(Hamilton Child’s “Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N.Y.”, 1890)
The first record we have in relation to religious matters is of a visit to the settlements in Jefferson County by the Rev. James W. Woodward, in 1802. He collected $1 in Adams, 5o cents in Watertown, $3.47 in Rutland, $1.50 in Champion, and 25 cents in
Brownville–Rutland contributing more than all the other settlements combined.
The records of religious societies in this town are very imperfect. The Baptists appear to have been the pioneers in organization. As early at least as 1806 the Rev. Mr. Maltby held services in both North and South Rutland, and a great revival was the result of his labors. It is presumed that societies, if not organized before, were then organized. Meetings continued to be held in both parts of the town. They were held for North Rutland in Charles Fuller’s barn, about 80 rods west of Elisha Clark’s, Rutland Hollow. A church was built near Deacon Fuller’s, on David Veber’s land, in 1821. Martin E. Cook was the first preacher in the new church. Some of those who preceded him in town were Elders Wilkie, Morgan, and Card. Elder Palmer Cross preached in the church several years. In 1837 the North Rutland Church was reorganized. By a vote of the society in 1842 the church was removed to the great bend, in Champion. The successors of Elder Cross were Elders Gardls Lyttle, A. D. Freemay, and John Wilder. The society at Tylerville reorganized in 1833; James Brown, Stephen Brainard, and Milo Maltby, trustees. We have not succeeded in obtaining a list of clergymen officiating there.
The First Congregational Church was organized by the Rev. William Lathrop, a missionary from Vermont, January 26, 1808, consisting of 10 members, viz.: David Tyler, Amos Mailcry, Thomas Converse and wife, Timothy Tamblin and wife, Samuel Porter and wife, William Parkinson and wife. Amos Mallery and David Tyler were afterwards chosen deacons. It may be mentioned as indicative of the strict Puritanism of the early fathers of the church that Amos Mallery was objected account of not having a wife, a deficiency which is contrary to the letter of the law. It is not now known whether the fathers of the church or the maiden ladies of the congregation raised the objection. The first religious society of Rutland was formed February 8, 1808, and Ethel Bronson, Timothy Tamblin, John Reed, Thomas Converse, and Ebenezer Hayward were elected trustees. The successors of the Rev. Mr. Lathrop were Enos Bliss, Leavenworth and Daniel Banks, who became pastors over this church and Watertown in 18t5. On January 20, 1824, the church united with the Presbytery; number of members, 87. Since then among the pastors have been Revs. David Spear, J. H. Rice, Hiram Doane, Henry Budge, and James Douglas. The first church south of the State road was erected opposite the residence of the late Henry T. Hopkins, in 1819. It was removed and rebuilt some years since on the four corners about one half mile west of its former site. The brother of Dr. Isaac Bronson, then residing in New York city, gave the site, and also the site for a parsonage. His interest in the ownership of the land of the town was
considered the motive that promoted him to the act.
Rutland Congregational Church, located on Rutland middle road, was organized January 26, 1808, by Rev. William Lathrop, and at its organization consisted of to members. Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1841. It will seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $3,000. The present membership is 50, under the pastoral charge of Rev. William H. Way. The Sunday-school has a membership of about 75.
At what time the first Methodist Episcopal organization took place is uncertain. Itinerant preachers were in the town at a very early date. From 1804 to 1815 the whole county was included in the Black River circuit. Among the early preachers were Datus Ensign, Luther Bishop, Joseph Willis, Isaac Puffer, and Goodwin Stoddard. Many new circuits have been formed from Black River circuit. The first class organized in Rutland was in Rutland Hollow. Another, at the Cotes school-house on the farm of E. Crain, was organized about 1824 or 1826. The dates of the organization at Felt’s Mills and South Rutland are not found. The first M. E. church in Rutland was built in Rutland Hollow about 1820.
Black River Methodist Episcopal Church, at Black River village, was organized in 1833 by Revs. S. Orris and I. S. Bingham, and Rev. Lewis Whitcomb was the first pastor. Their first house of worship was erected in 1848, of wood. Their present church edifice, also a wooden structure, was built in 1884, at a cost of about $3,000. It will comfortably seat 500 persons, and is now valued, including grounds, at $11,200. The present membership of the church is 198, under the pastoral charge of Rev. Robert Flint. The Sunday-school has a membership of 22 officers and teachers, and 175 scholars, with C. S. Mellen, superintendent.
Universalist societies have been organized at Tylerville, Felt’s Mills, and Black River. The dates of these organizations are not known. Revs. C. G. Parsons, Pitt Morse, H. L. Haywood, J. P. Averell, O. Wilcox, J. H. Stewart, and others officiating. The society at Tylerville is the only one that retains its organization.
Church of Christ
The Church of Christ, or Disciples, first held meetings at Felt’s Mills in I857, Rev. Mr. Benedict officiating. A society was formed, including Black River, and at the latter place a small chapel was erected in 1871.
The Christian Church at Felt’s Mills was organized in 187I by J. S. Hughes, the first pastor, and at its organization consisted of 30 members. Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1844, and occupied as a union church. It will comfortably seat 150 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $1,500. The present membership is 35, with no regular pastor. The Sunday-school has 35 members, with J. Cotton, superintendent.
The union church at South Rutland, occupied by the Methodists and Universalists, was organized July 2, 1872, by Rev. Mr. Tomlinson, the first pastor, with 34 members. Their house of worship was erected of wood in 1872, will comfortably seat 200 persons,
and cost about $1,400. The present membership is 34, and Rev. Mr. Danforth is pastor.