ENOCH FERRIS, BAPTIST MISSIONARY
By g-g-g-granddaughter Esther Rancier
The first official record of the Jeffery Ferris family has been found in the Colonial Records at Boston, MA 6 May 1635. By 1642 Jeffery and his wife Mary, had a son, James Ferris born 1642/43 in Stamford, CT. The Ferris family was one of the founders of Stamford.
Joseph, born 20 September
1635, became a founding settler of Greenwich, CT. He married Ruth
Knapp, daughter of Nicholas and Elinor Knapp. Joseph’s oldest son
was John, born ca. 1658 in Greenwich. John married Abigail Hoyt/Haight
13 December 1695 in Norwalk, CT. John’s oldest son was another
born 25 April 1696 at Greenwich. This John married Sarah Mead.
Their oldest son, was yet another John, born 7 November 1723 at Greenwich.
John6 moved from Greenwich into New York State first to Albany County which at that time encompassed a huge area. John probably lived for a time somewhere in what is now Rensselaer County. By 1762, John and Hannah were living in Pound Ridge, Westchester Co., NY. Enoch, the youngest child, was born there 10 May 1762.
About 1764 they
returned to Stanwich Parish, Greenwich. By 1777, they returned to
the Hudson River Valley at Canaan, NY which at that time was part of Albany
County. Now Canaan is in Columbia County. Just down the Flat
Brook Road in Canaan was New Lebanon, NY where Enoch joined the church.
On 9 November 1780 he married Rebecca Reynolds there.
Between 1784 and 1787, Enoch and Rebecca removed to Dutchess Co. at Southeast which at that time was part of Fredericksontown. In 1787, Enoch was ordained a Baptist minister. He preached at Salem and Phillipstown in Westchester Co. until he was called to Nassau, Renssalaer Co. before 1800. In 1800 he was listed as living at Stephentown, several doors away from Moses Reynolds.
Very little is known about the events of Enoch’s life while he was in Rensselaer Co., but some documents remain. On 18 August 1801 Enoch and Cabot Brown each leased part of the farm of James McWade and Jacob Crandall at Stephentown. Enoch was named executor of Marcus Dimond’s will which was written 4 May 1803 at Stephentown. Nicolas Husted had Enoch witness his will, written 29 August 1814 at Nassau.
In 1816, Ferris was sent by the Baptist Missionary Society to Oswego Co., NY. He lived both in Mexico and Richland. He was a supply pastor at various new Baptist churches which were being established as the population grew. So tiny were the first congregations that they didn’t always hold services every Sunday. Enoch would alternate where he gave his sermons. Sometimes he shared the pulpit with another pastor. Church buildings were not yet erected, so many preaching's took place in private homes. The worshippers probably preferred the homes as they were likely to be heated. It was not the custom to warm a formal church. Colonial Christians believed that one could not have fire in a house of worship. Oswego County had long, hard, cold winters because of the wind whipped snow off Lake Ontario. At some point stoves were installed in churches, but this occurred long after Enoch’s day.
On 7 October 1817 the Baptist Church of South Richland was organized. Enoch Ferris became the first pastor on 11 October 1817. He stayed a number of years, until about 1828. All these services took place in private homes.
In the same fall of 1817 Enoch and others ministered to a small band as the Baptist Church of Fulton. But the group failed to grow so the church became the First Baptist Church of Palermo since most of the congregants lived there. Again these sermons were in intimate settings of private residences.
After 1821 Enoch became the second pastor of the Colosse Baptist Church. In 1828 he was pastor at the First Baptist Church at Richland. He was one of the delegates who helped to found this church on 17 May 1828 in a meeting held at the courthouse in Pulaski, NY.
is known of his theology beyond his beliefs in standard Baptist dogma which
differ most markedly from other Protestant religious groups in their views
on baptism. Baptists never baptize infants. In order to receive the
sacrament of baptism, a person must voluntarily choose this rite. Normally
only persons over 14 are baptized.
On 20 June 1829 110 members of Enoch’s flock, “Voted unanimously that this church do hereby resolved that each and every member refrain from the use of ardent spirits in any case, except as medicine.”
Historian, Crisfield Johnson, called the Reverend “of unimpeachable character.” John Churchill, another Oswego County writer, noted, “Rev. Enoch Ferris, an old fashioned preacher of Richland.”
Because of the Rev. Enoch’s many years as pastor of the Baptist church at South Richland, he was well known to the Holmes family who pioneered the area. In the long memoir about this family published 1900-1902 by Rev. Jesse H. Jones there are these comments: “The church was founded in 1817 with five members, but the names can not be learned. Probably John Holmes was one. The church was gathered by the labors of Elder Enoch Ferris, then a missionary in the county. Elder Jesseniah Holmes joined that same year. Elder Ferris joined in 1819, and together they supplied the church.”
Years later, Rev.
Enoch’s daughter-in-law Mrs. Elizabeth (Douglas) Ferris wrote, “I became
a resident of South Richland in 1824, when I united with that church by
letter from Whitesboro. The church was small, consisting mostly of
elderly people. I think I was the youngest member. Rev. Enoch
Ferris, the father of my husband, E. M. Ferris, was the pastor. I
never heard of them having a previous pastor. As he was a former
missionary for that county, it seems natural to suppose that he was the
one who assisted in forming the church….
Being a pastor, kept Rev. Enoch in poverty. His only land record in Oswego Co. happened in 1819. Enoch and his son, Silvester, took a mortgage of $245 on the west half of small lot 3 in Parish. On 8 November 1820 Enoch and Silvester paid $264.67 principal plus interest to the holder of the mortgage, Simon Adams. The men failed to register this payment, a common event. Silvester was requested by the court to do so, on 18 July 1836 to clear title on the land for Joseph Bloomfield.
In 1825/26 a relative, Rev. Ebenezer Ferris died. He left his nephew, Enoch, $1500 which was sufficient to cover his needs until he died.
As Enoch became increasingly infirm, he chose to continue preaching in the southern part of the state. In August 1830 he left Oswego Co. His last sermon was three weeks before his death on 6 October 1830. Author Harriet Scofield believed he owned land in Orange Co., NY, which went to sons Ebenezer and Enoch M. before his death. Enoch and Rebecca were buried in the Willis Cemetery at Richland.
Enoch and Rebecca’s children were:
2. Silvester/Sylvester b. 18 November 1784 Canaan, NY; m. 5 September 1807 Rhoda King who d. 1 August 1857; d. 10 August 1869 in Versailes, IN.
3. Samantha b. 16 March 1788 Southeast, NY; m. 16 September 1808 Alanson Ingham; d. 1 June 1844 in Mexico, NY.
4. Elizabeth Wilcox/West b. 5 October 1792; d. 2 August 1864. Unmarried
5. Ebenezer b. 1 December 1794; m. Susan Gardner; d. 26 November 1849 in Mexico. He was buried at Willis Cemetery, Richland.
6. Rebecca b. 20 June 1799; m. 13 November 1828 at Greenwich, CT. Job Kelsey Belding; d. 3 April 1875 in Mexico. Both are buried in Willis Cemetery, Richland.
7. Enoch Mead b. 16 May 1801; m. (1) 19 May 1833 Mary Ann Nye, who d. 25 April 1838; (2) 5 September 1839, Catherine Burgett, who d. 17 April 1840; (3) 24 January 1842 Elizabeth Douglass; d. 4 October 1882.
8. Nancy Melvina b. 21 May 1806; m. 1822 in Richland Joel Wilson Nye, 1802-1870; d. 7 May 1885.
According to the probate file of Ebenezer Ferris dated 2 February 1850 his heirs were: Susan Ferris, widow; brother, Enoch M. Ferris; sister, Elizabeth Ferris of Richland; sister, Rebecca Belding, wife of Job K. Belding of Richland; sister, Marilda Congdon, of Scriba, NY; sister Nancy M. Nye, wife of Joel Wilson Nye of Stockbridge, Madison Co., NY; brother ,Silvester Ferris of Delaware Township, Riley Co., IN; the children of sister, Samantha Ingham, deceased, viz. Ruth Sibley, wife of Comfort Sibley of Palermo, NY and Samuel Ingham of Oswego. Ebenezer’s wife and brother, Enoch M. were executors.
Marilda and James Lockwood, son of Jeremiah and Abigail (Smith) Lockwood had at least 5 children: Ambrose K., Marilla, Daniel H., Sylvan F., Alanson I., and possibly Sylvester(?). They lived in Scriba, NY. Stephen Congdon, Marilda’s second husband, died before 20 October 1829 as an application for Letters of Administration was filed then with the Oswego Co. Surrogate Court. In the 1850 census, Marilda lived with Sylvester Lockwood, his wife, Angeline and five children.
Rev. Silvester Ferris and Rhoda King had 7 children. Rhoda died 1 August 1857. Daughters: Samantha Ferris married George Wood; Laura Betsey Ferris married Benjamin King; Lydia Louise Ferris married Asa Cook; Susannah Rebecca Ferris married Lyman F. Smith; Diantha McIvina Ferris married David Ellis; and Jane Melicent Ferris married William L. H. Given. Son, Edwin Palmer Ferris wed Sibyl Foster Stevens.
Samantha and Alanson Ingham had two children: Ruth and Samuel. Alanson was the son of Joseph and Mehitabel (Brown) Ingham, of Durham, CT. Ruth was born 1809. She married Comfort Sibley, son of Abner, but by 1850, he was deceased. They lived in Palermo, NY. According to the 1850 census their children were Charlotte 21; Elvira 18; Lucretia 17; Charles 15; Samuel 13; James 10; and Jane 6. Also in the household was, Abner, 77. These Sibley youths were some of the grandchildren of Rev. Enoch.
Ferris and Job K. Belding resided in Richland. They had four children,
but only two, had heirs. Martha A. Belding married Hiram Norton and
resided in Albion, NY. Elvira Van Dressen Belding married Charles
Henry Davis and lived in Mexico, NY.
Although persons named Ferris remained in Oswego County, they were not descendants of Rev. Enoch. The last one bearing the family name was, Enoch Mead Ferris. A house painter, he was financially more secure than his father. Nonetheless, he took a mortgage on 9 February 1844 from Charles S. Webb on lot #122 in Richland. Enoch M. agreed to pay Webb $180 plus interest annually. This mortgage was cancelled on 27 December 1844.
By his first wife, Mary Ann Nye he had a son, Enoch, born 4 April 1838. This child died after 1850, for no more is recorded about him.
Enoch M. lived in Mexico with his wife, Elizabeth, worshipping at the First
Baptist Church of Mexico. Enoch M. often held church meetings in
his home. He was a great friend of the Charles Herring Davis, Samuel
C. J. Greene, Mrs. Abby Morton, Hiram Norton and their families.
His great niece, May (Davis) Greene often wrote about him and his wife
in her diary.
recorded, “Uncle Enoch died Wednesday night about 10 o’clock. The funeral
is today [October 6] at 2…. Papa Greene [Samuel C.J.] came
over after us. Uncle H’s [Hiram Norton] people were all there, but
Alice, Charlie & Clarence [Norton children]. Nora [Davis] did
not go over to the burying ground. Pa [Charles H. Davis] carried Virgil
Douglass and his daughter. Aunt Eliza [Ferris], Mother Greene [Lucena
(Smith) Greene], Lula [Davis] rode with Lyme [Lyman Beecher Smith] and
came back with Dear Theodore [Greene].” [The reference to the burying ground
likely meant the Mexico Village Cemetery.]
Churchill, John. Landmarks of Oswego
County, New York. Syracuse: Mason, 1895.
Nov 2002 Esther Rancier
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