July 3, 1881, Volney, Oswego Co. N. Y.
Source: A Semi-Centennial
and Memorial Discourse Delivered in Volney, N.Y., July 3, 1881, by Rev.
Henry Kendall, D.D., of New York. Published By Request and an Account
of Other Proceeding's On That Day. New York Printing House of Wm.
C. Martin, 121 John Street. This booklet contains many names from the Volney
area, as well as insight to life there in its early days.
Most of us do not live in Oswego County and are unable to do any personal research on your ancestors. For all inquiries about your family, items you don't see on this site, or specific historical questions, please contact the local Town Historians, or Historical Societies.
The following notice appeared in the papers of Fulton, N.Y.:
June 18, 1881 - As it is fifty years since the organization of the First Congregational Society of Volney, and the commencement of public worship on Bristol Hill, and the great revival, it has been decided to have a semi-centennial service at their church on the first Sunday July, 1881, sermon by Rev. Henry Kendall, D.D., of New York. After the sermon there will be a re-union, in which we expect to hear by word or by letter from many of the worshipers of past days. The good old tunes of fifty years ago will be sung. Come and meet with us once more.
BY ORDER OF THE COMMITTEE
Religious services were held in the church on the day appointed in accordance with the above notice. A great number of people were present, not only from all the religious congregations of the town of Volney, but from Fulton and the neighboring towns of Baldwinsville, Phoenix, Grandby, Schroeppel and Mexico, after which the following correspondence took place:
Fulton, July 5th, 1881
Hon. R.H. TYLER and others:
The early history of this church is identified with the early history of this town - being the earliest religious organization in town.
I. Of the early history of the town there is little that is note-worthy
or unlike the settlement of other towns, if we except a link or two that
connects us wit earlier times. I have known a man who was one of
the unsuccessful military expedition against the English in the Fort at
Oswego during the Revolutionary War, and there are some remaining earthworks,
I suppose, there certainly were in my boyhood, about Oswego Falls traces
of military occupation at the strategic point reaching back to the time
of the French possession of Canada.
(1.) Along the Oswego river, which was one of the natural highways between
New York City and the Great Lakes and Canada. The early settlers
there came along the water courses, from the Hudson and Mohawk rives up
to Rome, and by a short portage between Fish Creek to Wood Creek,
one of the tributaries of the Oneida River, which rive they descended to
its junction with the Seneca which helps form the Oswego river, and thence
to the "Oswego Falls." Such names as Van Volkenburgh, Van Buren and
Walradt show their Holland or Dutch origin and establish their identity
with the early Dutch settlers alone the valleys of the rivers I have just
I may not be entirely accurate in all these statements, as I have had
no opportunity to make new inquiries or test the remembrance of many years
past with that of others who have resided here longer than myself.
This church was organized in 1812, ad
at first consisted of the following members: Gideon Candee, Joseph Morgan
and his wife, Enoch Bristol and his wife, Wm. Dean and his wife, and John
Kendall and his wife, all of whom have passed away, as well as may others
whose names were entered on the roll in the next twenty years.
II. This service of to-day is called a "Jubilee" or Memorial Service, being fifty years from the year 1831, which was a note-worthy and remarkable year in our history for the following reasons: -
1. It is fifty years since the organization under the Statute of the
State called the "Society", was created. The church as we have seen
was organized nineteen years before. But the corporation which has
Trustees, and takes charge of the property of a church or religious organization
was not constituted until 1831.
III. It is a good thing to rehears these things to our children,
that they may say, as in the language of the text, "We have hears with
our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, wheat work thou didst in their
day, in the times of old." It is a good thing to hold this service,
to relate these things to so many that were then unborn. For it was
in such ways that the Lord instructed His people of old, saying: "and thou
shalt show thy son in that day, saying, this is done because of that which
the Lord did unto me when I came out of Egypt;" and when thy son asketh
thee in time to come, saying, what is this? Thou shalt say unto him: "By
strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage;"
or as is said in another Psalm: " I will utter sayings of old; which we
have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide
them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises
of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He hath done,"
- "that the generation to come might know them, even the children that
should be born - who should arise and declare them to their children, that
they might set their hope in God and not forget His works but keep His
Fifty years ago we knew almost nothing of the uses of steam. I remember to have heard a grave Prof. Attempting to prove that the attempt to cross the Ocean by steam would prove forever useless, because he said no vessel could carry coal enough for the trip, and carry any cargo besides. And how little was the traffic between the two continents! I saw not over two weeks ago an extract from an old diary of 1826, in which it was said that no news had been heard from Europe for fifty-four days. Now steamers from Europe are arriving daily at our ports, and the thousands and tens of thousands crossing the Ocean from this side to the other every year has ceased to be a wonder.
Fifty years ago, we were just leaning to apply steam to land transportation. The whole Railroad system of the world - not of this country but of the world has grown up within about fifty years. And what marvelous changes it has wrought!
For two hundred years from the first settlement of this country, we were extending our limits of occupation by only from seven to fourteen miles a year; that is, we reduced from the wilderness a strip of land only of that width year by year. At the first, our fathers were confronted by dark and frowning forests and hostile tribes of savages. The forests had to be cleared away, and the savages subdued or pacified. But about fifty years ago just as our Railroad system began to be developed, the wave of population stuck the great prairies of the West. Millions of acres, draped in all the beauty of Spring, greeted the new settler, and the virgin soil of centuries was ready to yield its increase to the hand of cultivation. Less than fifty years ago, the attempt to bridge the Mississippi would seem little less than sacrilege to the American people on account of the expected injury to inland commerce. Now there are more than twenty bridges across that noble river, and it is estimated, that, during the height of immigration, the Spring and Summer months, a thousand people, every day, cross that stream to find and found new homes in the great interior.
Fifty years ago, that great interior was an unknown, unexplored land. But it is such no longer. It has been surveyed and mapped out, and made into Territories with well-defined limits. Railroads penetrate it from all sides and cross it from sea to sea!
Fifty years ago our North-western and South-western boundaries were not defined. The British Fur Company and the Jesuit Priests coveted all Oregon and Washington Territory for Great Britian. Dr. WHITMAN, an American missionary to the Flat-Head, or Nez-Perces tribes of Indians, attending a sick child at one of the Company's forts late in the year 1835, overhead a Jesuit Priest, just arrived, say: "The Yankees are too late; we have got it."
Within two weeks, though it was in the dead of winter, this intrepid missionary was on his way across the trackless deserts, climbing over the Rocky Mountains, fording rivers full of ice, on his way to Washington to save that great country to the United States. Frost-bitten and half famished he reached the sear of Government, after a perilous three months journey, and so represented the case, that he was encouraged to take back a colony with him; and in the fall of the year 1836, he came into his distant North-west home with a caravan of eight hundred and seventy-five souls, men, women and children, and 1,350 head of cattle. That colony turned the scale, and gave a majority of votes for allegiance to the Untied States Government instead of that of Great Britian, and our North-west boundary lines were settled accordingly.
Ten or twelve years later came on the Mexican War, and at its conclusion
we came into possession
The discovery of gold in California marks a distinct ere in our nation's
growth and development. But this discovery was not made till California
had become securely our own. This was followed by the later discoveries
in Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and the whole Rocky Mountain district.
And these discoveries have done more than anything else to give us such
great States and Territories, and to stimulated to the building of so many
railroads that are filling the vast interior with a hardy and a thrifty-people.
Before this marvelous discovery was made, when the merchant went to New York or Boston to purchase goods, his wife or child might sicken and die, and be buried before any intelligence of danger could reach him. Now a sister may be watching beside a dying mother at the east, and a telegraphic dispatch to a beloved brother at Chicago, St. Paul or Kansas City, saying, "Dear brother, mother is dying. Come at once," is the work of but a moment; and the merchant's wife in any of those cities has only to send to her husband in New York this little message - "My dear, the bay is very sick" to hasten him home by the first and swiftest train.
More and more does this invention enter into the business of life - in war, in the intercourse of nations, in trade. You do not sell your cheese without knowing the latest quotations from the New York and Liverpool markets. The transactions of a tea merchant in London may close at three o'clock P.M. of a given day, and the results be telegraphed to his agent in San Francisco before business opens there - not the next morning, but the morning of the same day!
President GARFIELD was shot in Washington yesterday; we had the news
here, in this remote and rural neighborhood, before night; and so had the
news gone to all parts of this country and to the great capitals in Europe
- London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and St. Petersburgh.
Fifty years ago, Garrison, the great Abolitionist, had just established the Anti-Slavery Press. Within that time John Quincy Adams was delivering his immortal argument in behalf of the "Right of Petition." The "Fugitive Slave Law" was discussed, passed and broken. John Brown had made his futile demonstration against slavery, and has been hung. At length the crisis came - State after State at the South seceded - war was declared and waged through nearly five terrible years, when hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sons fell on the bloody field or starved in Rebel prisons! The Emancipation Proclamation was issued. President LINCOLN was assassinated. But the end came at length; peace was restored, the slaves were free - slavery was at an end.
Fifty years ago the Temperance Reformation was well begun. Alas!
That intemperance should still prevail, and that there should still be
need for the war to be waged against it.
What then is the conclusion? Were the former times better than these? No. Though intemperance still prevails, the Sabbath breaking seems to be on the increase, and infidelity is more outspoken, and the church is boldly assailed, and the Bible reviled - yet, the Bible never had more readers than now, as the interest in the Revised New Testament shows. Sabbath schools never were better organized or doing better work, and the churches themselves were never organized for more efficient service; and the proportion of church members to the whole population is larger than it was fifty years ago. The population of the country has increased four-fold in fifty years, and the members of the Presbyterian Church have almost exactly kept pace with it. I presume the same is true of the Congregational churches; though I have not the exact figures; and the Methodists and Baptist I presume have increased at a much higher rate. This is certainly encouraging when we remember the hundreds of thousands that come to our shores who are Papists and Lutherans, on whom our churches make very little impression. To have kept pace with the increase of population independently of this foreign element shows how decided has been the impression the church has made on our native population, and gives us ground for great encouragement. Besides we are laying foundations for still greater achievements both in this country and in foreign lands. The missionary labors of all the churches were never more successful, or vigorous than now. Thee world is not growing worse but better. The millenium is surely coming.
In the midst of all the changes I have enumerated, there are other things that do no change. The word of the Lord abideth forever. The promises of the Bible are still to be relied on. God, the unchangeable, is still on the throne, wielding the sceptre of Universal Dominion. His great designs of mercy and grace will not fall of accomplishment. He abides forever, and his people are forever safe.
And yet to have another revival of religion as pervasive and powerful as that of 1831, and through the years of that decade is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Whether it shall come in our day or not, and whether it shall come in that form or not, let us stand in our lot and do the Christian work that falls to our hands day by day; so that when another fifty years have passed away, our children and children's children may testify of us, as we this day We have testified of those who have gone before.
The Committee have seen fit to add the following addresses delivered
and letters read on the occasion, besides which various aged and infirm
persons, former members of the congregation, sent their kind regards, with
regrets that they could not be present. One of them, Seth Tibballs,
has since died. And we would add that Mrs. Lucy Gilbert, wife of
the late Hiram Gilbert, who was a deeply interested listener at the semi-centennial
services, has also gone forward to her eternal rest.
This audience cannot be more surprised by the announcement of my name as a speaker here, than I am myself. Just as I was stepping into the church this morning, I was told that if there was time at a certain point in the exercises, I might be called upon to make a few remarks, but I gave the matter no thought, for the reason that I had understood refreshments were to be served in the afternoon, when I supposed the call would be made for impromptu speeches, and as I had designed to leave at the close of the morning session, I allowed the suggestion to pass out of my mind. Nevertheless, I cordially embrace the opportunity of saying a few words, although nothing that can be dignified as an address.
I have been intensely interested in this occasion, and especially in the able and finished historical address to which we have listened, and I have good reasons for remembering with interest this church, whose fiftieth anniversary we celebrate to-day. In the first place, many years ago, not fifty, but forty-five, I, a mere youth, was a student of the Mexico Academy, where your distinguished historian, about the same age as myself, became also a student of the same institution. I had passed several terms in the academy, but I understood that to be the introduction of my friend into academic halls, and hence he was looked upon as being a few round lower down on the ladder than myself. But I well remember that it was not long before he proved himself not only a genial companion, but a most promising student, and as one explanation of his success, I recollect of hearing that he was a protégé of the church at Bristol Hill, which was somehow to his advantage. Suffice it to say that our acquaintance ripened into friendship, which has continued until the present. I early expected great achievements by him, and have not been disappointed in the position which he has attained as a scholar and Christian minister.
Again, there have been two events in my life so unique as to amount to a curiosity, one of which occurred in connection with this church, and on account of this novelty I will venture to relate them. At first, in the year 1842, which by bringing into requisition a little arithmetic, you will perceive was thirty-nine years ago, while I was still a very young man, my home was in Fulton as it now is. I had not then given attention to personal religion, although I had a regard for the Sabbath and the sanctuary, but was not particular as to the church I attended. So one Sabbath morning I attended the Presbyterian church, when the minister took for his text, 2nd Samuel, 18th chapter, 33d verse: " And the King was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept; and as he went, thus he said; O my son Absalom! My son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O, Absalom, my son, my son!" A queer text I thought, and I wondered what he wanted to make out of it, and I can now recall nothing that he said, except that he often repeated the lugubrious exclamations of the psalmist in respect to his hopeful son Abalsom. Perhaps the extravagant and faulty grief of the king over the death of his wicked progeny while he was seeking his father's life and the subversion of his kingdom was dwelt upon for the purpose of illustrating the duty of parents to gurad against partial and excessive attachment to, and the indulgence or neglect of their children, and perhaps other lessons were inculcated from this example of David; but if so, I have forgotten what they were. I only remember that I was content to let the subject drop. In the afternoon, for the sake of variety, I thought I would go to the Methodist Church, when, at the accustomed time, the Presbyterian minister made his appearance in the desk, and it occurred to me that it would be a nice joke if the story of Absalom should be repeated, although I thought it hardly possible. But my surprise was relieved when the preacher announced his text, 2d Samuel, 18th chapter, and 33d verse, ending with "O Abalsom, my son, my son!" and the whole discourse was repeated. My parents lived in Mexico at this time, and the following Saturday I made them a visit, but imagining I had important business in Fulton on Monday, I desired to be home on Sabbath evening if I could be there in some legitimate way without being obnoxious to the charge of Sabbath desecration. So I bethought myself that I would leave Mexico early on Sunday morning and ride to the Bristol Hill Church, attend the forenoon service there, and return to Fulton in the afternoon; counting the journey from Mexico here as going to church, and from here to Fulton as returning from church, thus doing no injustice to my conscience. Accordingly, Sabbath morning I saddled my horse, and rode on quietly to this place, hitched my horse under the shed, and came into the house where I was seated by the usher well back from the pulpit, then occupying the front end of the house, and patiently awaited the assembling of the congregation and the arrival of the minister. After a little I cast my eye to the pulpit, and who should I see occupying it but the preacher from Fulton; when it as once occurred to me what a nice retribution it would be if I had to listed to the story of Absalom for the third time in succession, although it seemed too ludicrous to think of. But sure enough, the minister arose and read his text from 2nd Sam'l, 18th chapter and 33d verse, and repeated the discourse verbatim et literatim. You may well imagine that by this time I had got enough of Absalom. It seemed to me that I never wanted to hear his name mentioned again; and when twenty-eight years later, I stood by his tome or mausoleum in the vale of Jehoshaphat, near Jerusalem, my mind reverted to this house wherein I had heard repeated the story of his death for the third time as I have stated.
Again, it was once my fortune to pass a Sabbath in Messina, on the Island
of Sicily. I came down from the City of Athens, in Greece, and landed
there late Saturday night and spent the Sabbath. In the morning,
as was my wont when practicable, I sought an English speaking religious
service, and found it in a nice Church of England chapel, where there was
a large congregation and interesting exercises, at the conclusion of which,
notice was given that there would be services in the same house at three
o'clock in the afternoon. So, at the time appointed, though perhaps
five minutes later, I entered the chapel, expecting to find the congregation
in their seats, but to my surprise found that the only human being there
was the Rector, and he was just leaving the pulpit; but as he saw me reverently
seating myself, he returned to his desk, and went through his regular service
from beginning to the benediction with no mortal to hear him but myself.
I enjoyed the exercise excessively, and he seemed to enjoy it also; and
I have this to say about it, that Rector never had an audience less in
number, and he never had a more attentive one. But the thing was
very ludicrous, and I then and there recalled to my mind the third presentation
of Absalom in the church at Bristol Hill. But I am trespassing upon
your time. I have other weighty reasons for feeling an interest in
this church. For a long time I have heard of the faithful Christian
workers among its membership, and I heard of two at least who have been
sent out from there to become preachers of the gospel of Christ, and are
to-day jewels in the American pulpit, and stand pre-eminently high in the
councils of the Presbyterian Church. So that all in all, we ought
to remember with gratitude this unpretending
Dea. CHARLES W. CANDEE of Phoenix, responded as follows:
I did not expect to be called upon to say anything to this meeting to-day until a few moments ago. But I can say to you, dear friends, that I am very thankful to be here and to enjoy this meeting with you. While the names of those families who lived in this place fifty years or more ago, and who worshiped here, have been mentioned in the sermon just listened to with so much interest, and the letters just read, I could say that I well remember all those families and names (with the exception of tow or three of later years), with deep interest, chiefly because I remember so well their deep interest in planting and maintaining those puritan principles which they brought with them from almost or quite every New England State; and this, too, is what I am thankful for, that those principles are so well represented here to-day by the descendants of those families who lived and worshiped here so many years ago.
Many are here to-day that date their conversion back to that great revival in the Spring of 1831, and I am one of that number; and we praise the Lord to-day for the hope we have in the Redeemer. Let us maintain those principles and teach them to our children, and they to theirs, that when we shall have passed away, as most of those have whose memory we so fondly cherish to-day, that those who gather here on the next fiftieth year to celebrate the Centennial year of this church may be seen to maintain those great truths which are manifested here to-day. This is my sincere desire and prayer.
Dr. JAMES V. KENDALL, of Baldwinsville, being called upon responded as follows:
When my name was called, after having heard the telegram read that the President was not only not dead as we heard last evening, but that there was hope of his recovery*, I was just on the point of rising to ask this vast congregation should all rise and join in singing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," and I still desire, as soon as I close my remarks, that this assembly shall sing this familiar doxolgy.
The circumstances that surround us to-day unfit me for making remarks which will be at all likely to give interest to this occasion.
When I visit this locality, as I do occasionally, a tender melancholy comes over me which I cannot eradicate from my mind. In this immediate vicinity my eyes first beheld the light of day, and here were spent all the earlier years of my life; and here in ways and times innumerable, my dear father and mother instilled into my young heart those principles, and awakened those aspirations, and helped form some of those nobler purposes which have had some influence in all my after life.
In this sanctuary, near 20 years ago, for the last time I beheld the face of my then sainted mother. In yonder cemetery lie the remains of all that is mortal of father, mother, sister, and many other near and dear relatives. Hence the feeling of sadness. But I cannot deny myself the privilege of bearing testimony to the excellence of many of the pioneers of this town. They were generally in very moderate circumstances, but their indigence did not prevent - perhaps helped to develop - their sturdy virtues. When I have recalled the general regard for law, the sober habits of most of the citizens, that regard for the Sabbath which not only suspended labor but brought nearly all the people to the place of worship on Sunday, I have questioned whether the pioneers of this region of country were not of a higher town of morals than those of many other parts. I call to mind a conversation I once heard between a good Mr. Baldwin and another man. It was a warm sunny day in the early summer, just such a day as bees were likely to swarm, and the other gentleman rather expressed surprise that Mr. B., who had a good many hives of bees, should be at church and not at home watching his bees. Mr. Baldwin said he did not know as he had ever lost a swarm of bees on Sunday - though it was very likely he had; but if they swarmed with he was gone to church they might go, for he could not forego the privileges of the church of the sake of watching his bees.
I well remember how sacredly was kept the Sabbath day at my father's. You who knew him know that he was a farmer. We of the family know that all the labor of the farm was planned with reference to the sacredness of the day. The Sabbath commenced with us at sundown on Saturday, and all labor was laid aside at that hour. Nothing was done on the Sabbath but what was necessary for the care and comfort of the domestic animals. Crops were taken care of with references to the idea of rest. No threatened rain storm ever induced him to bring in a load of hay or grain on that day. If in sugar time the buckets got full on Sunday, the sap might run out, but it would not be gathered until the Sabbath was over. Nor would anything short of sickness suffice for an excuse for absence form the house of God. Certainly the externals of morality were well enforced in the community. And in one family, I know and no less, in many other families, I believe, were inculcated those higher principles of morality which dominate over every act and every emotion. In illustration, this audience will indulge me in some personal reminiscences by which principles were inculcated by as dear and as good a mother as ever a child possessed.
I recall once I was made very happy by finding a little article which I had greatly desired to possess, and expressed my happiness to my mother at my good luck. "But whose is that?" she said. I told her it was mine. She wanted me to know how it happened to be mine. I told her because I found it. Instead of sustaining me in my false opinion, she explained that some one owned that, and had lost it, and was probably greatly grieving over its loss. That instead of keeping it, I must, if possible, find the owner and give it up. Somehow or other I had it in my head that finding a thing was equivalent to its purchase; but this lesson entirely changed my opinion, and fixed it so that no after lesson could ever make it stronger. Nor can I ever forget how strongly was impressed upon our minds the impropriety - the wickedness - of taking and converting to our use, anything, however small, that belonged to another. Once I was induced, by a boy older than myself, to seal a pear as he had done. The stealing was a success, and I was very happy at first; but as I moved father away so I could eat it without detection, the little monitor within kept reiterating "that isn't your pear," and I could not get far enough away to eat it, nor could I sit down, or find any peace of mind till I got it back into the owner's basket. And I bear testimony here to-day, that if anybody can witness that I have done him a wrong, that I have ever appropriated to my own use anything that belonged to another, then have I gone counter to the instructions of my early days. We sometimes thought there was unnecessary strictness in these matters; but now, I think if there was an error, it was in the right direction, and to-day, if there is anything for which I thank God, with reference to my parents, it is the strictness with which they threw the cords of restraint about my earlier years.
Since I left these parts for a residence otherwheres, more than 34 years ago, it has been my fortune to attend religious services in many different places, and listen to discourses from many of the able preachers of the times. But seldom if ever have I listened to sermons of a higher moral town, or whose "improvements" have been better adapted to the want of the hearers, than in this house in which we are now assembled. My learned friend, Judge Tyler, who preceded me in his remarks, spoke of one sermon of a celebrated preacher to which he listened three times on as many different occasions, about which he remembers nothing but the text. Among many pungent discourses to which I listened in this house, the main points of which I can recollect in striking contrast to the experience of the Judge, I call to mind one by good old Father Stowe upon the duty of parents to properly bring up their children.
The substance of his discourse was the calamity which befell the house of Eli, the priest, from the text, "Because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrainth them not."
He went on to show the general good character of Eli, and the excellence of his personal administration. But in his old age, under him, his sons performed the duties of the priestly office disreputably.
He not only did not approve of their conduct, but exhorted them to do better, as is proven in a previous passage, in which he says to the. "Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil doings by all this people.: the point of the discourse was that calamity came upon Eli not because his instructions to his sons were not right, but because he did not restrain them in their wrong doings.
The lesson he inculcated from the text was that moral means should always be used to influence children; but while under parental authority, if these were insufficient, more potent measures must be used to restrain their evil propensities. Whether the liberal sentimentalism of to-day would tolerate such preaching admits of question; and whether milder doctrine will make a more law-abiding class of citizens is to be determined by the lives of the succeeding generation.
The whole congregation then rose and sang the doxology as requested.
JOSIAH CHAFFEE of Phoenix, N.Y., said:
My father moved into the town of Volney from Conn. In the month of August,
1820. I was then fifteen years old. Volney, Palermo and Schroeppel
were then all in one town. My father settled near Gilbert's Mills.
In the fall and winter of 1830 the great revival of religion began there,
and spread far and wide. I never shall forget one circumstance that
happened the last week in December, 1830, one morning at Mr. Merry's house.
The day before Mr. Merry was very anxious for me to attend meeting that
evening. I thought it strange, as he was not a christian himself,
but he urged me to go. I went, and to my surprise he arose for prayers,
as I did myself. Early the nest morning I went to his store to do
a little trading, but he had not been to breakfast. I went into his
house and remained until he had taken breakfast. After breakfast,
he took the Testament, read a chapter, then knelt in prayer, and commenced
by saying" "Oh Lord, thou knowest this is the first time," &c.
Whilst he was praying other people began to come in, falling on their knees
and crying out, "Oh Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on me." The
room got full. Mrs. Merry being a christian, ran across the road
for Dea. Hiram Gilbert to come and pray for us. He did so.
Also Mr. Thomas Hubbard who had come to the mill with a grist to be ground.
He was a praying man, and he soon joined us. Many of the scholars
left the school and came in, and the breakfast table remained untouched
until after noon, while the prayer meeting continued. That same week
I was converted, I gave my heart to the Lord, and received great peace
in believing. I think there was a great and visible change wrought
in me at that time. I used to indulge in profane language before
that time, but no oath has passed my lips in fifty years. I used
to play cards before that time, but no man has seen me do it since that
time. I used to drink whiskey before that time, but not a drop of
intoxicating liquor has passed my lips the last fifty years except as prescribed
by physicians in sickness. I used to vote the Democratic ticket before
that time but I have never done it since, for religion made an abolitionist
of me at once. The glorious meeting in Mr. Bristol's wood-house chamber
just across the street from here is fresh in my mind to-day. All
these things I well remember with interest. I have never regretted
the stand I then took, and I still desire to continue in the straight and
narrow way to the end of my earthly pilgrimage.
POMPEY, N.Y., July 1st, 1881.
Dear Sir, - I have been absent so much from home in attending upon the
General Assembly at Buffalo, and upon business appointed by the Assembly
at New York, that I cannot be present with you on the occasion of your
jubilee celebration. It would afford me great pleasure to give some
of the reminiscences of my early ministry. I commenced my ministry
in Volney, in April 1852, and remained four years. During that time
the parsonage was built, and many hopeful features were developed in the
history of the Society. Those were the days when Eben Ball, Charles
Baldwin, Chauncey Baldwin, Sen., and Dan Baldwin were yet in comparatively
active life, and when Ira Toby, always a hose, was yet in his prime.
They were good men who were true to their convictions and true to their
Master. And tenderly do I think of the changes which all those
years have witnessed. Mr. and Mrs. John Kendall passed away during
my first ministry there, and also Mr. and Mrs. Ansel Toby. But I
have not time to go into details. But I cannot pass by Dea.
Enos Pratt, that thoroughly good man whose sturdy common sense and earnest
piety would command respect anywhere. As the men and women of that
generation pass before me earth seems poorer and Heaven richer for the
changes which have taken place. When I returned in 1868 for another
four years ministry, how many changes had taken place! Of my associates
during my former ministry of the older class, Amos Mace alone remained,
who has a warm place in my heart as a brother beloved. And thee I
also cam into the most pleasant relations with Dea. Gilbert who was thoroughly
happy in the home of his youth and the church of his fathers. And
there also I had very sweet and pleasant fellowship with Mr. Gaylord More,
who with his family united with the church, and he has since gone to his
reward. I remember also that very pleasant series of meetings held
in the Luddington school house, and how much I enjoyed preaching night
after night for four successive weeks, and how pleasant were the results
which followed. It would perhaps be unseemly to pay any tribute to
the living; nor have I time even to allude to the present active members
in your congregation. I would very much like to see and greet you
all, as it would afford me a rate pleasure. But it is impossible
to do so.
SYRACUSE, NY., July 1st, 1881
Dear Bro. - I find that I cannot be with you on Sunday. Hoping
the Lord will be present and by the Holy Spirit, direct all the words and
thoughts of them who shall gather in the old church on Sunday.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. June 27th, 1881
Dear Bro. - Your Postal Card was received today. Most heartily
do I sympathize with your people in their intention to celebrate the fiftieth
anniversary of their present church site, and it would give me the highest
pleasure to be present on that occasion - to hear the voices of rejoicing
- and above all, to meet with many old and valued friends - I always
look back with unalloyed pleasure on my connection with the church of Volney
- my congregations were encouraging and sympathetic in the house of God;
and in their own private homes full of generous hospitality and kindness.
It may not however, consist with my arrangements to come east at this time.
I am spending a few weeks in this city by way of vacation, previous to
entering a new field of duty - at the expiring of my second year of service
last month, I resigned my charge at Princeton - I trust you have been enjoying
good health and that all is well with my kind friends, in all of whom I
feel much interest.
COVERNTRYVILLE, CHENANGO CO., N.Y., June 24th, 1881
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGREATIONAL CHURCH OF VOLNEY, N.Y.:
Dear Brethren and Sisters in Christ - We thank you for your invitation
to attend the semi-centennial service of your church. We would be
very glad to see you again, and to join these services, but sickness among
the people here and other providences prevent. We congratulate you
upon having reached the fiftieth year of the re-organization of your society,
with so good a degree of health and strength, although it is, we trust
still in its youth, with few, if any gray hairs, or signs of decay upon
it; still it is well to pause and revive the past, "showing to the generation
to come, the praises of the Lord." It is cause for thanksgiving that
the worship of God has been maintained, in such a rural community during
most of these fifty years; many churchs so located decline and die; to
sustain them requires no little effort and sacrifice, but this is important,
not only for the sake of these communities, but also for the sake of other
churches and communities that are replenished by them. The work of
cultivating your farms, gathering the fruits and making your homes pleasant,
is not more important than the work of cultivating the Lord's vineyard,
gathering the spiritual harvest and making the house of the Lord pleasant
as your spiritual home. We are thankful for having had the privilege
of laboring among you for two years; for the patience with which you bore
with our imperfections, and the character with which you co-operated with
us in the work of the Lord. These were years of sowing rather than
of reaping; and of their ultimate results we cannot judge. We still
feel no little interest in your welfare and have not ceased to pray for
The three letters immediately following were not received in time to
be read at the meeting, but are thought to be of sufficient interest to
be inserted in the record of proceedings.
In the winter of 1821, I was married to one Sarah S. Macomber, of the
city of Utica, one of the best young members of the First Presbyterian
Church, Rev. Dr. Aikin, Pastor, and in March she came with me to Volney,
now Schroeppel, went into a rough log house, the first she was ever in,
but it did not break her heart, but she thought she could live there if
I could, and I said I would try to make a better one as soon I could, and
she said she would try and help make that better, and she did. But
what troubled her most, was the want of a Presbyterian Church to attend,
for she was a true Presbyterian and had her letter to present showing her
good standing, and I told her of the church at what was then called "Widow
Seymour's," Rev. O. Leavitt, Pastor. She wanted to know how far it
was and I told her about 4 miles, and she said "we can go" - I asked her
how - her answer was, "we can walk" - I honestly thought it impossible
but some time in May I think or the 1st of June, after the road - no I
mean ground, was settled, for there was no road much of the way, she was
up one bright Sabbath morning, and said she was going to meeting, I said
what I dare to persuade her that she could not attend it that hot day,
but she said she could, so we started to find a Presbyterian meeting, and
we did find it in good time. We staid all day, heard Brother Leavitt,
a blessed good old man; sermon good, and the music led by a man I think
when I name him you will remember, they called him "Uncle John Kendall."
After she got home, for she did get home that day alive, but found her
feet badly blistered, but she said for all that, it paid and she would
try it again, and she did, and you see by that how she loved the church,
and as she thought the true gospel. In a few years we did get
a better way, and it was never too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry,
nor too bad roads for her to go to church, when she was well.
We add a letter from Mr. Gilbert's second daughter, Mrs. MARY MC KOON,
and a wife of Judge D.D. Mc Koon, of Middlletown, N.Y., who writes to her
cousin, H.N. Gilbert, Esq., of Fulton, N.Y., and says:
"Oh if I could be at 50th Anniversary - if I could listen to the sermon!
It makes my heart throb to think of the enjoyment my dear father would
have been there! But then he would only miss mother. I am homesick
for that meeting, and a sight of that old church where I was baptised in
infancy - for I was 50 years only last month. But as I cannot go,
I will console myself the best I can, for whom should I know, and who would
recognize me to tell me they knew and loved my dear mother, and regretted
the absence of my father. So I will stay at home and wit to enjoy
your report in the papers you will send me."
The following letter is from Mr. OLIVER LANPHEAR, who writes of
the three brothers, Jared, William and George, sons of Deacon Jarad Lanphear
mentioned in the sermon. The mother of the writer of whom he speaks
was Althea, oldest daughter of "Elder Dutcher." The letter enclosed
the following notice of the death of Mrs. Adah Lanphear, wife of Deacon
Jared Lanphear, who died in that city on Sunday evening, March 14th, at
the advanced aged of 77. Her last hours were bright with hope, and
she was especially glad to be called home on the Sabbath day.
Dear sir - Your letter of the 5th received. The Lanphear brothers
regret very much not being able to respond in person to the invitation
of your brother, also that no letter was sent; but since the weight of
so many years has come upon them, letter writing has become a burden, and
it was neglected until too late. Although half a century has gone
by, the memory of those days are still friends in their minds, and they
often talk together of the old home and friends of their youth, and seem
able to recall incidents connected with that time much easier than those
of later years. Uncle J., the eldest, tells me that he was converted
in that revival through the influence of Samuel Merry, and the hope he
found at that time is the support of his hold age, at the advanced aged
of 86; he is patiently waiting for the end, in the "full hope of a blessed
immortality." Uncle William speaks of reading sermons there
often, in the absence of a pastor, and the memories of that old place of
worship are very pleasant to him. He was not a professing christian
until some time after his removal to the west.
Here follow two letters from the same family, the remaining daughter of Dea. LANPHEAR:
ADAMS. N.Y., June 12th, 1881
Dear Friend - As to the particulars of the church, or the great revival
fifty years ago, I can say but little, for we were not living in Volney
at that time. But I well remember the first visit I made home after
the great revival. My father had passed away, his prayers answered
in the conversion of his children left behind. We are not a scattered
family, soon it will be said they are all gone, as it is now said of those
that settled in Volney at the same time I did, 63 years ago. My mind
often goes back to those days, and I call them my happiest; could I be
with you, I could tell you more than I can write with my pen.
LISBON, KENDALL CO., ILL., June 24th, 1881
Dear Bro. - I received your kind letter dated the 13th with pleasure.
That fifty years had passed away or nearly so, seemed almost impossible
to me to believe. But my mind readily goes back to those days where
we went to the house of God in company and to the protracted meetings where
many of us found peace and joy, in believing in Christ our Saviour.
FORT ATKINSON, WIS., June 26th, 1881
These lines leave us enjoying tolerable health, and still the infirmities
of old age are creeping upon us and admonish us that this is not our abiding
AUTSIN, MINN., June 12th, 1881
Dear Brother KENDALL - Your letter carried us back to those interesting
and I hope profitable meetings that we enjoyed fifty years ago and made
us feel that we could hardly be denied the privilege of meeting with you
and giving in our testimony to the goodness of God in leading us these
many years through trials and afflictions, and we still feel that it is
good to trust Him; and as we near the haven of rest, our path grows brighter
and brighter. The lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places; we
have good religious privileges, but we would enjoy meeting with those dear
brothers and sisters whom we remember so well, but live with the expectation
of meeting them all around the Throne of God. We are,
WHTFORD, MONROE CO., MICH., June 27th, 1881
To the Brethren and Sisters in the Lord, who are worshipers in the meeting house on Bristol Hill, town of Volney, Greeting:
Brother Jacob Kendall has informed me that you have decided to hold
a memorial or semi-centennial meeting on the first Sabbath of July 1881,
and requested me to be represented by person or letter. More than
fifty years ago by His grace I was led to see myself a sinner, lost, and
to believe in Jesus as my Saviour. Fifty years ago, I was a member
of the church there, and joined with many who are gone to their rest in
the worship and praise of God. I also at that time was a member of
the Temperance society in that place and have kept the pledge, and I am
now in favor of State prohibition. In the fall of '33, I left your
From Mrs. CALISTA (SEYMOUR) TIBBALS, wife of the late Angus Tibbals:
Dear Brethren in Christ - In thank you for your note, and the fresh remembrance of the never to be forgotten summer of 50 years ago, and although I cannot be with you in person on that memorial occasion and fellowship meeting, I shall be with you in spirit.
Mr. L. DARLING writes from East Worcester, N.Y.:
In 1846, I became interested in the cause of my Redeemer, and from that
time, while I remained in Volney, over ten years, I took an active part
and tried to make myself useful. I was elected trustee and superintendent
of the sabbath school; it was in those early days when it was thought enough
that the children should learn a few verses.
OBERLIN, OHIO, June 30th, 1881
MR. JACOB KENDALL:
Dear Bro. - Your card is just at hand, and I hasten to send a word in
reply. Father Steele died Nov. 11, 1848; 72 years of age. Mother
Steel died Jan 25th, 1864; 86 years of age. Both died in Oberlin,
also my husband Dr. Alexander Steele, April 6th, 1872; 69 years of age.
Samuel Steele is the one living and is now in Illinois.
DEEP RIVER, CONN., June 29th, 1881
Dear Brethren - Your invitation to be present at the semi-centennial
of July 3rd, was received to day. It would afford me much pleasure
to meet with my old friends, in the place where I began my public service
of the Master, but this, to the providence of God, is not permitted.
The old church is not forgotten in my prayers. Wherever I have travelled
or labored, I have striven to have Christ with me; to grow in grace, and
I can truly say that in many an hour of temptation He has shielded me.
May we at life's close fine our lives so hid in Christ, that we may rest
on the promises of God.
Mrs. HESTER (BRISTOL) THURBER, daughter of the late Justus Bristol, writes as follows:
MARSAILLES, ILL, June 13th, 1881
Dear Friend - Your postal received in due time. Glad to hear from
you. You call to mind the days that are past, when so many of us
enlisted in the Saviour's cause. I have ever felt to put my trust
in Him; I felt very bad to leave my friends, and emigrate west, but I found
my Saviour just the same here. I felt the importance of taking a
decided stand on the Lord's side in this, then a new Country; a few of
us united ourselves in a church, we had to meet in different houses for
worship, small log houses at that, God was with us, we were soon able to
build a house of worship; our numbers increased, we have a nice comfortable
building and 210 members. Truly, the Lord, has blessed us, He has
removed most of our family; Brother George and myself are all that remain,
except two half sisters that were born here. I have lost my husband
and four children, only two remain. I have been afflicted the past
year, have scarcely seen a well day, am better at present; with all my
affliction, I put my trust in Him that doeth all things well. Brother
George and family were here a short time since.
NEWARK, June 28th, 1881
MR. J. KENDALL:
It would afford us great pleasure to be with you to celebrate the semi-centennial
of the Bristol Hill Church, but it is impossible. Our connection
with that church will always remain a green spot in our memories, and its
hallowed associations form the brightest period of our lives. We
shall ever feel a deep interest in its prosperity, and our earnest prayer
ever will be that "peace may be within her walls and prosperity within
Copyright © 2001 Laura Perkins / Dianne Thomas