement.

This church was organized June 29, 1807, by a devoted little band of Christians, by whom it was resolved "That we form ourselves into a church, to be denominated the Associate Reformed Church of the Town of Seneca." In July following the work of organization was completed, and at the first communion service 45 members were on the church roll. After much work the little society succeeded in raising a fund and erecting a church edifice, a plain though neat frame structure, which was used about 25 years, and then, in 1838 and '39, was superseded by a larger and more pretentious building, which the society still occupies. This edifice was enlarged and improved in 1862, and again in 1868.

In 1859 this church changed its ecclesiastical connection and became essentially Presbyterian in doctrine and teaching. Its present membership reaches the remarkable number of 350 persons, and within the bounds of the congregation there are maintained four Sunday-schools. The succession of pastors and supplies of this church has been as follows: James MEARS, Andrew WILSON (supplies), Thomas WHITE (first pastor), William NESBIT, John D. GIBSON, Samuel TOPPING, George PATTON, A. B. TEMPLE. The latter, Mr. TEMPLE, became pastor in March, 1873, and has ever since continued in that relation, a period of more than 20 years.


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