Yates County, New York

Churches for the Town of Penn Yan

From the History of Yates County, NY
published 1892, by L.C. Aldrich

pg 307,320 -327




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Therewere two churches, the Presbyterian and Methodist; the former well up thestreet, while the latter stood west of the site now occupied by the church ofthat denomination.  

Thefirst religious services in the county of Yates were those conducted by theSociety of Friends, although the claim has been made that Catholic missionariessaid masses in the region at an earlier day. The Friends came in numbers in 1788, and worshiped in their own peculiarmanner during that same year.  Fouryears later the Methodist circuit riders appeared and labored in the region, andplanted the seed of their afterward prosperous church societies. As there was no settlement within what afterward became the village ofPenn Yan earlier than 1800, it is not expected that religious services couldhave been held here prior to that time.  Butsuch meager records as do now exist, most of them being founded on unreliabletradition, and still less trustworthy memory of man, leave us in some doubt asto whether Methodist or Presbyterian services were first to be conducted withinthe afterward named village of Penn Yan.  TheGenesee Conference was organized in 1810, but there appears to have been nolocal church organization prior to 1826.  However,common consent has generally accorded to the Presbyterian society the honor ofhaving been the first to plant their church within the environment of thevillage. 

ThePresbyterian Church and society of Penn Yan was the almost direct outgrowth andbranch of the older society of the same denomination in Benton.  As early as the year 1819, in the month of June, Rev. JamesHOTCHKINS preached in the little old school house in this village, at a timewhen there were but two female and no male members of the church within itslimits; and these persons were then members of the Benton society. During the summer of 1820, at he invitation of local residents, Rev.Richard WILLIAMS came here to reside, and thereafter preached in the village inthe morning and tat the Benton church in the afternoon. In 1821 the session of the Benton church held a meeting in Penn Yan, andexamined Maria MASTEN, Sarah CORNWELL and John HATMAKER, who were afterwardreceived into the church on confession of faith. These were the first persons to be received into the Penn Yan branch ofthe church, and John HATMAKER was chosen its first elder.  

Withthe constant increase of village population other person expressed a preferencefor the Presbyterian doctrine and form of worship, and in February 1823, Mr.HATMAKER, as duly authorized delegate, presented a petition to the Presbytery,asking for the organization of a separate and distinct church.  On this petition appeared the names of thirty-eight membersof the Benton church.   Therequest was granted, and the society was organized on the 3rd Tuesdayin February of that years; an organization that was made fully complete on the 2ndday of September following.  Dr.John HATMAKER and Silas LACY were chosen elders and Henry KNAPP and Mr. LACYwere elected deacons.  For a periodof four years from the first preaching by Mr. WILLIAMS the new society had nochurch home, but in 1824, the same year in which the Benton society erected itschurch, the local edifice was erected.  Itwas a small, unpretentious building of frame material, but sufficient for thepurposed of the society at that time.  Itslocation was on the east side of Main street, near and just above the residenceof T.F. WHEELER.  From the time ofthe organization of the society down to the year 1841, the Presbyterian churchmaintained a steady and healthful growth, both in membership and influence, butin the year last mentioned there occurred a serious division among its members,growing out of a discussion relative to church actions and doctrines, andincreased in feeling by the divided sentiment over the question of slavery. The result was the withdrawl of a majority of the members from theirchurch connection, in which action they were counseled and followed by thepastor, the Rev. Ovid MINER.  Thedissenters not only severed their relations with the mother society, butorganized for themselves, and built a church edifice at the corner of Maine andChapel streets, the same building, though now enlarged, at present occupied bythe society of the Methodist Episcopal church. 

In thisconnection it may be stated that the new society, which by the way styledthemselves Congregationalists, and adopted that form of church government, neveracquired any substantial strength.  Theybuilt the edifice now owned by the Methodist society, in 1841, but in yearsafterward themselves became involved in a controversy, with result in thedismemberment of their organization.  Aportion of their membership formed a new society styled the Wesleyan church;some returned to the mother society which they had deserted, while sill othersdrifted into other churches or remained unallied to any religious organization. 

Notwithstandingthe serious blow against the welfare of the church, caused by the withdrawal ofthe majority of its members, the society in about four months secured theservices of the Rev. James RICHARDS, and agreed to pay him an increased salary. Also they determined upon radical changes and improvements in the churchedifice, which were accomplished, but at the expense of a heavy debt which hungover the society for many years.  Butwith the lapse of time and the return of many of the former members the churchagain assumed her former position among the influential societies of thevillage.  In 1864 the building wasagain subjected to repairs and enlargement to meet the requirements of thesociety, and on the 22nd of October of that year, the church wasre-dedicated.  However, fifteen years more of increasing strengthdemonstrated that the old church home was no longer sufficient for thesociety�s uses, and the building of an entirely new and more spacious andelegant moderns house of worship became imperative. The site chosen was at the corner of Main and Clinton streets, upon whichwas erected by far the most beautiful edifice in the county. It needs no other description on these pages.  Conspicuously carved on the corner stone are the years�1824-1879,� denoting the time of erecting the first and the latest churchesof the society.  

Thesuccession of pastors of the First Presbyterian church of Penn Yan has been asfollows: Richard WILLIAMS, from September 1820 to February 19, 1825; ChaunceyEDDY, 1826 � September 19, 1831; Samuel A. ALLEN, October 8 to December 8,1831; Stephen CROSBY, February 1832 to August 1, 1836; Ovid MINER, April 1, 1837to February 17, 1841; James RICHARDS, June 8, 1841 to November 14, 1850; JamesEELLS, September 23, 1851 to October 27, 1854; W.W. TAYLOR, December 1854 toApril 1, 1860;  L. S. FINE, October1, 1860 to June 1862; Frederick STARR, March 1, 1864 to May 1865; David MAGIE,1865 to 1872; William LAWRIE, 1872 to 1873; D. Henry PALMER, 1873 to the presenttime.


TheMethodist Episcopal church in Penn Yan was not regularly organized until theyear 1826, at which time the village society was made a distinct appointment. Although there may be no record by which the question can be accuratelydetermined, yet there is reason to believe that Methodist services were held andconducted in the village several years earlier than the organization. As a mater of fact, Methodism in the county, or what afterward became thecounty, dates back to 1792 and although there could not have been services inthe village until after the latter was founded, there is a good reason tosuppose that class services at least were held here soon after the year 1805, orabout that time.   

In 1826Abram PROSSER, the first known class leader, caused to be erected for the M.E.society, a frame church.  Its sitewas on Chapel street, in rear of the present day edifice of the society, andabout where the horse sheds now stand.  Becomingtoo small for the requirements of the congregation, the old building wasvacated, and the church property of the Congregational society, located at thecorner of Main and Chapel streets was acquired by purchase. This occurred in 1857, but two years later it was found necessary toenlarge the building.  Additional alterations and enlargements were again made in1881.  The old first church buildingwas removed from its original site to a lot just east of the landing place ofthe old line boats.  

Commencingwith Rev. ALVERSON the succession of pastors of the church has been as follows:

John B.ALVERSON 1826-28; Abner CHASE, 1829; Manley TOOKER, 1830; Chester V. ADGATE,1831-32; Wilbur HOAG, 1833; Robert PARKER, 1834; Thomas J. CHAMPION, 1835; SethMATTISON, 1836; Thomas J. CHAMPION, 1837; Allen STEELE, 1838; Freeborn G.HIBBARD, 1839; William P. DAVIS, 1840; F.G. HIBBARD, 1841-42; Clinton W. SEARS,1843; Isaiah MC MAHON, 1844-45; William H. GOODWIN, 1846-47; Alpha WRIGHT,1848-49; Israel H. KELLOGG, 1850-51; Daniel Dana BUCK, 1852-53; Thomas TOUSEY,1854-55; Nathan FELLOWS, 1856-57; John C. NOBLES, 1858-59; Sanford VANBENSCHOTEN, 1860-61; Charles W. BENNETT, 1862-63; D. D. BUCK, 1864 � 65;Thomas TOUSEY, 1866-68; James E. LATIMER, 1869; William R. BENHAM, 1870-71; M.S. LEET, 1872-73; J. P. FARMER, 1874-75; K. P. JERVIS, 1876-77; A. N. DAMON,1878-80; E. M. MILLS, 1881 � 83; J. H. MC CARTY, 1884 � 86; J. V. BENHAM,1887-89; L. F. CONGDON, 1890.  

Rev. C.N. ADGATE died during his pastorate in 1832 and Rev. Schuyler SEAGER wasappointed to fill out the term.  Rev.J. P. FARMER resigned in 1875, and the term of appointment was filled by Rev. F.S. STEIN. 

Baptistpreaching in this locality, was conducted by Elder Simon SUTHERLAND and Rev.Samuel CARPENTER as early as 1811, but it was not until the year 1828 that anymovement was made in the direction of establishing a Baptist society in Penn Yan. In the year last names about eighteen or twenty former members of the oldSecond Milo church severed their relations with the mother society for thepurpose of founding a Baptist church in the village. Among the persons so withdrawing form the old society are remembered asthese:  Stephen and Polly RAYMOND,Gideon BURTCH, Thomas, Lydia and Mehitable BENEDICT, Samuel and Isaac RAYMOND,William and Lucy FREEMAN, Pond and Pamelia CURTIS, Eunice RANDALL, Artemas ENOS,Sister YOUMANS, Sally NASH, Mary TELFORD, and Sister FIRMAN. 

Theearly meetings of the new society were held in residences of members, in oldMasonic hall, schools, the courthouse, and in the printing office of BrotherBENNETT.  In April 1831, a meetingwas held in the old academy, at which time were chosen these trustees:  Morris EARLE, Stephen RAYMOND and Abraham H. BENNETT. At a meeting held February 11, 1834, it was resolved to build a brickchurch on Main street, to be in size, forty feet front and sixty feet deep. At the same time the society chose a building committee, as follows:William M. OLIVER, Morris F. SHEPPARD, Elipha PECKINS, Abraham H. BENNETT,William BABCOCK and S. S. BARKER.  Thefirst house of worship occupied the same site as the present church of thissociety.  It was a plain brickbuilding and cost $9,000.  It wasoccupied by the society until 1870, and then torn down to make room for theelegant edifice to be erected the next year. The new church was built by Moses e. BUCK, at an expense of $15,000,besides the material in the old building.  Theentire new building, including lot, represented a total of $25,000. The trusteeswere the building committee of the new edifice, and were as follows: Andrew F. CHAPMAN, Martin F. HICKS, Henry A. DOUGLASS, George W. SHANNON,Ephraim SANFORD, Jeremiah RAYMOND, Henry BRIGGS, Watkins DAVIS and GilbertSHERER.  The new church wasappropriately dedicated May 18, 1871, the sermon of the occasion being deliveredby Rev. T. Edwin BROWN, of Rochester. 

Thefollowing named persons comprise the succession of pastors of the Baptist churchand society, viz.: Samuel CARPENTER, David HULBERT, John D. HART, Ira BENNETT,Orel MONTAGUE, Samuel ADSIT, Howell SMITH, Hiram k. STIMPSON, Charles MORTON,Samuel D. BANBRIDGE, Charles N. CHANDLER, Edwin P. BRIGHAM, N. Judson CLARK, G.M. PETERS, T. R. PETERS, J. P. FARMER, D. CROSBY., D. R. WATSON and Edward M.SAUNIER. 

ST.Mark�s Church and parish became a separate organization by action taken by theproper authorities on the 8th day of May 1837, but prior to thattime, and during the period from 1826 to 1837, Episcopal services wereundoubtedly held in the residence of Rev. William BOSTWICH, missionary atHammondsport and Bath.  Upon theorganization of the local parish, Henry ROSE and Abraham DOX were chosenwardens, and John N. ROSE, Dr. Henry P. SARTWELL, Seabury KISSAM, Francis M.POTTER, Erastus PAGE, Ebenezer LORD, B. W. FRANKLIN and William C. PARSONS werelikewise chosen vestrymen.  In 1838,the years next succeeding that in which the parish was organized, the churchedifice was erected on the lot where now stands the dwelling of William N. WISE. It was consecrated on the 8th day of August. Its cost was about $7,000.  Theservices of the church held prior to the erection of the edifice were conductedregularly in the old Masonic Hall on Court street. 

�Thechurch in Penn Yan,� says a recently written historical article, �has had acheckered history.  Its growth hasnot been proportionate to that of churches in neighboring villages. This, no doubt, was due principally to the frequent changes and longvacancies in the rectorship.  Duringthe Rebellion the bitter partisan spirit which influenced all classes waspermitted to invade the parish, and finally culminated in the withdrawal, about1870, of a large number of its members.  Butthe organization of a second parish was not effected until 1871. The new parish assumed the name of Grace Church. Rev. George M. STANLEY was called to be its rector, but resigned after abrief pastorate of about six months.  TheMissionary Board of the parish having withheld the necessary aid, services weresoon discontinued and the work of erecting a church on the corner of Main andClinton streets was abandoned.� 

The oldparish after the loss of so many of its members, was able to maintain but afeeble existence.  Rev. B. F. TAYLORofficiated for a time and was succeeded by Edmond BURKE as lay reader, and afterhis ordination to the deaconate, September 15, 1872, was placed in charge of theparish.  At this time the financesof the church were so lo that the rectory and a part of ht church lot were soldoff for debt.  After the departureof Mr. BURKE no regular services were held until 1875, but with the coming ofRev. H. L. DENNIS, missionary, both branches of the church attended theservices.  Rev. William CATTERSONbecame resident clergyman on October 1, 1877, and in Easter week of 1878, thereoccurred a practical reorganization, with the election of officers to the placesthat had been three years vacant.  Horatiow. PERKINS and Augustus W. FRANKLIN were elected wardens, and John C. SCHEETZ,Henry TUTHILL, William H. FOX, George Y. EASTMAN, E. B. SAMPLE, Thomas EMORY, H.ROSE and C. J. PAGE, vestryman. 

Thechurch had for some time considered the question of erecting a more suitableedifice, but the condition of the parish did not appear to justify such action. But after some hesitation the vestry was inducted to exchange the oldproperty for the lot at the corner of Main and Clinton streets to which theyacquired title, and on which, on the foundation already in part laid, was builtthe present attractive English gothic structure. Its cost entire amounted to about $9,000, and it has a seating capacitysufficient for 250 persons.  Thenames of the following rectors appear in succession on the church register:Edmond EMBURY, B. W. STONE, Henry STANLEY, O. F. STARKEY, P. F. STRYKER, AnthonySCHUYLER, George N. CHENEY, John LONG, T. F. WARDWELL, G. W. MAYER, WilliamCATTERSON, George S. TELLER, William H. LORD. The latter, Mr. LORD, became rector of the parish in 1884 and hascontinued in the at capacity to the present time. 

St.Mark�s parish contains about eighty-five families, while the communicates,number about 120.   Theofficers are: Horatio W. PERKINS and Augustus W. FRANKLIN, wardens; John C.SHEETZ, George BEBEE, Edson POTTER, Wade SHANNON, Perley P. CURTIS, D. H. STOLL,George C. SNOW and Henry ROSE, vestrymen. 

In 1849there were resident in and about Penn Yan about fifteen Catholic families. In 1891 the parish of St. Michael�s Church numbers about 300 families. In the year first mentioned the Right Rev. John TIMON, bishop of Buffalo,authorized Thomas HENDRICKS to raise by subscription funds sufficient to build achurch, which was done.  AbrahamWAGENER generously donated a lot on Pine street for the erection of the edifice,the deed therefore being executed to the bishop. On this lot, John SOUTHERLAND built the church at a cost of $2,200. The church was dedicated during the same year and was christened St.Michael�s Church.  Afterward andduring the pastorate of Father DEAN the parsonage was erected, costing $1,500. He too paid the debt against the church and cemetery. The succession of priests in charge of St. Michael�s Church and parishwith their term of service has been as follows: Michael GILBRIDE, about threeyears; P. CANNY, two years; Joseph F. DEAN, two years; Joseph MC KENNA, sevenyears; D. ENGLISH, more than six years. Edward MC GOWN, about six years; W. A.GREGG, until January 1877, when the Rev. Eugene PAGANI, the present pastor, wasappointed by the bishop to the pastoral charge of the parish. Connected with St. Michael�s parish is a parochial school, an accountof which will be found on a preceding page.

ChurchHistory - 1st Baptist of Penn Yan




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