Presbyterian Church, Mexico, Oswego Co., N.Y.

[by George Goodwin]

Many thanks and appreciation to Esther Rancier for contributing this information on the Presbyterian Church. Esther is researching in Richland and Mexico the Soul/Soule, Brace and Daniel P. Smith families, and would appreciate hearing from anyone researching these surnames. 
Esther Rancier at: erase@pacbell.net 

*As always, for further information on any of the names, please contact the local Historical Societies and/or Town Historians.


 

     In the early years of the last century Mexico was one of the frontier stations of civilization. The land was covered with great and gloomy forests. The settlers were few and scattering, mostly from New England but among them were persons of culture and ability. They were poor and it required constant toil and hard struggles to gain food and clothing. Notwithstanding their poverty, however, they were fully sensible of the advantages of churches and schools and their first thought was to secure the same for themselves and their children. Such was the social condition here when the original Presbyterian society, from which the present village church is a branch or outgrowth, was formed. It was one of the earliest planted in this region. It was organized Aug. 20, 1810, in Shubal Alfred's barn in this village, the Rev. Simon Waterman presiding at its formation. Its membership was at first composed of entirely of women, as follows: - Mrs. Shubal Alfred, Mrs. Mary Wheeler, Mrs. Rebecca Mathews, Mrs. Sarah Beebe, Mrs. Eunice Williams, Mrs. Mirian Southworth and Mrs. Hannah Hosmer.  

     In May 1811 at the home of Shubal Alfred a more through business organization was formed to have charge of its temporal affairs and the first trustees of the church, elected at the meeting were Peter Pratt, Barnet Whipple, Sherman Hosmer, Shubal Alfred and Calvin Tiffany. From this time the church had a very successful career and in a few years gained a large membership. It embraced territorially the settlements of Parish, Prattville, Texas, Colosse and Mexico and all the region about these places. The Revs. Israel Brainard, Oliver Leavitt and M. Dunlap were among the early preachers. The Rev. David R. Dixon was its efficient preacher from 1817 to 1833. Ephraim Gates, Daniel Locke and Edmund Wheeler were the first elders.

     During the early years the church services were held at different points in barns, dwellings, groves and school houses. About 1825 the society having become strong and vigorous, started a movement to build a meeting house. Then it was found that the society was not destined to perpetual peace and prosperity. Unhappy differences arose over the question of the location of the church edifice. Years of contention followed and all efforts to effect a compromise on location failed. The final result was the erection of two meeting houses, one on Pratham Hill in 1829 and the other in this village a little later. The Pratham Society continued until about 1860 when it disbanded. 

     The village church in one sense was an offshoot of the society previously described, was organized May 5, 1829 and instituted by Revs. Oliver Ayre, Ralph Robinson and Oliver Leavitt, a committee appointed by the Oswego Presbytery Feb. 24, 1830, as the First Presbyterian Church of Mexicoville. The membership at first consisted of the following persons: 

Shubal and Lucinda Alfred 
Nathaniel and Lucina Butler 
Isaac and Lydia Stone
Anson and Eliza Gustin
Samuel and Caroline Wilson
Alexander and Mary McNitt
Edmund Levi
Lucy, Mary and Lavina Mathews
Sally and Louisa Davis
Clark and Abigail Beebe 
Jabin and Melinda Wood 
Asa Allen 
Catherine Wheeler 
Laura Goit 
Sally Ames 
Nancy Lord 
Sophia Taft 
Fanny Wood and
Eunice Killam.
     The following persons have served the church successively: -Revs. Ralph Robinson, Oliver Ayer, Alfred White, J.A. Hart, Charles Bowles, D. R. Dixon, Wm. Blodgett, John Eastman, Josiah Leonard, Russel Whiting, Daniel Van Valkenburg, Henry Parker, Thomas A. Wood, James P. Stratton, John Q. Adams, John R. Lewis and George Bayless. The Rev. Thomas A. Weed administered to this society about 23 years and the Rev. Geo. Bayless was its pastor for the same number of years.

     In 1858 the church edifice was enlarged and entirely remodeled giving it a modern appearance, and it was extensively repaired in 1879. The parsonage was also remodeled and enlarged a few years ago.

     The following is the present board of trustees: - Charles W. Radway, James B. Driggs, Geo. W. Stone, Edward T. Stone, Willis E. Tiffany, Elisha W. Gates, Asa L. Sampson, Gardener S. Tullar and Earl S. Taylor. Roderick A. Orvis is superintendent of the Sunday SchooL Many prosperous men and devoted women have gone forth from this organization. Its good influences have been far-reaching....

Source: "Grips" Historical Souvenir of Mexico [1903] p.41-42.



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