GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, MEXICO, NY 

 

SOURCE: "Grips" Historical Souvenir of Mexico. [1903] p.39-40. 
 

      In the year of our Lord, 1830, there were living in this village, Luther Shellinger Conklin and his wife, Frances Rebecca, who were the first communicants of the Episcopal Church in this village, as far as is known to us. With the exception of the burial service, the offices of the church were not known here, until 1838; when the Rev. E. DeZeng was invited by Bishop De Lancy and services were held until March, 1849. On December 4, 1848, a Parish was organized under the name of the "Rector, Wardens, and Vestrymen of Grace Church in the village of Mexico" and the officers elected. The Rector was Rev. Edward DeZeng; the wardens were Charles Benedict and Alexander Whaley and the vestrymen were J. E. Bloomfield, Cyrus Whitney, Wm. Cooper, Jr., L. F. Warner, Levi Downing, L. M. Conklin, N. Allen and L. D. Smith. In March 1849, Mr. DeZeng, being quite ill, retired. Services were now held occasionally by Dr. Gallandet (who was greatly interested in deaf mutes, many of whom were confirmed and became valuable members, and others. The parish was re-organized March 29, 1869, and regular services were begun by Rev. T. E. Pattison, who came from Syracuse for this purpose. In the spring of 1870 the present site was secured and preparation for the new building were actively begun. On June 22, 1870 the cornerstone was laid by the Rt. Rev. F. D. Huntington, S. T. D., Bishop of Central New York. At this time the wardens were M. Bradbury and L. Conklin, and the vestrymen were L. D. Smith, J. M. Wing, William Cooper, G. W. Pruyne, J. B. Taylor and C. F. Tuller. On June 16, 1871 the building was completed, costing over $14,000, nearly half the sum being by members and by citizens of this village and vicinity. Donations for his fund were received from Mr. W. C. Pierrepont, R. C. Morgan, Benjamin Doolittle and perhaps one or two others. The church was built upon a twelfth century plan, of bluish grey stone, with brick facings. The proportions of the building are perfect, and the interior of the building is in exquisite taste. The windows are of the best catherdal stained glass. The exquisite chancel window was given by the State Association of Deaf Mutes in memory of its first president, John W. Chandler. One memorial window was contributed was contributed by Mrs. W. A. Loomis and one by Mrs. Sarah A. Conklin; the rose window by friends of Mrs. George D. Babcock of Mexico. The bell was a gift from Miss Fannie Conklin and her brother L. H. Conklin, in loving rememberance of their parents. 

      The altar, bishop's chair and credence bracket were presented by the class of young ladies of Christ Church, Oswego, and the pulpit, desk, and rector's chair by Miss Johnson and her friends of Trinity Church, Hartford, Conn. Miss Anna French of Utica, daughter of Mr. Benjamin F. French and his wife Martha French (who later resided here and were most active and helpful members), gave the alter rail. Rev. Mr. Watson presented the altar cross, H. Chandler the communion plate, Wm. Ely the stoles, while the lectern, font, first altar cloths were given by the Sunday School. 

      Rev. Mr. Pattison was succeeded by Rev. G. H. Watson in 1870, during whose rectorship, on June 16, 1871, the opening service was celebrated with the presence and assistance of nine other clergymen, Dr. Beach of Oswego, preaching the opening sermon and communion was administered to over one hundred persons. In 1874 Rev. B. T. Hall took charge of the parish and through his efforts a fine Steve & Turner pipe organ costing $1,150 was purchased and placed in the building. At this time Mrs. Adelaide M. Parker, a professor and teacher of music from the western part of the state was appointed organist and musical director, and as such she served diligently and faithfully from that time until the present. Rev. W. L. Parker was the next minister in charge, followed by Rev. R. M. Hayden; and on his leaving Dr. Joseph Cross was called. 

      This parish will always hold in faithful rememberance Rev. F. B. A. Lewis, M.D., who was asked to take charge of this church in 1879. At this time there was a debt remaining on Grace Church of about $6,000 which Dr. Lewis most generously assumed by consent of the vestry, and with a small salary, undertook the task of raising this amount, giving of his own private means the sum of $2,000 and three months'salary. He received nearly $300 donated in pledges in Mexico and vicinity, about $500 from church people in Oswego, about $150 through solicitation of George D. Babcock of Mexico, from friends in Watertown and other places, and $2,000 from the women of the parish; and he finally saw the property honestly free from debt or incumbrance whatever, and conveyed to the "Trustees of the Parochial Fund," and the building consecrated on October 3, 1882. It would be unworthy a "historian" to omit honorable mention of the work of women of Grace Church. 
      
      Among the earliest workers who formed an "Aid Society" were Mrs. L. H. Conklin, Mrs. Morris Brown, Mrs. J. M. Wing, Mrs. George D. Babcock, Mrs. G. Pruyne, Mrs. F. C. Tuller, Mrs. A. Halleck, Mrs. A. Mason, Mrs. Jacob Brown, Mrs. W. H. Penfield, Mrs. F. Carpenter, Mrs. H. Rider, Mrs. J. Chandler, Mrs. J. Driggs, Mrs. A. M. Parker, Mrs. Andrew Johnson, Mrs. Lingenfelter, Mrs. A. Boughton, Mrs. Josie Smith Collins, Mrs. T. Jefferys, Misses Fannie Conklin, Alta Cole and Nettie Fletcher. By their united labor the sum of $2,000 was paid on the church debt, over $800 on carpets and furnaces, over $250 to the organ fund besides much given for various purposes. Nearly $250 of this money was raised by gathering, trimming and selling ground pine, and nearly all of the above amounts represent hard labor. Many of the workers of those days have passed on to the land "whence none return." 

      Among later workers, aside from those already mentioned, are Mrs. Amelia Richardson, Mrs. Wm. Adams, Mrs. M. Preeman, Mrs. A. Barker, Mrs. L. Bequilland, Mrs. Morehouse, Mrs. Walworth, Mrs. M. Collins, Mrs. J. Hartson, Mrs. Smith; the young ladies of the church; Mrs. B. F. French and Mrs. G. D. Babcock, the latter being very successful in various means used for earning and collecting money. 

Mr. B. F. French, who died in December 1901 in Utica, served as committeeman a number of years and managed the financial affairs of the church with acknowledged ability. He was succeded by Mr. J. M. Wing, one of our oldest churchmen. Later the position was given, by our revered Bishop, to another faithful, zealous member of many years' standing, Mr. George D. Babcock, who guides affairs with wisdom and discretion at the present time. 


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